The Tao of the Author: The Recurring Question

I’d like to talk about a question that I get asked a lot:

How do I get published?

My reply to this is another question which, in the moment and out of context, might sound harsh but I promise that I deliver it kindly: “Have you finished your book, yet?”
The amount of people who reply “no” is overwhelming. This might seem like an odd place to talk about this subject. It’s only the second post, after all. But this is suuuuper important.

You see, lots of creative folks like us are freaking themselves out, heading themselves off at the pass, getting bogged down when they should be flying. Everyone has a different opinion of where the fun comes for creatives. Is it in the creation itself? Sharing what you’ve made? Meeting new people? Getting reviews? No two people feel the
same way, I’m sure. But one thing we can be certain about is that we love what we do. We also get a bit ahead of ourselves, sometimes. All that imagination power has to go somewhere, right?

Imagination

I had this exact same problem. Hell, I still have it! I get carried away. As soon as I have an idea, I start thinking about where it’ll end up. Let’s use Aethertide as an example. I always wanted to write a comic. Eventually, I finished the script but, from the first moment of having the idea, I was thinking about what artist I’d love to draw it, which comic publisher I’d love to print it. I had to slap myself on the wrist and mutter: “Cool your jets, hotshot. You haven’t written the damned thing yet!”

I get carried away. I get ahead of myself. With that comes fear of the unknown and undue pressure. I’ve led myself to think “I can’t do this” before I’ve even grabbed a notepad. I’m bonkers, is what I’m getting at.

Becoming the full package

When I first started out, I wish someone had told me to think about “first things first”. Maintain the dream of becoming published/exhibited/having a ton of followers but don’t bog yourself down with the mechanics of it. You aren’t ready if your product isn’t ready. Your author self and your book come as a package, you see?

Approaching a publisher with a head full of dreams and a handful of scribbled-on napkins won’t get you very far. If it did, I’d have a hundred books out by now. However, if you’ve made your work the best that you can with the resources available to you, if it’s sat in front of you and you think “I can’t do anything more with this on my own”, then you’re ready to start thinking about getting published.

Research for authors

There is no single path after this. You have to find your own way. What’s essential, is research. If you come to my signing table with manuscript in hand and ask “how do I get this published?”, I can’t tell you. I wish I could. I don’t know you, your work, your vision. Only you can know that. Even if I did, I don’t know every publisher in the world. I only know a handful of the ones that are kind of around my area, and rarely on a first name basis. All I can tell you is how I did it. And we’ve already established that was bonkers.

You have to do your own research, folks. It sucks and it’s mind-numbing. It can feel like a huge comedown after the high of creating something, but it’s essential. Stalk people in a similar line of work on social media, read articles. Look up publishers and agents who specialise in what you’ve written. There’s no quick way, really. I’m sorry, but there isn’t. I wish there was.

Querying publishers

I still go through this process all the time. What it all boils down to is that you have to find your own path. Published authors aren’t gatekeepers to the world you want to live in. We’re just like you. We are still very much at the whims of agents and publishers. We still have to send out queries for our next book and hope the pubs like it, we still have to worry that no one will read it. You see us as ahead, but we’re right by your side, looking at the same view.

I know, I know, there wasn’t much solid advice for you there other than “finish the book” and “do your research”. I know that’s frustrating but, as we talked about last time, there is no Magic Bean. But focus, finishing the job and putting in the leg work really are three of the very most important things an author can have. With those three things under your feet, you’ve set yourself on the path to really getting published, your way.

Thanks for reading!ask-blackboard-chalk-board-chalkboard-356079

 

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Guest Post: Emily Scialom

Hi everyone!

We’re back with a brief guest post from Emily Scialom, who has one book out already and another on the way from Austin Macauley very soon! Check it out:

emily_scialom_ps‘The Religion of Self-Enlightenment’ was begun in the summer of 2008. It was just before I went to America and travelled the States during the Obama election campaign; the air was sticky with hope for a better world. It was published by Olympia publishers, who are based in London, in the summer of 2016.

