Thursday, 21 March 2013


This is a post for those of you who are interested in self-publishing.  I have found it an excellent way to get heard, and to stay in control of the process of writing and editing.  I have benefitted from my memoir in numerous ways.  I have also benefitted from this blog, and from the lines of communication it has opened up with others who suffer, or have suffered, emotional distress, and with those who love them.


It has been almost two years since I published the memoir.  Since then I have written hundreds of thousands of words, most of them on here, but a fair number on other books that I have started and not finished.  This has been happening worryingly frequently - most notably with my recovery book, which I lost heart in some months ago, feeling that I was only repeating what others have said, in books and in blogs and what I myself have written here.  I have written more than fifty-five thousand words on that book, but I couldn't seem to find the heart to finish it.

I then started a novel.  I applied for Arts Council Funding so that I could find the time to write it - because in recent months my time has got taken up in sundry other ways - by the need to earn a living, by the desire to help at my kids' schools, by a Psychology course...  I thought that if I got the grant I could ring-fence my time to write.

My application was turned down.  The reason given was that I did not have an agent or a publisher, although I had undertaken to do my best to get an agent once the project was properly under way.  I said that if I failed to get a publisher (or agent) I would self-publish - I have had ample experience in the last couple of years of this, and of marketing.

I actually don't mind that I didn't get the grant - because now I can stay in command of my own work.  I was never very good at accepting the services of an editor - I had to submit to this years ago when I used to write magazine articles, and I found it really frustrating.  I think that self-publishing, for me, is the way forward.

But my problem still remained.  If I am to continue to be a writer - and I don't want to ever be anything else (apart from a wife and mother) I need to earn some money from writing.  Otherwise, as somebody famous and clever once said, I will have to go out and get a job.   

I have not published anything of significance for almost two years.  That fact irked me.   So many books started and not finished, so many words wasted.  All because of my inner critic.  Nothing I wrote, however enthused I was about it at the time of writing, ever seemed any good when I went back to it the next day, or after a gap of several days.

I vowed that the next thing I wrote, I would finish.  I had made and broken this vow several times already.  But then by chance I read a short story in this month's 'Mslexia' magazine that chimed with me.  It was one of the winners in the 'Memoir' competition category.  The story was well told, and the crux of it, or the message I took from it, was when the writer decided that she would write not for an audience but for herself, freely, just to enjoy the process of thinking and of expressing those thoughts.  Rather like I write this blog. 

 And then I read something that's been on my Kindle for a while - an e-book by JA Konrath, called the Newbie's Guide to Publishing.  He has a blog of the same name.  The book and blog are about how to make a living from writing.  So I read some of the book, and then I looked up the blog, because it's been a while since I glanced at it, and I learned that he was doing very well, self-publishing to Kindle. 

Then I went onto Amazon and looked to see what sort of books are on the Kindle Bestsellers list.  And I saw that light-hearted romances sell well, as do thrillers.  Of the two, I prefer the romances.  So I read some samples of some of them. 

And then I got stuck in.  I started writing on Tuesday afternoon, and by this evening I had written and edited almost eleven thousand words.  It is a complete story.  A novella (too long to be a short story, far too short to be a novel).

And I had the best time ever writing the thing.  It reminded me of all those years ago at Roedean, when I used to go to the bookshop in the main school and spend whatever money I had on Barbara Cartland books.  Complete escapism.  I tried to write in a light, fun way.  I edited very little, and down rather than up - in other words, if I wanted to say 'observed' I said 'looked'.  I wanted to make my work as accessible as possible.  I did not want to be too high-faluting. 

When my almost thirteen-year old came home from school at quarter to six, I gave her the manuscript to read.  I'd estimated that it was at about her level.  I wrote the novella for adults, but of course there's nothing racy in it.  My daughter likes to read all sorts of books, and I'd kept this one simple - I knew it wouldn't be beyond her understanding. 

I watched her closely for a reaction.  I was hoping for a smile or two, perhaps a chuckle.  I knew it wasn't the funniest thing I had ever written but I hoped that it would be at least amusing.  And there was a slight smile or two, and then at about a third of the way in - she laughed out loud!  Hurrah.  And when she had finished reading (after about an hour) she gave me eight out of ten.  Which for a book that took me a total of - I'm not sure, somewhere between fifteen and twenty hours - to write,  is a satisfactory outcome. 

Job done.

The book is not art, not by a long chalk.  But it's moderately entertaining, which was what I set out to achieve.  And now that I have silenced my inner critic, I intend to keep the lid firmly on it.  I am tempted to tinker with the book, to improve it, but I am not going to succumb to the temptation.  I am going to publish the book, in its present form, to Kindle, as soon as I possibly can.

And then I am going to start the next one.

I am going to write freely, and regularly, and fast and I am going to finish every single book I start from now on.  And maybe I'll get on and finish the ones I've started already too. 

Such fun!



  1. Have you tried to write for My Weekly pocket novellas? My daughter has published a few with them. They do different genres: romance is one of them.

  2. Thanks, that sounds interesting -I'll look them up right away!