How Cat Tales was written

Cat Tales was my first try at self-publication. (I actually thought it was a clever title at the time.) I had not sold a novel since Eye in the Stone, in 1988. I had rejections of course. One time it took two different publishers two years each to reject what beecame Stroad’s Cross. Another time it took a publisher three years to reject an earlier version of The Black Ring, called Zhanaedegau at that time. (Another editor was courteous enough to reject Volume One after only three months.) I was in my sixties by then, and I didn’t have time for this.

I did research on [] and [], two marketing sites which I highly recommend. Their sites are, or were, updated once a month, and they have all the information a writer needs to find a publisher for their particular book or story. Most importantly, they have every editor’s name and address, and every publisher’s submission guidelines. While doing my research I found that some publishers would not let me even submit certain of my novels, as being too short, too long, or of mixed genres.

Well, all right. I could puff a short book up to length, as a well-known author once recommended I do. Or I could butcher a long book down to length. But I didn’t want to do either of those things, they would no longer be what I wanted them to be, they would be the way someone else wanted them to be. Or I could lie about the genre, but readers would discover that, and could possibly be disappointed when the book wasn’t what they expected.

Maybe, I thought, I should look into publishing myself. By this time, self-publishing was not always assumed to be vanity press. And after all, Pride and Prejudice was self-published. Her father paid for it.

But the real fear I had was, what if a company accepted the first volume of The Black Ring, and was disappointed in the sales, and decided to cancel? (I’d had that happen with other things.) I would be stuck. What publisher would want volume two through six, when volume one had failed elsewhere? The Black Ring is not a series. It is a novel, of about 2,800 pages and 837,000 words. (Technically, it’s what’s called a closed series, like an encyclopedia, or The Lord of the Rings.) If I ever wanted to see it published in its entirety, I would have to do it myself. But could I do it?

I needed to try it out, just to see if it were possible. I wanted to use something that I didn’t plan to publish otherwise. I had a series of five speeches from my days in Toastmasters, written in 2004 and 2005, each about five minutes long. I could publish them as a collection on Kindle Direct Publishing, which could cost time and effort but no money, and they would be available on Amazon almost at once. If I couldn’t actually do it (I could), and if the book didn’t sell (just a few copies), I would lose nothing, and would have gained experience.

I revised them slightly, turning the speeches into essays (the styles are subtly different). Then I learned how to submit the manuscript to Kindle. I created a cover, did my best to format the text, and sent it off. And, of course, with no editor to reject it, it went live. I priced it at the minimum allowed. And I discovered how much more I had to learn. I sold a few copies. Meanwhile, I was working on other books.

Then in 2010, having self-published several novels, I decided to do a paper version of Cat Tales. I made a few corrections, turned the essays into stories (the styles are different), created a new cover, and did a far better job of formatting. I decided to use my own imprint, Ogden House, instead of letting Createspace be the publisher of record, which meant my minimum price had to be higher than it would have been. I make a few cents profit from every sale, of which there aren’t many.

But that is fine with me. I could take Cat Tales to conventions, I could autograph the books instead of scratching on the screens of Kindles, and I could give them away, which I frequently do.

Cat Tales is, in a very special way, a complete success. Not because of sales, but because of what I learned. Because it proved that I could indeed publish my own work, at whatever length was right for the story, instead of making the story fit marketing demands. And I could have as complex a cross-genre book as I wanted.

And I could do it within my lifetime.