Emily Roche – writer, and general courter of whimsy – lives in Tunbridge Wells with a husband-to-be, magic spring water, and lots of big rocks. Here, she shares some reflections on fantasy worlds, novel-penning, and self-publishing.
I had a dream one night, about mermaids. It was in-depth and awesome. I was in the habit of writing my dreams down at the time, so I was able to look back over the events of this dream and add to them here and there. I thought;
‘This could be a book.’
That evening I wrote a plan, then I promptly forgot about the whole thing.
About sixth months later, on a lazy rainy day where I was feeling less than productive (and grumbly about the weather, like any good English person), I was reorganising my folders (yes, I’m that person). I discovered my book plan and decided to give it a go.
After a month or so I had about 80,000 words and I’d begun to see points in my fictional world that could develop into their own tales. I utilised my knowledge of the Ancient Greeks and borrowed a couple of lesser-known myths to provide the religious backbone to the continent I had created. Everything started slotting together pleasingly.
Once I’d finished my little side-project, I let some friends and family read it over, then acted on their notes and suggestions as I saw fit. I edited in the evenings. I coerced my partner into helping me digitalise a sketch of the cover I had made.
Finally, I had a book. The question now was; what to do with it?
Given the rise of the Kindle I decided to self-publish it. The process was straightforward and having my book, Wave Singers, available for complete strangers to purchase was a strange type of terror and excitement.
I had enjoyed writing in the evenings after work, I liked thinking about my characters and where they could go next. Before I knew what was happening, I had written (extremely vague, very loose plot structures) plans for a following three books, each taking on a new character in a new part of the continent I had created. So begun a two year process of writing books.
What I discovered as part of the self publishing phenomenon though, was a whole world of multi-taskers. You see, when a traditional publishing house signs on an author, there is already a team of experts in place to make sure that that book sells. You have an author to provide the initial story idea, an agent to attract contracts, an editor (or several) to polish that work up. You have cover designers, marketing specialists, target audience researchers…the list goes on.
As a self publisher, I had to be all that and more, because the stigma of self-publishing still echoed faintly of vanity publishing and there is nothing a reader will be more disgusted by.
However, where vanity publishing suggests you submitted your work to traditional houses and got roundly rejected until you decided to foist your half-finished work on unsuspecting readers, self-publishing is an altogether different boat.
Self-published works line up next to traditionally published works in online stores. They span a huge range; from first drafts no-one ever bothered to copy-edit to beautifully written, wonderful stories by authors who decided they wanted to be closer to their readers, without the middleman of the publishing house ordering deadlines and siphoning off royalties. I decided to self-publish instead of submit to a traditional house because I was working with a traditionally published author at the time and she had just written her sixth book. She decided not to offer the manuscript to her publisher, but to go it alone on Kindle and see what it was like. She never looked back.
It’s a lot of work though and not for the faint of heart. It all takes time, or money, to secure editors, beta readers, professional covers, not to mention actually getting the word out after the book is finished. Getting to grips with social media, building a website, maintaining a blog, talking to readers. Weighing up the benefits to a blog tour vs. pay per click advertising. The all important desperate begging for readers to review your work on Amazon or Goodreads once they’ve read it.
What began as a cool dream grew into a serious undertaking.
I love writing my books and I’m currently on the sixth, finally bringing all those individual characters together into one show-stopping fantasy finale. I have new book ideas all the time, so I don’t think I’m going to stop anytime soon – in fact, I hope to grow my little bookish empire to help others self publish in a professional manner, as well as continue to earn money doing something I love.
EMILY WANTS TO HEAR FROM YOU!
What do you think about self-publishing? Is it a new form of vanity publishing or a legitimate way to circumvent traditional publishing houses? Have you ever read any ‘Indie’ books? Chat to me on Twitter @EchoFoxBooks or pop over to read my blog about self-publishing www.echofoxbooks.co.uk