Having successfully self-published my novel Reaper and sold the majority of the 2,000 print run by early 2008, it seemed only a matter of time before my efforts caught the eye of a major publisher.

I had managed to persuade Waterstone’s, on the back of decent in-store sales, to stock Reaper in around 20 stores nationally and had engineered successful signings in five of those stores.

I had persuaded Borders to stock the novel on a limited basis also. I had copies for sale in leading independent book stores from Scarthin Books in Derbyshire to Murder One in London and even, would you believe, City Lights in San Francisco.

Sales grow with customers from all over the world

I had sold copies of the novel from my website to customers in Ireland, Switzerland, America, Hong Kong, Australia and South Africa.

Reaper was available on Play.com, Amazon and other web retailers.

Customers who took the trouble to post a review of Reaper on both those sites were 100% positive and gave it 5 stars.

I encouraged and collected customer reviews through my own website (www.the-reaper.com) and posted them for visitors to read. Many mentioned not only how much they enjoyed Reaper but how they had almost given up on the genre until reading it.

I could have been forgiven then if I’d eased back on promoting Reaper, knuckled down to write the sequel and waited for the offers to pour in.

But the offers didn’t appear and I realised my work was far from done. I had to keep putting the book in people’s hands and networking contacts.

You have to get creative to put your book in the spotlight

This was the hardest stage of all. I’d achieved everything I’d set out to do and more but was now stuck. I had dwindling amounts of stock left with which to entice agents and publishers and anyway most of the agencies had been contacted, some of them more than once.

At this point I decided it was time to get creative.

I changed tack and started e-mailing TV and film companies to stimulate their interest. I created a presence on several networking websites, such as Facebook, and more specific reading sites, like bookcrossing.com and bookarmy.com, to promote the book further.

While planning the sequel I also tried to think round the problem of bypassing the logjam in the industry and come up with ways to create a demand unrelated, in a sense, to the content of the novel.

For instance, I considered applying to be on Big Brother but rejected it as a long shot!

A better idea seemed to be a show like Dragon’s Den which is least predicated on sourcing products with some kind of merit so I began to put together a strategy to pitch to the producers.

There was nothing left to do, but write the next novel

I had already put the opening of the novel onto authonomy.com, without any great expectations, and had received some feedback from fellow authors, though not enough to get me into the top five and a guaranteed editorial report.

Meantime the idea for Reaper 2 had hardened and I was actually almost relieved that there was nothing left to do now except write.

As sod’s law would have it, as soon as I abandoned the thought of finding a mass market publisher, I received an e-mail from Harper Collins imprint Avon asking for the full manuscript of Reaper.

I was pleased without getting too excited – I’d been down this route before with agents after all.

However, shortly afterwards I spoke with Maxine Hitchcock at Avon and she put an offer for Reaper on the table, which I accepted once I’d got past understandable qualms about relinquishing creative control over a project I’d been responsible for over several years.

Now Reaper is to be re-launched nationally on July 10th as The Reaper, with a new cover, a new price and even a TV marketing campaign. Heady days.

Writing a novel, Part 1: inspiration, agents, frustration, self-publishing

Writing a novel, Part 2: expert help, a website, cover design, costs, a publisher

Writing a novel, Part 3: selling, the media, quality, bookstores, signings