Q & A with James Brogden - Part II


Last week, we posted Part I of James Brogden's Q&A with WEbook. James recently signed a book deal with award winning indie press, Snowbooks. Last week, James gave us a ton of great info about the writing process and development behind The Narrows. This week, James tells about what happened when the book was finished, and it was time to start looking for a publisher. 

Once you completed The Narrows, did you query traditional agents first? How did you choose the agents that you contacted? Did you receive any feedback?

I went through the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook with a highlighter, picked every single UK-based agent who said that they considered fantasy, science fiction, or horror, and started sending out samples. To date the feedback has been universally ‘thanks but no thanks’, but I’m hopeful that with The Narrows being published, agents will look more favourably on my next project.

How did hear about WEbook? What was your experience with PageToFame?

I heard about WEbook purely by accident – I teach Media Studies and I was researching the concept of user-generated content and the different uses of social network sites for my students, and came across a newspaper article about the way writers are using the internet to collaborate and self-publish. I wasn’t interested in self-publishing, but I followed up the reference to webook.com and thought that if my submission was successful then it would be something else I could mention in a letter to agents. If Snowbooks hadn’t picked it up then that’s exactly what I’d be doing right now.

PageToFame’s greatest strength lies in the objectivity of readers’ feedback. There are other sites where writers engage in a lot of favour-trading, promoting work which in some cases is pretty dreadful, but there’s nothing in it for webookers except, I guess, trying to rate like a publishing pro, so that keeps it more honest, I think. It can be a frustratingly slow process at times, though.

How did you first hear about Snowbooks and what drew you to submit The Narrows for their consideration?

Just straightforward, cold research and a methodical approach to submitting samples. They were listed in Writers & Artists as being interested in genre fiction, and when I looked at their website I found that they are one of a very small minority of publishers who will consider unsolicited manuscripts. I was impressed by the amount of explanatory detail they went into about their submissions process, and even though I knew this meant it would take a long time for them to get through the slushpile to my MS I felt that they were the kind of people who would give it a fair read. In my original email I even used WEbook as a selling point, as the Narrows was at 92% in Round 2 at the time. Hopefully that made a difference.

What was the submission process to Snowbooks like? 

It took just over four months to hear back from them, which is not unusual (I just recently got a rejection letter from an agent I approached over a year ago, which was a lovely surprise, especially since I’d forgotten that I’d even written to them by that time), and by a weird coincidence I got their email on exactly the same day as the email from WEbook telling me that The Narrows had made it to the Agents’ Showcase.

Once they made the offer things went very quickly; I had a contract in my hands three days later. They were particularly helpful with this, recommending that I join the Society of Authors to take advantage of their free contract-reading service. They’ve produced a very detailed and helpful author pack explaining the timetable of their publication process and giving clear instructions as to what they need from me at each particular stage, and my editor Anna has been great at answering my questions and keeping my paranoia to a mostly manageable level.

What’s been your favorite part of working with Snowbooks so far?

Oh look, everything. The whole thing. This is all a completely new adventure for me, so even little things like going back through the MS to change all the double quotation marks to single ones is fun because it’s getting me one step closer to having my first novel published. I would say that if anything, their embrace of technology is the thing I value most; I don’t understand why in this day and age there are still publishers who won’t accept submissions by email, for example. Just from reading their blog you can tell that they’ve got a good handle on the directions that modern publishing is moving in.

When will The Narrows be published? We can’t wait to read it!

It’s available for pre-order from Amazon (released January 9th 2012), so save your Christmas book tokens. And watch out for the Winter Solstice in the meantime; that’s when the monsters come out of the Narrows

That's all from James for now. So keep your eyes peeled for The Narrows in 2012. Congratulations James!

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