Sometimes I yearn for a simpler life. Don’t we all?

As writers, Fitzgerald, Stein and Hemingway wrote or typed manuscripts that they handed over to their agents, editors and publishers. They did a few interviews and the occasional book launch, but that’s where their obligations finished, they had the luxury of spending most of their time writing, socialising, having adventures and soaking up inspiration for future books. How I envy them, the writers of old. I do not compare my talents to them, just envy all the time they had to write.

Amazon and self publishing changed everything.

Amazon is now the biggest bookshop and biggest publishing house in the world. Amazon’s store has more that 32.8 million titles listed. These are self published by more than a million authors. They sell approximately 300 million books annually generating USD$28 billion world wide. Amazon is known to have sold more than 487 million e-books. Now everyone can become a published author with very little effort.

The Amazon phenomena totally changed the publishing and book selling landscape. Many bookshops could no longer compete with Amazon and closed their doors. Publishing houses also had to redefine their operating principals in order to remain competitive and survive. They no longer employed as many editors. It was expected that writers would present more polished manuscripts. They encouraged their current stable of published authors to be more productive. It was easier to market the book of an already well known author, one who had a following, than it was to market a new name and their new title. They ran the figures on which genres were popular and selected authors who wrote this genre. Romance and crime were popular, so writers who presented romance and crime manuscripts were more likely to be offered contracts. As e-books were cheap to publish, some authors were offered contracts to publish their books only as e-books. They often did not take the chance on doing a print run of books by new names. Advances became less common. And if two manuscripts both looked interesting they would then check out the online profiles of new authors and select the author who had the largest numbers of fans.

How has this affected me?

It’s really a case of ‘shit or get off the pot.’ Disliking rejection letters and with completed manuscripts I wish to have commercially published, I do the following.

  • devote some time to writing every day.
  • daily, I post on social media such as Facebook, X and Instagram, to engage followers and build my following.
  • Regularly send out newsletters and blogs.
  • Edit and re-edit my finished work.
  • Read blogs form the writing community.
  • Engage in social media groups on Facebook, such as self-publishers and the LGBTQ+ community.
  • Refresh my website so it attracts more views and hopefully more followers.
  • Attend Literary Festivals to engage with published writers, agents and publishers.
  • Undertake writing courses through reputable writing centres.
  • Enter short story and manuscript competitions, seeking feedback and hopefully making short or long lists. Maybe one day, I’ll win.
  • Send query letters and manuscripts to agents and publishers hoping to one day be successful.

I don’t get discouraged. My writing is good and one day I’ll hit the jackpot.

What is next?

More of the same is next, but I’m always seeking ideas from friends and I’m now writing a series of Gay romances. These will have specific appeal and so I am not writing them as Steve Castley, but instead under the pen name, Maxwell John. That is the name my birth mother gave me. These will be self-published and be advertised on a new Maxwell John – author website. I hope to have the first three gay romances available by the end of 2024. Wish me luck.

What are you up to?

Please write me and tell me what you are up to. Send me any suggestions for my writing journey and if you have any publishing contacts, please pass them along. Please! Please! Please!

My next blog.

Bayu and I are off to Vietnam at the end of this week. We are holidaying, playing tourist and doing research for one of my up-coming Bi-racial gay romances. We need a break. I’ll send my next blog from there.

Until next time…

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2 thoughts on “Sometimes I yearn for a simpler life. Don’t we all?”

  1. Ah, Steve! You have the staying power of an ox. Your loyalty to your craft is somewhere beyond devotion. Your work so deserves to be snatched up and broadcast to the world. Gay romance could be that golden ticket. I’m your greatest fan!

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