How and why I self-published my new novel: Part One

So it is happening. Tomorrow my sixteenth novel is published – an idea I still cannot quite comprehend. Sixteen? Where did all those words come from? When and how did I pluck such stories from the air and set them down in ink?

Yet there it is: ‘Chasing the Wind’ soon to be on a bookshelf near you.

And this novel is very different. Not just in subject matter – though there is that. But in the manner of its launching. For while I am being ‘traditionally’ published by Penguin Random House, that’s only in Canada…

… I am self publishing it in the rest of the world.

To those not in the writing game, that may sound very strange – published and self published? But many of you will completely get it; will know how the industry has changed so much in the last ten years or so that, in order to keep earning a living, many authors such as myself have been forced to follow a different route and learn new skills. No longer can we just put pen to paper or fingers to keys, make up stories and have other people sell them. We must be author and publisher too. Not to mention marketer, promo manager, publicist, copy editor… and a host more jobs to boot!

Really, I was very happy with the old model of publishing: write up a few pages of an idea, get your editor, who already loves your stuff, to advance you a year’s salary so you can write it. Give it back to them to edit, package, promote and sell – then show up to the launch party to drink warm pinot grigio and receive the plaudits. But that changing world? These days, unless you are in the top two or three percent of authors who are ‘front listers’ – your Stephen Kings and James Pattersons – you are a ‘mid-lister’. Your book and you will scrap it out with all the other mid-listers for press coverage, publicity and table space in the book stores – 90% of which is taken up by the aforementioned front listers. If you are very lucky, the book takes off, you make some decent sales, get some good reviews, the publisher offer you another contract and you write till the next time. Rinse, recycle, repeat.

But if the book doesn’t do well…

In this new world the publisher then says… ‘Write what you want, and we’ll consider it.’ No advance (or not a living wage advance anyway). Somehow feed yourself and your family while you work non-stop on another novel… that then gets thrown like all the others against a wall. Maybe it sticks, maybe it doesn’t.

Now, I do wish to point out that the people I deal with in the book trade, the editors, agents and publishers are some of the kindest, smartest folk you would ever meet. It’s just that, in the main, they are not the ones making the offers anymore. The accountants do that. And they don’t care if you are the next Hemingway, King or Rowling. They don’t read book pitches. They read balance sheets. And if your last book didn’t sell enough, they offer you a derisory sum – or get the editor to tell you to ‘write what you want’.

Which leaves the question of food on table and clothes on back somewhat up for grabs, right?

Which is why, when no one but my wonderful people in Toronto at Doubleday wanted to offer for my new book, I thought: I will do what so many of us mid-listers are doing now. I will become a hybrid author – traditional and self published.

I have come late to the game. The learning curve has been steep. But I was never afraid of hard work – sixteen novels, right? So tomorrow and in the subsequent weeks we’ll see if my graft has paid off.

In another post, I’ll tell you some of the stuff I’ve done. I’ve learned from the best – online, and from friends who made the leap a while back and are now reaping the rewards. I couldn’t have done this without them. And I’ll report back to tell you if it was enough. Because it’s very hard to get noticed out there.

Meantime, for now… welcome my gal Roxy Loewen to the world: ‘Smuggler. Smoker. Aviatrix. Thief.’  Leaving aside all the hard work, she has been a great person to spend time with.

Of course, if you’d like to find that out for yourself… try your local Amazon.

Or in the US, Click here:

Or in Canada, here:

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3 Responses to How and why I self-published my new novel: Part One

  1. Hey Chris – Grant Lawrence here! Going over my notes from the spring… what the hell does COMOCA stand for again?!?! Thanks, hope you’re well. -GL

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