I was fortunate to meet Laurie Ellingham at a recent book event and when we got talking I was fascinated by how she’d come to be a novelist. When Laurie agreed to be a guest on my blog I was delighted. She’s here telling us about self-publishing.
My road to self-publishing and beyond
It’s a thought most writers will have at some point on their journey to becoming an author, but perhaps not quite as early as me – twenty-five years old and a meagre three years into my writing life. It was 2009, the year I got married and the year I fell pregnant with my first child. The same year I received countless rejections from literary agents for my first novel – The Reluctant Celebrity – as well as a rather expensive editorial report that I didn’t agree with a single word of.
Fast forward four years, two children and two house moves to a chilly day in February. Both children (now four and three) had started preschool, and I found myself with a wonderful gift, something I’d forgotten even existed – time. I powered up my Kindle and started to read, devouring book after book, some amazing, and others not so good, which is when I discovered how far the world of self-publishing had moved on in four years. No longer did writers have to worry about print runs and how they’d go about selling three thousand copies. With the popularity of Kindle and other reading tablets, self publishing ebooks was not only easy, but free.
With a mild amount of trepidation, I climbed into the loft and dusted away the cobwebs of The Reluctant Celebrity. As I started to read (there and then in the cold of the loft) I realised two things. Firstly, I could write (Hooray!), and secondly, everything in the editorial report was right.
I dived into a frenzy of editing, and three weeks later I download the Amazon Kindle Self-Publishing guide, which explained every step I needed to take to make my 70,000 word manuscript into an ebook I could sell in the Amazon Kindle store. The only cost to the entire process was an ebook cover, which I purchased for a very reasonable price (I paid £10) from a fantastic premade book cover website called http://www.goonwrite.com.
Then I was ready. I clicked on the ‘Publish’ button and in a flash my novel was out in the big wide world of books. I used the free giveaway offer to promote The Reluctant Celebrity and all of a sudden thousands of people from all over the world had downloaded it. Within six weeks I had gone from a dusty manuscript to having a book that was holding its own in the Kindle book charts. Fast forward another six weeks and I had a publishing offer from an independent London publisher. Fast forward fifteen months and my novel was on the bookshelves of Watertones and other retailers.
Self-publishing gave me confidence in my ability as a writer, and allowed a publisher to see the potential in my novel. If I hadn’t received the publishing offer I would absolutely have continued to self-publish. The opportunities for promotion and self-publishing are endless.
Never again will I utter the words ‘I quit.’ I now realise that I am just at the start of what I hope will be a very long career as an author and as a writer, and I can’t wait!
My self-publishing tips:
– Take your time with the formatting stage. Readers will find it annoying if there are spare pages dotted about
– Purchase a professional looking ebook cover. It’s the first thing anyone will see, so don’t give a reader the opportunity to turn it down before they’ve even read the blurb
– Consider spending the money on a proof reader or enlisting a friend with a good eye. It’s near impossible for you to spot all of the typos in your own work because you will read the word it’s supposed to be, not what it is. Receiving a review which says, ‘I loved the novel but the typos ruined it for me,’ hurts.
– Treat yourself like a professional. Embrace social media, get a good head shot, develop a website and build your brand as an author. Once you’ve self-published, contact local papers and radio stations for some free promotion.