Friday, 28 February 2014

Pregnant princesses, and re-working stories.

          My new picture book, 'QUICKER THAN A PRINCESS', has had its publication date postponed because certain key buyers weren't impressed enough. It was supposed to be coming out next month, which would have been a mixed occasion emotionally for me because it will be the first anniversary of David's death. Now the already illustrated book will be doing the rounds at the book fairs, where we all hope it will fare better.

As so often with these things, friends who've read it, love it, but hey-ho, that's the way publishing is these days (the image of baked bean salesmen comes to mind).

          The theme is of a whole lot of creatures showing off because they can gestate their babies much faster than our very pregnant princess, and I love the illustrations which were done by Inna Chernak, who lives in the Ukraine (and I am currently fearing for her safety, and hoping that she lives somewhere deeply rural and far away from all the disturbances).

          I spent the whole of January re-working some existing stories. There's great pleasure, for me, in doing this, because the basic material already there, so, in a strange way, it feels like sculpture. I wasn't just doing this for the sake of some abstract pleasure, though - there was an ulterior motive. Just after New Year, when I was feeling particularly low, I received a brief from one of my publishers for some short 'chapter' books aimed at six to eight year olds. Being reminded by the pleasurable thought that I was still on their list of authors to contact, I set to work re-shaping these stories, cutting, expanding and dividing. It's astonishing how something like that can get the juices flowing - with no ultimate certainly of anything being published.

          This story does have a happy ending, though, because one of the manuscripts has now flown, and will be coming out in September. It's called: THE NIGHT OF THE WERE BOY, but I'm not giving anything away about the plot. It will be illustrated, though, so when I get a cover image, I'll post it. Watch this space.

          All of which leads me into the question of motivation. Nearly everything I've done in recent years was written in the hope (often vain) of publication, but my first published book, THE TIME TREE, began as a story I told to my daughter and her best friend during a very long, dusty walk in Paris. It stayed in print for ages, and has now attracted film interest, although when that might happen is anybody's guess.

          So how do we stay motivated and inspired when nobody out there gives a monkey's? And how do we go on publicising our work, when once it was done for us? I find self-publicity the hardest part of the Indie route, and have somewhat dropped off the radar as far as my children's ebooks are concerned. As (possibly) a result of this, my sales have been negligable, and looking at them reinforces my desire to do nothing at all. I'm also troubled by the thought of online piracy. Original work is very vulnerable online, and I've already found a very dubious 'library' edition of one of my books. Comments are very welcome.


julia jones said...

How to stay motivated ... when no one gives a monkeys. It's a very good question Enid. I suppose I have two opposite answers. One is to write whatever it makes you happy to write and don't write anything else. I don't know if you can afford to do that , I don't know whether your lifetime as a professional writer responding to different markets will mentally allow you to do that. I think my alternative answer is not to write for a while but find ways to spend time with children, then very gently start to think of the stories you would want to write For Them - and not for their gatekeepers. I don't know whether any of this makes sense - but best of luck anyway

Mari Biella said...

I find the publicity hard too, Enid – not because I think it’s objectionable per se, but because I just find it incredibly embarrassing. However, the more I think about it the more convinced I become that the main difference between books that sell and books that don’t is sheer luck (that’s my excuse, anyway!). My own motivation ebbs and flows, but ultimately comes from inside my own mind, so it isn’t particularly susceptible to outside elements.

Piracy doesn’t worry me too much; I agree with the theory that there’s a definite difference between someone who’ll pay a fair price for a book and someone who won’t. A reader who picks up a pirated copy of your book probably would never have paid for it under any circumstances, so it’s not like you’ve lost a customer.

Lydia Bennet said...

It's not worth worrying about piracy, I agree with Mari - one could become paranoid! As for motivation, it sounds like you are doing very well Enid, with some fab stuff on the near horizon! But with such a sad anniversary coming up, you may be feeling understandably jaded and somewhat negative. I don't write for sales, it gives me pleasure when people read and love my books, and I've seen someone reading my novel on a train, and so on. My best selling books weren't expected to sell, and like Julia, I think it's important to write what we feel needs to be said or told regardless. Van Gogh didn't sell a single painting in his lifetime! so we've already done better than poor old Vincent! Yes the marketing is hard but I know many writers with ' big' publishers and many of them are expected to do a lot of their own marketing and gigging these days.