Let me tell you the story of Linda Cruse, a single mother who changed her life entirely once her children were grown. She is a humanitarian aid worker whose book Marmalade and Machine Guns is out in a couple of weeks. Linda has worked with some of the poorest communities on earth: on rubbish tips in Guatemala, in Burmese refugee camps, and Nepalese mountain villages; as well as with victims of natural disasters: after the earthquake and floods in Pakistan, and the tsunami in Thailand. She has been captured by Maoist rebels and nearly perished from hypothermia on a yak in Tibet.
I wonder if anything has been as hard as trying to find a publisher.
OMG. For a woman used to rolling up her sleeves and getting things done, the endless wait for publishers to make decisions and to return phone calls was agonising. I was almost as frustrated as Linda, having spent a year helping her write the book. Her agent, Sheila Crowley, was tireless and more than once got the book as far as an acquisitions meeting, only to be told that the head of sales didn’t think the story of a humanitarian aid worker would sell. Apparently, local tales of misery work, but not those from third world countries.
Finally, the publisher John Blake came to Linda’s rescue, willing to take a punt. And tomorrow the Daily Mail kicks off the publicity campaign, after a lively serial auction. Yay!!
Good luck, Linda!
Wanda Whiteley, former Publishing Director at HarperCollins, is Founder and Editor-in-Chief of Manuscriptdoctor.co.uk, a literary consultancy