Previously on this blog:
I postponed a career as a writer in order to live a full and varied life as an astronaut, pirate or teacher while looking like a poser.
I write lots of words and get lots of rejections. I help support the Post Office.
I win first prize in a competition to write a story based on the Wind in the Willows and it is published.
Winning the Kenneth Grahame Society competition proved a false dawn.
Again I submitted to agents and publishers, again I got standard, photo-copied rejections.
Then three or four things happened. I looked on the web-sites of all the organisations who had rejected me. I was astonished to see that most of the letters had come from kids, barely in their 20’s who had all gone to a handful of private schools and were called Lucy, or Julian or Samantha or Luke. I realised that I was never going to make much of an impression on them.
The second thing was that a man on a ferry from France had an e-reader and let me look at it. Soon after I saw a tiny article in the magazine Writers News about a writer who had decided to self-publish on Amazon. To my regret I don’t know who she was but I owe her a lot. She talked about e-readers.
The third thing was that I had a terrible accident. I fell off a one inch high path (honestly), broke my ankle, dislocated my elbow and shattered my arm. It was the worst possible type of accident I could have suffered. My mother had dislocated both elbows when I was a toddler and seeing the agony she experienced whenever her elbows went out left me with a huge phobia about broken bones and dislocated elbows.
I almost gave up writing but bought Dragon Dictate and ploughed on until I found I could type faster with one hand than I could dictate.
Almost as bad was the fact that when I was at home, with my arm in plaster and my foot in a moon-boot, I had to execute a complicated manoeuvre to turn over the pages of a book. If I dropped it I was sunk for I couldn’t reach it. So when my wife was at work I had to wait until my 87 year old neighbour came over to make me a cup of tea and sandwich and pick up my book.
But then, I remembered the article about Kindles and the man on the ferry and decided to buy a Kindle. I tried to order them but they were out of stock so I got a Sony e-reader instead.
Finally, in April 2011, all these things came together in my brain. Ping. I decided to self-publish my books. I certainly had time because following my accident I was unable to give as much effort to my business as I had. I set to with more enthusiasm than was seemly in a man of my years.
This was the steepest learning curve I’ve ever experienced. I had to learn to format, to design my own cover, to upload books, to write blurbs and publicity. Then I got a blog, then another one, discovered that Twitter was more than just gobbledy-gook and took the plunge into Facebook.
It was an experience beyond words. I wasn’t selling many books but I was getting good reviews and finally fulfilling my second, life-long ambition.
Next up: I discover Alice Petherton.