When I went to my very first Get Published event with the Writer’s Workshop, way back in 2012, my publishing dream seemed to be just that – a dream that I’d had for a long time that had very little chance of coming true. The publishing sector was running scared from the new e-book ‘threat’, the Fifty Shades of Grey phenomena had just started sweeping the world, and it seemed that nobody would want to publish, or read, the kind of book I was writing.
But jump forward four years and I’ve worked really hard to get that book as good as I could. I’ve been to every Festival of Writing in York since that first day event at the Wellcome Trust, I’ve done the Self-Editing Your Novel Course with Debi Alper and Emma Darwin, and I am now very lucky in that my publishing dream has become a reality. I have a two book deal with a really exciting new indie press, Urbane Publications, and my debut novel, As If I Were A River, came out on 11th April 2016. The novel I’m writing now is scheduled for publication in Autumn/Winter 2017.
Apart from the trepidation that comes hand in hand with putting yourself out there and wondering how the book will be received, it’s been a really exciting and joyful experience. There’s been a lot of happy kitchen dancing going on!
One of the best moments so far was when the author Alison Moore read an advance review copy to provide me with a ‘puff’ (I had no idea they were called that until it was time to gather some!) and I realised that my first book would have a recommendation from someone whose work I really admire. Her Man Booker Prize-shortlisted debut novel, The Lighthouse, inspired me to stick to my guns about telling a quiet story and not having a neat, happy ending.
But definitely at the top of the list, apart from that initial acceptance email, is when the finished paperback arrived and I finally held the book that had been living on my laptop for six years in my hands. It was a surreal, emotional and completely thrilling moment. There were so many times along the way that I nearly gave up with this book but, luckily, I have got some good writing friends, and a very supportive and patient husband, who wouldn’t let me. I’m so glad they made me stick at it.
Especially as I was completely blown away when As If I Were A River was picked as one of the Top 10 Books of May 2016 on NetGalley, which is a website where professional book reviewers can get their hands on advance review copies from all of the publishing houses. It’s also had some great reviews from book bloggers, as well as a few not so great ones on Goodreads! I’d been really worried in the run-up to the launch about how I would feel about bad reviews, and I’m happy to say that the anticipation was a lot worse than the reality. As a reader there are books that I don’t enjoy and I know that there will be lots of readers out there who do enjoy mine, but also lots that don’t.
The whole process of working with Urbane has been inclusive and collaborative so that I’ve had a huge say in how the book looks and how it’s promoted. I’d imagined that being with a new indie press would mean that the whole thing would feel quite low-key, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. The week the book came out it went straight into a WHSmith travel offer and is now on the promotional stands at shops in Heathrow, Gatwick, Stansted, Paddington, Kings Cross, and many more.
The London launch party on 14th April was made even more exciting when one of my friends turned up with a picture of As If I Were A River sitting at number 57 in the WHSmith paperback charts next to The Danish Girl. Next up in the launch events is a book signing at Waterstones Lancaster, with my very own window display, and there just generally feels like there has been a real buzz around the book as the publication date approached, and still now the week after the launch. So, yes, the reality for me is definitely living up to the publishing dream and I’m hoping I don’t wake up for a good while yet.
Amanda’s debut novel, As If I Were A River, is available on Amazon, Waterstones, and the Urbane website.
‘A compelling, intricate, psychological exploration of the lies we tell ourselves and the truths we run from. Beautiful.’ – Angela Clarke, author of Follow Me
‘Amanda Saint’s intricately plotted debut novel is a juicy Pandora’s box of mysteries and revelations.’ – Alison Moore, author of The Lighthouse