Coffee Spills & Songs

Springtime’s here at last! Although, up until now, it’s been a rather blustery spring at that. I went into the garden yesterday and rescued as many daffodils that were lying flat with their heads in the mud as I could.
Anyway, perfectly in keeping with spring’s corny symbolism of new beginnings, I’ve taken my life in a new direction: I’ve become an Indie author, and my women’s commercial fiction novel Coffee Spills & Songs is now available as an eBook on Amazon!

How did this happen? you may ask. In my previous post, I mentioned getting the Writers’ and Artists Yearbook 2021, and planning to query more agents. Admittedly, my change of heart even surprised me. For a long time, I didn’t think self-publishing was my thing, but in the end, it was a culmination of things that slowly made me change my mind. A seed may have been planted for it last year, when I spoke to a writer on Twitter who’d just parted ways with her third agent. In all the years she’d been under the wings of agents, she’d never had a novel make it to publication, not even the one that was shortlisted for a literary women’s prize. Shortly after speaking to her, I received an offer of publication from an independent publisher and had the Society of Authors vet my contract. When I asked my contact at the SoA if she would sign the contract, were she in my shoes, she said: ‘If I were you, I’d self-publish.’ She kindly attached a copy of their ‘Guide to Self-publishing,’ which I read with interest and shared with the members of my writing group (with permission).

Even so, I did sit down with the W&A tome at the start of this year. Leafing through it, I glanced at the endless lists of agents while my heart sank at the thought of all the hours I’d have to pour into querying again. By then, I’d been querying for almost a year and every submission took me one to two hours to complete. I’ve lost count a little, but I think I must have sent out at least seventy queries and what I’ve kept at the back of my mind, is an agent telling me during an online seminar that the fact I live in Holland and querying abroad may be an additional barrier.

Towards the end of the W&A Yearbook, there was a section on self-publishing, with articles written by Mel Sherratt/Marcie Steele (‘How self-publishing started my publishing journey’ p. 639) and Nick Spalding (‘Notes from a hybrid author’ p. 648), to name a few. Mel Sherratt queried in vain for twelve years before she decided to publish her book herself, and although I’m in awe of her persistence, I didn’t want to wait that long myself. Reading about their experiences and mulling over their advice, made everything click into place for me. I love that I’m now taking control of my writing career because writing is what I want to do with my life. And who knows, maybe, one day, with another novel, I’ll become a hybrid author too, but for now, I’m going it alone.

That doesn’t mean the process has been easy. There is so much to learn and sort out when you take this path. Finding the perfect cover, registering your imprint (optional), formatting your Word document to an eBook file (sheer hell), picking amazon keywords, spreading the word your book’s now available, and praying someone out there will care. And that’s just for the eBook. I’m starting on the paperback next week, which I’ll publish through Amazon and Ingram Spark in May. I’m also thinking about translations (I may do the Dutch version myself) and audio.

But I’ll be honest, I have missed writing. Luckily, I’m part of a writers’ group who expect to receive work from me every month, which means I do scribble the odd scene, but I hope to pick up my daily writing routine again soon. The good news is that I finally know which one of my works-in-progress to give priority. As much as I care for my The Martyr and the Butterfly protagonists, Sela and Martin (I’ve been thinking of changing his name to Alex), I’m now definitely going to crack on with my novel’s sequel: A Rose for Bethan.

So, this is what’s been going on at my end, for the past couple of months. And I didn’t even tell you about the editorial business I’ve set up. The website is only in Dutch for the moment, but if you can’t read that, there are four English testimonials (under ‘coaching testimonials’) about my services on the home page (scroll to the bottom):

So, if you’d like another pair of eyes going over your scenes and chapters, feel free to get in touch:

Anyway, I’d better wrap this up for now. There’s so much to do!

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