NEIL GRIMMETT: DON’T BE PUT OFF BY REJECTION
Posted by Ognian Georgiev
Neil Grimmett is an award winning author. He is master of short stories with two self-published books in 2014 – The Hoard and The Threshing Circle. Our next guest knows how tough is to deal with publishers and literary agents. Neil was very kind to share his impressions in the next Q&A for the blog.
– Neil, what is your last book The Hoard about?
– An explosion kills 6 men in 1951. Thirty years later the son of one of the victims infiltrates the top secret location to discover the truth and fight evil.
– How did you decide to write the story?
– I had written 6 short stories set in the location and published them worldwide. The novel grew from them.
– What was the biggest challenge during the write up process?
– Cutting and editing the novel. When it was signed by Writers House in New York it was over 200,000 words. It is now 107,000.
– Tell us something more about your main character? Is it close to someone from your real life?
– I tried to make him a sensitive character, who would have been the child his murdered father would have wanted. I think there is a bit of most authors in most of their main protagonists.
– How much time you need to finish the story and to publish it?
– 1st draft about 4 months. Then another year until I published it.
– What may you tell us about your most popular novel The Threshing Circle?
– Set on the island of Crete. A story came out in Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine and led to the novel.
– Who are you?
– I am Neil Grimmett. I have over 85 short stories published around the world; won over 20 major prizes; and am currently represented by the literary agent Jon Elek at United agents, London.
– Are you satisfied by the sales of the book and do you plan another one?
– Yes and no. Both novels have just been offered on an exclusive to a major publishing house. If they buy them, I will step aside and concentrate on writing. If not, then I have the next book ready to publish.
– What are you doing to promote by the best possible way your book?
– Gathering great reviews from top reviewers. Trying to learn about how to use the social media.
– For a long time you published short stories, why you waited so long before releasing a full novel?
– Every time I wrote a novel it was snapped up by a top literary agent. Then it went round to publishing houses and got ‘the nicest passes’. By the time that was done the next book was ready and we were off again. In the end I had enough and decided to self-publish. With my stories, they were always published and not left in the drawer to languish.
– With your huge experience, what kind of advices you may give to young writers in order to develop as quality authors?
– Read a lot; write a lot. Don’t be put off by rejection. The late Andre Dubus was very helpful to me when I first started getting published. One of the (printable) things he said was that there would always be someone who would find a good reason for not liking your work. So ignore them. But listen to that little voice that whispers you haven’t got it right. That one is always right.
– How important is to have an agent and how tough is to find a quality one?
– I can only say that it has never been tough for me to find an agent; but it is very tough for most, I know that. Important? I’ve had the biggest both sides of the Atlantic and not one has sold anything, yet! However, I’ll give an example of how it works. I approached 12 publishers on my own with one of my novels. They all asked to read; I didn’t get one reply after that. Now a top publisher is reading both of my self-published novels. They have written to me, but will only discuss business with my agent! They do not trust the writer or themselves without the chaperone present until the wedding is over! Also, today, there are too many rights and contracts to police. Go for an agent WHEN you are ready. And self-publishing will not put one off if the work is ready.
– Ask yourself a question (And don’t forget to answer!)
– What do you consider the most important thing a writer should learn to accept? A: editorial advice from a good editor. The first time a story or novel comes back marked-up, you will want to kill the person and deny everything they have done. Don’t! Stephen King puts it brilliantly : To write is human; to edit is divine.