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There must be, but from the brave and talented voices I read on blogs and on twitter it can sometimes feel as if I’m the only one.

There are some interesting articles and blog posts about the quality of self-published novels, and possible models of quality control which would help to filter out poorly-written books. I think it’s a good idea, and would protect readers from being ripped off and good books from being daubed with an undeserved ‘indie-so- it-must-be-rubbish’ tag. I don’t feel qualified to take part in those discussions, though I do follow the conversations where I find them. It’s just that I don’t feel sure enough of myself and my book to stem the little voice that wonders if they might actually be talking about how to effectively filter out my book from the seriously good indie-published novels now available on Amazon Kindle. I’m so inspired I’ve started an indie books worth reading Pinterest board with some of my recommendations.

The decision to put my first novel on Kindle was based on the belief that readers would decide whether or not my book was good: if it wasn’t up to standard it would sink. It hasn’t. It’s doing well. Does that mean it is good? I still don’t know though I’m hugely encouraged by reader ratings and reviews, both on Amazon and on goodreads. But maybe I’ve just been lucky.

A couple of years ago I paid for an editorial report from a long-established and respected appraisal service, and was pleased when they described Daisychains of Silence as ‘an intelligent read, with a strong literary quality’. To a new writer that sounded good, but they also said it was ‘a sector sadly squeezed in today’s difficult market’. They recommended I add another 20,000 words to hit the magic 100,000 they said publishers want. And an agent I approached around that time suggested the same – they left the door open for me but wanted an additional 20,000 words. Overall, I was left with the impression that anything less probably wouldn’t be considered by a publisher.

I thought about it for a while but at that time felt the story was complete as it was and another twenty thousand words would just be padding. I wonder now if I was too hasty in coming to that conclusion even though I revised and edited and mulled it over for about a year. I have a sequel in mind yet on reflection I now think it might have been possible to develop those threads as part of the original whole, if I’d let it sit for longer in my mind.

That’s one of the downsides to going it alone. There’s nobody to mull things over with and sometimes it feels that if my thoughts don’t stop tumbling around they could soon drive me mad. I don’t regret it though. I feel like a pioneer, a bit like my ancestors who centuries ago braved the unfamiliar territories of Australia and Canada I’m having to learn how to navigate my way round a virtual world. It’s an amazing adventure but it would be wonderful to have an agent with me for the journey.

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I’m never, never, never on the stage … yet I’ve gone and written a book. And in doing so have been forced (forced myself really) onto a stage of sorts. Truly, the experience is as terrifying as I imagine it would be in real life if it ever were to happen. Which it won’t, not now.

I was an angel once, when I was five. That was a happy experience because we were all angels, every child in the class, and there was no stage. When I was twelve it was my turn to read a passage from the bible in assembly. The terror of that has stayed with me. The jelly legs, the quivering voice that would not find its way out of the closing throat. Never again.

Yet twice as an adult I have found myself on stage. Once I was a fairy (Fairy Liquid!) in my daughter’s playgroup pantomime. I was at the back, in the chorus of other fairies and still it was terrifying. Another time, to raise funds for the PTA I found myself involved in a musical group called The Reluctant Wilburys. The name says it all – I think it might have been my suggestion. My husband, who’s a musician and often on stage, took part and to our joint relief took over and organised us into something that turned out alright on the night. We sang together and played instruments (I might have had a tambourine) and everybody clapped. Yes, I was terrified but the feeling when it was over was amazing. It makes me think of that book (which I was probably reading at the time) … Feel the Fear and do it anyway, by Susan Jeffers. I did, and I did. But I wasn’t doing it alone, and I was at the back and had only to hum along in the chorus and tap the tambourine against my thigh, both of which I did softly so if I was out of time and out of tune it wouldn’t matter.

It was very like that with my book. The ‘feel the fear and do it anyway’ bit. I plunged into a terrifying public world. I went straight to Kindle, so I’m out there, on a stage of sorts, all on my own. It’s scary!

I know as a self-published writer I should be out there trying to get some sort of high profile, or is it called a platform? Stage, platform, it’s the same, and just as scary. Which, if a publisher were ever to read this, would probably make me, as an introvert with an ‘author profile’ that seeks the shadows not the limelight, an unlikely prospect. But would I want a publisher now? Yes, probably. To have someone else promoting your work must be wonderful, and leave the writer free to write. Or perhaps not. From what I’ve read, all writers are meant to actively promote themselves and their work these days. Yet I still think the writing, the books, are products that should in an ideal (probably old-fashioned) world, speak for themselves.

There are things in my home I’ve bought that I love. I chose them without knowledge or care for their inventor. I read books in the same way. In fact, I like an author to be a bit of a mystery. Anne Tyler and Marilynne Robinson are two of my favourite writers and I know very little about them.

Today a new 5 star review was posted to Daisychains of Silence by Catherine MacLeod on Amazon and also to goodreads. It’s by Sam Kirshaw, a writer I admire immensely and the author of The Cushion Effect, a novel of searing emotional intelligence that captivated me with its tenderness and empathy.  It’s an amazing review, yet it leaves me shaking partly because I know I should tell you about it. I am reluctant. I am thrilled. I am terrified.

Sam writes, ‘The book is a triumph of literary crossover fiction inspiring both young women of today and their maturer counterparts.’ You can read the review in its entirety HERE.

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Daisychains of Silence

On Amazon Kindle

The Ripening Time

On Amazon Kindle

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  • RT @rickygervais: All the billboards, TV ads, Trailers, and lovely reviews are nothing compared to the amazing 'word of mouth'. Keep tellin… ... 4 months ago
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