Friday, February 5, 2010

Getting my first book published, Rhonda Roberts

Rowena, here. For an unpublished writer it is so hard to get your work in front of an editor. The manuscript can be really good, but if you can't get past the 'gate keeper' you'll never sell the book.

Back in 2006 while I was on the Fantastic Queensland committee, I organised a Pitching Opportunity for Spec Fic writers to pitch their books to Stephanie Smith from Harper Collins.

Marianne de Pierres, Louise Cusack and Kim Wilkins kindly agreed to help select the 10 lucky aspiring writers and run a workshop on how to pitch. Rhonda Roberts was one of these writers. Here's her story ...
(Look out for the Give Away question. We have a copy of Gladiatrix for one lucky blog reader).

Getting published seemed like a long shot but I read everything I could find and joined the NSW Writer’s Centre in Sydney. The Centre was invaluable. Nothing like listening to writers, publishers and agents talk about their industry and being able to ask questions.

Inspired I planned my series, honed the first book (for the tenth time), started the second and sent out query packages to publishers and agents.

I had no success until I did one of Terry Dowling’s workshops. He said I had to find a way to get my manuscript past the slush pile - the manuscripts that never make it to the editor’s desk.

So I looked for competitions to enter and came across one with the prize being an opportunity to pitch to a publisher at that year’s National SF Convention. It was organised and judged by Rowena Cory Daniells, Marianne de Pierres, Louise Cusack and Kim Wilkins. To my surprise I won a place with nine others.

Rowena and Kim ran a workshop to prepare us for the pitch, which was wonderful. They reminded us to be extremely concise in our presentation – we only had a few minutes to make an impression.

At mine the publisher was very kind but non-committal and especially interested to know how far I was along with the rest of the series.

Later she sent me an encouraging email… She liked my work but it wasn’t the right length so I could resubmit when I’d expanded the draft by a quarter.

I resubmitted and while I was waiting worked on the second book. When the call came I expected the worst – but instead HarperCollins bought the first three books in my Timestalker series. The first one, Gladiatrix, came out in May 2009.

Rhonda's bio:

I have a Ph.D and worked as an academic specialising in the sociology of knowledge. I trained in Aikido in Japan and now Tai Chi near my home in the Illawara.

And Rhonda is a fan of SF Comedy so the Give Away question is:

In what SF comedy series does the Big Giant Head appear and who played him?


Tehani Wessely said...

3rd Rock from the sun, William Shatner!

Anonymous said...

And isn't he just the best Giant Head!

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Love the cover, Rhonda.

Did you have much input on it?

Rhonda Roberts said...

Spot on Tehani! I'll arrange with Rowena to get the book to you.

Good on you!

Rhonda Roberts said...

Yep, mdep - William Shatner is a force of nature! Love him! I want a show just on the BIg Giant Head now!

Rowena the cover was completely the work of Darren Holt and the design team. I had some imput but it really came down to Darren. I was very lucky.

(And the next two covers look just as good.)

Rowena Cory Daniells said...

Rhonda, love to see the covers, when you can show us.

Rhonda Roberts said...

Soon I hope - I'm waiting to find out the release date of Bbok 2.