This week I enjoyed a special evening of Northern Noir at my local library (you can read my review here on Culture NI) – as part of Libraries NI’s ‘Catch a Crime Writer’ event.
It was attended by Northern Irish authors, Brian McGilloway, Stuart Neville and Steve Cavanagh, and they shared their stories of netting publishers, how they write and why.
McGilloway was informed (and not always nicely) by some publishers/agents that he would never make it as a crime writer – that he was nowhere near good enough. He’s now a New York Times bestseller… Newcomer to crime fiction, Steve Cavanagh, similarly suffered dozens of rejections from agents and was told the same. He’s set to publish his debut novel in the next month, with more planned.
If the writing’s good, then no matter what anyone says, hold onto it and don’t give up. Eimear McBride is, of course, a perfect recent example of this. She penned her prize-winning novel, A Girl is a Half-formed Thing, back in 2004, and 10 years later… a tiny independent publisher finally picked it up. And now she has the publishing world at her feet.
As Eoin McNamee – Libraries NI writer in residence for March’s Creativity Month and a former Man Booker nominee – told me later in the week, you have to stay true to your own writing and if it’s publishable, then you’ll get published.
His advice? “Just put your head down.”