If you’ve ever typed ‘self-publishing’ into Google, you’ll know there are around 14,000,000 results. Click on almost any one of them, and you’ll be forgiven for becoming slightly high on the premise of how simple the process is; how endless the possibilities are. You might nod in agreement with the comments regarding how the industry was in need of a shake-up, how the notion of ‘gatekeepers’ had had its time, and the suggestion I particularly like, ‘quality will always rise to the top, however it’s published’.
Well, it’s around two and a half years since I started working with Helen at Cornerstones on Watermelon, and around two years prior to that when I began writing it. Throughout this time, I have put hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours into writing, learning about writing and improving my writing. And like many authors, I swing between having an absolute, deep, unshakable devotion for my books, and wondering if they’re actually worth the space they take up on my hard drive.
But other people tell me they’re good, not just my mum (actually she’s a nightmare, and I rarely get more than a, ‘it’s alright’ from her). But people who know. Industry professionals describe them as, ‘compelling, strong, powerful, haunting, incredibly authentic’.
And more importantly, my target audience. I’m in a very privileged position; I work with young people, and they don’t ‘do’ tact. It wasn’t unheard of for one of my earlier readings to be met with that well-considered and insightful comment, ‘Miss, that bit were crap.’
So my books have been re-written and reworked, until I’ve reached a point where the kids don’t say they’re crap anymore, in fact, they won’t stop reading when the bell goes for break, and that ultimate, heart-warming compliment has been uttered several times, ‘Can I take this home to read?’
On the back of this approval, my new titles, Watermelon and Someone Different, have recently been launched into the big, wide, open-sea that is self-publishing (as ebooks initially and with paperbacks following). In an innovative move, my immensely talented writer friend, Wendy Storer and I, have joined forces to form Applecore Books www.applecorebooks.co.uk; an independent writing co-operative, publishing contemporary fiction for children and young adults. And I am so excited I might pop!
But am I right? Are my books good? And if they are, will they rise to the top?
Currently, I have a modest following on Facebook and Twitter, and not much else in the way of marketing. I am up against novels that are advertised on buses and billboards and in supermarkets. Novels that will be reviewed in national press, novels that are written by ‘celebrities’. Can my little old books make a splash anywhere near the surface? Will they find their way in that stormy sea, amongst all those luxury, corporate liners? Ultimately, is writing good books, combined with amateur but tenacious marketing, enough?
Well, it’s fair to say I’m about to find out. And in part two of this blog, which will be coming soon, I will be sure to let you know.
You can visit Kate Hanney's website at www.katehanney.com