Author Haley Hill tells how having bagged a literary agent she didn’t get a publishing deal – but how self-publishing has proved more successful than she ever
Name, age and area where you live in the UK:
Haley Hill, 36, Battersea, London
Book name, publication date, who book is published by:
‘It’s Got to Be Perfect: the memoirs of a modern-day matchmaker’, my debut novel was published in September.
What is the book about?
It’s Got to Be Perfect was inspired by my time as a matchmaker in London. I set up (and have since sold) the UK’s biggest matchmaking agency. Over the years I had personally interviewed and matched thousands of singles which provided unlimited fodder for a novel! I wanted to give an honest and entertaining depiction of the modern-day single scene.
How long did it take to write?
It took three years. I wrote, and rewrote the novel four times, during the brief interludes when my twin girls were napping/playing/quietly tearing the house apart.
So how much is truth and how much is fiction?
The main character, Ellie, is a matchmaker and in many ways similar to me. Through her eyes we experience her (and her clients’) hopes, dreams, pain and frustration . All those emotions are drawn from my experiences and observations, however the characters and scenarios are entirely fictionalised.
How did you get published?
In 2011, I submitted the first draft to some London literary agencies and quickly secured representation from a well-respected agent. However, despite many of the commissioning editors loving the novel, it was ultimately rejected by all, for the reason that they could not see a big enough market for it. Dejected but not beaten I went back to work on the novel, rewriting it from scratch four times. Then, instead of resubmitting to the publishers, I decided to self-publish instead. But it wasn’t as easy as I’d anticipated. After an initial surge in sales from my friends and contacts, the book quickly slipped back down the amazon sales rank.
I felt depressed and disheartened. I’d exhausted every promotional idea I could think of and realised that I would have to accept defeat. Three years of hard work and it seemed as though only a handful of people (including my mum and dad) would read it!
The sales slumped over December and then suddenly, after Christmas they started to pick up. Slowly at first and then more rapidly. One rainy January, I decided to check the book listing on US amazon and couldn’t believe it. It was climbing the charts steadily. And then on 11th Jan, it hit 1 Amazon Hot New Releases, 1 Bestseller in Humour and in the top ten of the entire Kindle chart!
I was selling more copies than some of the major names in the industry. It was in the top-ten of all the books in the US. I couldn’t believe it.
Recently, I was contacted by WHSmith stores expressing an interest in stocking it. Also, yesterday, a renowned New York literary agent Emma Parry, who worked with Helen Fielding in her early days, offered me representation. She’s keen to build on the popularity of the book, making available across new territories. Watch this space for the movie!
Where your book is on sale?
Any advice for others?
Keep at it. Never give up. Fortune favours the tenacious…