The Trials of a Local Writer

Having waited the best part of 2012 for answers from several agents since December 2011, I went off to CreateSpace and produced a paperback book via computer.

We are told never to annoy agents by writing or phoning to enquire what is going on, but I did phone the favourite one in July 2012 and the receptionist said, yes, it was a long time without an answer. She said the same in September. One did send a phone message via their Accounts Dept that she liked it but that with the state of publishing these days… the sentence was unfinished.

After putting the book together, well, CreateSpace is over in America and you have to pay postage from there.This is the only snag, their website formats the book and its cover easily. So everyone I knew got a copy as a Christmas present (as well as other presents, of course.)

Then I had to pay someone to format it for Smashwords- the only part of outside assistance so far.

Next, I went off to Facebook and LinkedIn and started a blog here and then triangulated this, trying to drum up, not trade, but reviews. Ha! Facebook people all liked the cover ( one of my paintings) and, just like Groucho Marx  intended to read it at some time.

So, off to review sites, Goodreads etc.

Site one. Called ‘Ask David’ free book promotion. Silence.

Site two. Review thebook.com $25 books listed and their reviewers choose one to look at. Nothing.

Site three. Readersfavourite.com. Nothing.

Site four. Irish-interest site. I sent a free Smashwords version. Silence. Enquiry. Doesn’t do Smashwords. Am I on Kindle? Risking the wrath of Smashwords (and perhaps supping with the devil) I put the book up on Kindle and send a giftcard so they can access it. Amazon.com does not accept ‘gifting’ from Amazon.co.uk, so I have to cancel that and rejig to an Amazon.com giftcard so they can access …. this all takes three months. The book came out in October 2012.

After asking various writing friends in real life and on Facebook to review it, I asked the entire lot –240 friends – to review it – nothing to date. This includes people who I have given free copies to on the understanding they would gallop off to Amazon at least and strew a couple of stars over the book.

As ‘A Small Inheritance’ is set in Ireland, what about their radio programme, Book on One? I phone RTE and ask the name of the producer (always get it right, we are advised.) Receptionist puts me through to arts dept. Phone rings itself out over there in Dublin.Try again the next morning. Same result, five minutes of ring-a-ling. Next day, try again and a new receptionist says, “Oh, the producer is XXX, I can’t think why no one told you that at the desk.” Posted book in November. No answer.

In November – what about local newspaper! Phoned the East Anglian but their phones cut off after 5 p.m. precisely. The first bit of efficiency –  she deserves a prize – the receptionist phoned back at 9 a.m. Local writers are the province of X & X. Phoned X & X and left message. Nothing. Phoned X & X next day. Two days later X, quite friendly, phoned that Z back at East Anglian was the right person to contact. The idea was ‘what about an article listing local books for Christmas presents?’, which X thought was a good idea. Z did not phone back , it was nearing Christmas anyway,and I went off to write Christmas cards and wrap presents.

Ah! The local shops! Just what writers are supposed to do! Phoned in advance, made an appointment and went in, feeling most awkward. Two books accepted in the  town bookshop and two in another bookshop nearby. “We’ll take two. They won’t sell, of course” and the boss went back to his office, directing me to the assistant to deal with the details. The other bookshop took two also, after half an hour on their shop computer   “A new programme we don’t know how to use yet.” Too embarassed now to go in and ask what’s happened.

And – bright idea, though it conflicts with the above – what about the library? Donate a copy! Trying to do it properly I phone the Library HQ at County Offices. (My previous novel ‘Finding Out,’ given in at the local library counter, has disappeared from sight.) Library HQ, surprisingly only has a blurred recorded message about overdue books, so I phoned the main library. Donating a book is  not doing them any favours at all. The woman sounds rather agonised about the suggestion.

Apparently it costs them £2 to enter it onto their catalogue, so they are rather apprehensive about a tide of books approaching. And I can’t just waltz in with a copy – it has to go before The Stock Team.  “And write a letter with it, to explain who you are.” It sounded like going before the Star Chamber.

Ages ago –seven years, as a new resident, I sent all my poetry and prose collections to the local arts organisation as an introduction, enquiring about being part of the local festivals and promotion of local writers (other than the frantic three-minute mic slots in the Festival.) Answer was the four books being returned with a polite but curt “we already know who we are going to invite, don’t annoy us like this” type of reply. I had not enclosed return postage, meaning them to keep the books for reference, or something like that, so they wasted money on the return postage.

There’s far more, but you get the gist. And in spite of all of the above, the next collection of short stories and the next novel are on their way.

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