Meet Unbound Local Author, Sue Clark [Author of comic fiction, Note To Boy]

Abingdon resident, Sue Clark, is working with crowd-funding publisher, Unbound, in a bid to get her new book published.  We talked to Sue about the book, her writing and the idea behind Unbound.  Read on to find out more.

Hi Sue, thanks for talking to us today. First off, let's talk about your writing.  What are you working on at the moment?
My next book will be a comedy thriller – as yet untitled – about a woman in crisis. After she loses everything – husband, job, the respect of her children, cheekbones and waistline – Trish tries to reinvent herself as a writer. When her life takes an unexpected turn, she finds herself not so much writing a thriller as living in one. 

What is the best writing tip you've ever been given?
If people don’t like the book you’ve written, write another one. Keep doing that until they do.

Tenacity and a thick skin are, I believe, as important as talent when it comes to getting a novel into print.

What's the best thing and the worst thing about being a writer?
For me, the best thing about novel writing is the freedom to write what I want. Having spent a lot of my working life in PR and journalism, I relish the chance to let my imagination rip. When the writing is going well, there’s no feeling like it. And, as a writer of comic fiction, I love making myself and others laugh. 

The worst thing is – sorry to say this, but – this sort of thing: the promotional side. Not many people realise – I certainly didn’t – that getting a book written and accepted for publication is only half the battle. Today’s authors are also expected to get out there and market their books. So, I’ve had to steel myself to talk to strangers, as well as getting to grips with blogging and using social media. I’ve even had to learn how to make a promotional video!

Do you have a writer's survival kit, e.g. a place, thing or snack essential before you can start work?
Wish I could say that I produce my best work when I’m reclining on a chaise longue in the orangery, a glass of pink champagne and a box of chocolate truffles to hand! The truth is less glamorous. Much of the writing of Note to Boy was done in the early mornings in my spare bedroom/office, with me bleary-eyed in dressing gown and slippers, with nothing stronger than a mug of tea to keep me going.  

What was your biggest breakthrough?
Can I cheat and offer two?

The first was taking a Creative Writing course at Oxford University. I’d urge anyone wanting to write to consider doing something similar. Being taught by a professional author gave me technique, discipline and some self-belief, plus I met a group of like-minded writers. Five of us still meet up every month for mutual support, inspiration and lunch. 

Secondly, several years ago I entered a short story in a competition run by a successful ghost writer. My story didn’t even win – I came second – but he took the time to call me with encouragement. That spurred me on to tackle a novel. Incidentally, this man was one of the first to pledge with Unbound for Note to Boy. Writers can be surprisingly generous to other writers. 

What is Unbound?
Unbound is a great idea, because it means more books by a more diverse range of voices get into the bookshops. It was founded – unsurprisingly – by three authors and works on a crowdfunding basis. 

Manuscripts are submitted and selected on merit, as in traditional publishing. What makes Unbound different is the next bit. Crowdfunding means drumming up support for a book before it’s published, not a thing, I’d guess, that comes naturally to most writers. After weeks and months indoors hunched over a laptop alone with my characters, I suddenly had to turn my attention to self-promotion. 

The way it works is that readers pledge for the books they want to see in print. In return, they get their names printed in those they’ve helped bring to life. They can also support a title by pledging for more unusual rewards. In the case of my book, Note to Boy, for example, patron readers can name a character in the book, or join me on a tour of a gin distillery – one of my main characters has a fondness for gin. 

How did you get involved with Unbound?
You could say it was thanks to Waitrose! I first noticed the imprint in a novel I bought in the supermarket, written by the TV scriptwriter and performer, Andy Hamilton. Inside it said, “The book you are holding came about in a rather different way to most others.” I was intrigued. 

At the time I was looking for a publisher for my comic fiction, Note to Boy. My agent was working hard on my behalf, doing the rounds of the big publishers. Many of them told her they liked my tale of what happens when the worlds of an elderly, outrageous former fashion celeb and a withdrawn teenager from a rough part of London collide. But there was a problem. My book didn’t fit neatly into any of the mainstream genres that tend to dominate today’s publishing industry. It seemed my book would never see the light of day.  

Then I found Unbound. The more I read about the company, the more I could see it was exactly what I was looking for: a publisher willing to take a chance on a quirky, humorous novel by an unknown writer. I submitted the manuscript and a few weeks later, got the amazing news that they wanted to sign me up. 

As I write this, Note to Boy is 63% on its way to being crowdfunded, with more than 120 lovely people believing in the project enough to pledge for it. With a little more support I hope you’ll be seeing it on the shelves of shops like Mostly Books before too long.

If you’d like to find out more about my book or Unbound, please follow the links below. 

Tell us one thing that the Mostly Books readers would like to know about you
I used to be a TV and radio comedy scriptwriter and have written jokes and sketches for, among others, Lenny Henry, Tracey Ullman, David Jason, June Whitfield, Griff Rhys Jones, and Roy Hudd.

Thanks for taking the time to talk to us today, Sue, and best of luck with your crowd funding.

Click here for some additional background on Unbound.
Click here to read more about Note to Boy and to watch Sue's video about her book. 
You can follow Sue on Twitter here.

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