The first thing we were told at Swanick Writers’ School last summer was that there are now more writers in this country than readers. Yes you read that correctly. More writers than readers.
When I began purging my soul onto paper some twenty years ago I stood a much better chance of securing a contract with an agent than I would today. But it’s taken me twenty years to discover what it is I want to write about and it’s taken that long to improve my writing. Of course we never reach perfection. There’s no such thing. You can follow the rules, pick up tips, edit, edit edit and then you’re basically ready to hit that publish button.
Many authors are turning to self publishing because quite frankly they stand zero chance of securing an agent, unless they’re a celebrity or an established author. But doubtless some do succeed but the process can take years.
This is what I found out in my journey publishing The D Word. Take heed:
Tips for authors.
1. I saw several adverts in national papers for authors to submit their manuscripts. I sent my manuscript to three of them. All said yes. I was ecstatic. But what I hadn’t realized was that they were vanity publishers. They claim to be traditional publishers but they are not because they charge a fee to get you into print and will take on virtually any author. You pay them a small fortune to publish your book; double the price that self -publishing companies will charge. The company that offered me a contract wanted £2500 but they flattered me by saying ‘our board of directors was very impressed by The D Word.’ If they were impressed they wouldn’t be charging to publish. They also said that ‘I deserved to sit among the famous authors in Waterstones and WH Smith’ and ‘we will promote your book in the national media.’ It was a con.They lie to authors. They had no contract with any bookstore. They do not publicise your book. I know because I’ve since spoken with unhappy authors who fell into their trap and I investigated the matter.
2. There are 6 million books now on Amazon. It’s a giant boot fair. Don’t expect your book to see the light of day. There are far too many poorly written books on Amazon. Quite frankly my 10 year old could write a better book than some I’ve seen. Such authors, if you can call them that are just looking for the prestige of being a published author.They write badly. I’ve read many self published books and many are quite frankly rubbish and a distraction to the books that are well written,that do deserve sales; books that are well well crafted, professional and gripping, having spent years of hard work to get everything just right.
3. Don’t rely on friends and family to buy your book. You will be shocked when you discover that the only way they will read your book is by giving it to them as a present and even then it’s no guarantee.Getting a review out of them is also hard work. Like drawing blood from a stone.
4. There are plenty of Facebook author boost groups. The idea is that every author in the boost buys each others books once a week to boost everyone in the rankings. That means spending about £20 on other peoples’ books. And the result? Yes you will rise in the Amazon ranks but fall straight back again.
5. Look at the reality of self publishing head on: it means a lot of hard work to market your book. You will spend lots of money pinning leaflets to notice boards which go soggy in the rain or your leaflet will be covered by other notices in the newsagents window because some greedy newsagent just wants to take your money then create room for tons of other adverts. You will also stand in a windy shopping street for hours, weekend after weekend and not sell a single book.
6. Write because you enjoy writing and give up the obsession to see your name in print. Why not just get a few copies to give to friends as presents?
Unless you have stacks of money to burn you certainly aren’t going to make pots of money. You will sink money in and never see much return. Don’t let anyone convince you that it’s any different. Very few self published authors have ever got lucky and these rare stories are becoming rarer still as more and more people jump on the bandwagon.