‘The decision to self-publish and using Social Media to market your book’
The decision to self-publish can be both an exciting and somewhat scary venture. I’ve taken the decision to self publish my works, stepping out into a busy, well-connected market without the support of a literary agent or large publishing house. It can be a rather daunting process but on the other hand, also a creative journey with excitement and challenges along the way. To go it alone, without an advertising budget and professional guidance, is something I am going to view as an opportunity to be seized, taking full charge of the book and trying to make it successful.
The truth is, in a tough economic climate, it can be rather daunting to be entering into a solo venture. It can also be a difficult decision thinking about taking out bank loans. As a full time professional I am also spending precious spare time outside of a full-time career working on a book to make it into a business and for anyone, be it they work part time or are raising a family, taking on a commitment such as funding and promoting a book, is a big decision.
Tough economic climates when people are trying to cut back on expenditure, also means it is more likely there will be a lot less book deals and a lot more willing writers. Readers too will want to ensure the books they buy stand out from the crowd to ensure they get their money’s worth.
Thinking about my own decision to self publish, although the support and advice of a well known Literary agent and publishing house would be a dream come true, it would also not put my own finances at risk, the real dream come true, regardless of an agent and or not, is to have my book in print. To see it on shelves for people to buy and to see it in someone’s hand for them to enjoy reading is what writing for me is about. To be honest, some people look down on self publishing or at least the industry tended too but if a book makes it onto the shelves and people want to read it, it doesn’t matter how that book has got where it is because all that matters is, that book has found a place and it will be read.
Earlier this year, after writing a children’s picture book in July, I found myself in a predicament. The predicament was that I had the option of either submitting my finished picture book to agents and publishers for consideration, which could take several years before being recognised, if of course it was to be recognised at all, or to go ahead and put the book together myself, namely self-publish it. This would be me taking the reigns on the whole process including funding the illustrations, printing costs and of course sourcing stockists and agreeing orders. Then there is the marketing of the book. Fortunately I work in beauty PR and am trained in Journalism so I know how these areas work but there are so many mums, dads and book blogging groups out there that even if someone is new to the promotional side of things, as long as someone can get to grips with the basics of Twitter and Facebook you can have readers and reviewers in little time at all.
Despite feeling in a predicament surrounding the potential options for my picture book, I felt so strongly about the story that I just didn’t want it to sit around on a desk for months on end. I believe in the story, in the characters and in the theme which, by chance, seems to also fit a gap in the market too. And, this summer, whilst still deciding what to do and whether or not I wanted to self-publish, went to Marie Claire’s ‘How to get published’ event in London where there were four industry professionals on the panel. This included famous Chick Lit author Lindsey Kelk whose work includes the fantastic book ‘I Heart New York’, along with her Literary Agent.
During the event there was a Q&A session and I took the opportunity to ask Lindsey’s agent what her thoughts were on self-publishing. I mentioned if an author was to work in PR what would be her thoughts on taking the step to self-publish. She gave a positive response stating that if it had been a few years ago she wouldn’t have recommended self-publishing, but with the change in social media she would definitely recommend authors looking at self publishing in order to stand out from the crowd and to use it as a platform for getting noticed in the future.
Ultimately, this was the clarification I needed to make my decision. I found a self-publishing company, an illustrator and made arrangements for a bank loan. The picture book, Phillipa Knickerbocker Glory and the Ice Cream Castle is launching in bookstores and online March 26th 2012.
I thoroughly believe that in life, sometimes you just know when you have stumbled upon a great idea and if you have faith in your work then anything is possible.
Being an independent author gives you, the writer, the chance to be in charge of your work. You have complete control and ownership of how and when the book is marketed and where it is sold. Of course, it may be a lot more difficult to find the right contacts or the people willing to stock the book but this is all part of perseverance and building your author platform. Perseverance pays off and this dedication gives an author the opportunity to prove to industry professionals that self-published works can be equal to the standards of any well-known publishing house. By building a public profile you are inevitably paving the way for future success with an agent or publishers, as your hard work shows them just how passionate you are and how well your ideas work.
With determination it is possible by using social media to find readers, reviewers and independent bookstores to stock your book across the globe, simply initiated with the click of an icon. The ability to communicate with people and build relationships with those who previously may have been hard to reach, via Twitter and Facebook is a fantastic advantage. These tools enable authors to access a direct form of communication from anywhere in the world. Living in a small town in Essex, England, I am able to contact bloggers in America, New Zealand and Scotland to name just a few.
And sharing information shouldn’t seem like a threat. If you have a strong idea and have faith in your work by communicating with writers and readers together, we are a strong force, unknowingly setting about change within the industry to make more self-publishing success stories.
If you have a unique story idea or have found a gap in the market, the quickest way to execute that idea is to publish it yourself. Even if it is not financially viable to take out a bank loan to print hard copies, the world of Ebooks is growing by the day and this is another fantastic way to publish your works and electronically market your book.
Why wait for your idea to be snapped up by someone when you could start publishing your book today and make that dream come true.
And I have (eBooks anyway). Thank you Sarahjane!
Sarahjane Funnell is the Regional PR Officer for LUSH Cosmetics and a newly published children’s fiction author. Predominantly she writes young children’s picture books and middle grade stories set in magical places and enchanted lands but is soon to self publish her first short story written for YA readers. Launched as an Amazon ebook in October 2011, Sarahjane’s latest literary addition to her published repertoire was the fantasy story Blake – a short story which Sarahjane hopes will capture the imagination of young readers in particular those who would prefer a shorter fiction book.
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The blog interviews return as normal tomorrow morning with non-fiction author Caroline Walton the two hundred and fifth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further. And I enjoy hearing from readers of my blog; do either leave a comment on the relevant interview (the interviewees love to hear from you too!) and / or email me. You can also read / download my eBooks and free eShorts at Smashwords.