Gwyneth Williams shares her journey through the New Writers' Scheme and out the other side.
Gwyneth works full time as a Scientific Officer in the University of Leicester’s medical school and writes in her lunch breaks. She is inspired to write about places she knows and loves, and her first novel, Echoes in the Sand, is set mainly on the Greek island of Zakynthos. She lives in Leicester with her husband and daughter when she’s home from university, and two stray cats who moved in one day and refused to leave.
Securing a place on the New Writers' Scheme has certainly been a pivotal moment in my writing career, and I have to thank my fellow members of the Leicester Chapter for encouraging me to join. My journey began in 2011 and despite suffering from a terrible post-Christmas cold, something made me fill in that form and send it off with fingers firmly crossed. Receiving that confirmation email made me whoop with delight - it doesn't take much!
I worked on my novel from January to July – I was only two thirds of the way through but knew it needed cutting – and sent it off as a partial typescript. My first reader's report was forthright and honest and gave me the kick I needed to tackle a particular problem with my main character. I finished the novel and sent off a full typescript the following year, and was astonished and delighted to have it put forward for a second read.
The reader's report had my cheeks glowing at the praise – a total contrast to the previous year, but proof that my original reader had been right – thank you, whoever you are. The second reader felt it needed more work, but again the comments I received were invaluable and I set about editing the novel before sending it out to agents.
At the 2012 Winter party I prepared to pitch to anyone who would listen, whilst trying to hide my nerves behind a smile. Agents ARE human and very nice too as I have discovered, and I received some great feedback and one even suggested I added a snappy prologue – which I did and sent it out again. I received several nice rejections, but rejections all the same.
Then at the 2013 Summer party I met my agent – although neither of us knew it at the time! I spied Kate Burke from Diane Banks Associates from across the room and duly sent off my submission. Ten days later Kate emailed asking to see the whole typescript and after several nervous weeks of waiting, she emailed again asking to speak with me to discuss it. As soon as I heard her voice I knew she was the agent for me and although she wanted several changes – including a different title – I felt confident we could work together.
And we did. Nine months later we had a novel we were both happy with and then followed several more weeks of anxiety as we waited to hear back from editors. My book deal moment was quite exceptional as I was in Cyprus on the last day of my holiday when Kate emailed, saying that a Serbian publisher wanted to buy foreign rights. It's unusual to sell foreign rights before UK rights, but a week later she sold English digital rights to Endeavour Press and I had my UK publisher.
Graduating from the NWS and becoming a full member of the RNA was just as exciting as my book deal moments. It was the result of four years hard work and proves that it can happen to anyone!
Your excitement shines through, Gwyneth.Thank you for sharing and, I am sure, inspiring our readers.
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