I’ve just had my NaNoWriMo novel validated and received my certificate and winners badge! Woohoo! So I’m all smiles today! I’d like to say a huge thank you to NaNoTeamIndy and everyone involved for their support, late night word sprints and high spirits. I wasn’t worried about reaching the 50,000 word chequered flag but without good folk to share the journey with it would have been a rather dull experience.
As it stands my novel, Shadowrealm Stalkers, is at 80,000 words and not yet finished. I had hoped to finish it by the end of November then start work on editing The Range in December. And when that was done I’d return to Shadowrealm in January and edit that one with fresh eyes.
Instead I’ll keep the momentum going and finish Shadowrealm by the end of December. After that I’ll edit The Range. My plan is that by January I’ll have The Range ready to submit to publishers and work on tidying up Shadowrealm. I’ve never had writers block and feel blessed with being able to churn out the words at a steady pace, or as Evelyn at Filling A Hole says: “Dave’s a writing machine!” I guess the problem I have is never being 100% satisfied with something and not feeling confident enough to send my work out to publishers etc.
Questions, even now!
In the last 2 years I’ve leant a lot about writing and publishing, and how it’s changing so rapidly. But I’m still in the dark somewhat. I’m old school enough to want to see my novel in print on bookshelves in shops, but I’m keen to embrace the eBook world too.
The problem is not really knowing where to start. I have a copy of the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook that has a decent amount of resources. I read a lot of articles about publishing, eBooks, contracts and the like but how do I really know where to start? For me the prospect of earning money from my writing is an exciting one, it’s the fact of seeing my book in print that goes beyond cash.
So I have many questions.
How do I know who to trust?
There are tons of online publishers to choose from, and they talk the talk, some better than others, but I feel an element of trust is needed before you hand over your precious manuscript. In an online world this is more of an issue. If an author meets someone from a well-known publishing company, Random House for example, or Hodder & Stoughton, you’re much more certain of their validity. The same goes for an agent.
Am I going to get ripped off?
Let’s say you engage with an online publisher, via Twitter, email, Facebook, whatever works for you. You provide extracts, synopsis (oh the dreaded synopsis!) and then agree terms and conditions. How can you be sure they won’t do something dreadful, like edit the hell out of your book without your input, or renege on their deal because it doesn’t work out financially for them?
Long term relationship?
You go to a place of work every day, build up relationships with your co-workers and boss. One day you ask your boss if you can do a Health & Safety course or something similar, you want to improve your skills and be an asset to the company. You’ve known your boss for X number of years and you’re both comfortable with each other. Your boss says yeah, no problem, sounds like a good plan.
That’s the kind of thing I’d expect to be able to build up with a publisher or agent. From the nervous first handshake to the solid rapport after so many years. Can this be achieved without face to face contact? I understand it’s not always possible and digital communication makes things easier, but to me there’s a lot to be said for meeting someone, gauging their personality, finding out if you click, if you’re going to get on, if they’re professional.
I’m not naive, far from it. I have a thick wedge of cynicism running through me that is often my best pal and worst enemy. However, I would prefer to seek out the best place I can to submit my hard work than take an unnecessary risk. Even though there’s risk in everything, that can be reduced can’t it? Well, to a certain degree. And I think the risk factor is higher when you don’t know who you are dealing with, not really, not in the digital world.
It’s not about the money!
I dare any writer to say they haven’t wondered what it would be like to earn a living from writing. I’ve been writing since I was a nipper because it’s ace fun! When I wrote short stories in my youth I didn’t sit down and write the first line with the aim of publishing it and getting rich. Bob Mayer recently stated on his blog Write It Forward:
If you desire to write a novel because you want to have a bestseller and make a bundle of money, my advice for you is to play the lottery; it will take much less time and your odds will be about the same, if not better, and I can guarantee that the work involved will be much less. The publishing business makes little sense and it’s changing faster than ever before. However, I do believe that the more you know, the greater your chances of success. The vast majority of writers are flailing away at the craft and the business blindly. Armed with knowledge, you greatly increase your ability to rise above the rest.
But surely every writer, once they reach a certain level, starts to think about being published, right? So if it’s not about the money then what is it that makes us want to be published?
- A sense of achievement?
- A dream realised after much hard work?
- To see your book on the shelves of a book store?
Or, if you’re like me, a much smaller reason.
Let’s say I’m out somewhere – a park, cafe, airport etc, and I spot someone reading my novel. For me that is the real reward, not the royalties or an advance for my next novel, but that quiet moment where I watch a reader turning the pages of a book I wrote. How cool is that!
Or do I take the plunge and go digital?
You’ve written your book and poured your heart and soul into it. Do you even bother sending it to an agent or publisher? Or do you stick it on Amazon or Smashwords as an eBook? I read how many writers are cutting out the middle man and dealing directly with the important issue, the reader. Is this the way things are going? If so then why bother going through the pain of rejection at all?
Publishers take a cut, and rightly so, they need to pay for editors, marketing, cover design, the physical cost of your novel, and a whole list of other things before your novel reaches the shelves. But not only that they work to ensure your book is the best it can be. After all they need to make money from it as well as pay you, so they invest in you and your work.
Amazon’s Kindle has a massive library of free eBooks written by amateur and professional authors alike. I’ve read a fair few penned by amateur writers and I have to say I’m not that impressed. The layout of some free eBooks is simply appalling. And the quality of writing is often quite poor, with spelling errors, grammatical errors, even basic things like correct use of commas, speech marks and dialogue.
It seems that many amateur writers are willing to put their work out there, regardless of its quality, in order to say they are “published” and feel a sense of satisfaction, pride (and smugness too maybe?) For me that isn’t reason enough to publish my work.
So it’s no wonder that amateur writers are using the eBook platform to reach an audience. And given that so many free eBooks are riddled with errors, would publishing my own eBook undermine my credibility as a solid writer? Not that mine would be the same, but it’s the stigma attached to free eBooks that I don’t want to be tainted with. Considering that no one knows who I am how can I expect someone to pay for my eBook? Sure, Terry Pratchett can charge £8.95 for his latest book because he’s established, but I can’t expect the same.
Therefore is it acceptable to charge a few pounds for my unknown novel?
Or do I stick it in the free list?
Or try to the longer road of traditional publishing?
And if I do will it have any impact on finding a traditional publisher? If I sell X number of copies of my eBook will that impress a publisher? Will it encourage them to take a chance on me based on the number of sales or free copies read?
I’m in no hurry to be published. I’d rather find a traditional publisher or agent than get instant gratification via eBook publication.
It’s a nightmare!
So there it is, dear blog reader, a few of my burning questions about publishing. I’ll leave you with this little thingy I noticed the other day that has nothing to do with publishing whatsoever. If you use WordPress you might find this intriguing! Take a look at the picture below!
How weird is that!
I hope someone else can see it on their dashboard because if they can’t it makes the smiley face a little worrying, like someone is watching me!
- NaNoWriMo: Tips to Cross the Finish Line! (dorchesterpub.wordpress.com)
- How NaNoWriMo Could Change Your Writing Life: A Success Story by Lexus Luke (eulana.com)
- Things That Changed in November for NaNoWriMo (chyrondave.wordpress.com)
- NaNoWriMo Day 23: Quick Slap (lemoncity.wordpress.com)