One of the most pleasurable pieces of fiction I’ve ever written, Salmonweird is a 70k-ish supernatural crime comedy about a retired detective living in a small Cornish village as the only human. The remaining residents are all ghosts, representing 2,000 years of the village’s history. It was clear from after finishing the first couple of chapters that I wanted to write more.
It took me about 18 months to write and it’s been nearly three years since I finished it. Before I was about halfway through, I knew this would have at least one sequel and a spin off. I now have a second and third book planned – several chapters written for book 2, and an outline of book 3. There is also a loose idea of a spin off featuring some of the secondary characters in the first book centred on a secondary plot point.
I’m conscious of the fact that I am now getting close to finishing my psychological horror Children of Phobetor (probably the autumn) and will be keen after that to get started on Salmonweird 2, or it’s likely final title, A Salmonweird Sleighing – it’s a Christmas based sequel in case that wasn’t obvious.
In those nearly three years since finishing writing Salmonweird, I’ve had 15 rejections, either outright “thanks but no thanks” or unresponsive applications to agents and indy publishers. I know some people spend years trying to get books published through conventional means facing hundreds of rejections before success. I am under no illusion about the patience required to get there nor the number of rejections it might acquire before somebody takes it. I didn’t expect anyone to fall over themselves to offer to publish it, but I was hoping for some feedback to make it publishable.
But this is a different world. Stephen King’s backbreaking pile of rejection letters for Carrie had no internet or small press to try and far fewer people trying to get published. Even when JK Rowling was rejected repeatedly for Harry Potter, there wasn’t much of an alternative publishing market. The book came to market in 1997, some 7 years before the first ebook reader hit the shops.
My only reason for not self-publishing before now is because it’s so difficult to get your book noticed through this method and few want to take a chance on an unknown writer. I’ve had fewer about 12 sales for Dead Heat and about 8-9 for Dead Lock. The Christmas Goblin had about 3-4 last year. Not, of course, that the conventional market means guaranteed sales, but it does mean marketing resources of the business put to use. But to harness them, you must get a foot in the door. As noted above, that’s not easy.
Around 1% of manuscripts are ever accepted by regular publishers. At least we used to receive a reply with some editing advice or ideas on how to improve, but not so. What I don’t want to do is 20 years from now, with a 10 book Salmonweird series is to keep thinking “a contract for these books is just around the corner. Time to start writing book 11, methinks.”
I have been mentally preparing myself for this for some time, so much so that I designed a book cover last week. Not a bad effort considering I’m still learning some basic design skills. So, I’ve decided I’m going to give it one last push for conventional means and then aim for an early 2020 KDP publication. As this is novel length in the region of 70,000 and therefore longer than both Dead Heat and Dead Lock combined, it will also get a dead tree release.
With my developing Photoshop skills through photography, I’m confident I can reach out on platforms and in ways that most authors will not touch. I’ve already started this with Instagram. One of my favourite examples is a sequence of images to promote Dead Heat. I have a similar sequence to promote Dead Lock which I will put up in due course.