Miranda Dickinson not only offers advice about authonomy.com and publishing, but she’s also giving two Her Circle Ezine readers copies of both of her novels, Fairytale of New York (AVON, 2009) and Welcome to My World (AVON, 2010).
Q: Please share a little about your work and your process of writing.
A: I am a romantic comedy writer, living in the UK, with two books currently published by Avon (HarperCollins). My process of writing has been rather haphazard in the past, although now I’m writing a book a year I’m having to be a little more organised! Generally, my novels begin with an interesting thought, or a snippet of conversation that sparks an idea. Then I like to take it for a walk to see where we end up! For me, writing is all about the journey. I’m interested in creating interesting characters you’ll want to get to know and then creating worlds around them that we can wander through. If I could choose to work in any way it would be to start with not much of an idea where I’ll end, but since I became a published author this isn’t always possible. That said, while I plan a lot more than before, I still like to leave room for my writing to surprise me—some of my best bits of writing have been the result of a serendipitous bend in the road!
Q: Can you tell us a little about authonomy and why you joined?
A: authonomy is a website created by HarperCollins that gives unpublished and aspiring authors the opportunity to showcase their work. Members read and rate other writers’ work and the most popular novels are given a critique by a HarperCollins’ editor. I joined simply because I wanted to know what other people would make of my writing. It never occurred to me that my novel would be considered worthy of publication—or that agents and editors might be looking. For me it was all about testing the waters, a first tentative step towards considering what to do with my writing.
Q: Do you find a real sense of community at authonomy? How has that affected your writing?
A: There is a genuinely lovely sense of community at authonomy that has provided so much support for me ever since I first joined. When I uploaded my incomplete manuscript, I had no idea if I could actually write, or if I was kidding myself! I have made some friends for life on the site and discovered fantastic writers, too. The feedback I received from other writers on the site was invaluable and I learned so much about pitching a book, promoting it and developing relationships with other writers—all of which I’ve needed to know since becoming a published author.
Q: How did your book deal come about?
A: I still don’t really know! About six weeks after uploading my manuscript on authonomy, I received an email from an editor at Avon saying that she was interested to read the full manuscript of my novel. At first, I didn’t believe it, so I Googled her name and discovered she was genuine! I then wrote 20,000 words in three days to complete the novel and sent it, never thinking I’d hear from her again. But two weeks later, I received a phone call from the Publishing Director of Avon, offering me a three-book deal—I was astonished!
Q: Had you had any experiences with the more traditional routes authors take towards publication?
A: No. That’s why I often call myself an ‘accidental novelist’—I never imagined that anyone would be interested in the New York rom-com I’d written for fun. To that end, I didn’t have an agent (and still don’t) and had never experienced the usual process. I’m incredibly fortunate in that my editor is fantastically supportive of my work and does a lot of the things for me that an agent would. That’s not to say I wouldn’t ever consider an agent, but I just haven’t met the right one yet.
Q: How has publication changed your writing life?
A: It’s made me become more organised because I no longer have the luxury of just writing when I feel like it. I still work three days a week, so writing has to be fitted in around that, but so far it seems to be working.
Q: Do you have any advice to share with unpublished writers?
A: Just do it! Write because you love it and never, ever lose sight of that fact. When you become a published writer and other forces determine your writing life, it can be really easy to forget why you do it, so you need to remind yourself daily how lucky you are to be able to write at all. Get your writing ‘out there’: I started blogs, wrote articles and short stories for free for citizen journalism sites and created an inexpensive website, all to provide a platform for my work. Lastly, never give up. You never know who may be looking: in my case someone at Avon was and I happened to be what she was looking for. If it can happen for me, it can happen for anyone!
—Melissa Corliss DeLorenzo
Miranda Dickinson has always had a head full of stories. From an early age she dreamed of writing a book that would make the heady heights of Kingswinford Library. Following a Performance Art degree, she began to write in earnest when a friend gave her The World’s Slowest PC. She is also a singer-songwriter. Her first novel, Fairytale of New York, was discovered on authonomy.com, became a Sunday Times Top 10 Bestseller, was shortlisted for the Romantic Novelists’ Associations’ Romantic Novel of the Year Award, has been translated into four languages and has sold over 106,000 copies to date. Her second novel, Welcome to My World, was published in November 2010 by Avon (HarperCollins) and has already made the bestseller lists in the UK.
Book giveaway WINNERS! Congratulations to Rita and Tina, winners of Miranda’s books Welcome to My World and Fairytale of New York! Thanks for participating.
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