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The Independent Route To A Book Deal

September 21st, 2018

It is almost twenty years since I enrolled with the Writers Bureau in 1999. Prior to that I hadn’t considered writing as a career option but the Writer’s Bureau gave me a great start. It taught me many valuable skills and gave me the confidence to pursue a writing career. During the course I found that novels were my preferred type of writing as well as my forte but it wasn’t until many years later that I eventually published.

My writing career began with magazine articles, mostly on parenting and places of interest. I then decided to set up a writing services business offering copywriting and proofreading services, and I utilised the skills gained on the course. In particular, the module on writing for trade magazines helped me with producing content for company websites.

However, I still wanted to publish the novel that I began during the course. Shortly after my studies I had approached many agents and publishers with no success. Discouraged, I put the novel to one side and concentrated on other things.

Eventually I picked up the novel again. By this time I had gained a lot of writing experience and immediately knew that I needed to give it a revamp. It became a gritty crime novel set in Manchester called, Slur, and I published it independently via Amazon in 2014. By this time independent publishing had taken off and, although I had a lot to learn, the process was relatively straightforward. I followed up Slur with a sequel then a third book and together they became The Riverhill Trilogy.

As well as learning how to publish independently, I carried out lots of research on marketing and promotion for independent authors. There are many tips on the Internet relating to these topics and I devoured as much information as I could.

When I had two books on the market, I ran a successful promotion, which significantly improved my Amazon rank. It was through this enhanced visibility that a publisher spotted my books, Aria Fiction at Head of Zeus, and I signed with them in August 2016. They have been great to work with and I have now finished another trilogy with them, The Manchester Trilogy. They have also republished my Riverhill Trilogy and I have recently signed another three-book deal with them.

One of the things I like about being with a publisher is that they take care of all the cover design, editing, proofreading, formatting and book promotion, leaving me to get on with my writing. They also have more influence promotion-wise and my book sales have gone from strength to strength.

I would advise anyone not to be disheartened if they don’t land a book deal straightaway. Many authors are having great successes publishing independently with some ‘hybrid’ authors combining traditional and independent publishing. Ironically, I still haven’t been able to find an agent, despite one of my books reaching the Amazon Top 100 and another of them reaching the Top 50, but it doesn’t matter to me. I have learnt that it is possible to have great success without an agent.

 

My books are all available on Amazon at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/Heather-Burnside/e/B008MX8LD0 .

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