Land in Sight?







We continue new author and Creative Competitor subscriber Judith Barrow’s journey to publication……..

Land in sight

by Judith Barrow

 It’s now three months on. The first commercial editor (the best) has succumbed to maternity leave. The one who was finally chosen by my agent (the second best?) has had my script all this time. I’ve already paid her.

 You’re now wondering what kind of credulous idiot is this, yes? Well, let me say here that this saga (an apt word as my book is actually a saga!) has been going on for over eighteen months and I’m desperate.

 All creativity has gone. I can’t write anything but emails – and believe me, there are plenty on this subject. The commercial editor’s reasons (excuses) for the delay are numerous: an urgent journey to Europe to do research for a project, a family crisis (alright, I’ll believe that one) she’s ghost writing a celebrity’s autobiography (how can it be an autobiography if someone else is writing it? That always puzzles me. Surely then, it’s a biography?) Okay, okay, bitterness is creeping in.

 We were supposed to be having a meeting to discuss the way forward with my book. It didn’t happen.

Now a friend, a successful and published author herself, is concerned I’m being conned. I feel foolish. I’ll work with her when I get the editing back, I assure her (fingers crossed), it’s only a few things that need tweaking.

 It’s back! I read it in disbelief; if I follow all the ‘suggestions’ it will change from being a saga into romantic fiction.

 I ring my agent,

 ‘Yes,’ she says, ‘it is a little more drastic than I expected but go with it.’


I tried- really I did. For four weeks I worked. With less and less interest. In the end I stopped. I didn’t recognise my story; I had no empathy with the characters. It wasn’t my book anymore.

 I made a decision, one of the biggest I’ve ever made. A week before the first anniversary of my contract with the agent I sent the letter terminating our contract. Despite persuasive tactics from her I didn’t waiver; I’d lost faith in her.

In trepidation I email the first publisher. Luckily we parted on good terms; I’d thanked her for all her past help and encouragement. I explained what had happened and asked if she would reconsider my manuscript.

 She will, we’ll meet. No promises.

 Fast-forward another year. The editor of my publishers and I have worked well together; it’s still my story. Set in the North of England, Pattern of Shadows is published and on the shelves. Pre-ordered by a well-known bookstore for their chart list I’ve carried out booksignings at every branch of their shops within a hundred miles. The Welsh Books Council employed a PR company to promote four books of their choice and, unbelievably, mine was one of them.

 I’ve had the launch and held talks and readings in any and every venue that would have me. I’ve been interviewed by the local radio and BBC Radio Lancashire. Next week I’ll be going to the North of England where the Pattern of Shadows is set and having a launch there.

 It’s wonderful. The reviews are brilliant. There’s only one drawback – the daily email from the publishers; ‘where’s the first draft of the sequel?’

It’s been a long haul but I’ve finally landed. Hope you, too, win your race.

Judith Barrow

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