Trials and smiles of a wannabe author: the story so far


It is now two months since I arrogantly launched myself onto the internet with the following three stated objectives: – to publicise my novel and my invented world; to enjoy self-expression; to glorify God.

The story so far: the site

People have been very nice about the site itself, compliments ranging from the layout to the reference to OFSTED.  (Of course I should share all such praise with Ian, Stephen, and especially Jono the site designer.)  A few people have even said they would like to read more of “We Do Not Kill Children”, which is encouraging!  Thank you also however to those who have said, “Love the site; afraid I really don’t like the genre.”

(One of the things I have learned over the past year or two is how many of us wannabe authors there are, those with manuscripts under the bed, or available online only, or seeking publishers, or sending short stories to magazines, or scuttering somewhere between all these places.  If you want to advertise your book as a guest here, get in touch!)

However, I do realise (I did really know this before) that a website and a blog are not enough in the world of advertising.  I’m reluctantly planning to enter the world of Facebook, despite my prejudice against any entrepreneurs who have movies made about them.

The story so far: The books

“We Do Not Kill Children” is still a Word document in search of an agent or publisher.  (As most people know, a debut author is expected to approach a commercial publisher via an agent.  Annoyingly, the number of would-be debut authors is so great that many agents prefer you to approach them via a recommendation.  How you are supposed to get a recommendation unless you went to school with Martin Amis, or are the star creative writing pupil of the University of East Anglia is not clear.)

One agent did say nice things about the writing and the characters, but did not like the plot (not epic enough).  It remains the case that the book is: a fantasy without (much) magic; a feminist book (SWORDS WITHOUT MISOGYNY!) where the main character is a man; a book about warriors with very little fighting; a book with a Christian setting that includes swearing, violence and homosexuality… this doesn’t make it easy to categorise, or (perhaps) to sell.

So I will probably be going down the “indie/vanity/self publishing” route.  This means choosing between:

a) uploading a file fairly straightforwardly onto the net via Amazon’s company CreateSpace (or a similar more politically-acceptable organisation?), thus creating an e-book;

b) if I want a printed book as well, paying a company to create a book, in print or online or both, for me;

c) trying to do b) myself.

Option a) is not realistic.  I have spent most of this morning proving (again) that computers hate me, and the feeling is mutual.  I am seriously tempted to go on, but will resist the temptation.  You very nearly did not receive this post.  

Option c) means I either have to learn to copy- edit and proofread, format, design a book cover, fix a price, obtain the ISBN number that a book needs to be widely available, and arrange for printing and distribution – OR I do the bits you think I can handle and make individual contracts with other people to do the bits I can’t.

All of this means what I urgently need to do is understand a complex process, compare costings, and make business decisions.  Three things I am extremely bad at.

In the meantime, I have started on the second rewrite of the second story of Ragaris, after trenchant comments from the only person who has read the early drafts.

The blog

The self-expression is great fun – and rather addictive for the ego, and probably takes up more of my time than it should.  The subject matter has varied a lot – perhaps too much.  However, you may find more posts about Christian issues in the next few months, as I have slowly been building up my confidence to rant and risk the accusations of heresy.  Also more book reviews and guests!

People are very shy of commenting, I must say, or too busy.  (The exceptions know who you are.)  Please feel free to say if you think I would be wiser to post more rarely, or more briefly, or with pictures, or if you have any advice generally!

I would like to think that all the above will ultimately tend to the glory of God, but it may be by a roundabout route…

Final point: if anyone is having difficult subscribing or reading any part of the site, do let me know and I will pass on the complaint.

From the PPI Blogger




  • Malachi Malagowther

    29th January 2016 at 6:10 pm Reply

    The trouble about giving early drafts of your manuscript to someone – be it Editor, spouse or bosom buddy is that they probably know you well enough to feel that they can make trenchant comments without causing too much offence. I don’t know if the Brontes gave each other early drafts of their manuscripts for comments but I suspect if they did then the comments that came back were probably trenchant or at least far-ranging. Everyone has an opinion on how a book should be written orr the best way to present a character. The work is your creation and you need to have the confidence of holding to your convictions if you have a strong message or story that you want to put across. Judging by the recent review of Tolstoy’s War and Peace in the Guardian Tolstoy would certainly have been given lots of trenchant comments by close friends if he had sent them early drafts. His characters are complex, unpredictable and a bit maddening but the story is still a tour de force that has appealed to many generations and whose appeal only seems to increase. I think the important thing is to have life-like and well-drawn characters that people care about and if you manage that then it is almost inevitable that you are going to get critical comments.

    • Rena

      9th January 2017 at 12:32 am Reply

      You mean I don’t have to pay for expert advice like this anrymoe?!

Post a Comment