Anyway, there are three of them: go to gym more often than the mandatory three times a month in order to keep my membership open; write more; and get published. While I’m still debating the merits of the gym system, the first will stay on the list. Writing more is never a problem – I spend all my free time doing just that. In fact, maybe that’s why I never get to gym more than three times a month, and that could also be the reason why some of my clothes seem to have shrunk...
But the resolution about being published? This year that’ll be different.
A year ago I self-published one of my novels as an e-book on Amazon. Yes, I know there’s a lot of competition out there, and it’s hard to vie with the vast masses of published authors, other independent authors, and gung-ho newbies who have no fear. Someone once said that the best thing about e-books is that anyone can be published, and then in the next breath said that the worst thing about e-books is that anyone can be published. True.
After years of trusting that one day the right publisher would see the spark and place his confidence in my work, such a step into the unknown was frightening, particularly since I am the kind of writer who for many years tried desperately hard to conform to what publishers insisted their readers wanted. When you are haunted by past rejections and filled with qualms about possible failure, overcoming those fears can seem insurmountable. The biggest step was to take that first leap of faith a year ago, and since then I have tried to keep my balance amidst the rush of new things happening to me. And I’ve learnt to enjoy the ride.
The threshold guardians – both of publishing and of reading – have been swept away and the decisions now lie with the readers themselves. Anything that you want to read, you can find as an e-book; you may just have to search a bit harder. Those authors who are naturally good at marketing themselves and advertising their books have an advantage, and the rest of us have to learn to work at it. Book sales beget more book sales, so the more books an author has available, the more likely they are to generate more sales. For those of us who write slowly, or are forced to write only in our spare time, this can be a problem. The best way to counteract this and to tide readers over until the next book is available, is to have a website, and a blog has become a necessity too.
I will never be one of those writers who can churn out a new book every few weeks. When my first book went up for sale, I had spent a year on the writing and another eighteen months trying to find a publisher for it, and by then I was more than a year into writing the next. Two months later, I joined forces with three other writers and we started a joint blog called The Scribbling Scribes, in order to create an online awareness beyond our own writing circle.
In June, six months after my first book joined Amazon, I uploaded another – a novella written three years previously as a project in my Creative Writing honours course. This had later won third place in a local novella competition. I followed this up by creating my own website, and after three months I began my own blog on that. A month later, the novel I had been working on for two years was ready, so I uploaded that to Amazon in October.
I now have three books generating sales on Amazon. The novella (a love story set during World War I) has its own following in the UK, while the two mysteries sell better on the American/rest of the world market.
So what about that third resolution? It has now become: upload at least two more books onto Amazon this year. What will I upload in six months’ time? My new novel won’t be ready for another year – I’ve only been working on it for two months – but I have a short romance that may become another novella. I also have two “trunk” manuscripts which both need extreme makeovers in terms of their muddled plots, and the wishy-washy characters need a good old-fashioned proverbial kick on the backside to make them more pro-active and less starry-eyed. The good thing about those two books is that most of the research has already been done. Only time will tell which is ready first.
Will I ever go back to doing the rounds of begging publishers to read my condensed biography, one-page synopsis and first three chapters? No ways – I’m having far too much fun writing and publishing them myself!