Alex Beecroft currently lives inGreat Britain with her husband and two daughters. Raised in Cheshire, Alex studied English and Philosophy before accepting employment with the Crown Court where she worked for a number of years. Alex will tell you that she’s thrilled to be doing what she always wanted to do, living her dream of being a writer, and a soon to be published romance author.
You can visit her website at www.alexbeecroft.com.
Welcome to Beyond the Books, Alex! Can we start out by telling us whether you are published for the first time or are you multi-published?
‘Captain’s Surrender’ will be the first book I’ve ever had published, although it’s a toss up whether it will come out before or after ‘The Witch’s Boy’ which is going through the self-publishing process at the moment. They’re both neck and neck in terms of release dates so far. But because ‘Captain’s Surrender’ is being published by a real publishing firm, that’s the one which I think of as the most important.
What was the name of your very first book regardless of whether it was published or not and, if not published, why?
It was called ‘Wildfire, in his own words’ and was the story of how the trickster god Loki meddled in the affairs of two Anglo-Saxon villages in order to make them renounce Christianity. I never submitted it for publication because it was a bit of an apprentice-piece and I didn’t think it was good enough for other people to read. It had a terribly complicated structure whereby all the characters told each other stories, and then at the end the entire book turned out to be a story told by Loki himself. Very pretentious! But it was the first book I ever finished, after starting hundreds and getting half way through before abandoning them, so it still has a special place in my heart.
For your first published book, how many rejections did you go through before you either found a mainstream publisher, self-published it, or paid a vanity press to publish it?
Well, I managed to get published by an unusual method which didn’t involve sending out submissions. I entered the first chapter of ‘Captain’s Surrender’ intoLinden Bay’s Starlight Writing Competition. It went through to the final, whereupon I sent them the whole manuscript, and that won. The prize of the competition was to have the book published. Linden Bay had been receiving so many submissions that they had become overwhelmed by them, and they decided to run this competition once a year in order to take on one new author a year. This year that was me! In the case of ‘The Witch’s Boy’ however, I sent that out to about 15 publishers in Britain, who all rejected it. Then I left it in a box for ten years. When I got it out again recently, I could see that the first few chapters were quite weak, so I re-wrote them to improve them to my new standards, and rather than put it back in the box and leave it for another ten years, I thought I’d self publish it. I’m actually very proud of it now. It’s a gripping read!
How did the rejections make you feel and what did you do to overcome the blows? They made me feel terrible! And to be frank, I didn’t overcome the blows. I lost my nerve and spent the next ten years only writing things for my friends to read. But eventually enough people said to me ‘are you published? You should be!’ for me to get my confidence back and think about trying again. Also, I’m not getting any younger, and I thought that if I didn’t do it soon, I might never get around to it. When your first book was published, who published it and why did you choose them?
Linden Bay Romance are the publishers of my first professional book, and I heard about them by a strange coincidence. I bumped into Lee Rowan, the author of ‘Ransom’ in a friend’s Live Journal, and happened to mention to her that I also wrote Age of Sail male/male romance. She told me about Linden Bay’s competition and encouraged me to try entering it. So I did! It was more of an act of God than a piece of careful planning.
How did it make you feel to become published for the first time and how did you celebrate?
Literally unbelievable! Equal parts euphoria and terrible nerves that it would turn out not to be true at all. I still have my moments when I’m sure something bizarre and unforeseen is going to turn up to prevent it from really happening. I need the book in my hand before I’ll believe it fully.
My husband, however, has no such qualms, so he bought a bottle of champagne when he heard, and we celebrated with that.
What was the first thing you did as for as promotion when you were published for the first time?
I think the first thing was to build myself a website – which wasn’t very pretty at first because I had to learn about Cascading Style Sheets and Server Side Include and all kinds of html stuff before I got it looking how I wanted it. I’m very proud of that too now. Then I joined umpteen new yahoo groups and was walked through my first chat by J.J. Massa, one of Linden Bay’s other authors.
Linden Bay, both the publishers and the authors have all been immensely supportive and helpful.
If you had to do it over again, would you have chosen another route to be published?
I don’t think so – this had a feeling of total inevitability about it. I suspect that if I hadn’t done this, I might never have got around to being published at all.
Have you been published since then and how have you grown as an author?
I haven’t. It’s very early days for me yet. I do think that I am taking my writing more seriously as a result of being published now. No more days when I think ‘oh, I can’t be bothered to write, I’ll play solitaire instead’. I try and do a minimum number of words a day, now, in order to have something new to submit when this one comes out.
Looking back since the early days when you were trying to get published, what do you think you could have done differently to speed things up? What kind of mistakes could you have avoided?
I think I should have kept trying. I didn’t – I allowed myself to be discouraged and sidetracked. My writing has never been the biggest problem – at the risk of sounding arrogant, I’m quite a good writer – but it’s been the perseverance, the business sense and the inability to believe in myself which has stopped me.
What has been the biggest accomplishment you have achieved since becoming published?
I’m pleased that I haven’t been tempted to rest on my laurels. I’m four chapters into writing the sequel, and have worked out plot plans for at least three more books after that.
If you could have chosen another profession, what would that profession be?
Oh, I wouldn’t! I’ve wanted to be a writer all my life. It’s been the only thing I’ve ever wanted to do since, at age 14, I gave up the idea of being an astronaut.
Would you give up being an author for that profession or have you combined the best of both worlds?
LOL! See above.
How do you see yourself in ten years?
Hopefully just with a lot more novels to my name, and the reputation of turning out well written books which are fun to read. I can’t think of anything better than that.
Any final words for writers who dream of being published one day?
Don’t stop trying! Oh, and if a ridiculous chance comes along and you’re tempted to think ‘I wouldn’t win that,’ grab the opportunity anyway. You never know!