I had the concept for my novel “Broken” over thirty years ago. I was working as a researcher at Huddersfield Polytechnic in the Department of Behavioural Science. It was my first post-degree job. I was living with my partner and my daughter Esi who was about a year old. The job didn’t pay very well, but I had a lot of time to read academic works. One book I picked up was “The Sociology of Georg Simmel. Chapter three was called: “The Isolated Individual and the Dyad”. It interested my greatly and one particular part of the text gave me the idea for a work of fiction.
Well, I carried the idea around with me for years, but never got around to writing my novel. Five years ago I gave up a well paid job to put pen to paper. I started writing in January 2010 and by July I had finished the first draft. I then put the draft in a drawer and left it to age for a while. After a couple of months, I pulled it out and started editing in ernest. Half a year later I had what I thought was a reasonably good piece of work, barring the odd typo.
Yes, I believed I had a novel that I could submit to a publisher. So I researched the process I needed to go through to get my book considered. First, I found out that the majority of publishers expect you to go through an agent. So I started looking at the process for getting myself an agent. This involved sending a potential agent a four page synopsis. What! my novel is 500 pages, how the hell am I supposed to condense what is a complex plot into four pages? I tried I really did! But, after a couple of months in which I wrote the synopsis many many times, I was pulling my hair out.
Then I got to thinking. The agents going to take a fee, the publishers going to take a fee, the bookseller is going to take a fee. I might as well cut them out and self-publish. Lets’s face it it’s the new paradigm. Or so they say! So I uploaded my novel to Amazon and CreateSpace and the rest is history. I am now a published author. Check it out “Broken” is available on Amazon and I get a fee every time they sell a book. Paperback or Kindle.
Here lays the rub! How do you publicise your book? I had heard about all those Kindle millionaires whose books had gone viral, but how did they do it? So I set up a Twitter account (@ynoyddot if you are interested), I set up a Facebook page, I emailed all my family and friends. I plugged mercilessly. I handed out cards, I sent out press releases. But, so far my sales have been modest.
I found out you can’t rely on anyone to help you out with the publicity. Friends who had been enthusiastic, suddenly went silent. Even some family members who had been supportive had nothing to say, no words of encouragement. I always knew that writing was a solitary pursuit, but I didn’t expect the selling process would be the same. It’s a very isolating experience.
I am beginning to think that perhaps I should have submitted my synopsis to an agent. I know the novel is good. Who knows I might be the new Ian Rankin or something by now. And, I wouldn’t have to keep up this undignified welter of self-publicity. I could be practising my signature for my book signing session at some posh book shop. I could be hobnobbing with Rankin and Robinson and Ann Cleeves and Kate Atkinson, over a pint of Theakston’s XB.
To be brutally frank, I didn’t really go into this for the money. I wanted to share my vision, to entertain, to mystify and to make people laugh and cry. But at the end of the day if my book never sells, at least I know I’ve achieved something. I have made sense of thirty years of thought. As Disraili said: “When I want to read a novel, I write one.”