After the initial frenzy of selling copies of JOANNA following the launch in March, things became quiet. I was expecting this, but it is still a bit scary when you don’t seem to have sold a book for a very long time. I also began to feel tired. During the first week of June, I finished writing the first draft of Clara Oakes, and started to send it out to agents. Agents always take months to reply, and I was expecting nothing but rejection letters, so I figured I would get it over with, before I started all the rewrites and edits that lead to a published book. Everyone says a book should be left alone for a couple of months after completion of the first draft, so that’s what I’m doing. I will re-read it with fresh eyes in September, change bits, rewrite bits, and then send it to be edited. (I am actually very excited about it – it is the best book I have written I think, though am not sure which genre it fits into, so is possibly impossible to market!)
Agents always say that they receive hundreds of submissions each week. I received my first standard rejection letter within five days. Five days. Am not thinking they actually read very much of each book if they reply that fast. In fact, am suspicious they are not actually accepting any new authors at all, but have failed to update their website. As each submission takes several hours, this is annoying.
I am getting very tired of the selling process. Everything seems stacked against the self-published author. Selling is difficult, it involves self-promotion, being an extrovert, displaying confidence in your writing. I feel like I have had enough of struggling on my own. It is tempting to leave this next book on my computer, or put it straight onto Kindle and not bother with paper copies. Hopefully this is just a slump and I will find some more energy soon. But right now? I’ve had enough. I love writing, I love having something to say, I love entertaining people through my books. But selling? Promoting? Trying to persuade people to buy? Nope, not me.
As I say, so much makes it difficult. I agreed to sell through the big shops, and have a trading agreement with wholesalers. By the time they have all taken their cut, I don’t make any money, but that’s okay, it extends my readership. Except, actually getting the wholesaler to pay at all is a hassle. They send you an email which says : “Dispatch immediately. 3 copies of Hidden Faces have been ordered. Send them by first class post to this address. Include an invoice.”
You rush off to the post office, very excited to have made some sales, then….nothing. After a month, you email to ask about the money. After another month, you email again. Then you phone (or persuade businessman husband to phone on your behalf.) Eventually, after at least 6 months, repeated emails and calls, they pay you. It hardly seems worth the hassle.
Then there is the copyright. As part of copyright law in England, you are obliged to send a copy of everything published to The British Library. This is a legal requirement. There are 5 other libraries which have the legal right to request copies, but I didn’t expect to hear from them. However, recently they emailed, telling me to send 5 copies of each book to an address in Edinburgh. Which is 10 books I won’t be paid for, and about £10 in postage I can’t reclaim. It feels like everything is making life for the new author tough.
There are also the secondhand booksellers. I suspect that all books sent on spec to wholesalers, end up with secondhand book dealers. So do books donated to charity shops. Amazon now lists items in price order, which means anyone who clicks on my books is sent straight to the secondhand copies. So unless they bother to search for new copies, I never receive those orders. Amazon and the secondhand dealer both make money from my writing, but I receive nothing except all the costs.
Love, Anne x
PS. I will go and drink some hot lemon. I don’t especially like hot lemon, but there’s something terribly comforting about it – have you noticed?
PPS. This is something of a confession: As I have finished Clara Oakes, I thought I’d have another look at Invisible Jayne, the first book I wrote after my op. Now, the thing is, it is chick-lit. And I do not read, or write, chick-lit. I am something of a literary snob to be honest. So, I have tried murdering some of the characters, or turning it into a discussion of social issues, or adding aliens, but nothing works. As chick-lit, a simple love story with a lot of humour, it works well. Sooo, I am going to rewrite it (I have improved in the last 3 years) and then publish it as a Kindle book. I’m tempted to publish under a different name, but I might not. I have dropped the ‘y’ from the title, and I’m improving the general flow, but mostly it’s okay. It still makes me laugh out loud, so hopefully it will amuse my readers too. I’ll let you know when it’s finished and you can read it on the beach or with your cocoa at bedtime – it is that sort of book. (One of my friends assures me that for all my snobbishness, this will be the book that sells millions. In which case I will have wished I had published under a different name!)
Have you read JOANNA yet? Available in both paperback and as a Kindle book (so you can buy it from any Amazon shop). The UK link is below – why not buy one for your holiday reading?