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Monday, 28 January 2013

the Writer's Jungle

originally posted 2012

I spent hours sweating blood over my first novel, colligating stories from my grandparents and searching the net and libraries for archived articles of a bygone age.  I wrote, re-wrote, edited, changed and finally produced the finished article.  After entering it for a Scottish Writer’s Association general novel competition and winning second place along with a glowing crit, I mistakenly believed I was on my way. Now, thinks me, all I have to do is send it to a publisher and make, if not a fortune, at least the price of a good holiday. 

Of course I did not view the world of publishing with rose tinted glasses.  I knew the setbacks and rejections faced by many first time authors who eventually found their way to fame. 

My first hurdle, of course, is that most, if not all, publishers do not accept unsolicited material.  So – find an agent. Most of them liked it, they said, but, unfortunately for me, saga type stories were not in vogue at that moment.  Misery Memoirs seemed to be the thing back then.  Now-a-days it seems to be vampires or other such mythical demons.

After my fifth, or was it my sixth, rejection I sat down and had a little conversation with myself.  Catherine, says I, you are not getting any younger.  You have a bit put by.  Go for it.  So I opted for the self-publishing route. 

Do it on kindle, said well-meaning friends.  But no.  I wanted the satisfaction of holding my own physical copy in my hands.  I wanted to smell the richness of new paper, see my name on the spine of a book on a bookshop shelf.  After hours of trawling the internet in search of the best self-publisher, I opted for Matador. 

Bring it out as an e-book at the same time, advised Peter Urperth, HI~Arts’ Writing Development Co-ordinator, so I entered the jungle of the e-book

You have to net-work – let people know it’s out there, was the advice of an agent who had come to give us a talk in the local library.  And my foray through the jungle began. I foraged on forums, tweeted on Twitter, linked on LinkedIn, put my face on Facebook, found space on MySpace, and guess what I discovered?  That I was only one among thousands, if not millions of wanabee writers flooding the e-book market, giving their books away for free or charging less than £1 for their toil and talent. 

Although it’s good that the reading public are no longer subject to the whims of the publishers who decide what or what is not going to appear on the shelves of their local bookstore, ‘buy with one click’ temps even the most careful shoppers to fill their e-reader with freebees or cheapees whether or not they get round to reading them. Who knows, in among all the dross there might be a gem.  And I’m sure there are many.    

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