Almost a year ago, I spoke at the Bangkok Literary Festival about Five Stop Story and the state of the publishing industry. Other speakers included Ken Hom, Stephen Leather and Christopher Moore and I felt a little out of my depth. How would people respond to me, an unpublished writer who had just set up a short story competition?
When I was researching my talk I looked into the success of Amanda Hocking and how she had achieved it. I remember thinking, “that’s amazing, but surely I’m too late to ride the back of that bandwagon?” She had started publishing her books in April 2010. Since then millions of authors have followed her path. I told myself it wouldn’t work today. Additionally, and more importantly, my book wasn’t ready.
After my own talk was over I went to watch Stephen Leather’s talk. He told of how he made his book a bestseller by releasing it on Christmas Day 2010, when loads of people had just been given a Kindle for Christmas. It shot up the charts. Again, I was inspired by his story, but again I felt that that boat was now just a spot on the horizon. I’d missed the opportunity again.
Now, I’m starting to look at self-publishing again and this time my book isn’t so far off. It just needs one more edit from me, a proof-read then a professional edit and I’m good to go. This time I’m not going to let myself believe I’ve missed any boats. There are always more boats. The trick is not to watch the ones that have left but to look to the horizon to spot the ones that are sailing in.
A few weeks ago I learnt that my novel, “27,” was through to the next round of the Amazon Breakthrough novel. 10,000 people entered and they chose 2,000 people to go through to the next round based on the pitches for their novels. I was one of the lucky 2,000.
I know. 2,000 is a lot. My chances of winning are 1,000 to 1 (there are 2 winners.) It doesn’t matter. Just getting through to the second round has given me a boost and reminded me how much I love writing and how it is worth doing!
Now my opening chapters are being read by 2 Amazon Vine readers. I keep telling myself that the readers are always subjective. Some readers even hate best-selling authors like J.K. Rowling and Jodi Picoult, so it’s more than possible that some readers might hate my work. Equally, most readers I’ve shared the book with have been very complimentary (some are my friends, but others are other authors) so I probably have some chance.
For the moment, I’ll just congratulate myself for getting to Round 2 and keep my fingers crossed for the next stage. I should find out if I’m through on 20 March.
I’ve been a member of the Bangkok Women’s Writers Group for nearly a year now, and sadly will soon be leaving, as I’m heading back to London to work. The group is a talented bunch and their feedback on my novels and short stories has been invaluable.
Luckily Anette Pollner, who leads the group, is organising an event, which happens to place just before I leave the country. On 10 April, writers from the group will read from their works in progress at the artspace@newsong on Soi 39/1 Sukhumvit, Bangkok. The readers include Anette, myself, Carol Stephens, Dana MacLean, Lenora Bell, Mariejoy San Buenaventura, Michaela Zimmermann and Tejaswini Apte.
About the Group:
The BWWG meets every second Tuesday 7 PM at Starbucks Soi Lang Suan to workshop their writing in a supportive and creative environment. Current members include several published and international prize winning authors, novelists, essayists, academics, humorists and poets, as well as a few complete beginners. The authors come from different continents, and from a wide range of backgrounds and age groups.
The BWWG has been meeting continuously for 11 years. In 2007 they published the Thai English language bestseller ‘Bangkok Blondes’, and in 2009 they gave a reading at the British Council and published a pamphlet.
For ages, I’ve been considering the question of whether to self-publish my novel “27” or to seek traditional representation. A couple of months ago, I couldn’t decide, and so as I often do in these situations, I decided that I would just pursue both options and see which one worked.
Using a very useful spreadsheet from the Writers’ Workshop (available here) I went through all the UK agents, looked at each of their websites and shortlisted them based on these criteria:
– Represents authors I have heard of
– Open-minded about new writers
– Good website and seems au fait with social media (The target audience for my work is 20/30-somethings so I wanted to select an agent who understood this audience)
I got as far as a shortlist of 20, and then I spent two days drafting a query letter.
Then I stopped to think. Stopping to think is sometimes dangerous as it can lead to inaction. On this occasion though, I think it stopped me from wasting time.
I thought about the ratio of query letters to publishing contracts (less than 1 in 5,000?)
I thought about the length of time, it takes to i) get an agent ii) get a publisher iii) get published ~ let’s say a year each for i) and ii) and 2 years for editing and marketing in part iii) – so 4 years in total (if your book is what they are looking for)
And then I asked myself where will traditional publishers be in 4 years? I suspect that with the way the market is going, some of them won’t even exist.
So do I want a traditional publisher? Well, I wouldn’t say no if one tapped me on the shoulder right now and offered me a good deal. But for the time being I think I’ll try self publishing.
My blog has been somewhat neglected lately. It’s sat lonely and unloved in some shady corner of the ether, probably reading under a palm tree, while it waits for me to return and bless it with my ramblings.
Lots has happened since my last post. Firstly I have decided to bite the bullet and self-publish…More about that tomorrow, when I will share some of the resources I’ve found so far to help me prepare.