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Self publishing

That’s it, I’m done! Another agent rejection, and of course it knocks your confidence. I know, I know, this is normal and part of the process, but my shrinking ego is now smaller than pea size. So I’ve made the decision if I don’t get any responses by end of Feb I’m self publishing. I’m toying with using and paying for the service, partly because I’m lazy and would rather spend my time writing! I’ve thought about signing up for the self publishing course. Have any of you done the course? How did you find it? Is it worth the money or should I use the money to pay for the service? A couple of you have suggested using a self publishing company in the past. I’d be grateful if you could reply with the names of these again and any others. Many thanks in advance.

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Replies (44)
    • Hold on for a minute... is there any feedback as to why you are receiving rejections? Because you can use that to revise your manuscript.

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      • I'm not sure deciding to self-pub is a 'drastic decision', Ryan. Perhaps the rejection has nothing to do with the submission because it wasn't read, ended in a slush pile, treated with ignore, and past over without reasonable consideration.  Self-pub is an option and we're lucky it exists, but it's not for all.

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        • That's an interesting point about professional beta readers. I could have done with something like that when I was writing my debut novel, but what is the best way to track them down? Are there any websites of use in that respect?

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          • Hi Deb

            Chin up. I know how you feel. Had an agent 1 to 1 before Xmas and she was very negative. I think I'm going down the self publishing route and have been in contact with Silverwood Books. The only downside to this is the cost! Amazon self publishing is an option but I don't know if I'm computer literate enough.

            I'm also talking to an illustrator at the moment so I'll let you know how that pans out - nothing concrete yet.

            Keep the faith and keep the words coming!

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            • Thanks David. Yes I’d be very interested to hear how you get on. Did you find the illustrator independently or were they recommended? 

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              • Of course, it's your decision but Silverwood Books seems to be a lot of money for not a lot. I think since self-publishing has taken off a lot of vanity publishers have moved into "self-publishing help".

                For example, in they media service they talk about Pdf ARC (Advanced Reader Copies). Are they only producing pdf for the author or will they be sending them out to generate reviews and blrbs to other authors and reviewers/bloggers? Who will they be sending them to, how many, how long before publication. What's the details of their social media broadcast for 3 months, which media, to what size audience, what kind of messages?

                Their publishing service sounds light too. Pretty much everything in their silver service are things an author can do themselves for little money.

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              • If I can publish on Amazon…

                I used reedsy.com for page layout. Super easy.

                Go for it. 

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                • I have very little direct experience to speak from, Debbie, but my impression is that self-publishing is the easy bit. Actually getting anybody to buy and/or read it is the real challenge, and I don't think any paid-for service is going to achieve that for you. So, I would say keep trying to get a proper deal, and if it doesn't work out, then go for the self-publishing route, but bear in mind that if you self-publish, you have to self-publicise too, and you need a strategy and a plan for that. 

                  Anyway, that's my plan. But what do I know?

                  Good luck, whatever you decide.

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                  • Debbie, you do need a plan - I promise you that big time. However, if you can't be bothered with it all, just publish the book (super easy = true. Could do it in your sleep, I'll help you in my sleep if you wish) then find a pro to run the advertising and promos for you. The last one I looked at was Matthew Holmes, the husband of Lori Holmes the author. I received a detailed quote from him to do nearly everything. His retainer was $250 a month and a percentage of the income (you pay for the ads). He will probably tell you this, as will most, don't even think about it unless you have a series for flow on sales. Read his site and you'll get an idea. #tve-jump-17a8fab1a1d">https://matthewjholmes.com/work-with-me/-jump-17a8fab1a1d

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                    • Thanks Rob, will take a look.

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                    • I did the self publishing course with Gwyn and it is free and brilliant. She covers every aspect of how to put things up on Amazon. It is really helpful and she has notes with the important points at the end.

