‘I’m always filled with admiration for authors who admit they spent years on their first novel…..I take my hat off to them for not leaving it in a drawer, for not burning it, for sticking with it.’
Today I have the fabulous Lorna Sixsmith, aka Irish Farmerette, join me for #IrishWritersWed.
Lorna has written a great post about deadlines and the benefits of same for authors entitled ‘Do Deadlines Benefit Authors?’
Lorna’s latest book Till the Cows Come Home will be published at the end of May by Black & White Publishing.
I’ll hand you over to Lorna now…
Do Deadlines Benefit Authors?
by Lorna Sixsmith
I’m always filled with admiration for authors who admit they spent years on their first novel. To have the resolve, the determination, the grit, the patience to spend three years or five years or eight years on that first book: writing, editing and sending it out to agents and publishers before eventually getting it onto the bookshelves. I take my hat off to them for not leaving it in a drawer, for not burning it, for sticking with it.
I tend to be impatient and impulsive. I’m not overly patient. I’m the type of person who will procrastinate for ever with a task if I don’t have to finish it by a specific time. If I have a deadline, I am focused. Come hell or high water, it will be finished. But it’s not so easy to create a deadline when writing a first book unless in the fairly unusual and very lucky position of having received a book deal based on a proposal.
When I got the idea for my first book, based on the response to a blog post, I wrote ten thousand words and then life became busy with other things. I knew of other writers who had spent years trying to get published and I wondered if it was the right path for me to take. My book was very different to anything else out there. Did I really have the patience to keep trying for years? Then I heard about crowdfunding, the possibility of asking people to pre-order my book. Not only would it lessen the financial risk and demonstrate if there was a readership but it would provide me with a finish date. I set up a crowdfunding campaign in July 2013 and I told pledgers they would have the book for Christmas. Even if the campaign wasn’t successful, I knew I’d finish the book if even two people told me they wanted to read it.
The crowdfunding campaign ended on 20th August. 200 pledgers played their part in helping me reach the goal. I just had to write the book, get it professionally edited, find an illustrator and a cover designer. The book was all in my head so in many ways, the writing was the easiest part. On 29th November, 1000 hard copies of that book were sitting in my hall. There’s nothing like boxes of books sitting there for providing the motivation to market your own books. 650 were sold by Christmas.
I had caught the self-publishing bug. I launched my next two books at the Ploughing Championships (Ireland’s biggest agricultural event, perfect for my farming books) which takes place in September each year. The midnight oil was burnt during July and August. Occasionally, I wondered what I would do if either my editor or my graphic designer became ill. I knew I would lose momentum if I decided to postpone a launch. Thankfully, there were no disasters and all went as planned.
Did I feel the books needed more time, more editing, more tinkering? They may have been different books if I’d spent another six months on them but would that have been advantageous? It’s impossible to say.
My most recent book, due out the end of this month, is traditionally published. However, the process worked in a very similar way as the publisher accepted my pitch and provided me with a deadline. It was 15th December. As I was involved in another project launching that week, I requested a seven day extension. I didn’t expect an editor to read my manuscript over the Christmas break but neither did I want to be working over Christmas and the New Year. Hence, I had a busy December but at 3:00pm on 22nd December, I emailed my manuscript to the publisher and started preparing for Christmas.
I’m conscious that a publisher may accept a non-fiction proposal again and thereby provide me with the much-needed deadline. However, I will need to provide a full manuscript for a novel. Hence, I am going to have to create my own deadline and do my best to stick to it, perhaps providing myself with a good reward to try and ensure I succeed.
.Would I recommend being like me? Not really. It means late nights, early mornings and eating way too much chocolate with cups of tea but somehow, it works.
Note: Book Launch – Dubray Books Kilkenny, Wednesday 30th May, 6-8pm
About the Book:
Fuelled by dreams of a rural idyll, Lorna Sixsmith and her husband swap the 9 to 5 for a return to her family’s ancestral farm at Garrendenny.
They love the fields and lanes of their corner of Ireland where their black and white herd flourishes, the land where the patterns of their lives echo those of generations of Sixsmiths before them.
However, as they discover, a rural existence isn’t always heaven on earth. Bad weather, runaway bulls, temperamental farm machinery and stubborn cows that refuse to be milked can test anyone’s patience. But not for too long – the fields, the cows and the laughter always win out.
Warm, witty and wise, Lorna Sixsmith effortlessly mixes family memories, social history and her own hard-won insights into life on the land.
Purchase Link ~ Till the Cows Come Home
Meet Lorna Sixsmith:
Hi, I’m Lorna, married to Brian, and we are dairy farming in the South-East of Ireland. I’m now a farmer and writer but I have tended to change careers about every five years. I’ve been a dental nurse, then did 5 years of college ending with a MA and PGCE, I spent five years as a secondary school teacher, then an interior designer with an online store, and turned to social media training and organising the Blog Awards Ireland in 2011. I’ve been writing books since 2013.
I love life and hate paperwork – I think that sums me up! I’m allergic to cow’s milk (great for a dairy farmer!) but cope okay with dairy chocolate! My favourite tipple is tea as long as it comes steaming hot served with chocolate or homemade cake.
Read more about Lorna over at http://www.lornasixsmith.com/
Twitter ~ @LornaESixsmith
Facebook ~ https://www.facebook.com/IrishFarmerette/