March 2021: the month I publish my second novel, and I find myself looking back while looking forward.
On the one hand, all the work that went into Novel Number Two is (on the face of it) coming to an end. All the hours spent at a keyboard, typing the words or searching for inspiration online; all the physical research, note-taking, questions and discussion – hours and hours of my life spent in pursuit of producing a story for public consumption. Has it been worth it?
In financial terms, the short answer would certainly be “no”.
Very few authors make money and I am no exception to that rule. While the exercise of writing costs very little (assuming you own a laptop and suitable software), it is what happens after completing the first draft that draws on the bank balance. Independent writers (like me) usually hand our manuscript over to an editor, who then marks our efforts with all manner of corrections/suggestions while charging a pretty penny for his/her time. Fair enough. That process is intended to polish up our raw material and produce something more palatable for public consumption. Imagine a diamond dug out of a mine. At first it looks fairly nondescript, misshapen and dirty, but once it passes through the hands of the cutters and polishers, that same diamond will gleam and sparkle. If my editor acts as the cutter, then my publisher does the polishing – another service I have to pay for. This second stage of the process sees my manuscript put through proofing and typesetting, then printing and binding with an attractive eye-catching cover. That needs skill, time and professional attention to detail. Then there’s the marketing etc, etc. You get the picture?
So, at present I am well and truly out of pocket, which is where I should be. I got what I paid for, and now I have to wait and see if readers will buy my stuff. This, then, is where I hope the answer to the question “Has it been worth it?” will produce a different answer.
It took me around two years to write this book. During that time I changed the title from Sisters, and right now I’m contemplating whether my readers will pick up the strong siblings theme running through the story. The Titanic Document is the second adventure for my librarian character, and I felt it was time to tell my readers why Billie Vane spells his name the female way. Will that tick a box for someone? How will people react to my handling of the child abuse element of the plot? My last novel was a crime thriller, yet this time around the emphasis shifts to politics, so how will that go down? Then there’s the fictional theory I constructed about Titanic’s fate– and which surprised even me when I found it to be more plausible than I first realised. All this is now ‘out there’, and I am about to discover what the first readers think of my work. It is THAT part of the process which motivates me to be a writer in the first place. I formulated some ideas in my head and shared them with the world, and now I await the world’s reaction. I know I won’t please everyone. That’s the nature of the beast. But believe me, if just ONE person reads this story and tells me they enjoyed it, then the effort WILL be worth it.
March 2021. Note to self: the wait is almost over.
Need to know:
I don’t just write fiction.