The Pregnant Pause

by Sadie Mills on April 14, 2013

Publishing your first novel is like jumping out of a plane at 15,000 feet, or swimming with a five foot barracuda, or a shoal of scorpion fish.  Actually, it’s way scarier than that (and yes, I speak from experience).  At the heart of every writer, I think, is someone who’s dying for approval.  They want to be liked.  What if the world comes back at you and tells you you’re shit?

Amazon has turned the world of publishing on its head.  We don’t need to go bowing and scraping to traditional publishers anymore, everyone has a voice now.  I, for one (and I’m sure E.L. James would agree), think that’s a pretty good thing.  J.K. Rowling was rejected by a dozen publishing houses before Bloomsbury grabbed a hold of the baton.

My main gripe with going with the traditional publishing industry is, you’re essentially signing over all the rights to your work, in exchange for a lousy advance, and maybe a 10% royalty, if you’re lucky – if they do actually decide to print it (if they don’t, well, too bad – you signed the papers – you’re screwed).  On the whole, I think, in the past writers got a pretty shitty deal, but thanks to Amazon, I see a sea change.

On the flip side of that, there are a lot of writers out there on the Amazon market who…  dare I say it…  really aren’t very good.

Nine years ago I did my first writing course at The Groucho Club, London Soho.  Very bohemian it was too.  Little old me sat with writers from The Telegraph and The Times, and because I worked in the legal industry, they were intrigued.  Not to say I could actually say very much (I’m still subject to a gagging order, but when that comes off, oh, my lordy me…).

I had my work ripped apart, several times.  I also had lots of pats on the head.  But the pullings-to-pieces (yeah, they were brutal, that’s your baby they’re talking about, but even so).  Constructive criticism is gold dust.  I’ve actually had a tutor walk out after a reading (I think that was probably my finest moment).

The world has changed from nine years ago.  I can publish what the hell I like (and so can you).  And now, here I sit with my own Createspace book in my hand.  Evolution is a wonderful thing – to think that just ten years ago this would just be a dream for people like me.  But…

You hit save and publish, take a deep breath and a loud gulp.  You wait and wait (and, if your novel is 90,000 words like mine, you wait and you wait and you wait).  And finally you get the five star review you’ve been waiting for.  It’s OK, you can breathe now.  Just breathe!

The long and short of it is, I don’t know whether I’m any good.  I’m still wracked with self-doubt.  But the cat’s out of the bag now, I’ve commited to that first bold leap…

Anyhoo, onto book two.

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