Playing Publisher Chicken

I’ve been working on this book for a couple of years now.

I like to think I dodge the whole “I’m writing a novel (but I’m only on chapter three)” thing by actually having some complete drafts of the damn thing.

More importantly – I actually like the idea. And it’s rare for me to say that.

Short version? An experienced photojournalist is forced to re-evaluate his views on involvement in armed conflict in the wake of an alien invasion. He reluctantly becomes one of the first humans to visit the invaders’ world, shifting from observer to participant while struggling to comprehend some very big, very alien concepts.

And there’s something about that idea I can’t quite let go of. Usually, I get bored of them and move on pretty quickly.

So I’ve been kicking it around for a while. Now, wiser people than me have often said about how it’s a good idea to put your work to one side for a spell, get some distance, then go through it again.

I’ve done that a couple of times, but only for a few weeks at a stretch.

But earlier this year, fresh off finishing my latest draft, I started sending samples of this work out to a few agents and publishers. Try and drum up a bit of interest, try my luck – that sort of thing.

No joy.

It was rejected on all fronts. That is, besides one place that would help me self-publish for a hefty sum.

I was tempted to go for it. But then I wondered why everyone else rejected it.

So I looked at the manuscript for the first time in a couple of months.

And it was crap.

It needed changing. Urgently. All of it.

So, despite all the work and desperately wanting to get this f***ing story out, I didn’t sign up to self-publish. Instead, I’m going through it all. Again.

Now I’m not saying this is going to be some major international hit – but I’d like to think the idea deserves better treatment than I was giving it.

It seems this experience has helped me realise there’s an element of personal pride at work here. It turns out I’m really not comfortable with feeling like I’ve put out total rubbish.

If I do self-publish in the end, I want it to be because the story might have a bit of a niche audience or something – not because I gave up too soon on making the writing and structure half decent.

Besides, you never know – the next draft might be the one to get attention from publishers and agents.

So, yeah… Updates to follow.



    • Thank you! Considering that originally it was just going to be a series of fictional blog posts, then a diary, then a (short) ebook, finally admitting I gave a damn about the idea to do more with it that “just” rush it out was actually kind of nice.

      … Even if polishing it is a lot of graft. Oh well, should have written it better first time!


      • First drafts are always riddled with mistakes regardless of how long you work on it so I wouldn’t worry about that. Always takes a while to make take these things up to a level your happy with.

        Liked by 1 person

      • True, though the first draft was the one that stuck to the original episodic format. Subsequent drafts have tried to restructure it, and somewhere on the way the story picked up a lot of fat and lost a bunch of details.


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