Some of you have already been bored with this news already, but I have just finished a new young adult novel entitled Minotaur. It’s a re-imagining of the Theseus and Minotaur tale, one where Minotaur is just a misunderstood (and slightly deformed) youth.
Two of my fellow authors kindly read the draft for me. D.C (Dawn) Grant (author of ‘High Speed’ and ‘Where the flag floats’) wrote:
“…[a book] that people will pick up and not put down.”
Catherine Mayo, author of ‘Murder at Mykenai’ wrote:
“I loved it!...the whole story is beautifully written and conceived. I think the idea is brilliant and the book has huge potential. The twists in the traditional Theseus and Minotaur tales are convincing and engaging.”
This is encouraging of course. I’m inclined to agree but then again, I’m a little biased. I do believe, however, that this is my best work to date.
I had a publisher for my last YA trilogy. Sadly they went bust before the third book came out so I got my rights back, went Indie and published all three myself.
Being an indie author is a more attractive proposition than ever before. You have all the control and reap most of the rewards. Unfortunately, I do believe that there is also an element of luck or having the right product at the right time. I’m sure there’s thousands of magnificent novels out there published by indie authors who the general public are not aware of.
In terms of mainstream authors, some average books sell tons of copies. Hell, some bad books sell tons of copies. I can’t help but think that some of this success is due to the hype built by their publisher. I know for a fact that there are many indie books out there that are better than some of those published by mainstream publishers. But many of these indie books fail to sell. This, I believe, is due to the lack of promotional power.
Now let me make one thing clear: I’m not exactly an on-line expert. Saying that, what I don’t know, I learn by doing. I also work pretty hard at promoting my books. I seek out reviews, I pay for advertising, I do giveaways, I’m active on many social network sites, I’ve done virtual book tours. The end result of this hasn’t been much. Despite all my hard work, the trilogy is not selling the way it should be, leaving me dispirited and depressed in the wake of my puny sales. It’s galling because I do believe in the Rapture Trilogy. They're good books. The hundreds of positive reviews as well as interest from a movie studio attest to that.
Not only that but I really don’t have endless time for promotional work. I work full-time as a teacher and I do a lot of freelance educational writing as well as my mainstream fiction. On top of all that, I have a two year old son whom I would like to spend more time with.
What I am saying is that I want to do things differently this time. That isn’t to say I’m not prepared to work hard, just not do everything myself. It would be nice to have some support. That’s why I want a mainstream deal, one where the publisher (hopefully much larger than my previous one) and I will work together to promote my work. A publisher that can muster more promotional force and bring more guns to the fight.
My first step in this plan was to find an agent. I’ve had two agents before and I can’t say I’ve been terribly impressed by the experience. Both failed to sell my work. Regardless of whether it was their failing or some flaw in the products - that is, the books themselves - it left me with a slightly bitter taste in my mouth. But it’s very hard to find a publisher that will accept unsolicited manuscripts so I resigned myself to the reality and girded my loins.
I sent queries out to ten agents, mostly in New York. That was a month ago. Four responded with ‘nos’ almost immediately without seeing even a partial. Fortunately, one came back to me a couple of days ago with the comment that she ‘absolutely loved it’. And that was it. There’s a few things to sort out before I can officially announce my representation but in the meantime, I can’t help but feel very excited. I really like and respect this woman and I’ve wanted to work with her for some time. She’s made a number of comments and suggestions on how to improve/change the ms so I’ve got some work to do. She did temper these comments by stating that she would still be happy to send the current version out to publishers ‘as is’ which is also encouraging.
So, now to find a publisher. Watch this space.
Phillip W. Simpson
Phillip W. Simpson is an author of YA and children's books.