I don’t think that there was ever a moment in time where I consciously made the decision to write to be published. To me, writing has never been a business, a nine ‘til five, it’s so much more than that. Perhaps I’m mad, spending all day arranging words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, paragraph into chapters, and chapters into books, but I do this because I cannot ever consider not doing it. Many of my books began as stories I wrote to tell my own children. I remember to this day when I was writing ‘Oliver & the Missing Parents’, how my son would came home from school eagerly asking if the next chapter of the story was ready.
Perhaps this was the turning point for me when I realised that if my children enjoy my stories, then maybe other children can too. It was here that I decided to embark on the perilous voyage of being published.
I remained on this path for several years, my experience of the publishing world was in fact blinkered. I had no idea of how to go about approaching publishers and agents, so everything was new. I wrote more letters than I can count, and for some, despite sending an incredibly personal three thousand words, I would receive one hundred words in return, one of those words always being, ‘sorry’. The only thing personal in each rejection letter was my name and address on the envelope. This is where would have been easiest to have given up, but for some reason, I didn’t. Was it the rebel in me? The word ‘no’, has always made me even more determined. I feel a deep sense of sadness to all the amazing writers out there, who have created a window into another world for others to share, only to have it painted over with black gloss by agents and publishing gatekeepers.
Alongside the submissions and rejections, I began promoting myself as a writer using social media and building a web presence, blogging, interviews with local media, and even reading the first chapter live on air on BBC Radio. This part was fantastic, it was a journey that I loved, but during this time, I spent more time marketing than I did writing. Momentum grew along with the pile of rejection letters, but the one thing that failed to grow was my enthusiasm. It was exhausting, and felt as though the efforts were all in vain if I couldn’t get past the first hurdle. Life moved on, I began home schooling my son, and sadly, my writing stopped for quite some time.
A few months ago, I dusted off my pessimism, and began to write again. I researched alternative publishing methods and have come to realise that there is in fact a whole new wave of publishing which I hadn’t even considered. I looked over my books, focussing on ‘Oliver & the Missing Parents’. This break was refreshing, it made me analyse what I had written far more objectively. It was almost as if I was reading someone else’s book. Perhaps I was too close to the characters, the storyline, and the plot at the time, so I edited the story to a place where I was happy to share it. I learnt how to format the text, enabling it to be downloaded onto a kindle device. This made it so much easier to share. Friends and family have read it, and have offered feedback which has given me the confidence to begin the process of self-publishing.