When I was a teenager, I’d go to Starbucks with my friends on the weekends. Our nearest one was inside a Borders, and I always loved the smell of books and coffee that hit you as you entered. Walking through the store, I’d always dream that one day, my book would stand proudly on one of the tables by the door.
I never told anyone this, though: it felt too naïve. Too much like my head was stuck in the clouds. Then Borders closed, and the first step in my dream shattered: I’d never see my book standing proudly in my favourite bookshop.
Ten years later, that’s not my dream anymore. Sure, I’d love to see a physical copy of my book on a stand, but having researched the publishing industry, I’d much rather be in control of my own destiny. For the hard work that they put in, many writers only receive 10% of the royalties, compared to up to 70% if they self-publish.
When you’ve poured your heart and soul into something, it hardly seems fair for other people to reap more of the rewards than you, does it?
So that’s why, about six months ago now, I made the decision to self-publish my work. This would allow me to get my books out in my own time, and be in control of my own fate. If something went wrong, I’d have no one else to blame. If something went right, I knew I was on the right path.
Not only that, but it speeds up the publishing process, which is notoriously long and can take years. I already have part of the front cover designed, so now I just need to finish the book! I refuse to rush it, though. There are lots of courses and writers out there that write books within months or even weeks. I’m not one of those people. I wasn’t bought up to rush the things that I care about, and I certainly wasn’t taught to by my lecturers. When the story is right, deep down, you know. When it’s wrong, you’re less likely to admit it, but I think a part of us always knows what’s right and wrong for our characters. After all, we spend more time with them than anyone else.
I want to write stories that do the characters — and the people I’ve based them on — justice. I want to write love stories that people care about and root for, and relationships that people can relate to. What Happens in New York has two protagonists and two love interests, plus a villain and a couple of secondary characters, as well as family members and close friends. That’s a lot of characters to juggle. I could cut some of them out, but if I did, parts of the story would change that don’t need to, as would the sequels. I don’t want that. I’d rather take my time instead.
When you publish via the traditional route, it varies as to how much control you have over the finished product. You have to make changes to your manuscript that please both your agent and your publisher. They could also change the title. And you probably won’t get any say over the cover, either. But it’s still going to be your name on the front, and you’re going to be the person that everyone associates with it.
It’s All a Learning Curve
Even now, despite having an MA and BA in Creative Writing, I’m still learning. And I’m really glad about that, because I enjoy learning. I think that when you stop learning about something, it becomes less fun, and it becomes more difficult to challenge yourself. What’s the point in living if you’re not constantly learning and growing? We all change as people, and the more we push and challenge ourselves in life, the stronger, more intelligent, and happier we’ll be.
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