The writing process
I was 26 years old and working as a fulltime magazine senior features writer when I wrote the first draft of THE INTERN. I used every pocket of spare time possible to write, usually before work from 5.30am – 7.30am, then locking in longer chunks of time on weekends.
I finished the first draft in January 2012, printed off my 80,000+ word manuscript and spent my 27th birthday marking it up with red pen, tabs and post-it notes. I wasn’t 100 per cent sure what I was doing, so I summoned every tip I’d learned in the past decade (mainly from my degree and wielding a red pen as a sub-editor).
I didn’t hire a professional editor, but after another round of self-editing I printed off copies for my husband JT and three book-loving friends. It’s essential to have at least one person who can read over your work (but only when you’re ready – I wouldn’t give JT any sneak peeks because I wanted him to read the manuscript with a fresh eye).
Locking in a book deal
No journey to publication is the same. I’m one of those weirdos who’s known what they’ve wanted to do from a ridiculously young age, so over the decades I’ve done everything from writing competitions, studying communications, journalism and creative writing at uni and taking publishing courses.
It was at one of these courses – a weekend Getting Published course – that I met a lovely non-fiction publisher called Helen Littleton. We stayed in touch and one day I received an email out of the blue from my now HarperCollins YA and children’s publisher Lisa Berryman saying that Helen had recommended me and they were wondering if I had any manuscripts lying around in a bottom drawer.
I didn’t, but I pitched some ideas, and she asked me to write a few sample chapters. Once Lisa had established she liked my ‘writing voice’, she encouraged me to write a novel on spec. This meant I wrote without a contract locked in. Nerve-racking? You bet. Once I’d written the manuscript (and edited it four times…), I sent it off in June 2012 and hoped for the best. Luckily, Lisa loved my dorky protagonist Josie Browning as much as I did and took it to an acquisitions meeting in August 2012. That same day, Lisa offered me a two-book deal. It’s still the most surreal thing that’s ever happened to me.
After the signing
Not long after acquisition, a report was done about THE INTERN that included initial comments. I was happy with the suggestions, so I made all the changes and resent the manuscript – then the real hard work began for me, my project editor Rachel and out-of-house freelance editor Nicola O’Shea, who is one of the best in the business. Nicola marked up the manuscript with a lead pencil and then sent the pages to me by post to read and add my own changes. I was flooded with self-doubt initially but once I got started, I realised how brilliant (and kind) all her advice was and I found myself calling out things like ‘Oh my god, Nicola’s a genius!’ to JT. After the initial structural edit, Rachel and I worked back and forth with a proof-reader and Lisa until we were all happy. There’s a reason why author’s acknowledgements pages are so long – there are a lots of amazing people who help out along the way.
Aesthetics and essentials
In Dec 2012, Lisa and I began talking about the book cover. I’d expressed that I’d like to consult with them on it, so they asked me to send examples of young-adult book covers that I liked. I sent about 10 options; 90 per cent of them were illustrated or quite statement/quirky (only one had a photo). When Lisa sent through Hazel Lam’s initial design for THE INTERN book cover I was gobsmacked as she’d taken what I was imagining to a whole new level of awesome. Then Lisa told me there’d be two covers – a black one and a white one – and I was beyond excited! I know this makes me incredibly uncool to fangirl over my own book cover but I just adore them! Hazel outdid herself. There’s even a bit of rivalry between the covers with people telling me they’re either Team White or Team Black (or both, like me!).
Marketing and publicity
There have been a few marketing plans developed for my book, thanks to my dream team of Lisa, my marketing manager Tim Miller and publicist Amanda Diaz. The first was a fantastic competition with Girlfriend magazine, where a reader won the chance to intern with the entertainment editor Carina Rossi, interview me about the book and then attend a music gig. As for the other marketing campaign? Stay tuned at gabrielletozer.com and facebook.com/
Thanks to my publicist, a press release has been written up and I’ve been pitched for interviews, blogs, websites, magazines, book reviews and festivals. Will be exciting to see what unfolds over the coming months once THE INTERN is out there. I’ve also found it’s essential to have my own media kit with essential information and photos on my website as, thanks to the wonders of the world wide web, many people contact me directly. I’m enjoying the ride and staying open to opportunities for 2014!
All about Gabrielle’s first book: The Intern
Josie Browning dreams of having it all. A stellar academic record, an amazing journalism career – and for her current crush to realise she actually exists. The only problem? Josie can’t get through twenty-four hours without embarrassing her sister Kat or her best friend Angel, let alone herself.
Josie’s luck changes though when she lands an internship at the glossy fashion magazine Sash. A coveted columnist job is up for grabs, but Josie’s got some tough competition in the form of two other interns. Battle lines are drawn and Josie quickly learns that the magazine industry is far from easy, especially under the reign of powerful editor, Rae Swanson.
From the lows of coffee-fetching and working 10-hour days, to the highs of mingling with celebrities, scoring endless free beauty products (plus falling for her cousin’s seriously gorgeous flatmate James) this is one year Josie will never forget. Totally fresh and funny, this debut novel from industry insider Gabrielle Tozer reveals just what is behind the seeming glamour and sparkle of the magazine industry.