Nicola Vincent-Abnett

Nicola Vincent-Abnett
"Savant" for Solaris, Wild's End, Further Associates of Sherlock Holms, more Wild's End

Wednesday 2 October 2013

Self-Publishing: A Chance to Get Your Own Back!

This morning I found myself on the horns of a dilemma.

We shook hands!
What's to be done?
I had shaken my brother’s hand, and it was a foolish thing... a very foolish thing to do.

A year ago, I wrote a book called Addled Kat. I didn’t mean to, it just happened. I know... That’s what they all say. 

It all came about because I was asked to read 50 Shades of Grey, and you can read all about the consequences of that little misdemeanour in this blog that I wrote in March.

As it turned out, one of my beta-readers was my brother’s girlfriend and my very good friend, Vanessa. She loved the book and has been asking me, ever since I wrote it, when I plan to write the sequel.

She wants to know what happens next.

The fact is, I know exactly what happens; I just haven’t found the time to write it, yet, especially in light of the fact that I haven’t sold the original.

My lovely agent liked Addled Kat too, so she set about selling it. I heard today that she hasn’t had any success.


This is the story of my publishing life.

I’ve been commissioned to write books that have been written and paid for, but not published. I’ve been the runner-up for a book prize for a novel that hasn’t been published, and I’ve written books that have been loved by publishers that have got as far as commissioning meetings and then fallen at the final hurdle.

Addled Kat won’t be published, despite the fact that publishers seem to love it, because no one could decide whether it was Chick-Lit or Erotica. Well... that’s because it’s what I like to call Clit-Lit!

Publishers say they’re looking for something new and original; they say they’re looking for new ideas and original voices, and, who knows maybe they are. On the other hand, give them something new and original, and if it doesn’t fit onto a pre-labeled shelf, they’re just not sure what to do with it, how to sell it, or who will buy it.

If everyone who buys Chick-Lit thought about buying this book, and everyone who buys Erotica thought about buying this book, that’s double the market, surely? And let’s not pretend you can’t double a market... Just look at 50 Shades of bloody Grey!

Anyway, I appear not to be making my point, which was that I shook hands with my brother.

Addled Kat had a false start with my original agent, so when my lovely new agent decided she wanted to sell it my brother offered me a deal.

My brother’s a bit of a self-starter. He owns his own business and he’s been a very good salesman in the past. He’s a hard man to say no to.

Against my better judgement, I let my brother talk me into a deal.

He suggested that if my agent hadn’t sold Addled Kat within six months I should give it to him to self-publish, and if he could sell enough copies on Amazon to make it worth my while, I’d write the sequel for Vanessa.

I’m very fond of Vanessa.

Addled Kat isn’t my usual fare. It never crossed my mind that I’d write Chick-Lit or Erotica, let alone a mash-up of the two genres, and this was a one-off, so I didn’t plan to build an entire writing career out of it. I wasn’t sufficiently invested in it to be terribly concerned whether my agent sold it or not. I didn’t have any expectations of my agent selling it, since I have taken a huge weight of rejection over the years. On the other hand, all of my beta-readers rated this particular book, and that never happens to me... ever! So maybe this was the one.

I trust my brother, so I shook hands with him.

Most of you have read my feelings on self-publishing, but if you need reminding of them, you can take a look at this blog, or this one, or even this. I have been positively vehement on the subject. Many of you do not share my point of view.

It is to all of you that I address this challenge, but I guess that you gainsayers will be my most gleeful responders.

Here’s the thing: Do I honour that handshake? Do I self-publish Addled Kat?

I’m prepared to do it under very special circumstances.

I’m prepared to do it under my pseudonym Adelie High, and I'm quite happy to publicise it on this blog. I will only undertake it with some help, though, so I’ll need volunteers to come to my rescue with editing, proofing, typesetting choices, cover-proofing and so on. If you have publishing skills and you’re prepared to offer them free of charge, I promise not to take undue advantage.

I only have a limited amount of time and energy to spend on this, so the window will close at some point, and, as far as I’m concerned, there’s only a reason to do this at all if I can generate some interest, so, if you read my blog, please comment, even if it’s only Yay or Nay, and please feel free to comment anonymously.



  1. Yes. Absolutely. I will plug the hell out of it because it was awesome fun - Birdy

  2. I think it would be fun - and you won't have lost anything since it hasn't sold. And we'll all give it some publicity! And then we might get the sequel out there too.

