Thursday, April 21, 2011

Guest Post by Xavier Leret - On Going Indie

Indie Authors are a different breed.  They know the true meaning of hard work - not to take away from authors who go the traditional route, but there is something about rolling up your sleeves and doing it yourself, you know?
Xavier Leret, author of Heaven Sent , has been kind enough to do a guest post for your reading pleasure!  

On Going Indie - 
When I decided to publish Heaven Sent in November last year I had no idea how much work would be involved. There was so much I didn't know. I thought, well hey, I've finished the book, lets get it out. I'd had my eye on the e-pub explosion and I was thankful that my novel was ready.

I look back and I see that I was all over the place. I was editing, copy editing at the same time as sussing the indie scene and social networking. I had a twitter account but I didn't use it, I think I had 20 followers and only 150 friends on FB. So I set about upping my profile. I started twittering like a loon and just friending everybody on the Creative Writing scene. I found that I actually preferred Twitter and now use that more for selling myself. Actually I have a much larger network of pals on FB but I've tended to step back a bit because it seems, to me at least, that FB is much more of a friend thing – it irritates the hell out of me when people try and sell me something on FB or post on my wall, whereas I love it on twitter. That's not to say that I don't use FB, I'm just careful about how I go about it.

The final editing process took a lot longer than I thought it would. I thought I had edited tons when I was writing the piece. I might write 1200 words a day but there were a few times when I would cut 20, 000 words without blinking – ok, it would take me days to build up the courage to cut like that – it was a bit like pulling a scab. I must have cut at 120,000 words to produce Heaven Sent. Narrative threads thrown on the pyre, multiple point of views – so much. Then, when I sat down to copy edit I would discover little mistakes here and there – actually some of them were huge – once a paragraph just cut off (never cut whilst drinking wine). Daizee's dialect was all over the place too. Tidying her up took weeks because Bristolian is like another language and the more I began to play with it the more I shaped her character and her use of vocal poetry. Carlo also took a lot of time. There were moments where I had rushed over psychological motivations. He goes on quite a journey and to make it work each moment needs to be given its time. It was imperative to make his internal logic work, as he is the character that the reader is inside, it is his feelings and observations that provoke empathy and emotional contact. These are the elements that I think are so important in a novel. As a reader I want to feel. I want to be touched by the work. I want to examine the world and have the world presented in such away that I am forced to question what I see. Of course I also want to be entertained, books films and TV are essentially forms of entertainment. You don't want to set out and bore people with long rants, you need to entertain them into listening to what you have to say. Novels are powerful because, unlike the other art forms where you watch and observe action, as a writer you are mainlining the story and the experiences of your characters into the readers mind – that makes it extraordinary.

Through twitter I came across the term 'blog tour', checked it out on google, read a couple of writer's sites and thought, 'right, I'm going to do that'. This was about five or six weeks ago. I checked a couple of blogs, got a sense of what it would entail and then started to write emails to bloggers. Then I discovered bookblogs.ning and slowly a whole new world opened out for me. Now I am writing reviews of books that are coming my way too. The important thing is to get your name out there, no one else will do it for you – even if you have a trade publisher behind you you still have to put in the leg work to sell yourself. Going indie takes away the pretense that someone will do it for you. There is no one to blame if it goes wrong.

Twitter introduced me to a whole bunch of writers and I've made some great friendships. Its good finding that there are others in the same boat, driving this e-pub revolution, removing the stigma of going solo and taking control of their creative destiny.

So far, I've been getting some really excellent reviews, the kind of reviews you dream of getting when you start out writing. Whether this will translate into sales I don't know, who can say? Many books get raves and then disappear. What I do know is that it is up to me to fight as hard as I can to get heard. I have spent a long time writing Heaven Sent. Now it is now time for it to be read.  

Xavier has written ten plays and directed numerous others, won a Stage Award, a Millennium Award and was commissioned by the International Festival of Perth to write their Millennium show. He has written/directed two feature films, Mine ('Breakthrough Movie' LUFF 2007) and Unarmed But Dangerous (Anchor Bay 2009). HEAVEN SENT is his first novel. Xavier lives in a quiet spot of the UK with his wife and three children
Heaven Sent is available wherever e-books are sold.

Read my review of Heaven Sent 


lisa :) said...

I really admire authors that pursue independent publishing and I wish more readers gave them the respect that they deserve. (And I also wish I had more time to read all the great indie works I keep hearing about!!!)

Congrats on your success!

Xavier said...

Hey Lisa, that's really kind of you. I think the tide is changing for all us that go Indiana Jones and strike out on our own.

Laurie said...

Loved your Guest Post! You made many excellent points and I think your experience can be a good roadmap for other aspiring Indies. Epublishing continues to get better and better IMHO, especially when authors such as yourself take the steps necessary to edit, proofread and polish. You are helping to raise the bar and that ultimately will make a better reading experience for all us vocacious, insatiable readers.

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