Well, no, not really. I mean, a fish won’t last long out of water, will it, and it really hasn’t been that bad. It would be closer to the truth to say I’ve been out of my comfort zone in trying to adjust to social media. I have a Facebook account, and a Twitter, but I don’t seem suited to either somehow. I think I may need someone younger to guide me.
Meanwhile, I’m having a go at blogging, until I can find the enthusiasm to finish (and self-publish) another novel that very few will ever get to know about.
I expect it’s true to say that most people who write will want what they’ve written to be published, so that their words may have a wide readership. I know that some claim that they get their fun out of the mere act of writing and it’s enough to share their ideas with family and friends. They say they don’t really care about the wider audience, but I’m sure that deep down they would love to see their articles, stories or poems printed in a magazine, or in a real book on the library shelf or especially, for sale in a book shop. I’m sure of that because I am one of these people myself.
I resorted to self-publishing because it’s impossible these days for someone like me to get a book published through orthodox routes. I could have approached a few agents or publishers, of course, but an old codger in his eighties is not quite the type of person that agents and publishers are looking for. What they really want is someone fifty or sixty years younger, who will look really cool (especially if female) in publicity photos and on television chatting with Richard and Judy. In any case, I didn’t want to go through the rigmarole of finding an agent who may or may not get the book published, or an editor who may change the work significantly. I wanted complete control over the final product and after dismissing the publishing industry, it was an obvious choice to go directly to the market and bypass the middleman.
So that left me with one straightforward and clear strategy: write the novel and self-publish it, give up a certain amount of time to publicising it, but crucially make sure I maintain sufficient strength of character to understand that this first book would be unlikely to make any dreams come true. Nor would the next, either, if it comes to that, but I’d try to repeat that pattern perhaps half a dozen times. With each book I’d hope to accumulate a bit of notice here and there, and one or two decent reviews maybe, but in any case I’d expect to sharpen my writing skills. And then – maybe – after a few more of my declining years have gone by, I might just be in a position to write a book which will seriously interest an agent and a publisher, and which might, perhaps, set me on the road to where I believe I ought to be.
Well, I wrote the book, Final Reckoning, had a few dozen paperbacks printed for friends and family to read – and that’s when I started to realise that I just don’t have the skills to promote my own work. I read all the advice, of course, but I didn’t seem capable of following it, and what’s more, didn’t want to waste good writing time that I could spend on the next book. I could have paid someone to promote it for me, I suppose, but that would bringing in a middleman, wouldn’t it?
So I put it online as an ebook with Amazon, and I got on with my next book, Tinkers Creek, and then converted my one-act play, The Astro File, to a novella and put them with Amazon, too. They all sold a few for a while.
Then I was contacted by a publisher in the USA – but more of that later.