Tag Archives: self-publishing

Fiction Flashes

Another month gone by in a flash!

I’ve been quite quiet on social media and blogging through June because I have been absolutely up to my eyeballs with stuff – more over stuff I wasn’t expecting to have to do.

If you’ve read previous blogs, you will have seen that I said I had a contract for my steam punk novel – well I had a verbal contract but we all know that they aren’t worth the paper they’re not printed on, right?  Well, finally I got the real contract through.  While there was nothing actually wrong with the contract – the publisher had been fair and clear in all the clauses, but there was a tie in factor I was a long way short of being comfortable with, and a get out clause that was unnecessarily punitive.  When I saw everything set out in black and white I saw that actually it wasn’t the contract for me.

So after a sleepless night, because I didn’t want to let the publisher down (she’s a lovely lady and I’d be happy to contribute more short stories to their anthologies), I knew I had to do something I never thought I would – I refused a publishing contract. This was even weirder and riskier than when I broke with my agent.  I hated doing it – really did – but my gut was telling me that it was the right way to go and sometimes you just have to listen to the gut.

The result of which is that I am now going to self-publish Shades of Aether.  <<Bites nails to the quick with nerves>>  Luckily all the hard work was already done, structural and line edits, only the proofreading to go.

So June has been a whirlwind of finding a proofreader – thankfully Jefferson Franklin Editing made room for me – by bumping another job I had booked with them.  Then there’s the cover to think about – luckily another friend of my is a publisher (very different genre so she wouldn’t publish a steampunk book) and she gave me recommendation of a cover design company she uses.  Got in touch with them – explained what had happened and why I needed a quick turn around – and they said – we’re on holiday for two weeks so not sure, what’s your design brief?  Luckily I had one, we exchanged a few emails and they’ve stepped up to the plate with an agreement to get me draft design by end of July which should just about give me time to get it all set up for a decent print run in time to take copies to The Asylum – the Lincoln steampunk convention – not medical institution!

So – phew!

Then there’s my debut crime novel to think about – more on that later

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How to drop your Agent

Carefully!

Okay, well this is a blog I never expected to write.  And somewhat different from the tone of the last one.  For many, many years I have been desperately trying to get an agent, and in 2015 – I got one.

Whoops of glee did, in fact, abound.  I even blogged about.  I was so happy.  I knew not to expect miracles, but I figured I’d get a publishing deal in a year or two.

Only I didn’t.  And when I asked my agent about it, he was saying that a lot of the big boys were cutting their commissioning editors, especially in crime, and that until they appointed new editors, it was unlikely that they would take on any newbie writers.  Not good news for a newbie writer.

And yet, I know so many authors who are getting published, admittedly by the smaller press, but they are getting published.  The small press are guys my agent wouldn’t touch because the margin just isn’t there to make it worth his while.  Well, sitting around forever and earning nothing isn’t worth my while either.

I have a load of friends who are full-time writers, and a few of them were giving me the same advice all the time – Ditch the agent and self-publish.  I knew they were right, sort of.  But it still took me six weeks from admitting that to actually doing the deed.  Saying goodbye to an agent after so many years of trying to get one was without a doubt the scariest thing I have ever done. (And I’ve jumped out of a plane.  And had two kids.)

So I sent an email, acknowledging what my agent had done for me, but also recognising how the industry is and admitting the fact that I don’t want to be in my 50s before I get a book published.

Yes, I have self-published, Last Cut Casebook (LCC) is still out there.  And that’s one example of why self-publishing is not great for me.  I don’t have the know-how that is needed for marketing – nor the contacts.  I wish I did.  That’s why LCC, good as it is – and it is – I have the 5 star reviews to prove it – has only sold in single figures.

I didn’t just send an email and forget about my agent though.  I followed the email with a call, and spoke to my agent.  It was actually a lovely, reaffirming conversation, reality accepted and no blame laid on either side, because frankly, there isn’t any.  We’d have both sold the book if we could have.

