So, finally after seven years of hard work, false dawns and bitterly regretting deleting hours, if not weeks and months of documents, I have finished the second draft of my first novel, The River (working title). Hopefully my next novel won’t take half as long. Yes, it’s been a long drawn out process, but I’ve come out at the other end.
I’ve put the novel into several different formats, those being a file in which all the chapters are separate, which will be ideal for posting on Writer’s Café where I intend to put the novel out as a weekly serialisation, another file of just the first three chapters for sending off to agents, and then finally a one whole document containing the entire novel which I have printed out for the older members of my family who are not quite so tech-savvy.
Now I enter the next phase of the novel’s gestation period: waiting to see if any of the agents will get back and hoping for feedback and trying to pick up an online following and creating awareness through Twitter, Facebook, and of course, this blog. When I told my wife last night of my plans to serialise the novel she voiced her concern that people would end up reading my novel for free instead of eventually paying for the privilege. I said it was one way of building up a fan base and the amount of people who might read the story on my webpage would be nothing compared to the readership I could eventually find via publishing. It was a stepping stone. Still she had a point: if writers are tempted to give away their work online why should anyone bother to buy the book? But then there is also the example of Andy Weir who wrote The Martian. He originally posted chapters of his book on his website, a tactic which exposed him to plenty of helpful feedback. He was then asked by people who had struggled downloading the chapters if he would put the book on Kindle as an E-book, which he did for the princely sum of 99 cents. To his amazement he found more people were willing to pay for the Kindle version than to read it for free. This further helped to grow his readership which in turn saw it create enough sales to get into various top tens (sci-fi, technical, etc.) which led to it being picked up by Random House, and the rest, as we possibly all know, is history.
It makes perfect sense, to me at least, his readership should want to pay for a Kindle edition or print copy of his book even when they could read it on his website for free. The reason being there is something about reading which goes beyond the eye processing text, by which I mean it is a personal and intimate experience which is perfectly encapsulated by the form of a book or even (though I’m no fan) a Kindle reader. This is something one can take with them on a bus, or to a hotel to help to while away the hours and at the same time to escape into a medium which simultaneously broadens one’s imagination and vocabulary and helps us understand one another.
Hopefully while people are still attracted to the physicality of owning a book and bookcases writers may still be able to find a loyal (and paying) fan base.