Your Book, the Thing

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Paul Whybrow

Full Member
Jun 20, 2015
Cornwall, UK
A writer’s relationship with their story changes with time. We had a look at the early stages in an old thread:

Writing and completing your story was the pleasurable part, but stories need editing and it’s then that you start to realise you’ve created a thing, an intractable object that defies your attempts to improve it. You might do twenty sweeps through your manuscript, improving word choice, punctuation, grammar and details of the plot each time, but there’s more to do, surely?


You reach a point where you say that’s good enough to query with—nothing’s perfect—I’ve got to leave something for the editors to do. Now, you’re expected to be a sales representative, attempting to flog your lovingly crafted tale as a commercial object, as you make entreaties to literary agents. Your book is little different to a can of beans—will it fit on the shelf of the book market? You believe in your story, but it’s now being looked at as a thing that’s supposed to make money.

Maybe you do more editing, but you’re starting to feel like you’re tidying the feathers on an albatross hanging around your neck.


Choosing self-publishing proves that you’re more a promoter of your own brand than you are a refined writer whose words will transform readers’ lives. It might be that you follow advice that it’s better to have more than one title, even a series with the same characters, so you pen more stories, but that just means you’ve got lots more things to sell. Each of them prefers staying home to going out into the world with readers.

How do you make your literary thing discoverable?

Changing tack, you offer your story in different formats: print on demand paperbacks and audiobooks. Amazon and other eBook vendors make POD easy to create, but you’re alone and vulnerable when it comes to making a talking book. You’ll never have felt more alone, as you battle to narrate 80,000 words, then edit and master the recording. Your story isn’t a story anymore—it’s a digital thing that needs endless grooming to ensure it sounds perfect—adjusting spacing, removing sounds of breathing and having to re-record bits where you mispronounced words.

I’ve been turning my Cornish Detective series into audiobooks for six months now, and I’m a bit more than halfway through, about to begin mastering Book 3 and have almost finished recording Book 4. When I reach the final fifth title I’ll cheer, but it will still consume more than 1,000 hours of my life to make into an audiobook.

I haven’t felt remotely like a writer while strapping myself to the audio grindstone for another twelve hour-day. More like a reluctant sound engineer, who’s becoming superstitious about weird noises appearing on the recording which I know I didn’t make!

My audiobook thing is creating other monstrous things to haunt me!

More than once, I’ve thought of John Carpenter’s The Thing.


Has your book turned into a thing yet?
Choosing self-publishing proves that you’re more a promoter of your own brand than you are a refined writer whose words will transform readers’ lives.
I imagine this may prove to be a controversial assertion. ;)

You're quite right though, about a modern author needing to be a jack of many trades. Tiring to fight it though, perhaps. Easier to embrace the realities of modern publishing?

I hope you soon get that writing feeling back, Paul. Maybe give yourself a break from the recordings and write something for fun?

Has your book turned into a thing yet?
Not yet, and I can't wait till it does, to be honest. I find the first draft to be the most painful part, the agonizing getting it out of my head part. Once there are words on the page, I feel I've got something to work with. I used to be a video editor, and I suppose I think of the first draft as the film shoot (exhausting, nebulous, a mess with potential). Only once that laborious work is done can I really begin to tell the story.
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