What better way to welcome the New Year than to publish your first novel? That’s the plan, at any rate. So in this post I thought I’d bring you up to date with the latest developments and what 2014 holds in store.
A History of Addled
I began writing my first novel in 2010. I’d been thinking about it for several years before I finally gave in and started wangling it into shape. I was working full-time and finding the space to think and the time to write was challenging, as I’m sure many of you will understand. The job was in the public sector and pressure on resources meant the staff were given the option of reducing their hours to save the council money. I jumped at the chance, shaving off an hour each day. This allowed me to get home early and write.
It took seven months to write the first draft, chipping away at it paragraph by paragraph, with occasional splurges of writing when I could take a week off. I gave myself a deadline I couldn’t argue with: my 40th birthday, and I finished two days early.
The first draft was written in the third person and it didn’t quite work. The story centres very much around one character, Zoe Popper, and the sections that worked were the ones from her perspective. It seemed obvious that I should have written it in the first person. I chose third person because I knew I’d be taking Zoe into some pretty dark places and was worried that might be too much for the reader in the first person.
But it sucked.
So I decided to stop holding back and go for it. The second draft was a straight rewrite from third into first person, with a few tweaks to the story structure to accommodate the new perspective. This draft flowed.
Finally, I had a book.
While all this was happening, I was made redundant and thrown unceremoniously onto the dole. Although this was a pain financially, it was fantastic for my writing. Suddenly I had all the time I could have wanted.
The process of rewriting continued through all the ups and downs of job hunting, interviews, rejections, and the fortnightly humiliation of attending the job centre. It became clear I wasn’t going to get another job, and I fell back on my savings, finally registering as self-employed in 2013. I wasn’t earning any money from writing at that point, but the commitment was made. Earnings would come with time and effort.
Meanwhile, I sent Addled for feedback, working through the critiques to produce a finished draft (number 8). The book was ready. I sent it to a succession of agents, after carefully researching their lists and putting together well-crafted submissions, and achieved nothing. Many of them simply ignored me. Many sent standard rejections. A handful took the time to say encouraging things, but the general consensus was: it’s not commercial enough.
In a competitive market, Addled would sink without trace.
This is always tough to hear, especially when you’ve spent years working on a book. What to do?
I considered my options: continue pursuing traditional publishing routes or do it myself? I’ll be writing another post about the whys and wherefores of that conundrum, but suffice to say, I decided to self-publish.
Addled: Adventures of a Reluctant Mystic will be published on Kindle early in 2014. I would like to set an exact date, but I know if I do that something unforeseen will pop up and I’ll have to reschedule. I’m aiming for the start of February, but it could be sooner, depending on how quickly I can get my head around formatting the book in html. It looks mind-numbing, but I suspect it’s one of those things people say is harder to understand than it really is. We shall see.
*UPDATE: Addled is now available here*
In the meantime, I’ll be blogging about preparing the book for publication right up to the day it comes out. Look out for posts about genre, marketing, publishing v self-publishing, cover design and tax (don’t yawn!).
In case you’re thinking that a month is more than enough time to get a book ready for publication, I will also be working on the second draft of my second book, Ascension: The Prophecy. More on that later…
Have you self-published a book? I’d love to hear from you. Share your tips and insights below…