My First (Pocket) Novel

I’ve been writing short stories and submitting them to magazines for a year or so. It’s a great way to learn how to cope with rejection but I’ve had a handful of successes too.

I wanted to have a go at a longer story and stumbled across the guidelines for writing a My Weekly Pocket Novel. Basically they’re about 50,000 words long and need to have a strong romance element as well as a thrilling mystery plot.

I emailed my first three chapters and a synopsis of the whole story to Maggie Swinburne, the pocket novel editor at My Weekly. She soon replied and followed this up with a phone call. She was lovely and explained I needed to work on balancing the thrills and the romance. I can’t remember her exact words but it was along the lines of “don’t scare our target readers so much they can’t sleep”. But she was very encouraging and asked to see the rest of the novel as soon as possible. And as it was a story set at Christmas I needed to get it written and to her quickly.

So, with no guarantee that My Weekly would actually buy it, I spent the next several weeks writing the longest story I’d written so far.

I won’t go into the detail of writing the rest of the book, but anyone who’s interested could check out my “First Draft” Q&A on Rebecca Bradley’s blog here

I emailed the completed manuscript to Maggie and I was thrilled when just a couple of days later she replied saying she’d like to buy it. However there were a few things she wanted changed (it was still a bit too frightening apparently).

Once the edits were done I then had a few months to wait before finally seeing the book in the shops at the beginning of December. What an amazing feeling! 

Thank you to Susan, Louise & Brian for sending me “shelfies” photos of the book in the wild.

Although it was hard work and at times I thought I’d never finish it, I’m proud of my pocket novel. And it can’t have been so very terrible an experience because I’ve since written (and just sold!) another one.

My New Year’s Resolution, though, is to write a full length novel. I already have an idea and a main character, so watch this space!

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