Wednesday, March 15, 2023

It's about the writing...and the gnarly bits by Cathy Ace

Business - What is the best advice you received from an agent, editor, publisher, writer, or florist? For bonus credit what was the worst? 

 Personally, I prefer to focus on the positive, so here goes:


Best advice from a writer: Thanks to Ann Cleeves
Best advice from a writer

Context: I’d been dumped by a publisher, who wouldn’t sell me back all my rights (they eventually allowed me to buy them all, except the print rights, which puzzled me, but there you have it). My other publisher had been bought up, and they’d sent their new standard contract to my agent, which I didn’t like, but she said I should sign it (I didn’t, in the end, and walked away from them, and her, too).

Where & when: At Bouchercon in Toronto, 2017. I was Chair of Crime Writers of Canada at the time; one third of our members were attending the convention and I was organizing a LOT of events…and I was on antibiotics, due to a head/chest thing. Feeling awful, hardly sleeping, trying to do my best. Pretty low all round (though I hope no one noticed this at the time). I was sitting at a table having a moment (not a happy one) and Ann Cleeves asked if she could join me, as she hung around between her own “bookings”. She’s a talented, supportive, and sympathetic person, and I told her what was going on as we chatted.

The advice: It’s all about the writing (we chatted for ages, but this was the essence of it).

How it’s helped: In 2018 I set up my own company to publish my own writing, and haven’t looked back. Still haven’t got an agent, still enjoying the writing. There’s an awful lot about earning a living as an author that isn’t “about the writing”, and whenever that’s getting me down, I remember what Ann said. Given her current fantastic success it’s hard to believe she, too, has faced uphill struggles in terms of being published. Her first book came out in 1986, 26 years before my first was published; she’s seen so many changes in the business that her advice really resonates.

Thank you, Ann Cleeves.


Anna, on the left 

Best advice from an editor

 Context: I’d had one substantive editor, and three different proof editors, at my first publishing house, then met a new editor at my second publisher.

Where & when: at a lunch my publisher set up, in London, so my new editor and I could get to know each other before we worked together.

The advice: You write you, and I’ll sort out the gnarly bits.

How it’s helped: shortly after we’d met, this editor left the publishing house, but was still used by them as a freelancer on my books. She’s now edited all ten of the books I’ve published through my own company. I still write me, and I always hope there’ll be fewer gnarly bits.

Thank you, Anna Harrisson.


Worst advice?

Publisher: Set your books in the Cotswolds, not Wales.

Agent: Just sign the boilerplate contract.

Florist: Keep the vase in a sunny spot.

My 7th WISE Enquiries Agency Mystery 


 (which is set in Wales, not the Cotswolds, and edited by Anna, through my own publishing company) 

is AVAILBLE NOW in hardcover, paperback, and for ebooks.


1 comment:

Josh Stallings said...

Great post, and it really is "All about the writing." Thanks for the reminder.