In June this year my first novel, Baby X, was published by a small independent press that didn’t have a lot of money to spend on the launch, or on marketing and PR.
In fact, as I’ve written about in other posts, you may well be on limited budget even if you are ‘Big Five’ published, because the lion’s share of marketing and PR money goes to the authors right at the top of the list, the ones who command the massive advances. It will also apply to you if you are self-published, unless of course you happen to be independently wealthy (in which case you probably don’t need to read this post—just hire a good PR).
So what is an impoverished writer to do to get their book out into the world?
It was announced recently that Facebook’s algorithm is changing again.
Their goal is for posts by friends and family to rank highest.
That means if you have a Facebook page, it’s going to be even more difficult to be seen than it was a couple of months ago.
Experts estimate that 2-10% of your page’s fans will see the posts that you share.
And those estimates were before the changes came into play.
So what can you do?
Should you ditch your Facebook page?
Traditional publishing covers a range of types of experience anyway, from Big Five to small press.
The point of this post is not to compare traditional publishing with self-publishing and declare one better than the other.
Likewise, self-publishing encompasses a wide and varied landscape covering everything from independently putting out an ebook out via Amazon all the way through to ‘selective’ or ‘hybrid’ self-publishing, where the author works with a professional publishing house to edit, design, print and distribute their book, but underwrites part or all of the costs themselves.
And of course, there are a range of models and different options in between.
I haven’t ever self-published a book, so don’t have that experience to draw on. But I definitely wouldn’t rule it out for the future.
But having recently had my first novel published with a traditional publisher—albeit a small independent press—I wanted to take stock of what I’ve learnt.
I hope some of these insights will be useful to other writers, regardless of where they currently are in the process, and the route they take to reach readers.
When I was 42, I was made redundant from my job as a middle manager at an IT company. I’d been ill for a few months, and wasn’t in a fit state to go back to work. As my redundancy money gave me a small financial cushion, I decided to go back to studying. I signed up for the University of Nottingham’s excellent (and now sadly defunct, but that’s a story for another time) Creative and Professional Writing degree. It wasn’t long before I realised that there was no anthology of student writing. The tutors said if I wanted to organise one, I’d be welcome to. I seized the opportunity.
I already had typesetting, project management, and team leadership skills from previous jobs. That, I thought, would surely be enough. All that’s involved in making a book, I thought, was gathering together the material, typesetting it, and sending it off to the printer.
As it turned out, there was a whole raft of additional skills I needed to acquire—editing, performing, planning, book layout and cover design, managing and working with volunteers, knowledge of the publishing process, fundraising, networking, and coaching.
Being organised sounds boring, doesn’t it?
Especially if you find spontaneity so much fun!
Unfortunately, when you have a lot of responsibilities—and the older you get, the more responsibilities you’ll have—spontaneity just isn’t practical.
If you want to get shit done, you need to be organised.
If you don’t, things are likely to get missed or neglected and you just won’t make the most of the precious time that you have.
I am one of life’s optimists, but not of the sickeningly happy-go-lucky variety. I have a good balance of being realistic but also hopeful of the best outcome. It’s this attitude that’s helped me to cope when life isn’t going well.
Take a life-changing event. Your emotions will run wild and you’ll cope with it how you need to in that moment, but you can’t change the outcome. It’s happened and it’s out of your control.
My life-changing event happened a few weeks ago.
I’d felt it was coming but didn’t expect it to happen when it did.
I lost my job.