And that’s really the point of this blog.  If you are going to ditch your agent, accept that as much as you want the book sold – so does he/she!  Agents only make their money by selling their clients books.  So if saying goodbye, recognise the professionalism of your agent, appreciate any work he or she has done.  And be honest.  Being honest is something I went on about when giving advice on how to get an agent, well it’s just as important for ending that relationship.  And don’t forget – read your contract and be clear on what you need to do from a legal standpoint – chances are there is a contract end period.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, once the relationship with my agent was – sadly – over, I sent off my manuscript to a publisher.  Within 8 days I had a publishing contract.  Not just for one book – but three!

A three book deal!

I can hardly believe it.  Such a happy bunny.  All I have to do now, is write book three.  Which I’m off to do.  Ta-ta for now.

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Don’t go compare…

I find today that I am struggling somewhat with jealousy.

The green eyed monster has raised his head because I have a number of friends, fellow writers, all of whom seem to be doing so much better than I am when it comes to publishing.  Now usually I don’t fall into the trap of comparables, I usually measure my success by my success not in comparison to other people’s successes – there be dragons.  But today that’s not happening.

Behind this is the knowledge that a number of my friends are busy self-promoting and marketing their books while I’m busy writing and getting no-where.  Their lives seem so much more successful and interesting than mine right this second.  It’s probably not so, after all, I only hear the positives of their lives and you never know what’s going on inside someone else’s skin.  But today it feels like they’re winning and I’m losing. Just to be clear, I don’t begrudge them a moment of their success and will shamelessly plug their books when they are actually out, I’ll do everything I can to support the writers and their works. Only right now, there’s a lot of teeth gnashing and a general feeling of frustration around my own work, so no matter how much I want to celebrate what they’re doing, I’m busy wishing I was doing something similar.

The writers I’m referring to are all self-publishing, while my work languishes with an agent and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere fast.  Please note that this is due to publishers acceptances, or rather lack thereof, and the generally slow grind of glacial decision making that seems to epitomise traditional publishing, this is not a criticism of my agent, after all, a book of his shelf does no good until it’s sold, he’s got a living to make too.

I decided to do the traditional publishing route because a few years ago I tried self-publishing, and it didn’t go well.  I simply don’t have the marketing skills, the budget or the time to do a good enough sales and promotion job to make self-publishing a viable option for me.  And yes, this is another reason why I shouldn’t fall into the comparison trap, their choices to self-publish and mine to go the traditional route are very different outcomes and shouldn’t be compared.

When thinking of the book I did self-publish, I am also aware that I didn’t do a lot of the other things that I should have done in order to get a decent offering to market.  For example, I didn’t get the damn thing edited, and all the reviews commented on typos on every page (they also commented that it didn’t spoil the read which was good to know).  I’ve now removed the book from sale under the advice of my agent as he, rightly, raised concerns that the poor quality of that book would reflect negatively on anything else I try to sell.

By the way, two of the books that kicked off this rant have been thoroughly edited – I know this because I edited them – to the point that one of the writers nearly gave up because of all the tweaks and changes I suggested.  Yes, I felt mean making someone feel that bad, and on the other hand, the book’s a damn sight better for it. Not sure if they’ve been proofread, but that’s not my bag.  Yet I’m confident those two represent good, well paced, enjoyable stories to read.

But now I have books written and in progress, and no outlet for them until a publisher comes along, and there’s no guarantee that that will ever happen.  My agent did warn me that this is the stage where I have to be inhumanly patient, but my psyche is somewhat struggling with that at the moment.  Not sure why I’m having so much trouble, hell I was trying to get an agent for 27 years, so nine months of not getting a publisher is really just a drop in the ocean.

My main focus is on crime fiction, and that’s what I’ve got an agent working on selling.  But I also write other genres.  At the moment I have a steampunk book in progress, which I’m thoroughly enjoying writing.  I hope that this one might appeal to the American market, but won’t know for sure until I’ve finished it.   I’ve also got a few short stories out in the world, two of which have been accepted for publication (general horror and Lovecraftian), only both publications seem to have stalled so I’m not sure what’s going to happen with those.

Perhaps the problem is that my author friends are actively doing stuff to self-publish/self-promote, and I’m rather passive in waiting for something to happen along the traditional route.  That is – I’m feeling helpless, useless, two things I don’t like feeling.

Right, well there you go, enough of the pity party.  Time to get on with some other stuff, horror to read, comics to review and a steampunk novel to write.

Green mist starts rising…

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