Miriam Wakerly: A Village With “Edge” Novelist
Catching Up With Miriam
Where does the time go? Shameful confession coming up: The last time I updated this was to wish you a Happy New Year – at least that was for 2016! I hope you’re having a good one.
I think the writing and publishing world is getting increasingly tough and I, along with many other writers I speak to, have moments of despondency. There! Two confessions on the same day! When I started self-publishing in 2008 with my first novel, Gypsies Stop tHere, this was before eBooks and the huge swell of self-published writers had emerged. I set up Strongman Publishing to print and market my book in the traditional way, but totally on my own. I got my first book and No Gypsies Served in many Waterstones shops, through doing book-signings and they were selling on Amazon as well, with many direct sales at events and to Gypsy and Traveller organisations. I had to get a reprint of Gypsies Stop there. So on the whole, for a self-published author, not bad – especially as one agent told me I would never find a publisher for a book with Gypsy in the title!!
Ebooks came along and I published Shades of Appley Green on Kindle before launching it in print in Waterstones. It got some nice reviews, but competition in the market place and the effort needed to get attention online had ramped up to another level by then.
Then I thought – brilliant idea! I’d love to know what some of my older characters in Appley Green were doing when they were younger. Did they know each other? Were their dreams fulfilled? There was only one way to find out and that was to go back to the so-called Swinging Sixties and see what they were up to. Memories, new characters, iconic lifestyle changes, and what I thought was a compelling storyline flooded in. I was half-way through when my illness struck, and try as I might during 2014 it was difficult to get the book finished. But in 2015 I used Createspace to publish it, still rather wary of spending time and precious energy on submitting to agents or publishers, which can be a very draining experience! (I have not done this in earnest for about eight years!)
The difficulty with Createspace is that there seems to be no relationship between them and UK booksellers, and the margins make it absolutely impossible to use them to supply Waterstones. So perhaps I made a mistake there. I am sure there is market for this 1960s novel, but maybe I have not reached out to it yet. The problem could be something simple like its potential readers – mature women probably – are perhaps more likely to use a bookshop and library than finding out about it through Twitter or coming across it on Amazon through a lucky search. And when I ask people I know who enjoyed reading it if they would be kind enough to put a review up on Amazon, they give me a blank look as if I were asking something so technical and beyond them, they wouldn’t know where to begin!
Then I put up my short stories from the Eighties. Now, these have already been published and have that kind of stamp of approval, if you like, and they are but 99p a volume, working out at approx. 20p per story! But I can’t say that I have been overwhelmed by sales.
So now it’s decision time. Carry on as before? Give up? Or, do something TOTALLY new? Until next time …