Guest Post – To Self-Publish or Not! – Peter Mowbray

Peter Mowbray.JPGAs I sit and consider the experience of self-publishing, I have to admit that I am both frustrated and happy in equal measure. For those of you that have yet to decide whether to set to work on submitting your masterpiece to all the major publishers and agents, or spend some savings on some “vanity publishing” it’s not a decision to be taken lightly.

Let me share with you then, my own experience of the route of self-publication.

I spent the best part of a year researching my two books about the life of Catherine de Medici, and having created what I firmly believed to be a modern masterpiece, I puzzled over which lucky publishing house would snap the work up and send my paperback to the top of the best-sellers list.

I rattled off many letters and submitted them as advised on websites etc. What I was not prepared for were seeing from blogs to bookstores just how many new authors there are out there. Not only that, but that from acceptance to published work and subsequent fame and fortune could take anything up to 2 years!!

Nevertheless, I persevered only to be rewarded with one rejection after another (a familiar story for many I’m sure)

The responses were not necessarily rejections of the story, but about the market being saturated by many authors trying to land that all important publishing deal. How many times would I read that “…we are not accepting any manuscripts for the foreseeable future..?”

 I had heard about self-publishing some years ago, but dismissed it as something unaffordable, certainly for someone with a wife, two sons, a dog, and a hamster called Spangle! It was only when browsing through a magazine at the local surgery that I came across a feature about someone who had ventured into the self-publishing world and declared that it was not as expensive as one might think.

After some soul searching that evening, as well as a brief glance at the current mortgage statement and the state of my wife’s car, I made an all important decision, I decided to put my family…last!

If I delayed any longer I would always wonder what if, so I turned to the internet (how on earth did we ever function without it?) and came across several such businesses, in fact I discovered that at least three books I had bought from Amazon in the past were self-published authors.

The process was not too onerous, I contacted the publishing house several times with many questions and received some good honest advice. The procedure was to download a contract, make sure you understand everything and then submit the manuscript (as a word document) plus a payment of course – in my case less that £800. There were stock covers that could be used for no extra charge or they were quite willing to work with any design if possible.

The next two or three weeks were spent fine tuning the layout to be just as I wanted it, and cover chosen, it all went to print. Less than three weeks later I took delivery of a brand new paperback with my name, my story, my layout, my editing (see where I’m going with this?)

I loved the process, I had read so much optimism from published authors about their value to their agent/publisher, but I also dug deeper and uncovered others that felt manipulated and that they had “lost control” over their work!

I’m sure that in 99% of cases published authors are ecstatic about their experience, but I am certain that there are those that have not enjoyed the experience as much as they had hoped.

Now of course I’d be lying if I said I would turn down an offer for an established publisher to print my books, run an expensive publicity campaign, I would feel duty bound to accept! However, I have total control about everything. For the second book I used a Bridgeman Images print which cost me £150 to licence up to 10,000 copies (I think I should be ok!)

The whole process for me was very satisfying and pleasurable. I got a PR company involved and that took some of the stress out of trying to find the right people to look at and hopefully review my book, and that was a great help.

I can honestly say, I have never regretted self-publishing and especially as there is a trend for it now that there wasn’t up until the last couple of years. It needn’t be daunting or frightening. The cost may well be less than I paid, but I like they way they work. Added to which, I would not want to work to a timetable – I wonder if that then turns the joy of writing into a task that becomes an added pressure.

All in all, I will carry on self-publishing, I don’t consider it vanity at all, just making a dream become a reality.

If only the big publishers knew what they are missing!

–       Good luck!

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