Saturday, 3 October 2009

ME & MY BIG MOUTH - A quick flick review

"An intelligent thriller based around the discovery of two lost Goya paintings, Haarlson Phillipps' After Goya is as good, if not better, than a lot of the so-called blockbusters I used to have to read at Waterstone's. It is, I think, self-published, or at least it will be soon, and it surprises me that it hasn't found a mainstream publisher."

So says Scott Pack over at Me and My Big Mouth.

Welcome if you've landed here via Scott's blog - you may want to check out the After Goya website here.

Well, what to say? Thanks to Scott for taking the time to read the novel and giving it such a positive plug. And thank you for taking the time to make your way here.

I'm obviously very pleased by Scott's plug. I check into his blog every day, and have done so for the past couple of years, so I'm aware his blog is widely followed and well regarded by readers, writers, book sellers and people in the book trade.

The Guardian once referred to Scott as "the most powerful man in UK publishing" when referring to his role as Head Buyer at Waterstone's. Scott is now a publishing director at The Friday Project, a HarperCollins imprint.

Self-published? Well, no, in fact, at the moment of writing, it is not published at all, and is still available to any mainstream publisher to pick up. All I have is an ARC (Advance Reader Copy) of a project I had planned to publish through YouWriteOn's botched POD (Print On Demand) scheme.

I forwarded a print-ready PDF and cover, prepared by professional book designer Xavier Peralta, to YouWriteOn in October last year. I deliberately elected to not opt for the so-called distribution deal with ISBN attached. The idea was to get a proof for limited private circulation to a few trusted readers to help identify typos and any potential structural problems and get feedback on the cover design.

Then the plan, step by careful, considered step, was to put the corrected book back into production, again without an ISBN, for circulation to other writers for endorsements, which could be featured on a re-designed cover; to bloggers and reviewers to build pre-publication awareness; and potential English language book distributors and retailers in Spain (I'm convinced there's a market for the book among English speaking expats in Spain). Then, and only then, all being well, would I then sign up for an ISBN and go at selling the book like crazy through UK and Spanish bookshops and online.

That was the plan. I spent many, many hours developing a marketing strategy in preparation for a proposed April launch. (To coincide with Sant Jordi - the national book day here in Catalunya). I even planned a reception-launch at the Ateneu in Barcelona, the prestigious intellectual gymnasium (and host to the largest school of creative writing in Europe).

That was the plan.

However, despite receiving notification that the book would be ready around about December 10th (I booked a flight to the UK ), I never heard anything again. Days, weeks, months passed with no word. It seemed there were quite a few pissed off writers in a similar position.

Then, in March-April, with no apology or explanation offered, I received an email telling me that Legend and YWO had formed a new imprint called New Generation. Thinking I could get the plan back on track I re-submitted the book. I received four copies in July.

Then Scott Pack, Me and My Big Mouth, put up a post about self-published covers and I sent him a jpeg of the cover for After Goya. He straightaway responded with a few incredibly useful suggestions, and in passing, offered to review the book. I sent him a copy.

Then I heard YWO and Legend had parted company, hardly encouraging, and I began thinking "here we go again". As a friend wisely advised, it is not a good idea to be in the middle of someone else's divorce. It seemed After Goya was doomed to be an orphan.

But then I received a few more very positive reports from readers of the typescript, including feedback from a reader for Spanish publishing giant Planeta, who is confident the book would sell well in Spanish translation. And work on a second novel, Heavensfield, was going well. This combined to encourage me to take one last spin on the UK agent/publisher merry-go-round.

So that's where I'm at now; I have a proof copy marked up with 290 minor corrections; a couple of positive quotes I can use for the cover; a website (still being developed); a UK agent looking at the full manuscript on an exclusive basis until November 6th; and a second novel well on its way to completion.

I very much want to see the book in Spanish translation, but without representation that seems impossible. I've yet to hook up with a Barcelona based literary agent, but I'll be on the case very soon.

So, if you're an editor looking to augment your list with a commercial "intelligent literary thriller" then please get in touch, and I'll put you in touch with the agent currently considering the full MS.

If you're a reader and would like to read a copy of After Goya then I'm sorry to disappoint you, but you can leave an email address on the website, or here in the comments, and I'll contact you when the book is finally available.

Thanks for your patience, and thanks to everyone who have freely given their support and encouragement thus far in this tortuously long journey to publication.

1 comment: