I am thrilled today to have on my blog a guest post from the amazing Holly Seddon, author of Try Not To Breathe and Don’t Close Your Eyes. We hear a lot about how authors write so I’m excited to share with you Holly’s post about how she got published so read on to see what she has to say.
How I got published
I’ve always written. I think it’s probably a clichéd thing to hear published authors say, but it’s true. As soon as I could write, I was writing little stories and I never really stopped.
There were years where I wrote far less fiction, because I was trying to break into journalism and then because I was writing a lot in my day job. There were also years where I wrote terrible fiction, because that’s an important step to finding your voice. But I always wrote.
I often started writing novels but I’d never finished one until I found my feet with Try Not to Breathe. I started It in 2010, took a little break in the middle and had a ‘finished’ (I thought!) draft at the end of 2013. I sat on it for a little while, out of fear of rejection, I think. But then I had a rough Christmas and a crappy January that led to me being off sick, recovering from an operation and utterly miserable. So I thought ‘what the hell? The worst that can happen is not as bad as this’.
I had a little shortlist of agents I wanted to try first. After they inevitably rejected me, I planned to make a longer list. Initially, I chose agents who worked with authors in similar genres, and who had done work with new writers, such as through creative writing courses and novel writing academies. I figured they’d be most likely to get behind the book but also to be patient and guiding – and help me grow as a writer.
I put together a covering letter and a synopsis (ugh, I hate these!) and sent them with the first three chapters to my top choice agent, Nicola Barr. Then I decided it would take forever to do it one by one, and felt too optimistic, so I sent it to the next on the list too. Forty-five minutes later, I was shuffling around my kitchen and idly refreshing my email. There it was, a reply from my top choice agent asking to see the rest of the manuscript.
I sprinted around the house, which was a mistake as I was still recovering and nearly burst my stitches! When I calmed down (sort of) I got the wobbles and decided to re-edit the whole manuscript before sending it. I stayed up until the early hours, tinkering like a nut. It eventually reached her the next lunch time.
The following week, Nicola emailed to say she loved it. It needed work, of course, but that she’d love to help with that. I got that email while shopping, which is how I came to be openly crying with joy in the milk aisle in Sainsbury’s, while other shoppers studiously avoided me.
We worked on it for months, Nicola helping to coax out the book I wanted to write all along, and giving me the confidence to go for it. In summer, it was finally ready to submit to editors. Of course, everyone was on holiday so it took longer to hear back than it usually would. When an editor likes a book, they need in-house support from people like sales and marketing. And to get support, those people need to read the manuscript too. Even when editors were excited, the other people who needed to be excited were often on a beach somewhere. Anyway, eventually autumn rolled around and I finally received that magical email saying that the deal had been done. I signed to the brilliant Corvus imprint at Atlantic Books and then several foreign rights deals came in too. I’m writing this as if that’s just a normal thing to say, but this was life-changing. And it was more than I’d ever dared hope was possible.
In January 2016, Try Not to Breathe was finally published. It was six years from start to finish but it was worth every late night, early morning and almost-burst stitch.
You won’t be able to put it down.
Just remember to breathe.
Alex is sinking. Slowly but surely, she’s cut herself off from everything but her one true love – drink. Until she’s forced to write a piece about a coma ward, where she meets Amy.
Amy is lost. When she was fifteen, she was attacked and left for dead in a park. Her attacker was never found. Since then, she has drifted in a lonely, timeless place. She’s as good as dead, but not even her doctors are sure how much she understands.
Alex and Amy grew up in the same suburbs, played the same music, flirted with the same boys. And as Alex begins to investigate the attack, she opens the door to the same danger that has left Amy in a coma…
Two sisters. A lifetime of secrets. One terrible reckoning.
The astonishing new thriller from the bestselling author of Try Not to Breathe. Get ready to be #hookedbyholly
In a novel that is stunning in its twists, shocks, and gripping psychological suspense, two sisters find themselves on the razor’s edge of sanity.
Untold secrets, a ghastly lie, and suffocating guilt hold them back. Only one astounding act can set them free. And one last revelation will leave readers gasping in surprise.
Robin and Sarah weren’t the closest of twins. They weren’t even that similar. But they loved each other dearly. Until, in the cruellest of domestic twists, they were taken from one another.
Now, in her early 30s, Robin lives alone. Formerly a famous rock star, now agoraphobic and suffering from panic attacks, she spends her days pacing the rooms of her house. The rest of the time she watches – watches the street, the houses, the neighbours. Until one day, she sees something she shouldn’t…
And Sarah? Sarah got what she wanted – the good-looking man, the beautiful baby, the perfect home. But she’s just been accused of the most terrible thing of all. She can’t be around her new family until she has come to terms with something that happened a long time ago. And to do that, she needs to track down her twin sister.
But Sarah isn’t the only person looking for Robin. As their paths intersect, something dangerous is set in motion, leading Robin and Sarah to fight for much more than their relationship..
Holly Seddon is a full time writer, living slap bang in the middle of Amsterdam with her husband James and a house full of children and pets. Holly has written for newspapers, websites and magazines since her early 20s after growing up in the English countryside, obsessed with music and books.
Her first novel TRY NOT TO BREATHE was published worldwide in 2016 and became a national and international bestseller.
Her second novel DON’T CLOSE YOUR EYES was published in July 2017.