On average it takes a writer around two years to conceptualise, write and polish a novel. Sometimes, it takes two or three times longer. The depressing part is, once you have it there – a cohesive story with rich, engaging characters and vivid settings – one way or another you have to try and sell it.
I guess there might be a few, but all those writers who claim that’s not what they want – they’re writing their novel simply because ‘the idea was inside me and I just had to get it out‘ – are not being entirely honest. With us, or themselves. We write to be published. We write because we want to be read. And yes, we also write because there are ideas inside us that just want to get out. (But mostly, we want to be published and we want to be read.) And maybe make a living.
Needy lot, aren’t we?
Anyone who’s tried it, though, will testify that actually getting someone to read, let alone invest in, those 2 to 6 years of constant, frustrating, painstaking work is next to impossible. Reading means investing hours of time. Publishing means investing loads of money. And, face it, there are a finite number of publishers who have a finite number of editors who will buy a finite number of books per year. Realistically, up against the comparably infinite number of writers, each with their numerous unpublished books, the one you’ve written has little chance of standing out. Even on a good day.
More and more, writers are turning to the increasingly tempting realm of self-publishing. Thanks to technology the world of publishing is changing. Writers no longer have to accept rejection as their destiny and can claim the title of ‘Published Author’ for themselves. But, as I said in my blog recently, in reality, that’s just the beginning of the story. Just having your book in print, or as an eBook, won’t sell it. So now, as well as all the hours a writer has to put into producing their books, they also have to market them, publicise them and, hopefully, sell them.
Every time they get a review on a website, or a like from a follower, or their tweet favourited, it’s chipping away at the block which will one day say success. But they have to put themselves out there to do it, get involved, rather than hide behind their laptop. Sometimes that means, I know (shivers), venturing out into the real, wide world and meeting the public.
I believe in my books. Yes, I could probably open each of them and re-edit them all over again for the umpteenth time, but I like my characters, I like my stories, I like the settings. I believe they’re good enough to have a place somewhere in the world. Preferably on the Booker Prize List, but I’m realistic. That’s why, despite a strong aversion to going anywhere in public and actually meeting people, I am going OUTSIDE this weekend.
I’m going to meet people. Yes. Real people. Not Facebook or Twitter people.
The Taunton Literary Festival kicks off at 2 pm on 2nd November 2013 with my event. Okay, not actually mine personally, but the one I’m attending. I’m there representing me. And my books. There will be other people there, too. Other writers of the self-published variety, including my friend, Paul Tobin, another local writer and poet. Hopefully, there’ll be lots of visitors, too. People interested in what the self-published industry can generate, and I think they’ll be pleasantly surprised.
The Local and Self-Published Author event finishes at 5pm. Then, yours truly has been silly enough to agree to take part in a discussion/Q&A session on self-publishing. So, if you want to know more about what’s involved, come along and ask some questions.
Interestingly, after this, at 6pm, Juncture 25, a local poetry group, will be launching their brand new anthology, Going On, which will include readings from the book. They deserve lots of support – poetry isn’t the easiest art form.
In fact, come along and support all of us. We writers need our small successes to keep us going till either a publisher or agent discovers us, or our book goes viral. In fact, each and every gesture of support, from buying a copy of their book to giving a like or favourite on a social network, keeps a writer going, and keeps their dreams alive.