Sunday, 24 May 2009

Self-Publishing: By authors who have tried it. #5


LOUISE WISE, author of Eden

A tale of romance and survival as three people travel from 2236 to the beginning of time.
Jennifer Daykin joins the three-man crew to explore the newly discovered planet, Eden.
All was going well until Jenny found herself deserted…
…but not alone
Ordinary people with ordinary emotions, fears and insecurities.
Only this isn’t Earth, and he isn’t human.
A modern day Adam and Eve.

• Type of self-publishing deal you went for and why?

I chose POD - They promised me nothing, apart from getting my typescript into book form and available to order.

Many years ago I looked into having a book published with Dorrance Publishing. I had a phone call from a very excited American guy who really enthused my book. I almost fell for it.
I was young and hadn't been in the "business" for long, and really believed him when he said my book was brilliant, fantastic etc. It was my first novel, and utterly dire! This was before Internet, forums and spell checks and I typed my 200,000!!!! novel on a little Amstrad computer. I've still got the old typescript lol.
Anyway Dorrance wanted... ready for this? £8460.00! I still have the contract (1991). It's sad that some would've signed the contract and sent a cheque - so glad I never had the money to get sucked in.

• Reasons why you chose to self-publish?

I went for it, or was rather swept along with it, because I’d looked into vanity in the past and had various quotes ranging from thousands to tens of thousands! I thought this POD deal was brilliant. It was free apart from a small charge of £39.99 for the ISBN number. And neither did I have to do anything apart from email it in. The book cover was all sorted, book layout done, and put on Internet book shops like WHSmith and Amazon. I couldn’t have done that on my own.

Unfortunately, the £39.99 charge proved to be somewhat misleading.
So far it's cost me £205.60 a huge difference from £39.99!!

Breakdown: ISBN - £39.99.
Order of ten books - £72.70.
To have book revised - £49.99.
Order of revised ten books - £44.90.

YWO promised my book would be ready before Christmas 2008, and tbh I wasn't expecting them to manage it. In January I asked them if I had time to revise my book because I found a few errors, and they agreed.
In March they told me my book was ready.
I ordered ten (for friends and family, and Tesco, where I work). I paid by google (£72.70) THREE weeks later my books arrived and they were all of the first unrevised edition of Eden. I was heartbroken, as you can imagine, but believed it was partly my fault for sending in the revised Eden and so stumped up the cash for a further ten books of Eden.
Anyway, a friend telephones me and says I've got your book, but it isn't your book. Eh? Turns out it's my cover, ISBN, blurb and name but inside is: It's a Small World: Rutland and her Diaspora by Peter Rutland ISBN 9781434319579 printed by Author House in America!!

I've finally been able to contact YWO (they aren’t too quick in responding to questions or problems) and they are sorting it out - sounded very apologetic in fact. I hope they do. I so want YWO "new generation publishing" to work and really want them to succeed.
If it wasn't for YWO I'd never have taken this step. I got so much out of it. I got off my backside for one, and really concentrated on my novels. I wrote short stories and sent them off to competitions (I was even runner up in WM). It kick-started my writing juices, and has made me aware of how committed I am.
I'm even setting up my own writing circle. I looked around for a writing circle I could join, but the only one I found was full. Tbh I wanted to raise my profile but then realised a WC wasn't the way to go about it, but the idea stayed and expanded. I then decided to make my own circle. I booked the community centre before I could talk myself out of it, and advertised it and my book on Google. I've called it Wise Words geddit? :) But can't say too much because it doesn't start until September.

• Did you employ any kind of editor / editing service before going to print?

Years before I knew about YWO my book was edited by JBWB (Jacqui Bennett Writers Bureau). Since she excellently pulled it to pieces, helped me redraft it, I have changed it somewhat. So even if she happens to read it again, she’ll probably not recognise it!

• Finished book quality – pleased or not?

Difficult question. The quality is excellent, but I’m a perfectionist where my book is concerned and I don’t think I’ll ever be happy.

• What kind of marketing do you do and how much time is spent promoting your book?

I haven’t done much at all, is my short answer. I’ve told family and friends and when they buy it I feel sort of freaked out!! One moment I’m proud, the next embarrassed. On the plus side, I’ve mentioned it to my manager at Tesco and they have made general murmurings of being interested in buying a few copies. I approached Waterstones and was impressed that they didn’t laugh me out of their store (they encouraged me to contact their manager who was “in a meeting”). As for promoting I’ve made a website and placed it there. But so far that’s all. The book has only been out one month (I didn’t want to promote it until I’d seen it in its book form). I’ve contacted my local library about my book, but they haven’t got back to me yet. Mind you, that was only yesterday!

• Costs versus sales revenue.

I’ve made a minus so far.

• Cover design – did you design it yourself or use a professional?

I wished I’d had one done professionally. YWO chose mine, and it’s OK. I’d have liked the title of the book and my name a little more prominent, but hey ho.

• Have you ended up taking a self-publishing deal that has left you with a house full of unsold books?

I bought ten books. They are in my loft (haven’t got round to contacting Waterstones manager yet).

• Self-publishing forever or still keen on pursuing the traditional route?

I’ve been churning out stories for years, and have had lots of interest BUT with the added “sadly, this is not for us” at the end of each letter. The interest makes me realise that my books are worth writing and my stubbornness and genuine delight in telling stories keeps me going. So, in answer to your question, now I’ve discovered POD I think I’ll keep with it. The traditional route is too demoralising.
Although, I would be in two minds whether to use YWO again.

• Pitfalls and perils – what have you learned along the way. What would you do differently?

I’d certainly make sure I had a professional book cover design! That aside, I learned that people, especially writers, are very sniffy about POD and SP books.

• Would you recommend following the self-publishing route based on your experiences?

Yes. It’s given me a kick up the backside, and made my friends and family aware of my ambition. I can’t see why it shouldn’t be recommended. It costs practically nothing to POD.
Just make sure your book has been proof-read.

My website:


Sandra Patterson said...

Great interview, Tracy and Louise!
Louise, you are so inspiring turning what could have been a bitter disappointment into something positive! Good luck with the writers group.
Tracy, thanks so much for these interviews. We see so much preaching on this subject it's great to read personal experiences for a change.

Tracy said...

Thanks Sandra.
I hope the interviews do help people make informed decisions and I want to take this opportunity of thanking my self-published authors for talking so candidly.
You're right about Louise too, she has used her experiences to motivate her on her writing journey and she should be congratulated.

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