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Sunday, 12 May 2013

Admissions and submissions

Iceline, the first of The Grange novels took a long time to get where it is today, and the delay was not down to the amount of rewriting it required. The manuscript sat on the bookshelf for ten years. A sealed copy with a Post Office date stamp on the seal is still there, and whatever the merits of proving copyright,  the interaction with Post office staff when you explain why you are sending a parcel to yourself is worth it.

It was down to confidence, in myself and my abilities as a writer, I needed that encouragement, and the kick up the backside to get the thing off the ground, and like many writers I was looking for that way forward, the road to find an audience.

Reading through Mark Coker's blog at Smashwords and listening to an interview with him on Late Night Library from Portland  Oregon, via a link in his blog and hearing him recall his own experiences and the journey that brought him to establish Smashwords, and then how the company has developed and contributed to the revolution in publishing over the last few years. He refers to the time just over five years ago as the dark ages of publishing.

I can procrastinate when it suits me, and when I shouldn't but isn't that a common situation. Hanging fire and waiting for the right moment, but that moment has a nasty habit of never actually coming, so the kick in the pants becomes a useful tool. Perhaps that's a bit harsh, let's agree a healthy shove in the right direction is more diplomatic, but it amounts to about the same thing really.

Tradition is a great thing if you know why you are doing it, and for so many years the respectable way to publish has been "Traditional" publishers, with the Vanity and self-publishing apparently lumped together as more or less the same thing, (I'll leave that discussion for another time maybe), with each one looking up or down at the other depending on where they saw their niche in publishing society.

Whatever the merits or otherwise of the various strands of publishing they had their way of doing things, their own traditions and amongst writers there are tradition and mythology. I picked up a tweet a day or so ago, retweeted across the system and it irritated me; the gist of it was that "The first draft is supposed to suck" reposted with a twitter link to the The Indie View photo and taken with the context of the picture the advice is sound, but I have never set out to write anything that sucks, my aim is and always has been to be the best from the first word. the reason is simple, I really don't like proofreading, editing, etc, and yes I know everybody says you should get somebody else to do it, but there are perfect worlds and there is reality.

Reality, the stark reality portrayed to the aspiring author, the barely hidden subtext I found in so many books on how to get published always pointed to how difficult, nay, near impossible it could be to get into print.

They make it sound like rules and stuff, you do this or don't do that, and I find myself drifting back to Kenneth More's portrayal of Douglas Bader, in Reach For The Sky and two particular scenes. the first he turns up to rejoin as a pilot, already due to a flying accident a double amputee and is told that there is nothing in the regulations that says he can fly. His response; there is nothing there that says I can't. The second clip is when the much needed spares he requires to get his squadron operational arrive and he admits to having by-passed all the proper channels declaring that "rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men."

There had to be another way, and most of my life I have been an admirer of Bader, I wouldn't nominate him for sainthood. He was no plaster saint, to borrow from Rudyard Kipling and like many of his compatriots who were single men in barracks they had a job to do, and Churchill's rubber stamp  of "Action This Day" gave them the motivation. I needed a way and the motivation, and eventually found both.

I found Smashwords by accident, researching something else and looking for a book by the American Criminal Profiler, Pat Brown, and was wary of anything that said it was free, but the claim held good, and I found my way. Publishing on Smashwords was my Bader moment, I bypassed all the traditionally accepted channels, and took Mark Coker at his word, that every writer has the right to be published. That was motivation.

When Bader wanted his spares he went straight to Fighter Command, and I'm doing the same. You, reader, are the one I want to send my book out to you and they won't cost you an arm or a leg, maybe the price of a cup of coffee, Iceline (use the Smashwords discount code SG33N) and Control Escape (Smashwords Discount Code VK56T) are out already and What You Ask For, the third novel in the series is nearing completion, and while it is still a work in progress is a freebie from Smashwords. The other two are already out through the major ebook channels, nip across to www.cheekyseagull.co.uk/iceline  or /control_escape  and follow the links or use the links on this blog to reach my website. Have a look around while your there.

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