Fourteen years ago I sold a short story. It was called Getaway Car and was the first piece of fiction I’d ever completed. I was thirty two years old.
I say ‘sold’. I didn’t receive anything other than a contributor copy of the magazine and the extraordinary feeling of achievement that accompanied it.
Since then, getting my work published has been difficult – as I assume it is for everyone in this too-often soul-crushing business. But, like anyone who has no other goal than to get their stories to greater and greater numbers of readers, I kept at it.
The siren song of self-publishing has always been there in the background. I’ve been tempted. Like a man dying of thirst in a desert, I’ve walked on with the oasis of self-publishing ever-taunting me from just over the next rise. I didn’t give in.
The eBook ‘revolution’ made self-publishing even easier. Suddenly, successful self-published authors with loud voices and unassailable poise did their best to persuade those dinosaurs among us, still traditionally published, to buck the yoke of those nasty old corporates and go it alone.
Fairytale stories of authors who had made their work available online for free became common, their huge download numbers leading on to massive deals with the same entities they’d originally waved two fingers at.
There was even a phase in all this – more linked to the perceived selling-power of the internet than to actual self-publishing but nevertheless closely related – during which traditional publishers themselves, believing they’d discovered some marketing grail, began to turn away new authors who didn’t gaudily parade themselves on blogs and social media. Thankfully, I think we’re past that now and a reasonable level of author-discoverability appears to be sufficient.
Somehow, often convinced I was the biggest idiot on the planet, I blundered on. I concentrated as best I could on writing the kind of stories and novels I would love to read; not the kinds of stories that I believed would sell but those whose subject matter would feed and sustain the fire in my writer’s hearth.
A couple of years ago, I started writing children’s stories with and for my daughter. I read them to the children in her school to rapturous appreciation. It was suggested by a teacher that I could share my knowledge of story-writing and so I put together my first workshop. Combined with the reading the stories aloud to school children, the workshops have been a great success and more are planned.
As usual, even with my agent sending the stories out, we couldn’t interest publishers. There’s no way to convince a commissioning editor that children and teachers love your work so much that they laugh their heads off and beg for more. Editors, like all decision-makers, like to make decisions for themselves.
The thing about this particular story is that it is intrinsically connected to my workshops and reading from a manuscript just isn’t good enough.
Which brings me to a piece of news:
I’m doing it ‘old-school’ with a print run and stock in a warehouse. There will be no eBook. The only way to procure a copy will be at one of my workshops, directly from the publisher or by ordering it in a bookshop.
Copies will be ready in September, when my story-writing workshops for schools recommence. I can hardly wait!