Wednesday, 18 May 2022

The difficulties of working with a goddess - by Lu Hersey

 Next month I have a new book coming out. 

So what, you might be thinking - big yawn, show us your cover and shut up about it. Writers have new books out all the time.

But of course I want to tell you about the book as well as showing you the cover. I mean, it's taken over seven years and more edits than you've had hot dinners to get here, and that takes a bit of explaining. 

One of my biggest difficulties was having a land goddess appear in the story, especially as she kept taking over. After all, Andraste is the goddess Boudicca invoked before battling the Romans, so she's really not to be messed with...and she was determined I got the story right before it was published.

Andraste, goddess and guardian of the land (image by Rhi Wynter, detail taken from the back cover)

But my (possibly more realistic) problems started when my publisher back in 2015 turned the idea for the book down, AND I KEPT WRITING IT ANYWAY. Yes, big mistake, but hindsight is a wonderful thing. My advice to my past self (and any other writer caught in this scenario) would be, even if you don't agree with your publisher and you think they're totally wrong about the commercial value of your work of genius, it's best to simply write something new they might want instead.

To be fair, they didn't realise that by the time the first section was presented to them, I'd written a whole draft already. The goddess was awake and ready for battle. 

Anyway, their feedback on the part they read was:

1. My main protagonist was a boy (he still is. He's called Arlo). They preferred female protagonists because they sell more books - and apparently boys don't read.

2. No one knows what a crop circle is and girls don't read about aliens (if they'd read past the first section, they'd have discovered there weren't - and still aren't - any aliens. But doubt they'd have liked the land goddess any better, tbh)

3. Teens aren't interested in ecological issues. (This predated Greta Thunberg, obvs)

I now fully acknowledge that sales and marketing have a valuable job to do, which is making sure what's published actually sells and makes the publisher a profit. OF COURSE I should have let go of the book and written something else immediately. But did I listen? Did I buffalo. 

I did try. After a while, I wrote new books and put Broken Ground on the back burner. In fact there are currently two of my books still going through the glacial submission process somewhere. But throughout all this, I still couldn't let the idea behind Broken Ground go. I kept coming back to it, again and again.

And now, zillions of edits and much generous feedback from writer friends later, Broken Ground finally gets to see the light of day next month - thanks to wonderful Debbie McGowan at Beaten Track publishers.  

Also, thanks to amazing designer Rhi Wynter, it has a stunning cover....

(AT LAST, you're thinking - FINALLY she's got to the cover reveal!)

That's it really. I'll be promoting Broken Ground a lot over the next couple of months, so you'll be tired of hearing about it soon enough. But if you like the idea of a book filled with scary magic, crop circles, blood sacrifice and a land goddess, it'll make me a very happy writer. 

(And even happier if you want to read it, obviously 💚).

Lu Hersey


Nick Garlick said...

'Scary magic, crop circles, blood sacrifice and a land goddess'?
If I saw those words on the back of the book, I'd be hooked instantly.
Especially one with such a superb cover.

LuWrites said...

Thanks Nick! Hopefully others will agree!

Steve Gladwin said...

I totally agree with Nick, Lu. You know me! But 'glacial submission process' is surely the most apt description yet of those particular horrors. The opposite - and far less likely, would have to be tectonic shift. Hands up anyone who has had one of those?

Jenny Alexander said...

I hope your past self would have ignored that advice, Lu! My last agent told me to write whatever I most wanted to write, on the grounds that publishers are always 'on trend' and writers are often ahead of it - who knows what will be selling by the time a book comes out? The whole thing is a glacial process. Brilliant cover - I hope it flies off the shelves x

Rachel Hamilton said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Rachel Hamilton said...

Beautiful cover for a brilliant book, Lu. Can't wait to hold a proper copy!

LuWrites said...

Thanks Steve, Jenny and Rachel! Am rather hoping I wasn't too damning about publishing - the editors and people in the industry are generally lovely! But it can sometimes be a very steep learning curve for a writer negotiating their way through the process...

KayGillard said...

Thank you for the phrase "did I buffalo", which I am resolved to use at some point today. Maybe several points.

Also I think you are 100% right to keep writing if the book was alive and wanting to be written. And the fact that it's coming out now proves you were right! It is also one of those stories that will keep me going through rejections while my story is alive!

Cover looks epic x

LuWrites said...

Thanks Kay! X

Unknown said...

VERY much up for this, Lu! Make sure I'm on the book launch list ;-) X

LuWrites said...

Will do, Finbar! X

Mystica said...

Congratulations on the book.

Stella Man said...

How exciting, and love the cover. Congratulations Lu

LuWrites said...

Thanks Stella, that's really kind of you. You know how long I've been writing this blooming book! x

Lynne Benton said...

Congratulations, Lu - and well done for sticking with the story you wanted to tell!