When I finally decided to put my money where my mouth is and go down the route of self publishing, I kept thinking about the historical literary held view that self publishing was nothing more than ‘vanity press’ and that it was not meant for real authors; that if you were a real author you wouldn’t need to do it because if you were good enough to be a real author, then a literary agent would find you or a publisher would snap you up.
So I, like so many others, drew the conclusion that I really wasn’t good enough and my work was second rate at best and no one would have any interest in anything I had to say.
It’s a very demoralising industry to join, or should I say ‘attempt to join’ because each rejection you receive, every silent response is testament to your inability to do the job properly.
Your inner self-deprecating demon rampages through our self esteem shredding every piece of confidence you once had when you were younger and more innocent (or perhaps ignorant would be a better word to use) of the literary barbarianism you would be subjected to until your passion was destroyed and your dreams left in tatters.
A little too dramatic? Perhaps? But not if you truly believe you have something to offer the world, not if the spirit within you leaps at every writing opportunity and fills you with a surge of joy that makes you want to do more and more. Not when every waking moment, well almost, is spent thinking about the next plot or proposal.
No, not too dramatic for me because I spent years and years writing thousands and thousands of pages of stories, poems, prose, anything that meant being able to put the thoughts that ran riot through my mind onto a piece of paper.
I went through the trauma of one after another rejection, each time suffering the same depression as my pride was bashed and dented.
But I never gave up I may as well have said to myself, give up eating, because this was how important my writing was to me, it was as big a part of me as any other form of life preservation.
Which is when it suddenly came to me that if no one wanted to read my fiction, what about something factual?
Never having considered writing a piece with some truth behind it, came like a bolt of the blue and was as refreshing to my passion as jumping into the sea on a hot sweaty sunny day.
I took off like a bird that has been caged for years on end only to find that one day her cage door has been left open.
The moment I started, my new lease of writing life took on new meaning; the subject matter was chosen, the structure decided upon and off I went soaring up into the heavens of a literary Garden of Eden, plucking new and intriguing lines and ideas that had so far never formed part of my literary diet.
In the end I produced my fast masterpiece; I say that because it was my first attempt at non-fiction and after the fourth magazine I approached it was accepted, not just that but the editor asked me how much I wanted for it! I had never been asked how much I wanted it was usually me begging for a nominal fee.
So that was then and now is now; after well over 30 published (and paid for!) articles, I decided to revisit my old friend, fiction.
What had also happened during this time was a virtual revolution in book buying, with the advances of Amazon and the evolution of E-books, the world of literature was no longer the domain of the chosen few; now anyone could write about virtually anything and into this brave new world there was a whole new breed emerging: the self propelled, self publicising and self editing (not always that well done) writer.
The stigma that was attached to and scorn poured onto the vanity press brigade was a thing of the past, a whole new generation of devil-may-care writers was pouring out of every edifice and the little Dutch boy was no longer able to retain the dam with his literary finger.
The flood gates were open and everyone was pulled along for the ride.
So having written a number of short stories for my son when he was five, I looked at them again and after a few edits, sent one or two of them off. The usual succession of rejections arrived giving my new found confidence a slight dent. But with my new non-fiction writing feet, I used the reinvigorated courage of my conviction and chose the self publishing route.
I also felt vindicated because the Society of Authors, whilst not necessarily a proponent, were now discussing the merits of the subject which was good enough for me.
The company I chose was Grosvenor Publishing and my experiences with Grosvenor are worthy of a blog all its own so I won’t go into detail, but having been told a collection of stories was better than just one and if it was aimed at children, then illustrations would help, I once again felt refuelled and made ready for action.
Kismet had already played her hand and moved me into a house whose neighbour was a talented artist, so with my literary gun loaded I blasted away with edit after edit until I was certain the stories were ‘right’ and along with the fantastic hand painted illustrations done by my neighbour – for free I might add – I was ready to go to print.
As I have said, the stories I could tell of the dealings I have had with Grosvenor are long and laborious and not for this blog, but in the end I ordered my 150 books from the bulk printer.
What I was also sure about was that a book with merchandise was more likely to be better received than one without, so I sourced bookmarks, badges, selected prints from the book’s illustrations and soft toys.
I booked my venue, sent out invitations to everyone I knew (and some I didn’t) and issued a press release.
The launch took place on Sunday 13 May, just about the only sunny day at that time, so the weather combined with the venue (a function room with balcony overlooking The Cobb, Lyme Regis) was perfect.
Most of the people who said they were going to come did, so there was a healthy number of around 50 guests, the snacks and drinks were welcome and the atmosphere was a truly delightful mix of bonhomie, social intercourse and moral support for me and my efforts.
I gave a little speech that perhaps went on a little bit too long, but it was well received; there followed a book signing session when people actually queued to buy my book along with some of the merchandise and after around 1½ hours, as I planned, people started to disperse.
Do I feel vain and strut about like an inflated conceited cockerel at dawn? Not a bit of it, I still have my constant shadow of self doubt, the recriminations of ‘I should have done it this way or that’ and of course the question: why won’t a proper publisher find me and take me under their wing?