Saturday, 31 August 2013

Bedside Books


As most of you probably know by now - and if you do not, where on earth have you been - I have just signed a publishing contract with small independent book publisher Crooked Cat. This is for the ubiquitous Victorian novel, now possibly re-titled and coming out, all being well, some time towards the end of the year.

It will be my 12th published novel (there are many many more unpublished ones festering in the ether drawer) and my first 'adult' one. Difficult to place it in a genre, but I have decided:
''Darkly comic Victorian crime thriller'' probably sums it up adequately. Am looking forward to some 'interesting' reviews. The history trolls will not like it .....

What has been fascinating is seeing the varied reactions to my news. The overwhelming response has been positive. Lots of lovely cyber-hugs and congratulations. Lots of tweets and complimentary comments. A few people have even hinted to Crooked Cat that they are lucky to sign me!! A statement they may well query as the months go by!!

However, there has been one sour note. A former contact (I maintain very few now) in the literary world has suggested that this is a retrograde step for a writer who has always been published by mainstream publishers, and that I would be better off biding my time and continuing to beat my bruised and bloodied (my analogy) fists on what is clearly now a very closed door (my interpretation).

A picture of the current 'To Be Read' pile on my bedside table provides an interesting commentary upon the suggestion. Top of the pile is 'The Redbreast' a novel by Jo Nesbo. I've only recently started reading his books. I enjoy the whole 'Nordic noir' genre and he is a bit of a find. Mainstream published. Widely stocked in most bookshops and hugely popular.

Second from the top is a book by Sarah England called 'Exposure'. I won this in an online competition, and it is signed by the author. Sarah, coincidentally, is published by Crooked Cat. Her novel, a funny read about the life of a hapless heroine called Sam Sweet, is out in ebook and book. The book is POD (Print On Demand), so only available through Amazon and other online outlets.

Middle of the pile is a non-fiction book. I always have a 'non-fiction' book on the go. Usually historical. As I'm possibly about to start writing 'DCVCT 2' I need to get back into the Victorian world. Apart from my own extensive collection of novels and books on this period, I have 4 books I borrow on a rotating and continuous loop from the library. Currently it's Judith Flanders' 'Victorian City'. Mainstream publisher again. Not widely stocked, as not a ''popular'' title.

Bottom of the pile --- and a bit of a ringer, as I have actually just read and reviewed it, is 'Flying Lessons' by Francis Potts. Francis' wryly amusing and very readable novels are entirely self-published, so only available online.

My point is that all of these books, published in a variety of different ways, have one common denominator: me. I don't really care what route the writers took to bring their work to market .... I just appreciate that their books are there for me to read and enjoy. They all end up on the same pile anyway. Or have I missed the point?


36 comments:

  1. All true, Carol. I've done both. The being published and the self published. I put the same effort into both as well. In the end, unless you're a big name, getting your books to market is always part of being published whichever way you do it!

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  2. Being mainstream published is no criterion of excellence...look at all the poorly written 'celeb'' books....thanks Val.

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    1. Agreed, and I'm looking forward to this new, 'grown-up' Hedges best seller from the small, but beautiful Crooked Cat :-)

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    2. Self-publishing, especially on the web, is about democracy and about bi-passing the establishment, as important as the first Bible in English or Nicholas Culpeper's translation of early medical books from the Latin. You don't always need a priest or a doctor or a publisher, or a lawyer, to edit your knowledge.

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  3. As a reader I find that I've read and enjoyed self-published books just as much as I've read and enjoyed the 'big name publisher' ones. Twitter and the amazing Book Blogggers play a great part in influencing which books I choose to purchase. Looking forward to hearing more about your new book - sounds intriguing!

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  4. Thank you Carol. Both for the thoughtful blog, and for including me. I hope your Victorian novel is a success. Mwah!

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  5. Has your former contact actually arrived in the 21st century yet? Honestly! And I say small independent publishers Rule OK! Mine does. Good luck with it.

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  6. Will we ever grow up, forget these indie/conventionally published, ebook/print book etc dichotomies. I write books; we read books we love - the format, and the method of transmission, should surely be irrelevant!

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  7. Thanks so much for including 'Expected' Carol! I think that the world of publishing is exploding in all sorts of different directions at the moment and has yet to settle. I am happy to try all sorts of different approaches, although I think self-publication must be pretty tough - largely because I'd be rubbish at formatting etc, but also the marketing afterwards all on your own! I also think, from a readers pov - how do they know about standards? It is difficult as a reader to choose a novel unless verified and reviewed etc - that, to me, is the sticking point of how things are at the moment.... I guess we will see. It is a very interesting topic!! Oh and one other point - those published in a traditional manner shouldn't look down their noses at others who have chosen a different route - it's a tough world!! Thanks for a great post, Carol! xx

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  8. There's always one, isn't there? Take the hugs and Cat welcome and disregard that one sour note. As you said, the way the market is these days, we go with what works and as we all end up doing most of our own marketing ... what difference does it make? The book will appeal to some and not to others. T'was ever thus.

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  9. Hi Casrol,
    I totally agree with you. Mainline publishers usually mean delays of months in a launch, little say by the author in edits and cover design, a much smaller %age going to the author and only a tiny number of books reaching the reader compared to the number of excellent books being written. In other words we read what they want us to at a price they dictate.
    The rise of the independent publisher and the self-published author is so refreshing and it's great to see your pile!

