Friday, 25 October 2013

Self publishing? DIY vs a professional publishing company.

Over a number of years I wrote a collection of short stories. Some were good enough to win literary awards so I thought it might be a good idea to publish a compilation of my favourite ones. After a bit of thought, it all seemed too hard so I shelved the idea.

Several months later, I attended a meeting at the Society of Women's Writers. The guest speaker that day was Paul Higgs from Palmer Higgs Publishing.

After the meeting, I chatted one-on-one with Paul and my interest in my short stories was reignited, but I still wasn't sure. I was new to this; I had no idea what I wanted.

Over coffee one day, I discussed the idea of my book with dear friend and prolific writer and self-publisher, Nalini de Sielvie. Nalini is always willing to share her wisdom - in fact she's one of the most supportive people I know. This particular day she answered my questions and offered a bucket-load of valuable advice.

It seemed to me that there was a lot of work involved in self publishing, and a lot of expense too. For example:
  • Editing
  • Design
    • Photo?
    • Artwork?
  • Typesetting
All of this costs time and money. Get that out of the way, and there were additional expenses:
  • ISBN - I could write a whole blog about this on its own
  • Copyright and imprint
  • Paper - you won't believe the variety of paper available!
  • Printing
    • could a local mob do it? 
    • how many do I print?
    • what cost? 
    • what format does the file have to be in?
  • Binding - oh dear...more decisions
Assuming you get that all sorted, you finally have your boxes of books. At this point the excitement of seeing them and holding them in your hands makes it all worthwhile, but then what do you do with them?

Do you saddle up shank's pony and go door-knocking all the bookshops you can find? Do you hold a launch or book signing event?

Yep, you guessed it: you're gonna need more time, money and a thick skin!

It was all too hard! I had a day job - even if I was prepared for the expense, I simply didn't have time for all the leg-work. What I needed was a one-stop-shop.

Time and again I returned to the idea of engaging a self-publishing company, and my thoughts kept going back to Palmer Higgs. I contacted Paul Higgs and asked to meet with him.

I explained that this book was just for friends and family and Paul ran through what they could do for me and how much it would cost.

Let's be straight about this - I'm not writing a promo for Palmer Higgs here because there are plenty of other companies out there that can help you get a book published - I just happened to like what I heard and decided to bite the bullet; I published with Palmer Higgs.

My compilation of short stories, All That & Everything turned out better than I could have imagined. I had control over each step - including being able to engage a local artist, Liliana Vacis, to paint the cover design.

I was able to discuss my thoughts, and have a say in the points that were important to me, while leaving the dirty work to the experts.

When finally it was time to publish my first novel, Torn, it was a no-brainer. I rang Paul Higgs and we what I was looking for.

Where All That & Everything was a small, rather personal exercise, Torn was much more serious. Paul recognised this and the result, again, was better than anything I could have done on my own.

I have to admit - sorry Paul - that I did research alternative self-publishers; there are heaps of them out there. Some very attractive package deals are available and very tempting offers, but at the end of the day even if there were a couple of others that seemed better than Palmer Higgs, I decided to go with the familar - after all, I knew Paul, we had a terrific working relationship and I trusted him.

So why did I choose a self-publishing company instead of doing it all myself?

  • I had control over my product
  • I could engage my own editor (even though Palmer Higgs have an editing team)
  • They took care of the nasty stuff:
    • ISBN and the imprint page
    • Typesetting
    • Printing
    • Binding
  • Their design team took care of the cover (I got to choose the photo)
Plus - massive plus - they held my hand the whole way, explaining things I didn't understand, advising and guiding.

 Palmer Higgs introduced me to Tamara Jenkins, my lovely publicist and engaged Dennis Jones & Associates to distribute Torn so it sits proudly on bookshelves in shops - no door-knocking required!

Of course I pay for these services, but there's no way I would have had the contacts, the motivation or the nouse to organise it all for myself.

Publishing Torn has been the pinnacle of my relatively short writing career, thus far. I think I made the right decisions along the way and engaging a publishing house to handle it was definitely one of them. Palmer Higgs published Torn, and they will be publishing Inviolate - the sequel.

This is me with a copy of All That & Everything, the original painting by Liliana Vacis and design by Palmer Higgs. Contact me via this blog or my website if you want to know more about Liliana - she prefers brush and canvas to monitor and keyboard!

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