If you’ve seen my blog or my Twitter at all this week, you’ve probably gathered by now that me and Oxford Blood are taking part in the Awesome Indie Authors Grand Opening Party. I explained a bit more about the site and the launch earlier in the week, but in essence, AIA is a site that aims to objectively assess self-published novels and then list the ones that meet their standards, in an attempt to take the risk out of buying indie.
Anyway, day four of the Awesome Indies Grand Opening party is meet the author day. Pop over and find out the difference between indie and self-publishing, watch a fun video and read the author’s stories.
Click here or on the banner above. Also, the 99c sale is still on, so if you haven’t been already, pop over there now.
Once again, I wrote far too much for my entry and ended up having to submit a cut down version. But for those who are interested, the whole thing is below. hold tight, this one’s a little soul-bearing…
WHY DID I GO DOWN THE INDIE PUBLISHING ROUTE?
Ever since my teens, I’d wanted to write a vampire novel, but the first time I really found myself with enough time was in the months between finishing university and starting work. This was frustrating timing. A year or two previously, it had seemed that any piece of rubbish with the word “vampire” in the title would have been snapped up by publishers eager to capitalise on the success of Twilight. By the time Oxford Blood was finished, however, the pendulum had swung the other way. Several agents told me that they liked my novel and thought that it brought something new to the theme but that the market was utterly saturated by the vampire genre. The one agent who was willing to take me on was told much the same thing by the publishers that she approached. It was suggested that I should write a dystopian novel instead, but I had no interest in jumping on a new bandwagon – I’d written a vampire novel in spite of rather than because of the genre’s popularity.
Once we parted ways, I just didn’t have the strength to look for another agent, and suspected that unless I was very lucky, the answer from anyone new would be much the same. On the hottest day of the year in 2012, I went for a picnic with some friends, read a story in the paper about someone whose previously self-published vampire book had just been traditionally published by the same company who a few weeks earlier had told me that vampire books were over – but clearly once a novel had had a million downloads, they were willing to take a ‘chance’ on it. I was beyond frustrated. I had a book that everyone was saying was perfectly good and likely to be enjoyed by vampire fans, but I couldn’t get it in front of any of the people who’d be likely to have fun reading it.
A friend of mine had faced the opposite problem but the same outcome. She’d written a YA magic realism novel, and where my genre was considered too overdone to be worthy of publication, hers was considered to be too obscure and niche (though infuriatingly, no-one was suggesting that either of our novels was lacking in quality). She’d tried self-publishing and recommended that I gave it a go too. I got home that night, and still slightly drunk on Pimms and struggling not to cry, began to research how to do it. I suddenly had a conviction that this was the right thing to do. The big publishers’ concern was whether the book could sell enough copies to make them a tidy profit. I just wanted to see my story in print and have the thrill of knowing that some people I’d never met were reading it.
My book had already been heavily edited to meet my former agent’s requirements, but with the help of a variety of online editors and beta-readers, I refined it further. Though not quite enough – the second edition was much more thoroughly edited, and in retrospect, I wish I’d invested even more time, money and effort in getting the first edition perfect first time around. There are a few embarrassing reviews from the first few months of publication that basically say “great story, too many typos.”
I also commissioned a professional, customised cover. I’d always dreamed of having a beautiful cover to go with my story, and it was when I received the proofs of this that I realised that I wasn’t really missing out by going down the indie route. I honestly don’t believe that even the biggest publisher could have designed me a more beautiful or a more perfect cover.
I remember when I got my first review from a stranger. It was amazing to know that someone I’d never met had read my book and enjoyed it and was sharing her opinion about the best characters and her favourite scenes. Since then, I’ve had lots more reviews, participated in interviews and been featured on blogs. It’s terrifying to think that if I’d held out for a traditional publisher, my manuscript would probably still have been languishing on my computer instead of being exposed to all sorts of people.