Friday, May 25, 2012

The Long and Winding Road to Publication - Catherine Cavendish


Catherine's on the blog today. You've met her before : She Believes in Ghosts and Her Fascination for History

In the last year she's had phenomenal success in her writing career.

I asked her to tell us about her road to publication and here's what she said:



Catherine: These days, getting a publisher to fall in love with your book, enough to go to the time and trouble of publishing it, is a story in itself. The journey is usually a long and fraught one, beset by many a wrong turn, pothole and more than a few prangs- maybe even a few crashes!





My long and winding road has been probably no harder or easier than most writers’. I started writing when I was old enough to hold a pen and could spell a little more than my own name. I was the strange kid who smiled when given an essay for homework, while all around me, the other children groaned.

I first discovered The Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook in the early ‘70s and, having completed my first book, started the painstaking work of typing up individual letters to literary agents. No computers in those days!  Out of every six sent out, at least one would agree to read it. I would then have to package up a good carbon copy, trot along to the Post Office and send it – recorded delivery and with return postage. Not an inexpensive exercise.

Quite a number of agents I approached in those early days are still around today. Ten years and a few more manuscripts later, a new agent called Darley Anderson phoned me one Saturday morning. He was direct, encouraging and pulled no punches. I gained some valuable advice from him which I have never forgotten. A big ‘thank you’ to him. He is now one of the top agents in the UK (and probably beyond).

In the years since, there were some successes – but these were with publications connected with my then ‘day job’. I was still chasing that elusive deal for one of my increasing collection of unpublished novels. There were some near misses as well. On two occasions, I actually landed an agent, only to receive the dreaded letter of regret a year or so down the line when they couldn’t find a publisher. I came close to success on that front myself with a  fledgling Scottish publisher who has now gone on to bigger and better things.


So why didn’t I just give up? Firstly, I write out of a need to do so. It is so much more than a hobby. If I didn’t write, I’d be lost, and that is no exaggeration. Secondly, along this tortuous road, I have had a lot of sparks of encouragement. I have mentioned Darley Anderson. I would add to him the wonderfully named Fifi Oscard and Assocs of New York, Teresa Chris, Brie Burkeman, Canongate Publishing, and there are many others. To all of you a big ‘thank you’.


And then I discovered Litopia – the oldest writing community on the Internet. There I found aspiring writers just like me and also an array of talented, successful authors and editors, willing to give of their time and expertise. There I found useful contacts, information, help and support. And I found my first publisher. A fellow Litopian had just signed a publishing contract with them, so why couldn’t I? Spurred on by his success, I sent them a manuscript. They rejected it but invited me to submit again. I did. Another rejection but even more encouragement. The third manuscript I sent was a horror short story called In My Lady’s Chamber. The publisher? Etopia Press. To date, they have also published two horror novellas of mine as e-books and one of these, Cold Revenge, has recently been included in a two author anthology called Cold Sparks which is available in paperback as well as e-book, so I get to look at it on my bookshelf! More books and anthologies are in the pipeline with them for later this year. So let me add another huge ‘thank you’. This time to Peter Cox and everyone at Litopia (where you’ll still find me), and to Etopia Press.

Also at this time, Gypsy Shadow Publishing contracted with me to publish two of my short stories – Say A Little Prayer and The Dust Storm- both of which are now out in e-book. Thank you to them as well.

All this has happened in the past twelve months. So yes, a long and winding road it has certainly been, but worth the toil, sweat and tears.

Let’s face it, I could never have stopped writing even if the publishing contracts hadn’t come along. As the old saying goes, I am a writer. A writer writes.

Buy links:

Cold Sparks is available in paperback from: 

And in e-book from these and other online booksellers

The Dust Storm  is also available  from:
 and other online booksellers


Catherine Cavendish lives in North Wales with her husband and a slightly eccentric tortoiseshell cat. She has had a lifelong fascination with the paranormal which intensified when she herself saw a ghost. She is currently working on more paranormal stories and a novel featuring a circle of ancient standing stones. To find out more about/connect with her:

            http://www.catherinecavendish.com/
            https://twitter.com/#!/Cat_Cavendish

23 comments:

  1. Hi Sue. Thank you so much for hosting me on your blog today.

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  2. You're welcome, Cat :-)

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  3. Congratulations on sticking with your writing and obtaining a contract. The writing business certainly isn't easy.

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    1. Oh, it's not, Shelley :-( It's a hard road, true enough.

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  4. I have to admire your persistance Cat. And I'm glad you kept writing. I love your work. Keep writing. We, your fans, want more.

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  5. I really enjoyed reading your interview Cat. Your ending words "A writer writes" is so appropriate. Writing serves as an outlet for a burning need and is enjoyable. Having others read your words is a plus. :)
    Gary

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    1. Absolutely - there's nothing like someone saying they enjoyed your work :-)

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  6. Your journey sounds a lot like mine Cat.And a lot like those journeys of many writers I know. Dogged persistence may well be the trait most needed by writers! Congrats on all your publishing successes. I read Cold Revenge and know the success is well deserved.

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  7. this is wonderful--what great success-congrats!

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  8. I read it too, Ute, it's a great book. Your success is just round the corner, Lynn!

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  9. Excellent interview. Surprising what one learns. Cat,I never knew you'd been writing so long and had contact with such eminent people! Blimey, I started four years ago and if my first novel hadn't been published I'd have...I'd have...thrown myself off the top of St Peters! (As in Vatican, not primary school). Keep up the good work!

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  10. Publishing is a very difficult business and most writers agree, it's something we need to do. Thanks for the interview.

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  11. I enjoyed reading this, Catherine. Yes, the road to publication is indeed long and trying. I like to talk about how my children's book was written when my child was in kindergarten and didn't get published until she was in 3rd grade. It's proof that the SERIOUS writers are willing to hang in there for the long haul. I loved your ending. It is so true. Writers DO write! I write lots of stuff even if it isn't publishable. But writers write, like you say. Congratulations on your success!

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  12. Ah - you'd have stuck it out, Steve!
    Thanks Clarissa (I have your book downloaded!)
    Hi Dawn! You're right serious writers will hang on for the long haul (I like that)

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  13. Thank you all very much for dropping by - and sharing your experiences too. Also many thanks for the lovely words of encouragement. Steve - I agree with Sue, you would have stuck at it. You're not a quitter. Looking at the wealth of talent in this comment thread, none of you are. You all persist, honing your craft and producing stories that people want to read. Congratulations to all of you.

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  14. Congratulations, Cat, on your book in paperback. It has a great cover and I love Cold Revenge.

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  15. Congratulations, Catherine! Getting published is quite a feat...It takes persistence and diligence. :)

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  16. Wow it is cool to hear about other people's road to publication journey. Congrats to Catherine. Thanks for having her as a guest.

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  17. I did the whole Post office thing with plays for a loooooooong time. Expensive and time consuming but overall worth it. Congrats!

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  18. If we'd gone to the same school we could have smiled at each other. I was the weird kid who chose to write a poem instead of doing her Latin homework and an essay instead of doing her math. Then I ended up being a mathematician. Ah well.

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