Some random stuff I’ve gleaned doing this self-publishing malarkey

* It’s been a while since I’ve posted anything new on this blog. I’ve been busy, but also, paradoxically, I’ve been lazy.

* If somebody had told me when I published The Gamblers properly in 2011 that four and a half years later I would have written, revised, edited and published another six books I would have laughed. Somehow I’ve managed just that with an eighth book on the way.

* This year I’ve sold thousands instead of hundreds of books. Don’t ask me why, because I’ve no idea. However, books with the word Glasgow in the title seem to do rather well. Maybe I should relocate the Stanton brothers from Middlesbrough to Scotland?

* The Glasgow Grin has shifted well over 3,000 copies (not a single one of them free) in its first year of release. Again, I have no idea why: I’m rubbish at marketing.

* However, this puts more pressure on the next novel to sell a decent number of copies. If A Funny Thing Happened… fails to sell at least a 1,000 copies in its first twelve months, this will lead me to believe The Glasgow Grin was a fluke. I’ll also be very disappointed.

* It’s funny how shifting a decent amount of books in a year changes one’s perspective: 2015 was the year I hoped to break the thousand sales barrier for combined book sales. In fact, I managed to sell more than 1,000 books in a month on two separate occasions in 2015. That I now expect A Funny Thing Happened… to sell at least 1,000 copies in its first year shows how drastically my perspective has been altered.

* I think that’s because I want to be a full-time writer and earn my living from it. To do that means I’m going to need to get a better grasp of this marketing malarkey. Random and scattershot no longer cuts it. I also need to learn how to write faster: especially if it becomes my main career.

* My current pace of writing is far too slow. I thought the revision of A Funny Thing Happened would be done by the end of September. We’re now into November. This one isn’t going to land until early 2016, I’m sad to say.

* A Funny Thing Happened has had – by a large margin – the most protracted gestation period of any of my novels. It started life as a short early in 2012, but then I realised it was too dense and needed to be at least a 25,000 word novella. However, once it became a novella I realised that – although it was a decent tale – it needed to expand. As the characters fleshed out and their motivations became crystal clear, I knew what it really wanted to be all along was a novel. By the time I’m finished it’ll probably be over 65,000 words.

* I wish is I was one of those authors who writes quickly. I envy them. My first drafts are nearly always sub-literate, skeletal shit. Second drafts are where the flesh and muscle go on. But the revision is where it really comes to life. The editor then makes it into a fully functioning novel. I still make revisions when it’s being turned into an ebook, hunting sentences that don’t work or typos that have crept into the manuscript. Sadly, this process takes a while.

* This whole democratising of fiction via Kindle and other e-readers has thrown out a lot of opinion. One of the most ubiquitous opinions (one propogated by Big Publishing and some of their writers) suggests that self-publishers (and to a lesser degree smaller Indie publishers) don’t give a damn about their writing. This misconception is that we shit out a fully formed first draft, wipe our arses, and simply say: “Ah, my freshly laid turd is done. Time to upload this shit to Amazon.” As stated above, I never put out a first draft. My work goes through several drafts and revisions before I even dare upload it. My Facebook and Twitter feeds are filled with other writers and many of them are self-publishers. Not a single one of them gets it right in the first draft. They’re nearly always on the lookout for a fresh set of eyes, beta readers, and editors to hunt for mistakes and sharpen their prose or narrative.

* Big publishing and their agents constantly tell us that they are ‘gatekeepers’ protecting readers from the improperly formed and vaguely realised sentences that are the sole responsibility of the self-published masses. Okay, folks, then explain me this: Morrissey’s List of the Lost. Pondering the possibility that maybe the reviews were unfair, I visited Waterstones and pored through the first twenty pages of Morrissey’s, ahem, meisterwerk. It may very well be one of the worst things I’ve ever read. The reviews weren’t unfair; they were downright generous. List is truly abysmal. Hell, it makes EL James seem like Nabokov. So where was the ‘gate keeping’ here? Not protecting the reading public from this, I see? But, then again, you don’t protect the public when it comes to making money, do you? Give me the work of self-published or independently published writers like Ryan Bracha, Paul Brazill, Keith Nixon, Anthony Neil Smith, J David Osborne, Heath Lowrance, Jedidiah Ayres, Tiffany Scandal (to name just a few) any day of the week. They shit all over Morrissey’s inane scribblings from a great height. They destroy the latest ghostwritten YouTuber novel or celebrity memoir you’re attempting to flog to the public. They pack more excitement in one sentence than James Patterson does in the ten novels he’s likely to shit out via proxies this year. Oh, are writers like these what you are protecting us from? These fresh voices with their sharp edges still intact? If so, then you can keep your gate, and then feel free to go fuck yourselves while you’re at it.

* Another thing I like about the indie scene is that for the most part it’s a friendly place to be. Collaboration (be it in the form of beta-reading, contributing to anthologies or novels, editing, or helping with ebook creation or design) is rife; and when other writers do well there doesn’t seem to be an Gore Vidal quote attached to it:

Whenever a friend succeeds, a little something in me dies.

They seem to be genuinely pleased that somebody has succeeded. Writing is a difficult enough endeavour without everybody being at each other’s throats, too.

* I’m in the process of creating an author website that will be my main web presence from now on. The Gamblers blog will be assimilated into the new site in due course. I also intend to have a Gumroad store on the new site, where I can sell any work that doesn’t have Amazon exclusivity direct to you at a cheaper price. I will also sell (or make free) exclusive work that might not make it on to Amazon for a while (various pieces of short fiction, possibly including exclusive Stanton brothers shorts). Like I mentioned earlier, I need to be more professional about this stuff from now on.

* I’m going to make all of my work available in paperback over the coming month or two. I’ve let my current version of The Gamblers lapse because Amazon Createspace won’t allow me to alter the size to a 8″ x 5″ paperback (something to do with the ISBN they assign, so that may take a little longer to arrive). This includes The Greatest Show in Town (which in paperback form will also contain The Green-Eyed Monster).

4 thoughts on “Some random stuff I’ve gleaned doing this self-publishing malarkey

  1. As a self-publishing indie, I like this post a lot. It struck so many chords with me I think there’s a tune in it. Congratulations on the sales figures and all the best for the writing future.

    • Thanks, Oliver. I happen to think the Indie scene at the moment is one of the most exciting things to happen to publishing in a long time. Big Publishing can see that, they jut choose not to acknowledge it. And thanks for the congratulations. It’s nice to finally shift some books!

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