I first 'met' Vivien when she was a short story writer and we found ourselves sharing the pages of the same magazines. Since then, Viv has branched out into novel writing and her debut romantic novel, How to Win Back Your Husband, was published on Wednesday... hurray!
In celebration of her new book, Vivien has very kindly offered to write a post for me on the best way to say thank you to all the people who help authors along the path to publication.
Over to you, Viv.
HOW TO SAY THANK YOU
When Wendy asked me to appear on her blog, the first thing I said was ‘Thank you.’ Well, you do, don’t you? It’s the polite thing to do.
We all do it, almost automatically, every time someone hands us a gift, holds a door open, or passes the salt. We write thank you letters after Christmas, or make sure our children do, and we can even buy ready-made Thank You cards in the shops, so we don’t have to work out exactly what to say. But there comes a time in a professional writer’s life when we are expected to say thank you in a much more formal and permanent way, and very much in our own words... and that’s the day when we are asked to compile our first acknowledgements page.
After a year of writing my novel, followed by the long and painful process of looking for either an agent or a publisher to take it on, and then weeks of working through edits and changes, it was lovely, when the book was finally ready to meet the world, to be given the chance to say thank you to anyone and everyone who has helped me along the way. No word limit, said my editor. Thank as many people as you like. It’s entirely up to you…
I must admit that visions popped into my head of Oscar winners who stand on stage just a little too long, thanking their producer, their agent, their fellow actors, everyone who voted for them, their parents, their first drama teacher, their taxi driver, the midwife who brought them into the world, their dog… As the list of people nobody has ever heard of gets longer and longer, you can see the audience losing interest as their eyes glaze over and they start to nod off!
So, I needed my list to cover the essential people who really had helped me, without going over the top… and, more importantly, without leaving anyone important out. I thought perhaps a good place to start might be by reading the acknowledgements in other authors’ novels. Not to copy them, obviously, but to get an idea of how many pages they might use up, who they choose to thank, and how.
One of my favourite books in the last couple of years has been I Let You Go by Clare Mackintosh. Now, I knew that was Clare’s first novel, just as How To Win Back Your Husband is mine, so I took a look at her page of thank yous first. And, yes, it was just a single page. But her opening words rang very true: ‘I always used to read the acknowledgements pages of books and wonder how on earth so many people could be involved in the creation of a single piece of work. Now I understand.’
She goes on to thank all the obvious people in the publishing world - her early readers, agent and publishers - before moving on to friends and family, highlighting the fact that they have not only believed in her but supported her and cheered her on ‘from the sidelines’ – what an apt image that is as we writers sit with our heads down writing away like mad while others can only look on and help in simple ways like bringing tea and giving us the time and space we need.
Having listened to Jane Corry give a fascinating talk at a recent RNA meeting, I turned to her book next. In My Husband’s Wife Jane has included two pages of acknowledgements, starting on similar lines to Clare’s but also thanking various people who helped with research - Jane’s book enters the world of prisons and the legal system, with a few medical questions thrown in for good measure. Was there anyone like that who I needed to thank?
And, lastly, I turned to Veronica Henry’s How to Find Love in a Book Shop. It’s the book I’ve just finished reading - and its title sounds a little like mine, don’t you think? But here I drew a blank. Apart from a one-line dedication to her late father, there is no acknowledgements page at all.
So, it really was up to me. I could thank pages and pages of people or nobody at all! I settled for somewhere in between. Of course, I mentioned my writing friends, although not all of them by name. And my editors. And a few ex-colleagues in the children’s centre where I used to work, whose day to day work with toddlers had inspired a few scenes in the book. But I kept my husband until last on the list, just as so many writers seem to do. Without husbands, wives, partners, supportive families at home, how would we ever get around to writing a whole novel and still manage to keep the house clean, the freezer stocked, and put food on the table? I certainly couldn’t have done.
So, when you write your first book, who are you going to thank? Please don’t say the dog!
HOW TO WIN BACK YOUR HUSBAND
Published by HQ Digital on 18 January 2017
Nicci has made one stupid and seemingly unforgivable mistake and, after eight years together, her husband Mark is divorcing her. Her best friend is determined to help her get over it, start enjoying life again and move on, but Nicci knows getting over Mark just isn't an option - she still loves him and she wants him back! With no clear plan in mind and only thirty days left until the divorce is finalised, the race is on to prove her love, regain his trust and save her marriage, before it's too late. A debut romantic comedy with a sprinkling of winter magic!
You can buy How to Win Back Your Husband here