‘I really enjoyed your book; couldn’t put it down! Why don’t you send it off to a publisher?” This is a question I am often asked, and I usually say something about not wanting to sit around for six months or so waiting for a two-line letter of rejection. Certainly I have been there and got a metaphorical cupboard of T-shirts to show for it.
Back in the late 90’s, when I wrote the first draft of ‘The Music of the Spheres,’ there was no Amazon to accept my manuscript without question but I wanted to be published. I always have, at least for as long as I can remember, so I started the tedious process of writing covering letters and sending them off with my synopsis and sample chapters. Even the letters were an art form in themselves, as they had to strike just the right balance of confidence and humility, avoid sounding either too dull or too quirky together with a myriad of other considerations I can’t even remember. The whole thing took hours and then, months later, the brown envelope, containing everything I had sent, would arrive back on my doormat.
More often than not, there was no evidence of anyone having read the sample chapters. Sometimes, even the synopsis looked untouched. After maybe nine or ten attempts the manuscript went into a drawer, to stay there until I started working part time, nearly fifteen years later.
There are other good reasons to self-publish. I have full control over my novels. I get a royalty percentage that traditionally published authors would die for. I can write as much or as little as I like in any genre I choose and my deadlines are all self-imposed. So no, I won’t be pursuing any publishers and begging them to to read my novels. I’m quite happy as I am, but what if a publisher approached me? What if one of my novels took off and became noticed? Would I jump at the chance to become traditionally published or would it be ‘thanks but no thanks?’ The answer is that I honestly don’t know and, in all probability, it’s not a decision I will ever have to make.