When I was 15 years old I dreamed of writing Tolkienesque epic fantasy. I felt strongly that I should control every aspect of my books (I remember being horrified when I first learned that authors had no control over their own book covers!) I had cosy, naive ideas about producing every aspect of the books myself. I would choose a good font, paint a picture for the cover, sign my name on the spine… It would be brilliant.
Fast forward 20 years, and here I am writing non-Tolkienesque, non-epic fantasy, designing not just the book covers myself*, but also handling the proof-reading, marketing, distribution and public relations. It’s exhausting. I would love to have an agent, publisher, editor, marketing team – but that’s not the way it’s panned out.
I am one of the unwashed masses, spurned by the publishing establishment, but not taking no for an answer; thumbing our noses and going it alone. It sounds so exciting! An adventure. Discovering new and uncharted lands, filled with wonders; hoping to discover the rumoured gold in them thar hills.
The reality is… sobering. It didn’t take me long to understand why agents spare only the barest and briefest of glances at the painstakingly prepared submissions on their slush piles. There is a vast ocean of writing out there! Much of it bad, it has to be said. But some of it very good. My own submissions were typically returned with comments along the lines of ‘Really liked your book, but don’t think I can sell it. Byee!’
So here I am, one tiny plankton adrift in the ocean of indie writing, wondering why the fisherman (that’s you, the reading public. Yes, this metaphor has become quite tortuous. I apologise) doesn’t notice me, but has eyes only for the angel fish, seahorses, and dolphins…
And I think back to my 15 year old self and shake a fist. I got what I wanted. Complete control. *sigh*
* Actually I outsourced the cover art to www.uncutid.com (who happens to be my boyfriend, so it was free :-D), but I still had to organise it!