Immediately, things got weird. I was out walking with my sister in a nature reserve named Paradise when a figure of light appeared beside me in a photograph of the spot where I previously had Bible study class with my very Christian friend, Christine. I posted it online and a musician who I was friends with on Facebook from a famous band named the Brian Jonestown Massacre wrote a song about me called ‘Ghost Ghost’. The lyrics? “She’s a ghost/And she holds me so close/She is Jesus Christ/And all the Holy Hosts.”

People always told me never to write about religion. When I first started out I knew there was a problem with organised belief, even though everyone told me I was wrong; by the time the book was published I had been well and truly vindicated.

So I began writing about other topics which interest me: sex and hating the Tories. ‘The Rivers’ emerged over the course of about four years while working for the music app Spotify. This novel will be published soon by Austin Macauley. I very much look forward to sharing it with everyone.

jesus and me

‘The Rivers’ centres around a married couple who are hopelessly in love, named John and Elizabeth. Throughout the development of their story, however, there are a plethora of situations where true love cannot be easily found. Amidst the heartache there are discussions on serious global and cultural issues, as well as the nature of love and God.

roseAs for ‘The ROSE‘ (a beautiful acronym, I’m sure you will agree?), it’s been declared a “cult classic” by television and “a classic of near-death experience literature” in reviews. It’s now selling out on-loop in Cambridge book shops and has only five star reviews on Amazon. I am hoping it will be a tremendous success amidst all the craziness.

The story tells of a man named Carrick Ares, who has a near-death experience and writes a new religion in its aftermath, which is basically a philosophic work centred on the idea of oneness. If you have ever wondered for far too long about who you are and why you are here you will empathise with Carrick’s struggles, and he is very much an everyman who has captured the attentions of many readers thus far.

To purchase a copy for only 6.99 please go to Amazon, Waterstones or Olympia publishers.

There you have it, readers. Another book to watch out for in the near future!

Thanks for reading.

Old Haunts Update!

Hi everyone,

So my latest novel, Old Haunts (The Adventures of Alan Shaw book 2) has been out in the world a whole week!

It’s an odd thing as it seemed to take aeons to be released and now that it’s here time is flying once more.

I mostly wanted to say thank you to everyone who shared, commented and of course bought the new book. You have no idea how much your support means to me and how extremely helpful it is to have people spread the word to their own circle of family and friends.

A few folks have said they’re waiting to catch me at one of the events on the Tour Dates page so that’s something to look forward to. Scarborough Sci-Fi convention at the end of April is always a highlight of my authoring year with so many fun and friendly people there to meet and re-meet (our group came only a point away from winning their annual grand geek quiz last year. So close!)

So, Old Haunts has been doing well and held a pretty high Amazon ranking for the first few days of it’s release. That’s great for a little indie author like me and I’m very pleased with it. A few people have even got back with reviews already! And they’ve all been very kind and made me feel, as always, like telling Alan’s story is worthwhile. It also helps me get over the next hurdle…

I should probably write the next book! Eek!

While I have plenty of ideas, I’ve barely touched Alan’s third outing. After finishing Old Haunts I worked on a couple of novellas that have been scratching away in my head. Now they’re done which is great but I really need to get back to Alan, now. I just need to find a name for a very important character and then I’ll start, honest 😁

Anyway, thank you all again for your constant support. I feel very lucky to have you all

Thank for reading!

(This blog post was typed thumb-wise on my phone so apologies for the lack of pictures etc 😊)

The Next Book Cometh

Hi everyone,

We’re getting pretty close to an incredibly exciting time. Well, I’M excited 🙂

Not only is Old Haunts (The Adventures of Alan Shaw book 2) so close to its release date that I can smell fresh ink on the air, but the re-cover of book one is looking goooooood.

You might remember that we had a little trouble with the cover for book one as we had an artist also do the internal covers for the individual adventures, but that person disappeared only a couple of weeks before we went to print. That meant a huge panic as myself and Inspired Quill CEO, Sara-Jayne, scrambled around trying to find a new artist. Suffice to say, at such short notice, we were not successful. But with signings booked in and events to attend, we needed a book.

