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Posted By Louise Pakeman

As publishers become thinner on the ground and writers thicker the task of finding a publisher gets more difficult. This has opened the door for self publishing firms. No longer termed ‘vanity publishing’ this form of getting into print for the writer convinced they have something worthwhile to say is a valid option. Modern technology has also made it easier to publish a book at reasonable cost without resorting to enormous quantities destined to be stored in closets, garages, attics, sheds or even under beds while the author struggles to sell copies.

Conviction that I had something worthwhile to say, (or my ego) and the fact that I had already had twelve non-fiction books published, in addition to the ten books of fiction published under another gave me the confidence to offer my book to publishers who had similar titles in their lists. Many ignored me; some turned my idea down flat, one or two said that ‘It was a lovely book and they would like to publish but ….’ The buts ranged from the world financial situation and theirs in particular to my admission that I was not prepared to spend years traveling the world to promote it.

It was when an English publisher who had actually asked to see the whole manuscript, suggested self publication that I first looked seriously at the idea. I contacted self publishers in the U.S. England and Australia. The response ranged from completely ignoring me to inundating me with publicity for their own business and a bombardment of emails. I was totally confused. Then I saw a small news paragraph in the ASA newsletter about a presentation on self publishing in Sydney. Almost as a last resort I emailed the firm presenting this. There was no way I could get to the workshop. I received neither a chilling silence nor reams of bumff but a personal call. After a few minutes I was confident that not only was I in expert hands but that my own ideas would be listened to.

I wrote the book, provided the photos, did the proof reading, fixed the price and said when I wanted it ready. Knowing the vital importance of the cover I asked them to design it. They got the ISBN and barcode, the boxes of books were delivered to my door ahead of the agreed publication date and I had helpful supportive advice throughout. The result is in every way a professional production. I am now faced with the biggest problem of all for self-published authors – selling it! In the desire to actually get into print this is sometimes overlooked.

Posted By Louise Pakeman

A presence on the Internet is vital. I have a web page with an active blog and a presence on face book But you have to get people on line to see these. Business cards distributed as widely as possible work well.

I have done no paid advertising, but sent review copies to places who have expressed willingness to review. I have approached distributors with an even more depressing result than publishers. NONE have had the courtesy to even email a NO response! Extremely frustrating when booksellers say they only buy through distributors! However small independent specialist shops who already stock my books have placed orders. My biggest sales however are from word of mouth, I have had more than one person order a single copy as a present for a friend and follow with another order because ‘it looks so interesting they want to read it themselves’ Without exception comments on the cover are full of praise.

And the subject of my book? Cats – but a cat book with a difference. It is basically a memoir of my own life through the special cats who have shared time with me. The few publishers that did comment on the subject all said the same thing, it fell between two stools, it could not be classified as a memoir or a cat book! The comments I have had to date from those who have read it tell me that is exactly what they like about it! Maybe publishers and distributors are mistaken in feeling they need to classify books so rigidly.

To sum up I would say publish yourself by all means if you have faith in your work, but do it with professional help. I have talked to people who have done the entire hard slog themselves from getting the ISBN to dealing with printers and they have said how tough it was. Then at the end they still had to sell it.

My advice is write the best book you can and get it produced as well as possible. With interesting content and an eye catching cover the book will sell itself. Each copy that goes out is an ambassador for the others. Even if sales are slow but are mostly at the full retail price you will end up better off than selling through distributors at a huge discount.

THE POWER OF THE CAT by Ann Walker. Can be viewed on the author’s website, and on Power Of The Cat



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Louise Pakeman


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