For as long as I can remember I’ve always wanted to be a writer. And my end goal has always been to get my work in front of the eyes of as many readers as possible. I had my first poem printed in a magazine when I was fifteen, and since then I’ve submitted many many other pieces (mostly prose) to publishers, and have had several mini successes with small press publications and local competitions as well as a book deal for my autobiography. I’ve also spent years going to writing workshops, seminars, courses, you name it, all in the name of honing my craft.
So it has been challenging, not to mention frustrating, recently, when an increasing number of people have been suggesting that I should self-publish my novel, because that’s something that was never part of my plan.
Now, I have no qualms with other people self-publishing their own work – in fact, I can understand why it might be a good idea for them: modern technology has made it possible for anyone to have-a-go at putting their writing on kindle; they can even jaunt off to a printers and arrange hard copies on a shoe string budget; there’s also the option of print-on-demand; and through all of this they have complete control of their manuscript: no editor or higher literary powers-that-be calling on them to make compromises with their baby. But there is no getting away from the fact that, rightly or wrongly, there’s a stigma attached to self-publishing; and often (but not always) authors who choose this route are not taken seriously. So whilst I completely respect other peoples’ decision to do whatever they think is best for their manuscript, I have to say (after many hours of careful consideration) it is one hundred percent not right for me. Not at the present time anyway.
And because I’ve already had the pleasure of seeing my name on the spine of a paperback, peering out at me from the shelves in brand bookstores, I know that I’d never be satisfied with my novel simply existing as an e-book. But neither do I have the money to spend on printing, marketing or book cover design costs. And I still haven’t even figured out how to get my blog on the radar of popular search engines so apart from telling my family, friends and everyone I know on facebook I’d be next-to-hopeless at the online self-promotional side of things.
I suppose I could use the money I’ve been saving up for a new laptop to pay someone else to do all these things for me. But then I’d have nothing to type on when the current (six-and-a-half-year-old) Macbook goes tits up; and absolutely no guarantee that anyone other than my three best pals would buy my novel anyway (actually they’d probably expect free copies). Besides, just because you’ve self-published something, it doesn’t mean a bookshop will want to stock it. Sadly, they very rarely do in these circumstances.
So maybe my book is ‘niche market’. Maybe it’s ‘too gay’. Maybe it will never attract ‘gaystream’ audience never mind a mainstream one. It’s possible, but I still refuse to throw the towel in. Plus, it’s one thing to be told by a publisher that your work is ‘difficult to sell’, but it’d be far more heartbreaking for me to throw my novel followed by a lot time and money into an abyss, only to realise another year or two down the line that that no-one really wants to read it.
At the end of the day, I can write other novels. But only if I live in the present, concentrating on the actual writing instead of whittling away the hours trying to shanghai people into buying the old one. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll write something else in the not-too-distant-future that a publisher will like, and they’ll ask to see my backlog and I can pull this one out of the hat! Maybe a publisher will like my other two manuscripts that are also currently doing their rounds. I can but hope.