Published by Killer Reads
ebook: 15 December 2017 | Paperback: 25 January 2018
Welcome to my turn on the final day of the blog tour for The Perfect Neighbours with a great guest post from Rachel.
How I got published
by Rachel Sargeant
Thank you, Karen, for providing the final stop on my blog tour for my psychological thriller, The Perfect Neighbours.
Writing stories was one of my favourite activities in my school days, but I didn’t write again until my own children started school. I had a piece of beginner’s luck when the first story I wrote won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition. Without this early success, I might have given up. The next few years involved being shortlisted in a few competitions, and some of my stories were published in women’s magazines and anthologies, but I had far more rejections than acceptances. The thing that kept me going was telling myself that I’d done it once, so I could do it again.
While trying to get short stories published, I also turned my winning crime story into a full length novel and eventually had it published by a small, mainstream publisher. Readers got in touch to tell me how much they liked the novel – and these lovely comments became the new force that kept me going when I might have stopped – but still my writing didn’t really take off.
I kept on writing – more stories, more novels – and before long I knew I was hooked. I couldn’t stop, even if I was never published again.
There were a few more placings in competitions, but my modest success rate seemed to be dipping lower. Facing the problem head on, I signed up for an MA in Creative Writing by distance learning.
The course involved writing drafts of fiction that would form a final portfolio. For my project, I combined two concepts that I’d been mulling over for a while. One concerned setting, the other idea was about plot. I used to live in an expat community in Germany. Neighbours tended to know each other in a way that perhaps we no longer do back home. I always knew I would feature this unusual location or something similar in my writing as soon as I had the right project. When I returned to England, there was a story in a local newspaper about a major crime that had been committed in plain sight but no one noticed. Could a similar crime happen in a close-knit community like an English-speaking enclave in Germany? I had a story.
Tutors taught me much about technique, and I credit the feedback from fellow students with giving my writing the breakthrough it needed. After the course, another six months of rewriting followed. When I felt the novel was ready, I set about finding an agent. On the website for Peters, Fraser and Dunlop literary agents, I discovered that one of their agents, Marilia Savvides, was looking for psychological thrillers. Within twenty four hours of receiving the synopsis and first three chapters, she asked for the full manuscript and subsequently offered me representation.
With Marilia’s line-by-line advice, I redrafted and she pitched it to several publishers. Lots of advice came back – simplify the setting, reduce the number of viewpoints but expand another – so I undertook another redraft and resubmitted. I couldn’t believe my luck when Finn Cotton of Killer Reads got in touch and offered to publish. For the last few months, under his expert guidance, I’ve been making the necessary structural changes and line edits to get it ready for the Killer Reads list.
- So my advice on getting published would be:
- Stick at it – savour every little success, accept rejection, keep going.
- Share work with trusted fellow writers – seeing your writing through the eyes of others is enlightening.
- Get an agent – I could have self-published my draft years ago but it wasn’t good. An agent will help you make your book the best it can be before it’s sent to leading publishers for consideration.
- If agents and publishers give rejection feedback, listen to their advice. Restructure your novel and resubmit. You can always revert to your previous version if it still doesn’t get picked up. But the chances are that responding to professional advice will have made it more publishable.
| About the Book |
The perfect neighbours tell the perfect lies…
A dark and twisty psychological thriller from a rising star in the genre, perfect for fans of THE COUPLE NEXT DOOR. When Helen moves into an exciting new neighbourhood, she finds herself in a web of evil with no escape.
Behind the shutters lies a devastating secret…
When Helen moves abroad with her loving husband Gary, she can’t wait to meet her fellow expat teachers from the local International School. But her new start is about to become her worst nightmare…
As soon as the charming family across the way welcome Helen into their home, she begins to suspect that all is not as it seems. Then Gary starts to behave strangely and a child goes missing, vanished without a trace.
When violence and tragedy strike, cracks appear in the community, and Helen realises her perfect neighbours are capable of almost anything…
| About the Author |
Rachel Sargeant is the author of The Perfect Neighbours, Gallipoli: Year of Love and Duty, and Long Time Waiting. She won Writing Magazine’s Crime Short Story competition and has been shortlisted in various competitions including the Bristol Short Story Prize. Her stories have appeared in My Weekly and the Saucy Shorts series by Accent Press. She was born in Lincolnshire and is a graduate of the University of Aberystwyth. She now lives in Gloucestershire with her husband and teenage children.
Rachel is thrilled to join the HarperCollins Killer Reads list with her new psychological thriller The Perfect Neighbours, to be published in December 2017.