Everyone knows the journey to publication can often be a long and lonely trek. You have slogged away for months, maybe even years, pouring every ounce of yourself into this perfect, crisp manuscript. It’s your baby. Nobody else’s. You have finally typed those ever-fulfilling words ‘The End’. This is the moment you breathe a sigh of relief. But it is short-lived because, if you’re anything like me, you very quickly start to wonder, where do I go from here? Writing the book appears to have been the easy part. The question is, what’s the next step?
There are so many ways to approach this. You can google it, buy a guide to ‘getting published fast’, or read interviews with newly published or well-established authors. One tiny yet very significant word tends to crop up time after time after time: agent. Get one and get one now. Agents are your foot in the door with every publisher in the world and the only way of getting a manuscript into an editor’s inbox. They tell you when your writing is bad and they tell you when it’s good. They pigeon-hole you into a genre and an age bracket, something that is often hard to do for yourself because, as with so many things in life, you’re just too close to see clearly. These guys and gals are the first rung on the very long ladder to publishing success and the first ‘to do’ on every aspiring author’s list.
Agent sorted, your next step is the long and travelled road to getting a publisher. Luckily for us, things are no longer as rigid as ‘publisher’ or ‘no publisher’. We now have a middle lane, one that bridges the gap between your novel and the ever-hungry reader. That lane is called Amazon, the self-publishing platform famous the world over for being the starting point of many successful writing careers. And that is exactly where I started. I had completed my first manuscript, The Coop, and I had an agent, but unfortunately for me, we were in the height of an economic crisis and unless you were a guaranteed big seller, there was little or no hope of getting backed by a publisher. I puzzled over what to do. Do I? Don’t I? Amazon holds very few risks but there is one – once a book is self-published it is often seen by publishing houses as tarnished. That is a hell of a risk when you’ve poured your heart and soul into something. Here I had two choices: keep on writing without anything reaching the public or throw caution to the wind and jump in there with both feet. I went with the latter.
First thing first, I had to get my manuscript edited. And not just a run-through edit suitable for forwarding to publishers – this was serious. The sort of edit that dots the i’s and strokes the t’s. This had to look professional. Luckily for me we are a journalistic family and, a bottle of champagne later, I had myself an in-house editor working the night shift for a credit. And work she did. A few weeks later, it was time for me to start working with KDP to get this baby Kindle-ready. Now, I am as good with computers as the next guy, but the first time around, this all seemed a little daunting. Every page break needed to be added, every indent marked. It was days of checking and double checking before I felt ready to test run it, for sheer fear of what I may have missed. I held my breath, hit upload and wow, to my amazement, not only did it look mega-cool, there were only a few little flaws.
So all the practical work was done but I still had a problem. How was anyone going to know it was out there? Publishing on Amazon is like dropping a penny in the ocean. You blink and it’s vanished. If I was about to throw my novel into the unknown, well, I was going to do my best to send it off with a bang. I did my research into successful self-publishing, contacted every website, online magazine, newspaper or journalist I could think of and set to work selling my book. If this was going to be my future, I had to fight tooth and nail to get it noticed. Believe me this wasn’t easy, because without a publisher, you have no seal of approval, no one out there vouching for you. You are a nobody looking for recognition and, to get it, you are going to have to prove yourself. Well, I did my best. I did everything I could to arrange for publicity and reviews to be staggered over the following months, and then I hit the scariest button in the world: ‘Publish’! And there, in that second, it was done. I had a momentary panic as I downloaded it to a Kindle and waited to see it in the flesh, so to speak, but thankfully it was as close to perfect as I was ever going to get it. I was happy. Now it was a waiting game. How many books would sell in the first day? The first week? The coming months once word of mouth started doing my job for me? Only time would tell.
Meanwhile, my agent set about selling my second novel, Thickets Wood, to publishers while I set about writing a new manuscript. The hard work never stops. I had very little hope, if any, that the second novel would sell. So little, in fact, that six months later I had it sitting unpublished in my KDP account. All the publicity was lined up, the date of publication had been announced, it was the day before release – and then I got the long-awaited phone call from my agent. It had sold! I couldn’t believe it. Thankfully, all the people who had been waiting so patiently to get the second instalment took it very well when I pulled the release. Some of the press were perhaps a little less forgiving but I have time to win them back. After all, this is just the beginning of a very long journey.
(c) Rebecca Reid
About Thickets Wood
When all seems dark, where is your escape?
He was her captor. A man damaged by tragedy, forcing her into a world of make believe. She became her own salvation. Her mind is both her torturer and the key to freedom through a world of her own creation.
Thatchbury is a village much like any other, yet beneath the surface flows a stream of angst and superstition. The shadow of Thickets Wood creeps amongst its people like a primeval mist, bringing torment and desperation.
Village life seems normal enough until the vanishing of Charlie Whitehall rekindles the myth surrounding the woods. As idle gossip spreads, lives are altered and innocence destroyed. No secret is ever safe. Could it be as they say − the spirit in the wood brings retribution?
Do Charlie Whitehall and young Tommy Tinkit come under its destructive power, driving their minds to despair, or is the darkness a consequence of their own guilt and fear?
Thickets Wood is available in all good bookshops and online here.