Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 3

So, as I left my last post, I was looking for an illustrator.  I didn’t have much of a clue where to begin.  My clever buddy illustrator whom I mentioned suggested a few people, but their styles weren’t quite what I was looking for.  Which begged the question: what was I looking for?  I seemed to know what I didn’t want anyway.

My fiance led me through a series of questions, designed to get to the bottom of what I actually did want.  We sat on his rickety dining table chairs in his then-apartment in Pyrmont, me scraping the skin from around my nails and wondering how on earth I was going to find someone, and soon, to do exactly what I wanted, when I didn’t know what I wanted.  My fiance, meanwhile, took a break from his frantic film production work as it was clear that I was otherwise going to keep roaming around the kitchen and living room/study, silently pervading the entire apartment with angst.  He, the picture of calmness, asked me to take a seat.  

“I’m going to ask you a few questions,” he said.  “Hopefully we should find out what it is that you are looking for.”

“OK.”  I was ready for the magic.  

“OK.  What is it that you want?”

“That’s the whole…issue, the whole point!  I don’t know what I want!”  I started up off the chair, which proceeded to fall to the ground and risk permanent dismemberment.  

“I mean, what other illustrators’ work do you like?”  He asked, picking up the chair, still Mr Serenity, gesturing for me to sit back down.

“I guess I like…” I was embarrassed, but there was no other way to do it.  “Well,  I like the illustrations for Winnie the Pooh.  E.H. Shepard.”  I honestly wasn’t that familiar with much other work, not really.  But I tried to make it sound like I had at least some idea of the illustration world and wasn’t setting off into the land of illustrated books without a clue as to what was happening out there. “And Shaun Tan.  And maybe that guy who wrote the Sad Book.  Blake?”  

My fiance nodded, a model of non-judgment any Buddhist could be proud of.  Feeling a little encouraged, I went on.  “I want it to be olde worlde style, like, Victorian, but wistful, and pencil drawings.  And a sombre palette.”  I liked that.  ‘Sombre palette.’  I started to give my nails a second chance at survival.

He nodded more and typed in “E.H Shepard” into google.  There they were – simple  drawings giving a sense of movement, magic and a world of their own that was still familiar to me, so familiar I could practically taste the hot Milo before bedtime.

“Yes!” I exclaimed.  “That sort of thing.  Wait, here.”  I typed in “Shaun Tan.”  Up popped his gorgeous, magical world, all steam punk and whimsy.  “Isn’t it fantastic,” I breathed.  My betrothed nodded.

“All right then.  So why don’t you call Shaun Tan?” he asked.  

“What?  No way.”  My nails were not going to survive the day.  He was now talking loco.

To be continued.

Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, Part 2

In my last post on Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, I left off at me waiting to hear back from the editor at one of Australia’s big publishing houses.  

Normally, you have to wait about three to six months to hear back.  I heard from the editor about two weeks later.  Prompted by my buddy’s enthusiastic response to the story, the editor had taken it home to read over the weekend.  

She…loved it!  She made several suggestions for ways I could consider improving parts of the story, but nothing too major.  It was a truly lovely experience: being taken seriously by someone in a position of power, and getting her feedback as an equal, rather than the somewhat bossy criticisms from university lecturers or work managers, which had been my only past experience of the feedback process for my writing or other work.  The editor, however, clearly enjoyed reading new ideas, and taking part.  It was not a stand-offish type of feedback, but more like the suggestions of someone who wanted to play, too.  

The editor suggested that I submit the to the head editor, to make a decision about publishing, and asked if I might consider submitting other stories at the same time for a collection.  Another, less likely option, might be to publish as an illustrated, stand-alone book.

This latter idea consumed my imagination, as the saying goes.  I reviewed my other short stories and came to the realisation that they weren’t anything like Mr Middleton and would not suit a collection.  I had a few ideas for other stories, and I toyed with the idea of writing them up.  More than toyed: I really tried to convince myself that this is what I should do.  But a vision of Mr Middleton, illustrated, the teleporter not just a set of words on a page, filled my head.  It was a riskier path, far less likely to gain traction with a publisher.  But it was a beautiful, tantalising possibility.  Ah, I love the word possibility.  Full of so much….possibility.

Where to find an illustrator to complete my vision, and fast, before I lost their interest?  

