Tuesday, March 16, 2010

The ePublishing Road: Part One

Hello, friends. Daylight savings time has arrived. If you’re like me, having that extra daylight means you can spend more time writing in the evening – or coming here to visit. I’m glad that you chose to spend some of your time at our table in the coffee shop.

A week or so ago, David Nicholls left a comment. He had some interesting things to say, so I asked him to be a guest blogger. I wanted everyone to have a chance to read what he shared. Mr. Nicholls comes from the U.K., which should be obvious from some of the British terms he uses.

Before I let David Nicholls take the stage, I want to announce that Marsha Moore, our resident travel book writer – who also lives in the U.K. – graciously offered a copy of her book 24 Hours London for the winner of our next drawing. Everyone who follows Calling All Aspiring Writers of Nonfiction Books by March 31 is eligible for the drawing. (The exception is Jennifer Ortolano, who won the drawing last month.)

Now let’s find out how Mr. Nicholls got into ePublishing.

“I’ve never considered myself a “career writer.” In fact, up until 9 months ago, I never considered myself a writer at all. Having been in the advertising and marketing industry for more years than I can remember, I became one of the many to fall victim of the economic climate. If the truth were known, my first reaction after getting over the initial trauma of being made redundant was a feeling of relief. A strange reaction I know, but being “pushed off the merry go round that you hated being on, but were too scared to step off of” makes you feel like someone who’s just been released from a long spell in prison. You know you have to face reality eventually, but you do enjoy that euphoria of freedom.

Apart from being tied into a contractual “garden leave” arrangement for a month and knowing I wouldn’t be able to pick up employment immediately, I set about putting down that story we all promise ourselves to write. I knew I had a vivid imagination, but my planning is appalling, so I sat at the computer and let it flow out of me. I realised it would never win a Booker Prize but felt I could tell a good story.

Feeling very proud of myself, I started to research the process of getting my hard work published. I put my head on the pillow at night seeing my book in shop windows and discussing the film rights. However, I soon found out the reality of being a writer. First get an agent, and then get a publisher. We all know how difficult a process this is and for most, impossible. Apart from getting the standard response from agents, the reality is that traditional publishing has been and certainly is now, playing safe. If you’ve been on a reality show, you stand more of a chance of getting work published, even if it’s by a ghost writer, than if you are an extremely talented writer. Of course, people do get their work published, but they are rare.

In a moment of sheer frustration, I started a writers group called Aspiring Writers on LinkedIn, which if you didn’t know, is the leading professional social networking site. My thoughts at the time were to attract a few fellow Brits to the site so we could have a good moan about the state of publishing. To my astonishment within five months, we attracted 1,200 members. The vast majority of the members come from North America, but the group is truly international. The group has attracted a vast array of talent, including professional authors, agents, publishers and of course aspiring writers, all who have the aim of helping and encouraging each other within this very competitive market place.

Am I still cynical about the publishing industry? The simple answer is yes, but the passion that most writers have about their craft doesn’t diminish and I am now flying the flag for online publishing which empowers any aspiring writer in a way that was historically never possible.”

Next time, Mr. Nicholls will explain how he went from LinkedIn to ePublishing. Come back to hear more of his story.

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