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This Writing Life: Why I’m Self-Publishing

22 April, 2014

Whilst the title of this post is fairly self-explanatory, I want to start with something of a disclaimer. Too often, I come across self-publishing blogs loudly declaiming the death of traditional publishing. No more big publishers! No more bookshops! No more BOOKS! Let’s just put our stuff up really cheaply on Amazon! In fact, let’s make it all FREE! Okay, so maybe I exaggerate a little, but you get the idea. So where’s the disclaimer?

Put simply, I believe the model outlined above is (pardon my French) bollocks. Self-publishing is great, but so are big traditional publishers – and everything in between. I would dearly love to become what I think is now being referred to as a ‘hybrid author’ i.e. someone who’s published via more than one method, often at the same time, and I’m actively working towards more than one avenue.

After that rather lengthy introduction, let’s get onto the main topic of this post: why I’m choosing to self-publish. The answer comes down to a single book, one I wrote several years ago on something of a whim. At the time, I was deep in the middle of my degree course and hadn’t written a word of fiction in over a year. I was desperate to write something fun, so proceeded to produce a novel into which I threw just about everything exciting I could think of. Once the book was finished, I put it aside – only to return to it a couple of years later when I decided to take Holly Lisle’s ‘How to Revise Your Novel’ course. Halfway through, I decided the book in question was far too short for an adult fantasy (it was), so I added something like 20k words.

I finished the course and time passed. I submitted the book to a couple of agents and got rejections (including one who said it ‘showed merit’, which is about as nice as rejections get). I put the book aside again and moved onto other projects: lots and lots of other projects, which ended up lasting several years. During this time, I realised that what I’d written was YA rather than an adult novel, but that in revisions, I’d only gone and made it 20k words too long – but also a better book in the process, meaning I was reluctant to take a backwards step and rip all that out.

At the start of 2014, I started looking back at old projects, deciding whether I wanted to resurrect any of them. I realised I had a decent, comprehensively edited book, that just so happens to be several rather unsaleable things: too short for adult fantasy, too long for YA fantasy, and a stand-alone (I have thought about sequels, but too much time has passed since the first one for me to really have any inclination to write them). Knowing all this, I wasn’t interested in sending the book out to agents and publishers again, but that didn’t necessarily mean no-one would be interested in reading it – and thus, my self-publishing experiment was born.

So, very soon I’ll be self-publishing this particular book (titled ‘Sanguine’ – more on that in my next post), as well as a handful of novellas (which I’ve written about previously). As you might imagine from my introduction, though, I have another novel still on submission to a publisher, which – if rejected there – will continue the merry-go-round of agents and publishers until it hopefully finds a home. It’s impossible to know whether I’ll be successful with either publishing route, but with more stories than I know what to do with, I can’t help but think both are worth a try!

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4 Comments
  1. 24 April, 2014 3:16 am

    I just stumbled upon your blog and must follow you for the title. “All that is gold does not glitter, not all those who wander are lost, the old that is strong does not wither, deep roots are not reached by the frost.” I have a Tolkien quote in my title, too. I’m looking forward to reading your blog. šŸ™‚

    • 24 April, 2014 7:00 pm

      I’m a massive Tolkien fan, and I’m guessing you are too, Melissa, having recognised the quote! I chose that particular quote because I’ve always felt like my writing ‘career’ (if you can call it that) has been full of wandering – mostly because I don’t know where I’m going with it, most of the time!

      • 24 April, 2014 9:33 pm

        Yes, huge Tolkien fan. Enjoy the journey. It will lead somewhere. “It’s a frightful thing stepping out your door. If you don’t keep your feet theres no telling where you’ll be swept off too.” Not a direct quote but as a Tolkien fan you probably recognize it. šŸ™‚

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