So three weeks ago my report came back from the reader at the RNA. I had hoped that it would arrive back in time for the start of the Easter holidays and it duly obliged by arriving on the last day of term. I love it when a plan comes together! I was thrilled when the report mentioned that there was very little to be done to my manuscript, and so whereas I had planned to use the holiday in rewriting, instead I spent it doing a myriad other writing tasks, but first and foremost having a long hard think.
As some of you may know if you’ve read my previous posts, or indeed my interviews with the lovely Susanna Bavin on her blog, I am somewhat on the fence when it comes to the whole question of self-publishing / versus traditional publishing. Of course at the moment I only have experience of the former and am trying to embrace it wholeheartedly. There are many things which appeal to me about self-publishing, not least of all the personal reward (and I’m not talking financial). This weekend saw Letting in Light reach number 62 on Amazon’s Literary Fiction Romance chart, Diane Chamberlain was just below me at 63 (!!!!), and that’s down to me, my efforts alone, and although in comparison to other books it’s fairly inconsequential to me it’s a big achievement. It’s taken a long while, but I’m beginning to feel more optimistic for my firstborn, and indeed my career as a writer …. but self-publishing is a hard slog …. very hard, and I have to think whether this is the best way forward for me.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not looking for an easy route, or one that requires less effort. I’m looking for the most effective route that will allow me be the one thing I would love to be; a full time writer. As I said I’m not sure just yet what that route might be, but it doesn’t stop me from looking. I once gave my character Ellie some very good advice; ‘You don't have to just take one decision and then live with it forever. Make this decision, do this, and then when things need to change, make another decision and do that.’ So that’s what I’m trying to do; remember that decision making can be fluid, and by changing my mind every once in a while, I’m not selling out on an idea or my commitment to it, I’m just keeping my options open.
Like an awful lot of other writers I don’t just write. I have a full time job managing the finances of four schools. I’m at my desk at eight, usually have two meetings a week after work, meaning I don’t leave until 7pm, and I’m often answering emails at 10pm. I have three teenage children and as my husband is partially sighted and not able to drive, I am full time chauffeur to all of them. Oh, and my 92 year old mother in law lives with us. So whilst I’m not looking for sympathy for a situation that many others face too, I do have to acknowledge that the situation exists, and it makes finding time to write hard. Finding time to explore every marketing opportunity, read and research the million and one things I need to know as a self-published author, and maintain and develop a presence on two major social networks is harder still, and what’s more it distracts me from my writing.
Put like that, and my decision seems to be obvious. I really do need to try the traditional publishing route too, not least of all because my ego would love to walk into a book shop and see the table piled high with my books, but to avail myself of expertise in certain areas and other people’s time in carrying out some of the tasks I am currently doing (or at least helping with them). I had put off trying this traditional route before just purely because of the timescales involved, I’m not getting any younger after all, and of course the odds are not stacked in my favour, but I recognise that I do need to do it.
So among the other things I did with my Easter holiday, I looked at my first three chapters again, I wrote blurbs, pitches, covering letters, several synopses, did even more homework, and I submitted, and I’ll keep on submitting.
Meanwhile you’ll find me writing … and I’ll still be writing when the rejection letters come in, but now perhaps I’ll be able to give a little rueful smile knowing that no-one take away my self-published book, or the success I’ve had with it. Or indeed the knowledge I now have which means the next one will be better still …
And if, just if, I get a bite, you won’t need to log into Facebook to hear the news, you’ll hear me screaming up and down the land. The last line of my RNA readers’ report simply said this book deserves to be read. Wish me luck