To be or not to be? Some thoughts on publishing…

I started thinking about this after writing a lengthy answer to a question posted on a Goodreads forum. The question asked was: “How did you get published?”

In this day and age, where e-publishing has completely opened up the options and opportunities for writers, the question should probably be “how did you choose to publish?” – that’s what I answered at least 🙂 Because now you don’t have to wait on impressing a single publisher or agent that your work is worthy of consideration – we’ve all heard the rejection stories of Stephenie Meyer and J K Rowling – you can simply choose to go it alone. Doing this might sound easy, less effort even, but don’t be fooled! lol Anyway, so this is really my thoughts on self-publishing.

Firstly, I would agree whole-heartedly with the people out there who will tell you that if you are thinking of taking this option, you need to draft your work through several versions and take the time to edit, edit then edit some more to ensure you’re happy it’s the best it can be before putting it ‘out there’. If you can find honest friends, family or beta readers to help you, then do that too – feedback will only make your writing better and can help you focus on areas that readers are interested in – you might not always see them when you’re ‘in the zone’ writing a draft. Like I said before, publishing isn’t what it once was… you can self-publish easily and relatively cheaply (promotion is tough though), where that was not really an option before ebooks.

I published Hope’s Daughter myself because:

I’m really impatient and didn’t do well with the traditional agent/publishing route. What I’d do is get a piece ready, send it away, wait X months and when it came back as a negative would begin something completely different thinking “well if they didn’t like this, maybe they like this” (hence I’ve done several books before Hope’s Daughter). I think I’d sent one proposal to three places and Hope’s Daughter to one, before I decided to go the indie route – and that took me five years because of what I did in between.

My sister works in product design and marketing and she agreed that it can be SO subjective whether somewhere takes on a product (book) or not. You’ve got to get the individual liking it and then also from a business perspective it must fit with what their organisation is doing at that point in time – that’s a lot of considerations and a ‘business’ approach for a book. And look at some of the dross publishers do put out, simply because they want to replicate Twilight or another success story! So…it isn’t always about the quality or readability of book that gets it published.

Personally – this wasn’t what I needed. Of course I’d love to hold a ‘real’ copy of my book in my hands or see it on the shelf in a shop – but the ‘virtual’ world bookshelves aren’t much less exciting. Your first good reviews are no less wonderful because someone’s read your book on a kindle and not in hardcover.

Creative writing is something I do when I’m not working and so it didn’t have to pay the bills. If that’s what you’re aiming for I wish you luck – I’ve read that only 5% of authors make a living doing solely that! For me, I write as a hobby, because I enjoy doing it – obviously would love to do it all day everyday, but that’s up there with lottery wins and meeting Joe Manganiello. I was happy with Hope’s Daughter, and having written two previous novels and not done anything with them except file them on my laptop, this time I decided to take action! 🙂 I put Hope’s Daughter out there, mainly because I wanted to get wider feedback on the book beyond my local readers and also, I’d written it so ‘why not’? It wasn’t doing anything sat inside the laptop after all.

And I suppose – from the occasional self-pub success story you see – if you are good, sometimes generating your own readers can demonstrate to publishers that you are viable as an author…without having to wade through dozens of slush piles to show them (also another long shot – but it does happen).

Hope’s Daughter had been through five full MS edits as well as numerous localised ones – so I was happy with the story. Four pre-readers had gone through it and given me feed back. I’d read it so many times I could probably recite scenes from memory – so I did it!

If you are going self-pub, make sure you’re ready to market – ideally before the release of the book – as you can get REALLY bogged down in the writing/publishing side to organise this properly. One of the best prepared launches I’ve seen this year was Marie Landry for Blue Sky Days – she used her network of blogger friends to ensure there was excitement for the book before release and then a very strong blog tour starting immediately after. Plus – it’s a good book! 🙂

Also – couple of good places to hone your skills – try Miss Lits (I’ve seen them on facebook) – you get to write short or full stories, everyone reads, reviews, etc. and you get constructive feedback, which like any author will tell you: you can work on it. Also – goodreads groups often have writing areas which you’ll get support and feedback on for your stuff so try there.

Phew – sorry – I got on a bit of a roll there – but hopefully it’s a little helpful for anyone thinking about doing this and not just waffle 🙂 Basically, if you love writing – do it! Get the feedback, take it on board and practice. And when you’re really happy, try whichever route you want to go and works best for you – go to traditional publishers, release on Amazon or simply post your story on your own blog – whatever works for you, you should do.

Mel x

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