The struggles of an aspiring author are widely known, it is a tough, uncompromising industry to break into. You have to get used to rejection, and constantly strive to improve your own work in order to reach an extremely high level of perfection. Many on this journey experience dramatic highs and lows with some giving up because of this and the loneliness of it all.
It does not have to be that way anymore.
Before the digital age, a writer’s only entrance into publication, and the readership they sought, was through the old and trusted method offered by traditional publishing houses, who had a shared monopoly of the market. That’s all changed, and dramatically so.
Nowadays many options are available.
That old way is still there of course but it has adapted to the modern world and the competition that self-publishing and print on demand, having moved on and developed to such an extent, as now to be challenging its position. The days of colossal advances are over. There are few now between a derisory amount, and the astronomical figures that hit the headline press. It is a dream of course to be offered a rich sum of money and thereby, be able to indulge in the love of crafting stories for the rest of one’s life.
The reality for the vast majority is that; it is only a dream.
The insult that was thrown at those who wanted to be read, but were not willing play the game of waiting to be selected, of being vain, has now vanished from the uneven playing field, and is only mentioned as a way of defence, from those threatened by the rise in popularity of eBooks and Amazon as the way into publication.
By now you may have gathered that I’m self-published, and I paid to be. I had written a novel that found an agent, but never enticed a traditional publisher to invest their money into its publication. Here is the first lesson to be learned by those waiting for that knock on their door. Writing and publishing are different.
Writing is a love. Publishing is a business.
You may have written the most grammatically correct, literary masterpiece in the history of the printed word, but if it won’t sell, don’t wait for that knock on the door. It won’t come.
I was sixty-two, at the time of first venturing into telling stories by writing them down. I had no academic qualifications, no literary profile but I was blessed with impatience and a business mind. I use ‘blessed’ intentionally. How many people do you know who say, “I’ll write a bestseller one day,” but find excuses not to try? Write the story and get it out there was my goal.
That agent of mine suggested that I write another novel and then publish it myself. I wrote that other book, The Desolate Garden, and decided that was the best and only route for me. I’m now extremely pleased that I did.
I was completely computer illiterate at that time. I didn’t even know how to paste and copy. That’s the truth. I preferred to pay someone else to take the strain out of learning how to upload onto kindle direct and sort out delivery of physical books to Amazon and bookshops. These things you, as an unpublished writer, can do for yourself. I simply didn’t want to.
The publisher I went with, did all this and more. One of things that came in my ‘package’ was the services of a book selling agent. Again, you can arrange this yourself. The bookseller opened doors for me by using his huge network of contacts in major bookshops, and I opened them further. Persistence is your only weapon.
As I’ve said above, all what I paid for can be done by yourself, but, and here comes a crunch. It takes time. A huge amount.
Let’s say you decide to wait for that lucrative traditional deal. Who does the promotional work in marketing your work? If you believe that your publisher will do it all, think again. The average spend, in promotion by a traditional publisher, on a new writer is less than £350.00p per year. That figure includes their time. Either way in getting your work out and read, will involve you in the marketing.
Not all cases, but in many, a traditional house will want the ownership of your work. In self-publishing you own your work. I was paid £1,000.00p for a twelve month film option on mine.
The filming is costing $30,000,000. When the filming starts I get $300,000, with no-one sharing that money. I doubt that would have been the case if I had a traditional deal, one reason being is that I arranged that deal, and not someone else.
This incidentally I believe, was the beginning of the end for me and my literary agent. He believed, and suggested, that I had a moral obligation to give him a cut. We are no longer together.
I have a good understanding with my publisher, with whom I now have that traditional deal, in so much as I will not pay to be published again. He has done a webpage for me, arranged publicity on a national level, and has helped in supporting all my own efforts. One reason was because I was so active in the initial marketing of my work. If you do everything yourself, you will be on your own completely.
Everything necessary in getting your book read can be done by you. The first step of course is to write that story, a daunting task in itself, but it’s the easiest of the whole process, and pit falls, that lie in wait. Investigate all avenues carefully, paying particular attention to those claiming to offer their services in one way or another. Editors being just one. Look into all things to do with advertising. Many want to charge you for this, and before you consider paying for that, ask how it is of benefit.
If I can offer one piece of advice it would be this; Believe in yourself. Don’t ask why someone doesn’t help you, instead praise yourself for all your own endeavours.
I have a silly saying: To try is a worthy thing. To wait a wasteful thing. Those who try stand to fall, while those who wait gain nothing at all……….Just a thought.