It’s the wee small hours and I can’t sleep. No, I’m not complaining. This is quite usual for me. Part of CFS (Chronic Fatigue Syndrome) is that often I sleep during the day and am bright as a button by bed-time. Most of Shaman’s Drum was written between two and four in the morning.
It is also a time that my spirits come to guide, nudge, help or boot me. They’ve been at it again so here are the results. I remind you all, these are just MY thoughts resulting from what is going on around me and in no way critical. I am making 2016 my non-judgmental year, so get used to it.
As you all know, I have been in the wars a bit over the last couple of years. Mainly from accidents but they all have long-lasting consequences, including the aforementioned CFS. Being repeatedly bashed on the head hasn’t done my writing any good. Last week I went down with one of our famous “change of seasons” bugs which is a French tradition. The whole village has succumbed so at least we can commiserate with each other once we are not bed-bound.
Recently there seems to have been a big trend of authors leaving their small independent publishers to go it alone. That’s their decision and I’m sure they have their reasons but it makes me sad in a way. The expression “putting his underpants on his head and running around screaming” is how I described Cameron’s reaction to his first offer (including a demand for a second work) from his publisher. I did nearly the same but in a slightly more refined manner (I ran out into the street and yelled) when I received my first contract as Ailsa. That joy was worth something to me because it isn’t often that other human beings make me that happy – Nature, animals, views etc move my heart but people…? Less frequently.
I understand the pull of self-publishing, it’s the money. As all authors are responsible for their own publicity, why not do the whole job? What a lot of the reading public don’t understand when encouraging writers to go down the DIY route is that you have to shell-out to produce a book, especially one that isn’t full of glaring errors. OK, returns from publishers are a lot smaller percentage but they have taken a punt on the author, paid for editors, cover work and production. I have designed one book cover … never again! Just finding art work which is legal to use for a cover is a minefield. I’m no artist, can do magic with apps but I still scrabble to find pictures I could use and yes, books are judged by their covers. Of course friends can beta-read and proof read but unless you are lucky enough to have an editor who will work for nothing, you need a professional. This already means that at the higher rate of income, you have to sell a shed-load more books to cover your initial outlay.
There is also the question of loyalty, for me, at least. One publisher took a punt on one set of my books when I was unknown and they have been extremely patient, waiting for me to come out with some more work when the best way to sell books is to write more! Which in my case I’ve been unable to do for over a year.
So my Spirits have had a word with me now I’m over the virus and said – get your finger out, Otter. Stop messing about on the social media, do some decent publicity and spend as much time as you can finishing the books that you have simmering on the back burner of your brain (four at least!)
So take this as an apologetic notice, I won’t be so visible from now on as I’ll be upstairs in my study diligently repaying the faith people (readers as well) have shown in me. The blog will keep going and there may be more personal notes like this one; asides from the world of “working writer”.
I hope you’ll understand – a personal obligation is a matter of honour for me and I intend to live up to it.