Thursday, 24 January 2013

Who are you writing for?

There is one subject that places a new writer onto the middle of the publishing world's see-saw: self-publishing. "Everyone has one book inside them" - if you are a new writer, then does this apply to you?

After attending writer workshops, it became apparent to me that there are various categories of writer. Some, aim to write "that one book" and itch to get it out there, whereas others seek a new career or want to use their book as a stepping stone to something else.

Publishers know what they like and what will sell so it can be very frustrating for a writer to receive rejection after rejection and then feel like they are on a conveyor belt to nowhere. At that point the writer may be tempted to self-publish, which personally, was never an option for me as I knew I would always have one nagging thought at the back of my mind: "Well, anyone could do that so how would I know what I'd written was worthy of publication?" Plus, I was lucky and a publisher liked "Temptation" enough to back me.

If the subject of your book would only appeal to a small group, eg: tales of local events, then you may want to self-publish because you know who in your town would want to buy it.

If however, you are frustrated because you haven't received an offer yet and the future for your book looks grim, then put your business head on and really think about:
a) the money to do it
b) the time it is going to take you to promote and market it (because nobody else is going to do it for you and the publishing company will only do so much)
c) researching the people who cater for self-publishing because there are a lot of sharks out there and the returns may leave you out of pocket.

So - its a messy business and very, very frustrating, IF you allow it to be.
This is a decision only YOU can make, despite words of advice from well-meaning friends and colleagues or family. But, before you do, make sure you have all the facts and are realistic about it.

At one workshop, I met a woman who had self-published a novel and then said to me: "I've sold 500 copies but its taken me over a year and when will I ever get time to write?" She had only just covered the cost of publication.

If you are simply just frustrated, then give yourself a kick up the behind and go back to your manuscript. Be brave enough to let someone else read it and ask for a realistic assessment and not just lip service because of friendship. If, at that point you are convinced your book is being overlooked because you are an unknown quantity - then, do the math and ask yourself if you want a new career as both a writer and publicist.

The worst case scenario is that you devote another 3 months to changing your characters and story line (because let's face it, during that time you may just tread water and still get nowhere). Sometimes, just changing a character's age and perspective can triggar new story lines.