JILL CLOUGH LIVE BLOG: MAY 4 2023


Do other authors find they are working on two novels simultaneously?


I didn’t intend this. I thought the one I’d just finished, When the Killing Comes Home, was as good as I could get it. I’d sent it to several independent publishers and a few agents. I’d worked on it for some years, going through countless drafts, reflecting on comments from my writing group, as well as feedback from other participants in the Cornerstones Edit Your Novel the Professional Way.

 

I’d sent it to Professor Linda Anderson, OBE, extremely distinguished founder of the Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, the Newcastle Poetry Festival (Linda was one of my PhD in Creative Writing supervisors and has read everything I’ve written since. I am very lucky). I also sent it to a friend who specialises in trauma counselling to make sure she’d approve of how I’d used her advice.

 

I didn’t inspire any agent or publisher, so I settled down last month to shorten the novel by about 6,000 words, make other changes in response to suggestions and felt it was as good as I could get it.

 

By the way, I was already 40,000 words into the next novel.

 

Well, on impulse I sent the revised version of When the Killing Comes Home to an editor who’s the friend of a friend. The next revision awaits me. I received excellent advice on why agents probably don’t get past my first couple of pages, and clear instruction on how deal with my over-reliance on ‘show, not tell,’ a tendency which can leave the unwary reader baffled. Some early ‘telling’ is ok.

 

The editor is Anne Hamilton, by the way. Her website is http://www.writerightediting.co.uk.

 

When I get back to my novel in progress I’ll try to remember her advice. I’m already on the second major rewrite, but it will have wait for a few days.

 

In the meantime, I ponder the reality that brilliant book covers and great reviews don’t necessarily sell books. Jilly Cooper unexpectedly provided a terrific review for my first novel, Morph, I won the Lakeland Book of the Year Award for Fiction, in 2019 and the cover is stunning. Sales are not spectacular.