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Saturday, 1 December 2012

Thoughts on self publishing



    I posted a quote on Facebook this morning from Adrienne Thompson - 
'Being self-published makes me no less "published" than the authors who are with publishing companies.' 
    The quote has stayed with me all day so I decided to explore it a little in my blog post today, while sharing a little of my own self-publishing experience.
    Why did I choose to self publish? I actually began by attempting to publish the traditional way - submitting to publishing houses, and being rejected. From memory, I think I only tried four or five submissions this way. I knew that self-publishing was an option when I began submitting, but I had this idea in my head that many people still have today, that you aren’t really published unless you get published the traditional way.
    One of the traditional publishers was kind enough to send some feedback with their rejection. The company required the first three chapters as part of the submission process. They said that they had found my first three chapters very intriguing, and were keen to see where the story went, but they said that with the sheer volume of submissions they receive, it was impossible to proceed with every manuscript they would like to, saying that they rejected many potentially wonderful stories. They then cited a statistic that was quite revealing. I’m not sure whether this statistic applies to all publishers, but they told me that their publishing house accepts less than one percent of the submissions that cross their desk. They said that they just don’t have the money to publish and promote the number they would like to.
    When you think about it, if traditional publishing were the only option, there would be many potentially good stories that would never see the light of day. However, there have also been many awful stories published in the traditional way.
    When I realised just how many potentially good stories were missing out on a chance to be read, I discarded my prejudiced view of traditional publishing and decided to seriously consider self-publishing for my own manuscript. I considered uploading to places such as Amazon and Lulu and came so close to pressing the ‘Upload’ button on the appropriate websites, but I was reluctant to send my hard work into cyberspace, feeling like I might lose control of it or lose it altogether. I wanted to have more hands-on input and speak regularly with a real live person about the process as it happened.
    So I researched, self-publishing options here in Australia. I made a list of options Australia wide, sent emails with my questions, and made many phone calls to speak with consultants, and gradually whittled the list down until I was left with Love of Books, located in Brisbane, Queensland. They made it easy to choose what I wanted by offering their services in a range of modules where I chose which ones I wanted to meet my needs.
    What I have appreciated is that I have been in control all the way, with the publishers doing everything I want, while still giving professional advice. They have always been on the end of the phone when I need help and have talked me through all my questions. They patiently put up with me returning the manuscript at least seven times post editing, because there were still things to clean up.
    Authors who submit the traditional way don’t have the same control, and after a few months, if the book isn’t selling well, it is often taken from the shelves and authors are left to their own devices to continue marketing and promotion while the publishers move on to their next potential ‘hit’ novel. This suggests too that publishers sometimes get it wrong with what they choose to publish, with many of their chosen books dying a natural death after only a few months.
    Of course while it is nice to be in total control of what you are doing, it doesn’t make it easy, as I am finding out. Self-promotion is hard work, and sometimes I wish I had an ‘expert’ doing it all for me. But I have actually enjoyed the journey so far and learned so much from the experience, making some wonderful friends and connections along the way.
Please feel free to share some of your own self-publishing thoughts and experiences in the comments section below.

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