I'd like to welcome my guest blogger for today, Elizabeth Ducie.
Elizabeth's debut novel, Gorgito’s Ice Rink, was runner up in Writing Magazine's Self-Published Book of the Year Award so who better to share their tips for anyone considering self-publishing.
I self-published my first book five years ago. At the time, I was struggling to finish my first novel (and, although I didn’t realise it at the time, had another three years to go) but was also writing lots of short stories. They weren’t typical women’s magazine stories and I wanted a way of getting them ‘out there’ for people to read.
My friend and fellow-writer, Sharon Cook, was in the same boat. But we knew the chances were slim of getting an agent, or a traditional publisher, interested; so we decided to put together a small collection and have a go at doing it ourselves. That’s how Life is Not a Trifling Affair was born.
For me there were two additional objectives: to start building my platform in advance of finishing my novel; and to learn about the technology.
This week I self-published my tenth book. I am very happy as an independent author/publisher and have abandoned any thought of looking for a traditional publishing deal. I have learned a lot during the process and still continue to learn every time I engage with this fascinating, continually-evolving world of books.
So here are just some of the lessons I have learned:
Being self-published is NOT about taking short-cuts or doing things easily. It is about taking responsibility, both financially and technically, for the whole project. You take the risks; but on the other hand, you take the rewards as well.
Self-publishing is much more acceptable these days than it was in 2011 when I started. But it still has a reputation with some people for poor quality writing and production. You owe it to yourself and your readers to make your books the best they can be; work towards changing people’s opinions, not reinforcing them.
If you are self-published, you are running a small business. You will need to be prepared to spend as much time on the business side (production and promotion) as you do on the creative aspects (writing).
There will be some things you can do yourself and others you need to sub-contract to others. I buy in the services of cover designer and proof-reader; I barter with other writers for structural editing; and I have a team of volunteer beta-readers. I am very computer literate and do the layout etc myself, but that’s not going to be something everyone will want to do. It’s important to know your limitations and work around them.
There are companies that will provide some or all of the services you need for self-publication. Some of them are excellent; others less so. Some are very expensive; others less so. The best are not always the most expensive; and vice versa. Network with other writers; get recommendations; ask questions. Make your decisions based on facts rather than emotion or gut feel.
Self-publishing should NOT be the choice of last resort when you have given up hope of getting an agent or a traditional publisher. It is just one of the viable options for someone wanting to get their work ‘out there’. See it as a positive choice; and if it’s the one you want to make, then go for it!
Elizabeth Ducie is the author of the prize-winning novel, Gorgito’s Ice Rink, and several collections on short stories. She lectures and writes on business skills for authors and publishes The Business of Writing series. Her latest novel, Counterfeit!, is set in Southern Africa, and is the first in a series of thrillers based in the sometimes murky world of international pharmaceuticals. You can find out more about Elizabeth’s work on her website, on Facebook or on Twitter.
Counterfeit - Out Now
Regulator Suzanne Jones’ mission to stop counterfeiting in Africa becomes personal. But her investigations bring danger ever closer. In Uganda a factory burns; Suzanne’s friend goes missing; and in Swaziland and Zambia, children die.
Who is supplying the fake drugs? What is the Eastern European connection? Can Suzanne stop the counterfeiters before more people die?