I am nearing the end of the bend (having almost gone round it as usual) where I can say "My second book is finished," before laughing like a hyena at a stag do, whilst somehow remaining married to The Prince. As such, I am wondering whether to demurely try the traditional route to publication again or just make off in a VW convertible with cans trailing after it and get number two published myself again. The first time (with After the Rains) my agent valiantly tried to sell it to the big wigs (think Mozart in that frippery movie), who all refused it, though some did not appear to know why. Some had already bought what they termed 'a colonial' novel that year. There was not a rejecting note in any of the rejection letters. Most asked to see the next book and adjectives like 'wonderful', 'brilliant' and 'powerful' were bandied about like powder (wig powder). Gosh Roger, I don't think I put that full stop in the right place. If I go baldly for the DIY option will you monitor the commas for me? Dash it all, I still struggle with the squiggly bits.
You see self publishing is not the vanity it used to be, though having said that, it satisfied my vanity well enough that my publisher, Matador, 'select' their manuscripts and seem to have a pretty good reputation, though I would have selected it myself one way or another because I know I do not write in vain, not in both senses anyway, which is probably nonsense, but I am addled from my three year old's party today which saw me take part in some nonsensical antics, that were definitely not for the vain. In fact, we may be coming to a place where the vanity part of publishing becomes a thing of the past. What I mean is, I think we can now say, and not in vain (parp!) that many self published books are rather splendid (!) and are attracting readers all by themselves, that is, without a big marketing machine behind them. I have had to flog my book like a fisherwoman at a teeming sardine market on a hot day, with nothing but a plastic whistle fashioned to look like a trout, but I am now seeing it (the book) do reasonably well. It is also gratifying that one can finish a novel and get it published pronto rather than waiting a year for a big house to get it done, by which time you have forgotten what the book is about and gape like a guppy at interviewers because life has got squashed between the lines.
I also get to do what I want with my book. I give a quarter of my book sales from my online shop to Zimbabwean charities (hopehiv, http://www.hopehiv.org/,plug; SOAPhttp://www.hiz.org.uk/SOAP.html, plug) and I get to raise awareness (yes, right here! right now! - I do have my thinking cap on - for the charity and the book!) through it. Currently it is on sale at Nguni and Ngwenya https://www.facebook.com/NguniNgwenya in Harare, Zimbabwe, where proceeds after costs are going towards helping the Dorothy Duncan Centre's Rehabilitation Unit remain open. Most exciting of all for me personally, I have given Worldreader the right to use my book (e book format) as part of their mission to make digital books available to all in the developing world, enabling millions of people to improve their lives, http://www.worldreader.org/what-we-do/. Thus, my book 'speaks' in more than one way, becoming (I hope) a catalyst for change on more than one level.