A sad day… the first real publication offer received for “Out of the Darkness” and I refused it. Although the publisher said: ‘the manuscript is a wonderful tale, well written, with a great plot and subplots‘, they wanted me to change the time frame. As this would mean losing the story’s originality, and affecting the two subsequent stories I have planned for this series, I decided to reject their offer.
It’s bad enough that we Australian writers always have to ‘bend’ to the demands of the American market, by writing our stories in American English, using Americanized expressions such as ‘parking lot’ instead of ‘car park’, ‘sheriff’s office’ instead of ‘police station’, etc… etc… but for the sake of a 23 year time frame when mobile phones were just starting to make an appearance and not everyone owned one, the publisher insists to bring the time line forward so that my characters have mobiles in their possession so as not to have to use a pay phone then it is time to hold one’s ground, and say ‘NO’.
Which is precisely what I have done. I told the publisher ‘Thank You’, but ‘No Thank You’.
“Out of the Darkness” is my very first piece of serious writing which began its life in 1994 [the time frame of my story], but which I never considered it good enough at the time to submit it for publication. Instead I worked on it trying to improve its quality over several years and in the meanwhile wrote and self-published my non-fiction history book “Smithy’s War [that took 10 years to research and write], and my first historical romance novel “Beneath Southern Stars” using a pen name ‘Louise Roberts’.
Since then Louise has had published five historical romances by Luminosity Publishing UK. With their successes, I thought it was time for “Out of the Darkness” to have the same opportunity.
Despite submitting it unsuccessfully to several publishers over the last few years, this latest publisher’s initial email was the only one which expressed any encouragement, as did their email accepting my rejection, which stated:
‘Our readers did enjoy the story and had good things to say about it, including that they would love to see it contracted and revised so it could find an audience because they like your voice and your ability to keep the suspense going. So I hope you consider our point of view and perhaps update it over time – as I mentioned, that late 1900s time frame is a hard sell to readers, which could be why other publishers were hesitant to contract it. No matter how much we like a story, we still have to make a living’.
Personally as much as I appreciate their candor, I don’t see why a certain time frame should annoy readers. If the story has the right ingredients and is a good suspense thriller then why would the date in history be a disadvantage?
In the early 1990’s Australia saw at least 326 violent crimes including the murder of politician John Newman assassinated outside his home in 1994, and the back packer murders 1988-1992.
Despite this being a shameful statistic it is a speck in the ocean compared to the same period in America, where it is reported that in 1992 alone in excess of 2,000,000 murders, rapes, aggravated assaults, and robberies took place.
As for “Out of the Darkness” which is set in Australia and Malta in January 1994, I strongly believe this story deserves the best, and I had hoped that a third-party publisher could do it justice. However it now seems that the only way that I am going to get this story published without compromising the plot and time frame is to self-publish.
RLB – Tomewriter