Today is publication day for The Calm I Seek. I’ve never been so excited in my life! Publishing a book has been a life-long dream of me and now, finally, after nearly 9 years of writing novels, it’s finally become a reality. Please bear with me as I squee a little.
The journey to publication has not been an easy one. Getting published is a privilege, in that you need connection, money, time and luck to be able to get your book out there. Merely writing a book isn’t good enough. Agents and publishers receive so many queries, that only the very best, and the most polished ones will stand a chance. Your book also has to fit into very narrowly defined commercial categories or it will be deemed unsellable and will be passed over by publishers.
Publishers are often called the gatekeepers of what gets published. They make the decision as to which books are worthy of their time and effort, all with a view of making money. That is partly understandable. Publishing houses aren’t charities and need to make a profit in order to stay afloat. However, this makes publishing companies risk-averse with the result that most published books are sort of the same. They follow the same formula, because that’s what sells. That’s not to say that books that follow a formula aren’t great books. I’m not saying that everything that’s published is bad. But if your book falls slightly outside of the narrowly defined categories, you have a long, uphill battle.
Unless you really shine above the rest of the submissions, your book doesn’t have much of a chance to succeed. Which is why established authors offer courses and mentorships to help new writers out, for a fee. There are organisations, such as the Romantic Novelists Association, of which I am a member, which can help new authors on their way to becoming published. But all of that takes money. I’m lucky enough to be able to pay for my RNA membership, but I’m sure there are a lot of authors from underprivileged backgrounds who’ll never stand a chance, because they can’t afford to get an edge on their fellow writers.
The Calm I Seek is inspirational fiction with a clear, Christian theme, but it doesn’t fall into the narrow, strictly conservative guidelines of Christian publishers, (mainly in the US, as there are virtually no Christian fiction publishers in the UK). After having submitted my novel for two years, I decided to publish it myself. Self-publishing is also something that’s reserved for the privileged. If you want a good quality product, you need to pay for an editor, someone to design your cover and a distributor (unless you’re happy with your book just being on Amazon), all of which does not come cheap. Again, I’m lucky enough my day job made it possible to pay for all that.
I am truly grateful that my book is out there in the world. I am proud of myself that I managed every step of the process. I worked with an amazing editor, found the wonderful cover art which graces the book, set up my own publishing company, enrolled my novel into NetGalley’s review database, marketed it and now it’s been published with very good reviews. In fact, Reedsy Discovery has labeled it a Must Read! I couldn’t be prouder and happier.
I know self-publishing isn’t for everyone. It’s hard, expensive and takes a LOT of time and organisational effort. But for me, it was the right decision. I don’t think I’d try the traditional route for my next books (never say never, of course). I like having control over my timeline, my novel, my marketing strategy, my cover, and everything else. Whether it will be profitable remains to be seen, though.
You can get The Calm I Seek from various retailers, including, but not limited to the following: