Thinking Of Publishing A Novel? Hang On For The Ride.
When I mention to people that I write books, often the response is, “ Wow,that’s great! You know, I've got a book in me.” Not to be callous but thankfully, for most who utter those words, it will stay in them!
Friday night I got a huge rush of adrenaline as after
twelve months in production, my latest novel, Scimitar finally listed with Ingrams, and appeared on the all the
major selling sites.
There it was, sitting alongside its four stalemates." At last "I cried, "Now when people ask of my métier, I can now say with honesty, "I WRITE BOOKS ".
When I started out on this tortuous path I was in the fortunate position of having my first novel published when the first publisher I approached took me on. Even then, I had to skirt around the delicate subject, when asked of what I did for a living. If you think about it, one cannot say with any conviction, " I WRITE BOOK." Somehow it doesn't quite have that ring of authenticity to it and this forced into producing a second.
To those with, and without talent, (I still tell myself that I am in the latter category) who choose this profession, I bow to your courage for embarking on what can and will be a long and often difficult journey to fulfillment. But, be not deterred as whether the reading public embraces your work or not, there lingers a sweet smell of actually having achieved what you set out to do when you typed that first word.
Along the route there are times, late at night when you will find yourself lying foetal like in the last slow hours of morning, feeling much like an explorer lost in his lonely tent in the wilderness. Angst, I believe would be the appropriate malaise that afflicts many writers when their project labours along at less than a pedestrian pace.
The publishing world today is a far different landscape to what it was just four years ago as authors can, and indeed do, get their work published in far greater numbers than ever before. Whether this urge to write and publish is to fulfill some narcissistic urging or to have the courage to put, on a public page that fabulous idea that has simmered away like a delicious broth in the brain for years.Publishing a novel is now being pursued by more writers than any time in history.
Here are a few things I have learned in the last five years:
a) Once you have handed over your precious manuscript, you will endure a year of re- writes, painful editing, and a few thousand e- mails back and forth between you, your editor and publisher before it even gets near being listed.
b) Patience. This you need in spades. I cannot recall how many days I thought to myself, " Why are they taking so long? How hard can it be to produce a 336 page novel?". Having to tell friends and family under whose withering, and disbelieving gaze, you mutter, " yes its out soon, I promise. "
c) Avoid high expectations. Chances are you won't knock J.K.Rolling off her lofty perch and unless you can trump Fifty Shades of Grey (with what? The mind boggles!) The way forward can be a disappointment but if and when you get noticed, the royalty checks might afford you a night out in a cheap bistro.... perhaps twice a year!
d) If you don't beat the drum, really bloody loudly, no one will hear you and this is the tricky bit.
That precious book you might have slaved and agonised over for years, now becomes merely a product; something you hope sells and that it gives pleasure to the reader who has shelled out their hard earned dollars for a day or two of entertainment. If however the reading public don’t hear about it, and you, they wont know where and how to obtain it and all that effort and angst will have be for naught!
e) The rise of the mighty Kindle and the i Pad now seem to be de rigueur and we now carry more books than the average library and book emporium combined in a pocket or handbag.
Be assured though, if your book has listed correctly and you have received some encouraging reviews, your book WILL get noticed in the electronic format.
Book stores, and this is a tragedy of Shakespearean proportions, are on their knees financially and unless you are guaranteed 'best seller' status they simply wont take the risk unless it is on their terms which is, 'sale or return.' Independent bookshops though simply HAVE to survive, as they are the cornerstones holding the literary world together, even though Amazon will tell us differently.
Last year in America alone, over 380,000 novels were published followed by the UK with 302,000. Worldwide, over 2.2 million titles are released each year. Now, for a moment imagine 2.2 million new brands of chocolate being launched onto the market each and every year.
Surely, surely there can’t be that many chocoholics in the world?
Marketing. That vital ingredient to making any product successful is a bit of a neglected ingredient in publishing unless they believe that they will 'get their money’s worth' from a new author.
So as a novelist, beleaguered authors once they have completed their life's work, they will then have to begin to sprout their wares, shouting from rooftops, street corners or community book fairs in order to be heard.
There is hope though, as the likes of Facebook, Twitter, You Tube and a host of other social media outlets offer the author a chance to be heard in an extremely competitive global marketplace. This new method of 'telling ' the world has replaced the humble megaphone but now, 2.2 million authors have apparently shifted to electronic megaphones and oftentimes the din can be deafening.
If you don't have the luxury of having an agent, and your name isn’t Rowling, Grisham or Rushdie you will have to hustle, bustle jostle, push, shove, shout, jump higher and run faster to simply get your product into the hands of those readers who maybe, just maybe will love your work.
all is said and done though, seeing that book on Amazon or on the shelves of a
bookstore will give you that orgasmic rush of adrenaline like no other and you will
kind of think......yeah, it was all worth it!
Paul v Walters is the best selling author of five novels. When he is not cocooned in sloth and procrastination in his house in Bali he also scribbles for several international travel and vox pop journals.
His latest offering, Scimitar was released in August 2016.