Two years ago in June 2013 I was getting to the end of the first draft of what would become ‘A Time To Every Purpose’.
Albeit it was called “Turners” then and was in need of a bit of a polish. Nevertheless, I began to turn my mind to once it was finished, how would I go about getting it published? The rough concept that I had always imagined was to use the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook © A&C Black Publishers, trawl through page after page of publishers and literary agents and send off manuscript after extract after cover letter and try to get one of them to pick up on a book that wasn’t going to be neatly pigeon-holed into a single genre.
For anyone who hasn’t read it, A Time To Every Purpose deals with a world where all the religions are united in peace until overthrown by a cruel dictatorship. It has a bit of murder, mayhem and alternate history thrown together with a twist of science fiction.
First things first, I thought.. I reached out to a couple of authors I knew who had been published. Not to get them to do any introductions (as I thought it would be unfair and potentially awkward to take advantage of them like that) but to ask their advice. In return one of them, a former colleague, asked me one question: Why did you write your book? To be honest that stumped me a bit and made me really think through my motivation. In the end I discovered that simply, I just wrote it, because I’ve always loved writing and I had a story I wanted to tell. Obviously, to be “discovered” and heralded as the new voice for the ages, have movies made and luxuriate in vast wealth would be an onerous burden, yet one I would have tried to shoulder… But in the end I wrote my book because I wanted to.
They then explained that there used to be two ways to get published:
1. Traditionally – literary agents or publishers who would determine your ability to write, to tell a story, to tell a story that was commercial, to tell a story that would sell relatively easily, to tell a story that they wanted to be involved with. They had, for ages been the guardians of the world’s reading lists. Selected, mostly invisible, people who decided if you, me or anyone else got published. They determined the next big thing. Or not. They are obviously the ones that brought to the world the classics. All of them. Each and every book that has made reverberations around the world were courtesy of them. We should be in awe.
Of course “they” are also the ones that didn’t bring Agatha Christie to the masses for years. Almost missed Beatrice Potter, and for good measure and to bring them up to date, almost missed another Potter. The story of how it was the daughter of an agent who rescued Harry Potter from a discard pile is well known. So, the long, arduous and in no way certain path of traditional publishing was Route One.
2. Vanity – Vanity publishing was Route Two and a simple concept. Pay for your book to be published and then try to sell it. But the requirements of printing meant you had to pay quite a lot of money to get quite a lot of books printed to make it commercially viable.
Honestly, I didn’t fancy either of those. The second route mainly because I didn’t want to pay out thousands and then have to try to sell it. I just wanted people to know about my book and buy it if they wanted it. Don’t buy it if they didn’t. Seemed a lot easier. The first way was also not that alluring. Not because I didn’t want to be mainstream. I did. I still do. (That’s in bold just in case there are publishers trawling this. I do quite fancy a publishing contract 😉 Call me… But, I am very, very, very impatient. The prospect of having written my book and then having to wait one year, two years, five years, maybe never, before getting it out to the world didn’t appeal at all.
So it was that my erstwhile colleague who had been published, told me all about Publish on Demand. The new, Route Three to get books “out there”. He explained that there were many different vendors and many different outlets, but I chose the Amazon backed Kindle Direct and CreateSpace way. All you needed was a bit of IT savvy. That I had, in abundance due to one of my ‘day-jobs’. So I published my novel in E-book and Paperback such that it was globally available for practically nil outlay. Pleasingly, people bought it and read it and reviewed it quite favourably. So much so that it gave me the confidence to embark on another.
That second book was “Face Value” and I published it in May 2015 in the same way; independently through Amazon’s CreateSpace press. However, I also began to meet others who had been like me. A book in their head, or on paper, and no clear way to proceed. I told them about Publish on Demand but they said they didn’t have the IT skills. But I do. So, two years after my initial introduction to the method I have now established The Book Reality Experience www.bookreality.com a one-stop advice and assistance service to enable authors to get their books to the point of publication. It’s low-cost, swift and above all simple. It’s a way of turning your book dream into a reality. From a family memoir that is destined to be seen by a few, to the next international bestseller, if you are stuck with how to proceed, give me a shout at firstname.lastname@example.org
Ian Andrew is the author of the alternative history novel A Time To Every Purpose, the detective thrillers Face Value and Flight Path and the Little Book of Silly Rhymes & Odd Verses. All are available in e-book and paperback. Follow him on social media: