My Writing Life: Paul Pilkington
Tell me a bit about your writing
I write suspense mysteries, and have self-published one standalone novel, Someone to Save You, and the Emma Holden trilogy – this includes The One You Love, The One You Fear, and The One You Trust. It follows the story of actress Emma Holden, whose fiancé Dan disappearances just before their wedding, leaving the beaten body of his brother in their London apartment. Emma is forced to confront a painful past in a race against time to discover what happened to Dan. I first self-published in 2011, after investigating how to publish e-books – I had been writing regularly since 1999 and it seemed like an amazing opportunity to connect with readers. After my success with self-publishing, I was approached by a number of agents and publishers. And in Spring 2013 I signed a three book deal for the Emma Holden trilogy with publisher Hodder and Stoughton in the UK. This involves publication of the trilogy in paperback and e-book during the first half of 2014.
How did you choose your publisher in the UK?
My agent in the UK offered the Emma Holden trilogy to UK publishers – two of whom offered. I thought long and hard about which offer to accept, if any! Both were great deals, with brilliant publishers, but I was also comfortable remaining self-published. It was a very difficult (and enviable) decision, but ultimately I decided to accept the offer from Hodder and Stoughton (part of Hachette). They offered the possibility of appearing in mainstream bookstores, and reaching new readers. I met with the Editor and it was clear that the publisher really believed in my work, and would be enthusiastic about working on the trilogy. For me, that was really important. I also felt that it would be a great learning experience to work with a mainstream publisher.
What were your expectations as to the publishing contract? Have you been able to ask for specific clauses?
I was lucky, in that I had a big agency behind me, to negotiate with the publisher. So by the time the contract was agreed, I was happy with it. One aspect that is important in these days of self-publishing, is that there is a clear “reversion of rights” clause in the event that the books go out of print. This means that a publisher can’t hold on to the rights, even if the book is no longer available in paperback. I was pleased with that aspect of the contract, as it means that I could return to self-publishing the books.
Why did you retain your rights in North America?
I really enjoy the control and freedom that you have with self-publishing – working with editors, designing the cover, setting the price, deciding on strategy. So I was keen to keep my rights in North America, even though I had signed the deal with Hodder elsewhere. It’s really interesting to be doing both, comparing how things go. For me it offers a fantastic opportunity to be a “hybrid” author: working with a professional publishing house while also doing my own thing – being my own publisher.
How did you work with Kobo?
Kobo have been very supportive of me since I published my novels through Kobo Writing Life. The first time I realised that the Kobo team were taking an interest in my work was when I received an email from a member of the Kobo team, letting me know that I was on the Kobo Writing Life Bestseller list. Later, The One You Fear, the second novel in my Emma Holden trilogy, was chosen for a global promotion that ran throughout December 2013. Through Kobo I’ve reached a worldwide audience, with particular success in Canada, and I’m looking forward to self-publishing more books with Kobo in the near future.
What are your plans for the future?
It’s too early to say what will happen in terms of my traditional publishing, but what is certain is that I will continue to self-publish. I believe that the number of authors who both self-publish and traditionally publish will grow significantly. This will be authors who come from a self-publishing background, who may sign deals with publishers too, as well as established, traditionally published authors who turn to self-publishing to complement their existing publishing relationships and activities. Companies like Kobo offer such great opportunities for writers to take control of their careers, in a way that just wasn’t possible before. There’s never been a better time to be a writer.
Paul is from the UK. He was inspired to write his first suspense mystery, The One You Love, through his love of novels such as those by Agatha Christie and Harlan Coben. His aim is to create fast-paced, twisting and turning fiction that both stirs the emotions and is hard to put down. Paul has been writing regularly for over twelve years and has had material broadcast on BBC radio and ITV television, as well as being long listed for the 2004 London Book Fair Lit Idol competition.