For several years now, I have written and published popular blogs and booklets of amusing poetry. But last year, at the age of 61, I finally completed my first full length fiction novel. I was by no means certain that the book would sell, but I was determined to give publication a try and to enjoy the process.
I therefore chose to self-publish.
Self-publishing was not a decision of last resort. it was my first choice. I didn’t want to wait endlessly for the inevitable non-replies or rejections from agents and traditional publishers. I didn’t want to justify the merit of my work by composing a variety of covering emails, each subject to individual submission guidelines. I didn’t want to submit myself to the indignity of being instructed to re-write large sections of my novel. I was more than happy to respond to advice, but I wished to stay in control of my writing. Self-publishing was the obvious route.
The markets are changing. Best-selling authors are increasingly turning to self-publishing, frequently through e-books or through the growing number of self-publishing companies.
The cheapest way to self-publish (and I’ve done it) is to upload an ebook by yourself or to appoint a printer, buy your own ISBN numbers, send your own copies to the British Library etc and market your own product. With low overheads and a short print-run, it’s quite possible for a reasonably accomplished writer to make a small profit locally. But without wider distribution, and the expertise of an experienced publishing house, it is hard to produce a high quality product and attract a wider readership and the interest of national chains of book sellers.
Knowing that there are, sadly, a number of rogue publishers out there, ready to take inflated sums of money from writers and sloppily print any unedited script they are sent, I did a lot of research before selecting my publisher. I was looking for a self-publishing company who would focus on quality, with a proven record of producing titles capable of sitting proudly on the shelves of national bookshops alongside titles from traditional publishing houses.
I checked out reviews, read the small print and finally chose to send my manuscript to Matador Books (part of Troubador).
Fortunately, they chose to accept it. Three months later, my debut novel has been professionally copy-edited and type-set, and the beautiful cover has been designed. The book is on schedule for its official publication date at the end of October.
And so it was that a couple of weeks ago, my husband and I took a trip to Leicestershire to meet my Production Controller, Rosie, and my Marketing Controller, Jasmine. This was an optional visit, as most matters could have been progressed by email or telephone, but I wanted to immerse myself in the process and to meet in person the people who were supporting the production and sales of my book.
I was not disappointed. Rosie and Jasmine were a delight to deal with. They were welcoming and responsive and extremely knowledeable. I learned about the scheduled production dates from Rosie. I was able to thank Jasmine for the description “ a moving tale of love in later life”, which now headlined my book’s draft press release. I came away from the meeting with more information about the process, and additional confidence in the company who were publishing my book.
I am proud of my decision to self-publish with Matador.
And finally, if anyone else is making the journey to the Matador/Troubador offices, don’t forget it is an ideal opportunity to visit the new King Richard III visitor centre in Leicester. It is an amazing place. I bought a pen to remember my trip. It is inscribed with the words ‘Dynasty, Death and Discocery’. Sounds to me like the inspiration for another novel!