                      However, before you self publish why don’t you have an editor look at it. I had an editor who used to work for a major publishing house and had written several books. She was so helpful, she went through everything explaining how to make it better, and with her help I turned the book around. I know you’ve done a bit of this already but it might be worth trying one more unless you are perfectly happy you have achieved the best book you can.

                      After the editor and using Gwynn’s self publishing course I then self published and I’m very happy I did so.

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                      • Thanks Georgina. Yes I will do that. How did you find your edito?

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                        • She was on Reedsy

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                        • Hi Debbie, I agree with many above that it's well worth having another editorial assessment done by a professional, get really detailed feedback and action that, then try to submit again. It's not cheap doing this (paying for the assessment) but it may be money well spent - in any event you will end up with a better book as a result, which means if you do go down the self pub route you are making the best representation of yourself as a writer.

                          If, after all, you decide to self pub then do consider the Amazon route. I did so with my first novel and it really isn't that difficult - they give lots of tutorials on how to do it and it's easy to work out (if a little trial and error to begin with). You can preview every format before you publish. It is really important to get a great cover created by a professional graphics artist - if they work with books they will be able to understand all of the sizing and formatting guidelines given by Amazon and will produce it in a format that you just simply upload, so it's worth choosing someone with experience in print design (as opposed to just web design).

                          Apart from the costs of the editorial assessment and the cover design, everything else on Amazon is totally free to use. You don't pay any print costs as they print to order (meaning they will dictate the cover price for the paperback/hardback depending on the book's length and cover design).

                          Like a couple of people have said, publishing it is the easy bit! Drumming up readers is as sole-destroying as trying to find an agent! And then you have to develop a skin thick enough to take the less kind review comments (which all books get) - which are on public view - but hopefully you'll get a good amount of positive reviews too! In my experience, though, getting people to read it is tough, getting them to review or rate it is even tougher. My book has been live for over 2 years, it's had just shy of 800 Kindle downloads and has 55 ratings, including 19 reviews. And I have put a lot of effort into social media, website, free promos, Amazon ads, etc... 

                          The marketing is a full time job, which I sadly don't have time for. But I guess you could pay someone to do that for you - I'll imagine it doesn't come cheap. The best thing about self-pub is the satisfaction of seeing your work in print, which is still the best part for me. I wrote it for the joy of it and published it for the same reason.

                          But once it's out there, you can't help but get hooked on watching your numbers....

                          Good luck!

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                          • I loved that, so interesting. With the one star reviews, sometimes I wonder if they are having a bad day. I got a 3 star review and then, at the end, the reviewer said ‘I would recommend this book’. Er? 

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                            • Funny! There's no fathoming how other people's minds work is there? Yes, I must admit that I suspect that people who give one-star ratings have probably not read the whole book, but have given up with it part way through (which is an indictment in itself, of course). Very often they don't leave a review and I wonder if it's because they can't actually comment on the content of the book. I've learned a lot from my reviews, though, but it is a bit of a heart-lurch moment when a new one comes in! 

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                              • very interesting comments. Thank you all.


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                              • Thank you all for your responses and help. I think another assessment is a good idea so that I can put my best work out there when and if I go down the self publishing route.

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                                • I got my first ever one star rating the other day - like KT Jayne amongst many 5* ! Having now been in the self publishing game for all of one year, I had a sharp intake of breath, the person didn't leave a review...so I moved on and forgot about it. This is a very different reaction to when I first started out, when even a 3* review filled me with despair!  I keep my dear late Mum's saying in my mind whenever I read my reviews "One man's meat is another man's poison' - so very true.  I took a look at the reviews for Richard Osman's book Thursday Murder Club. WOW! That was so interesting. He has over 85,000 reviews!!  So many of them are 1* - amongst 5* of course. I bought the book out of sheer curiosity and thought it was terrible!  That was a lesson in itself!

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                                  • Thanks Robert, I'll check them out. The book is out now, but my second is in the pipeline with the aim of launch in April/May. It's called The Accidental Hero. My pen name is Andrew Rylands.

