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Thinking of self publishing a novel I wrote some years ago. Would you/have you done it for something that isn't your 'great work'?

(10 Posts)
Wordylicious Wed 17-Jun-15 22:47:03

I have been toying with the idea of self-publishing for about a year. I have an idea for a non-fiction book on the back burner, something that has a definite market.

I was thinking about this idea the other day when, like a blindingly obvious solution, it came to me that I should actually first publish a piece of fiction that I have written already which is just lying untouched on my PC. Dah-dah!

A few years ago I finished a (short) first draft of a novel. It is complete in every way in that every sentence is well-written, all the loose ends are tied up. It is finished - although it is a bit short at just over 60,000 words. But I had never really considered properly pursuing the idea of publishing it - I finished it because I did not want to leave it incomplete. Towards the end it became something of an exercise, a personal challenge. Also the themes are not something that I could feel totally comfortable putting my name against - they seem a touch sensational, not completely 'me'. It is not the 'great work' that I had always imagined myself putting out in the world! grin

So it is a piece of fiction aimed at a female audience. It is not chick lit, but not literary fiction either. Mid market, perhaps?

When I had finished the work I showed sections of it to a writing coach (someone with significant experience as a publisher) - her feedback was that it was not suitable to get published but that there was some good writing (she might have even said 'very good', I can't remember) contained within. The reason she said that it wouldn't work with a publisher was that it was very hard to get first novels published, unless you were a celebrity or similar. BUT - she was saying this before self publishing, kindle and the rest all took off. So I wonder whether or not it is a case of 'not a magnum opus, but good enough'?

My professional role also involves writing and I have had a number of pieces of unsolicited feedback praising the quality of my work. So I have some grounds for confidence in my ability to handle the written word.

My plan would be:

Re-read the work
Think about updating the plot - there is a lot of good material but it needs a bit more of a twist.
Aim to self-publish by the end of the year, doing so under a pen-name.

I would also like some views from those who have already self-published - does it matter if a novel is quite UK centric from the perspective of international and specifically US sales? e.g. it is set in London, it mentions London landmarks, suburbs and ways of life which might not be similar to those of an American audience. Should I re-work it to make it more neutral or would the London thing actually be a positive selling point?

Also, if you use a pen-name - is it convincing? do you ever let the mask slip? How do you market the book for reviews/publicity if you can't reveal who you are?

Any thoughts/comments?

Wordylicious Thu 18-Jun-15 10:28:07


ImperialBlether Thu 18-Jun-15 10:35:18

You know that you might feel differently once you go back and look at your work!

I'm amongst a number of Mumsnetters who've gone down the self-publishing route and there are a (smaller) number who are published in the traditional way.

Are you thinking, then, that you'll use a pseudonym for fiction and your own name for non-fiction? I can see huge advantages in using a pseudonym in terms of privacy but it would feel odd if you were interviewed under that name. However, many, many authors have used pseudonyms so I wouldn't worry about that. And, frankly, the chance of being interviewed if you are self-published is extremely slim!

The main problem with self-publishing is attracting readers. Books can literally disappear without trace. How would you market it? Would your heart be in it if you didn't think it was absolutely great?

In the time it would take to deal with that novel, you could actually write another and send it to agents! Would you not consider that?

Wordylicious Thu 18-Jun-15 16:14:28

Thanks for your message.

Ok, so no problems with using a pseudonym. I assume that you would just put the name as a 'contributor' on the kindle site? Then make up an author page...

I have read the tips about tweeting, using Goodreads etc so feel that I could manage the publicity element. The topic relates to something that gets in the news on a fairly regular basis, so that might give material for tweets.

I do have an idea for another fiction book, but it would take a loooong time to write. Whereas it strikes me that using self-publishing I could make something of what I already have, iyswim.

Wordylicious Thu 18-Jun-15 16:16:15

My main doubts are around the fact that it's not exactly Henry James. But a lot of what's out there isn't Henry James either...

Abraid2 Thu 18-Jun-15 16:30:40

My experience as both a traditionally and self-published author has been that readers are particularly critical of books in the latter category--they look for typos/plot holes, etc. I never publish anything that hasn't been professionally copy-edited, at the very least. Ideally you would hire a development editor and a proofreader as well. But the copy editor would be a good start and sometimes they will give you some more general thoughts as well on plot and character. Or join a good critique group for this aspect.

You will have to work hard to market the book. My self-published book under a pseudonym struggles to sell more than about a copy a week. I only have one under that name, though, and could probably boost sales if I had time to write another in that genre. I am tied up with my work under my other traditionally-published writing name at the moment so haven't been able to do this.

London-centric isn't a problem. Readers like books with a good sense of place, I know I do.

Make sure you get a professional cover done.

And get writing the next one quickly--a single book is a hard slog to market. It is easier with multiple titles, which feed off one another.

The forums at are very helpful indeed--I learned a lot there.


TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 18-Jun-15 17:42:39

Seconding what Abraid said. Promoting your book is more work for fewer sales than you can possibly imagine so if it's the only one you're bringing out under that name it may not be worth the effort. If you're planning more , though , so it's the start of you establishing a brand, you can hope for longer term payback. But beware of getting so busy promoting it slows down the next one.

Abraid2 Thu 18-Jun-15 18:17:54

As Countess says--promoting can really eat into your time!

Wordylicious Thu 18-Jun-15 18:48:19

So how much promoting do you do in an average week? Would it fit in alongside a job?

Abraid2 Fri 19-Jun-15 17:12:18

Yes, but expect to spend at least an hour, often more, a night chasing up reviewers, writing stuff for blog tours, submitting to review sites like Netgalley, hanging out on forums to get the latest information for the first six months or so, investigating promotions (such as Bookbub) doing favours for other writers (in the hope they will do them for you or simply because there are a lot of nice and talented people out there).

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