I have wondered once or twice lately whether I had made the right decision in forsaking the world of commercial publishing in favour of going my own way – a rather odd way, too, since I now write, illustrate and bind my own books. I’ll never make any money at it, I don’t suppose – but then I never made any money selling my books commercially either. Still, I had wondered whether I hadn’t gone too far in the other direction.
Fortunately, I happened across an online article* that perfectly expressed all the things that had so worried me about the commercial bookselling process. Yes, I thought, yes, as I read it. I can identify with that; the appalling pressure to write more books, to relentlessly promote them. There were times when I felt like a chicken in a factory farm desperately trying to lay enough eggs. The demand was for creativity on tap; the never-ending search for a best-seller (however you define that these days). Of course, had I managed to create a best-seller, the pressure would have been on to create another one. And another. Just writing this is making my shoulders droop.
The truth is I don’t care whether I ever write a best-seller. My motivation is to create, not to sell. So no, I didn’t make a wrong decision in removing myself from that pressurised world, I did just the right thing. I plan to eventually have all my books available as e-books – but there will be no frantic book-launches, no nonsensical pre-orders, no expensive advertising, or free download weekends or anything else like that. The books will be there if anyone wants them. No more, no less.
And in the meantime I can create my lovely illustrated hand-bound books to my heart’s content. And my heart is content. I can sell what I make at little book-fairs, to friends, to family. Now, if you’ll excuse me The Chesil Apothecary is almost complete and I can’t wait to start binding copies as soon as I finish the layouts. Creativity will always win the day over commercialism for me!