As I draw closer to the publication of De Nada Nirvana, I'm feeling the excitement of releasing a new book into the world. Although each of my novels is able to stand alone, it's obviously best if people read them in sequence. And so ... drum roll ... I've reduced the price of Nirvana Bites and Trading Tatiana to 99p each for the next two weeks. Those links are to Amazon, but you can read extracts of both novels on my website.
I'm also taking this opportunity to look back at the amazing journey I had to publication, over twelve years ago now.
Unlike many debut authors, I hadn't been toiling away for years, I had no piles of unpublished MSs under my bed, and I had no ambitions to become a published author. I simply started writing a story to read out to my writers' group, with no idea that it would even be a complete novel, let alone any understanding about how publishing works. It's hard to believe that Nirvana Bites ended up being picked up directly by Orion and I was offered a two book deal with what nowadays would be considered a healthy advance. Nirvana Bites was published in 2002 and Trading Tatiana followed in 2005.
Trading Tatiana had a fraught journey, bless her. As the result of a series of unconnected (and sometimes tragic) events at the publishers, the novel went through four pairs of hands before landing up with an editor. The MS came back to me with comments and corrections made in all their different handwriting. I already knew that sales of Nirvana Bites had been decent but unspectacular. (This was pre-internet days, when word of mouth was much harder to access than it is now.) I also realised there was no one left at the publishers to promote my cause. By now, I was savvy enough to know that it was unlikely I'd be offered a subsequent deal by Orion and so I started the (some may say belated) search for an agent. (Worth noting that many long-established authors, including Val McDermid and Ian Rankin, have said their novels didn't take off until the fourth or fifth in the series and that if their career had begun a few years later, they would have been dropped.)
Ten years later and my agent had another three Nirvana novels. He loved each of them but, in spite of some near misses, he was unable to sell them to publishers who were unwilling to commit to a series in which the first two novels had already been published. Of course I was disappointed but you know what? It wasn't as bad as you may think. All authors go through rejection at some point. My career may have been arse-upwards to most others, but that didn't mean I could escape the inevitable pain. And what happened to me had been life-changing. Without that original deal, I wouldn't be doing what I do today. I've loved spending time over this last decade with other authors, polishing and perfecting their novels, crying with them when they get setbacks and dancing with them when they achieve success, in whatever form that may be.
But ... but ... I was still an author. I still had those unpublished novels and I still had people contacting me to ask when the next were coming out. Timing may have been instrumental in me not being offered a subsequent deal by Orion, but I'm also around at a time when I can bring those novels in front of readers by other means. The Nirvanans are back on the scene.
Now I need to adjust my thinking. Going it alone means that I need to wrap my head round pricing and promo and all that other stuff that I don't want to be taking up time and head space. I'm not good at this. It's not what I want to be doing. So don't look to me for answers about how to successfully publish and promote your own novels. I'll be crap at it. One thing I can do though, is write blog posts like this one and then FB and tweet the link. If you don't like the method, look away now.