In light of the recent publications from our members, we thought this month would be a good time for some thoughts on Self-publishing. Below you will find the experiences of two of our members, Susie and Nick:
Recently, I have finished the process of self-publishing my book of short stories. As the proceeds for the book are all for the Leeds Spinal Surgery Research Fund, I have tried to keep costs to a minimum and still produce a quality book in appearance and I hope content.
As I am not particularly tech savvy, I have been fortunate in seeking help from fellow members of Huddersfield Authors’ Circle, in particular Sophie who designed my cover and her husband Matt who has helped with converting my book into a PDF document which most printers require. Also thanks to Gareth who re-formatted my cover enabling me to register this with Nielson Book Services along with the ISBN number.
I do feel I have learnt from this experience and would like to share a few things which I hope will be helpful to others.
Firstly, make sure the document is formatted, proof read and edited before sending to any printers. Even though I read my book several times and corrected mistakes, there were still a few I had missed on receiving a proof copy of the book.
Secondly, it is advisable to register at PLR (Public Lending Right) to make sure you do not miss out on any royalties, even if the amount is only small.
Thirdly, an ISBN number is essential for registering and marketing your book.
I wouldn’t say self-publishing is rewarding but once the book is in print there is a sense of achievement.
I’ve not technically self-published but my first publisher was a small one and I think this meant I had a lot more input on the process than bigger publishers usually offer. They asked me for ideas for the covers and gave me the final say on the designs we went with, and the blurbs were mostly my words with just a bit of tweaking from Wild Wolf Publishing.
As Susie said, it’s essential to make sure your manuscript is perfect before it goes to any printers. This was true with Wild Wolf as well – they did give it a proofread, but as they’re so small, they don’t have a dedicated team for proofreading and editing and so I made sure to go over everything, including the proofed copies sent back to me!
Then there’s all the hard work once your book comes out. Again, Wild Wolf weren’t able to give much support with this due to the time and budget constraints faced by a small press, so it was down to me to promote my own work. I tried a lot of different things, from Facebook competitions asking people to answer a question from the first chapter of the book (to get them reading the sample on Amazon) to wandering around town in my werewolf costume whilst hunting for willing shops to place flyers in. Marketing deserves a post on its own and I wish I had the answer for how to turn your book into a bestseller, but for all the time and money I’ve sunk into self-promotion I’m not convinced anything’s really paid off yet!
Since the move to start my own imprint (Twisted Fate Publishing) with fellow HAC member Gareth Clegg and our good friend C.M. Angus, I can’t really say much has changed for me in terms of putting out the re-releases of the first three in the Hybrid series and publishing the fourth instalment, Damned. Gareth has handled the actual publishing process as far as formatting and uploading to KDP goes, and we’re lucky he has the design skills to produce the amazing new covers the Hybrid series has got now.
There has been renewed interest in the series since the re-releases and I think part of the reason is due to the new cover designs, which highlights just how important it is to invest in something professional and eye catching. If you don’t have the skills to do it yourself it’s well worth paying someone who does! A good blurb that really grabs the reader by the throat is essential too.
Self-publishing is a challenge when you have to not only get the books out there without any help from a publisher but also market and write your next one, and I’ve yet to make a profit (the expenses of doing cons and things means I’ve been in the minus figures each year so far). However, just knowing people are reading and enjoying my work is a reward in itself and it’s what keeps me going as a writer. That, and the dream of the lucky break that’s going to make me the next Stephen King. Well, I can dream anyway.