Friday, 23 March 2012

A bouquet or a bucket of cold water?

Over thirty years ago, as a young adult, I remember sending off ream after ream of typescripts to publishers and agents. In the early days, these were laboriously tapped out on a manual typewriter, until I invested in a BBC microcomputer and dot matrix printer; later a dedicated word processor with a very limited seven line LCD screen; and eventually my first PC.

I could have papered the walls of my house with rejection slips and letters and I found this a painful and disheartening experience. Looking back, I can see just how raw my writing was, and now it makes me cringe, so I can quite understand why I had so little success. I'm not one of those who would complain about publishers' readers: these are busy and professional folk who thoroughly know their business and who often go out of their way to offer advice and encouragement.

In the end, however, I became so disheartened that I stopped sending out typesecripts altogether; and then around 2008, having launched my own web site, I decided that I might as well have a go at writing again, and this time I simply converted the OpenOffice documents to PDFs, uploaded them to my web server and gave the things away free.

Then earlier this year, having heard about Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), I thought that I might rewrite the novels and novellas, convert them for the Kindle and upload them to Amazon.

So, that's where I am right now: nervously biting my fingernails, not knowing at this early stage whether I'll receive a bouquet for my efforts of a bucket of cold water.

One thing that I've discovered already is that getting oneself established as an indie author, without the traditional mainstream reviews and publisher's marketing infrastructure to lend support, is not an easy thing. And I'm not alone in this: I know an established, respected -- and brave -- travel writer who has self-published his latest work; and he, too, is struggling to get those first, important Amazon star customer reviews. Self-publishing requires a lot of effort on the part of the author to engage in social media and market themselves, though fortunately I'm more than used to good hard work.

If you're in the same boat, I sincerely wish you luck and hope that your efforts meet with good fortune.

Painting: The Writing Master by Thomas Eakins, 1882.

• By Etienne de L'Amour ~ Google+

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