Don’t Let Ego Take Over

typewriterFor the uninitiated, the self-publishing journey can feel like a minefield. I hear horror stories every day (no exaggeration) of people paying out $20,000, even $30,000 to publish, only to end up with boxes of unsold books stored out in the garage, collecting mildew. This is why the self-publishing industry has a bad name and why I make it my mission to bring back the fun, joy and even financial gain (yes, you can make money from it!) in self-publishing.

At the end of the day, an author should experience the joy of bringing their book into the world, celebrating with a book launch and making more than it cost them to publish it.

I hesitate to write this post for fear of it sounding like a sales pitch. But I feel very frustrated and even a little angry about the state of the industry that I work in. This may be because I am not just a publisher but also a writer, so I care about the people I help. They are essentially a reflection of me.

They could be me.

Publishing a book is scary. Not just because of the time and money that might go into it but also because the author is putting herself out there. She is investing in herself and putting a piece of work, no matter the genre, out into the community. She will be under the spotlight while the readers decide if the book is worthy of the time they take to read it.

There are so many great stories out there, waiting to be told. Some will get picked up by the traditional publishers and receive a royalty of the sales, others will be self-published. My problem is that there are many companies out there masquerading as ‘real’ or traditional publishers. For the uninitiated, how do you tell the difference? It’s very easy. If ANY money changes hands, you are essentially self-publishing. If you are not handing over any money and receive a percentage of the sales, then that is traditional publishing.
Do you know how these companies manage to get away with this? EGO. They are telling people that they love their work and they should publish it. They say that they will publish it but you have to buy 1500 books at wholesale price (putting you out of pocket by around $25,000). Or they’ll sell you a reasonable package, only to on-sell you large marketing packages (of around $30,000). Then they will continue to hound you for months – even years – to buy more books, publish another book or add more marketing bundles to what you already have.

My blood is boiling just thinking about it. How can a person make back their money if they’ve invested that much already? Probably by now they are so despondent by the whole process that they have fallen out of love with their project that was so exciting when they were told, ‘We love your book.’

So please, authors, DO YOUR HOMEWORK. Ask lots of questions, get lots of different opinions. If you are handing out more than $10,000 for the physical publication (unless you are getting illustrations or photography) of your book then you may as well flush it down the toilet.

My favourite part of the publishing process is seeing my authors at the book launch, seated at a table behind a pile of their books waiting to be signed. It never gets old. I get little  butterfly flutters in my belly. I don’t like the idea of authors crying over the horrible experience that they may have been subjected to. Publishing should be exciting, fun and even life-changing!

 

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Writing Matters

imagesFor me, the need to write builds up. I’ve started to think that if I don’t write when it gets built up, that the safety valve won’t hold. If I leave it too long I start to get agitated and mean about things around me. I guess it must be like running for some people, or even sex. It’s a form of release.

So lately, when I’ve been wondering if I read too much and am not really a writer, I’ve been fooling myself. Maybe I was hoping that it was true to let me off the hook. After all, I wouldn’t begrudge being allowed to read more than I already do. But I find that if I go more than a week, my brain starts to get crowded with the myriad ideas and thoughts that should be put down on paper (word doc). I’m by no means a prolific writer and the words I get out aren’t necessarily of much use to anyone but they are my thoughts and if I don’t do something with them, the safety valve is tested.

This has been my aha moment today: being a writer doesn’t mean that you have to write amazing material that can be turned into something that others may read, or the next great Australian novel. Being a writer is a form of expression like baking a cake, building a pergola or creating a rose garden. Creative expression is a fundamental part of what it is to be human and a way for us to make sense of the world.

The writing that I get out in my usual haphazard way may or may not be used as material for a more important piece of writing, like a short story or novel, but it doesn’t matter. I enjoy playing with ideas, playing with words. Sometimes I’ll just move words around, write out interesting titles, makes lists of ideas. For instance, I was looking for a word that could be used instead of ‘event’ because it didn’t feel like the right word. So I made a list of the synonyms: occurrence, incident, event, episode, happening. Then I had fun playing with those words in my head. Every word in the English language makes me ‘feel’ something, so studying and playing with those words was a lot of fun.

At other times I might write a few lines that discuss something that interests me that could become the seed for a story. Often these things come to me in the shower or while I’m driving. If I don’t get these ideas down, I forget what might be great little kernels for a story or a chapter in a novel.

Like many forms of expression, there is the need to justify any time devoted to them. Writing is no exception and many writers feel that if they aren’t earning money from their craft that it isn’t worthwhile. I say do what makes you happy. For me it’s the world of stories. The writing and the reading of them.

UnknownPS: Last week, when I wasn’t writing, I was reading The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins. I’m starting to think that this is the next trend in writing after bad erotic fiction (50 Shades of what the? And hours I wish I had back). Bit of stalkerism, bit of crazy man/woman, bit of thriller. I did enjoy this page-turner although the end wasn’t really a surprise. Hawkins tries to put a few red herrings into the plot but they don’t really work. This doesn’t make it less readable but I wondered why she’s done it. The main character, Rachel, is pretty annoying and I did feel like yelling at her a few times but people are flawed and that’s what we like to read about.
Rating 3/5

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