To be continued.

Self-publishing Mr Middleton’s Teleporter

Before I start reporting to you on the process of self-publishing my book, Mr Middleton’s Teleporter, I thought I better give some background as to why I have decided to self-publish at all.

I wrote Mr Middleton’s Teleporter about eighteen months ago, not long after I moved to Sydney.  I used to get the bus route from where I lived at the time, in North Bondi, to Taylor Square, Darlinghurst, where I used to get off and walk to Surry Hills, where I still work part-time as a researcher for a government arts body.  Along the way, I would stare out the window and look at Oxford Street’s representative sample of the amazing array of what the capitalist world has to offer.  I liked, in particular, looking at the window display for a shop called Satch at one of the places where the bus would stop for a group of children to get off and go to school.  Satch always had very chic women’s clothes made from expensive fabrics which I could look at appreciatively from the bus window without having to feel squirmily inadequate at seeing the price tags up close.  Next door was a chocolate cafe, which also looked quite appealing.

Anyway, I digress.  Further along the Street, there is a really daggy, old 1970s brick building, which probably houses the last accountancy offices or other non-design type offerings on entire Street.  In one of the lower windows of the brick building was a poster with a picture of a giant satellite dish.  The text on the sign read “The largest teleport network in all Asia.”

“Teleport network?”  The first time I saw that sign, I did a double-take.  The bus kept roaring past, so I tried to crane my neck to check I had read that correctly, but it was too late, we had whizzed on past.  

The next morning I was more prepared, less dreamy.  The sign definitely said “teleport network.”  What’s more, it was an old sign, had been hanging in the window long enough to grow dusty and sun-faded so that the colour of the blue sky in the poster looked like somewhat like the tired holiday ads in the old Israeli travel agency on Balaclava Street, where I used to live in Melbourne.  

My brain instantly went on a happy little joy-ride into the possibility.  Teleporting.  How fantastic would that be?

A scribbled down my idea for the story on a few A4 Spiral Notebook pages, and a few weeks later, figured, what the heck?  I might as well try and write it up as a story.

Which I did.  After a few days, I had something I sort of liked.  I put it aside for several months, then tried to write its ending. I was happy with it, but didn’t think it was really finished.  I had other things to go on with, though, so I saved it and carried on.

A few months later, I was in Melbourne and caught up with a friend I liked a lot, but hadn’t seen in about five years.  She is a very cool girl, and the coollest thing about her is that she doesn’t know how cool she is.  In fact, in trying to find a link for her on the Internet just now, I discovered she just won an Australian Publishers Association Award for best children’s book cover design.  And she never said anything!  That’s how cool she is.   Also, she is one of the few people I know with whom I can effortlessly exchange Cartman jokes and not feel misunderstood. 

Anyway, when I got back to Sydney, I was thinking, my friend would enjoy this story.  It wasn’t finished yet, in my books, but she might have a laugh, anyway.  So I emailed it to her.

She got back to me, saying that she had stayed up all night reading it and that she loved it so much she wanted to know if I was ok with her passing it on to a friend of hers, who was one of the commissioning editors for one of the big publishing houses.  

I was like, aaah! Hang on, let me polish it up!  But by the time I got back to my friend, she had already passed it on to the editor.  

All I could do, then, was wait….calmly, meditatively, getting on with my life….

aaah! x 100!

To be continued.

Back in the middle with you


I have been as silent as the gallows for some time now.  That is not only because I have been, as The Editor put it, “writing for reals.”  It’s because I have been in a pooh-fight with my previous hosting company, moving house, working too much and also because I didn’t know what I really wanted to do with this blog.  

The upshot of the pooh-fight and my tech-ignorance is that I have lost all the content from my blog.  Oh no!   

The good thing about that is that I can start all over again.  Create the world anew…make the blog as shiny, pearlescent, crystal-dinging as it can be….

Well, start again, anyhow.

I am going to do the following on this blog:

1.  Write stuff

2.  Follow the path of Mr Middleton as he takes flight (Who is Mr Middleton, I hear you ask?  I hope you and he will become buddies, and then we can all be buddies together, as long as you’re not all weird and defensive about having a fictional character as a buddy.)

3. Write more stuff

If I fail in my mission, please give my good jokes to J-Lo and any outstanding legal actions against me to The Editor.