My first novel, The Golden Hour, has been released! Here’s what it’s about:
Graphic artist and computer hacker, James Elkind, finds himself imprisoned with two women. Who are his companions and what is this facility they’re trapped in? As they search through the past to try to understand their surreal dilemma, seventeen year old James must confront the contradictions of his identity. Can he escape to find a future or will this place prove to be his tomb?
I completed this short, somewhat literary novel 8 ½ years ago, and received very encouraging feedback from a number of writers I respect. I duly submitted it to unpublished manuscript competitions, small and large press slush piles, and a couple of agents. In Australia, agents are as hard to come by as publishing opportunities, so it’s not a simple process of ‘find an agent and they’ll find the publishing house for you’ as the plethora of internet-based advisors suggest.
In the meantime I began my second, much longer, novel. It’s an entirely different beast, which means that when I finally finish the first volume (it has turned into three), I may be right back at the beginning again – trying to find a publisher who will take a punt on someone who has a publishing credit but for a different market.
The market is the key. I have heard that for years. But I cannot bring myself to write based on marketing advice. For a start, my books don’t fit popular culture, and secondly, I can’t write them fast enough to follow that advice. But it’s true that you need to know your market as you write your book. That has proven to be the challenge of my first novel.
That novel is liminal in many ways: between genres (realism, speculative-spiritual), between marketing audiences (not really YA but with a teenage protagonist), and between the lengths publishers typically look for. (At 40, 000 words, it’s too long for a novella, too short for a novel, about the length for the YA category it doesn’t fit into.)
These categories are, of course, purely marketing inventions. Once upon a time there were no such things as teenagers, let alone Young Adults (aged well before legal adulthood) and a ‘genre’ devoted to them. But that’s not a fight a newbie can begin to win.
I am grateful to Stone Table Books for tackling these challenges and throwing their weight as a small, new, publishing imprint behind my small, unusual novel. (Pun alert) We’re both ‘novel’…
It’s a given in the 21st century that authors, no matter who publishes their work, must do a lot of the promotion themselves. Recognising the obstacles in the way of my novel, even with STB’s fabulous support, has meant I have had to set aside my love of privacy, some of my precious and limited writing time, and my dislike of self-promotion to do all I can to make sure The Golden Hour is seen and heard of by as many people as possible. Hence the blog, and a launch in my local public library (I might make that the subject of another post – the decision to hold the launch there was inspired!), approaches to local newspapers, using social media more than I ever wanted to, telling everybody I meet if it doesn’t cut right across what they’re talking about, printing flyer and posters and (soon) postcards and bookmarks…and on it goes. It’s been a huge deal for me in the last couple of months to develop my public author self. There’s the forge at work, and I have found it hard to submit to the hammer and heat.
We do not know what we will become, but it seems that if we don’t take up a position on the forge, we won’t become anything other than we already are, and maybe even that will become brittle and less enduring in time. It’s the forge or nothing!
Do you have a story about being pressured by something you wish you didn’t have to do, which led to personal growth and new opportunities? Feel free to share it by leaving a comment.