Making The Write Move

Author E.J. Henry tells us why he quit the rat race to pursue his literary ambitions, and how you can too

Thirty years in the legal profession can seem like a long time; especially when you are a commercial litigator who is paid to argue every working day.

In addition to succeeding in our chosen profession, we all harbour ambitions and dream of turning a hobby or interest into something more. I decided to do just that.

I had been writing fiction off and on for several years as a form of release from the long hours and pressures of a legal practice.

The realisation slowly dawned on me that this was a more creative way to live. So, after getting the blessing of my family, I took the plunge and left a remunerative career to venture into the frontier world of self-publishing.

It was not my choice to go it alone at first. Like many authors, I made submissions to literary agents and publishing companies. And like many authors, I discovered what a soul-destroying task that is. You hone your manuscript, edit and proofread, craft your synopsis and fire it off. And then you wait, and you wait… and you wait some more.

Your submission will have joined the ‘slush pile’. Agents and publishers are inundated with unsolicited manuscripts. I do not blame them for the long delays in responding (if they do respond) as their primary focus must be on their current authors.

However, unless you are extremely gifted and lucky, and even then if only your book fits within a restrictive number of genre pigeon holes, the chances are that you will not get any further in the process – hence, choosing the self-publishing route.

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“How can you stand out from that crowd?”

Many have spoken of a self-publishing revolution, and with good reason. Before, publishers and literary agents held all the cards. Now, armed only with a laptop, internet connection and a good idea, anyone can become an author and reach readers directly.

The likes of Amazon make it so simple; yet uploading your work is just the start. There are literally millions of books out there. How can you stand out from that crowd? It is a bit like going into a packed football stadium and shouting. Who will hear you?

If you search Google you will come up with a myriad of articles on how to achieve publishing success. I am sure that some of them could work. I have yet to find the elusive key and yet there are some things you can do to make the odds just a bit better.

First, the book as an overall product must be good. Invest in good editing and proofreading services and get a professional book cover designed.

Second, try to get advance reviews – best of all from people with credibility – not just friends. Amazon top reviewers are worth it – if you can manage to secure their attention – as they are swamped with requests.

Third, aim to get publicity. If no one knows you have written the book then who will buy it? Invest in a good PR company or do it yourself by pestering your local papers and radio stations.

Fourth, be patient. Sales will not rocket overnight. If you are lucky you may sell a few hundred or maybe a few thousand. Remember how long it took J K Rowling, Dan Brown or John Grisham to find success.

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The chances of you making a million are probably as good as winning the lottery. If you are after money then keep your day job.

However, if you feel compelled to write and have the stamina to publish and keep on going, you may just find it a highly rewarding exercise.

The Corpse Lodging by E.J. Henry (Endeavour Press) is available now in print, priced £7.99 or as an eBook, priced £2.99.

Visit ejhenry.co.uk