The Rocky Road to Publication

The Death Game has finally made it. It’s now published as a Kindle ebook. However, the road to publication for this novel has been far from smooth.

This was actually the first crime novel I ever wrote. Prior to this I’d written a historical saga which is now published as A Salt Splashed Cradle. I’d also written a lot of historical articles, many of them published in the US magazine The Highlander, as well as various UK magazines. So, I reckoned I was a historical writer.

The Death Game went the rounds and met the usual thanks, but no thanks response. Although Penguin did seriously consider it, but at the last minute they decided they didn’t like it 110%. Now I’m no mathematician, but I did wonder how a writer could ever manage to reach that additional 10%.

Nothing daunted I continued to submit and was over the moon when a new publisher ran a competition for the best unpublished crime fiction in the world – notice I said world – and I was one of the twenty winners. I thought I had it made.

However, the experience was, shall we say, less than satisfactory. I had four different editors over the year I was contracted for, and each one of them had different ideas. Being the nice, amenable person I am, I changed and faffed about with my manuscript in an effort to please them all, and you’ve guessed it – I pleased none of them. At the end of the day I was glad to escape their clutches, and they only published five of the winners, not the twenty that was promised.

This left me with a big problem. You see I’d mucked about with the manuscript so much I’d completely destroyed the story. So, the manuscript got chucked into the bottom drawer, otherwise known as my computer’s hard drive, and I left it there to gather cosmic dust.

Well, I thought, that was a waste of time, maybe my forte isn’t historical crime, maybe I should concentrate on contemporary stuff. So, that’s what I did. I started to write what has now become the Dundee Crime Series, and the door to publication opened wide when I won the Dundee International Book Prize for book two in the series Dead Wood.

In the meantime I had another historical novel on the back burner, and this one used the same character, Kirsty Campbell, that I had used in The Death Game. After a few arguments with myself I decided to resurrect The Death Game, and completely rewrite it. And that took every bit as long as writing a new novel from scratch. But now it’s written, and out there, I feel quite pleased with myself. My readers seem to like it as well. So, hey ho, it’s the start of a new series The Kirsty Campbell Novels.

If you want to buy the book, you’ll find it here;

But if you want to borrow it, or sneak a peek at someone else’s copy, I don’t mind. I just want you to enjoy it. Oh, and before I go, if you do like it and want to do me a favour, a wee review on Amazon would be greatly appreciated. It doesn’t have to be much, just a couple of lines to say why you liked it, and I’ll be happy.

Chris Longmuir


Lydia Bennet said…
Good to see Kirsty kicking ass on Kindle now Chris, it's a terrific novel and I look forward to more of her. God the horror of these 'almost made it huge' moments so many writers live through, I've had a couple myself and they do scar a person if you're not careful! But here we are still writing and creating and now putting our own work out there if publishers can't drum up more than 109% of excitement.
Dennis Hamley said…
What an interesting post, Chris. The behaviour of publishers the first time round beggars description. They really do want to write the books themselves but know they just haven't got the talent. It's on a par with Catherine's intern saying that The Physic Garden 'was just an old man telling his story. I read in The Author once of an editor who insisted his name went with the author's on the cover. There are some wonderful editors around but there are also too many who really ought to be cast as unemployable.
It's wonderful that a book which passed a big test but then was ruined by its own mentors should live again like this. But I bet you'd fight your corner with the editors now!
Chris Longmuir said…
You bet I'd fight my corner with them now, Dennis. I'm older and wiser in the tooth (is that a cliche?) I'm past the stage of going 'yes sir, no sir, three bags full sir.' However, those editors actually did me a favour because if The Death Game had been published then I would never have won the Dundee International Book Prize with a later book!
Bill Kirton said…
Great post, Chris, which no doubt triggers memories of similar experiences in many who'll read it. And the fact that The Death Game is such a bloody good read and is now being enjoyed by so many shows how much we needed the liberation that being Indies has given us. I suspect you'll be spending lots of time with Kirsty for the foreseeable future.
Diane Nelson said…
Yours is an odyssey I hope others will take heart from reading. And now I have another fine book to add to my collection.
It's good to know it has happened so often to so many people - but not good when it's happening to you. Still, it has worked out for the best! I've just finished the novel, enjoyed it very much and will definitely be putting up a review soon. I should point out that the editor that Saraband paired me up with for the Physic Garden was heavenly. I only wish there were more like her. She had a very light touch, asked the kind of questions that are always welcome (and not too many of them!) and didn't ever make demands. It was just a very useful dialogue and she unerringly put her finger on a few points that had worried me and - without making changes herself - made some very subtle suggestions based on the characters as they already existed in the novel. If you can find somebody who loves your book and can also take it seriously enough to interrogate parts of it but leave you to do the rest, you're onto a winner. But I've also had similar experiences to Chris's in the past both with books and plays in development. I sometimes think it's simply that a good editor is genuinely unselfish, whereas a not-so-good editor interposes themselves and what they would have written between you and your piece of work. Eventually, the whole piece of work implodes and you just have to shelve it for a while.
Lydia Bennet said…
it sounds to me as if those particular editors were part of a process intended to result in publishing a handful out of 20 winners originally offered publication...
Chris Longmuir said…
Well, I did have my suspicions at the time, particularly as all the authors kept on had some sort of PR value!
Rena George said…
Well, that particular publisher's loss is your gain, Chris. I can't wait to read The Death Game. Rx
Debbie Bennett said…
If that competition is the one I think it is, it left a nasty taste in my mouth too. Took me a good few years to realise I'd had a lucky escape!

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