From 1985, when I first started writing, right up until 2002 (or thereabouts) I dreamed about getting an agent and getting a publisher. Back then it was really the only way to go if you wanted to be a serious writer. And I did. In 2001 I hit the jackpot and landed a well-respected London-based agent.
It was hell.
He read and loved A Long Time Dead, and set me up with an editor. We all three got along quite well. I’m not sure what the traditional publishing industry is like today, but back then my slice of it was horrible. I would wait weeks for replies to emails (I remember spending a whole day sitting in front of the computer, hitting ‘refresh’ every minute or two – despondent when no new emails came through – horrible times); he’d always be away from the office whenever I rang. Yes, I know what you’re thinking – Barrett’s an arsehole, and he just didn’t want to deal with me. I thought that too, believe me. But it turned out that he was the arsehole and left his agency not long afterwards leaving me high and dry.
Heartbroken? Yup. But I had one thing that he couldn’t damage: a real passion for writing, whether it was going to be published or not. Oh, and I also had the three books I’d already written. I didn’t want an agent or a publisher any more. I was happy just to write for me; I loved writing and couldn’t care less if it was ever published. A decade later and Amazon came along.
Fast forward a few years, and in early 2017 I wrote The Note – an Eddie Collins short story. Those readers I sent it to loved it, and I felt buoyed enough to ask an established author to offer an endorsement. Enter one Betsy Freeman Reavley. She read The Note and like it too, and duly emailed a splendid endorsement to me.
At the foot of her email was something like, “We should talk.”
So we did (via email, I don’t like phones, sorry). Between us, we agreed that I should come up with an original story just for Bloodhound. They wanted two chapters and a synopsis of the story.
Great. I had neither. But I did have a computer and an imagination – and my passion, don’t forget. The first two chapters of Dancing at the Devil’s Door fell out of my keyboard without a hitch. All I had to do was come up with the rest of the story. And for someone like me who writes by the seat of their pants, that was going to be a tall order. But I’d already said I could it, so do it I must. I set about making a roadmap of what should happen in the story. From that I was able to determine a list of events. And from that I was able to plot a list of scenes.
I sent those chapters and the synopsis to Bloodhound. I didn’t chew my nails, and I wasn’t worried; I knew that the story was good, and I knew that if Bloodhound didn’t want it, I’d go ahead and write it anyway. I wasn’t aching to get a publisher any more, content to remain a proud indie author. But if I was to get a publisher, it had to be Bloodhound – I’d seen their work, their standards, and the way were expanding within the market. I liked what I saw.
Thankfully Betsy liked the story, and I had the go ahead to get a move on. In July, with the Theakston’s Crime Fest as a backdrop, and with just a handful of first draft chapters under my belt, I met Betsy and the lovely Sumaira, and didn’t hesitate to sign the contract they’d brought along.
Publishing has changed massively since the dark days of 2002. This isn’t traditional publishing – I’m never going there again, thank you; this is modern publishing. So far I’m delighted to be at Bloodhound; I haven’t met anyone who wasn’t entirely thrilled to be there, I haven’t met anyone who’s in the slightest rude (my biggest criticism of my first experience). To cap it all, my publisher (always wanted to say that!) has a great reputation, and that’s backed up by the quality of the writers already on their books.
We’re half way through December as I finish this piece. Dancing at the Devil’s Door became The End of Lies, and in what seemed like a rush, we hurled the manuscript through a wonderful editor, hitched up a fantastic cover, and prepared for launch day (7th December), with Sarah Hardy formulating a blog tour.
The book has been out six whole days and I have to say that I never expected the success it’s already had. There are nearly 100 reviews on Amazon UK and US, more than 100 on Goodreads. Before the book hit the virtual shelves it was in the top 10 in its category, and was already on the Hot New Release chart (no idea how!). Since release, it’s been at number one on both sides of the Atlantic, it’s hit number one on the Hot New Release chart, and it’s been awarded an orange Best Seller ribbon.
Delighted? Just a bit 😉