Next Steps

A Perilous Margin is now available online, through Amazon’s UK, American and Australian sites. I have plans to send some paperback copies to my favourite Newtown/inner-west bookstores in the hope that community spirit will trump the fact that they have to buy it through Amazon. That is the extent of my marketing plan.

Over the two weeks I have been able to actually write again, write something new and exciting and fresh! It’s been such a relief and I am tempted to just throw all my energy at this new project.

But A Perilous Margin saw me through so many years, and so many wonderful family members and friends have bought copies, and I feel bad abandoning it to the internet to do with as it will.

But what to do? In some ways it does seem futile to try to create interest in it, as2016-05-11 10.33.44 I have nothing else available yet for people to read. I hate reading a book, liking it, and then finding the author has written nothing else. I feel somehow cheated.

Maybe it is best to concentrate on the new one, which I already see as an improvement. It too is set in Sydney, not yet Newtown-specific but I think that will come with the next draft. Perhaps I am writing a Newtown series, and maybe that is worth concentrating on.

So much indecision, but I am still in my pajamas after all. If I can’t even decide what to wear, what hope is there?


Available now, or soon. Sort of.

The paperback of A Perilous Margin is now available through which is unfortunately as close as it gets for Australians, as there is no printer down under.

2016-04-25 19.43.07However, the UK/European amazon are having issues and aren’t linking to any new books at the moment. Being a monolith they are unable to tell me when it might be resolved. I suspect that one day, as if by magic, it will suddenly appear, and the poor people scurrying behind the scenes at amazon will burst free from the mountain of complaints from antsy self-publishers.


Despite the issues, I got my copies! And they are silky smooth and much nicer than the proofs.

It is not the grand finale I was hoping for, but I do believe it is all done! Sort of.


The pudding is in the proof

I was very excited last week after ordering my proof copy. The final step seemed like it was finally getting closer.

But I was also slightly terrified. I have seen my writing published before and have always greeted it was a mixture of humiliation and disappointment.

Reading my own writing on the computer or on home-printed pages is very different. It is undeniably homemade and because of that, it is easy to think that it is okay. But published? Suddenly it is in the same format as every book I read, and I read a lot of very good books. Seeing my own work in a format comparable to my favourite authors does not help an already shaky self-confidence.

So last week I was preparing to be disappointed. I was scared that I would open the proof copy and want to tear out pages. Throw it in the bin. Forget the whole idea because really, who am I to think I can do this?

But I had a plan. The copy was supposed to arrive on Friday. So Friday evening I would go for a swim and arrive home feeling endorphin-fueled and ready for a weekend of whatever would come.

I walked through the door on Thursday night though, and there was an undeniably book-shaped package on the floor. Damn Amazon’s super efficient service! What to do? I was slightly hungover and running on not enough sleep. I was not in good shape to confront what I was sure would be the horror within.

I briefly thought I could ignore it but really, who was I kidding?

First I checked the formatting, refusing to actually read anything. The formatting looked good, which it should do after last weekend’s hours of frustration. Slightly too small a font but that is easily changed.

With a cup of tea, I sat to read the first page. Then the next and the next until I had read the whole prologue. Oh, I thought, that actually wasn’t too bad. I read it again. I made one small change. I read it again. And I grinned! It wasn’t terrible. And I thought, maybe I can do this.

2016-04-07 18.47.57

So one more weekend of reading it, of making small changes, of resubmitting it, and then that will be that. This time next week, I plan to be throwing my hands in the air and declaring it over.


The slog

When I started reading about self-publishing I read a lot of helpful articles that said things like, “it’s instant!”, and “one weekend is all it takes!”. After a couple of weeks including 6 days over Easter, I can safely say they lied.

Applying for and receiving an ISBN took several days, learning about and then formatting the manuscript took even longer (including many hours of hair pulling), and then experimenting with a cover (which was the fun part) took even longer again.

It got to the point where I couldn’t even pretend that I knew what I was doing anymore, and my wonderful partner,  family, and friends all stepped up and helped me out with the blurb and cover options.

Today, finally, I ordered a proof copy. And the excitement has hit! Except that I still have to go to work and be all diligent and conscientious because that is just who I am. I am also impatient, however, so have paid twice as much to receive the proof this week instead of by the end of April.

I’m already rethinking the cover, and know at least two things in the actual manuscript I will probably need to change, but it is still feeling so close. So very close!


A choice of names

I always hoped and expected a literary agent would be able to help me choose a name to publish under. Should I have a pseudonym? Initials? My full name? I feel like women’s names are loaded and articles about the apparent bias towards books written by female authors don’t make it any easier to know what to do. Now that I have decided to self-publish, however, choosing a name is something that I have to do without professional help.

I get a little sad every time a woman I know changes her name when she gets married. At the same time, I know that the name we grow up with is usually only the name of one parent’s family, and usually our father’s.

Legally I’m a Gibson, and I love being a Gibson. But technically, historically, even emotionally, I’m just as much a McKinnon. And if I was any other woman I would probably be a Murphy by now.

The easiest thing of course would just be to publish under Alison Gibson. It has its bonuses, the main one being it is easily searchable online. But it just doesn’t feel right. Names are malleable and by choosing one surname it seems to discount the other parts of me, and the other families I’m a part of.

A pseudonym also doesn’t feel right. This is my work, and I want to be proud of that and own it publicly.

So I have chosen Alison Theresa. It may cause confusion being so obviously two first names, and no surname. It’s not like I am Madonna, Kylie or Elvis after all. But it is still my name, still me, and I think it has a nice ring to it.



A step towards self-publishing

It occurred to me on the weekend that the answer to a recurring despondency might be self-publishing. Eighteen months ago I finished my first novel. I sent it out with hopeful letters to a handful of literary agents and told myself I wasn’t surprised that only rejections came back. I made changes, I paid for a professional opinion, my wonderful family gave me feedback, I made more changes. I’m happier with it now but times have changed.

I now have what seems to be a grown-up job. Full-time, hectic, at times stressful, at times exciting, it takes up a lot of time (and the almost three-hour daily commute doesn’t help). I still prioritise writing each day but the thought of dedicating that precious time to writing more letters, researching more agents, begging people who are still so unlikely to show any interest makes me sad.

Self-publishing always seemed like giving up. Now, however, it seems like a wonderful way to share work that would otherwise just be staring at me, daring me to make something of it. I’m not sure this novel is actually worthy of publishing, but I think that’s okay too. It’s a practice, like a music student’s evening soiree for friends and family before the real concert. It also means the next novel, the first draft of which has been marinating for a month but is almost ready to be reread, has something to look forward to.

And the best thing? The after-work admin it requires will actually lead somewhere, because it will be in my control!