For a very long time I couldn’t use the ‘w’ word. When people asked me what I did I’d always talk about my day job. I might sometimes splutter out a bashful ‘huh, trying to do a bit of writing’. You can’t say you’re a writer, you can’t get in the ring, unless you’re ready to answer the inevitable, ‘ooh, who’s your publisher?’ or, ‘who’s your agent?’
Being published meant everything. It would be a validation, my call-up papers, an anointing: all of the above.
That’s why they make it so hard to get published, right? Because it’s so important?
Nah ah. It’s hard to get published because it’s big business and maybe big business doesn’t like taking risks. It’s safer to stay with what you know.
Being a writer should mean more than does the book fit with this year’s marketing strategy? ‘Sorry, we already have a story on our list with a kidnapping in it’, or ‘Everyone’s favourite supermarket needs to know what else it’s like …
Supermarkets? Exsqueeze me? Hell yeah, buddy. Who did you think was running the book trade? Every little helps …
I write Y.A. fiction. I’ve got four books now and am working on my fifth. I write the stories that I want to write, the way I want to write them. And my first book, The Edge of Me, comes out in June. And I got to make all the decisions about cover artwork, editing, price, marketing …
With a friend and fellow author, Lisa Taylor, we set up our own publishing company. We’re called Blowfish Books, and we’re publishing Y.A. and crossover fiction. Our way.
We set the bar, we worked with students: web wizards and design bunnies, we’ve edited our books collaboratively – line by line – the high pressure nozzle – and these babies are squeaky clean, crunchy and go in and out in all the right places.
And this doesn’t feel like hard work. This is major JOY. I love the learning curve. I love the sparks. I love working with my partner-in-crime on ideas and edits and design, love it that I can call her in the middle of the night about what my protagonist was doing on page 65. I love the people we’ve met, good and bad: PR twats, supercilious editors, and the funniest, liveliest, cleverest authors, many of whom are working on the most interesting projects, in bedrooms and kitchens at home, squeezed in between jobs and kids and divorces and broken washing machines.
There is another way. With the publishing giants dominating the global book trade, are Y.A. books a, going to get more diverse and interesting and risky, or b, safer and more the same as each other, and all about the merchandising?
We are blowfish books and you can check us out on www.blowfishbooks.com. We ain’t big but we are indie to the core.