Self Publishing – The Journey

Jan 30 2011
Self Publishing – The Journey

Writing and publishing a book is never easy. That’s why so many people think they can do it and so few people actually do. Often I hear the tale of a book that has been ten years in the making and which I instinctively know will never see the light of day. The intention is there, but the drive to see the project to fruition is somehow lacking. Books don’t publish themselves.
Well done if, over the past twelve months, you have managed to put together the thirty five chapters, each of three thousand well chosen words which will be the building blocks of your masterpiece.
Now the hard work begins - publishing, getting it out there (distribution) and marketing the bloody thing. And it’s all up to you!
PUBLISHING. There are three ways to have a book published.
1. A Publishing House will commission you to write, advance you money and more or less assure you of recompense for effort and expertise. This is rare and is a luxury only accorded to established writers.
2. You write the novel/book and then submit it to various publishing houses that may or may not read it; may or may not like it; may or may not take you through the editing / publishing process. They then market and distribute it on your behalf. This is the preferred option but is time consuming, relies on a subjective judgement of a company book taster and is very hit and miss. By all means try this avenue, particularly if funds are an issue; you may be lucky.
3. You write the book, edit it or have it edited and then self publish. You can do this through internet publishing services or by choosing your own printer. Either way, you will have to provide the final manuscript, edited and in printable format, organise the art work for the cover, attend to the blurb and acknowledgements, obtain an ISBN and market the work yourself. Plus you will need a few thousand of your own hard earned dollars at the ready to pay up front.

Graeme and I have, at this stage produced three books between us, each by a different method and this is what we can tell you from our experience.

The first. Forget it. That is, unless you have a revolutionary idea that immediately lights up the dollar signs in front of the eyes of the publisher, but it is a rare thing indeed to find a publisher these days that knows a good thing when he sees it. By and large they would prefer to stick with their stable of tried performers even though they may be getting rather stale and sorry
The second. Think about it and then forget it. Graeme Johnstones’s first novel, ‘The Playmakers’ was published in 2005 by BeWrite Press in England. It is a faction, based upon the premise that Shakespeare did not write Shakespeare, an entertaining and believable read. It won the category for best first novel at the Adelaide Festival and a publishing contract went with it. After many months of work with the editor, the book saw the light of day, released one sad winter’s afternoon in Devon in cold old England. No support, no marketing, dead in the water. It’s a good book but it had no support.
The third. We have tried the print and market it yourself. Elsie Johnstone’s book ‘Our Little Town – Growing up in Lakes Entrance,’ the story of the lives and transition of a little fishing village and its people over five generations in the far flung south east coast of Australia, was printed by a local Mornington printer and marketed and distributed by her. We did all the editing ourselves, arranged the ISBN, organised the pre-publicity and book launch and the follow up. It all went very well and the book sold better than expected. It had to be reprinted twice but involved Elsie having to deliver to bookstores herself. In the end she paid to have a second edition printed by Queensland firm Book Pal and used this as a litmus test for the new book she and Graeme had written, ‘Lover Husband Father Monster’.
Next time I will tell you about that process.