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                                    • That's really helpful Andrew - thank you! I will check it out 👍

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                                      • Good work, Andrew. I checked your book site and the story sounds interesting, certainly a different twist on the old gods. It's similar to mine in that aspect. Good luck going forward.

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                                      •  Come on, if it was Richard Osman from Fairmile Comprehensive he wouldn't have got a look in. Old school tie, Oxbridge, television personality Do I need to elaborate? 

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                                        • Being well known is obviously a great boost to publisher interest. I haven't read Richard Osman but I imagine all his television experience has given him a feel for a good story and awareness of identifying a target readership.

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                                          • I really like it, I thought the humor was terrific and the plot was good.

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                                            • This proves my point Richard Osman is both meat and poison! Meat for you Georgina and poison for me 😂!

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                                            • Hi!

                                              Self-publishing can feel like a huge venture and the suggestions here are all great & worth considering. I’d just like to add that if anyone isn’t sure about whether the upcoming Simply Self-Publish course is right for them, the tutor - Debbie Young -  will be answering questions on the Alliance of Independent Authors’ on 26 Jan over on Twitter.

                                              It’s a really good chance to get to know her better as a tutor and find out more about self-pub, so do go along with questions. Myself or any other member of the team are more than happy to answer questions as well. Hope this helps!

                                              Esther x 

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                                              • As has been said many times on here - publishing is a very subjective business, much of the arts is like that, theater, music - and the big problem is that it is incredibly difficult to break into the club.

                                                I read a Costa first novel nominee recently and it was very ordinary I have to say - but an agent obviously liked it and convinced a publisher to take a punt on it so what do I know? At least 5 of my favorite  books last year have been by independent authors which tells me that a hell of a lot of great writers aren't getting any representation. 

                                                One common factor amongst the 5 books were the spelling mistakes and editing errors (leaving notes and lines on text that have been altered.) This screams amateur but I forgave them because the narrative was so good but reading some reviews other readers aren't so forgiving. I would advise then if you are going to go down the self pub route make sure a decent copy editor casts their eye over it before you send it off...


                                                Best of luck



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                                                • Thanks Danny. I have a friend who has a business called the writing coach. She is quoting me for a thorough edit so hopefully I’ll be in the right place to self publish.

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                                                • Hi Debbie, I know you posted this a couple of weeks ago now, but I've only just spotted this. Did you make any decisions on self-publishing?

                                                  I decided to self-publish my middle-grade book at Christmas. I think you're writing children's books too, so I thought I'd share some of my research so far. My first point is that self-publishing for children is really tough. There are some genres that work well as self-pub, e.g. crime and romance. Children's just isn't one of them. It's really difficult because research suggests children mostly (not exclusively, but mostly) read physical books. Most self-pub sales come from ebooks. Children don't necessarily have access to a Kindle/tablet to read ebooks on. There's also a lot of legislation about not marketing to children, so you have to be wary of that too.

                                                  My second point is that self-publishing for children can be more expensive than other genres. I've seen really good covers for romance and crime books that use stock photography. These are probably quite a bit cheaper than an illustrated cover. It's possible to do a cheaper cover with a stock photo for a children's book, but it doesn't really fit the genre expectations. So doing a really good cover is more expensive for a children's book than it might be for other genres.

                                                  Those are my two big warnings. But I say them only to inform, not to persuade. Despite all of this, I've decided to self-pub anyway and I think it's great if you want to do that too. But it helps to go in with your eyes open, knowing the difficulties you could face.

                                                  There are also some good children's publishers that allow direct submission to them (i.e. not through an agent), so that might be another possible route for you.

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                                                  • Thanks Sarah that’s really useful information. I would love to get my book published via the traditional route but no luck so far. 

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                                                    • I know the feeling! I think we've all been there, so this seems to just be part of the whole process, sadly. You're not alone.

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