Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Self-Publishing: By authors who have tried it. #6


HOLLY STACEY, author of


Beth is not an average 14 year old girl. Her family has been prayed upon by tragedy for longer than anyone can remember and her father has disappeared without word. When a mysterious package arrives from her father, posted on the day of his disappearance, strange things begin happening. Eyes watch her, shadows follow her, and even her friends seems to be spies for some unseen evil.

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

My first book was printed the traditional way – no POD, just pay for printing and have them delivered to the door. It was hard work trying to distribute and lots of larger bookstores didn’t want to stock it. My first printer was Biddles, but now I’m using Lighting Source, a POD printer and distributor which is part of the Ingram group (used worldwide by larger bookstores).

Vanity publishers are something to keep a great distance from. They take money for publishing your book – often times telling you that it is self-publishing. Then they give you royalties – which proves that they are the publisher, not you. When you self-publish, YOU are the publisher, and you must register the ISBN numbers. If someone else is doing this, back away slowly and get more information.

•Reasons why you chose to self-publish?

The same reasons most people do at first – all those rejection letters! With my novel, I needed to see it in print before I could move on to my next project. Self publishing helped me to do this, but in the process, I learned that there are so many advantages to self-publishing. I made my schedule and I was quick (of course all the editing and revising happened before I started). I’ve friends who have publishing contracts that are still waiting to be printed (from 2007!!!). I have absolute control over what goes on the front cover, I know who my audience is and don’t have to dumb down the advertising. The list goes on!

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

For my work, I send to Cornerstones. They’re wonderful and really know the business.

• Finished book quality – pleased or not?

Well…it’s not the same as the mass produced books. I still haven’t decided if that’s due to better quality local paper, or what. I’d rather had a title that blended in with the others (in quality). I’m crazy that way.

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

You say that as if it’s all in the past. It never ends. Marketing is life….

I'm all about free marketing! Sending out books in exchange for book reviews has been very advantageous, updates in writers magazines and e-zines often generates interest, blogging on the internet is important to keep readers updates and to spread interest. Other things are book signings, visiting local schools, setting up titles in independent bookshops, and of course, sending marketing packages to retailers such as Barnes and Noble in the US. Many local papers often are willing to print a small feature about local writers which is much more productive than placing an ad that often gets skipped over by readers. All of these are important for new authors (for my publications or for others).
For my first book, I paid for professional marketing. It provided a website, webmail, international search engine submission, and a link to many on line bookstores. That was well worth the investment.
Another avenue of marketing is submitting books to competitions. I entered the Self-Publisher of the Year Award (see Writers News) and have been shortlisted (top winner to be announced). The winner gets shed loads of publicity and even as just runner up, I'll be re-launching my book and do more signings. It never ends...

New Authors signed to Wyvern Publications will be required to do much of their own marketing such as book signings, blogging, and websites. However, I'll be the one sending marketing packs to bookstores and trying to secure all those precious orders!

• Costs versus sales revenue.

Revenue? What’s that? You self-publish to get your name out and see your baby in print. Don’t do it to make money – you won’t. Well, I can think of two people who have, but one of them was a professional marketer and the other had a PhD in the book industry and knew loads of contacts…

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

I used a pro. You should use a pro. It is probably the most important aspect of your book.

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

Thank God, no. But I’ve met people who have. It’s a difficult thing to judge. My experiment with POD is happening now, so I’ll let you know the difference. For me, it’s all about distribution and POD helps solve some of that. The costs of POD printing are high for the individual book. Also, print traditionally in large numbers (over 1000) and the costs come down drastically. Which is why some people get garages full of unsold books.

• Bookshops, libraries, Amazon, etc – how open are various companies to promoting self-published work?

Open? Not at all. Even my local library shunned me. It was like I had the plague.
Independent bookshops have all been fantastic, though!
Amazon takes 60% off and sticks you with a postage bill. It’s a way to distribute, but it’s hard to break even.

• Final book costs – how competitive are they in the real world?

It’s not difficult to figure out this one. You’ve got a pile of books for £6.99 and there is one by an unknown author for twice as much. I know what I’d buy. Even if you make no money, kept the price as low as possible.

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

I’d like a mix of the two.

• If you’ve approached agents, publishers, with your self-published book, have they shown any interest, what is their reaction?

I’ll let you know…

• Why did you choose to set up your own publishing business? Are there any benefits? What does it involve that makes it different to simply self-publishing?

My company is still in it’s baby stages. I’m in love with producing books, so that’s why I do it. It’s no longer self-publishing because I’m publishing other people. If I do another one of my books, then it will be self-publishing again. Unless I take on a business partner or give the company away.
It's hard work. If anyone is interested in doing something similar, I'd advise them to look at Business Link - they can give some good advice on where to go from there.

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

I’m learning to do my own PDF files, which should save some money. Doing the front cover is another challenge, but I’m happy to leave that to the pros for now. I can’t think of anything I’d change in my first experience!

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

Yes. You have so much control over the product, it’s great. However, it’s not for everyone. Keep in mind how much work there is to be done. If someone just wants to see their book in print, they might want to consider

I think my self-publishing venture has been successful. I’m not rolling in cash, but breaking even in six months is pretty darn good! It also opened the door to my publishing business, for which I am eternally grateful.

All the book info is on my website:

and on the book’s website:

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