Self-publishing – is it all just vanity?

Wow! The editing and rewriting are finally done. The title of my novel is on its third incarnation. Now I need a publisher. But getting one these days is all but impossible unless you’re already known in some other field. Even to find an agent to take you on is dispiriting and depressing. Despite lots of positive feedback from agents, I still had the same message – today’s difficult climatethe collapse of the mid-listnot rightblah blah blah. However nicely they put it, it still leads to what G.P. Taylor describes as the horrendous thud on the doormat – the tell-tale sound of rejection.

So – do I take the self-publishing route? I’ve heart-searched the rights and wrongs, and it’s hard to get the evils of vanity publishing out of my mind. Jonathan Clifford’s writing on the subject is enough to terrify any poor soul who strays into the clutches of the wicked vanity publishers.

And there’s always the lurking thought if it was good enough someone would have taken it up by now. Still they haven’t and I believe it’s good. Helen Corner of Cornerstones also liked it, as did Stephanie Hale of the Oxford Literary Consultancy, and it was on the  shortlist of ten for the Cinnamon Press 2009 novel writing competition, so I’m going to give it a go.

I start by contacting various companies for information. There’s a bewildering array and they all offer something similar but different: self publishing, joint publishing, partnership publishing and so on and so on. How to sort the wicked, who will take shedloads of my money, print ten copies of my precious manuscript, and then disappear into the proverbial sunset, from the not-so-wicked, who will still take my money but will at least have a stab at selling my book?

I study Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and find some companies that are actually recommended! In the 2010 edition, there are four, including Matador, an imprint of Troubador Publishing, which is the one I decide to go for.

Apparently Matador doesn’t accept every manuscript that is sent to them A good sign, or a marketing ploy? I contact Jeremy Thompson at Matador. He says Matador would be happy to publish my manuscript of ‘Unravelling’. He sends me a quotation. I query the format and the cover of the finished product. He sends another quotation. I sign the contract. It’s exciting. The adventure has begun!

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  1. Anne Stuart says:

    Hi Lindsay
    A word of warning – after seeing my brother’s DREADFUL self-publishing attempt (and that’s aside from the fact that the book content is entirely self-vanity!!!). I was too embarrassed to tell him until just recently. He hadn’t bothered to buy a copy for himself to see the result.

    But good luck with it all. I’ll look out for it when it’s available

  2. Lindsay says:

    Yes, I understand the warning – it’s people such as your brother who give self-publishing a bad name! Too many books have been printed that are full of spelling, grammar and typographical mistakes. And there’s no denying there is still snobbery about the idea of self-publishing. Just in case – I started the sentence with ‘And’ deliberately.

    Self-publishing – done well – can be quite a different thing from vanity publishing. There is no reason it shouldn’t be as professionally produced as a conventionally published book. Also, the retailers, distributors and marketing people define the current market by controlling what gets into the bookshops, so there’s little chance of a look-in unless you’re already ‘somebody’. I’ve just seen Coleen Nolan has got a novel coming out soon. Yes. Who?

    Besides, self-publishing has a worthy heritage: John Milton, Mark Twain, Beatrix Potter and Walt Whitman are just a few of those writers who have self-published. Add DH Lawrence’s ‘Lady Chatterley’ to the list and you start to get the idea.

    Still, I certainly won’t ignore your warning. I’ll do my best to make sure ‘Unravelling’ is well written. professional and without mistakes. It’s out on 7th June – buy a copy and let me know what you think!

  3. Pipka says:

    Thank you! I added this page to bookmark)) I think would be useful …

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