Sunday, 2 September 2012

The Story of my Story

It's over twelve months ago that I completed my first manuscript. To say that I was naive would be quite an understatement. I thought that all I had to do was find an agent, or if that failed a publisher.

Now I'm not a salesman and have no marketing background whatsoever. Twenty-seven years ago I became a student nurse and have worked as a nurse in a wide variety of roles ever since. So with the aid of google I started trying to find the information that i needed to submit my work. I approached two agents and two publishers who I thought might be interested in The Legend of Finndragon's Curse, book 1 in the series 'Tales of Finndragon.' Three took a while to respond and each let me down in a cold and unemotional way. Only one offered me any hope; a small independent publisher thanked me for the submission and said that they would get back to me within three months.

So I sat back and did nothing, waiting for their email. Self-doubt was starting to take a grip over me; who would want to read a book by an unknown writer set in the small Principality of Wales? The country of my birth, and where I have lived my entire life, which is little known outside of Europe, apart from in Rugby Union playing nations. Who would want to read a fantasy that involved an ancient legend and three siblings looking for their father, who has somehow found his way into the 6th century kingdom?

I had more self-doubt than the most unconfident person in self-doubt city as I wondered who would want to read work by someone who's writing education consisted of some never-to-be seen poetry, nine spoof work-place magazines lampooning my colleagues and a previous failure to see an earlier novel go beyond 20,000 words? Oh and bawdily rewriting the lyrics to some well known tunes in order to entertain a few friends at the local club and a couple of old blogs which were seen by a handful of people. Not exactly the resume of a successful auhtor!

More than three months went by and no further communication from the publisher re-affirmed my belief that my novel wasn't up to the mark. You might think that I was giving up easily, but despite all of my doubt I wasn't yet ready to throw the towel in. It had taken me about fifteen months to write the book, squeezing in words around my work, family and social commitments. The self-doubt had seen a complete cessation of the book span some six or seven months, before I decided that I was going to finish it come what may. And that's just what I did.

A friend at work had mentioned Kindle books on a few occasions and one day he brought me a magazine and opened it to an article entitled, 'How I DID sell a million,' by John Locke who explained how he had sold that many ebooks. So I started re-formating my book for Kindle, but I still doubted that I could come anywhere near to replicating his success.

He talked about social media being a tool to promote himself and his work as well as a blog and a website. After the earlier failure of my blog and with only a hundred or so friends on Facebook I didn't think that I was about to set the world on fire. With no marketing budget and no idea how to design a website, I stumbled my way along an unfamiliar path.

A friend of a friend's student son designed a book cover for me and as I looked for the email bringing me the final version, I was stunned to find an new email from the small publisher. Five months had passed since their last message and I opened it to the amazing offer that they would like to publish my book, pending review of the full manuscript, if I was still interested. I sent an email back immediately re-affirming my interest, but also expressing my desire to go ahead with the Kindle version, which they agreed to.

That was last December and I have had an offer of a publishing contract which I asked to be revised on the advice of the agent of a school friend, Anthony Bunko who has had several successful books published. My publisher has applied to the Welsh Book Council for a grant to help with the cost of printing, which was declined. We are going to reapply in November following some minor re-editing, but they assure me that whatever the outcome, they will go ahead and publish the book.

I have persevered with the ebook version, but sales have been slow to say the least. I've tried a few KDP Select promotions, but failed to get the word out to a large enough audience. I managed to get an article in the local newspaper which briefly stimulated some interest, but it is only now that I am getting to grips with the fundementals of promoting and marketing my book. I know that I still have a lot to learn and that I'm still on the foothills of a steep learning curve, but the self-doubt has been slowly eroded.

I have written the second and final part of the series in half the time that it took to write the first and I am very pleased with how it has panned out. It is currently being read by a small group of beta readers before I have it ready for publication. I have also written a guest post which is going out on September 12th on Bestsellerbound Recommends and I'm soon to be featured in an Author interview on Flashlight Commentary blogspot.

I have expanded my network on Twitter and have recently become a member of goodreads. This past year or has been a hard year for me, but now I feel much better equipped to further develop my writing career. I have just started reading The Indie Author's Guide To The Universe by Jeff Bennington, which I am sure will give me even more tools on the road to success. I have two other novels that I intend to write side by side, and I am hoping to start reviewing books of fantasy on my other blog, Gwayne's Box of Tricks, giving my fellow Authors some much needed exposure. Yes it's been a hard year or two, but a most enjoyable roller coaster of a ride. Bring on 2013, I can't wait!

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