Wednesday, August 30, 2006

My Eureka Moment

At 5.45am this morning I woke up with a fully-fledged Marketing Plan rattling around my brain.
Somewhat belatedly I realised that by putting my novel, A Half Life of One, on the web I have in effect created a unique identity for it, a literary history, a pedigree that allows me to differentiate it from virtually all the other mss that deluge agents on a daily basis.

Think about it. Most unsolicited submissions have no pedigree. If you're an unpublished novelist the best you can do is cite some short stories you have published in obscure literary magazines. Maybe you once published a poem in the school magazine.

But my book has form. My book has already been read by people all over the world. In other words it's been extensively test marketed. I have the statistics to prove it. For example, I know that of everyone who has started the book, 95% have finished it. And that's in its crude electronic form, which we all know is hell to read.

And what do readers think about the book? Well, on my query letter I can quote the following opinions:

"The book is good. Very good."
"Great. Reminded me of 'Bonfire of the Vanities'."
"This is a great read."
"There's real power in your story."
"Excellent. Got more?"
"I'm hooked."
etc etc.

What agent could resist such a sure-fire proposal? Okay, I'm hyping the book but isn't that what it's all about these days? I'm selling a product, which is part of the authoring process, one I've been slow to learn.

So, here's the new deal. While I'm investigating the mechanics of self-publishing I've decided I'll send the book out to one more agent. Suitably packaged with positive feedback from my blogging experience. I'll let you know how I get on.

Now, back to bed while I catch up on some of that beauty sleep I've been missing.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Prose and Cons

So if I self-publish what are the likely Pros and Cons?

The Pros:

1 I'm in control of, and responsible for, my own literary destiny

2 I can set my own modest sales targets commensurate with my modest literary achievements

3 I can set my own marketing budget

4 I can lavish love and attention on my book

5 I can devote all my energies to devising my own brilliant marketing campaign

6 The marketing campaign will be sustained over the life of the book

The Cons:

There are no cons because for me there is no alternative to self-publishing

Monday, August 28, 2006

Now what?

Thanks for all the kind words and advice following the rejection of A Half Life by Macmillan New Writing. Your support is much appreciated.

I guess I'm disappointed for two reasons.

Firstly, it would have been wonderful to be accepted by a proper publishing house, to become a "real" writer after all these years. Of course, one more rejection isn't the end of the world and I certainly don't intend giving up on my writing ambitions.

Secondly, getting accepted by a big publishing house would have given me access to a bigger platform for the book, a professional marketing machine. This hurts most because my aim now is to get the book read by as many people as possible and as I've said many times before, marketing is the hard bit.

I've spent the last few days trying to work out what to do next. I could send the book out again to an agent or maybe a small publishing house. The trouble with that approach is that it is slow and time-consuming and in three years time I might be no nearer to getting published.

Right now I'm tempted by the idea of publishing the book myself. Setting up my own publishing company - just like Skint Writer has done - sounds like a lot of fun, and is certainly quite a challenge. But I am a businessman after all, and although I don't know much about publishing I know plenty about starting and growing a business.

I'll play around with a few ideas on how best to go about this here on the blog over the next few posts and any help and feedback you can give me will be very much appreciated.

Oh, and Lynne, giving up on my vain attempt to get published by a traditional publisher really might mark my own personal bonfire of the vanities.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Punctured Dreams

"Dear Bill Liversidge,

Thank you for sending us A Half Life of One, which has now been to a reader and given due consideration. Although our reader found it interesting, I regret we are unable to accept it for publication.

Macmillan receive many thousands of manuscripts every year so unfortunately it is not possible to respond personally to every author.

Because we receive so many mss and are able to publish only a small percentage, rejection does not automatically imply anything about the quality of the work we are unable to use.

There are many reasons why a book may not suit our lists. We may have other, similar material in production, we may be oversubscribed with good submissions during this season, we may have decided not to publish books on certain themes, etc.

Unless you have asked us to return a typescript manuscript to you, we will now permanently delete any electronic files we have relating to your book.

Thank you for contacting us, and good luck with your writing.

Will AtkinsCommissioning Editor, Macmillan New Writing"

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

I predict a diet

Weighed myself this morning - put on three pounds in the last month. That is not supposed to happen. I always lose weight in the summer. More exercise, lots of salads, the occasional glass only of white wine.

The reality - too hot to walk; too many barbecues; far too may glasses of red wine.

I feel a diet coming on.

Not all bad news tho' - the new book is coming along nicely.

Wednesday, August 02, 2006


I'm stuck in that peculiar limbo that every aspiring writer knows so well. I've sent my mss off to the publisher and I'm waiting for the inevitable rejection. I have a Plan B. And C and D and...

But I can't begin to implement any of them while there's still hope. That faint glimmer of light that's probably another false dawn.

So I remain here tongue-tied, waiting my fate. In limbo. In purgatory.