Tag Archives: self-publishing

Post-Halloween foot-shuffling

Riiiiight. So I just had a pretty long break from blogging right after announcing a giveaway, didn’t I? Well, fortunately that gave Goodreaders plenty of time to add my books, of which there’ve been a pleasant few, so thank you!

I seriously can’t wait to get them out there, and I’m keeping my promise. Those who add my (e)books will get a free copy. When one has no budget for wonderful websites like Netgalley, one’s only choice is to distribute old-fashioned freebies.

Anyway, on to the excuses. RIGHT out of the blue, I found myself flat-hunting and preparing for jury service (all right, the jury part was known for a while, but not coinciding with an entire flat move!) in the run up to Christmas. Seriously, those two very stressful things collided and I almost can’t believe it’s all over. As if moving wasn’t horrible enough, I.E ‘Eurgh! So  much dust!’ and ‘WHY DO I KEEP SO MUCH CRAP?!’ and ‘I’M NEVER LIVING IN AN UPSTAIRS FLAT AGAIN!’, it had to happen on the weekend smack-bang before I started my “civic duty”.

So basically, in between tearing handfuls of my hair out and fretting over my expenses forms to make up for the lack of transcribing I’d be doing for 2 weeks, I was forced to put all bookish thoughts out of my mind. My own books, that is; of course I had time to read for pleasure during those annoying, lengthy waits in the juror’s room.

So there we have it. Before Christmas arrives I plan to get some day-job work done, finish squeezing my bank balance and get cracking on the ebooks. I never expected such a massive delay to occur, but I’m not Wonder Woman and so I was forced to just take a breather and stop expecting myself to build Rome in a day, as they say.

Now, onwards and upwards!

My decision to self-publish

This is a hard blog post to write.

Years ago, when I was about 17, I decided that I was going to follow my original dream of becoming an author – or at least a part-time author while I pursued the ever-elusive “career”. There weren’t many “careers” for girls like me, who hate long office hours, databases, spreadsheets and, worst of all, people. I didn’t want to play bullshit-bingo all my life with someone who took their middle-management job far too seriously.

And it wasn’t until about March of this year that I discovered I didn’t have to. It took months to build up trust with the company and get my invoices up to graduate wages, but all that hard work was worth it. So the career thing looks like it won’t be so bad after all.

The writing was always going to be a problem. I desperately wanted to  be traditionally published. My first published story – and a few after – was some wannabe-horror tripe that was picked up by a small press who have since gone right out of business. Later, I wrote “romance” (eerr…actually begins with an E) under a pen-name and sold my first story for £50. A while later, I sold another to Harper Collins for £75.

By that point, though, I’d spent three years getting my degree (an arts degree, of course) which I achieved highly in, but I still hadn’t got that publishing deal.

“Why not ME?” I thought. “There are women my age selling books. What’s up with that?”

Unfortunately, it took a long time to realise that the recession had put a LOT of companies in the red. Or is it in the black? Red? Black? Oh, I don’t know. I told you I was crap with spreadsheety stuff. They were firmly up shit creek, anyway, so the good old days of Stephen King getting hundreds of dollars for short stories, and the days when publishers built-up writers over the course of years, finally pooffed out all together. Today, you have to be an instant best-seller, and if you’re not, you’ll never get another book deal unless you’re very, very lucky.

To discover this was devastating. It took a lot of wishful thinking and a ton of rejections to realise that none of this was my fault. My novels are fine. They aren’t crap. The quality of a concept or the writing itself matters less and less in today’s world, and unless you’re already famous, you need to have SOMETHING to pull out the hat to make yourself a desirable writer for publishers.

I don’t know what some of these people do; I really don’t. I don’t know what gets them the golden ticket. But I do know that their rights are restricted more than they were in the good old days, the advances small if not non-existent, and that feeling of a freshly printed novel in their hands wiped away by “ebook-first”. Sales, too, aren’t always guaranteed. Many massive publishing companies – appearing successful – have been bought out.

So even for those brilliant Charlie Buckets, the golden ticket wasn’t a promise. It was just a chance, and if you don’t make it, then your golden ticket won’t even get you a Snickers at the vending machine.

