There’s an old adage about falling off a horse/bike/anything (delete as applicable) that if you fall off you should get back on and try again. Eventually you’ll get the hang of it.
Well, not wanting to conform I’d disagree with that. Sometimes the best thing to do is decide not to bother with the bike/horse and take the car instead (it’s an analogy before anyone berates me for my CO2 emissions).
I’ve reached that point, except we’re not talking about a bike or horse here (which you’d probably already guessed since this blog doesn’t have anything to do with bikes or horses) but writing. More specifically publishing. More specifically getting published.
As co-incidences so often occur, while I’ve been discussing this over the past few days with my wife and the options of going down the self publication route, CB Wentworth published an article on her blog (Too Much Information) that sums up exactly the problem.
I’ve submitted my first novel ‘Shadow Ascension’ to a few agencies over the course of the past few months, and like most authors have received a response within a couple of weeks ranging from the rather short (and when I say short I mean one line) through to what was obviously a thought out response that appeared to be personal (although I’m under no illusions that it was in all likelihood a standard rejection, but I’d just like to think otherwise). One of the problems is that while there seems to be some standardisation within many of the agencies (3 sample chapters, synopsis, email of introduction) there are others that want a ‘Very Brief’ synopsis, or the synopsis embedded within the document at the front and not exceeding x pages. Now, I’m happy to do all of this, and have done, but 5 rejections later you kind of get the impression that one of two things is occurring :
- The novel is rubbish
- Your approach is rubbish
Now, it could well that the first, I’m pragmatic enough to know that. But because agencies are so busy you get a standard reply and that’s fine – on the basis they have to wade through a hundred (or several hundred) submissions a week you can’t expect a personal response or a critique of your work, but some indication that it has potential would be nice. Enough people have read the novel (and the second) for me to believe that it’s publishable, and when one of those readers was smack in the middle of the target audience for the books, doesn’t know me, and is asking for the third installment I’m confident that they aren’t bad.
Which leads us to the second issue. If you’ve nailed on the synopsis and finished the book what else can you tweak? Do you go back at each rejection and revise what you’ve written? Well, as every rejection I’ve ever had has said, it’s a subjective business. Not just that but some of it is possibly down to timing and you can’t really have any influence on what people are looking for at that point, perhaps they’ve just taken on a similar author or a similar novel, perhaps it just doesn’t float their boat. After all, if Harry Potter was rejected by most of the British printing industry what hope is there for the rest of us? How much of it is really down to luck.
So, I’ve taken the decision to self publish the first book on Amazon. Some would argue that it’s defeatist, and they might be right, but I didn’t write the book originally to make a mint, I wrote it because I enjoyed writing it. And the second. Only at that point was the seed planted that I might be able to get it published, and you know what – I can. And that’s what I intend to do. Part of me probably wants vindication that the book is worth reading, and that’s my primary goal. If it succeeds then fantastic, and if it fails hopefully I’ll get sufficient feedback to know where I went wrong.
At the very least self-publishing will give me some interesting new material to pass on to you (and if anyone’s tried to create a book for the Kindle you’ll know what I mean, to format it properly with the proper links to the table of contents, cover image, chapter markers – boy did that take some fiddling around to achieve and I’ll post what it involves at some point) and the publishing process in general (hey Amazon, why do UK authors have to get the payments from the US site by cheque in USD that we have to pay to cash because our banks charge a currency conversion fee?).
The blog will have a new tab shortly with a description of the book and a link to the Amazon page. I’m also looking at publishing the first three chapters here on the blog for those that follow me, let me know what you think (it’s likely to be a downloadable PDF).
In the meantime, excuse me, having fallen off my bike a few times I need to get in my car.