I Am Not Published

I Am Not Published

I am not a traditionally published author. I have never signed with an agent or had a book deal. You can’t walk into a bookshop and pick up something with my name on it, unless it’s something I dropped, in which case it’s probably got my number on it so that you can return it to me, because I am brilliant at losing things and now take precautions.

It was brought to my attention after I posted my rant about writing advice directed at teen authors that I told you I’d written fourteen novels, and yet the only evidence for my writing ability that you’ve actually seen is St Mallory’s, which is not only co-written but also indie-published (to the purists that basically means I’m not published at all).

Some people would probably say, then, that I must have been going for “quantity over quality”, and that I am obviously just ‘starting out’, so I have nothing to complain about when people use the phrase. Of course the accusation that I don’t write ‘quality’ (simply because I like to fast-draft) is hurtful, but I know that these are valid questions because I’ve never properly explained what I’m hoping to do with the whole publishing thing.

I sit here, talking about writing and books, and I make it sound like I know what I’m talking about, but if I don’t have publishing credits then aren’t I just a hack? I mean, by that argument you should all just leave right now and go and read the blog of a Proper Author.

what no i'm a writer

So to prevent that kind of thing because I love you all very much and I don’t want you to leave, and I think I do kind of know what I’m talking about, I thought I’d outline my plans for those fourteen novels. The simplest answer would, of course, be that I’m not published because I haven’t tried, but that sounds arrogant like the only thing standing in my way is sending off queries – and I know that’s not the case. Nobody is queuing up to take my novels. I’m going to have to edit and query and wait and query, just like everyone else.

Anyway, here’s a summary of what I’ve written and why it’s still languishing on my hard drive rather than out there in the inbox of an agent

‘Death and Fairies’

Whether or not I stick with that series title (given that it was originally a joke), these are the books I’ve talked about most often on my blog. They also including a book that used to be known as Watching which is, to date, the only book I’ve queried. I first wrote it when I was very young, and so I edited it a lot over a period of three years, and then I queried it. Not to a great number of agents, but to a few, and when they rejected me I sat down and thought hard about the book, and changed my mind about what I wanted to do with the series. I wrote a post about that.

As a result, I’m not doing anything in terms of publishing these novels until I’ve made my name with far less ambitious standalones – it’s way too mental to try and make a debut with it.

With the original ‘trilogy’ and the prequel/book one, that rules out four of my fourteen. That leaves us with ten.

Hopeless Cases

There are some novels I’ve written that are genuinely terrible. Fortunately, I’m aware of that.

writing is hardMy first novel was written purely for fun with very little attention paid to plot, character development, or even decent writing. I was thirteen years old and the only thing I gained from it was the knowledge that I was capable of writing a novel. Or was it? Earlier this year, I took the central concept of the alien races and wrote an entirely new novel. So maybe it wasn’t worthless, but it’s still a terrible novel.

The next two I wrote were mainly written to share on the writing website Protagonize, like the first one. Taking inspiration from the Lord Of The Dance (you know, the show? This was just when I started Irish dancing), I guess you might possibly call them fan fic or something, since they took elements of the story and put it into a historical / fantastical setting where dance was a form of fighting. And you know, if I could be bothered to expand on that concept in a more original fashion, I guess they have potential too, but I don’t know as it’s worth it.

During NaNoWriMo 2010 I wrote a novel about a fourth-century Irish king, Niall of the Nine Hostages. It was pretty poorly researched and also 126,000 words long. For a couple of years I kept it in my mind that I could edit it and make it decent, but I’ve recently come to the conclusion that actually, it’s really not worth the effort. Given that it was historical and covered the story of his entire life – seen largely through the eyes of my ‘original character’ – it’s not even that unique, so there’s no concept to be rescued.

We’ve now taken out another four of my fourteen novels, leaving us with six left.

Uncertain Futures

For NaNo 2010 I also wrote another novel, Figurehead. To all intents and purposes it was ‘practice’, like the other early novels, but it’s something that with a lot of editing could probably be decent. The question is, is it worth it? As you’ll see, there are five other novels (leaving aside the Death and Fairies series!) demanding my editing attention. Maybe it’s not. Maybe one day I’ll be totally stuck for inspiration and it’ll be the thing I turn to. Who knows?

So that’s another one gone. There are five left.

