I have been so busy with moving home and then sorting out the new house that I have failed to write anything at all. Virginia Wolf said that a writer needs a little money and a room of ones own. I have finally achieved the later, fortunately a career at the Bar provided me with some money. My computer is now in a small upstairs room with a great view. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not – I fear I may spend too much time gazing out of the window rather than writing.
Progress on the publication of my novel Crucial Evidence is very slow. I received the printer’s proof at the end of July just as the process of moving really got underway, so checking it for errors is having to take second place to all the other things one needs to do after moving house, like finding a new doctor and a new vet for our Springer Spaniel. Incidentally he doesn’t like my new office as he isn’t allowed upstairs and he hates being left alone, so he sits on the second step of the stairs, his head resting on the third watching and waiting for me to reappear.
The other difficulty with checking the proof is that I am not entirely sure what I am looking for. What are the mistakes that creep in when the Word document is formatted for printing. Apart from finding some blank pages and some misalignment of the lines of dialogue I can find very little wrong with the proof. I have found some editing mistakes and I have noted those as now they will be corrected by the publisher. I am working through it again and preparing the proof changes for the printer. My hoped for publication date in October has I think vanished and it looks like it will be some time in the New Year, but it’s better to get it right than hurry this process.
I have just received a quote from the publishing company for copy editing, preparing for printing as a paperback, proof reading, cover design, formatting as an e-book, distribution and marketing. The total cost is about £4000.
I would have five hundred copies of the paperback, which is the minimum number for having access to the distribution network the publishers use. I know there are cheaper ways of getting the book published-this is the de-luxe version, but they do a lot of the work and hopefully prevent the mistakes that mainstream publishers point to when they criticise self publishing. The question for me is how much faith do I have in my book to spend so much money on launching it? Still not sure, but it’s still cheaper than the mythical horse- the one I don’t have, can’t ride, don’t pay livery charges for etc. Anyway I’m off to see another company who offer the same sort of service at the end of the week.
My non-writing life has taken me away from my computer for the last two weeks. Certainly I have been unable to make any sensible contribution to this blog. I have however managed to send out my manuscript to a ‘Self Publishing’ Company for a quote to prepare a cover design, format the novel for e-readers and for printing, and made an appointment with another company to discuss an advertising campaign. I think I’m trying publish my novel the easy way, rather than handling all aspects of self publishing myself. I tell myself it’s cheaper than keeping a horse, which seems to be the preferred hobby of most of my neighbours. Do I detect a horrible pun there?
Amazon make it seem so easy, your book published in hours but that rather unsettles me. Am I being a wimp about it or not? I’m not sure.
I recently heard from the major publisher who have been considering my novel Crucial Evidence that they are not going to publish it because they don’t think it will be a bestseller! Just a reasonable seller would be good enough for me. So it looks like its self publishing.
In furtherance of that route I had already send the book for a full edit and I have also received the editor’s comments on it. Her view is that in places the book lacks pace, and she suggests that I remove quite large sections which give my main character, a barrister called Cassie Hardman, a context. One aspect is her background, which I feel is quite important as she comes from a ‘working class’ family (hate these
descriptions but in the UK they still apply), state schools, red-brick university, whilst the Bar tends to be ‘upper middle class,’ private school and Oxbridge. She feels an outsider in her chosen profession and that is reflected in some of her decisions and attitudes. The other is a sub-plot about her Chambers’ politics, which again shows her reactions away from the courtroom, but still with her colleagues. Without those changes she thinks it is unlikely I will find an agent.
The publishing business uses agents as gatekeepers to monitor the manuscripts they receive and ensure only the best get through to the publishers for their consideration. When it comes to genre fiction, the formats are so fixed that anyone writing something that doesn’t fit precisely within the stereotype is not considered.
Another way of putting it is that for commercial fiction the author must write what the publisher wants, or rather what an agent thinks the publisher wants, and not what the writer wants to write.
So to amend that well known saying Self-publish and be damned.