Thursday, 20 October 2011

I did it!

Snow-capped Maroma
Just over a year ago I gave myself the opportunity to write the travelogue I had planned for ten years. I packed up my belongings, sold my house (for not much money due to the economic downturn) and headed for the hills. Well, the mountains of Axarquia in Spain to be exact. With Maroma, in all her glory, standing over me I eventually knuckled down and wrote, edited, rewrote, edited and proofed my book. Next, I tried to get an agent and/or publisher to be interested in me and my work - what a demoralising pursuit that was.

I purchased the 2011 Writers' & Artists' Yearbook, read all the pertinent articles within and made a shortlist of appropriate agents/publishers. One by one I approached them, having carried out thorough research on the agent and their existing client list, the genre in which my non-fiction book falls and doing my damndest to make the author sound interesting. And one by one the rejections came back. Some came back so quickly I doubt they read very much, if any, of the documents attached. Obviously I minded that I was dismissed so out of hand, but on top of it was the time taken to put together my submissions. There was not one submisson the same as another. Changes in page formatting, the information they requested, and of course the relevant research for that agent.

I was feeeling insecure about my work and resorted to selling my talents for paltry sums writing internet articles.

That was the low point, but I pulled myself from self-inflicted gloom and decided that self-publishing was the way to go.  I looked closely at the advertisements in my writing magazine and selected a few of the so-called vanity publishers to approach. What few people realise is that the vanity publishers will not publish any old thing; they too have standards. I was not rejected by any of the vanity publishers! Only one provided the reader feedback promised and I was tremendously uplifted by what I read:
             "lovely little nuggets of writing nestle in amongst the vivid pictures the author paints"
             "the author has a lovely turn of phrase...her prose sings off the page"
             "beautifully written"
Buoyed by this, I took a good time considering spending a minimum of £5,000 to get my book published. That was nearly 6 months of my meagre living allowance. I decided against it.

I was still reading my writing magazine each month; within were articles on how agents and publishers were only taking on new authors who were either referred by a published author or who had attended one of their writing courses. Their books were full and they were applying very strong acceptance criteria. I put my feelers out - no-one I knew had publishing contacts. However, I was not to be deterred and decided on the DIY route and plumped for, also advertised in my magazine.

What I needed now was a cover for the book. A professional look to envelop my writing. Once again the magzine came to the rescue as I read an article about Helen Hollick, a historical fiction author. In the article she praised her cover designer Cathy Helms at Avalon Graphics for her wonderful work as Helen relaunched her back catalogue.

Cathy was, I should say is, brilliant. From my vague mumblings as to how I thought the cover should look, Cathy produced a marvellous design which encapuslates the tale within. I will be working with Cathy on the subsequent instalments of the City Chronicles trilogy. I am looking forward to their coming to fruition.

Having finished the book and waiting for the proof to arrive, I moved to the marketing element. Now I know why the vanity-publishers charge so much. Marketing takes up an inordinate amount of time and does not always deliver (we shall see how well I have managed soon!). I have designed posters, postacrds, pens, calendars and sent press releases to all and sundry. Next I have to organise book signings, pitches at markets and other events. I shall be seen the length and breadth of the Costa del Sol selling my wares clothed in my City Chronicles t-shirt.

All in all I am proud of my achievement. I have followed my dream and written and published my book. I am newly inspired and working on my second book which I hope will be an even better product. There is always room for improvement. Lessons from past experiences and any feedback from readers will be heeded.

So, in just over a year I have achieved my aim and become a bona fide author. It feels and sounds good!

City Chronicles: A Tale of Nine Cities is available as a pdf e-book or printed paperback from