Positive rejections: I love your writing. I wish you'd write me a really commercial book. You're very talented.
Negative rejections: Too niche. I don't know how to sell it. I'd never get it past the moneymen. Classical music? It doesn't sell. Amazon reviews: Compulsive read with great characters, a cracking ending. A terrific read! A wonderful journey filled with romance, music, murder and deceit. I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. Just look at all those five star reviews. You'll so love it... I promise. A wonderful time slip novel. One can only marvel at the author's imagination. This thoroughly engaging novel is set in present day Exeter and 16th century Italy. The two story lines weave beautifully and leave the reader satisfied in both timelines. This is a marvellous debut novel from a talented storyteller - don't miss it. Did I mention how much I enjoyed the book, and what fun it was? Expect great things from Cathie Hartigan - this lovely book may have slipped out without the loud fanfare it deserves, but I do hope others will try it. It's an absolute triumph.
If you're reading this, then it's a strong probability that you're a writer. Do you dream of success? That glorious day when you can jack in the job and write all day? When your name is right there in the Sunday Times Top 10? Hold on... There's been something of a ding-dong on social media lately following two articles by the author, Ros Barber. The first, a salutary blog about how much authors earn is HERE. The second article, her view on self-publishing and why she won't do it, is HERE I know several financially successful self-published authors who disagree (read Jane Holland's response to the articles HERE), but I'm not going to argue their points. All I can tell you is my story.
Recently, I was described as a 'successful author'. How my heart sang! But is it true? My name isn't in the Sunday Times bestseller list. They don't roll out the red carpet at the bank for me. Success of that nature can only be a by-product of what I do. While it must be fantastic, it's not a realistic aim to have. There's no way I can make anyone buy my book. Secret of the Song was rejected half a dozen times by mainstream publishers. Why? See comments on the left. What would you do if you received feedback like that? Try the smaller independent publishers? Yes. That's what I would recommend unless your situation was rather like mine. I decided against a small publisher for the following reasons: a, I'm getting on. I haven't got a bus pass because they keep raising the age requirement, but you get the idea. The journey from acceptance to publication can be very long - years even. b, I'd already successfully self-published text books and short fiction anthologies, so I wasn't afraid of the technical process. c, The novel was already professionally edited and proofed and I knew who to ask to design the cover - the marvellous Berni Stevens. d, I already had a firm platform on which to launch Secret of the Song in the shape of CreativeWritingMatters. Now five years old, CWM is well established and has a considerable number of hits a week. Thank you so much for coming!
So six months on, the big question is, has Secret of the Song been successful? That depends on your criteria, but it's a resounding yes from me. I wasn't quite ready for the emotional roller-coaster that hit me just prior to and just after publication. Other authors I know had talked of their novels as babies, and I now understand why. It is the culmination of month/years of labour and it's hard to let it go. I'm certainly not making much money, but I am making a little and it all helps. If I'd spent the next few years finding a publisher, that time spent without any money from all that work. Yes, it might have been a big hit, but because of the feedback I'd had from the big publishers, I did think that if they couldn't sell it, why would the small ones do any better? My sales to date have equalled those of many traditionally published authors. I'm happy being in control - a publisher can give your book a cover you don't like, they can give the book away for free or 99p, and remember you get a percentage of receipts and an agent will get their share first so that's pence per copy. The down side is that mainstream published authors sometimes get audio, large-print royalties. Best of all, their books can be ordered, but probably not stocked, in Waterstones and Smiths. That's the most disappointing thing about publishing through Amazon; your book can't be ordered and the profit margin on each copy is too small to be of interest to most independent shops.
A wonderful thing that surprised me? A sense of fulfilment. Wearing the right hat at last. Me - the author. I'm even a member of the Society of Authors. It won't change what I do and say as a teacher, judge and certainly not as a writer, but I do feel more comfortable about being in those roles. Best thing of all? Yep, that's right. The fabulous reviews. Happy tears have been known. I've lifted some quotes from Amazon on the left. You might even give the book a go. Try the free sample HERE