This is it. After much deliberating, some dithering, a dash of doubt, and a dollop of determination, I have come to a daring decision.
I am going to self-publish my historical fiction series, A Matter of Class.
I’m choosing not to look at this as a last resort, even though it might seem that way! True, I have not had any concrete success so far in submitting to agents and publishers the traditional way, but I do still have a long list of names of those I haven’t yet approached. It’s not like I’ve exhausted every last potential person on the planet who might be interested in taking on my books! However, finding that individual who would get so excited about my series that they’d be willing to become a passionate advocate for it in the tumultuous book world has proven to be a task akin to searching for the proverbial needle in a haystack. They might be out there but I’d have to turn over a lot of blades of hay to locate them.
And the drawback with that is just how long the process takes. If you’re lucky, an agent might respond to your submission within a week, but more often than not it could be anything up to 12 weeks, if you even hear from them at all. I am by no means about to embark on a tirade against agents – they get hundreds and hundreds of submissions and often it’s not possible to reply to them all individually. But it is nonetheless torture for the small fish who opens their email every day hoping against hope that a response of some kind has arrived into their tumbleweed-strewn inbox. And if it comes in and it’s a no, then it’s back to the drawing board again and the clock resets to week one.
You might ask, why don’t I just submit to the whole list in one go? Then, in a maximum of three months, I would definitely know where I stand. Well, apart from the fact that that would smack of utter desperation (and I’m not quite there yet), the agents at the top of the list are the ones I really want to work with, while the ones further down are in that position because I’m not as excited about them. And that lack of enthusiasm doesn’t strike me as the best way to start a long-term relationship of any nature. So overall I think it would be best to quit that route of enquiry before disillusionment sets in. I’m not saying I wouldn’t consider a traditional offer if it magically fell into my lap but at this stage it’s okay with me if it doesn’t.
I guess it would be fair to say that the decision has something to do with my waning levels of patience too. I began writing the first book in my series in 2002, when I was a teenager and had no great intentions beyond just doing it for the love of it. I dabbled with it on and off for many years but, at the end of 2010, I dug in with the more serious notion that I might actually try to get it published one day. In April 2013, I plunged into the murky depths of that scheme in earnest and, apart from an 18-month gap between January 2016 and June 2017 when I took the time to overhaul the whole series in great detail, I’ve been trying ever since. That is a looong time for it to be a part of my life! I need to release it before I burst.
And I do believe it’s worth releasing. The portion of the publishing industry that I’ve shown it to doesn’t agree but does that mean I should just abandon it altogether? Put it away in a drawer and forget about it? I can’t do that. I’ve devoted too much of my time and energy to this dream to give up on it now. I’ve written a book, which is no easy feat, and I do think it’s a book (and a series) that others might enjoy. Of course it’s not going to be everyone’s cup of tea, but there have to be at least a few people out there who would find pleasure in reading this love story. The feedback from my first readers has certainly given me that hope.
What’s more, I’m excited about the idea of self-publishing. There are many elements of it which I find appealing, not least of which is the fact that absolute control remains with the author. In the traditional way of things, once the contract is signed, the author relinquishes their right to make many decisions with regard to what happens to their book. However, in self-publishing the author chooses everything, from the cover design to the blurb on the back of the book. When my series has been my baby for so long, this aspect of the whole process is quite vital to me.
I’m not naïve. Self-publishing will not be an easy enterprise. Inexperience, costs, and a market already saturated with books are just some of the things that might trip me up along the way. But, like I said above, the series needs a passionate advocate in the tumultuous book world and, while I might not have the clout that an established agent or publisher would, I’ll do my very best to make up for that discrepancy with every ounce of exuberance that I have.
This is the notebook in which I have made my lists and notes for the past two years:
I’m going to shoot for the moon. There will be no guarantee of success. Even if I do everything right, I might not get anywhere without a healthy dose of good luck to help me along the way. But I’ll go further than if I’d never tried at all, and at least I’ll be able to say I tried. The stars may even prove a nice place to land. (Although just to note, in terms of the universe, the stars are actually further away than the moon. Still, the other way does read more poetically…)
So you’ll be hearing a good bit more from me from now on! I’m not going to set a date of publication just yet as I have many tasks to complete (in areas like editing, finance, marketing and promotion) before I’m ready for that day. Having said that, a summer release does have a nice ring to it! If you want to make certain you don’t miss anything then be sure to sign up to my newsletter, where I will keep you posted on all developments.
The road ahead will be both daunting and exhilarating. I can’t describe how nervous and excited I am to be doing this. Time to get stuck in!