Well, I have finally done it.
Last week I published my novel Forsaking All Other both as a paperback and an ebook. A historical novel with strong romance elements, it is set in England in the mid-1580s and tells the story of a young woman’s struggle to avoid an arranged marriage at a time when duty and obedience overrode personal wishes.
The road towards publication has been winding and very bumpy with astounding highs and depressing lows. The highs include a second place in the 2014 Valerie Parv Award of Romance Writers of Australia for unpublished manuscripts, acquiring a literary agent, getting as far as the acquisitions meeting of a major Australian publisher, being offered publication as an ebook. And the lows, the interminable waiting, being advised to decline the ebook offer because as an unknown I wouldn’t sell anything, the months of silence from the agent, parting company with her, the publisher who told me I didn’t have a story to tell, the other who told me not to consider self-publishing because I would make such a mess of it that no one would be willing to read anything I wrote ever again.
But as I always finish what I start, I plodded on hoping that my beta readers, who all loved the story, held the more accurate view. The support of other writers is always heartening – Juliette Godot, Linda Hardy, L.S. Young are all members of the Historical Novel Society, as is Jeanne Greene to whom I am particularly grateful. She critiqued the novel in detail and helped in so many ways to bring it to its mature form. Among my friends, Lyndsey has always been encouraging; not only a well-read source of advice on numberless aspects of both writing and history, she is a meticulous proof-reader. I would have been lost without my sister, Gabrielle, who took on the role of unfailing supporter that had previously been our mother’s. She was always on my side – we all need one such person in our lives. Gabrielle read early drafts of the novel and never wavered in her belief that Bess and Edmund’s story needed to make its way out into the world. Last but not least, my husband and children have shown Olympic standard forbearance over many years, particularly when my advice on life’s problems was more suited to the 16th rather than the 21st century. Without these people in my life, I doubt I would have made it to the end.
While the writing itself has challenges, there is joy in playing with words and creating worlds and characters. There is no such pleasure in the business side of preparing a book for publication, especially for a first time self-publisher. Apart from formatting and reading proofs, there is the stress of US Tax interviews, the problems of setting up methods of payment when you don’t have a US bank account. Next time it won’t be nearly as onerous.
So, here I am with a decently formatted novel, no worse than much that comes out of the major publishing houses (I, at least, would never use ‘replace all’ to change ize endings to ise and end up with mention of the Turner Prise on page 1 of a novel). And it has a stunning cover designed by Jennifer Quinlan of Historical Fiction Book Covers.
And now that the exhaustion is finally starting to wear off, I have moments where I could hug myself with happiness. I have one beautiful review on GoodReads and have sold a handful of copies without any advertizing – not many, but enough to buy a bottle of my favourite prosecco and some Castello blue vein cheese. What more could any writer want?