Young Adult / Steampunk??

Peter Merton By Peter Merton, 1st Nov 2013 | Follow this author | RSS Feed
Posted in Wikinut>Writing>Columns & Opinions

I have published two books of fiction in the traditional way, and I need now to ask if self-publishing is a better solution. I also need to find a wider target readership.

Young Adult / steampunk??

I had both of my first two books published by traditional publishers, without difficulty - the first in 2008 and the second in 2011. Both took a great deal of work although it was also a huge pleasure doing so. Both went through the full process of the publisher's reader, and excellent in-house editing, cover design and so on, and the pleasure of public launches at the publisher's expense, presentations on various public platforms, and of course reviews in newspapers.

They got very pleasing reviews, and I am greatly satisfied. But they've not been any help, financially. 10% royalties via the traditional path as described, and on top of that a very limited reading and book-buying market in South Africa. Both books are aimed at South African readers, with a lot of playful treatment of SA history and heritage, and social issues, and bits of local vernacular here and there in the dialogue.

I need to get published overseas, abroad, in the wider world. I need therefore to do two things - develop a theme, motif, characters, ethos, that is readily accessible to readers in the UK and USA and either get an agent in London or the direct interest of a big London publisher, or fan it out on the ether on my own, as an Amazon Kindle author or similar.

I'm told that going the latter route first can be good if the book takes off - it brings publicity, and on the back of good internet sales it is possible that a traditional publisher might take it up. Of course I'm again being optimistic, just like tens of thousands of other indie authors who have uploaded ebooks for sale on the net. Even so, there's nix wrong with optimism. At least I now have the blooded experience of a traditional author who no longer takes success for granted.

First of all, the story and characters, ethos, setting. I realise out of the blue that I am cut out for steampunk. My two published books are about an eclectic sangoma or African shaman and his apprentice, in modern-day South Africa and beyond, with past and future wafting in and out, and reality blended with local and global legend, folklore, myth.

Steampunk calls me. It offers a universalised kind of setting, a timewarp ethos, a blend of nineteenth century and now-or-never, a running play with descriptions, motifs, inventions, innovations.

I have lit on a topic, theme, characters and all - for a Young Adult and older steampunk/eclectic trilogy. I call it, for now, 'The Hands of Reyki Jordan'. Three volumes. Fantasy Mediterranean setting, hugely blended time-frame, and a lot of gnostic curiosity as well as quest for justice, and a mighty apocalypse.

I shall, in all discretion, follow up with a few posts as this goes along. I smell the dosh, and this is needful if I am to go forward as a poet, literary scholar, and fiction writer. Maybe again I am unrealistic about worldly success, but I have a feel inside me that this might be the thing. Think Northern Lights (The Golden Compass) blended with the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, a bit of updated CS Lewis, this-and-that. Let me get on with it now ....


Fantasy, Fantasy Fiction, Narrative, Novels, Self-Publishing, Steampunk, Young Adult Fiction

Meet the author

author avatar Peter Merton
I am a novelist, ceramicist, motorcyclist and traveller. I also write flash fiction, travel snapshots, and meditations for Christians in the new age.

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author avatar Phyl Campbell
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

Just because you think your work will only be interesting to people in S. Africa doesn't make it so. Invictus was quite a popular movie, for example.
I self-publish with CreateSpace, but if you already have a publisher you like, you may want to stick with them. I've distributed less than 500 copies (including ebooks) in 3 years. There are people that do better and those that do worse. November is National Novel Writing Month (nanowrimo dot org). If you are wanting to start something new, that may be a good place to get ideas and a community. Good luck!

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author avatar Peter Merton
2nd Nov 2013 (#)

Ta Phyl! Good point about nanowrimo! Yes, it's not easy to sell, unless we make a huge kind of push, which is not very appealing thing to me. Not much of a marketer by nature. You're right, I think, about wider markets for local material, but again it depends on the marketing. On we go!

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author avatar Fern Mc Costigan
5th Nov 2013 (#)

Nice post!

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