Life and Complications

J. L. Harland • May 16th, 2021

Five things about publishing. In this post we examine the ups and downs of being a writer and coping with life on and off the page.

Life is never predictable is something we’ve had to acknowledge these past few weeks as our plans have been blown up, reconstructed and then blown up again.

Our first novel, What Lies Between Them, has been out on submission, on and off, for about a year now. We made several mistakes along the way and we’ve learnt so much from that. We’ve had requests for the full manuscript, encouraging comments, no responses, and discussions with indie publishers. Trying to get an agent was like searching for moondust and we had decided to change direction and self-publish. Why not? A steep learning curve to be sure but we applied ourselves to reading, watching videos and finding out what we could while, at the same time, editing the second novel.

Then, while Jacqui was in hospital, (awaiting an emergency operation - we did say life got in the way!) we had interest from an up-and-coming indie publisher. Not exactly great timing. Suffice to say after more discussions, between ourselves and with the publisher, scrutiny of the contract, and much more debate we are on the point of signing up. We’ll keep the details of who, what, where and when for a later blog.

What we have learnt along the way.

  1. Know your genre. We tried to pitch as commercial at first before recognising that our novel was more a hybrid between literary and commercial. We still think it would make great Book Club reading.
  1. Make sure you have your manuscript as good as you can get it before sending out. Ask your writing group colleagues for feedback, beta readers and have it edited. We reckon WLBT has been edited at least 42 times – probably more. And that’s before the publisher requests.
  1. There is nothing wrong with self-publishing and there are firms who will do the hard work in terms of getting it ready to go. We’ve been watching the informative videos on Jericho Writers as well as talking to other indie authors to suss out the best people for the job. You can do it all yourself and Joanna Penn has a step-by-step guide.
  1. Marketing is key. Even with a traditional publishing deal the author still needs to work at marketing. Have a marketing strategy in mind before you start thinking about publishing.
  1. Be realistic. You are not going to make a fortune unless you are lucky. When you consider how the publishing market is flooded with debut novels to make it to the top of a best-seller list is like winning the lottery. Possible but unlikely.

Whatever life throws at you look on it as a learning opportunity. We are still adding to our knowledge about the business.