Tuesday, 15 January 2013

In at the start

Once upon quite a long time ago I wrote a book called Losing Cherry. I sent it off to my then agent in London, and, because the main character was American and the location was New Mexico, he sent it to an associate agent in New York. This agent loved it; thought I had what he called a 'new voice' and proceeded to prepare to send to publishers. He asked me for a biography and I duly sent him one. Oh, but that was when disaster befell the whole project, for I had been honest; I had told him I was British.

You see, Losing Cherry is written from the point of view of a 19 year-old girl from New Mexico and, try as I may, I am not an American and I do not live in New Mexico. I live in London. My accent is decidedly English. The agent told me he could not sell my book because it was not written by an American.

My agent in the UK sent it to various publishers here and their response was that, whilst they loved it, it was too American for them. They said they didn't want to buy what was essentially, an American story written by an American living in the UK. They could do that directly from the States. They wanted a book by a British author, and about British stuff. It didn't cut any ice when I told the commissioning editor at Little Brown that I was, in fact, British. She said it was still 'too American'.

Damned by both the Brits and the Americans for different, but nevertheless associated reasons, I shoved the whole MS under my metaphorical bed and moved onto other stories.

Years passed and I just before Christmas 2012 I realised I may have been missing a trick. Since first writing Losing Cherry publishing has moved on. Paper books aren't what they once were. Most of them are now also online. Authors can often earn more by publishing ebooks than they can by relying on old fashioned book publishing. I fished Losing Cherry out and took another look at it. I did a bit of editing and launched myself as an author on Smashwords and Kindle. Smashwords distributes to Apple ibooks, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Kobo, WH Smith, Diesal EBookstore, Ebooks Eros, Baker and Talyor, Inktera.com, and Verent.com. I had to wait a week for them to review the book but once done they were happy to place me on their Premium Catalog. I'm waiting on links to all the various online stores, but once I've got those I can start to develop a marketing plan.

One thing - you do have to be able to edit to the extent that it will pass a rigorous examination by Smashwords editors. There are several formats for ebooks and you have to be able to submit an MS that will be readily convertible across formats. This can be a bit off-putting, despite really good guidelines on the Smashwords site. Also, as a British author there are tax issues and I've still to get hold of a letter from them to take to the American Embassy here in London. Once I have it I will be able to get an exemption from paying tax in the States on sales made there, and simply pay all my tax in the UK.

So, all in all, an interesting couple of weeks at the sharp end of online publishing.

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