For the last few years I’ve primarily been a comedy scriptwriter; penning (or trying to pen) silly words for TV, radio, the stage, the internet; basically anywhere that will put up with me. More recently I decided I also wanted to write prose again. It’s something I used to do as a teen, before scriptwriting drew my focus (at that point I was trying to write ‘serious films’ *shudder*. It would be several years before I realised I much preferred trying to write sitcoms). So now I’m hopping back and trying to jumpstart my prose writing.
As I say, I write funny scripts, but I’m not looking to duplicate that voice in a novel, what I really want to do there is write stories with elements of horror, of fantasy, a little sci-fi even. For whatever reason, that’s what grabs me in that medium.
At the start of the year I wrote a YA novel, fully intending to polish it up and then go the traditional route, because that’s what you do, right? What other way is there? I would send out query letters to agents, hit up any and all publishers I could find; I even bought the Writers & Artists Yearbook. I was DOING this, baby!
But then things started to grind to a halt. The idea of writing these letters, of shilling myself around all the traditional gatekeepers of the publishing world, drained my enthusiasm and put me off a little. I wanted to write novels, to get my stuff out there, but the idea of playing the game, a game which could go on indefinitely, held no interest.
Now this isn’t me being lazy, I mean I AM lazy. I’m a lazy, sexy, easily distracted, sultry, ooh look-see, a dog! sod, but that’s not what was holding me back. The thing is, I already have the torture of pandering to the gatekeepers in my comedy script writing life. I’m playing that game. I’m writing scripts, trying to find a production company to land them with, then developing and developing and developing that script with them before they even think about showing a channel. And then, if they DO show a channel, guess what? More notes. More rewriting. Years can pass, and then suddenly the project is dead and there’s nothing you can do. It’s gone. You did all that work, but tough titties, bruv, ain’t gonna happen. Take that sucker out back and cover it in quicklime.
Well screw that, I had no desire to go through that dance with my prose writing too; waiting and hoping and watching the years flip by without a single word being published. That’s when a friend told me about author Hugh Howey. Now of course I knew self-publishing was a ‘thing’, but like many of you, I just thought of it as a home for those poor saps who would never actually get a ‘proper deal’ because they couldn’t really write. Yeah, I was one of those jerks. But reading about the success of Hugh Howey, about how proud and fervent an indie author he is, even turning down big money trad deals to stay indie, well that kind of turned my head. Maybe indie publishing wasn’t just the last resort of the hopeless and dreadful.
Then I found The Self-Publishing Podcast, and their indie publishing story studio, Sterling & Stone, and that made me sure that this was the way I wanted to go. They were truly inspiring; this was a legitimate and exciting publishing world. Challenging, sure, but liberating. I didn’t need to wait for someone else to pat me on the head and say ‘yes, good boy’, I could just BE an author. Write my stories and get them out there. So that’s what I’m going to do.
Now perhaps a few years down the line I’ll change my mind, I’ll want to try the trad route too, who knows, but for right now? NO THANKS. I’m going to write. I’m going to publish. I’m going to repeat. I’m going to put my stories in front of readers on my own terms.
I’m going to be an indie author.
No, I almost certainly won’t get rich, in fact I might be lucky to sell double figures a month, but I don’t care. I’m focussed on the stories. On getting them out there. On building an audience. Money can wait. My stories won’t.