How to get published: Six first-time authors tell their stories

PUBLISHED: 16:24 14 October 2010 | UPDATED: 17:57 20 February 2013

Ruth's book The Woman Before Me

Ruth's book The Woman Before Me

Ever thought about writing a book? Ruth Dugdall turned to crime and made her hobby into a full-time career

Ever thought about writing a book? We asked six authors how they went about writing and getting their book into print

RUTH DUGDALL: The Woman Before Me

The book
The Woman Before Me is a psychological thriller set in coastal Suffolk.
It is about Rose Wilks, whose life is shattered when her newborn baby Luke is admitted to intensive care. Alongside her in hospital is Emma, who has just given birth to Luke and the two women become friends. Joel dies and Luke is thriving then tragedy strikes and Rose is the only suspect.
The novel starts with Rose having spent five years behind bars. She is just weeks away from release if she can convince probation officer Cate Austin to recommend parole. As Cate is drawn into Roses story she begins to question everything she thought she knew about justice, love and obsession.

The writing/publishing process
Winning the Debut Dagger in 2005 was a watershed moment for me. Until then I had thought of writing as a hobby Id self-published my first novel (The James Version) but was still working as a probation officer. The Dagger gave me the confidence to resign and dedicate myself to writing full-time.
The day after the Dagger awards I signed with a top agent and the novel was going to be submitted to six major publishing houses. I thought I had made it
But that would have been just too easy. The Woman Before Me didnt get picked up by the major publishers. They worried that it was not commercial enough, and that it didnt fit neatly enough into the crime novel box. It went into the bottom drawer and I started to write my third novel, The Sacrificial Man.
Last year I saw the Luke Bitmead bursary advertised in Writers News and it seemed perfect for The Woman Before Me. The bursary aims to promote and publish a new writer each year, and was set up in memory of Luke Bitmead, a talented writer who sadly committed suicide.
When I won the award last October I cried through much of the ceremony, knowing that I would finally see my novel in print. A few days later I signed a publishing deal with Solidus Press for The Sacrificial Man. So, after waiting nearly five years, I finally achieved my goal!
To be a writer you have to be tenacious and dogged having a strong support network helps. I would urge any new writers to consider competitions as a way of getting a foot in the door.

Felixstowe-based Ruth Dugdall resigned from the probation service in 2006 to concentrate on writing

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