Thursday 21 June 2018

In the beginning...

When my first book was accepted for publication, I really thought that I had managed to jump the biggest hurdle. And maybe I had, but what I didn't realise was how many other hurdles were sneakily lined up right behind that euphoric news, all waiting to trip me up.
You see, I started my journey into writing many years ago in the days of the 50k word Mills and Boon novel which only existed in paperback. 
Things were a lot different back then. PC's were a rarity and even if you were lucky enough to have one - which I was - you went straight into the bios and saved your work on 5 1/4 inch floppy discs. 'Windows' had not yet been invented and there was no such thing as the Internet.
Armed only with the 'blurb' at the back of a book which I believe - we are talking over 30 years ago - gave an address where you could write to ask for an Instruction pack on how to submit your own manuscript, I set about writing my own offering.
I had a toddler and a new baby, but somehow still managed to churn out 5 manuscripts. All of which were turned down with exactly the same form letter. Thank you, blah blah blah. We don't feel this is right for us, blah blah blah. Please don't try to re-write this story, but we're happy to look at a different one...
I had started my 6th manuscript when number 5 was rejected. Since that had been my first attempt at a series, and I was working on book 2, I finally gave up. I was dejected,  discouraged and dismissed and by now, I was also pregnant with my 3rd child and family life simply took precedence over slogging for hours a day without a single thing to show for it but rejection. The dream was over.
Then, twenty five years and a further 3 children later, my husbands cousin announced that she had written a book and that it was available through KDP. That was it, my love of writing was re-kindled - no pun intended!
Until then, I hadn't even realised that self publishing existed, but the idea of it, the access to all of the resources available through the wonders of the World Wide Web, the programmes that existed to make things so much easier for the budding author, the online technology that allows you to fire your writing all over the globe without it ever having to be laboriously typed or physically printed all opened up a whole new world, just waiting to be explored. So I took the bull by the horns and settled down to pen (now there's an 'old fashioned' saying!) my newest offering.
Of course, writing is really just the tip of the iceberg. Like anything that you want to sell, no matter how fantastic it might be, people have to know it's there before they're going to buy it and a salesman I most certainly am not!
I had self published my first book on Amazon and told all my family and facebook friends about it. What more could I do?
Oh yes! Easy - Promote your book through advertising for as little as 2p per day.
But No! 
Apparently the genre I'm writing - with erotic content - doesn't comply with Amazon policies. I'm not exactly sure what does satisfy their guidelines...murder, robbery, kidnapping, gruesome death, horror? Maybe none of those things is acceptable either - I really don't know, but certainly not SEX! Maybe KDP promotions only run to something as tame as cookery books. That's a question for somebody else to answer.
Of course, I understood the value of marketing, I simply didn't have the first idea how to go about it. 
Instead I set about working on book 2 in the series I was creating and happily ignored the fact that I wasn't going to manage to sell something that nobody knew about.
Then one day, I saw an ad for 'Inkitt' on my facebook page and decided to upload my novel for review with the lure that if your writing was well received then it would get published. 
Of course that didn't happen either. Even after analytics showing over 9000 chapters read (there were only 15 in the book) in a matter of months with absolutely zero input from my marketing inept self, two independent 'reviews of the week' in the same week, and a dozen solid 5 star reviews. Possibly because of the genre again. Who knows.
What I did know was that my efforts had attracted some seriously fantastic feedback from complete strangers, none of which had been solicited...

I've read plenty of BDSM works before, and they can be incredibly tricky not to come off as cliche or 'only smutt'. NOT so with THIS story. This author seamlessly combined an intriguing plot that captivated me from the introduction all the way to the end...

This novel was simply an amazing read. The characters were all very well fleshed out and interesting in their interactions. I could get into all the other technicalities and how well written this is but if you read this novel you will find that out very quickly...

I loved it from the first page to the last word. Just kept reading till the end. It contains steamy scenes, yes, but I also cried during more than one page because of all the emotion. It was refreshing because the story wasn't cliche within this genre...

This story was incredibly well written. The storyline was smooth, the characters had depth & I could tell the author actually took time to write and create an amazing story...

(This) is a second chance romance with steamy BDSM scenes. The writing is engaging and the characters interesting. I read this in one sitting as I could not put this down. I would recommend this to anyone who loves reading well written erotic romance...

It was these very reviews and others like them, that encouraged me to 'do something' with my novel. These unsolicited, unknown people liked my book, and if they did, surely others would too?
Since I couldn't get my head around a marketing strategy, despite the number of books I purchased to explain it to me (All of which seemed to be aimed at non fiction. Ahh! The good old cookery book once again..) I decided it was time to bite the bullet and approach a publisher. 
I looked at several. I googled the best publishers for the genre I was writing, and I chose the first one based on their promise of a decision within two weeks. 
In all honesty, my thought process truly was that once they had rejected my manuscript, then I could get on with the lengthy process of submitting my work to some of the others, which I expected to take a while since most will not accept simultaneous submissions. 
I'm happy to say I was lucky enough never to have to go that far. The first book in my BDSM Club series, written almost 2 years ago, was accepted by the first publisher I sent it to. There were proviso's of course, and extra hoops to jump through since I had previously chosen to self-publish which generally isn't favoured. I had to change my name - apparently the initials I was using don't search well. I had to agree to the title being changed and I had to 'un-publish' it from everywhere it was available for copyright reasons. Of course all that seemed a small price to pay in return for achieving an author's ultimate goal, a professionally published novel. (Which is due to be released in August, for those who are interested)
Little did I realise at the time that the real work had yet to begin and all of that stuff that I didn't know about marketing and promoting your work was about to be unleashed on me in a colossally gigantic tsunami of a wave - all in one go...
But I'll tell you about that next time 😉

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