Choosing to Self-Publish: The Path of Totality by Bronagh Curran
I wrote my first book in 2011, my second in 2012, third and half of fourth in 2013. I gave up on number four to start number five in 2014 because the story came to me with such clarity I couldn’t ignore it. Also, it was time sensitive: I had chosen to write a novel centring around a real life astronomical event set for three years in the future. Surely that is enough time to get published before the big day? Hell, maybe if I timed it right the movie release date could be on August 21st 2017 – the day of the total solar eclipse.
Now, just weeks after the Total Solar Eclipse in America – an event that has been part of my life for the past three years – I have made the long laboured decision to self publish this novel, The Path of Totality. Although Dutch rights were sold in 2015 and In Het Spoor Van De Eclips was published in 2016, the English rights never found a home. They lingered for months in the maybe piles of the major houses; they even made it 70% of the way once only to be shot down at the last hurdle; they fought the good fight for two long years. And maybe they could have continued fighting, if only I hadn’t been foolish enough to choose to limit my characters to this time frame. It has been a valuable lesson I won’t be making again.
Every novel tells a story and has a story. This one is about Nat Dobbs – a 15 year-old skinny kid with a stammer and a string of failed schools – and Milo Quincy, a 65 year-old recluse with a dark reputation, a scarred past and an uncertain future. Throw in Celeste Woodston, a major catalyst in both the lives of Nat and Quincy and the trinity is complete for the road trip from their home in Montana to witness the optimum point of the eclipse in Kentucky. It’s a story of friendship, secrets and lies, regrets but most importantly hope. I love this story and I love my characters; so there was no way I could just let them fade away with their eclipse, I had to give them the chance to find their path to readers.
I have been a fervent opponent of self publishing; believing it to be pure vanity and confident in my arrogance that if a book is good enough a traditional publisher will buy it. But now I know that to be complete crap – it is so much more complicated and frustrating than that and I can’t still quite understand everything that has happened to this book on its travels. All I know is it is good enough. It has Dutch readers and fans who tell me how it made them laugh and cry, how the characters lingered with them for days. I owe it to Nat, Quincy and Celeste – and to myself – to get over myself and just get this story out there once and for all. This is just its story, it’s how it is meant to end.
I have a new agent now, Vanessa O’Loughlin at the Writers Bureau (and this website!) and she has helped me to see that self publishing is not accepting failure, but choosing a different path – one that leads directly to readers. We are both very excited about my work in progress and we aim to do everything in our power to secure a traditional deal for it. And maybe that will be that book’s story, maybe it won’t.
I’ve learned that you can’t force someone to buy your book or love the thing you have created, all you can do is create it. After that, you can choose if anyone gets to see it for not. I hope you get to see it.
(c) Bronagh Curran
About The Path of Totality:
August 21st 2017. The first Total Solar Eclipse in the US for 35 years. And at a time when
night is day and day is night, anyone’s life can be turned upside down. Even if you’re Nat
Nat’s the bullied kid. The kid with the stammer and skinny limbs. The kid who weighs 125
pounds dripping wet and never quite looks you in the eye. Maybe if he did, he’d finally make
a friend. The last time he tried to fit in he ended up with this pants around his ankles…on state TV.
But Milo Quincy doesn’t see Nat the way the others do, the way his father Gunther does.
Sure, he may be a 65 year old recluse who punched Nat in the face, he may even be as dangerous
as the rest of the town says he is. But he’s listening – and for Nat, that’s enough for now
When the multi colored and multi coveted Celeste Woodston gets thrown onto their path,
Nat and Quincy find themselves on a road trip – across four states – in a ’67 Mustang to
witness the eclipse from the optimum point – The Path of Totality.
And maybe in this moment of ultimate darkness, the unlikely friends will finally see the
world more clearly – or at least how they’d like it to be.
Order your copy online here.
Bronagh Curran is a former national journalist and contributor to Newstalk’s iPad magazine. Her monthly column Curran Affairs ran in the online publication from April 2013 – February 2014.After six years in as an entertainment journalist with The Irish News of the World, she took a break from the media in 2007 to set up her own dog walking service. A few years later she was reincarnated as a craft teacher until she eventually grew up and became an administrator. She currently lives in North Dublin City and works a patient coordinator in a dental clinic but she mostly spends her evenings writing. Her favourite books are The Fault in Our Stars, Pride and Prejudice, One Day, Atonement, The Lovely Bones and Eleanor and Park. Her favourite movies are Dirty Dancing, Good Will Hunting, The Princess Bride, Bridget Jones's Diary and Jerry Maguire. And the one musical artist that always makes her feel something is Neil Diamond.