From Blogger to Published Author
by Liz de Jager
I get asked this question a lot and I’m always happy to talk about because it was, to me at least, a natural progression.
I started blogging in an attempt to track what I liked and what worked for me in books. As I was one of the first bloggers in the UK writing reviews for teen and younger books, and because it was easy for me to get around London as I worked locally, I started getting invitations to attend events with publishers, authors and librarians.
Slowly but surely how the industry worked became less and less of an enigma. I made a lot of friends along the way and I was really fortunate that a lot of writers I met were genuinely lovely and happy to answer questions. And because I’d been going to geeky conventions since 2000 I had a lot of friends and people I knew in the wider geeky world too, and this all really helped. I went to conventions and listened to editors and authors talk about what they were working on and the stuff they wanted from new books being submitted. From authors I learned the reality of being under deadline and a host of other things.
When I got my agent, I couldn’t believe it. When we went on submission and I got feedback that people actually liked what I’d written, was one of the most surreal periods of my life.
When the deal happened with Tor I honestly felt like the universe was going to pull the rug from under me. I expected to get an email right up until after I signed the contract where they said: fooled you, silly girl!
I’d quit blogging at the end of 2012 so the period of adjustment had already started. I got the bookdeal early in 2013 and the first book, Banished, was published in February 2014.
I’ll be honest here when I say that it felt different, being on the other side of the table, but at the same time not really. It felt mostly, and it still feels this way to me, that whenever I do any events like YALC or YAShot of the YA Extravaganza, that it’s just me hanging out with my booky mates. I suppose I struggle to see the difference between being published and those who blog about books, because I never really left the world behind. I am forever talking about books. I’m reading them, tweeting about them, instagramming them and pestering people I know for copies or buying in books when I can’t use my wiles to get any sent my way. I realise that maybe there should maybe be a more concrete WRITER LIZ persona out there, but it really isn’t me. I’m mostly BOOK LIZ and FANGIRL LIZ and I WILL HURT YOU IF YOU DON’T WRITE THE NEXT BOOK IN THE SERIES LIZ.
What is different though is talking to school kids about writing and about books. I had the chance to visit South Africa in May 2015 and I got to go to a few government schools and talk to these kids about writing and about books. It was fantastic. I loved it utterly. Books in South Africa are incredibly expensive. They are seen as luxury items and so having the opportunity to go into schools and talk to kids who are creative and who never think they can get published and to show them, that this is where I’ve come from too, and that they can do it too is so energising and so incredibly important.
That’s what I like about being published. Being able to show that it’s possible and that all it takes is a little bit of talent and people who believe in it and in you.
Moved to the UK in 2000 with my husband. We now live in Kent with our dog Sparrow. I ran My Favourite Books Blog - a book review site - until the end of 2012 when we decided to shut it for our own sanity.
My bookdeal was announced in March 2013 and the first book THE BLACKHART LEGACY: BOOK 1: BANISHED is due out in Spring 2014 from Tor UK, an imprint of Pan Macmillan.