Saturday, 1 February 2014

A pebble in the pond

I've been very focused this week. One might say determined. I dropped a pebble in the literary pond and am hoping the ripples will reach the right person who will partner me in my writing ventures. I've just sent off the first 11 submissions to literary agents in the US and UK, looking for representation for my first book Follow My Heart.  It seems like a good thing to do for the first day of February and a good thing to do to advance what I'd like to do more of in the future, that's write.

I have lots of ideas for future books inside me. It's always been in my mind to write a companion book concentrating on practical ideas and recommendations for those Non-EU citizens who'd like to live and work in France without the benefit of a legal attachment to an EU national. How to do it alone, if you have to. Checklists of strange things to expect.

Growing up in NZ as a baby boomer also interests me. I've just read a book focusing on doing that in the UK. While it recounts many things similar, it talks about people and places irrelevant to New Zealand and we had our own stuff going on then; political, economic and social. It would naturally draw on my own experiences over the years 1955-2008. One might even consider it a prequel to my current book.

There are also some children's books I'd like to write. Quite often when I was working in my garden I'd come up with ideas for stories but then they flitted right out of my head. When I was studying to be a teacher back in the 70s I had to write a children's book as a major assignment. My lecturer told me it might be good enough to publish but my head was busy elsewhere and I'd have had no idea how to go about it, too hard, soon forgotten. I kept it for decades (written before computers) but I may have lost it in my last shifts. No matter, I think it would be too old-fashioned now. The world has moved on. Technology invades all.

I have other books I'd like to write on creating communications campaigns, women's issues. Nothing major but drawing on learning and experience, sharing that for others who might benefit. Everyone knows that 90% of books never get accepted by a traditional publisher so why have I chosen to go down this path?

I think it gives an added credibility to the author, that if you have run the gauntlet of rejection from agents and then rejection from publishing houses yet still have your manuscript accepted in the end it's because others see something in it, usually money. Even then most books sell pitifully and don't earn the money back for the publishers. One hundred-1000 copies is usual but I want better than that. I'm going to try for it. Some of the books I've read in my genre are pretty bad, many are just average in terms of writing, some sell 6m copies over 20 years and get turned into films. Book critics tend to take traditionally published books more seriously though that's loosening up a little.

If no-one picks up my book I may have to self-publish but that's fraught with rip-off merchants, still it gets it out there. Otherwise it's a matter of turning it into a kindle-only version, inexpensively. Whatever I end up doing I'm going to be spending a lot of time and emotional energy trying to market it or I'll get nowhere. Still, it intrigues me and I think back to when I was barely out of my teens and wish I'd known of all the possible paths I might have taken in my life instead of being forced to do what my Mother told me I should do (be a librarian or a teacher). There's also the typical niggling worry authors face that the book I've written is crap. So that's why I'm spending many, many hours researching the right agencies and agents, sending only the material they ask for, honing and honing everything. Will I be successful? Will this make a positive difference in my life? Or will I join that endless list of earnest people who tried but...?

I should know about  the first batch of agents within 2-3 weeks. If the response is positive I'll be asked to send more material, maybe the complete manuscript and then there would be even longer waiting. Perhaps in six months I'll have an idea as to whether I need to choose self-publishing or if I'll become an author, 'for real'.

One book wouldn't be enough, you need several. I'm still trying to find my niche, the place where my efforts will actually bear some more comfortable fruit. I reach out to unlikely people who have succeeded in areas of activity that interest me. No pollination yet though, I haven't found the right visiting bee.

Photo taken of a grand old rambling property just along the street from my apartment. It was a morning of intense fog and frost. An hour later the whiteness had disappeared.


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