Monday, 31 March 2014

Impossible deadlines, impractical timescales and new routes to publication

Well, I’ve kept my promise! I’ve sent my novel in part to one of our reviewers. We’ll see what she has to say. And I’m still working on the rest of the novel with a view to sending out that too, to one or two reviewers and published writers. What’s more, a fellow writer and I are giving each other deadlines and encouraging ourselves to keep to them – I’m hoping we can spur each other on.

I have to write about the comment exchange on this page. A reader asked how to find a good editor and in my reply I mentioned I wouldn’t be comfortable with an editor who said they could turn round a 100,000 word novel in a week. Guess what? The day after I’d written that, I got a call from a journalist I used to work with some years ago. She’d written a 100,000 word novel. She needed it editing for a particular deadline...a deadline just a week away!

Well, one of my best editors had just finished one piece of work so I knew she was free. And she’s fast, committed and deadline-friendly. So I said yes! But in doing so I was very aware of going against my own advice in the comments below. So now I would revise that advice, I suppose, although I certainly wouldn’t advocate this course. You’ll have spent a long time writing a novel and it deserves more editing time than a week – but the author, Sandra Danby, was in an impossible situation and sometimes this happens. I’m glad we were able to help.

This particular novel, Ignoring Gravity, is now featured on a brand new website, Britain’s Next Bestseller:

You might want to take a look. The site's premise is interesting. If sufficient people order the book, then it’s published.  An older site, , runs on similar lines but so far it’s only featuring authors who’ve already been published, so BNBS is exciting. Sandra’s novel is witty, touching and fascinating, especially if you’re intrigued by identity and the nature v nurture debate. It’s also very well-written – I’d expect nothing less from this former journalist and star blogger – so Ignoring Gravity might be a novel you’d like to support.

Thought-provoking, isn’t it, how many new approaches to publication are springing up. Indie publishers are evolving too, so that authors who are happy to pay for more of the work upfront like editing and marketing receive a correspondingly larger proportion of the profits. We work on several titles for such a company – Open Circle Publishing,

Then there’s crowd-funding. More and more authors are turning to such initiatives to raise the money they need for editing, marketing, distribution and production. Good for them, I say.

Traditional publishers need to work hard now to make the cachet of being published as opposed to self-publishing really worth the trials and traumas of trying to interest an agent in your work. In my last blog post I mention the importance of a ‘contemporary’ novel being set in contemporary times – well, given the amount of time it can take just to get an agent willing to represent you, let alone a publishing contract, that novel is certain to be some years out of date when it's launched. So perhaps I needn’t worry about mine being a decade or so behind the times after all!

Seriously, I think self-publishing is beginning to evolve and grow up. Sites like Britain’s Next Bestseller are proof of this. Self-publishing is becoming more sophisticated and there are new routes for the cream to rise to the top. I am long past the days when I used to recommend traditional publishing to Fiction Feedback customers with self-publishing a second, lesser choice. Not any more. Now I say, if you want to get your book out there within the next six months, look seriously at self-publishing. And go for it.