Sunday 4 December 2016

'I really thought I was going to be the next JK Rowling or Eoin Colfer'

Brian Byrne

Published 11/04/2015 | 02:30

The cover of Brian Byrne's self-published novel Doppelginger
The cover of Brian Byrne's self-published novel Doppelginger

I THOUGHT I'd be the next JK Rowling, Eoin Colfer or Darren Shan.

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For the best part of a year, I spent four hours every evening banging out at least 2,000 words of what I'd later call 'Doppelginger', a children's fantasy novel about a red-haired boy who becomes trapped in a parallel world.

I was convinced my name would shortly grace the bookshelves of Eason alongside those of the most beloved literary greats. But it didn't, it still hasn't, and I'm beginning to think now that getting traditionally published will probably never happen for me.

Publishing a book has always been a tough slog, and I contend that today, it's more difficult and competitive than ever.

For every YouTube star whose debut effort shoots to the top of the bestseller list, there are hundreds of authors whose own novels are doomed to publishers' slush piles.

Which is why, after being turned down by more than 50 publishers and literary agencies, I considered self-publication. It wasn't a decision I came to out of spite.

I had already started one novel, and finished another. I felt 'Doppelginger' was my best attempt yet, and I was empowered by the idea that I could put it out there for anybody to read.

I decided to go with Amazon Kindle Digital Publishing, a platform on which anybody can upload a PDF file of their e-book and make it available on Amazon.com.

The lack of physical publication means it is simple and free to use, even if Amazon does take a big 30pc cut of your earnings.

Of course, making your book available is the easy part; getting people to buy it is another challenge entirely. In all, I sold just a handful of copies, and gave dozens more away for free.

That said, there are cases of self-publishers who have gone on to sell millions of copies, like 'Silo' author Hugh Howey, who also started out on Amazon, and was later snapped up by US publishing giant Simon & Schuster and sold film rights to 20th Century Fox.

Traditional publishers say they are constantly crying out for new talent. But unless you have a massive online following, or you really are an exceptional writer, your best chance of success may be on the virtual bookshelves of the self-published.

Irish Independent

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