Image: Petar Milošević
I had originally intended my second serious novel, Beirut, would launch at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature. I was wrong to even think that was possible.
Back when I decided to self-publish Olives, in September 2011, it all seemed simple enough: put the book up on Amazon and CreateSpace and print a local edition. I’ll gloss over all the details of permissions, ISBN numbers, printing presses, distribution and the like – if you’re interested in how to self publish your book in the UAE, you can always come along to my workshop at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature on the 9th March.
But suffice it to say, a decision taken with a ready-to-go manuscript in September resulted in a book being widely available in the UAE’s bookshops in January, with reviews only starting to come in Jan/Feb and many reviewers still to give their opinion of Olives at the time I write this.
At the same time, I’m actively promoting the book, with this blog, on Twitter, with bookclubs and various signings, appearances and the like. Olives is taking about an hour out of each day right now – social media is an expensive tool if you count your cash by the second and it’s pretty much the only tool a writer has in the Internet age. You could argue word of mouth, but that’s really what social media’s about, isn’t it?
So the plan is to work on the final edit of Beirut in April and have it submitted to the UAE’s National Media Council for Permission to Print (which I doubt it’ll get) in May. If it’s knocked back, I’ll print in Beirut, although I have to say Beirut’s chances of getting sold in Beirut are pretty slim, too. If self-publishing Olives has taught me one thing, it is that publishing novels in the Middle East is a thankless task when it comes to ‘sensitivities’ and ‘cultures of respect’.
I reckon Beirut can go to print in June at the earliest. That would mean possibly hitting the shelves in late July/early August for the holiday rush in the UAE. But distribution is a very analogue game and so’s book marketing with ‘traditional media’ reviewers. I’m probably best off getting review copies out then and keeping the book back until September for distribution, aiming at October as a public launch date.
As a self publisher straddling the analogue and digital worlds, something made necessary because Amazon, Apple et al won’t sell e-content to the Middle East, I find myself constrained by analogue, rather than Internet, time.
Which is why Beirut won’t launch at the Emirates Airline Festival of Literature...