I’m pleased to be welcoming author, Kate Hughes to the blog today.
She chats to us about her self-publishing journey and what it was like for her. Over to you, Kate.
So I’d written a book. Now what?
All the advice I read said ‘Get an agent’. It all sounded so straightforward. So I diligently ordered the Writer’s Handbook and began to contact the relevant agents listed within its many pages. Email after email was sent but gradually after reading what felt like the millionth rejection message, it finally dawned on me that it was pretty unlikely that I was going to get any interest. I was unpublished, unknown and unimportant.
What to do? I’d invested so many hours in writing my precious book that I wanted at least a few people to read it. A friend of mine had just self-published his first novel and was having a lot of success, so he convinced me to give it a go. After sorting out all the formatting issues, which for a technophobe like me was extremely demanding, Amazon were pretty good at taking me through the self-publishing process. I had to upload the correct format of my book (finally it looked like a proper book with chapters and everything) then I had to design the cover. Again, Amazon have a handy cover creator which allows you to use pictures and text on their program. I know many authors pay to have their own covers designed and they look amazing, however as I had no idea whether I was actually going to sell any copies yet I was loathe to spend money I didn’t have! I have to say I was pretty pleased with the finished cover anyway. Just a few more boxes to fill in then…
I self-published my debut novel Mr Brown’s Suitcase in 2014. BUT and this is a big ‘but’ (hence the capitals) now the real work began.
The book is out there but, in order to sell any copies, people have to know. If you go through a traditional publisher they’ll sort all that out for you, but down the self-publishing route it’s all your responsibility. That for me has been the hardest part. The huge problem is that there are so many self-published authors out there. The competition to get your book noticed in a crowded marketplace is a challenge. I also work in a profession (teaching) which isn’t known for its expertise in self-promotion so it didn’t come easily! I had to advertise on all my social media accounts and encourage friends and family to share the news and a link to my book, use word of mouth (i.e. drop into the conversation at an appropriate time, “Did you know I’ve written a book?”), ask book bloggers to review my book (and hope it’s positive!) and contact relevant websites who I thought might be interested. Phew!
Mr Brown’s Suitcase was really well received though and to this day I haven’t gotten a review less than 4 stars. This brings me on to another self-publishing issue; reviews. The reviews are vital. The more you get, the more your profile is raised on Amazon. Though I have to say, to this day, I am still unsure as to how many you need. I’m not entirely sure that anyone knows! It’s hard though to convince people who are, after all, busy like you, to take the time to leave a review. Even people close to you quite often forget. What for you is so important, for others is just something they said they would do but is actually way down at the bottom of their ‘to do’ list. I was aware that I probably sounded like a nag after a while. I have managed to get 50 reviews though which I am very proud of.
In January 2017 I did it all over again as I have just self-published my second novel Home. To a certain extent it has been easier. I definitely sped through the process of uploading the novel this time and I certainly knew what I had to do to self-promote. However it is still very time consuming and most of us self-published authors are still holding down jobs (and in my case juggling three children too!)
All in all I would be lying if I told you that self-publishing is easy, and of course my dream is still for a ‘proper’ publisher to come along and enable my books to reach a much wider audience. However, I don’t for a minute regret going down this route. At least this way my book didn’t stay hidden away in a folder on my computer. My words have actually been read and that is priceless. It’s a wonderful feeling, knowing that strangers have read and (hopefully!) enjoyed your story. The icing on the cake for me was when I held my book as a paperback. Suddenly I felt like a real author even if I did do it all by myself.
Kate Hughes is a primary school teacher with over 20 years experience. Her love of writing began at an early age and didn’t let her rest until she sat down and actually wrote some books.
Her latest novel, Home, is available to buy now from Amazon.
“You need to come and get my daughter. She’s not safe anymore.” For Sophie, life with her daughter has never been easy. Rosie’s extreme autism has made her unpredictable and often difficult. Like most mothers though, her first instinct has always been to protect her child and keep her close. However, when Rosie’s escalating violence culminates in a terrifying incident at home, Sophie is faced with a choice that no parent ever wants to make. A choice that will inevitably plunge her into a set of unimaginable new circumstances which will test her to the limit. A true test of a mother’s love. Could you send your child away?