Backwards and Forwards

Some of the writers I know don’t pay much heed to Christmas and New Year. There are deadlines to meet and things to be done, interspersed with the occasional mince pie. Plus, you’re always thinking ahead – it may be January on paper, but my trusty spreadsheet says it’s time to think about summer articles and ideas for Christmas piece pitches.

But, in the spirit of the calendar, it’s a good time to pause and reflect on a 2010 writing year.
A fair amount of work came from the US and Canada and of course I was kept busy at A Word with You Press, where the regular writing competitions and ever growing community make for a lively crowd. Notable successes were in writing content for greetings cards and for magazine articles. I also edited a complete novel for a fellow writer, Martin.
Sadly, I still haven’t placed my own novels. There were more rejections than ever and more submissions than ever (God loves a trier, as our mum used to say). In general, the lead-time for a response from an agent or publisher was extended from 12 weeks to well over 16. And even then I got the impression on a couple of occasions that writers are nothing more than an inconvenience to them.
I only got ripped off a couple of times – once by a would-be editor who needed some eBook material expanded and then she didn’t feel the need to pay for it; and once by a publisher who was in such dire need of stamps and my submitted material (presumably for kindling) that they were unable to respond to a registered letter, after waiting six months. The weird thing is they they were much more attentive when they wanted to contract me to purchase 150 copies of the finished novel myself as part of the deal; funny that.
And the forwards part?
My first priority is completing the first draft of Scars & Stripes, a standalone novel about a Brit living in the US, set in the late eighties. A short tale The Wanderer is on the table for publication by AWwYP in the spring and I’d like to get started on the first draft of another Thomas Bladen related novel. Making some money would also be a positive move, preferably with regular clients (you know who you are!).
So for those of you who read or who write and read, here’s to a creative 2011.


  1. Anonymous says:

    Why not say get stuffed to the faceless publishers and go ahead and do a self publish job. Sell it where ever you like, and Amazon, and put two chubby fingers up to the world?

  2. Derek says:

    Well Anonymous, that's an interesting prospect and thanks for stopping by (but no need to be shy!). There are a few issues for me with self-publication:
    1. Distribution. You could argue that only the big names get their books widely distributed anyway, but I guarantee a publisher will have more money to spend on promoting my book than I will.
    2. Focus. My passion is writing and not selling. That said, I also do copywriting as a sideline…
    3. Time. Specifically, time spent on the phone or at the post office is time away from writing and editing. (and reading those rejections!)
    4. Quality. If I'm a one-man band then I'm also responsible for proof editing, formatting and quality control. Do-able, but another focus away from the actual writing.
    5. Cost. If I'm spending my own money then I want to be confident of a reasonable return.

    Never say never though. I'd be unlikely to try it with a novel, but I may yet start with an anthology of short stories. And like many a starving writer, my fingers are bony! Thanks again for your comment.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Thanks for the considered response, and I am offering what I hope will be good advice here;

    With self publishing, you still use the services of a company that can allocate an ISBN and who will print and distribute the book. So in effect whilst you do "self " publish, it actually means you simply ensure that the book you write gets out there. They do all the work so you can do all the writing.

    They have zero rejections, although they can help with editing etc. beacuse you are in control, rather than them.

    The actual cost is not very significant, maybe £1000, to get you off and running, which in the scheme of things, ie. getting your book into the paying world, is great.

    How do I know this? My wife has her books self published.

    Am I a publisher, NO.

    Why am I telling you this stuff? Two reasons, first I sense your frustration at having product that is not being made available to the populus, second, why not try to offer help to a person.

    Best of Luck buddy.

  4. motheroad says:

    Here's to a creatively PROFITABLE 2011. In fact, here's to living through 2011 without going to debtor's prison. Here's to just living through 2011.

  5. Derek says:

    Firstly, a belated thanks to Anonymous for outlining his own approach. I suppose it's a chicken and egg thing. If I did invest £1000 of my own cash, I'd want to work like stink (not an eggy stink you understand) to achieve the necessary sales to recoup my investment. Still one to ponder and never say never.

    Secondly, to Motheroad, if you want to scare yourself you can search the Net on average income of writers. The Society of Authors have the data too.

  6. motheroad says:

    Fortunately, I feel no desire to scare myself. I'm already scared enough.

    So, combine the average income of a writer with the average income of a corporate video producer/director, and then you'll have a fine mess of bacon and eggs. If you had eggs. Or bacon.

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