The novel is finished. Actually, the novel has been finished for a considerable time. Long enough to have garnered a respectable amount of rejections from agents (some of them quite complimentary, but still “no”) and to have written two more novels in the meantime. The problem is that I love writing fiction and I can spend many happy hours in the company of my characters, so writing the next novel is a great excuse for not marketing the first. After all, there’s only so much time and writing a query letter is almost up there with taking an exam or going to the dentist – not something you do willingly.
Did I say I’m good at procrastination? “Well, I’ll wait until my daughter goes to college.” “Until we’ve settled into our new home after downsizing.” Then
before you know it, it’s close to Christmas and the words of an agent at a
writing conference echo in my mind, about inconsiderate writers who send
submissions in the weeks before the holidays, when apparently agents have more
important matters (parties) on their minds. (Wish I had a job like that.) See, the excuses go on and on. Maybe it’s the imagination that fosters the writing that also creates the excuses, because I’m certainly not short of them.
Self-publish, people said. Good idea, except for the tiny little issues of cost and where to keep 500 books until you convince enough people to buy them. And besides, at those writers’ conferences, self-publishing was almost a dirty word: self-publish and no agent will look at your future work was definitely the message.
Then along came e-books. And not just the method of reading, but e-book self-publishing! No publishing costs, a better royalty deal than you would get from any publisher, and a chance to see if you can get your novel into the hands of readers like you without having to first clear the hurdle of one particular agent’s likes and dislikes or what the publishers think the market wants.
Of course there is a catch. Whether it’s the smaller issues, like cover design or a synopsis to tempt the buyers, or the major task of publicity and marketing, you are on your own – totally. Unless you just happen to have lots of spare cash and can pay professionals to do all these things for you. How do you know when enough is enough in terms of editing? How does one set up an author web-site
or use today’s all important social media to reach out to potential readers
when all you’ve used a computer for up to now is e-mail, Excel and accounting software? How to format a document in HTML (that one really scares me) and how to ensure the sentences and paragraphs appear in the planned way rather than create interesting patterns on multiple pages which seems to happen whenever I send a word attachment? So many wonderful excuses fueled by ignorance to delay the project further!
But….no more excuses. I’m committing to this. I’ve already opened a separate bank account for the forthcoming royalties (did I mention I was an accountant?). That was the easy part though. If you’d like to follow my struggles and, hopefully, my joys, look out for my next post.