Well, maybe they can. Fortunately, the internet threw me a lifeline. I "published" A Half Life of One over on my sister blog more than a year ago. Enough people read it and told me they liked it to allow me to think that maybe the book wasn't quite as bad as traditional agents and publishers seemed to think.
And so I abandoned my old dream and decided to self-publish. It wasn't an easy decision. I'm not used to failure. It wasn't until I finally realised that writing is all about readers and not about my own self-glorification that I could bring myself to accept the truth of my situation.
Once I decided to self-publish the rest was easy. I contacted Gavin Pugh of Gav's Studio and he basically did the rest with a minimum of input from me. Designed the cover, set the layout, got the ISBN number, organised the printer, etc etc. All with the minimum of fuss and the maximum of helpful suggestions. I think he knew I was hurting going down this route but he was very gentle with me. Thanks, Gav, you've been brilliant.
The book will come out in a couple of weeks time. I'll be sending signed copies to everyone who has asked for one - including a number of anonymous readers round the globe. Then it's on to the marketing phase - sending out review copies, seeking publicity etc. All the stuff that a traditional publisher would do, and maybe a bit more. I'm really excited by the challenge of elbowing my way into a crowded market place. I'll let you know how it goes.
Here's the front and back cover to give you a little taster. Hope you like it.