As any author will tell you, finding the right agent for their work can be a long and arduous a process. After the months or years spent writing their novel and honing their craft, securing an agent is a huge milestone in their dreams of publication. But then what? As agents one of the main questions we are asked by new authors is ‘what happens next?’
We spoke to Liv Matthews, debut author of The Prank, about what expectations she had going into her publishing journey and how the reality measured up.
What expectations did you have prior to publication?
Luckily, (or maybe not, I don’t know?!) my professional life was spent in the publishing industry so I have come into this process as an author with some ‘insider’ knowledge.
I expected things to move at a snail’s pace (it does), I expected lots of peaks and troughs (there are), I expected that PR and sales slots are hard to pin down and are confirmed at very late notice (yup and yup), I expected not to hear from my agent or publisher for months at a time, but knew that behind the scenes they were working their behinds off for me (they definitely were, and definitely still are!)
However, despite knowing all this, I still worried about ridiculous things – why hasn’t my editor written back to me, it’s been six whole minutes since I emailed? What if no one likes the book? I hope no one ever asks me what’s my book even about because I’ve forgotten…
The biggest expectation vs reality however has been that, as with hundreds of debuts and titles in 2020 and 2021, The Prank will be launched in lockdown and I never expected that in a million years! It’s an obvious disappointment not to see the book ‘in the wild’, however the publishing world has adapted (because creative people can do that brilliantly!) so I’m 100% confident that the book will find its way to readers.
Is there anything you wish you had known?
Although I’ve been writing since I was five, when it came to ‘doing it properly’, I wish I’d studied more about the theory of writing. I can really recommend Into the Woods by John Yorke – it’s fascinating and will give you an appreciation of how a book and its characters should be structured. Reading that before I wrote The Prank would have saved me thousands of words and hours but you know, I got there eventually and what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger! Haha!
What’s been your favourite part of the process?
There are such highs in this process but my absolute favourite part has been talking to people who love and really understand the book. The very first person who loved it and talked to me about it was my agent, Camilla, who met me in Pret one day in 2017 with notes on my book and my characters – what she loved and what she’d want me to work on – and it was incredible to that someone was as passionate about the people I’d created in my head as I was. That completely bowled me over, and it still does whenever I see a lovely review up about The Prank.
What advice would you give aspiring writers at the beginning of their careers?
- Read lots, both in and out of the genre that you want to write.
- Learn what a narrative arc is and what the ‘internal and external conflicts’ really mean (see above about John Yorke!)
- Write for yourself first of all and not ‘the market’, so you can develop your own style and voice.
- Kill your darlings! The delete button is your friend. No, really.
- When you have written a draft, invite constructive criticism – your book might be your baby and you might feel protective over it, but if you want to sell it commercially, you have let others in to help you make it better.
- There will be rejection. Lots of it. If writing is your passion, don’t be discouraged. Fail and then fail better and then… who knows where your dogged determination will lead you!
About the Author
For over ten years LV Matthews worked both in domestic and international sales for major UK publishing houses, before leaving to pursue a career in writing. She lives in Hampshire with her family where she is setting up a writers retreat business.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN REALITY TV GOES WRONG? EL GREENE IS ABOUT TO FIND OUT.
El lives a quiet life in London until a chance encounter leads her to discover a link between a hit reality TV show and her father’s death.
El realises she can orchestrate the perfect revenge but her pursuit soon turns to obsession and she doesn’t seem to know how to stop. Her drive for destruction means risking her life, and the lives of those closest to her . . .
Check out Liv’s utterly compelling debut, The Prank. Available in eBook, Audio and PB on 18th March. Pre-order your copy now https://www.waterstones.com/book/the-prank/l-v-matthews/9781787395220.