When I first finished Tiennador, my first book, my initial thought was, right, time to find an agent to get this out into the world. I’m tenacious, I have oodles of patience, I will wear them down until someone gives in and publishes me! So, I wrote letters (oh, did I write letters…) and sent out sample chapters, wrote emails and generally made a right nuisance of myself. I worked my way through the Writers and Artist’s yearbook, ticking off the people I’d bugged and chasing them up after a couple of weeks if I hadn’t heard back from them.
One morning, as I perused my next batch of victims, I noticed one of them hadn’t given an email address. It’s expensive, and not to mention not very green, to keep posting wedges of paper off so being able to submit via email is wonderful. But hold on a mo – there was a fax number. What the hell, I thought … and faxed over the first three chapters and a cover letter. Looking back now (and this was a few years ago, so please make allowances for the folly and sheer bloody mindedness of youth) it seemed a reasonable thing to do at the time. The recipient, however, was somewhat cross. When my mobile rang, I was all excited. Someone was calling me – it could be in response to my book proposal!
“Is that Nicola Kirk?”
“What do you think you are doing? You don’t fax me pages and pages of your book…” This wasn’t quite the kind of phone call I’d been expecting and the woman was… well, clearly she was Grotbags’ Evil Twin! “Who do you think you are…blah blah blah…” the woman raged on, giving it to me both barrels. Now it’s always been quite interesting to me how my generally quiet demeanor will barricade its doors and board up its windows when faced with this kind of person and instead a quite different personality grabs the steering wheel.
“Goodness me, you’re incredibly rude, aren’t you?” I cut across her, coldly. Amazingly enough, she shut up. “I don’t think I’d want you as my agent even if you asked me. Goodbye.” I hung up, tucked my mobile back in my pocket, and carried on photocopying. My colleague was looking at me open-mouthed.
“Who was that?” she asked. Quiet Me peeked out of a boarded up window and had a quick look around. It appeared to be safe to come out again.
“Hmmm?” I replied. “Oh… no one. Damn, not another paper jam…”
I know people say that it doesn’t pay to be paranoid (and they also say that not everyone is talking about you, but we know that they’re wrong on that one, don’t we?) but in the wee hours of the morning following that angry phone call from the grumpy agent when I surfaced long enough to form a coherent thought, I wondered if Grotbag’s Evil Twin hadn’t got on the phone to all her agent buddies (that, in the world of Paranoia, would be every agent in the Writers and Artist’s Yearbook) and told them to avoid me at all costs.
But I did find a publisher eventually, called Publish America. I was delighted! Over the moon! They had to scrape me off the ceiling with a spatula before I left a sticky stain. But, alas, the delight was short-lived as PA priced my book so highly that no one, other than my wonderful family and guilt ridden friends, bought it. Who on earth would consider £15.50 a reasonable price for a paperback book? But no, PA thought it was a fair price. Publish America – my dear friends, how do I tell you this? – IT WASN’T.
But, times change, fortunately. And when I discovered I could be my own agent and publisher and get my own work out into the world at a sensible price on one of the most popular mediums ever (ahhh, Kindle… what a wonderful creation you are) I thought all my Hallowe’ens had arrived at once. So now, I no longer have to chase after agents. I no longer have to gaze wistfully at other people’s books or people reading their favourite novels on Kindles and e-readers and think, if only… because I can publish myself! Mwah ha haaa…
I am a realist, however, and know it’s unlikely that I’m ever going to scale the dizzy heights of the best sellers list, but you know what? I don’t care. Because if just one person reads something I’ve written, it was worth all the time and effort I put into writing it. I have successfully inflicted my writer’s imagination on someone other than my long-suffering mother (and what a star she is too, painstakingly critiquing my novels for me and offering advice to a daughter who has got to be the worst person at taking criticism). I also take immense delight in peeking at my stats on WordPress and seeing that people have been reading the things I write on here too!
So thanks guys and gals for reading my ramblings – you make a writer very happy.
(c) Nicola Kirk 2012 and http://www.nicolakirk.wordpress.com 2012