Where Angels Fear to Tread: the Joys and Perils of Self-Publishing

WebDon’t blow your own trumpet, I was taught. It is unseemly. Attention seeking. Narcissistic even.

Fair enough.

This is the problem though: when you’re a self-publishing author, you don’t have a wingman taking care of the brass section. Any laudatory trumpeting will have to be done by yours truly, for you are not only an author, but also a blinkered editor, a dilettante publisher, a lethargic sales manager and a goofy media liaison officer. And don’t start me on the joys of completing business activity statements…

You get the picture: there is a point where writing a novel feels like the easy bit. Continue reading

Unboxing that first novel!

All day I had waited for that first delivery from IngramSpark. I had skipped my daily walk. Five o’clock, I thought—he’s not coming now. Just as I laced up my runners for a belated stroll, I heard a low rumble in the street and looked down the driveway. A massive delivery truck pulled up; a stocky guy leapt out, opened the tailgate, lifted out a cardboard box and started labouring up the driveway and the 20-something steps from the carport up to my particular ivory tower…

“Boy, what a climb,” he sighed. “That was my last job for the day.” “Yes, and it’s the first box of my first novel,” I blurted out like an overexcited idiot. He looked at me strangely, handed me a stylus. I signed on a chunky electronic gadget that looked like a 1980s mobile phone, callously wishing he’d hurry back to his truck so I could open this box.

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I happened to be home alone that afternoon, except for the cat of course, but Jebedie Paw Paw’s interests tend to be culinary rather than literary and anyway, he had sought refuge in the furthest bedroom at the first sign of a man (= tradie = infernal noise = feline doom) approaching. So I grabbed my iPhone to document the unfolding of this milestone.2018-11-28 17.04.16I loved the warm colours of the cover (thank you Dane at Ebook Launch).

2018-11-28 17.04.28Then the joy of holding your book for the first time. Pressing that Publish button on Amazon and Smashwords had been a thrill, but not nearly as satisfying as feeling the weight of your book. The end point of the writer’s creative process. The transition from a mental construct to a physical product. The moment also where it can be shared with readers for the next part of the journey.

I could feel I had my stupid happy grin on my face, the one from ear to ear.

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Then there’s the panicky little voice inside your head that reminds you to check everything. Title, author name, yep, all there. Nice print quality inside, no printing or binding errors, just this thing that looks like a Real Book.

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And look, I can make piles of them. And my wife comes home just before I start mentally composing a love letter to IngramSpark, my new print-on-demand and distribution heroes.

Forgive me, Dear Reader, the exuberant narcissism of this post. Let me assure you that my novel is free of navel gazing and instead explores social and mental health issues that affect many of us. I just thought that, after seven years of hard work, a little bit of curative bragging was in order… Thank you for your forbearance.

And please check out the homepage of my book for more details about its plot and availability.

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My Debut Novel: The Best of Intentions

TheBestofIntentions_cover3Dmockup-woodAfter seven years of plot development, writing and seemingly endless revisions, my debut novel is now available.

Writing a novel was so different from any writing I had done during my working life. With policy or report writing you generally have a good idea about the purpose and contents of your document, and its structure is pretty much determined by those parameters. Writing a novel means creating a world from scratch, without a roadmap, and populating it with credible and distinct characters who can keep the reader engaged. Exhilarating. Scary too.

Not surprising then, that timelines blew out. And while I’ve always felt comfortable about having my professional writing edited, it has been more confronting to have my creative writing critiqued. It felt more personal––I had more skin in the game.

Set in Melbourne in 2009, against the background of the Black Saturday bushfires, The Best of Intentions is a sensitive and compelling portrayal of young people at risk and of the well-meaning but often ineffective child protection and mental health professionals charged with their care.

At more than 400 pages, it’s a good long read that follows a range of memorable characters whose paths cross in unexpected ways. Here’s an excerpt from the blurb:

Kurt is a disillusioned case worker struggling in an under-resourced child protection system. When he takes on the case of Gecko, a sixteen-year-old with a traumatic past and a shaky future, he is determined to make a difference. But the best of intentions are not enough.

While my novel is a work of fiction, some of my views about systemic shortcomings in child protection and public mental health services have found their way into the text.

The focus on ‘case finding’ and throughput in child protection, at the expense of providing a meaningful service to kids placed in care. The unrealistically high case loads.

In mental health, the high threshold for accessing a service, the one-dimensional nature of the medical treatment model; and the failure to abolish mixed gender wards in Victoria, leaving vulnerable young women exposed to harassment or assault at a time that they need optimal support and safety.

Does not sound like escapist reading? It isn’t. I have taken pains, though, to ensure that The Best of Intentions works as a novel in the first place, as a gripping story that will keep readers engaged to the end. No one wants to read a manifesto.

“Highly engaging … an intelligent and moving novel.” Dr Kate Ryan, Writers Victoria

The Best of Intentions is available as an e-book and can be bought from major distributors, including Amazon Kindle, Apple Books, Barnes & Noble and Kobo. Check my novel’s homepage for purchase links.

You will soon also be able to order a paperback version (currently in production) from your local bookseller or from an online distributor.