I started this series of posts by reflecting on the current state of publishing. We are mired in a marketplace that is grossly oversaturated, and—given humankind’s desire to express itself, combined with tools that make it ever easier to do just that—we are probably going to remain that way for some years to come. Along with the other two million authors to publish this year, you’ll be struggling to get your book noticed at all. In such circumstances you are unlikely to have a best-selling title on your hands without a huge amount of luck, a huge amount of help, and massive support for you on social media. But then there’s that nagging voice at the back of your head always whispering, “But it might just happen, mightn’t it?” Well, yes; I suppose it might. And if it were to happen, what then? Well, you’d be obliged to write another one that’s at least as good and still manages to satisfy the same market. And do it quickly before the interest in you fades. Perhaps Harper Lee had the right idea all along—right up until she didn’t..
But publishing is a business, and the majority of new writers will soon learn the sad truth that there’s simply no money in it. That might just be enough to stem the flow a little. Interesting fact: there never was. As the children’s author Belinda Hollyer (now sadly deceased) once said to me in the days before self-publishing, “You don’t get rich by writing. We write because we have to.” And it’s not as if it’s an easy task. I always liken penning a novel to running a clutch of marathons back-to-back. And when you finally have the finishing line in sight…well, that’s when you start the proofing and formatting, the commissioning of reviews and the timetabling of publicity, all of which feels like yet another long-distance schlep to be endured. Ah, but how glorious those finishing lines can feel…
And it’s not as if there isn’t help available—at a price. Self-publishing has spawned its own myriad support service industry, from proofreading to editing, from cover art to file formatting, from career review-blogging to (**truly horrified gasp!!!**) companies guaranteeing to get you fifty great reviews up on Amazon—for a percentage of your sales, that is. Hmmm, as Gooseberry would no doubt say. Personally I recommend you steer well clear of that one and learn to do the rest of these tasks yourself—though having a good friend who’s a crack proofreader never goes amiss! It may take you longer, but it’s much more rewarding—and you end up with a whole new set of skills (not to mention being several hundred shekels better off)!
Back in April I compared the state of publishing to a gold rush, and I think parallels can be drawn from that kind of boom-and-bust business model to predict what will happen in publishing. At some point the majority will realize there’s no gold left and move on. The others, content with the few odd specks they pick up through their long and diligent labours, will stay the course. We’re not in it for the gold, you see. We write because we have to.
This month’s giveaway is a free download of The Bridge of Dead Things. A working-class Victorian girl discovers she has a unique if unwanted power and is soon drawn into a world of seances, ghost grabbers…and murderers. Use coupon code UB95E. No mention of a gold rush, but there’s a diamond rush that comes into the story! Offer ends on October 31st 2018.
“A fantastically detailed historical fiction novel ~ rich with period details, colorful characters, AND a very gripping ghostly tale. Read this book, you will not be disappointed.”—Paula Fetty-King Smashwords Reviewer (5 stars).
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Michael Gallagher is the author of two series of novels set in Victorian times. Send for Octavius Guy chronicles the attempts of fourteen-year-old Gooseberry—reformed master pickpocket—to become a detective, aided and abetted by his ragtag bunch of friends. The Involuntary Medium follows the fortunes of young Lizzie Blaylock, a girl who can materialize the spirits of the dead, as she strives to come to terms with her unique gift. For twenty-five years Michael taught adults with learning disabilities at Bede, a London-based charity that works with the local community. He now writes full time.
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