Home » Non-US, Self-Publishing » I didn’t want to resort to self-publishing, but it’s an exhilarating change

I didn’t want to resort to self-publishing, but it’s an exhilarating change

22 February 2016

From The Guardian:

My debut novel Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase was published in 2014. It did OK. The novel has respectable sales figures for a debut, it did particularly well in foreign rights and has been translated into 14 languages. Two of my foreign deals were for six-figure sums. In the UK, it was reviewed in the Times and the Daily Mail and in several women’s magazines. I assumed I would be a shoo-in for that “difficult second novel”.

But my (very difficult, as it turned out) second novel was turned down flat. Cue the disbelief, followed by the tears, then the ranting and raving, the why, why, why? And that was just my husband.

The obvious reason for its rejection is that it simply wasn’t good enough. Once I’d accepted this, I reworked much of it, changed the title, changed the plot. I still believed in my story. But what I really needed was a trusted editor to help me, someone to be patient, to give me some clues, some ideas and suggestions to help turn that early attempt into a publishable second novel. That’s exactly what had happened with my debut, and I’d naively thought it would happen again.

I can’t deny getting dumped was an eye-opening experience. One minute I was a celebrated and successful debut novelist; the next I was hurled unceremoniously onto the ever-growing scrapheap of authors who are neither big names nor debuts. It’s a lonely place to be because, a bit like the menopause, nobody really talks about it.

Hope springs eternal and my novel was sent out again after re-working. A well- respected independent publisher showed interest, invited me to its London offices and told me how much the editors had enjoyed it. All very positive and encouraging. Then a week later, minds had changed.

I was beyond frustrated. I felt like giving up. I tried to work on a third novel. But the disillusionment that lingered over me for weeks eventually gave way to something else: I had an idea, a terrifying and elating one. Could I self-publish my second novel?

. . . .

I don’t know if this is all just vanity, to be honest. Probably it is. Isn’t seeking publication always an act of vanity? But self-publishing has come into its own, and these days publication is publication, whoever pays for it.

Link to the rest at The Guardian and thanks to Meryl for the tip.

Click to Tweet/Email/Share This Post

Non-US, Self-Publishing

29 Comments to “I didn’t want to resort to self-publishing, but it’s an exhilarating change”

  1. “But what I really needed was a trusted editor to help me…”

    Lots of great freelance editors out there. In fact, I think many of them used to work in Legacy Pub.


  2. “Louise Walters’s second novel, A Life Between Us, will be published in paperback and ebook in February 2017.”

    If she’s already written and rewritten the novel, I’d have expected that to end ‘this spring.’

  3. Bit of a sad/odd punchline, though…

    “Louise Walters’s second novel, A Life Between Us, will be published in paperback and ebook in February 2017.”

  4. [Miss M and I think alike, I see.]

    So, she writes this post today, and at the bottom it says, “Louise Walters’s second novel, A Life Between Us, will be published in paperback and ebook in February 2017.” And she seems happy to be using a self-publishing service where her book will not be available for another whole year.

    Instead of this: “I’m using Matador Books, which is doing a brilliant job of holding my hand and guiding me through the self-publishing process,” she could have put her book up on all of the retailers in a week or less, and spent far less money, and already be selling.

  5. Uhh…you keep saying self-publishing, but I don’t think it means what you think it means.

  6. “resort to self-publishing”


    • Vanity publishers and Assisted publishers have coopted the ‘self-publishing’ identity – and newbies don’t know any better.

      She’s going to have to sell a lot of books to make back her expenses – hope she has fans from the first book.

  7. Poor little lamb…

    • But lamb is so tasty! Especially when wrapped in bacon and grilled on the BBQ.

      See? This is what “culling” really means.

      • I’m not complaining, but *we* _are_ getting a tad cynical towards certain semi-indie writers [*] and trads, are we not? We.

        I think that when I started visiting TPV, and for quite some time, there was a certain “oh, my God! She’s gonna get abused, we better convince her NOW!” that’s turned into “Oh, look! Chum!”

        Take care.

        [*] IINO, Indie In Name Only ?

        • CIBFI

          Claiming Indie But Faking It
          (was it good for you? 😉 )

        • Ferran, I freely admit to being a cynical b**** since I was four. But when I see a writer, who didn’t do her research and can’t distinguish when someone’s helping her versus taking her for a ride, it makes me want to scream. Not to mention agent Donald Maas actually made the statement referring to “culling” writers, it steams my shorts.


          And I still make my grandmother’s bacon-wrapped limburger recipe for Easter.

          • @ Suzan

            Yup. Horse/Water. I share your eye-rolling. As a writer and editor, I learned long ago how to do research (in high school, no less). And, hey, it ain’t rocket science. But it is work and effort.

            I have scant sympathy for those who, for whatever reasons, can’t be bothered to do research — and it’s not difficult to do today with Google and everything available on the Internet — and then wind up having “problems.” Problems of their own making, or more accurately, non-making.

            Do the time (effort) or reap the crime (what happens to you).

          • Thanks for sharing that link, Suzan. I’ve seen the reference to the “culling” comment before, but didn’t know the context. And didn’t realize Maass had made it! It still boggles me (though it probably shouldn’t) what some of these agents/publishers say about writers, the unfortunate metaphors they use, especially what they post on-line for all and sundry to google. The rough industry changes have stripped them down to their true colors, and it ain’t pretty. Yet they still expect us to submit our work to them and be grateful for the privilege . . .

  8. Yet another essay, purporting to add something to the indie discussion, but really just a gussied-up press release announcing/promoting a book. How many of these are people going to get away with before we’re done giving their ‘personal publishing coming of age story’ air-time?

    • Only until they read places like TPV and see how others are laughed at for doing it …

      Sadly that means there will always be pieces like this for us to wonder just how silly they really are (or how stupid they must think we are …)

  9. Barbara Morgenroth


  10. What amazes me with these stories is how the author always claims to have done careful research. And despite this research they apparently managed to avoid seeing any of the articles that lay out how inexpensive it is to do it yourself, how reasonable it can be to get cover design and layout and editing done, and how crazy over-priced these ‘self-publishing’ Author Solutions type places are.

    The psychology is really interesting.

    • Ever get the feeling these blogs are paid for by trad-pub to scare the new writers back into their pens? After all, after all their ‘research’, this was the best this one could manage …

  11. The obvious reason for its rejection is that it simply wasn’t good enough.

    No, this is what the corporate publishing system hopes authors will continue to believe, but it’s blatantly and obviously untrue at this point.

  12. I’m planning on heading over to the site where Elizabeth Bear recently published about her mental and physical problems. My wife did yesterday, and said there were a lot of people who were defensive at any suggestion of self-publishing, and I wanted to see it for myself.

  13. So, she still hasn’t “resorted” to self-publishing, then?

  14. I don’t get the obsession with debuts. Just write the next one.

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.

%d bloggers like this: