My Publishing Journey
I thought long and hard about the publishing of my novel, the deciding factor in the decision being my age. In my early seventy's I do not have time to hang around while agents and publishers consider it good enough to accept. It can take ten to fifteen years for a first novel to find its way through the slush pile. That was not the only reason though. My mother is rapidly approaching her 95th birthday, and since the protagonist in the novel is her ancestor, I very much wanted her to be able to hold my first book in her hands.
A considerable amount of research was necessary before I had the confidence to take the step. However, there is so much information and advice out there, that in the end, it made sense. What actually sealed it for me, was information I found on the website, 'Jericho Writers'. I had long used the site for whatever nuggets I could find in becoming an author, but had only recently, become a member. That in itself was a mistake. Anyone out there hoping to become a published author should first become a member of 'Jericho Writers'. This amazing site has just about everything you need to know. Oh. I suppose I should own up to the fact that this site was set up by one of my favourite authors, Harry Bingham! Anyway, back to publishing. I learned, through trial and error, that anyone can publish independently, and that well-established authors use this method alongside more traditional publishing.
After setting up an account with Amazon Direct Publishing, the would-be author has access to any amount of helpful information in support of getting it right. Of course, that does not mean it goes well from the start - I had to have several phone calls from them before achieving the desired result. What self-publishing authors don't get is all the help to finesse the finished product, but once again the modules available from that go to website above pointed me in the right direction. Finding a cover, for example. I learned that not just any cover would do, that a good cover has properties and the various methods of getting one. It is possible, if you are artistic, and knowledgeable about the vagaries of programmes like Photoshop etc, to design your own, but me - I'm useless at all that. Then there is the option of having someone design it for you, but some people do not have endless funds to pour into this mix. So, having screened the relevant module, I went directly to online sites for book covers for sale! I confess that at the time I was not really expecting to find anything that fitted my needs, but after trawling through various sites and pages of amazing covers, I discovered the perfect one. I purchased just the front cover for the e-book, I was ready to upload to Amazon, and then set about the full cover, coming to realize I still had so much to learn.
How many pages in my book? What is the spine width? These among other questions the artist asked, I was unable to answer. Back to Amazon, where my novel was now almost ready for its paperback version, except that I had not reckoned on things like formatting. Ha! I've been using a computer for years in my working life, ok self-taught because they were not around in my day, but never learned about formatting a document properly. Thankfully, the support from Amazon came to my rescue and hey presto, I was able to answer all those awkward questions, resulting in a full cover ready to upload. Self-publishing is not without its headaches, but then writing a novel is migraine material. The pleasure of seeing your work in published form outweighs every painful experience. My advice?
If you've always wanted to write, do it. You will not regret it. Think you're too old to learn? Forget it. Over the last four years, I've learned more than in the ten years previously. Happy writing, and even happier publishing.