Ah, I love a good success story. Most writers will discover at some point or another that the road to publication is rarely a breeze. Perserverence, courage, and a willingness to take direction, are often the keys to getting far in this industry - no matter how brilliant a writer you are. This is why the publication of 'Skin Deep' by Laura Jarratt - better known on authonomy as that gangsta kitty, Lallie - is so gratifying. Laura was signed by Egmont last year - it wasn't with her first book, and it wasn't her first enquiry, but she's done it! And her debut novel has just been released on the world - go forth and buy it.
Here's Laura's story in her own words...
I made the Editor’s Desk three months after posting my second book, ‘Freefalling’, on Authonomy. I was contacted about 'Freefalling' as a result of it being on the site by a couple of agencies, but it wasn’t felt to be commercial enough at that point to launch a new author with. I had just begun working on ‘Skin Deep’, and Simon Trewin and Ariella Feiner from United Agents were keen to see the opening chapters of the new book. After two months, with the book half-written, they offered to co-agent me (Simon generously looked after us both until we were ready to fly solo) and I signed with them. In the meantime, I had my review of ‘Freefalling’ with some very helpful pointers, which I used to improve my writing on my next book. I asked Authonomy to send my grateful thanks to the editor and then thought no more about it, except for taking the excellent tips on board.
The first draft of ‘Skin Deep’ took three months to write. Ariella then looked over it and suggested some extra scenes. To add those took a week, and we were ready to submit it to editors. Simon had decided not to submit to all publishers at once so the book was sent out to a few editors at a time. I think I had my first rejection a few days before Christmas! Shoshanna Einfeld, another Authonomite, was going through this at the same time so there were frequent groaning emails of ‘got another one today, how about you?’ flying back and forth. The submissions round is quite a stressful time as, even with an agent, a book isn’t certain to sell. Sometimes even though the editor really likes it, a book gets rejected right at the last stage because the marketing department aren’t convinced it will sell.
In March, I got a call from Ariella to say an editor at Egmont called Stella Paskins wanted to talk to me about the book. My agent set up a phone call and I spoke to Stella about some edits she wanted done before she sent the book out to others in the company. Halfway through the conversation, while asking me how I got my agent, she realised she’d done my Ed’s Desk review when she worked at Harper Collins. We both liked the serendipity of this. I put my editing engine into fifth gear and had the work done in under a month. Stella was happy with the results and took the book to acquisitions.
At the point at which Ariella called to say Egmont had made an offer, I was on a school trip to Alton Towers and was just about to be dragged onto the Squirrel Nutkin ride by a colleague… Convincing her that answering the phone and then running off to squeal excitedly in a corner was not me chickening out of the terrifying Squirrel-Nutkin ordeal took some doing… especially as I hadn’t told anyone about the book and didn’t do so for another year.
Because another company also made an offer for the book, I went down to London to meet the teams at both publishers. What I love about Egmont is their energy and freshness, and working with Stella was a big plus as I like someone to push me to be as good as I can be. I think it’s important to have a connection with your editor so you understand what they want from you and she was a big part of my decision to work with Egmont.
The book underwent another two edits, one major and one for the last minor tweaks. We looked at paring back excess description in the first instance and then tightening character voice for the male mc and improving pace in the later edit. I know a lot of writers worry an editor will ask them to make a change they aren’t happy with but that certainly wasn’t my experience.
Skin Deep was published under Egmont’s new Electric Monkey imprint on the 5th of March, with thanks to several Authonomy members on the acknowledgements page. Find out more about Laura at www.laurajarratt.com