Wednesday, 5 August 2009


As a debut author published by an established traditional publishing house I find myself catapulted into an envied position. So here it is:
The Truth Behind The Kudos of being a Published Author.

I'm scrabbling cheerfully among the roots of the fame tree, confident that's the best place to be. The only reason I hanker after ascending the lower branches is ego. But when I'm on my way up the trunk, will I stop to enjoy the view? Surely there's a better vantage point if I can just reach that next branch . . .

There's an ambivalence to this aspiration, because I'm convinced that the further up the tree you climb, the less enjoyable the experience becomes. Look at the number of celebrities who Fall apart under the pressure. And sliding down the trunk of a tree must be a painful experience.

Why do so many people want to stick their heads above the parapet? There are hordes of people wanting to appear on TV (oh the holy grail that has become!) and, dare I say it, even more who are desperate to see their names in print. Literary agents receive more unsolicited MS than they can ever hope to read. (So if you receive a rejection letter, don't take it personally. Chances are the agent didn't have time to look at your life's work, let alone read it.)

And there are legions of self-published authors. Why do they bother? Then again, why not? University degrees, whiter teeth, titles, physique, everything is up for sale. Recently I met a woman eager to tell me that her pride in becoming a published author was going to change her life. She'd paid a few thousand pounds for this achievement of a lifetime. I didn't tell her that she was unlikely to recover her money.

Maybe my approach is unusual. I never aspired to be an author for its own sake, never even considered writing until I had the idea for Cut Short. Once I began, I discovered that I loved writing, and sent my story to a publisher on a random whim. The publisher loved it and promptly signed me up for a series.

I fell into this world, clueless as Alice when she fell down the rabbit hole. Have I been lucky? I think so, but let's wait and see. For now, I'm enjoying watching Cut Short doing well on amazon ratings, and breaking sales records in bookshops I visit.

Those lower branches of the tree are almost within reach . . . but I've still got my feet on the ground . . . just.

Then again, I never did have much of a head for heights.

Leigh Russell

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