Monday, 20 June 2016

From there to here, part 3 by Sue Russell

With the publication of the first volume of my trilogy, 'Leviathan with a Fish-hook' in 2009, things started to speed up in my journey. The sequel, 'The Monster Behemoth,' was already written, and edited in line with what I had learned from the inestimable Donna, among others. Towards the end of this book I realised that Eileen's story wasn't over;  a third volume would have to be written. 'The Land of Nimrod' was the fastest yet - six months - from first thoughts to first draft. 'Behemoth' was published in 2010, 'Nimrod' in 2011. I used the same self-publishing company, which was small, family-run, well-established, honest and efficient, and didn't charge the earth. I kept costs down by doing my own proof-reading, asking my most literary friends to read and critique, and providing my own cover designs.

I made lots of mistakes, of course. I still had little idea about publicity and marketing, and at the beginning I ordered far too many copies which I then couldn't sell. I learned, though: on my bookshelf now I have 21 copies of no.1, 11 of no. 2, 7 of no. 3, and 2 of no.4! Launches provided the best opportunities to move copies, and I aimed to have the party in late autumn so that people could buy books as Christmas presents.

Meanwhile I read, and conferred, and bit by bit became a little more savvy about publicity, starting a general-interest blog with books on the side, and setting up a web site. It was all very small-scale still, and maybe always will be. But God can turn our honest efforts made in his name from something quite modest into something he can use, of that I am sure.

I wrote a fourth novel, a stand-alone this time, called 'A Shed in a Cucumber Field.' By now you will have seen I take my titles from the Bible, but even people well-versed in Scripture have often not noticed that cucumbers feature that much! (Isaiah 1 v. 8, depending on your translation.) By this time I had become aware that there were some British publishers about who accepted Christian fiction, so I decided to see if anyone would be interested in 'Shed,' which I believed to be a more polished story than the others. It didn't work out, I lost nine months while they sat on it, and it gave me much to think about. I concluded from my own reading and the opinions of others that I hadn't written a bad book, but it just didn't fit anywhere, especially when so many traditional publishing houses were obliged to be extremely cautious in taking on new and unknown authors.

I self-published again, and 'A Shed in a Cucumber Field' was launched in late 2014. It was all done, I had copies available, and the book could be downloaded to Kindle. Then I received a bombshell: an e mail arrived one morning telling me that my publishing company had ceased trading. It had tried everything possible, but was unable to meet its obligations because of the fierce competition from global enterprises. It was a blow for the company and its loyal employees, and for thousands of authors, whose books simply vanished from the internet. I was aghast, and spent most of the day waiting for news, still in my pyjamas! Eventually all the files were transferred to another company with no cost to the authors, except to their frayed nerves, but I am sure I was not alone in passing a few worried hours.

But for now my books were safe, and I was with a new publisher.

I'll bring this blog series to a close in July, if you are still with me!


  1. And some non-writers think a writer's life isn't eventful? It has moments fraught with tension. Thanks for an insightful post, Sue.

  2. Am finding your publishing journey very interesting Sue. Thank you!