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  10. I think I read about half and half - 50% trad pubbed and 50% indie/published through a small independent company. I have to say that I tend to abandon more of the latter than I do the former, but that is probably because I am not very adventurous and the books in the former that I read are all ones from writers I know I like. Currently reading much of Phillipa Gregory, and Elizabeth Jane Howard in the bath :)

    D'you know, I might read your new one!!!! I like historical type stuff. I am going a wee bit historical (and hysterical) with the one I've just started, though in a curious fashion.... ho ho ho! All will be revealed....

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  11. I firmly believe that publishers doors are closed to 'newbies' - unless you're a celeb. Although why, God only knows - most of them end up in the bargain bucket where they belong!
    I came so close to a deal and was let down badly at the last minute.
    It's put me off approaching anyone again. I'll quite happily take my rather nice earnings until someone comes to me with an offer I can't refuse! Hey, I can dream, can't I?
    And I wish you all the very best - you know what's right for you - that's all that matters x

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    1. Agreed...and publishers now have to pay silly money in advances too, which means that they are unwilling to take on unknowns ..thus the proliferation of the so-called..submit your MSS and if we like it we'll publish it for free deals. (macmillan did one) which suck new writers in and gives the publisher a no money up front deal.

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  12. So far, then, we are all in agreement - a wide variety of books is good and healthy. I'm adding a further point though: self published MUST mean professionally edited and professionally produced! There rare a lot of mediocre books out now, with writers rushing to print without ''paying'' for professional serices. Self-publ. should never mean second -rate!

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    1. So agree with this, Carol - self-publishing is wonderful, but we owe it to ourselves and our readers to make our books the best they can possibly be.

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    2. I got into a thread with another self pub who INSISTED that one should never pay to self-pub as it was easy to edit ,use clip art etc. Mmmmm.... I check and recheck each blog post many many times, people still point out typos, errors etc.how much more could one miss in a whole book... spell check, grammar check is NOT sufficient.

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  13. You already know how excited I am for you Carol don't let anyone burst your bubble. As a reader I couldn't care less who publishes the book I have read badly written and edited books from mainstream publishes and great books from Indi ones and vice versa. If a book has a good story and is well written people will read it.

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  14. Sod the world Hedges!! Dance to your own tune and enjoy the applause you so absolutely deserve!...There will always be those who want to stick a pin in your bubble of bliss...well sod them too!!...You have your fans...your fans have you...YOU also have me...see!...you are already a success...:D

    Congratulations and then some....you KNOW how pleased I am for you...and proud to call you my pal...(((hug)))....{ I'm all out of soppy now...}....x

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    1. Thanks, wazzock of mine. Your next chore will be to read it!!

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    2. My OH got started writing relatively recently & has self-published. Most sales are to friends & followers on Twitter who have been enthusiastic but he has also had some good reviews from strangers. He knows now that the first book has errors but he now has other author friends who proof read (can't afford professional). Sadly no response from publishers but he is ploughing on as he enjoys the process so much.
      Some professionally published books still have major problems so Yes. On the whole you search everywhere & read what you like. On the whole, it's rather liberating.

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    3. Thanks for leaving a comment! Good luck to your OH! Yes you are quite right: I have read some awfully badly formatted ebooks uploaded by mainstream publishers (Donna Leon's work comes to mind).

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  15. I have heard it said that mainstream publishers are extremely worried about the future of their business right now. The industry is undergoing a similar upheaval to the film industry when talkies came along. They don't know how to handle the competition and so they denigrate it. In twenty years time the only books they'll be publishing are the ones written by celebrities who aren't writers. That's my prediction, anyway, so take no notice of that lone voice and continue to celebrate :-)

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    1. On the contrary, I think you are right. It is already happening...Indie authors are starting to appear in prize lists...They mainstream people have only themselves to blame..greedy and dismissive of ''ordinary'' writers.

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  16. First, congratulations! You should be very happy about the contract. Second, I'm with you. I don't care if a book is traditionally published or self-published. A good book is a good book. :)

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    1. Thanks Kelly!!! And I agree....totally!

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  17. couldn't agree more. Since joining Twitter and meeting lots of authors, I have read many of their books and assumed in many cases they were self-published, only to find out months later they are traditionally published. Makes no difference to me. All that matters to me is that I enjoy the book and that it's well-written. Congrats again and good luck!

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    1. Thanks. It's been a bit of a haul to get here..but we're here now.

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  18. Congratulations Carol. Anybody who turns their nose up at any book that has been published by whatever means is a bit dopey and not really with it. Things are done differently nowadays and the key thing is, is someone enjoying reading it. That's all that really matters..... Good luck with yours and with Crooked Cat!

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    1. Thanks Cara. I think that publishers are trying desperately to rubbish self/Indie published writers. Must feel threatened!!

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  19. Count me as another who can't wait to read your hystorical. And count me as another who thinks there should be many and varied platforms for authors BUT, like you, I think proper editing is the key. On Goodreads yesterday a bloke was rabbiting about having 'published' his first ever attempt at a novel and asking people to let him know if they found mistakes or misspellings. I'm sorry, but I'm not paying good money to beta-read for someone, if I pay, I want quality! But we should be able to read (and write) whatever we want, regardless of how it's published!
    And best of luck with the books (whatever they end up being called...)

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    1. Thanks. Funnily enough, I have found some crappy editing in ''mainstream'' books..especially bad formatting in ebooks. It's almost as if publishers don't regard them as serious, so allocate the task to some minor minion. Interesting.

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  20. Thank you. Very interesting post. I think it's all about quality and the publishing world is changing fast. Publishers, big and small are having a job to catch up, I suspect. Will be very interesting to see what happens in the next couple of years.

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  21. Great post Carol, I also have a huge assortment of books from the big name publishers to indie authors and so agree wholeheartedly with your post, I know what I love to read and if someone writes it then I'll read it!

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