Saturday, 3 May 2014

And We're Off!

And We're Off...

So here we go... everybody ready? Got your coffee? Snacks? No bathroom breaks after this... We're off!

Okay so I've written a book, you may or may not have heard of it, "Fae - The Wild Hunt"? I didn't really set out to write a book, it wasn't something that I ever thought I would be able to do. The idea had always appealed to me  and in a fit of madness I thought I'd give it a go. In a weird way it's not that hard, in the same way that running a marathon isn't that hard. You start running, you don't stop... you run some more. Writing a novel was the same way for me. You start writing, you write some more.. and eventually it's finished. So I sat down one day and started typing...

Alright I know I am oversimplifying but before people start hurling abuse at me I have run two marathons and at it's most basic level it really is that simple. So where did this leave me? Well having finished the story I then had proof-reading (really dull), editing (even more dull), polishing (frustrating) and then sending it out for others to read. This, incidentally is the single most terrifying thing I have done in my life. Also the most irritating. I'm a man. I make no apology for this. Men are not by nature, patient creatures. At my core is a spoiled child trying to get out  (although I do let him out to play when nobody else is watching but shhh!) and I wanted instant results, instant gratification and of course, everyone in the world to love my book immediately.

After all these steps and some truly brilliant editing efforts  (thanks Clare, Dawnmarie and of course Gillian) it was time to start submitting. I sent it off to probably twenty varied agents and even a few publishers. Again the spoiled child got in the way. He ranted and sulked and jumped up and down a bit... Why weren't people beating a path to my door? Why didn't I have three agents and four publishers fighting over me already?

The answer to all these questions of course is that the market is competitive. Not just a little competitive either but hugely MASSIVELY competitive! Agents are drowning in submissions they have to sift through. Publishers are swamped in agents trying to sell them their client's work. It's just all a bit frantic and mad. So eventually I decided to self-publish. Not entirely though. I'd seen David Dalgish and Andy Weir publish their work as eBooks and achieve amazing results. Andy Weir actually had 30'000 downloads a month within three months and then was snapped up by a publisher.  Incidentally if you haven't read "The Martian" you really need to. It's amazing writing and this is why he was snapped up and my massive ego aside, this did at least show it was possible.

So I published as an eBook on Amazon exclusively to start with (though I'll be expanding out into Nook and Kobo and iTunes and all that good stuff on June 16th). The initial reaction was brilliant. I hit best seller lists as my friends and family and people who'd caught my facebook ramblings about the book rushed to grab a copy. Then came the slow decline... You see what people don't always realise is the sheer number of books and eBooks on Amazon. The numbers are so large they don't really mean anything anymore. You can picture ten or even a hundred books... a thousand in a stretch. Amazon has over 2,600,000 titles, and even then I am missing a few. You can't even imagine that amount of books. Like three or four HUGE libraries piled on top of each other. That's what we're talking about here. So how the heck was anyone going to find MY book??

And this is what brings us up to the present. THIS is the major difference between traditional publishing and self-publishing. The marketing. I'm a writing... I'm not a marketer. I don't want to do press releases. I don't want to be that guy standing on a virtual corner of the internet screaming "buy my book! Really it has fae in it and how cool are they? I mean really nasty ones too at times... it's far better than that other crap you were looking at. Hey no.. where are going?? No not that book! MY BOOK! MINE MINE MINE!!!" And really this is what a lot of internet marketing ends up being. I want to be doing readings and signings in bookshops...

So I decided I'd start this blog, talking about how we got to this point. About the next book (apparently I have not been deterred that easily) and the writing process. Also about the weird and wonderful world of print books and my quest for a publisher. At the moment I can't find a way to publish in print without gouging the customer. I like my book. I know I'm biased but it's good, really it is. It's not as good as Terry Pratchett though, that's something that would just be astounding to achieve and it won't happen on my first attempt. Because of this I refuse to print something that would have a higher price than his work. It's not reasonable and it's a bit arrogant. The problem is that the cost of producing a book with the companies I have looked at (and who will give me a hope of getting it into bricks and mortar shops) drives the price up beyond that.

So for now we will stick with the eBook and keep searching for a publisher/agent. I'll work on the sequel to my novel and try hard....really hard to ignore the child screaming inside my head "PUBLISH MY BOOK! BUY IT BUY IT.. MINE MINE MINE!!"

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