Guest post by Linda Gillard
When I was dropped by my publisher a few years ago my agent tried to find me a new literary home. I watched as two good manuscripts were universally rejected over a period of two years, most often because the novels belonged to no clear genre. While I waited, I decided to write a really commercial novel, something that would surely secure me a new contract.
Paranormal romance was hugely popular, so I thought I’d have a go. It wasn’t my natural genre. I don’t even read it. I confess I felt as if I was selling out, but I badly wanted to get back in the game
I started my new novel, THE GLASS GUARDIAN, as a NaNoWriMo project and quickly produced 25,000 words, then I hit a wall. I no longer knew what genre I was writing. This wasn’t a standard paranormal romance. My sixth novel was turning into the same sort of unmarketable genre-buster that had given my publishers such a headache. I abandoned the book and investigated Kindle as a possible home for my two unplaced manuscripts.
Much to my surprise, self-publishing on Kindle was a huge success. HOUSE OF SILENCE became a bestseller. On the strength of that, I e-published two backlist novels and a new one, UNTYING THE KNOT. But I was still looking for a publisher. At least, I thought I was.
I returned to THE GLASS GUARDIAN. My commercial novel still didn’t seem very commercial. I’d created no brave new urban world. My setting was an old Victorian house on the Isle of Skye: Tigh-na-Linne, “the house by the pool,” with its sad history and beautiful garden. My heroine wasn’t remotely kick-ass. She was a rather reserved 42-year old horticulturalist, out of a job and recovering from multiple bereavement. My ghost-hero was guilt-ridden and weary of haunting, heartbroken and heart-breaking. Most damning of all, I’d failed to write extended passages of Olympian and largely gratuitous sex. (But there was passion.)
As I completed the novel, I could already envisage the rejection emails from editors, pointing out that TGG would be impossible to market as it didn’t conform to the genre. But I sent the finished book to my agent anyway, asking her to try one last time to find me a new publisher.
Meanwhile, my indy ebooks continued to sell and I was now earning a modest living from my writing. Fans were begging me for a new book. I told them a manuscript was doing the rounds, but I wasn’t too hopeful.
My agent heard nothing – not even an acknowledgement, despite my aforementioned Kindle bestseller. So I made a very big decision. I told her to withdraw the manuscript. I couldn’t see the point of spending a year collecting rejections when I could e-publish TGG in a couple of months and start banking my earnings.
Flushed with my Kindle success, drunk perhaps on creative freedom, I realised I wasn’t prepared to rewrite. I’d already tried to squeeze my square story into a round hole and I just couldn’t do it. But I knew, in the unlikely event of being offered a contract, that’s probably what I’d be asked to do.
It was a no-brainer. If I published the book myself, I could tell my story in the way I wanted to tell it. I could also find out if there was a market for a different sort of paranormal novel, the kind I’d written.
I e-published THE GLASS GUARDIAN on Kindle a couple of weeks ago. It already has 12 four- and five-star reviews on Amazon UK. Readers seem to love it. For me it’s a very special book. It’s the novel that made me decide to go indy for good, the one in which I said what I wanted to say in the way I wanted to say it.
No creative artist can expect or hope for more. So thank you, KDP.