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Thursday, 1 November 2012

Seller Beware

The canteen buzzed with writers who were taking part in the York Festival of Writing last year.  I happened to be standing in the queue next to Helen Corner of Cornerstones, and of course we got chatting.  I told her about the book I’d almost finished called Seller Beware: How NOT to Sell your Business.
            ‘Or another strapline,’ I said, ‘is One Woman’s Road to Ruin and Recovery.’
‘I like that,’ Helen said, ‘but don’t put and Recovery on the end, else you’ll give the game away.  Let the readers wonder.’
I hadn’t thought of that.  Later, I picked up Cornerstones’ brochure.
I decided to let Cornerstones give me a professional critique.  Positive I’d written a winner, I wanted it to have the best chance before I approached a publisher.
Brett sent me a full report with excellent advice, mainly on restructuring.  She also wanted further details of the characters and dollops of emotion.
I took her advice but because I’d written half as much again I still wasn’t confident enough to submit without another professional eye.  But I’d paid Cornerstones once already. 
Still, I rang them, and after a lengthy chat (and promised discount!) I decided to go ahead.  This time I had Ed Handyside read it—the perfect choice as he’d gone through something similar.  He gave me heaps of encouragement, saying it wouldn’t come amiss if some thriller writers emulated my style!  Many of the suggestions he made were nit-picks and I was ecstatic he’d ‘thoroughly enjoyed’ my story.
I was talking to Kris, my Polish decorator, a few weeks later about the book (as you do).
‘I don’t suppose you know any publishers?’ Tongue firmly in cheek.
‘Actually, I do,’ came the surprising answer.  ‘Iain Dale is a presenter on LBC radio every evening.  And he’s a publisher. Why don’t you listen and phone in when there’s an interesting subject?  Then he knows you.  Afterwards, you email him and ask if he’ll read the book.  And,’ he finished, ‘he lives near you!’
Iain began with a topic close to my heart.  Should the government allow people to add a 25 foot extension to their house without planning permission?
I rushed to the phone.
The next day I emailed him, thanking him for allowing me to voice my opinion, and asking if he’d look at my book.
He agreed and three weeks later we signed the contract.
This would never have happened without Cornerstones.  (And Kris’s brainwave!) Cornerstones are a super company to deal with and worth every penny for such a brilliant result. 
Seller Beware: How NOT to Sell Your Business will be published by Biteback Publishing in April 2012.

Denise Barnes

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