Posted by: billpurdue | October 25, 2011

Getting your book published

If things go to plan, in this week’s Chad (26th October) my monthly column is all about getting your book published – or at least it’s full of hints and tips. There’s a lot more to it than what you can squeeze into around 500 words, so I’m timing this posting to coincide with the publication of the Chad, as it contains more hints and tips which I didn’t have room for in the column.

First of all, my thanks to the following for sending me information, hints and tips etc for the column: authors Joy Jackson, Roy Bainton, Janet Roberts, Jonathan Foster plus Ross Bradshaw of Five Leaves Publishing.

Writing:

It’s said that there’s a book in every one of us, but is it a book that other people will want to read? Ross Bradshaw has some good general advice here: “Are you reading enough? If you are not a big reader in your area of interest you won’t be a good writer. Besides, if you don’t borrow or buy books by other writers, why should anyone borrow or buy yours? Writing is a craft which needs to be learned, and the best way to learn is to see what others have done.”

He adds: “Attend readings, library events, Lowdham Book Festival, Southwell Poetry Festival – get to know other readers and writers. Hermits rarely get published”

Jonathan Foster, author of “The Death Ray: The Secret Life of Harry Grindell Matthews” agrees with Ross on that matter. He also gave me an insight into how he writes: “.”  It’s the starting, staring at a blank page or empty glowing screen that is so daunting. I use a mood board.  This is like a poster made up of images, scribbled down text, and ideas.  It’s great to play with, to fiddle with and allows you to ‘visualize’ your work.  It really helps with ideas and is a far easier starting point.  Use images and pictures, relevant to your story, to help set out your work, it’s a great way to get a foothold. Start with a short story and expand upon it.  It’s amazing how ideas begin to flow once ink is applied to paper!”

Joy James, author of a number of books on her early life growing up in the back streets of Nottingham says it’s good to try out your book on people you know to get an idea of how it would go down with the reading public. She says: “It’s a case of letting some folk read your work and banking on them being honest as to its readability and then putting your money up front and going for it. I have been told a thousand times of  Yo’d mek a parson Swear….’I could not put it down.’ It’s still selling really well”.

Finally on the writing side we return to Ross, who says: “…don’t hurry. Re-write, edit, put the work away and come back to it later. Keep polishing the material until it is the best you can possibly do. Then ask if it is as good as the material being produced by others in your field. If the answer is no, start again”

Publishing

There was plenty of advice on how to get the book published, but the general consensus was : avoid the so-called ‘vanity publishers’. Roy Bainton, author of a wide range of titles and President of the Nottingham Writers’ Club, had a great deal to say on this: “The term ‘vanity publishing’ is one the gravest offences a writer might be accused of. It usually smacks of being so talentless that no-one in the bona fide publishing world will touch you, so you pay for your work to come out.” In short, he says it’s a con.

He recommends the Print on Demand (POD) method of publishing. You still pay for the book to be published, but POD companies have a wide range of services which you can avail yourself of (provided you can afford it) such as copy editing and  text design and they’ll even get you an ISBN and a bar code – essential if you want to sell online. Possibly the world leader in the POD field is www.lulu.com , an American firm, but the printing is done in the UK. The advantage of lulu is that they will print as many or as few copies as you need and they will market your book on their website.

Janet Roberts, whose first novel is Every 4 Minutes now available as an e-book, also mentions lulu for self publishing, but also suggests: “A fairly close publisher who specialises in producing small runs for local writers is Dick Richardson at Country Books which is based at Little Longstone. (http://www.countrybooks.biz/). If your manuscript is complete and you are just looking for a good, efficient and fast printer there’s a small firm in Essex which offers an excellent service.( http://www.4edge.co.uk/) Very small print runs are possible, although even in this digital age, it still appears that the more printed, the cheaper the price”.

I’m going to leave the final word to Roy; “If you want to be a published author, it’s possible, but it can be a steep learning curve. Start writing!”

Good Luck!

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