Fighting Man Press: Into the Unknown

Readers of this blog will be keenly aware that, whenever I’m not shouting my mouth off about everything under the sun, I am otherwise engaged in the most subversive, sad and futile activity known to humankind.

That’s right, I am the lowest form of life – a writer of fiction.

* * *

What drives a person to spend (literally) thousands of hours in lonely rooms, tapping their life away, while the rest of the world continues in its oblivious orbit?

Because that is the reality. One in a thousand writers is commercially published and only one in a thousand of those is successful enough to make their living from it. The odds, therefore, are a million to one against.

Every year it gets harder, but still people keep trying.

Why?

No doubt, there are any number of reasons. For many it is simply a hobby – an artistic pursuit to be enjoyed for its own sake – and that is part of my own motivation. I could no more not write than not breathe. (Ahem)

But when you’ve done it long enough to feel you’re moving up the rungs of the craft ladder, you want some feedback. It gets to the point where you just can’t go on without an audience.

Having an audience means getting published – which in one sense has never been harder. Book stores, distributors and publishers were closing down in droves long before COVID 19 inspired another generation of dystopian, post-apocalyptic scribblers.

Yet, in another sense, it’s never been easier, and that is where I now find myself – about to take a dive into the vast ocean of independent (ie, self) publishing.

* * *

Self publishing – now commonly known as independent publishing – used to have a very bad name, and no-one who wanted to be taken seriously would ever dip a toe into that murky pond.

Because let’s face it, there is a lot of dross out there.

Or is there?

It has certainly been a common perception that most (if not all) indie books are terrible. They were rejected by proper publishers, so they must be terrible, right?

To return to that original statistic – one in a thousand manuscripts gets picked up by commercial trade publishers – does that truly mean that the other 999 were terrible?

There are all sorts of reasons for rejecting manuscripts – the main one being that there is only so much room in any publishing program and most of it is already taken up by contractual commitments to existing authors within the stable.

With most publishers so focused on the bottom line these days – and there being so much pressure on the bottom line from other sources such as book shops wanting more, distributors wanting more, readers wanting to pay less, how much margin is left for new voices trying to break through?

Almost none, which means for those novelists who really are worthy of scratching their mark on the zeitgeist, there is only one possible avenue.

* * *

Having had four books commercially published to significant critical acclaim (two of them making it into the airport bookstores), you’d think it wouldn’t be hard for me to find publishers for my new work.

I can hardly even get them read.

In fact, my next novel – my masterpiece, no less – was accepted by a mid-sized Australian publisher, to my great excitement. They were the biggest publisher I’d had so far and had a good reputation for quality and promoting their authors. Their books win awards! With the profile of the publisher and the quality of the work (as I see it) I thought I’d finally broken through.

Imagine then my devastation when the publisher contacted me to say they were in trouble and were cancelling everything in the pipeline? (And if they’re in trouble, then god help the rest.)

I’m still getting over it.

But that’s when I made the decision to create my own imprint.

It is a bold move and an expensive move, but I am encouraged by the fact that the publishing industry has evolved to the point that independent publishing is no longer a by-word for crap. There are any number of success stories – indeed, Amazon and goodreads are chockers with independent authors who’ve developed enough of a reputation to make a living from writing.

I’d go even further and suggest that – given the super-conservative approach that publishers now take (certainly in Australia) – that the only place to find interesting new voices is in independent publishing. I know there are now armies of readers looking for something genuinely new so am greatly encouraged by that thought.

Welcome to Ord City is way too good to let wither on the vine, so I have to get it out there. No matter how hard…no matter the cost.

To that end, I’ve created my own imprint – Fighting Man Press. Ord City will be the first book published under that imprint but I need your help. I am appealing to anyone who has enjoyed my work in the past to take a look at Welcome to Ord City – and if you enjoy it – really enjoy it – then tell people about it. Review it on Amazon or goodreads. Tell your friends. Tell everyone!

I know I’m asking a lot. This is a grubby appeal of the type I’ve never made before but my new venture will fail unless enough people act as my advocates to push the book hard enough to reach critical mass – to take off under its own power.

Obviously it won’t do that if it’s not good enough in the first place, but I’m betting it is good enough and I’m spending my own money to get it out there in the hope that readers who enjoy my work will want others to discover it also.

Here are three suggested responses to my impassioned plea for your support. Feel free to post any of them onto this page:

• Adrian, I love your books and will do my best to help Welcome to Ord City be successful.
• I am appalled that a writer of your so-called ability would stoop to such grubby depths in search of a lousy dollar.
• I am completely indifferent to everything you do or say.

I just know I’m going to be seeing that third bullet point a lot, but at least that means they’ve read this far!

4 Comments

  1. Adrian, I love your books and will do my best to help Welcome to Ord City be successful, however I am appalled that a writer of your so-called ability would stoop to such grubby depths in search of a lousy dollar. As such, my only reply answer is that I am completely indifferent to everything you do or say.

  2. I’m appalled a writer of your ability or therefore lack off would expect me to drive to Erina to buy a copy, is it on sale in Sydney. or can you buy online?

    • Thanks Paul, I expect you’ll be able to get it at various independent bookstores in Sydney. (Ask them!!!) But if not, hassle your sister for a copy.


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