Many responded, some asked for chapters and most of those praised the writing and even the story, but they all told me no. No, they could not sell this book to a publisher. This book they said had three major problems: 1) it had three protagonists and “young adults” like one character that they can totally identify with; 2) it was too realistic – no real witches, no dragons or magic; and 3) young adults would not want to read about the struggle three young people had in thwarting a large institution, the Church, in 13th century England.
There was not too much to say after that. “Wych” is the story of three siblings, they do live in England circa 1224 AD and they do need to save a beloved local healer from the Inquisition – which I drew quite realistically in the book. At this time the Inquisition was not yet burning and torturing people – mostly it locked them up – and I had to wonder if I had set it a few decades farther along so there would have been torture scenes, would it have sold better. But this was a real book about fighting injustice as a human-sized person, finding allies who could help and discovering that you have the strength to go up against a monolithic institution.
So what to do? I decided to publish it myself using Amazon’s Kindle Direct Printing and its paper affiliate CreateSpace. That involved learning a lot of new things, finding allies myself and (oh yes) going up against a monolithic institution, The Legacy Publishing World.
I did that – and am I making money hand over fist? Not yet, but that was only part of the goal. I wanted this book to live. I feel a loyalty to these characters who want to get into print. If you go to Amazon you can read reviews from readers who let me know that for them the book is worthwhile, wonderful even. Best for me is when someone mentions that getting to know Lyllie, Wyllym and Edric and the other characters was meaningful to them. Eventually I believe “The Wych of Lepyr Cove” will find lots of readers (it’s only been out 2 weeks.) But most of all I know I did the right thing, stepping away from the Legacy Publishing world.
Why? Because it opened my eyes to the tunnel vision that world sees through. Publishing houses want to populate book shelves with what has already sold well. For them there is no advantage in expanding horizons and discovering new genres that may interest a given section of the market. They are all about the money and they are all about keeping as much of it as they can, which does not really benefit writers or the reading public. One girl who read “Wych” wrote to me about how much she loved it. She said she loved that it “defiantly” was not what she usually got to read. She meant to write “definitely” of course, but I loved the Freudian mis-type and have taken it her words as my motto. There’s a bit of defiance in my stance, in my self-publication. It opened my eyes to my own psychological need for the blessing of Big Daddy, someone in power and in the know who would tell me I was okay, a real novelist. Someone who would open the door and let me into “agent/publisher” paradise.
I had to decide if I stood by my work and believed in the readers. Along the way there was a surprising and deafening silence from my “fellow poets.” A few, of course, were terrific, but many more who I know would be praising a new book of poems from a literary press have not had an encouraging word to say. I wish I was mature enough so that didn’t hurt a bit, but it does – a little. I am thankful for the other indie-authors out there who have welcomed me and helped me. They have given generously of their expertise and time and they let me know that we are also a kind of new species. We stepped out and bet on ourselves.
And now that I am beyond the confines of the walls around Legacy Publication – now that I am out here where we say “let’s just take this to the readers and see what they have to say,” I rather like it. I’m not bored, or complacent. I’m a little too old to learn all this stuff (new career at 63?) but the book came to me and now there are readers who say they are waiting for the next book in the trilogy.
That means I should sign off and get to work. You can always find me at www.deborahbogen.net if you want to chat – maybe you belong out here too.
If you have questions, ask them here, and Deborah may be able to answer them. My first question is marketing and promotion. How have you been getting the word out about the novel? Do people simply find it on Amazon, or do you feel like you have to find the readers yourself? (See her response below)
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