My writing career began back in 1979, when I scored my first publication at the age of five...in the school newsletter. That story, about a little girl who died of surprise when she saw the constellations of the night sky for the first time, was just a few paragraphs long, but my teacher at the time fell in love with it and thought it deserved a wider audience. Obelia, she said, you were born to write!
Failure, misery and disillusionment
After such a promising start, my publishing career kind of went downhill. But whatever special quality my teacher identified in that story stayed with me, and I continued to develop it. From that time forward I continued to write stories, and eventually full length books, on many and various topics, essentially in total obscurity. Few people read my work, most of which resided in dusty drawers and cardboard boxes, but those who did noted that - whatever the topic - my authorial voice was very strong, always stamped with the slightly morbid and dry sensibility that my friends and family know as Obelia TM.
There was always something slightly sadistic about me, you see; I took sinister delight in upsetting and scaring people. But I didn't really want to upset them, I'm not a bad sort of person underneath it all. So I found a legitimate channel for this slightly sadistic impulse and in this fashion I finally really found my writing feet when, after publishing a few short fictional stories in anthologies and magazines, I started writing horrifying true stories about crimes and disasters. I knew that what I loved to write was non-fiction, specifically narrative non-fiction; and that the way I wanted to do it was to take a true event and turn it into an absolutely riveting and page turning story.
It has been a winding circuitous route to this place where I find myself today, after several detours which turned out not to be detours at all - a history degree, a criminology degree, years of research and writing about the saddest and most shocking incidents from our mind boggling human past.
Then back in 2016, my writing mentor at the time read my latest manuscript, the book which later would become Murder by Increments, my take on the infamous Hillside Strangler case from the late seventies. She liked it enough that she encouraged me to try for professional publication with a major publisher. My mentor is traditionally published and she was absolutely confident that I would be too.
As time passed however it became clear that much had changed since she had found such success in the industry. My manuscript garnered some bites and some interest, but no more than that. The agents and publishers who bothered to reply said that while it was a very good book, they didn't think they could sell it. Finally, a very decent agent came clean with me, and said what I wished someone had said from the beginning. I loved this book, she said; but I can't sell it because publishers only take on authors who have a large and active platform, a presence in the mainstream media, and a long history of bestselling publications. In other words, to sell my book to a mainstream publisher, I needed to be famous already.
Back in the saddle - on my terms
I immediately wrote back and profusely thanked this agent for making my path clear to me. I was going to go independent, because really, that was my only option.
Well, I could have signed on with a small press, but I knew they couldn't do any more for me than I could do myself. I used to be an editor for a major publisher, hence, I could (and do) edit my own books. I had some design skills and an artistic bent, so I could design my own covers. I'm a social media addict so I could market my books online. And above all I am that most independent and uncooperative kind of person, loath to rely on anyone else, so the pain and torture of compromising with publishers about my beloved stories did not actually appeal in the least.
And here I am today, three books, and thousands of sales later... and I did it all on my own.
Let me tell you, there is no better feeling than that. Being an independent publisher, a one man band responsible for every aspect of producing, distributing and marketing books, is very tough, especially as I still need to work a few days a week in an office to keep myself afloat financially. But the crux of the issue is that, as an independent author, whether one fails or succeeds, it is entirely down to your own efforts. If you work with a traditional publisher instead, you simply won't have that opportunity for learning every aspect of the book business, and what it takes to be in the driver's seat of your writing career.
Today I am at a point in my learning and practicing that I feel ready to take on additional projects - by other authors. Hence, I launched Estoire, my own cottage publishing enterprise, with the goal of helping promising authors polish their best work and get it in front of readers. In 2019 I am looking to take on a few projects by authors who, like me, write exciting true stories.
Estoire is both a publisher and an online zine. The Estoire website features samples of books with links to the retailer where you can purchase the full-length work.
Estoire pays you, the writer, according to a unique three-tiered system. Let me invest my skills in producing and marketing books in your book so it can be a success.
If you want to know about how it works, head here.