Cultural Heritage Innovation: Opportunity for International Development
Cultural Heritage Innovation: Opportunity for International Development

Cultural Heritage Innovation: Opportunity for International Development

Office: UKNC    –    February 12, 2021

23 min read

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Spinning life’s curiosities into fiction, Sara Jane Potter writes dark, comic literary novels. Sara studied psychology, works for a mental health trust in Nottingham, and oil-paints to chill out. Here she talks about the long journey to publication, and asks if the publishing industry has a diversity problem:

Cultural Heritage Innovation: Opportunity for International Development

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I’ve been writing forever. Penning novels for intended publication for almost thirty years. At the start of each year I make myself a promise. This year I will be published. But years became decades and my mantra somewhat worn. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a crap writer who really should give it up now.

But the evidence tells another story. Since the nineties, I’ve amassed three complete and five in-progress novels. I’ve had dazzling feedback from literary agents, including a gushing plea to, write something new and please, please send it to us! I’ve had interest from agents like Clare Conville, Felicity Blunt, Julia Kingsford, Simon Trewin.

I also have a mound of hard rejections. The best feedback nursed my self-belief and, crucially, kept me going. Yet I remain unpublished even now. Book after book, I honed my craft, so the incongruous cocktail of high praise and rejection was baffling, to say the least.

Struggling to get published is not unusual. It’s well-known that breaking into publishing is like cracking the Enigma code. But, my own situation is becoming embarrassing alongside soul-destroying. Mercifully, my friends and family stopped asking about the novel a long time ago.

For a long time, I assumed us writers were all in the same boat. All horrendously unlucky. Or that the industry was tough and competitive, that agents had bricks for hearts. Perhaps I’d written another duff story? And, whilst these things may be true, was there something else going on?

As the scream for diversity grew louder, I had no idea I’d been impacted by unfairness. I’ve always been trusting, had faith in basic decency, so didn’t believe there was prejudice in publishing – until 2018, when I was told. As a mixed-race, British writer, raised in England by a white mother, my Asian roots were invisible but for my (maiden) surname, Sheikh.

I’ve been writing forever. Penning novels for intended publication for almost thirty years. At the start of each year I make myself a promise. This year I will be published. But years became decades and my mantra somewhat worn. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a crap writer who really should give it up now.

But the evidence tells another story. Since the nineties, I’ve amassed three complete and five in-progress novels. I’ve had dazzling feedback from literary agents, including a gushing plea to, write something new and please, please send it to us! I’ve had interest from agents like Clare Conville, Felicity Blunt, Julia Kingsford, Simon Trewin.

I also have a mound of hard rejections. The best feedback nursed my self-belief and, crucially, kept me going. Yet I remain unpublished even now. Book after book, I honed my craft, so the incongruous cocktail of high praise and rejection was baffling, to say the least.

Struggling to get published is not unusual. It’s well-known that breaking into publishing is like cracking the Enigma code. But, my own situation is becoming embarrassing alongside soul-destroying. Mercifully, my friends and family stopped asking about the novel a long time ago.

For a long time, I assumed us writers were all in the same boat. All horrendously unlucky. Or that the industry was tough and competitive, that agents had bricks for hearts. Perhaps I’d written another duff story? And, whilst these things may be true, was there something else going on?

As the scream for diversity grew louder, I had no idea I’d been impacted by unfairness. I’ve always been trusting, had faith in basic decency, so didn’t believe there was prejudice in publishing – until 2018, when I was told. As a mixed-race, British writer, raised in England by a white mother, my Asian roots were invisible but for my (maiden) surname, Sheikh.

I’ve been writing forever. Penning novels for intended publication for almost thirty years. At the start of each year I make myself a promise. This year I will be published. But years became decades and my mantra somewhat worn. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a crap writer who really should give it up now.

But the evidence tells another story. Since the nineties, I’ve amassed three complete and five in-progress novels. I’ve had dazzling feedback from literary agents, including a gushing plea to, write something new and please, please send it to us! I’ve had interest from agents like Clare Conville, Felicity Blunt, Julia Kingsford, Simon Trewin.

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Key information to remember:

Office: UKNC    –    February 12, 2021

Office: UKNC    –    February 12, 2021

Office: UKNC    –    February 12, 2021

Office: UKNC    –    February 12, 2021

Office: UKNC    –    February 12, 2021

Download 📙#PressRelease

I’ve been writing forever. Penning novels for intended publication for almost thirty years. At the start of each year I make myself a promise. This year I will be published. But years became decades and my mantra somewhat worn. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a crap writer who really should give it up now.

But the evidence tells another story. Since the nineties, I’ve amassed three complete and five in-progress novels. I’ve had dazzling feedback from literary agents, including a gushing plea to, write something new and please, please send it to us! I’ve had interest from agents like Clare Conville, Felicity Blunt, Julia Kingsford, Simon Trewin.

I also have a mound of hard rejections. The best feedback nursed my self-belief and, crucially, kept me going. Yet I remain unpublished even now. Book after book, I honed my craft, so the incongruous cocktail of high praise and rejection was baffling, to say the least.

Struggling to get published is not unusual. It’s well-known that breaking into publishing is like cracking the Enigma code. But, my own situation is becoming embarrassing alongside soul-destroying. Mercifully, my friends and family stopped asking about the novel a long time ago.

For a long time, I assumed us writers were all in the same boat. All horrendously unlucky. Or that the industry was tough and competitive, that agents had bricks for hearts. Perhaps I’d written another duff story? And, whilst these things may be true, was there something else going on?

As the scream for diversity grew louder, I had no idea I’d been impacted by unfairness. I’ve always been trusting, had faith in basic decency, so didn’t believe there was prejudice in publishing – until 2018, when I was told. As a mixed-race, British writer, raised in England by a white mother, my Asian roots were invisible but for my (maiden) surname, Sheikh.

I’ve been writing forever. Penning novels for intended publication for almost thirty years. At the start of each year I make myself a promise. This year I will be published. But years became decades and my mantra somewhat worn. You’d be forgiven for thinking I’m a crap writer who really should give it up now.

But the evidence tells another story. Since the nineties, I’ve amassed three complete and five in-progress novels. I’ve had dazzling feedback from literary agents, including a gushing plea to, write something new and please, please send it to us! I’ve had interest from agents like Clare Conville, Felicity Blunt, Julia Kingsford, Simon Trewin.

I also have a mound of hard rejections. The best feedback nursed my self-belief and, crucially, kept me going. Yet I remain unpublished even now. Book after book, I honed my craft, so the incongruous cocktail of high praise and rejection was baffling, to say the least.

Struggling to get published is not unusual. It’s well-known that breaking into publishing is like cracking the Enigma code. But, my own situation is becoming embarrassing alongside soul-destroying. Mercifully, my friends and family stopped asking about the novel a long time ago.

For a long time, I assumed us writers were all in the same boat. All horrendously unlucky. Or that the industry was tough and competitive, that agents had bricks for hearts. Perhaps I’d written another duff story? And, whilst these things may be true, was there something else going on?

As the scream for diversity grew louder, I had no idea I’d been impacted by unfairness. I’ve always been trusting, had faith in basic decency, so didn’t believe there was prejudice in publishing – until 2018, when I was told. As a mixed-race, British writer, raised in England by a white mother, my Asian roots were invisible but for my (maiden) surname, Sheikh.

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Cultural Heritage Innovation: Opportunity for International Development
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