Being a novice in the field of publishing is not an easy place to be. To be honest the hours I spent working on the book itself was a doddle compared to actually stepping on to the road of disappointment and frustration the publishing industry first set me on. Wherever you look it is always the same, and the list of how to get published books are endless, I spent a fair few quid on them and what they all basically told me was. “You ain’t got a hope mate, but thanks for buying the book, I am now a hell of a lot richer than you will ever be.”
Maybe I should have written an upgrade of the Year book, as that seemed to be everywhere I looked, the only problem there being, that my work is a work of fiction, and yes you guessed it 99.9% of every page stated clearly “No Fiction.” It felt like a minefield, and too be honest publishing I think is the most unapproachable field in any industry, talk about user unfriendly it makes the mind boggle.
It took a while but I soon began to see that the publishing industry is very much a massive collection of exclusive clubs and gangs, if you are not in the circle then you really are very much on the outside. It was hard and at times very daunting, but finally I summoned up the courage and began to send off my work. (Enter minefield number two)
All the books I had spent a good deal of money on, had given me the ‘so called’ information on providing a synopsis and covering letter with whatever the publisher had stated, be it three chapters or the whole book, so with much enthusiasm I posted my manuscripts off and sat silently waiting with fingers crossed for a response. The rejection letters followed and my spirits fell as they came back in droves, and remarkably they looked as if they had never been touched. What can I say I am cynical at times and was not altogether sure that the companies who had refused my manuscripts had even read them. I decided on the following attempts to rub a glue stick down the edge of right hand side of the manuscripts enclosed, this did hold the paper together very nicely and only came apart if the page was lifted and turned as if it was being read. My suspicions were confirmed as yet more were returned, this time it was clear that they had not even been read, although I had some very nice letters of how this was a nice piece of work, but not suitable to our current range of books.
I don’t really mind being at a disadvantage, just as long as I am aware of it. Now I understood that I was actually being fobbed off by a company too busy to take the time to look at my work, which was fine by me, I just made a mental note of “I hope you go bankrupt” and moved onwards trying to combat the depression as I had people constantly nagging at me to produce the book, none of them seemed to quite understand that I was actually facing an impossible task.
I think I suffer at times from being a little slow on the uptake, After a year of rejections and feeling more than a little glum I understood that I was not about to get published quickly. I talked to other writer friends and felt some relief to find I was not alone, in fact I am surprised at how many writers are actually out there trying desperately to get their own works into print. What exactly are the publishing companies doing these days, because I know of, and have read some fantastic stuff, all of which has been completely rejected at least twenty times. Oh Yes how could I forget, none of us have written a celebrity biog or a how to do your house up and make buckets of money book,.Silly really we chose to write a serious book instead the endless reams of supermarket garbage we get shoved under our noses for next to no money. That really is the answer in a nut shell, consumer driven mindless fodder to be bought cheap, chewed up and spat into the nearest second hand book shop or charity shop, that is what the majority of the Industry has come down to.
With mounting pressure from those who actually wanted to buy my book, and a rapidly growing group of eager people on facebook, I decided to look at self publishing. I will state now if anyone so much as even says the word “Vanity” I will scream. I did look at hundreds of sites across the web from “we can do it for a couple of quid,” to the “just mortgage your house and you should be able to afford us ” companies. (Enter minefield number three.)
The hardest thing about self publishing is actually all the hidden extras. I found a lot of companies looked at first sight like they were offering a good deal, It is true that you can get a book out for a small cost, but be wary, you have no idea how easy it is to fall into a big hole of hidden expenses that blast the cost of your book into the thousands. It is called Vanity at times which actually makes my blood boil. Answer me this, why is it so vain to want to publish something that you have laboured over for years? what exactly is the difference between myself and a conventionally published author? I had two years of having the door closed in my face by the publishing industry, yet I had people who had read the drafts copies of my book who were screaming at me to get it into print. In my mind I actually had a viable product, is it my fault the conventional publishers chose to ignore it? I suppose it is easy to sling stones, I have encountered a few who have looked down their nosies as I mentioned self publishing. I have taken a great deal of time to look into what is out there and it is staggering the amount of work available through the self publishing firms, maybe the conventional industry should start reading its mail before casting aspersions.
It has taken me well over two years to finally get my own piece of work into print. I have to admit I needed to learn a lot to do it, and having now successfully published my first book, I can see I have still more to learn, but that is fine by me, I don’t mind falling on my face as long as it provides a positive, and a chance to learn. I would say to everyone out there with work that is being rejected, don’t take it to heart, just look into doing it yourself, but walk carefully. I see no difference in which ever route you take, opening that box and seeing a book with your name on it and being thrilled and excited, is a feeling you will have no matter which route you take. It is a little vain I admit, but show me another living soul who would not overjoyed to see their own labour of love bound in a sleeve with their name on it.
The biggest drawback if you are going down the self publishing route, is the lack of attention you will get in the mainstream media, Here I am writing this in hope someone will see it. You have to be thick skinned and determined to get the word out, it is a relentless task of fighting your way in, one which I am currently in the middle of now. At the end of the day does it really matter? Behind me on the book case is my work, I may not sell millions of copies, I might not even cover the costs of production, but hell there are plenty of conventionally published books for mine to sit besides. At the end of the day I will do my best and with a little luck, you never know. Time will tell, the thing is I did it, and I learned a lot.