Today is publication day of Katie O’Rourke’s first novel Monsoon Season. Happy publication day, Katie! A few weeks ago, I approached Katie with a series of questions about how she became a published author. Here is what she had to say…
Was Monsoon Season the first book you wrote and how long did it take you to complete?
Monsoon Season is my first book. I started writing it ten years ago and I think I spent the first year walking around thinking about the characters and who they were and what their story would be. I ‘finished’ it and submitted to some agents unsuccessfully. I remember getting a couple responses of ‘we'd love to see your next book’ and I was sort of overwhelmed by that because I didn't have a ‘next book’. So I took a break from it and wrote two other books and then I went back to it with fresh eyes and was able to rewrite it.
How many publishers/agents had you sent your book to before you found one that wanted to publish it?
I mostly focused on agents and I submitted it in various forms over many years. I've lost count, but I'd ballpark it at 50.
Please describe how your relationship started with your eventual publisher Canvas (imprint of Constable & Robinson).
I posted Monsoon Season online at authonomy.com. An editor found me there and expressed interest in reading the full manuscript and then the other two manuscripts I had completed at the time. I was actually a bit skeptical because a lot of the people who approach you online are after you to pay them. I don't think I completely relaxed until I had a signed contract and the advance was in my bank account! That probably took about six months. I don't remember exactly how long I was active on authonomy, but my book was ranked in the sixties when I had to take it down because I had a publishing contract.
Who was the first person you told that you were getting your book published and how was this moment?
I think it was probably my mother and we were on the phone. I was also in the middle of purchasing my first home which was a roller coaster of a process. In my memory, the two things are all mixed together and I felt an extreme gratitude of everything falling into place at once. I was wrong though – the house actually fell through. Luckily the book didn't!
How have you found the publishing process and working with an editor on your book?
That was harder than I expected. I've developed a pretty thick skin when it comes to critique and an ability to filter out advice that doesn't resonate with my vision. I'm the writer. But there's a different balance you have to negotiate when the advice you're getting comes with the weight of being the reason you're getting published at all. Suddenly their opinion counts for more and I found myself struggling with whether I could trust their edits. I ran some advice by trusted writer friends and found it really comforting when they agreed with my editor.
How has becoming an 'in print' writer changed you and where to from here?
I'm still figuring that out. Publication is July 19th and I have two more books coming out after that. It's so exciting. For the last six months, I've been doing more editing than writing and I expect more of that for the next books. I'm looking forward to having time to focus on the writing again soon.
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