Potential For Publication

Most of my novels are, I think, kind of decent. I just spent so long on what I thought was a ‘trilogy’ nearly ready to be queried and published that I didn’t get around to editing them. Oh, and they were mostly written in the past 13 months. I should probably have mentioned that bit. All of these are working titles, but they make it easier not to get them all muddled up. (Links are to blog posts about them.)

https://i0.wp.com/files.nanowrimo.org/covers/178473/thumb.png?resize=71%2C106Weapons of Chaos was my NaNo 2012 project. I’m pretty proud of it as a piece of work, but it’s a fairly uninspiring first draft, mostly because I wrote it in six days. I fully intend to edit it, but don’t foresee that happening in the near future, so it’s on the backburner for now.

Forget My Wings was a novel I wrote earlier this year. I’ve already mentioned it in this post – it’s based on the concept of warring alien races from my first ever novel, but with a whole new cast of characters in a different time period and with, you know, a totally different plot. I have no idea when I’ll get time to edit it, but I’d really like to, because I think it has potential for publication.

A Single Soul was a novel that I never expected to finish, since writing it coincided with killing my hands in late June/early July. It was such a nightmare to get to the end that by the time I did, I detested it. But I’m glad I persevered, because I read it through yesterday and you know what? For a first draft, it’s pretty damn good. Probably the best first draft I every wrote. Admittedly, no one else has read it yet (one of my betas has it at the moment), but I fully intend to edit it and query it in the not-too-distant future. I might make it a priority, because I think it has a lot less wrong with it than some of my previous novels!

ThumbRecall was my NaNo 2013 project (and I lied, because that link actually takes you to the summary on my NaNo profile), which means I only wrote it last month. I haven’t had the courage to read it through yet, and nobody else has even looked at it or been told what happens, so I don’t know how good it is. Though dictation was a very different writing process, I’d been stewing the concept of that novel around in my brain since February, and I think it’s pretty strong. I’d like to edit and query that, too.

Finally, The Quiet Ones is my most immediate project in terms of publication, so it’s kind of odd that I’ve never blogged about it, at least not as far as I can tell. It’s a novel about modern-day knights that I first wrote in November 2010. Recently, I sent a second draft to a handful of beta readers, all of whom enjoyed it but gave me feedback to make it better. Following their advice I’m currently researching and planning the aspects I need to improve to make the book stronger, and I intend to start writing the third draft in the next few weeks. After that, I’ll have them look over it again, but if they give me the green-light I will be querying the early Spring next year.

Those are the final five of my fourteen novels.

My way of ‘learning to write’ was by starting a new project as soon as I finished another, in order to hone my grasp of plotting and characterisation before I tried to edit it. As a result, I’ve ended up with a whole load of projects demanding my attention and haven’t had the time to give them the editing they need.

This isn’t how everybody works – many people stop after a few novels and settle down with one to work on it for a while. For me, experimenting with genre, narrative style and themes so that I could find my voice and what I was passionate about before I focused on one project was the most important thing, so that’s what I did.

I guess if someone said that in terms of publications, I’m ‘just starting out’, they’d be right. In terms of writing, though, I’ve done my best to get as much experience as I can. If one adds up the wordcount of all these novels – including the separate drafts if necessary – it comes to over 2.5 million words. When I started writing I was advised that 1 million was a good total to aim for as ‘practice’ and I think I’ve paid my dues.

So no, I don’t have much publishing cred. But I hope I do still know what I’m talking about when it comes to actually writing novels. You’re welcome to disagree, but now I hope you have a better understanding of exactly why I have fourteen novels on my hard drive and none of them are on Amazon.

thumbs up2

Psst. I’m also working on two poetry collections. Don’t tell anyone.

20 thoughts on “I Am Not Published

  1. Recently I became a published author, I’ve even sold some books. But I too am not a traditionally published author for a variety of reasons. But that doesn’t mean I’m not an author. True, you can’t walk into Waterstones and buy my book, but you can walk into Blackwells or pretty much any independent bookshop and order it. You can buy it online, you can even get the Kindle, Nook and iBookstore versions of it. The reason you can’t buy it from your traditional (corporate) bookshops is that they will only deal with their defined list of distributers.

    While self-publishing I chose to learn every single aspect of the industry that I possibly could, from editing to typesetting to cover design and getting the book out to reviewers and into online stores. I don’t think it would be too egocentric of me to say I now know more about the publishing industry than most of the purists that frown upon the Indies.

