Saturday, 20 July 2013

Hannah Blatchford-Confessions of a self published author

It's not easy to be self published. Here is a funny and endearing look at Hannah's journey so far. This is why she and our other authors need you guys out there to read, review, buy and promote Indie authors!

Source: Apple Copywriting Blog (written in my capacity as a professional copywriter based on my own experiences)

You can’t do anything without an agent in the publishing business it seems. However they are so swamped most of them are not taking on any new writing talent. Gifted copywriters they have already in droves – newbies are just a hassle they can afford to do without. Getting an agent for me was almost as difficult an obstacle as getting published. Despite this I did manage to find someone to represent me after about 6 months of unceasing letter writing and telephone queries.



My agent is American. Such a lovely guy, but begin English I tend to wilt under his impassioned praise of my work. He is genuinely enthusiatic, its just the class restraints of my upbringing leave me feeling slightly mortified. Instead of being buoyed up I can feel my self confidence eroding with every lavish word. In my world a good ‘jolly well done old chap’ seems to be the amount of praise I have been programmed to handle. I mutter ‘thank you so much’ and ‘well really it was nothing’ in a vain attempt to stem the tide but to no avail. It seems I have learnt to take criticism of my writing much better than praise as a self published author. I can’t shake the nagging feeling that if it the book was really that good why didn’t a publisher pick it up in the first place? Oh dear, it seems I need to feel validated by the profession otherwise I simply feel a bit of a fraud.



First Time No-Go Zone

Of course I am being too hard on myself. Of all the publishers my manuscript was sent out to only one actually bothered to glance over it. ‘Its good,” they tell me, “It fits the market really well. But we don’t publish first time writers.’ Fair enough but how do you get over the elusive first time hurdle exactly?

There is no easy answer to this, but it seems like any other business it is about who you know. There is some really awful writing out there. I shy away from blowing my own trumpet but I read a lot and I know my work is quite a bit better than some of the rubbish put into print. Unfortunately I can’t find that elusive foot in the door. That’s why I chose self publishing. As my agent says it helps to have a product you can prove will sell.



Self Publishing

It really doesn’t cost that much to self publish a book these days. With Print on Demand (POD) publishing you do not have to shell out for 3,000 copies in advance and then get stuck with trying to sell them. Instead you pay for your manuscript to get worked up into a printable copy and then they just run a print every time someone orders. Easy!

Be warned though – they just print your writing and make it available for sale online. POD publishers do not advertise your book (this will cost a lot more) and they do not make any guarantees it will sell. They will not read your book and make any changes for you. All of this bit is totally up to you.



The Final Print

Once I decided to go for self publishing I resigned myself to the fact I would not make any money. I worried constantly that I was undergoing some sort of early mid-life crisis and this book had become my sporty coupe or botox outbreak. I was so concerned I didn’t even tell my family I was doing it fearing they would think I had been brain-washed into a scam. I just did it and then said afterwards ‘by the way I wrote a book and got it published’.

My agent very kindly helped me through the whole process even though really it was not his job. It took four weeks and an amazing amount of corrections and rewrites. I chose a cover image and submitted the finished book and felt totally drained both creatively and emotionally. It almost put me off writing ever again it was such an intensive experience.

When the finished printed copy dropped through the letter box I was pleasantly surprised. It looked like a real book and felt like a real book. Actually it looked like the sort of book I would have bought myself. I sat down and read it from cover to cover. Wow, it even read like a real book! I was quite stunned. I had actually managed to pull it off.

After some furious online self promotion I managed to sell around 100 books in the first year through Amazon, Waterstones, Barnes and Noble and other online bookstores. I told my agent and he was amazed. ‘Actually’ he admitted, ‘Most people that self publish don’t sell one outside of their family and friends’.

I am still averaging around 5 book sales per month with nearly two years in print. This may not sound like a lot but the consistency gives me hope. I have also had a lot of good reviews on online book club websites.

It took a lot of time and effort to write and self publish a book and the work is still ongoing. Along the way were many knock backs and disappointments. It’s going to take me a long time to break even but every time I look at my writing in print and feel the weight of my dreams and creativity in the flesh I get a good feeling. A really good feeling that makes my troubles just fade away. It was worth it and I can’t wait to finish the next book and start all over again

Hannah Blatchford
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