Tag Archive | self publishing

The Fatal Step

This  is the working title of my new novel and so far I am about half way through the first draft. Some how the summer has not been conducive to writing – who wants to be stuck in front of a computer when the sun is shining outside. I think too, I am rather daunted by the task I have set myself. I didn’t think about it with Crucial Evidence. I’d started that as part of my dissertation for my MA and I just kept going until  I’d finished. Then I drafted and redrafted without thinking, each time telling myself that this time it would work and when I sent it to agents someone would love. They didn’t and I began to realize that it wasn’t my writing that was the real problem but the type of book I wanted to write. Also talking to agents at places like Winchester Writers’ Conference and at The London Book Fair I knew any publisher would want a series of novels and I didn’t want to be tied to writing a book a year. In the end I decided to publish  the book myself. In the process I’ve learnt at lot about writing and publishing, but that makes the mountain I have to climb much higher and harder than the first.  I know how long it takes and how difficult it can be.Old Bailey

But you have to begin somewhere so this is the first page of my second novel. It follows the career of barrister Cassie Hardman as she gets her first leading brief in a murder case.

As Cassie hurried along the driveway from Snaresbrook Crown Court towards the tube station, she turned on her mobile phone. Amongst the emails from fashion houses, department stores and restaurants, there was a message showing the subject matter as Paul Sadler. He had been the defendant in a rape trial, who she had successfully defended at the Old Bailey the week before last. She didn’t recognise the name of the sender, Malcolm Delaney. Normally she was very careful about opening emails from unknown people but it was from someone who knew about her involvement in the Sadler case. She clicked the message open and read, ‘Miss Hardman, I wanted to congratulate you on your representation of Mr Sadler. Your cross examination was very effective and your closing remarks were obviously persuasive. Clearly they carried the jury along, as you know from the verdict. I would like the opportunity of congratulating you in person, and would like to invite you to have lunch or dinner with me. We can arrange a time and place later. I look forward to hearing from you. Malcolm’

The email gave no clue as to how Malcolm Delaney, knew she had represented Paul Sadler or what Delaney’s connection to the case was. Was he a police officer, a member of the court staff or just a spectator from the public gallery? She knew there were a number who came regularly to watch the proceedings at the Bailey; the staff  described them as ‘groupies’ and she had been told by one of the ushers that some of them would ask which barristers were appearing in which court and make a point of watching their favourites’ cases. The wording of the message was a little old fashioned so perhaps it was one of them. The thought that one of the men from the gallery wanted to invite her to dinner amused her, but nothing more. 

Back in Chambers, the senior clerk, Jack, summoned her into his room and closed the door behind her. On his desk were four lever arch files, tied with pink tape, the front sheet bore the title R v David Winston Montgomery. Jack beamed at her. ‘I’ve managed to get you a leading brief in a murder at the Bailey. I assume you’ll want to apply for silk in a couple of years. This is a good one; you’re ready for it, even though it’s a murder. None of the silks want this. Scared they’ll get tarred with a racist brush, I dare say. A woman won’t of course. Judge Crabtree is in a bit of a panic thinking the defendant might want to represent himself. I said, to Colin in the list office, my Miss Hardman can handle it. Spoke to Tim. Didn’t take long to persuade him you could do it. So there you are a leading brief in a murder.’

Any comments to make about that so important first page.

 

 

 

