Sell you Story, Sell your Soul?
Updated: Sep 6
Like most unpublished authors, my dream is to see an agent cut really excited about my work, pitch it to publishers and watch as a frantic bidding war ensues. However, I’m not greedy and would happily settle for an agent; the bidding wars will undoubtedly follow.
I’ve written over 100 stories of all conceivable shapes and sizes, and I’m under no illusion that they are all bestsellers. I’m hoping one of them will get published, possibly leading to a couple more being picked out of the back catalogue at a later date. That leaves at least 99 other stories that will never see the light of day, which is a shame. I’d like all my stories to flourish and find their audience and it makes me sad to think that the vast majority will only ever be read by me.
And then, an interesting opportunity came along. I was shortlisted for the Searchlight Awards Bedtime Story Award (https://www.searchlightawards.co.uk/) and my story was shared with agents and others in a book. This book was picked up by a company called Readmio (https://www.readmio.com/), who got in contact. Readmio is an app that publishes original and traditional fairytales and stories, with the unique twist that they overlay sound effects as the stories are being read aloud. So, when you start telling your child about the crackling fire, the sound of a fire plays in behind you. This adds a whole extra level of engagement and fun. The app is really popular across Eastern Europe and they are looking to gain traction in the West.
Anyway, Readmio approached me and asked if I wanted to sell any of my stories to them. 'Yes, please', I said, and sent off some samples. They were interested and asked if they could buy two of the stories. So far, so good.
But then I started to feel uneasy. These were my stories, written by me! It would be like selling my children (I’m open to offers, by the way). What if I wanted to revisit them or use them in some other way?
But then I took another look. The stories are unillustrated short stories, perfect for bedtime. They will never be picked up by mainstream publishers as a picture book, meaning the best chance of conventional publication would be in some form of anthology, but the odds of that are somewhere between minute and minuscule. And, most importantly, I want my stories to be read. Until stories are read or heard, they are merely squiggles of ink on a piece of paper. Reading them brings them to life.
So, I signed on the dotted line and sold my stories.
Now, tens of thousands of children across the world will hear about the Dream Herder and the Grumpasurus, with added sound effects, of course. They can even colour in a picture, take a quiz or listen to the audiobook. If I had done nothing, those stories would still be cluttering up my hard drive, keeping the other hundred or so unpublished stories company. I like to think they are much happier out in the wild, and they’ll always bear my name, even if they aren’t legally mine.
Will I do it again? Possibly. I don’t write fairytales very often but, when I do, if I love them, I’ll set them free.