Wednesday, 31 July 2013

K is for the ‘K’ in Afrika

My original title for the book was The Afrika Reich with a K. However, when I came to submit it to publishers, and experience teaching me they are a conservative bunch, I decided to change to the anglicised spelling – Africa Reich – for fear of putting them off at the very first page.

I’ve written elsewhere about the travails of finding a publisher for the book. You can read a fuller account here (complete with dodgy photo!), but to summarise: My agent submitted the book on a wave of enthusiasm; he felt sure we would find a publisher quickly. However, no sooner had it been submitted than the rejections started coming in. The general gist was that although editors liked the book, they didn’t think it would have much commercial appeal. The marketing departments scratched their heads at how they would sell it. The fact that Fatherland had sold several million copies failed to persuade them.

In total fifteen publishers rejected Afrika Reich, leaving me waiting on the last two. I could see no reason why their response would be different, so I resigned myself to the fact that the book would not get commissioned.

Then, within forty-eight hours, those final two publishers said yes and the book went to auction! Hodder & Stoughton eventually won and after the contracts had been signed, one of the first things my editor asked was whether we could change the title. I assumed he’d opt for something like SS-Africa, but actually all he wanted was a minor tweak. Would I consider changing the C to a K?

I knew I had found the right publisher.

K is also for Kepplar

Several readers have pointed out that in Chapter 37, when Hochburg’s helicopter takes off, there’s no sign of Kepplar’s pyre or body. They wonder if it’s a mistake. Some people have framed it with a question: is Kepplar actually dead? That’s perceptive, though you’ll have to wait till Book 2 to find out...


  1. Ok, hands up who quickly re-read chapter 37?!?! LOL!

    Kepplar - of all people ... you mean reports of his death are greatly exaggerated?!?! Totally can't wait to get my hands on book 2!

    Genius with your title! And thanks for the link to your dodgy pic! :-)

    Take care

    1. Old Kitty - like I say, you'll have to wait till Book 2 to see/understand more...

      THAT pic is the bane of my life. I have hair now ;-)

  2. I think SS-Africa would have made a better title tying in with Deightons book and more obvious what the book was about. Great to hear you got a publisher after such difficulties.

    1. Anon - thanks for your comment. AFRIKA REICH was always my preferred title, indeed I came up with the title before the book which is unusual for me.

  3. the title the Afrika Reich immediately got my attention !!!
    perfect title for someone who is into 20th century history.

    hope your writing is going well. i just let icelands biggest publisher firm know about TAR. hope they want to translate it.


    1. Svavar - glad the title caught your interest in far off Iceland!

      It would be great to have an Icelandic edition of the book: thanks for mentioning it and I'll keep you posted. If they do translate, I'll make sure you get the first copy.

  4. I think the K rocks!! :-)

    What I'm less impressed about is new security measures on blog. What you go do that for? Makes it such a pain to post.

    So I'm guessing V is for... Vendetta? LOL

    Lou x

  5. I admire your tenacity and keeping going despite all those rejections. Respect. As an unpublished author myself hearing your story is greatly inspiring. What do you think the final 2 publishers saw that the others didn't? What advice do you ahve for other writers?


  6. Louise - glad you like the K.

    Sorry about the new security measures. After the book came out in the US I started getting loads of spam comments, at their worst 9-10 per day! In the end I got fed up so introduced the 'prove you're not a robot' password device. It got rid of the spam... but I've also noticed the drop in comments too. I might turn it off again in the future.

    V = correct, Vendetta = not. Stayed tuned to see...

  7. David - thanks for your comment. I think perseverance is an essential quality in any writer and I'm afraid to say it's something you need to maintain even after you've been published (which brings with it a different set of travails).

    With the final two I think it was a question of timing... it had been more than six months since the book was first sent out and perhaps the market was more favourable.

    As for advice, the two best things I can say are keep at it (see perseverance comment above) and make sure you know how your book can be marketed. The commercial side of publishing is so important these days that a good book is not enough - you need to now how to sell it. Good luck with you own work!

    1. Thanks for taking time out to reply. I've not really given marketing much of a thought - I thought that's what the publisher was there for to sell it. So good advice. And I will keep at it.

      Regards, David

  8. IS there a date for the sequel yet? Why is it taking so long? Can't wait to read what happens next. Pls, pls, pls write faster! Any hints at what happens next? Will Burton be back? or is it set in same world with different chrs? Any information please


  9. Sam - thanks for your message. No publication date has been set yet but it should be towards the end of 2014. Yes, Burton will be back. I will be posting a full Book 2 blog update in coming weeks which hopefully will answer your questions.