Crucial Evidence Published

When I was awarded the degree of MA in Creative Writing in December 2009, I had about 50,000 words of a novel already written. Today three years and many words later, my novel has been published and I have a printed copy in my hand. The cover with the bar code of a DNA sample on the cover feels smooth under my fingers and there is the smell of new paper. I’m not sure I always wanted to be a writer. Certainly when I was a teenager I dreamt of writing a bestselling novel and I wrote short stories about young love.
Then life took over. I went to University and studied Law. I thought about writing academic books about the philosophy of law – after all why do people by and large obey the law- it’s a question that’s difficult to answer. But I didn’t really want to stay on at University, I wanted to get on with living and experiencing everything. I became a practising lawyer and if I wrote stories then it was in the form of jury speeches.
The life of a barrister leaves little time for anything other than work so although from time to time I would try writing a crime novel I never succeeded in finishing one. Now I have and I have a great sense of achievement. I have taken the road of direct publishing as the traditional route takes so long and is such a gamble.  crucial11
The story is of a mid thirties Barrister called Cassie Hardman. She is instructed to represent a young man, Lenny Barker, who is pleading not guilty to the brutal murder of prostitute Shelley Paulson. Initially Cassie believes him to be guilty until she discovers compelling new evidence. She risks her career and her ambition to become a QC to ensure Barker has a fair trial and will stop at nothing to locate the missing witness. Will she find the man in question before the jury retire to consider their verdict at the Old Bailey? And if Barker is acquitted who is really responsible.

The London Book Fair

I have spent the last two days in The Authors Room at the London Book Fair listening to presentations from the various companies who offer services to authors who wish to self-publish. These included Matador who provide a

Author room

Author room (Photo credit: Rrrrred)

complete suite of services, the various e-book platforms Kobo and Kindle. Also a number of authors who have done both traditional publishing and also self-publishing. They provided a lot to think about, with the various options available. They emphasised the importance of marketing, including the design of the cover. It has to be something that looks good the size of a postage book, as well as on the book, because that’s what appears on Amazon. Get it done by a professional if possible. Similarly if you can get a professional edit, certainly a copy edit/proof read (although I’m not sure what the difference is, except that one happen before the book is in galley form and the other after). I’ll come back to this when I’ve had more time to think about it, but it did confirm for me my decision to take the self publishing route. Thank you to Authoright for organising this event.

To self publish

That is the question? I have spent the last week researching the various companies who offer self-publishing. Some of them are the offspring of mainstream publishers, which is an interesting development. One has been trying a very hard sell, constant telephone calls to try and persuade me to take up a package with them. Others are more laid back, and simply give the details of the services they offer and then leave you to make your own mind up. Barristers Wig
Of course like any writer I would love to have some publisher say they wanted to buy my book, but if I self publish does that mean my book is not worth any space on someone’s bookshelf or Kindle. There is a lot of snobbery about self publishing, that only books published by the big publishing houses are properly edited and marketed and therefore are ‘proper’ books. When I look at the diet of books in the bookshops I do wonder if that is correct, there is a mixture of chefs and celebrities everywhere.  Some very good books get little or no marketing when they are published. I can think of two books I have read recently that I had trouble finding in a large branch of Waterstones.
It seems to me that one of  the advantages of publishing ones own book is the time factor. Even of you get an agent it may take time for them to sell the book to a publisher and then the publisher will take some months to actually put your book into the shops.

Then there is question of the amount you can expect to earn from selling the book. I don’t know what writers earn, but not everyone is going to be a best seller and earn millions. Only three years ago we were told that the average earning for a writer were £6000. So stick to the day job seemed to be the message.

The problem is the cost of self publishing to the same standard as the publishing houses, my research reveals it could be around £5000, which I is rather a lot. That would include editing, copy editing, cover design, printing usually a limited number of copies, preparing an e-book and marketing. Still most people can’t afford that amount.

The first stage of self publishing is getting the book professionally edited and I have taken that course today. The first step on what I hope will lead to me having a copy of the book, Crucial Evidence, in my hands in due course.

Cathi Unsworth: women and noir | Books | The Guardian

Cathi Unsworth: women and noir | Books | The Guardian.

Cathi Unsworth writes about her novels which are described as noir. Unlike many crime novels she does not write series. In this article in The Guardian she writes about the difficulty of getting published and says her first manuscript was rejected by many editors who wanted her to turn it into a series. In the end she did get a publisher who told her she might have done better if she had used a man’s name as a pseudonym. Really that’s too much. She also says that to get published you must write what the agents say, ‘fit into the Christie corset’ are her words, and accept the compromise or do your own thing and take a chance with e-books. It seems to me she is saying what I said in my last post about making your novel fit an agent’s view of what you should write or you write what you want and self-publish. To use an overworked phrase, publish and be damned.