When one is an unknown writer of fiction, with virtually no author platform, the journey to publication will be daunting. The odds of acquiring a successful break are comparable to winning the lottery. Almost all publishers and literary agents, individually, receive approximately 10,000 query letter submissions each year. Of those 10,000 – they look to take on only three or four manuscripts.
Hold On! has a history steeped in as many cliffhangers as there are in the story. After receiving over 60 rejections from publishers and literary agents, I engaged the assistance of my dear friend, former New York Times bestselling literary agent, and the founder of Literary Agent Undercover, Mark Malatesta. While my original query letter contained some desirable factors, it lacked a few technical details, which Mark helped me to correct. I would incur another 65 rejections before Hold On! was finally signed, although with the new query letter, my batting average soared to an average of one success in every sixteen submissions.
So what went wrong in the interim? And why did I need four successes before a contract was signed? Here’s where the cliffhangers REALLY began.
After Mark stepped in to help me, Hold On! first attracted the interest of an agent in Florida, who told me that it would take her five to six months to get to it. However, she was very understanding, and encouraged me to try to find a publisher in the meantime. If I was successful, she asked only that I let her know.
A few weeks later, a publisher in Michigan literally pleaded with me for Hold On!. Having a ‘bird in the hand’, I let them have it.
Almost a year later, the publisher folded – a week before Hold On! was due to go to press. I immediately contacted the literary agent in Florida again, only to discover that she had now retired.
A week later it was tentatively picked up by Writer’s Coffee Shop in Australia (the publishers who first published Fifty Shades of Grey.) We worked together on the project for four months, during which time, some key plot lines were removed from the manuscript. And then suddenly – silence. There had been no contention between me and Writer’s Coffee Shop. No disagreements. No arguments. Nothing! They simply ignored all of my emails, and with no explanation.
In October 2013, after a mere five more rejections, Hold On! was snapped up by a publisher in the USA. (I am compelled under contract not to name them, at their insistence.) It had finally ended its two year journey from Central England, to Florida, to Michigan, to Australia, to ultimately land in New York.
In April 2014, they accepted my sequel, Go! – Hold On! Season 2.
In February, 2015, the series was cancelled due to a conflict with my publisher. After a harrowing split, I purchased the rights to the series. Armed with knowledge of publishing and marketing I acquired during my time with my publisher, along with my own editorial team and graphic designer, the books were now back in my own hands. At the conclusion of its first major promotion under my own enterprise in May, 2015, Hold On! reached #1 in every Amazon book category.
Within six months, I brought the complete Hold On! Trilogy to my readers, but it had been such a harrowing experience, I’d decided to throw the towel in on it all.
And then . . . something extraordinary happened. In June, 2015, just for my own amusement, I’d released Hold On! – The Soundtrack on Youtube – and forgot all about it. It was just snippets of the songs that had driven the book. One of the songs in the soundtrack video was “Highway of Love” by Shining Line. The mastermind behind Shining Line, Pierpaolo “Zorro 11” Monti, contacted me, and I was blown away. Pierpaolo proposed writing and producing the official theme song to my next book. It was an extraordinary offer, but there actually was a ‘next book’ I had in mind. I’d left snippets in a scene at the end of Run! – Hold On! – Season 3. I had no idea what it would be about. It was just fragmented ideas in my mind.
My relationship with Pierpaolo led to my introduction with a rock legend, who, as it turned out, was my virtual neighbor. Nick Workman – the lead singer of international rock band, VEGA.
Nick and I met for a beer. I told him about my experiences in the writing world, and my story inspired his song, “White Flag”, which became the flagship single from Vega’s fourth album, Who We Are.