Wednesday, 3 May 2017

I love you, Emmerdale, but right now I have a problem...

I love 'Emmerdale'. I mean, I really love 'Emmerdale', it's my favourite soap/continuing drama, whatever the hell it is we're calling these things now. I love it. 'Coronation Street' comes a reasonably close second, I stopped watching 'Eastenders' years ago and I'm way too old for 'Hollyoaks'. 'Emmerdale' is most definitely the one I sit down to watch religiously, every night. But, right now, I've got a bit of a problem with it. So, this post is very much my chance to have a little vent at the writers/producers, etc. regarding one ongoing story line, because it's kind of bugging me a little bit lot at the minute...

As a self-published author I've been watching the Tracy Metcalfe story unfold with interest. I started out pursuing my writing dream a good few years ago now, and it's been one hell of a **cliche warning ahead** roller-coaster. Seriously, it's been gut-wrenching, soul-destroying, exciting, heartbreaking... all of that. And, twenty-odd books later I'm still here, still battling on with that dream to try and make something of myself, get my books out there, and it's still soul-destroying/frustrating/exciting... Do I have a point here? Yes. I do. The point I'm trying to make is, it isn't easy. At all. It's hard, especially if you're a self-published author, but even if you manage to get yourself signed to a traditional publisher - I myself achieved that dream after years of self-publishing, and now have several books published through Harper Impulse, a division of Harper Collins publishers - it's still hard. 

I've seen both sides of the publishing coin, so to speak, and neither side is easy. But, as a self-published author far, far fewer doors open for you, believe me. So, to watch Tracy's books suddenly, just a couple of hours after Kerry took a box of them into town, get taken by a bookstore; for her to be offered a launch event and her own display, just like that, I don't know - I just found myself getting a little niggled by it all. And those niggles didn't really start there, either, they've been kicking around for a while, so, let's look at them in a bit more detail...

* OK, firstly, Tracy wrote that book in what seemed like a ridiculously quick amount of time. Now, I'm known for being a fast writer, but even I take at least a few weeks to knock out a first draft, and after that there are at least another couple of weeks of editing, formatting, cover design... you get my drift here? And just who, exactly, did Tracy's formatting? Because, I'm telling you, without my tech-savvy and extremely clever husband I'd be publishing absolutely nothing. Yes, you can pay people to format your ebooks/paperbacks, but you need money for that. A lot of money, these people don't come cheap, and there's a reason for that. Self-publishing isn't something you can just pick up in a day or two, it's a whole new learning curve, one I took years to get to grips with. So, I can only imagine that whatever platform Tracy published her ebook on, it was a lot less complicated than Amazon's. 

* She had her own hardback copies of the book printed. Do you know how much that would have cost??? And, I noticed, she's charging £10 for a hardback copy - that would mean she's making a loss. A big loss. No way would hardback copies of those books be able to have been printed for less than £10, I just can't see it.
I publish my own books in ebook and paperback format, and for me to make any profit on paperback sales (and I'm talking pence here, not pounds) I have to charge around £8-12 a copy. And at the minute there is no option to self-publish in hardback, at least, not with Amazon and KDP Select, so to go to a printer and have that many copies created, she must have shelled out a small fortune! With no sign of any profit on the horizon... 

* They managed to get a reporter to come down to do a piece on Tracy, straightaway. In my experience, that's just never happened. To begin with, as a self-published author I was ignored by all local papers/media. Not one response, by any of them, they just weren't interested, which angers me in a way. There are some amazing indie authors out there writing stuff that surpasses a lot of the traditionally published books I've read, but without that publisher's name behind them it's assumed they're just "playing" at this. Give us self-published authors more credit, we deserve it. But even when I was signed to Harper Impulse, when I had the name Harper Collins behind me, did it suddenly become easier to get local media interest? Did it hell! I made god knows how many phone calls, fired off countless emails, and I got two responses. Two. Out of weeks of hard work, trying to get myself and my books just a tiny bit of local interest, I managed to get one local radio interview (which I LOVED doing!), and one piece in the local press, where they got half the information wrong anyway. It's bloody tough out there, so for Kerry to get a local reporter to come to the shop almost immediately - I'm moving to that village...

* She's managed to get her own self-published book into a bookstore. Because it's that easy. It isn't, actually. Don't even bother with the big names, you'll be lucky if they even sniff in the direction of a self-published author, and whilst there's a better chance of a local bookstore offering to take your books, it's still a hard slog convincing them to take you at all, and if they do, they'll take a handful of your books and stick them on a shelf somewhere. It's possible that they would let you have your own signing within the store, but they usually make you guarantee to bring so many people, sell so many books, and pay for it all yourself. And while this is fine for people like the character of Tracy, who has a lot of help from friends and family, in the real world it plays out a lot differently. Getting your own books into bookstores is an achievable dream, but it doesn't usually happen as easy as 'Emmerdale' are making out, so I'm letting them off with that thing they call artistic licence on this one.

It is just a TV programme, I'm well aware of that, but why are some story-lines - such as the recently, brilliantly done Ashley and Laurel one - handled with such care and accuracy, while others like the 'Tracy suddenly becomes an author' one done with just a touch too much stretching of reality? I'm aware it's one of the lighter, more comedic stories, therefore we're supposed to take it as entertainment and not read too much into it, but the thing is, as a self-published author myself, I'm slightly concerned that some people watching may think it's that easy and that quick to achieve what Tracy's achieved. That isn't the norm, that story really is purely for entertainment. The reality can be as much fun, and it can be just as exciting, but it usually takes a lot more time, a lot more hard work, and a lot more headaches and heartache. But for me, I wouldn't swap it for the world. I love what I do, I love creating new stories, new characters, and seeing what happens when I put those books out there, and although I haven't, even after all these years, hit any kind of dizzying heights, or had my book in any bookstore, I'll keep on trying. And if Tracy's story has inspired anyone else out there to try their hand at writing, then that's only a good thing. Oh, and there's one thing they've definitely got right with this story - sex sells! However, if the next stage of this story involves a publisher suddenly discovering Tracy's talents and offering her a big money contract, I may be forced to write another post, after I've face-palmed myself several times... You can stretch reality just a touch too far sometimes...

Anyway, 'Emmerdale' bosses/writers, I'm just going to put this one, final thing out there - if you want a seasoned self-published author to give you an insight into her own experiences, you know, to help you with this story line in any way, I'm available to consult any time you need me. 😉


Meanwhile, in case anyone's interested, you can check out all of my books - the self-published ones, and the ones published through Harper Impulse - by clicking the link below. 



Have a great Wednesday!

Michelle x

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