    Independent publishing has come on leaps and bounds in the last few years, and it’s now down to the traditional industry to catch up, rather than for the independents to change their ways. The music industry made a huge mistake ignoring the self-publish and self-distribution of music, and its only now starting to catch up. The publishing industry needs to look at the mistakes they made, and learn from them.
    Peoples buying habits have changed, more and more people buy online each year. Peoples reading habits have changed, more and more read from Kindles or other ebook readers. But the traditional publishing industry hasn’t changed to cater for this.

    I know a lot of writers that are trying to be paid authors, and I know some that have even made it, and one or two that have made it enough to give up their day jobs. And all of them have found the traditional industry of sending out queries and waiting for rejections to be very tiresome, especially when they know they’ve got a good book that they’re happy with. After my experiments with self-publishing, several more are also going to try it. All that you don’t get is your book on the shelves in the chain stores and supermarkets and the articles in newspapers, everything else you can do yourself.

    So, next time anyone says an author without an agent or a book deal isn’t an author, tell them to go stick their head in a bucket.

    1. *cheers Pastey’s comment* Not gonna lie, I’d probably use a stronger word than ‘bucket’.

      Personally I totally believe in indie publishing. And my decision to query and go trad with the novels I’ve listed above is a whole other blog post and isn’t a reflection of any sort of disdain about indie publishing — St Mall’s was, after all, an indie book! The comment about many people thinking indie publishing didn’t ‘count’ was a direct response to a comment somebody made.

      Good on you for learning about the industry. Wear that knowledge with pride, friend :)

      1. I’m intending the traditional route for the next book, there are experts in the industry who really know what they’re doing, and I think it will benefit from that. I’m just a believer in at least understanding someone else’s job.

        It will be strange to see it from that angle too, and to see if indie publishing the first book makes any difference as I’ll be able to present sales figures and reviews from that when sending off submissions.

  2. Oh gahd your productivity makes my kidneys scream.

    That said, this is a really strong post – I like it!

    Also, for anyone interested – “Weapons of Chaos” made me sniffle, and “Forget My Wings” had some of the single most traumatic existential emotional rollercoaster-ing I endured that year. I have mental scars of a “Hunger Games” calibre here.

    This woman is dangerous and will shred your feelings at the slightest provocation. Know these titles and fear them. FEAR THEM.

    1. I should also point out to anyone reading this that they should be extremely wary of ever picking up a book called “Ikarus” and should prepare themselves with a cactus that they can embed somewhere painful in Charley’s anatomy when they’ve finished it.

      (Also, I cannot wait for you to read Recall or A Single Soul. Oh, you’re going to hate me.)

      1. Doubtless I will. And that, of course, will spur me on to further acts of vengeance.

        . . . Are we going to go down in history as Those Two Authors That Wrote Brilliant And Agonisingly Painful Books Because Vengeance?

  3. I second Charley! This strong post! I like it! (Another.)

    I’ve struggled about giving “writing advice” for a long time. I’ve written 12 books (you totally win), and I’ve rewritten those 12 books AT LEAST once each. (There’s two in there I’ve rewritten 4 times.) That makes me roughly have written 20 books, right? (Ha.) Yet, my opinion wasn’t valid at all until I got an agent. Like, I had to have known something BEFORE I got my agent or I wouldn’t have got my agent? As soon as I see a writer has written over 5 books, that they’ve edited and know a bit about the publishing market…I totally think they’re legit and their opinion is 100% valid. Ahem. Okay, I’m finished. ;)

    1. I wrote one of my books nine times and it’s now part of the Death and Fairies series and won’t be in its present form if and when it’s ever published. So that was kind of a waste of time. Okay, it was great practice, but…

  4. I’ve been having a somewhat similar “problem” lately. I’ve so many ideas that I really want to work on that I haven’t been able to go back and do much editing.

    Although I am making myself finish off one round of editing on something I REALLY want to query.

    So, long and short of it: writing is fun, so let’s just keep doing it.

  5. Sheesh! Fourteen is a lot. A few questions. How long are they on average? How long does it take you to write them. I mean, I just finished editing my first one (I’m also halfway through a second and third), and that took me like two years.

    1. The wordcount varies but is usually between 85,000 and 110, 000. I tend to spend between a month and six weeks writing each draft, though first drafts are usually quicker and edits potentially slower. :)

What do you think? I'd love to hear your thoughts.

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