CATCH THE MOON, MARY the journey from my laptop to the virtual shelves is a journey that reads like Author Interrupted at every turn, pathway blocked, DO NOT ENTER, GO BACK YOU ARE GOING THE WRONG WAY and finally by taking THE ROAD LESS TRAVELED my tome has found its way home…or more precisely into your home.
But authors be warned: If you want to write something original be prepared for plebeian denigration.
I spent a decade refining Catch the Moon, Mary, the story Mary Granger, an eight-year-old musical genius who leaves dishes of honeyed bread on her windowsill for the elves in the hope they will bring her good luck. To block out the unwanted nocturnal visits of her drunken father, Mary imagines music, not just any music, full-blown symphonies that gateway fantasy worlds into which she escapes his vile attentions.
Her music has a far reach, twining the glittering pockmarked sky with tendrils of melody. One night a weary angel trapped in endless flight hears her music and flutters to her window. Breathing in her redemptive symphony, his light reignites and he devises a plan to inflame the spaces between the notes with a powerful subliminal message of hope that will awaken the comatose world. Fulfilled at last he will return home, bathed in glory … if the girl accepts his Faustian deal – fame, fortune and protection from her father in exchange for the sole rights to her music … and no questions asked.
I began writing Catch the Moon, Mary in 2001. In 2007 I won the Women’s Weekly/Penguin Short Story Contest and had the opportunity to present a completed manuscript to Penguin. Despite having been rejected by every literary agent in Australia the agents started calling me at that point. I offered them Catch the Moon, Mary but not one of them was interested. One very respected Australian Literary Agent who shall remain nameless called it the “oddest book they had ever read” another more optimistically said, “It’s brilliant but I can’t sell such an unusual story in this market.” And Penguin knocked it back.
So, once again, despite winning a major Lit Comp, I was on my own struggling to navigate a seemingly impenetrable market. Thank God for Preditors and Editors, my go-to for publishers open to unsolicited mss. I scoured the columns of P&Es and pitched to hundreds of publishers worldwide over the next seven years. Yes, you read that correctly, SEVEN YEARS. Every day my inbox was brimming with rejections if they bothered to answer at all.
Finally a small publisher in Scotland accepted the manuscript and published it 2015.
A word here about small publishers. Make sure they have a vigorous social-media-savvy intern on staff or your newly-published book will sink like a stone. Mine did. In the end I had to take the book back and self-publish because I realised I’d be better off working alone and pursuing every available avenue for raising awareness of my book as opposed to asking permission. Having said that, the publisher was arguably the most brilliant editor any publishing house could want and if one of the mainstream publishers wants to look at hiring her they’d be doing their authors a huge service.
So, my book was mine again and it fell to me to market it. I made all the rooky mistakes. Paying good money to bad publicists and worse reviewers for no results. And then I stumbled upon the #writingcommunity on Twitter who are remarkably supportive.
Then I had a series of lucky breaks.
I once met an agent in London who told me that everyone deserves two lucky breaks. I’ve had several but chief among them are the following:
- In 2015 my friend Nigel Lewis, a lighting designer on the West End, gave his friend, Amanda Redman, a copy of my book and she included it in her favourite six books in the Express!
- In 2015 Tracy Fenton https://www.facebook.com/groups/readrecommendreview ran a Raffle to raise money for a friend with cancer. She asked authors to donate signed copies of their books. I donated Catch the Moon, Mary and Jules Mortimer bought it. Two years later she read it and gave it a superb #5Star #review #BookReview (5 Stars) – Catch the Moon, Mary, by Wendy Waters @wa_waters @CatchMoonMary #CatchTheMoonMary #MagicalRealism #Fantasy #FairyTale #Angels #Fiction #Book #Review – LittleMissNoSleep Daydreams of Books (wordpress.com)
- The next lucky break was stumbling across the truly fabulous and highly professional reviewer/editor Peter Donnelly @theReadingDesk whose review forged a lifelong friendship and working partnership when time allows! thereadingdesk.com/catch-the-moon
- And finally the angels delivered Sarah Sansom whose review still sings to my soul! One day I will employ this brilliant marketer/editor/reviewer to market ALL my work: musicals, films, plays, books.
Book Review: Catch The Moon, Mary – The Book’s Whiskers (wordpress.com) Catch the Moon, Mary has attracted some extraordinary #5Star #reviews since 2015 and the mean, small-minded part of me takes a certain pleasure in the fact that the books chosen ahead of mine by Penguin and Harper-Collins between 2007-2010 have uniformly garnered only a handful of #5Star reviews and in one case only a few #3Star reviews. What they all lack is STORY and originality. I cannot stress enough the importance of being able to spin a good yarn. Stories endure. Wordsmith ability is essential. Put the two together and you have magic. Write your best story and wrap it up in words that cast a glamour and then do everything in your power to raise awareness of your work and you will succeed.
Failure is a word not a sentence!!
Finally here’s my advice to authors whether you’re traditionally published or self-published.
- Join Twitter and Instagram and post regularly. Get involved with the #writingcommunityofinstagram and the #writingcommunity on Twitter. They are so supportive!
- Approach #reviewers and offer them hard copies or e-copies of your book in exchange for an honest review.
- Remind friends & family to leave #reviews on #Amazon and #Goodreads and anywhere else your #book is sold.
Blog if you’re not doing so already and write interesting articles. Better to write engaging posts infrequently than bore people stupid with trivia.
Seek out #reviewers like The Reading Desk thereadingdesk.com and Sarah Sansom The Book’s Whiskers – Books ✦ Cats ✦ Gin ✦ Life is good! (wordpress.com) and Jules Mortimer littlemissnosleep.wordpress.com and Yecheilyah Books LLC yecheilyahysrayl.com and get yourself on their TBR list.
Help other people. Every act of kindness will return to you tenfold!