My new book is out today!
Hang on, let me say that again, because it never gets old.
My new book – my fourth – is out today, 3rd January 2017.
For the longest time I worried that I would never sell a short story. Then when I’d sold one of those, I worried that I’d never sell a novel. I used to think: If only I can sell one book, just one book, I’ll be satisfied.
I was suffering from a poverty of expectation. In other words I’d set my sights firmly on the bottom rung of the ladder and no further. Lots of my writer friends from Milford, my contemporaries, had got themselves book deals before I did, some spectacularly. Alastair Reynolds, Liz Williams, Kari Sperring, Jaine Fenn, Ben Jeapes…
L-R Back row: Jacey Bedford, Kat Patrick, Ben Jeapes, Chris Amies, Patricia Wrede, Liz Williams, Cherith Baldry. Front row: Alastair Reynolds, Steve Kilbane, Pauline Dungate.
Milford 2016: L-R standing: John Moran, Dave Gullen, Terry Jackman, David Allan, Guy T Martland, Jim Anderson, Liz Williams, Jacey Bedford, Glen Mehn, Elizabeth Counihan, Lizzy Priest. Seated L-R: Sue Thomason, Amy Tibbetts, Paulina Morgan, Siobhan McVeigh.
While waiting for my break I’d done all the usual things: kept writing novels even though they were not being published; searched for and found an agent (and lost her again when she got out of the agenting business); kept sending out novels to publishers’ slushpiles while looking for a new agent. Then I got lucky. A writer I’d met at Milford gave me an introduction to her editor. I was still in the slushpile, but maybe slightly closer to the recognised end of it.
Finally (in 2013) I got the message that I’d been waiting half a lifetime for. Sheila Gilbert from DAW emailed me and said: I want to buy your book, when can I phone you? It was 6.00 on a Wednesday evening, and the novel in question was Winterwood. I stared at the email for a few frozen moments, excitement bubbling up inside me. I started to type: I’ll be at my desk all day Thursday when the realisation struck me. If it was 6.00 in the UK it would still only be 1.00 in New York. I’m in now, I typed. The phone rang almost as soon as I hit send.
Everything happened quite quickly after that. Within a week I had a new agent – the lovely Amy Boggs from Donald Maass Literary in New York. Shortly after that I had a three book deal with DAW. I’d been worrying about selling one book and now I’d sold three. Of course I still had to write one of them from scratch, but I could do that. Of course I could. I was a real author, now. Real, I tell you. REAL!
My poverty of expectation had been blown out of the window.
One of Sheila’s first questions was: What else have you got? She was pleased to discover that I wrote science fiction as well as fantasy. She bought Empire of Dust, a space opera which, in embryonic form, I’d taken to my first ever Milford in 1998. She then ordered a sequel to Empire, which became Crossways, and the third book in the three book deal was the one she’d bought first, Winterwood, a historical fantasy set in 1801.
Empire of Dust (Psi-Tech #1) came out in 2014, Crossways (Psi-Tech #2) in 2015 and Winterwood (Rowankind #1) in 2016. My agent negotiated a follow-on deal and now my fourth book, Silverwolf (Rowankind #2) is out today and Nimbus (Psi-Tech #3) is due in October 2017.
I very much doubt I’d have my book deals if it wasn’t for Milford. All my published books – their first few chapters at least – have been subjected to the Milford process, and all of them are better for it. I learned a lot about publishing and story markets from the after-dinner socialising, and made invaluable connections. It was still a long process. Overnight success (from my first short story sale to my first published novel) still took sixteen years, but if I’d not had the help and encouragement from other writers (friendships made via Milford) I might never have stayed the course.
Thank you Milford.
Jacey Bedford is the hon. sec. of Milford. She’s been attending since 1998. She’s a British writer from Yorkshire with over thirty short stories and four (so far) novels to her credit. She lives behind a desk in an old strone house on the edge of the Pennines with her husband and a long-haired, black German Shepherd – that’s a dog not an actual shepherd from Germany.