You have to sell yourself−even if you get a publishing deal, you will have to do this anyway, and lots of it. As you are waiting for those rejection letters you need to start down the other path−self publishing. It is no longer just a vanity project; it is a legitimate way into a publishing deal. If you have managed to get thousands of people to like, potentially read, read, write reviews−you already have an audience.
Self-publishing is not a new innovation Laurence Sterne−Tristram Shandy (1759), The Wonderful Wizard of Oz by Frank L Baum (1900). More recently Wool by Hugh Howey (2011) and you may have heard of the Fifty Shades of Grey Trilogy by E.L. James! − Which has now sold more copies on Amazon than Harry Potter! The list is endless and one thing is for certain, if you don’t get it out there to the world to see, you have no chance.
Remember whatever self-publisher you use, you own the rights. So which one should you use? The obvious elephant in the room is Amazon, and I know a lot of people, especially in Britain don’t like to buy anything from Amazon, not even a Will I Am facemask or illuminating Halloween socks−but they are biggest platform and potentially give you a larger market. Their publishing arm, CreateSpace is relatively straightforward to use. You can do it yourself, or you pay them to do it in-house. I have used them twice and intend to use them at least one more time. Rather than get them to do it−I could have quite easily done it myself, I pay a friend, as it saves me huge amounts of time. If you are on a tight budget and you intend to put lots of work out, spend the time learning. One drawback for many people outside the US is an ITIN (International Tax Identification Number). You need this from The IRS or you will pay tax there and in your home country. To get this you need to send your passport off, and it can take 4-6 weeks, so you don’t want to be doing this when you are going abroad on holiday−Do this before your book is completely ready. I always produce hard copies and turn these into ebooks, you might only want the latter.
You decide what contract you sign. I won’t go into all these, but they are quite straightforward. You obviously do not have to use Amazon, there are many others out there. Some of the ones I have heard good reports about are; Smashwords and Lulu. Others include Blurb and Authorhouse. A long time ago when I had very heavy work commitments I used Xlibris. Personally I found them expensive−remember everything you get them to do will cost you, including changing a few typos that were pointed out to me by readers. I also found they hassled me with phone calls a lot, to the stage I pretended to be out!
Googlebooks is on the rise and has fewer books listed than Amazon, so a search is more likely to find your book, but obviously not as much traffic as the Amazon Behemoth.
I could go into a lot more detail, but to be honest it’s a bit boring and trainspottery−You’ve got the idea, it just boils down to some research and finding what best fits you. Ask yourself ultimately what is your aim? That will determine to large extent which is the best fit.
If you have written your book and you are happy with it, get it out there. I read some research the other day that said 95% of people that self-publish feel a sense of pride and achievement for getting to the final stage. Even if down the line you are not 100% happy, like Philip Pullman with his first book, you can always take it down and revamp it. At some point you do need to let it go and get it out because a book is never finished, Henry James is testament to that… But, holding it in your hand, smelling it, touching it, taking it to bed−might just be the inspiration you need to climb the next mountain!
Next week: 7: Social media: ask it to be your friend.
Ian M Pindar has just published the first two novels in The Robert Knight trilogy. The third: The Space Between the Notes will be out in the Summer along with another two novels this year.