Self-publishing, for a long time, was considered vanity-press – the last attempts of the failures and the terrible writers and the arrogant sods who think everyone should understand their genius. Some people today still think that, because even when ebooks became big, it took  a long time for authors to see it as a viable option.

But then they did. We saw people like Jackie Collins deciding to self-publish. We saw people making  great, steady sales of their work. We saw people become millionaires. We saw people getting picked up by great publishing houses for good deals like the old days.

We’re still seeing that. Even weirder, people are reading self-published work. They aren’t just assuming that the stories must be terrible. Why? Because things have changed.

I used to think very, very negatively about self-publishing. I vowed never to let myself make that “last attempt of the failure”, and I was always terrified that one day, I would. Except I’m not terrified any more.

If the only benefit of getting a publishing deal, today – assuming you’re publishing Joe Bloggs’ debut – is a thorough editing, a pretty cover and…that’s it, then what do self-publishers have to lose?

“You lose first publishing rights. It becomes a re-print that no agent or publisher will touch,’ says the Literary Agent.

Well, they would say that. Self-publishers cut out the middle man. But the fact remains that self-published authors who make great sales are probably around the same ratio as traditionally-published people who make great sales. JUST  because you get a “book deal” doesn’t mean you’re going to sell well.

And as we’ve seen with both smaller presses and the big 5, that BIG BREAK won’t stop them from kicking you to the curb when their funds run out, or your book sells poorly. Some of those authors will get better deals; some will use the platform to further themselves. Many will go traditional AND self-publish. Most will just go back to being “un-published”.

Un-published, after all that?
Back in the day, authors always sold badly. They were unknown. It took time to build them up. Today, it appears, there is no time. It’s make or break, as they say.

So it’s taken a lot of thought, and a lot of observation, to realise that nothing is crystal clear any more, and as much as people insist that you must “choose your path”, there still is no straight path. It doesn’t exist. However much the “experts” protests, we, the writers, are in the driving seat. We are allowed to go exploring. Why wait at the bus stop for a bus that went out of service yonks ago?

Many, many traditionally published authors are weighing up their options today. Many of them like to do both the traditional thing and the self-publishing thing. Why shouldn’t they? It’s their work. Writers needn’t be so f-ing grateful all the time. We’re not slaves.

What’s interesting, too, is that the writing industry is the only creative industry where it’s still frowned upon to go it alone. How much sense does that make?! Do musicians wait for the big break with their guitars locked in their bedrooms, or do they get out there, do some gigs, hand out flyers, and publish their own tapes?

What about artists? Do they only give their art to family and friends, or do they get on Facebook and Deviantart, hand out flyers, and show the world their art? Do they hide away or do they start selling? In fact, I think artists accepted indie writers way before most writers did. Self-publishing is a platform for artists too. “Indie” is no longer a dirty word for writers.

How else would anybody see what you can do?

Writers have always had to let their novels die on their hard drives, because if the BIG DEAL doesn’t come, then they’re worse than pond scum. Well, I think we all know that things are different now. Self-publishing is a viable option.

I think it was Amanda Hocking that changed my mind. NOT her sales – I’m aware that was a phenomenon, and I think she is too. But she did say something about the guy from Blink182 – she posted a video of it – and how their band started out. His advice was to never wait for the magic hand to come down, pluck you out, and make it all happen for you.

You have to show people what you can do. A handful of agents glancing over your cover letter just won’t cut it.

So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ve thought over it long and hard, and I am no longer going to do the self-pitying thing. I won’t do it. I won’t spend my life pining over the magic hand.

That doesn’t mean I don’t still like traditional publishing. That doesn’t mean I don’t want an agent. I’m still waiting for my turn. But that turn will never come unless I get my work out there. At the end of the day, I’d rather people were reading my work – even if only a couple ever pick up my books – than let them die on the hard drive.

The negative-thinking-pitfall is not one I’ll go tumbling into again. It’s unproductive and it only damages me. Do I deserve to be damaged? No.

