Tuesday, 17 June 2008

Publish and Be Published. What?


I’d written fiction for ages but never settled to it - the usual lack of confidence, discipline and time. But I still needed to write my novel. So in 1997 I went part-time at work, removing my main excuse for evading writing. By 1999 I’d completed the black car leaving (BCL) and it seemed ready to send to publishers.
A steady stream of rejection slips indicated that publishers weren’t going to accept my novel. This pole-axed me initially, but I still believed my manuscript was a worthwhile read, even if it was flawed. I considered my motives and, realised I didn’t want to be famous and hang out with Melvin Bragg. I wanted to write as well as possible and be read. I didn’t want to be on Top of the Pops. I wanted to be that band you see in the local pub and really like.
Using ordinary word processing software I formatted BCL into a set of 90 A4* pages. I got 200 copies run off at a Peckham copyshop. The copyshop stapled each novel twice down one side. Between June 2002 and February 2005 I sold all these; via shops, mail order, and in person, mostly at gigs.
I made loads of mistakes. Hopefully you won’t have to. This zine* tells you how and why I did it, and how you could do likewise. It’s for people already into zines who want to branch into fiction, and fiction writers who want to self-publish without ruining their lives. Most stuff I learnt from direct experience, some I taught myself for future reference. I’ve included some facts and figures I researched as food for thought. Any technical terms, marked with an asterisk, are explained in dictionary corner, at the back. I hope you find the zine useful. To misquote the Desperate Bicycles, it was difficult, it was cheap, go and do it.

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