I broke all the rules

I was recently sent a transcript from an interview with British writer Linda Gillard, who said:  I broke all the rules. I didn’t blog. I didn’t tweet. I didn’t publish genre fiction. It wasn’t the first in a trilogy. I didn’t make it free.

But I sold 10,000 downloads in less than four months and Amazon UK selected it for its Top Ten Best of 2011 in the Indie Author category. I was an award-winning, mid-list author of contemporary women’s fiction when, four years ago, I was dropped by my publisher. “Disappointing sales” was the reason given. After two years my agent still hadn’t managed to find a publisher for my fourth and fifth novels. Editors liked the books, but said they’d be hard to market because they belonged to no clear genre. A lot of my readers were asking when there would be a new book, so with my agent’s blessing, I self-published my fourth novel, House of Silence, on Kindle. She has now self-published her seventh novel. 

I share this with you because I love her attitude. I’d not heard of Linda Gillard before this article, but I have read her website, and liked what I read. She does not write in the same genre, does not use the same characters, she changes her tone, her settings and the genre as the story takes her and is still successful. On her ‘On Writing‘ page, at the end she ‘composed an imaginary rejection letter to an aspiring Charlotte Bronte.’ Do scroll down to the bottom and find it, it’s delightful. It is exactly the sort of thing author’s today would expect to get. How many times have I and my fellow authors been told fiction doesn’t sell? 

Things have not been easy for her, though: she suffers from depression and bi-polar and has survived cancer. I’ve included a link to some of her blogs on the ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors). Her advice: Write for writing’s sake. Don’t expect publication or financial reward – you are very unlikely to get either unless you go down the indie route. Writing is its own reward anyway. When you feel angry about your unsolicited manuscript being rejected, remember: nobody asked you to submit it! If you’re thinking of going indie, write the best book you possibly can and make sure it’s properly edited. Ideally, wait until you have several books ready to e-publish. It’s hard to make an impact with just one.

So with that advice ringing in my ears – it’s back to the manuscript. Sixty percent of the way through my third book.

  1. Bev Robitai
    Bev Robitai03-13-2014

    On your recommendation I just checked out Linda Gillard’s website. She sounds like a really interesting, savvy writer. Always good to get another sensible perspective on this mad career we’ve chosen!

  2. Linda Gillard
    Linda Gillard03-13-2014

    Thanks, Vicky, for checking out my website & blogs and mentioning them here. I was pleased to hear you found my advice & experience useful. Good luck with your own writing projects.

    • Vicky

      Thanks Linda. Here in New Zealand, we are always looking for other ways of marketing and getting known. We have a small domestic market but a lively and creative society. Many of my writing group write outside of the guidelines for genre-fiction because we can, because we want to and because we think there is an audience out there, when we find them.

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