Now the novel is off to beta, I seem to be going through another funk. Really, this has been a rollercoaster of an experience. I think it’ll be useful to me in the future to remember I felt this way! I always forget with each long story all the hard patches with previous ones and imagine they were all plain sailing. Most of it isn’t the actual writing. Most of it is my own demons, but recognising them each time and documenting them might help me in the future. I found the Paralympic closing ceremony’s theme of the self-doubt demons being chased away by one’s inner dreamer quite inspiring in that respect!
I think some of it relates to how unknown this whole process is for me. When I write a fanfic, I know where it’s going and what’s going to happen to it, and where I’m going to post it. I always wibble before posting a long fanfic story, but usually the wibble goes once it’s out there, and people start saying they enjoyed it. With this, I don’t know what the process of getting it out there will be like, so the wibbling is exponentially bigger. I think a lot of how anxious I’ve been about this whole thing is that I simply don’t know what happens next.
One thing I didn’t expect, at this stage, was to question my CHOICE of first novel so much. Back when I started to write it, I just wanted to be writing OC – that was the challenge. To write it, and enjoy it, and make it work. Now that I’ve jumped over that hurdle, I’m struggling with whether it was the right choice. I think this goes back to my original anxiety that somehow this first one had to be representative of all my work, or superlative in some way, and of course no one novel can do or be all that.
One of the reasons I decided to write Ricochet is because it’s set in the BDSM universe, which makes it really accessible to my existing readers. I’ve deliberately included quite a few nods to my background as a fanfic writer in it as well. It’s a story that lends itself to meta, so I’ve thrown a bit of that in – observant long time Xanthe readers will find riffs on previous themes and stories, a huge nod to one my most popular stories, and some references to other stories in the BDSM universe, especially Hiding in Plain Sight. I wanted this to join the pantheon of my BDSM-verse fics. I like the idea of them all existing in the same universe – we already know that Tony and Gibbs from NCIS have met John and Rodney from SGA, and in Ricochet I make a little link between the NCIS team and the Collar Crime TV show. I want to do that in every story I write in this universe, even if it’s just tiny.
That was all very deliberate, but that does make the novel quite self-referential. It’s very much a fanficcy kind of story. I thought that was a strength at the beginning of the process, but now I’m not so sure! I have plenty of ideas for things that aren’t remotely similar to fanfic, so I hope, in time, to prove I can do that too. For now, I’m having to remind myself that this is a transitional story and not be so hard on myself about it. Probably if I’d gone the other route and done something very different first time out, I’d have worried it wasn’t accessible enough to my existing readers, so I suspect most of this worrying is in my head rather than a real issue.
I don’t really expect to find an audience outside my existing readers. While I would love for this to be a giant success, I’m very realistic about its actual prospects. This is my learning curve – my first attempt. There will be things I’ve got wrong both in the writing and in the publishing – the important thing is to learn from it for next time.
I made a decision to self-publish rather than go to an agent or publisher because I wanted to try self-publishing first. I must admit I’m also keen to have some creative control as well! It might be that having tried it, I’ll decide I don’t like it, and next time I’ll look to do something different. So this first one is a try out in so many ways.
One thing that was bothering me was simply getting the story out to all the different sites in all the right formats. I thought I might use Book Baby to do that, so I’ll be interested in people’s thoughts on that, especially if they’ve used it themselves.
Other issues to decide at this stage are related to marketing. First off – names! I’ve decided to call myself Xanthe Walter. I actually really like just being Xanthe, but it is more usual for authors to have two names, and as I’ve used Xanthe Walter as a sort of name for years, I thought that worked best.
With that in mind, and knowing I intend this to be a long term project with plenty of other books to follow, I asked Jacci to design me a website just for the books. I’ve had a lovely graphic designed for it and Jacci has done a fantastic job incorporating that into the site. We’re very proud of it, and I look forward to unveiling it soon!
In terms of marketing, I thought I’d put a link to the novel on the bottom of all my story pages. I’m also going to have a gif made for Tumblr in the hope it might get re-blogged. I’ll notify communities where I posted other BDSM universe stories if the mods are okay with that, and I’ll send out to my own update list and various relevant yahoogroups I belong to.
If anyone has any other ideas, I’m very happy to hear them :-).
Now, I need your help! I’d like to put up a section on the new website of Q&A, so I’d love it if you could ask me some questions that I could answer. I won’t answer them here – I’ll just choose a selection and answer them on the new site. So please ask away! About anything Xanthe related, the BDSM-verse, old stories, new stories, Ricochet etc etc. Thank you!