The Route

An issue seen over and over on Twitter:

Let me begin by stressing how…

[Inside Tredegar House. Photo by me, October 19, 2019.]

…that is NOT my writing desk. I wish! LOL! It is in a study in Tredegar House in Wales.

We tend to forget it was once pretty common for authors to publish either out of their own pockets or with the assistance of tiny publishers, such as booksellers. In the late 1700s and early 1800s, for example, bookshops – as we would think of them – sometimes printed original titles for sale. Wikipedia also tells us:

Self-publishing is not a new phenomenon. While most novels were distributed by established publishers, there have been authors who chose to self-publish, or even start their own presses, such as John Locke, Jane Austen, Emily Dickinson, Nathaniel Hawthorne, Martin Luther, Marcel Proust, Derek Walcott, and Walt Whitman. In 1759, British satirist Laurence Sterne’s self-published the first two volumes of Tristram Shandy. In 1908, Ezra Pound sold A Lume Spento for six pence each. Franklin Hiram King’s book Farmers of Forty Centuries was self-published in 1911, and was subsequently published commercially. In 1931 the author of The Joy of Cooking paid a local printing company to print 3000 copies; the Bobbs-Merrill Company acquired the rights, and since then the book has sold over 18 million copies. In 1941, writer Virginia Woolf chose to self-publish her final novel Between the Acts on her Hogarth Press, in effect starting her own press.

Okay, true, most of us are never going to be them. That fact admitted…

[Me. England, 2018.]

…my “experience” since 2013 has been this. I went the “indie” route for these reasons.

First, when I was younger I witnessed my (now late) uncle’s battles with and complaints over his agent and various publishers and his struggles to write the novels he wanted to write. Regularly they nagged him to alter content to make it – what they considered – more commercial. His agent, for one, was on at him for years to write a continuing detective/cop main character story and sequels, but he resisted that because he believed he could not do it well; if he had heeded her advice, he once told me, and it had flopped, he would have paid the professional price, but all she would have done was shrugged, sighed, and moved on to another client.

Second, early on I approached one agent with my first novel and she essentially wanted me to write a different book. Subsequently my uncle advised me to write the novels I wanted to write because they are my art and not merely others’ profit fodder. Having read my first two novels, he was “brutally” realistic with me: don’t aim for or expect “big success”; and even hoards of writers with agents and large publishers, he added, mostly do not achieve “big success” unless they land a television or film adaptation deal. (He almost did… but didn’t.) He was adamant that in the end my name is on the books, so write them as I want them, and in the Google/Amazon world of today intelligent readers interested in my sorts of tales would find me and as they did what might happen next was honestly anyone’s guess.

[A bit of humor a few days ago from me on my Instagram Stories: an excerpt from Tomorrow The Grace, Copyright 2019, paperback version.]

So my answer is this: Write your book and find trusted people – half a dozen at the most – to proofread it, offer you feedback as readers, and see if you can find someone to edit it alongside you (as a fresh pair of eyes rarely hurts).

Once it is finished, use a free site like KDP, and publish it. You can certainly approach agents simultaneously. While the agents have at it, let the rest of us out here all see it too… because that is the point: let readers potentially the world over see what you have written.

A scary thought all that, isn’t it? It should be! But that’s the fun of it all, too! LOL!

Have a good day, wherever you are. 🙂

4 thoughts on “The Route

  1. How does it feel to self-publish? Liberating! After years of people telling me what I can say in public, it’s refreshing to let people know what I think about things that do not concern my former employer. I still have to be careful. But no one can change happy to glad or commas to semi-colons. Yes, I had to run my first three books by them, but they declined to review my fourth because it is a fantasy genre. The thought I’d have to respond to a traditional publisher’s hired gun has kept me from enslaving my thoughts and words once more. Increased royalties? Much less important than increased freedom. I apologize for the vehemence.

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