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Johannesburg, Gauteng, South Africa
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Thursday, 28 January 2016

Rolling with the punches

I'm totally stoked for Trevor Noah and his $3 million book deal. The dude is a legend, and I cannot WAIT to get my paws on a copy of his memoir when it comes out. "These are true stories - sometimes dark, occasionally bizarre, frequently tender, and always hilarious. Whether subsisting on caterpillars during months of extreme poverty or making comically hapless attempts at teenage romance, from the time he was thrown in jail to the time he was thrown from a speeding car driven by murderous gangsters..." C'mon, if that doesn't hook you, nothing will!

But I also feel fucking stupid. For thinking the likes of Pan Macmillan South Africa might actually be interested in publishing a memoir by a virtual unknown in 2016, when this is the kind of stuff they had going on behind the scenes. As you'll see from the screen grab below, of my Umbilicus 'Rejections' folder to date, the latest (local) one came from none other than PanMac SA, at pretty much the exact same time they must've been drawing up this Noah deal. Clearly, I didn't stand a snowball's chance in hell.

The only other local ladies who may consider a story like mine are Colleen Higgs of Modjaji Books and Tracey McDonald of Tracey McDonald Publishers, but neither are accepting unsolicited manuscripts at the moment. Basically, I have exhausted all narrative non-fiction avenues on home turf, and have come to accept the probability that no publisher outside of our borders is going to be interested in a memoir by a plebian (sadly, I ain't no Trevor Noah or Charlize Theron).

What this means is that I had no choice but to change the names of all the characters in my memoir and repackage my proposal as a roman à clef, aimed at a 'realistic YA fiction' audience - as my updated author page on Facebook now shows. 

I am currently knee-deep in the process of [re]submitting my manuscript to the fiction imprints of local publishers, as well as any UK + US literary agents who are open for submissions in the 'realistic YA fiction' genre. Although my original intended audience (those involved in the adoption triangle + troubled teens + psychologists, counsellors, and social workers in this field) will still have access to my book, it just won't be marketed at them. Not by the publisher anyway.
The alternative to all this, and the obvious next step in the whole tedious dance of trying to get published (self-publishing is not an option for me right now as I simply don't have the R20k to do so), is to incorporate my adoption journey into that of a fictional character in a fictional story. This goes back to my ORIGINAL plan with Scarlet's Web - the first installment of the 'Anne Farrier series' of crime thriller novels I was working on when I fell pregnant in 2010, and had to shelve due to pregnancy complications.

In fact, straight after sending off all my [re]submissions for the roman à clef version of Umbilicus, during that agonising state of limbo when authors have to wait to hear back from publishers (I've found most of them take around 3-4 months), I am going to dust off my Scarlet's Web manuscript and do just that. Hey, if I'm not going to be able to break into the memoir market (looking highly unlikely at this stage, let's be honest), then crime thrillers are definitely where my heart is at. It's actually a great way for me to incorporate ALL my personal experiences, my entire novoir trilogy (Umbilicus + Incomer + Premature), into fictitious plotlines and character arcs, whilst letting my inner serial killer(s) loose across the page ;-)

Watch this space...