Getting my work out there will at least showcase what I can do. Maybe it’ll get me that agent on day, or that traditional deal. I sincerely hope so. I’m just not pining any more. I am awarding myself some respect. If people can do start-up magazines and artists can showcase their art, and musicians can busk and sell their CDs and do their gigs, then writers can show off their books. Simple as.

I am an artist like any other, and I’m going to make my  little corner of the world shine.

So, folks – watch this space. I have one ebook just about ready to go, and the other three to follow. My plan is to get them all up at once, because multiple books, I believe – from my research – makes people take a second glance.

I’ll be documenting my journey here and explaining my various reasons for doing this, or that, or the other.

I’ll be doing it my way after all. Yippee!

‘Beyond’ in editorial & the perks of being self-employed

Howdy-ho, folks.

You know, there’s something to be said for  being a teenager. Remember when it was acceptable to sleep until midday with one hoof out the covers? As an adult, I became aware of the fact that it wasn’t “acceptable” to be lazy any more. Well, it was whilst I was a student, of course, but by the time you enter the world of work, it becomes less a sign of being a care-free, albeit slobbish teenager, and more of being a lazy disgrace.

So, despite an illness I have which slows my metabolism to rock-bottom and used to make me sleep for England through sheer exhaustion, I try to make sure I’m up and at ’em at a reasonable time in the morning. The perks of being self-employed, however, make this “acceptable” waking time somewhere between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. – not the ghastly 6 a.m.-7 a.m. of everyone else. I have no train to catch, no suit or uniform to wiggle into – I need only wake up, eat something, and waddle over to my couch with my laptop.

It is a beautiful way of working. EVERYONE should get to work like this. It saves money for the company and, believe it or not, I’m actually way more productive than I would be in a boring office.

My best friend, however, pointed out that she’s not good with distractions, and being around her TV, her books, her games, the shops – you name it, she’d stray to it. I argued she wouldn’t if she had deadlines, like me, but she insisted that she’d only take longer to do the job and therefore do a *poor* job of it. So I can see where she’s coming from, totally.

Now, why am I bringing up this particular topic? Well, it’s not to boast, although it could be seen that way. I bring it up because last night, I couldn’t switch my brain off at all. I laid awake for hours thinking of babies, of houses, of weddings, of money, of all *seemingly* nice and wholesome stuff. Except if that stuff requires money  – and it does, in shed-loads – then it actually becomes a point of anxiety, not excitement. I simply couldn’t stop thinking about the mundanities and expense of the future.

So when I awoke this morning feeling totally refreshed, you can imagine my surprise. Well, that soon left me when I saw the clock. It was 11.58 a.m.

I had, in fact, slept like a teenager. It was beautiful.

Turns out I’d mumbled something about not getting to sleep to my boyfriend, who was just leaving for work, and he must have switched the alarm off. Utter, utter bliss.

There were no knocks on the door, no phone-calls – not even any work in my inbox. I was left to sleep, and I hadn’t slept that long since I was a student. You know what? Screw adulthood. Sleep is good for everyone. Work to live, don’t live to work, as they say.

Mm-mmm.

___________________________________________

So in other news, my new novel, “Beyond”, has gone through two sets of edits with me, and another with my partner – an editor by profession, as luck would have it. So now that it’s taken a roughly good shape, I’ve passed it on to the awesome Dayna of Secret Lives of Fiction Lovers. She’s offered her services for free, ladies and gents, despite the fact that she has qualifications in proofreading and a backlog of edited novels under her belt.

She has been paid in the past, even though she was only seeking to expand her CV at this point, so I’m naturally incredibly grateful that she has offered to do this totally free of charge. I hope I help some way towards Dayna reaching her goal of working in the industry – oh, and I hope my novel isn’t so terrible that she gets bored and wants to sling it out the window ASAP. I have *assured* her that she isn’t obliged to continue working on it if it makes her wince. Aren’t I nice?

I will be looking for BETA READERS, so watch this space or message me on twitter. I’ll be giving books away like hot cakes – whether they’ll taste like hot cakes or steaming piles of dung, however, remains to be seen.

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Toodles!