Tuesday, June 11, 2013

The Chinaman - My Fourth Book

I wrote my first three novels - Pay Off, The Fireman, Hungry Ghost - for Collins, now Harper Collins, while I was working as a journalist. The first Stephen Leather novels sold OK, but they didn't set the world on fire. Then, as now, getting a publishing deal was only the first step on a very long road. Just because a book has been published doesn't mean that it will sell, never mind fly off the shelves, as many writers have discovered.

Having published my first three novels, Collins rejected my fourth.  It was called Dreamer's Cat and is a science fiction mystery set in a world where virtual reality is a way of life. It was very different from the first three and I'm not surprised that they didn't want it. But what Collins didn't do is to ask me what I was working on at the time.  When I approached Gerald Seymour's agent - Michael Sissons at Peters, Fraser and Dunlop - he agreed that Dreamer's Cat wasn't publishable but he did ask what else I was writing. I told him I was writing a novel called The Chinaman, where a former VC assassin starts a new life in London only to have his family killed in an IRA bombing. Michael loved the idea, begged me to finish it, and then sold it for a six-figure sum in the UK and for even more in the US.

Hodder and Stoughton bought the UK rights and they have been my publishers ever since.  The Chinaman has always been in print and is selling well as an eBook.  At the time we signed the deal I was a night news editor on The Times, but the deal was so good that I was able to quit my day job and write full time.  Stephen Leather had become a full time author!

Incidentally, I went to self-publish Dreamer's Cat as an eBook many years later and sold over 100,000 copies.  You can read about my self-published books here -  MY SELF PUBLISHED E-BOOKS

No comments:

Post a Comment