I met author Gary Murning on Twitter, and was so pleased when I first heard that his book If I Never was going to be published by Legend Press. Now that his book is out, I thought it would be a good time to pick his brain about his book, publishing, and his road to success.
This is what he had to say:
I’ve always had a fairly positive attitude, to writing and life in general, but as I’m sure you and all your readers know (probably from experience!), the world of the unpublished writer can be a pretty frustrating one. Promising comments may abound, but all too frequently agents/editors simply aren’t prepared to follow through and put their money where their mouths are, so to speak.
And, to be honest, it could have continued that way for me. I’ve been doing this for more years than I care to remember (okay, if you insist, 23!) and publication could so easily never have happened. To cut a long story short, I’d submitted If I Never to Legend Press after submitting an earlier piece that didn’t quite fit their list. I got a lot of encouraging comments from the editor but then, as is so often the way, she left the company and, already being familiar with this quite common publishing scenario, I figured that was that. I pretty much forgot all about it until, 18 months later, I received an email from Tom Chalmers — the founder of Legend Press — informing me that he’d been looking through submissions, had read If I Never and wanted to discuss it with me. A telephone conversation followed and, as they say, the rest is history.
The funny thing is, I never actually submitted If I Never elsewhere. Usually I submit widely but for some reason I held fire with this one. And I’m really pleased I did. The Legend team is incredible to work with. I have the creative freedom I need and far more input than I could ever have dreamt of.
Regarding the level of support I get promotionally from Legend… actually, it’s far more than I originally expected. Legend is a small independent. Effectively a team of three (very dynamic!) people. I know of people with larger publishers who get very little in the way of promotional/marketing support — and whilst it’s true that I’ve done a lot myself (something I believe to be very important), the Legend team has certainly done its fair share. For example, there have been magazine interviews and reviews that I simply wouldn’t have been able to get myself — and they’re always incredibly receptive to suggestions. Very refreshing.
Social Media such as Twitter and Facebook etc have been useful promotionally — as have websites such as Goodreads.com. I think it’s incredibly important to use everything available… small independent publishers like Legend simply don’t have the kind of budget that the bigger publishers have, obviously, and competing can be really tough — so, for me, it’s all about finding new ways, ways that level the playing field, if only a little.
When I asked Gary about his book, here’s what he had to say:
If I Never is, I suppose, a strange book — in that it’s quite different to the main body of my (forthcoming) work. Yes, there are similar themes and narrative approaches in all my work, themes and approaches that very definitely mark them as Gary William Murning novels, I believe, but there was rebelliousness to the way in which I wrote If I Never that I’ve now abandoned (it was bloody exhausting!) Whilst writing it I was very aware of all the dos and don’ts of writing — the long list of requirements we all have in our heads — and, to be frank, I just said “sod it” and disregarded as many of them as possible! I threw everything in the pot, mixed sweet and savoury in ways that most would not recommend, and had a thoroughly good time in the process!… Come to think of it, maybe that’s why I didn’t submit it to other publishers! I possibly suspected subconsciously that the world just wasn’t ready for it!
As it turned out, however, the world (or certain people in it!) was ready for it. The vast majority of people seem to get it, with only one or two negative comments here and there. It’s pretty edgy and probably not as polished as it would be where I writing it today (though polish might actually detract from what I was trying to achieve!), and the response has been deeply satisfying. I feel incredibly fortunate.
Thank you so much, Gary, for sharing your experience with me and my readers, and we wish you continuing success!
Next week London Author Marsha Moore will be doing a guest blog post right here! Same bat channel!