Friday, 6 November 2009

Getting published? Um, yeah, or nah...

A question I get asked very often when I tell people I write books is "oh are you published?", after which I usually explain what Print On Demand is and that's how I make/sell my books. Ideally, I've wanted to become published ever since I started writing when I was 10, but it's a goal I've become more realistic and even a bit cynical about.

Getting published by a real publisher is like an author's equivalent of getting signed - and I've been there, in a band where the goal was to get signed. In that circumstance, being honest, it was pretty shit, because when the industry rejects you, you blame yourself for not being good enough or for not working hard enough. There's also the angle of how (un)commercial you are, which shouldn't matter but it does, and it's another thing you can (and I do) blame yourself over. The mission to get signed was one of the pressures that contributed to the band splitting up, and my goal since then has been never to let that kind of pressure and self-blame affect what I do.

It's a feeling I took with me changing my focus from music to writing, and it's why I like print-on-demand - I can write my books, make them available, do a little promo, and leave it at that. I'm not desperately hawking my wares round agents and publishers, getting rejection letters after my work's chucked in the slush pile or not even looked at. That goes especially for this trilogy, which - despite being roughly a combination of Terry Pratchett and Iain M. Banks, two hugely successful authors - is even more unconventional and arguably uncommercial than a political indie-punk-rock band.

But this comfy situation has started to change. My wonderful girlfriend has seen me writing, not just the books but other bits too, and suggested that I look up some journals to write for and send stuff off to publishers. This is great - before now, I've never had someone special to give me that kind of support, even if it is a little scary pushing myself back into that zone again. And secondly, the other day I saw the film Julie and Julia, where there are two stories of writers becoming published - one the old-fashioned way back in the 60s, the other through simply being a blogger with a popular and saleable idea. It made me sad watching it with the background feeling of never being published, and I was thinking up a self-pitying blog to explain why I'll never get published, before realising how much of a wanker I'd be if I did. You don't want to read it and I don't want to be that person. So I've decided to get back into it, to try and climb that impossible mountain.

Expect a follow-up blog with more soon.

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