Publishing Purgatory

To self publish or not to self publish? That is the question. 

When I began writing Prophecy of Innocence I didn’t really consider how it would become a published work.  It was however relatively early on in the whole process when I started to delve in to the murky waters of the publishing industry. However it soon became apparent to me that self publishing (which I didn’t even know existed initially) was really the only viable option for me. Having spent much time trawling the internet for well known publishing houses (oh yes because that’s how I thought it worked – write, send your manuscript off to all the publishing houses you can and hopefully someone will be interested enough to set their stall and publish).

Clearly I thought we were still living in 1985.

Countless times on these sites  I read the words: “we do not accept unsolicited manuscripts.”  In other words if you are not J.K Rowling then please kindly do not darken our doorstep with your pathetic excuse of a manuscript. All routes into traditional publishing seemed to close down at every turn. Furthermore it seemed a complicated and narrow route marred by snobbery. Did I want to become part of such a world? Not particularly. Widening my search didn’t fill me with any more hope. All I discovered were numerous companies who were willing to take hundreds of pounds to take my manuscript in return for basic editing, publication and promotion of books. But I was unsure of their reputation. I am not familiar with titles published by them so how much would they promote my book? Would their editors do a thorough enough job? I just didn’t get a good feeling about these publishing services.

Then I saw among my searches the words ‘self publish.’  Hmmm. What did that mean? So, I Googled ‘self publishing’ and I happened to stumble, quite early on into my research, a very enlightening piece written by David Carnoy ( http://reviews.cnet.com/self-publishing/) and a whole new world of possibility opened up to me.

This article linked me to Lulu.com as well as Amazon’s CreateSpace which made the process sound fairly easy and, most importantly for me, affordable! (However I now know these sites for print on demand books are only one route into self publishing .)

But reader beware. Anyone can self publish their work  You can publish for absolutely no cost at all if you publish an e book. However I don’t want to just publish a book for the sake of saying I have published a book. I don’t want a generic looking, amateur cover or an incorrectly formatted interior.  No. I want to be able to publish something which people will want to buy and keep, treasure and enjoy for years to come. As I do with so many of the books I own. I want to be proud of my work and have a copy sat on my own bookshelf. But  I realise to achieve this I can not simply go to a website, upload my manuscript and lo and behold I’ll have reached my goal.  Sure I would have a published work, but it would not be what I envisioned. Damn. Whether I like it or not, this is going to cost me money.

So my decision to go down the self publishing route  has  suddenly meant I am no longer just a writer. Now I have to be my own editor, unless I can find hundreds of pounds to hire a professional.  I have to be my own proofreader. (Difficult to do with your own work as we all know because you will often read what you intended to write, rather than what you did write!) I have to learn all about formatting ( a headache in itself as e books and print books require different formatting processes and there are numerous rules for acquiring a product which will look as good as a traditionally published book). I have to become an artist (or find one) unless I want to use a generic template and end up possibly with a b- rate looking product. And on top of that I have to become a promotions manager and market the book once it’s ready. (That bit I really am not looking forward to at all. I am a teacher. I cannot think of anything I would rather do less than become a sales person!)

Delving into the world of the publishing process side tracked me for quite a while from the job in hand of actually editing and rewriting. However I do wonder if I had not put myself into publishing purgatory so early on, would I have realised the necessity to edit for myself? Would I have  found all the wonderful advice on blogs and websites ( http://www.thebookdesigner.com/ ,

http://www.bengalley.com/BenGalley.com/ShelfHelp.html,

http://catherineryanhoward.com/ ) which mean I have now ended up with a final draft I would not be too ashamed to send to a proper editor? I  really don’t think I would have.

The more I read about publishing, the more I believe self publishing will be right for me (promotion aside!) I’m not particularly good at keeping to deadlines without getting extremely stressed. I like to do things my way in my time and I have quite firm ideas about what I would like my finished books to look like.  Self publishing means I will hopefully have more control over these aspects. I am now coming to the end of writing, editing and proofreading  my first novel but I am sure I will learn much more about self publishing over the coming months as I embark on the next step.

The journey continues…

In the meantime, if anyone knows of any good editors, book cover artists or promotional agents willing to work for the wages of a Victorian factory worker, I’d be most obliged if I could have their details! 😉 Thanks.

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