Self-Printing Prologue: Why, You May Ask, Am I Doing This?

I’ve told this backstory so many times that I am in danger of boring myself with it. So, instead of rehashing the whole saga yet again, please enjoy Catherine’s How To Go From Disney World Cast Member To Considering Self-Publication But Referring To It, Because She’s Being Realistic, As Self-Printing, In 12 Easy Steps:

Step 1: Move to Orlando, Florida, to take up a hotel job in Walt Disney World.

Ooooh, fireworks.

Step 2: Find experience so crazy/overwhelming/ripe for sarcasm that you start writing book about it, using the title suggested to you as a joke by your friend John Dixon, Mousetrapped.

Step 3: With about a third of the book written, send query letter to 9 UK and Ireland agents you picked from the Writers and Artists Yearbook. Include fake ‘flyer’ for book (see pic) which is headed ‘COMING SOON TO A SHELF IN A BOOK STORE NEAR YOU’ and includes photos, fake reviews from the ‘characters’ in the book, etc. as a ‘Notice me!’ gimmick. Although this is against all The Rules, this leads to:

Aforementioned gimmick. Punched holes not included in agent’s version.

Step 4: A personal assistant to UK-based Real, Live Literary Agent – we’ll call her Clare – e-mails you to say ‘Show me the proposal!’ in the style of Tom Cruise in Jerry Maguire shouting ‘Show me the money!’ (Well, it was an e-mail, but that’s how I imagined her saying it.) You send the proposal plus 2 sample chapters.

Step 5: She likes it; asks for more; you send a bit more.

Step 6: She likes that; asks for the whole book; you can’t send the whole book because you haven’t finished it yet and you are about to:

Step 7: Go backpacking across Central America for 9 weeks. You tell her this and she says ‘Don’t worry about it. Go enjoy yourself and get in touch with me when you get back,’ not realising that this is ALL YOU CAN THINK ABOUT and will undoubtedly spend the next 9 weeks obsessing that she will move jobs/get pregnant/be involved in some terrible accident before you get back home to Ireland.

Step 8: Eventually get back to Ireland, reinstall yourself in your childhood bedroom (which is about the size of 3 telephone boxes strung together) and spend the summer finishing the book. Print it out, kiss it, pack it carefully and mail it to Clare along with all your hopes, dreams and aspirations. Then the waiting game begins but-

Step 9: -doesn’t last long because only 5 days later, she gets back and says (I’ll paraphrase): ‘Me and my boss/Real, Live Agent read it, loved it and had lots of good things to say about it, but it is so weird (she said ‘original’ but she was just being nice) that we just don’t know what we’d do with it. But we like you and your writing – have you ever written fiction?’

Step 10: After dragging yourself up off the floor where you were drowning in a muddy puddle of disappointment, you tell agent you are already working on a novel (a teeny weeny little lie; there is no novel – yet), take your Mousetrapped proposal and send it to four Irish publishers. Then you wait.

Step 11: One of them calls almost immediately to tell you (a) she won’t publish it, (b) it’s ‘a bit self-indulgent’ and (c) it contains ‘too much moaning’. Those are direct quotes, people. She also says this sentence, which borrows its way down into the depths of your very soul and pierces your muse through the heart like a stake: ‘The thing is, if you’re going to try to be funny, then you really have to be funny the whole way through.’


She also says, ‘Is it supposed to be satirical?’


You thank her politely for the feedback, vow never to buy another single book published by that house and go about assembling the items you need to make a voodoo doll of her. (Not really. I have to say that for legal reasons.) Another one e-mails to say that although it’s well written (you blush) he can’t publish it (you cry) due to that ol’ niche market business. Two others send you form rejections. My that was a long step. Phew. I think I need a lie down now.

Step 12: You have a deep think about everything. (Well, not like everything. Just stuff got to do with this book.) You remember how you Published Writer Dreams never involved non-fiction and were always centered on your first book being (a) published by an actual publishing house with headed paper, departments, staff and everything, (b) bagging you an agent first, (c) involving a glitzy launch party in which you are magically (and inexplicably) much skinnier, beautiful and wearing that ruffled pink dress from last summer’s Dolce and Gabbana collection and (d) being a novel. But on the other hand you spent months writing Mousetrapped and you do think – and some others agree – that it’s mildly amusing and has several interesting bits. On the bright side, while only a small number of people might want to read it, you know exactly where all those people are and how to contact them/shove your book in their face, so you decide to self-publish. However the idea of self-publishing has always left a bad taste in your mouth – more on that in future posts – so you elect to call it ‘self-printing’ because that is, in essence, all you’re doing – printing the book – and because this is no doubt going to be a long and lonely process, you decide to blog about while you go.

So come along for the ride, I’d love the company. (And, let’s not sugarcoat this, the potential readers. I think it’s best if we just be honest with each other right from the start.) And maybe I’ll make loads of silly mistakes (like get sued, only sell 11 copies, etc.) which you can learn from and then avoid should you decide to do this self-printing business yourself.

Read all my self-printing posts or read about the book I self-printed.

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5 thoughts on “Self-Printing Prologue: Why, You May Ask, Am I Doing This?

  1. Seaside Scribbler says:

    Hi CatherineI came across your blog when testing out search results in Google for my own blog ( was fascinated to discover that not only do we have similarly named blogs, but we both recently left our jobs to become writers AND we're both John Mayer fans.Wow! I believe we were destined to meet… fancy swapping links? Good luck with Mousetrapped.Hannah

  2. Catherine Ryan Howard says:

    Cue Twilight Zone theme tune!! That's so weird!Absolutely though. Us irresponsible quitting-job-to-write types need to stick together!:)

  3. Seaside Scribbler says:

    Wow that was a quick response – you're obviously busy surfing, err I mean researching, online ;0)Still getting used to this blogging malarkey and not sure the best way to follow/subscribe/feed, etc. but I've subscribed to your posts and have a Follow Me option on mine if you're interested.Irresponsible? Pah, it's the 9 to 5ers who are irresponsible in my opinion for not following their hearts…..

  4. Caroline says:

    Oh don't, this made me feel slightly sick in my tummy. SO many writers have a story and a bumpy journey, I do and the more I talk to others, the more I know that what joins us all is the 'not giving up' bit (even though sometimes it all feels rubbish). x

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