  3. Serendipity.

    One of my favourite words.

    I remember when you were first dallying with the idea of this and I was excited by the prospect. Most of my female friends have read 'Fifty Shades of Grey' and, for a variety of reasons, enjoyed it. I read it so I could be horrible and smug and bookishly snobbish and so I could, ultimately, take the piss out of them! I did so mercilessly. I also tried to get them to read some quality 'smut', instead of this drivel. I attempted to push these undiscerning ladies towards Anaïs Nin but to no avail.

    One of my favourite girl friends has also read 'Fifty Shades of Grey'. It is the ONLY book she has read. She loved it. This pains me. I have attempted to use this as a springboard to the vast and beautiful world of (well written) books. I failed.

    I talked to my friend about you and your potential novel. I told her about it being a 'clit-lit' book. A well written book. A book by somebody that can actually write! I persuaded my friend to agree that if your book ever saw the light of day, she would read it. This is a big thing. A huge step for her. But only if the novel is written and published. Otherwise, 'Fifty Shades of Grey' could be the only book she has read, or ever will read. No pressure then, Nik!

    My friend's name is Kat.

    Serendipity. One of my favourite words.

    As for self-publishing? I fully understand your reservations about this. I don't actually agree with them, but that's just me. Can I be pedantic? Your BROTHER would be publishing it so the 'self-publishing' tag would not apply.

    Lastly, I have no particular talents but I am more than willing to volunteer my services in any way you see fit.

  4. I went over your articles on self-publishing again, just so I was certain why you were so vehement: we seem to use the term very differently. You seem to be against it because you are treating it as either/or; either you have other people involved or you self-publish. This misconception about what the process from author's brain to reader's eyes can be, is why I lean toward Chuck Wendig's label of the author-publisher: the writer who also employs the people the traditional publisher employs.

    I say this not to revisit the debate, but in an attempt to remove those doubts caused by an arbitrary division of publishing into self- and proper.

    Of course you should look at self-publishing Addled Kat. With the same process of using skilled labour for each step that any publisher uses.

    Were it me I would also do it because I had promised, but each person's ethics are their own.

    I have several years experience editing fiction on top of many years proofing legal documents. I am happy to provide my services if they are of use.

    1. The promise is my biggest stumbling block!

    2. So you really do not want to do it then, and just feel morally obliged?

      If that is really the only reason why you are considering it, then you might lack the motivation needed not to sucumb to "good enough" syndrome, ironically turning the project into exactly the second-rate endeavour you fear self-publishing is.

      If, on the other hand, you accept your book is a good book and want it published then you might be able to fight for a good product.

      If it will help then I will don my lawyer hat for a moment: you promised to self-publish the book; therefore, accepting my definition, you promised to stop viewing it only as a manuscript you are submitting and start viewing it as something you might risk publishing costs on. If you send the manuscript out for editing, seek a cover, do all the things a publisher does, and at the end of that do not feel it is a product you-as-publisher would release, then you have fulfilled your promise to self-publish.

      As you are asking editors, designers, &c. to do their part for free, you have nothing to lose from going forward; you might even gain.

    3. If I do it, I shall approach it, as I do all things, with vigor and the intent to do it thoroughly.

      I shall probably treat it as an exercise to see whether I can change my mind. To see if I can prove that it can be done to a decent standard, with the help of others. Perhaps it is possible to be a writer/publisher rather than a self-publisher writer. Who knows?

  5. Hello Nik, thank you for your kind comments, you know I genuinely loved reading your book, so no pressure but Do it, let him do it for you! We all want to know what happens to Kat! So go for it...... Vanessa Xx

  6. As one of the people who has pushed you on Self Publishing before, I say 'good on you' for at least considering it again. And if you need a hand, I'll be more than happy to help out as well.

  7. Hi Nik, feel free to use me if I can be of any help; an awful lot of my writer friends have published erotica successfully over the last few years, and I know several who make a good living through self publishing.

    Just a quick question though, considering your feelings on self publishing - have you tried any of the smaller online publishers first? if you are interested I can see if some of my friends can give you some advice, or failing that you should be able to find most of them listed at the EWA website.

    Whatever your choice, I look forward to reading it and will, of course, help you promote the hell out of it :-)