story on a typewriter

Your trunk novel can have a fairy tale ending as well

Like many writers I have a couple of bottom drawer manuscripts – my first attempts at novel writing destined to fade into dusty obscurity.  I’ve sent them to dozens of publishers and agents, and although I received some positive comments, none liked them enough to publish them.

For a while I toyed with the idea of self-publishing them as e-books. But with the perspective of time I could see their flaws, and decided that I didn’t want anything less than my absolute best out in the universe for public consumption. So, with a heavy sense of loss, I filed them away under L for life sentence – Never to be released.  Not only did they represent years of  hard slog, despair and triumph, those pages breathed my heart and soul. They were part of me.

Then I read a guest post by author J. Daniel Sawyer on one of my favourite blogs, The Creative Penn. In his view keeping trunk novels, as he calls them, in the trunk is not only bad business, it’s dumb.  The world of publishing has changed and it’s a relatively inexpensive process to convert a manuscript into an e-book, even if you pay someone else to do it. And why wouldn’t you want to see some return for all the hours you put into it?

One word. Ego. Even now that the stigma of self-publishing has greatly diminished, many writers still think of it as an inferior option. They fear their novel will be seen as less worthy, or worse, that no-one will buy it. But publishers themselves have admitted that many a manuscript has fallen through the cracks due to reasons totally unrelated to its quality – budget constraints, limited mass market appeal, an overcrowded genre, to name a few.

As Sawyer points out, there are enough readers out there that any competently written novel will appeal to someone. And when you find an audience, no matter how small, isn’t that what it’s all about?

That’s when I had my light bulb moment. False pride and vanity had blinded me – wanting only my ‘absolute best’ on public display was just an excuse for not being perfect. There was nothing to stop me from fixing the flaws in my manuscripts and sending them out into the big wide world of e-book readers. Someone somewhere will say, ‘I enjoyed your book.’

To me, that’s reward enough.

Have you had success with a trunk novel?  Or thinking of publishing one?  I’d love to hear about your experiences as I drag manuscript number one out of the drawer and give it mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.

About the Author Robin Storey

Robin Storey is an Australian author from the Sunshine Coast in Queensland, Australia. She is a certified book nerd and has no weird hobbies or unusual pets.

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