I’ve been trying to write this blog for quite some time, in fact ever since I wrote the last one in April, and we’re now mid-June. (Where does the time go?)
Yes, as I was saying, I had promised myself I would write at least one blog a month (we can already see how consistent that was!) But anyhow I’m back and ready to ramble again.
As some of you may or may not know I am what’s known as a ‘Self-Published Author’
For those of you that don’t know what it is, it means I publish my own books, so I don’t work with a traditional publishing house or a team of editors like some of my awesome fellow writers.
For many years there was a lot of stigma attached to being self-published, due to the stereotyped view that all self published books were amateurish and of poor quality, so I was always quite nervous about admitting I was self published to begin with.
But then I had a thought (Yeah I know they can be painful!)
If I believe in my work, and my readers like my work, what have I got to be ashamed of?
I’m not going to say self publishing is easy or even that all of it is fantastic, because I don’t think it is, and there are many traditionally published books that people may hold that view of too. It can be successful though, especially if you’re putting everything you’ve got into it and it can have many rewards.
Well as you might expect there is writing … (I know you didn’t see that coming did you ;D ) and many will say it’s after the writing is done the hard work begins. They would be right, for me the writing is the fun part, the bit that gives me a warm buzz as a new story evolves or that idea just clicks into place. But to make something of this passion there’s so much more than just the writing.
Next comes the editing. A traditionally published author would edit their work just as I would but then once they have done all they can, it would go to an editor and be reviewed by the publishing house. Mine goes to an editor too, only difference being I pick my own editor. Someone I trust, who understands my work and can bring the best out in it without trying to change the essence of what it is.
Illustrating – For those books that require the beautiful touch of an illustrator. A traditionally published author would get limited say in regards to who illustrates their books, they will get to comment, but ultimately the decisions are held by the publishing house. I on the other hand get to pick my own, someone who I believe will bring magic to my story and pull it to life, giving me more control over the creative process. Downside I also get the bill!
Design work – There are several options when it comes to designing the layout of your book, some people use self publishing companies and printers for their services this can range greatly in both price and quality so always look for reviews from other clients, traditionally published authors don’t have to worry too much about this as most publishing houses have amazing in house teams that do this for them. Me personally, i’ve learnt how to use the software and do it myself now, it took a while to learn and I’m still learning but incredibly proud of the end results.
Printing – Here comes the biggest difference between traditionally published and self published authors. The printing. Traditionally published authors as a rule have no costs relating to payments and will either get an advanced payment from the publishers or a royalty share. A self published, we miss out on this perk and instead have the printing bill as our reward. Again this can range drastically in price and quality and depending on the quantity you wish to print in will determine what prices and deals are available.
Then comes the scary part …. Publication.
You now have your beautiful book, you lovingly gaze at it stroking it like a baby, well it is your baby. But how do you get it out there so others can love it too?
In this part of the journey there are a lot of similarities between traditionally published and self published.
Both have to market and promote themselves, both have to put blood sweat and tears into making themselves known and getting their books out there. Publishing houses do help some authors with publicity and promotion and have a greater sway with getting books on shelves, but essentially the author has to sell themselves to sell their book. They must become a brand that people want to stock, which can be quite daunting especially for those authors who would gladly write their books from a mountain retreat with limited human contact.
Now, the slightly harder part as a self published author is getting physically stocked in shops and this is something that takes a lot of ongoing effort energy and stubbornness.
When I first started out most bookshops wouldn’t even look at me let alone consider my books, most of the books I sold were at events and on school visits or library visits. But you shouldn’t let that put you off, take the mentality of a woodpecker on a tree, eventually you’ll crack through and make progress.
But the only way to keep that progress is to keep the momentum and for me that is the hardest bit. You’re only as good as your last book, you’re only as memorable as your last event. So you have to keep things exciting and fun and keep pushing forward to that next goal or upcoming event. Which can mean lots of miles and not a lot of sleep. Energy is everything for me.
One example I can think of was on my Murphy and The Monsters tour. In one particular week we covered two days in Scotland, one day in Cornwall, one day in Merthyr, one day in London and one day in Birmingham. Simply to promote books and do events. But the hard work does pay off, Murphy and the Monsters was released on 21st feb 2017 and we have already sold over 500 copies in less than 4 months, thats over 100 copies of just that book every month. It may not be as many books as some of the bigger publishing houses, but it’s a number i’m very proud of as it shows my work is paying off! Either that or people are just buying my books to shut me up ha!
It’s not all about travelling and events though, we can’t forget the power of social media, a tool everyone can utilise to connect with readers. Although I don’t blog as much as I would like, many authors find this a great way to keep fans connected, youtube channels are also another good way to make your readers feel connected to you and keep their interest and that’s without mentioning Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and your own websites too. So many free and fun ways to engage and promote your work, but all take time, persistence and energy.
Never forget to have fun with it! I always think if you’re having fun, your readers will too, creating a greater connection and a more memorable link.
So whether you’re self-published like me, traditionally published like some of my amazing friends, or even just starting out on the journey of sharing your stories with the world. Remember, the writing is only the beginning of the adventure and you can take it almost anywhere if you believe and keep reaching for those dreams!
Sweet Dreams Guys!
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