The days of sending out a manuscript hoping an agent or publisher will accept it for publication are over. There just aren’t enough publishing houses to cope with the volumes of material being written. Publishers are in business. They need to be selective about publishing choices. In other words, the books they select need to sell and make money for them.
Where does that leave the writer producing a smaller, more specialised volume, one not intended for a huge commercial distribution, but deserving of the audience its written for? Many options are now available to writers of quality material wishing to write the stories of ordinary lives. One popular option is publishing as an e-book. Another option, the one I chose for my recent school memoir, is to enter the world of self-publishing.
This thought would have frightened me once, but I decided my story, or that of my school in the 1950s, deserved to be told. Several people have asked me about my self-publishing journey since the launch and successful sales of my book, so I want to share a few of brief thoughts here. My experience has been positive through every step of the way.
A writer choosing self-publishing needs to be confident in themselves and their work. The journey requires more than writing. A self-published author needs to be writer, editor, events organiser, marketer and promoter, accountant and business manager all rolled into one. But approached correctly these tasks are achievable. I admit now, although hesitant at first, I enjoyed the entire process.
You need to identify your market before you start writing. Who will your readers be? This gives a clear approach to writing and helps you stay focussed.
I chose the self-publishing business I’d work with early in the process. I wanted someone who would print a small book – mine turned out to be 80 pages. They needed to be prepared to print a limited first run of 100 copies. I knew the book could sell well at the School Centenary, therefore the company I chose needed to be able to print further small numbers of the book. The first 100 sold and I had a second order of 50 produced. I’ve just ordered another 25. When approaching self-publishing companies ask questions about initial cost, cost of re-printing, time frames from order to delivery.
Ask what help you can expect from them along the way. I chose to pay a little extra for my cover and inside of the book to be designed. This resulted in a book I’m proud of. I had an account manager who handled all my questions efficiently by e-mail. She had to be very patient with this first time author, but guided me through the process giving me confidence all the way.
I initially approached more than one printing / publishing firm, but eventually chose one I considered best suited my needs. It’s easy to find people who will produce your book for you by looking online, but don’t rush in. Do your homework first and make sure the people you choose will listen to you. After all, it’s your book and you want the best for it.
When you receive your precious box of books, the next marketing and promoting stage of your self-publishing journey starts. I’ll talk about my experience with this in a future post, but you may like to read my piece, ‘Promoting Your Self-Published Book,’ published elsewhere. I can say with pride, two copies of my book are now in the local library and when I last looked, both were out on loan.
Hopefully these thoughts will give readers considering self-publishing a starting point. If you have any questions, please do ask. If I can self-publish my first book and enjoy the experience, anyone can.