So, I stepped up.

That’s right! Yours truly did an art and drew the pictures with my own not-so-fair hand!

Suffice to say, I am no artist. But we got The Adventures of Alan Shaw out in time and many people have enjoyed it since (I hope). Still, it always bugged me that book one wouldn’t match the others, and so when me and Sara got our heads together for Old Haunts, it was the perfect time to ask a huge favour from my already very accommodating publisher.

Could we re-cover book one?

Luckily, Sara was pretty much thinking the same thing and so not only do I get to share the next stage of Alan’s story with you, but we get to give you two super sexy covers as well!

For those of you who have been keeping track, you’ll have seen book two’s cover already. But, over the next month or so as we build up to the official release, I’ll be sharing tidbits, quotes, insights and that elusive first book recover, too. I really hope you guys like it.

You can already take a look at Old Haunts on Amazon along with some blurbage and coverage. There’s also an option to pre-order if you’re feeling that way inclined.

I’ll be hopefully getting back to the blogging a little more now that I’ve finished…wait…I’ll tell you next post 😉

Thanks for reading!

Emi: The Search Begins

Hi everyone,

With the completion of my dark fantasy novella, Emi, I find myself at a familiar point in the writing-to-shelf process. As my usual publisher, Inspired Quill, doesn’t print novella length fiction (and I can’t blame them as they’re stacked with new author releases right now, too), I’m on the hunt.

What am I looking for? A needle in a haystack. The story is far too long for magazine publication as almost all won’t take stories over 10k words and fewer serialise. I need a publisher who not only publishes shorter novels (Emi weighs in at around 25.5k words), but one that’s willing to take a chance on a very different kind of story. The romantic in me aspires to the likes of Clive Barker whose novella The Hellbound Heart is a personal fav and legendary in the horror genre (it was the story on which Hellraiser was based). However, good old reality tells me that I’m definitely not Mr. Barker.

I know that I can’t possibly compete for the attention of the likes of the BIG publishers such as Tor or Gollancz, and they often have such strict criteria for stories that my genre-ignoring efforts never meet what they’re looking for. I need an indie publisher, just like IQ, who are willing to just read it and, hopefully, they’ll like it when they do.

I’m starting to remember how much I hated this part of the process. Surfing the net isn’t the right word when it comes to looking for publishers and publications. Trawling, perhaps? Net cast wide, tugging along. There are so many publishers and publications out there, all trying to get themselves noticed, their work out there, their dream fulfilled. And then there are the other authors like me, smothering the publishers with our queries and submissions. We’re insufferable, we really are.

It sounds terrible, but we don’t just want to find any old publisher, either. Find one that’s too new and inexperienced, your book will never be seen. Find one that has an ego and you’re equally scuppered. The minefield extends as far as the eye can see. And this little tug boat, along with a fleet of others, just wants to find a safe harbour where we can drop off our fish.

I think I might be stretching this metaphor a bit far, now.

But, you get what I mean. While we’re all happy to just get our work in print, we also need to be careful that we don’t sell ourselves short. That book that you’ve worked was hard work, and you want it to do well. So you need a publisher who will work with you, and help you to reach your goal with a view to helping them make a little money and gain recognition right along with you (if you’re lucky enough to get some, of course).

If I can’t find a publisher, I might go back to self-publishing like I did with Not Before Bed all those years ago. It’s a daunting thought as I’m very aware that I suck at it. That’s why Inspired Quill have been so amazing. They know what they’re doing and it means that I don’t have to. Still, needs must, and the few people who have read Emi have said it’s the best thing I’ve written (not hard, I know). It’d be a shame if it never saw light of day.

So, there we are. I just wanted to share with you all where I’m at. In the meantime, the work on spreading the word about Old Haunts: The Adventures of Alan Shaw #2 continues ready for March next year. I can’t wait for you guys to read it. I hope you all like it.

 

Thanks for reading!