05-26-18 – Blog Queen - Sarah Raplee

Friday, January 20, 2017

A Funny Thing Happened...? #writing #publishing

Hi, I'm Pippa Jay, author of scifi and supernatural stories to engage your emotions. And this month's topic is a funny thing happened on the way to publication. Well...

I don't know that my path to publication was funny in the humorous sense. More like nothing I expected and rather twisty turny. There are some things I can look back at now and chuckle, though I didn't find them amusing at the time. Like the fact that when I initially looked into publication, I naively contacted an infamous vanity press. Luckily that opening inquiry was as far as I went when I discovered what they were, so despite their many phone calls attempting to contact me (and even emails full of typos and grammatical errors FIVE YEARS LATER!), I had no further dealings with them. *shudders*

At least I learnt from that mistake. I spent the first year submitting to UK literary agents via snail mail (the very few who would consider SciFi or specialised in it - about a dozen in all). I remember one submission came back the very next day after I sent it with just a 'No' scribbled on my submission letter - I'm surprised it didn't have scorch marks on it from passing across the agent's desk in time to make the post back, considering the sluggishness of Royal Mail! There was also the almost completely illegible feedback scrawled on another query letter (at least they gave me feedback!). Another submission asked for a reading fee - big red flag!

Or maybe more of a laugh at the time I sent in an email submission and completely forgot to attach my query letter and manuscript. Oops! Luckily the publisher was kind enough to forgive my newbie slip up and allow me to resubmit. >_< Or the fact that I had to re-read my first acceptance a dozen times before I even realized it *was* an acceptance for a change, before collapsing in a sobbing heap. :P


And even after that first acceptance and with my debut novel (something I later learned is a rarity - acceptance on a first book from an author), there were still rejections through the years since. Back then, the plan was to release each of the five books of the series for that debut over the next five years, which would have taken me up to May 2016. Boy, did that not happen! Even now, and after many twists and turns, and bumps in the road, I've only released book two of the series, but have twelve published works in all, so while they might not have been the plan I certainly haven't been idle on the story side. That's kind of funny as I remember panicking about running out of ideas and books *eyes bulging Plot Bunny Storage Facility nervously*

I also remember before my debut was even contracted, I got into a somewhat heated discussion about self publishing. I considered it vanity to self pub (yeah, I was that dumb back then). I'm pleased now that another writer put me straight about my views. After losing three publishers in three years, seeing the Ellora's Cave debacle, and even the very recent All Romance eBooks closure, and how even SFR authors with agents have struggled to get books accepted by trad publishers, self publishing has become my preferred method of publication. In June 2016 the rights to my last book tied to a publisher reverted to me, giving me full control of all my work.
A Scifi Adventure Novel
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So here I am, almost six years on from my debut and a fully independent author. That certainly wasn't in the plan, but then things never do go quite how you expect...


Sarah Raplee said...

It's crazy how quickly the publishing business has changed in the last 10 years, Pippa! Congratulations on keeping your head above water for the past six. One theme we've seen over and over is that the road to publication is not a straight line - it's more likethe road to Oz, full of twists and turns and surprises!

Barb said...

What a fascinating read. Choosing the self-publishing path is not easy but the amazing stories I hear have been my inspiration. Loveing the different voices in this blog

Barb said...

Loving, not loveing. That's what I get for ansering the phone and typing lol

Pippa Jay said...

Sarah - no kidding! Even in my five years published I've been on a huge learning curve and seen so much change and upheaval. Thanks!
Barbara - self publishing is certainly more work and playing money upfront for things like edits and cover art that would be covered by a publisher, but then there's the advantage of flexibility, creative control and a bigger slice of the royalties. It all depends what you want from publication. I'd planned to be hybrid - some books with publishers while self publishing my short stories, but after three of my four publishers closed or sold out in three years, self publishing gave me more certainty and control. You just never know how things are going to turn out.
And lol - my tablet gives me the same trouble!

Judith Ashley said...

Pippa, wise words! Be prepared and go with the flow or roll with the punches? So many trite phrases that actually are very true. So glad you persevered and persisted through it all. I'm sure all of us who have self-published are fully aware that our journey has just begun...there always seems to be more to learn!

BTW: I LOVE your "flyer". Did you create that yourself? and if you did what program did you use?

Pippa Jay said...

Thanks Judith!Sadly I can't take credit for the flyer. My editor and cover designer Danielle Fine created that for me and I had it printed up as a poster for my last convention. Printer thought it was going up in Waterstones - if only!