How and why I self-published my first novel back in 2004.

Imagine if you will a keen, enthusiastic novice writer who has completed his first novel and like a now very famous author had a list of rejections big enough to paper the house (I had 48, I think it was 48, it was a big enough paper trail I can tell you) then you will understand why getting my book published became an obsession.

On a recommendation from a writing friend I met at a conference in 2003, I tried one last time, and the long and short of it is that I did get an offer to publish my book. Over the moon is nowhere near the excitement and ecstasy I felt that day, but something in the back of my head rang bells and these got louder the more I read the contract.

The short version of this story is that I asked the Society of Authors to review the contract I had been offered and they replied a few days later with a clause by clause appraisal. It was damning, damning in the extreme and even had the sentence, “a writer must never accept this clause under any circumstances”. So, I declined the offer and decided to publish the book myself.

And by myself, I mean, by myself.  This was now spring 2004 and I looked at a lot of “assisted self-publishing houses” and got all sorts of quotes and reams and reams of bumf from them but when it came down to it, I was not convinced who’s best interests were being served, so I declined them all.

I then started to call proper book printing companies and the steep learning curve started big time. They asked me questions and I had no idea what they were talking about, but I soon found out. I eventually decided to work out a page layout, paper size, margins and all of that physical data until I had a workable book as close to a multiple of 16 pages as I could.

With this data safe and secure, I contacted them all again and received various quotes depending on the print run. Some had a minimum print run of 100, some 500, and each had an add on for extra copies called the run on.

This is where the maths and the money came in and I settled on a company way down in England (I lived near Glasgow at the time) my best offer was for 2000 copies and it would cost around £2100. That is just over £1 per copy. A great deal.

I was just about to give them the go ahead when I found another proper printers in the next town to me. They invited me for a tour of the plant, discussed the how’s and where’s of it, they showed me the machine that would be used and gave me a quote for 2000 copies just a few quid different from the other company. It “felt” right. They told me how they wanted the files.

1 file with the body of the book

1 file with the front end etc

1 file with the cover, front, back and spine.

It would take them 5 days to print and deliver. They would print the files I gave them.

So, we were on and I found a graphic artist and he complied the front cover from all my parts that I had drawn and compiled the cover.

Once it was printed, I grabbed my rucksack and tool my book on a tour of bookshops in Glasgow and reached deals there and then with many of them and left them as many copies as they wanted. I invoiced them when I got home and they send me the money. Most deals were done at between 30 to 35% discount to the bookshop. Still a good return for me and there they were, in a real life bookshop on sale to the public. Fantastic!

That is how I self-published my book. I “self-published” it and now all 2000 copies are gone. It was a great experience and I would do it again that way if it wasn’t just as convenient to use Kindle and CreateSpace and a host of other e-book and P-O-D type companies that are now available.

The biggest lesson from the whole experience is a very valuable one. A writer can not proof read their own work alone, they MUST get at least one other opinion, and preferably two.

But, it was a great experience, even more so because of the story behind the book. I won a TV quiz show and used my winnings to self-publish the book. It made a good story, I had a great interview and feature in my local newspaper and a local TV station contacted me to do an interview about the experience. They contacted me!

Nowadays as a writer there are so many more avenues and resources that are available that you can get noticed and you can be in control of where and how your work is seen and hopefully purchased by your readers.

Remember, what is the worst thing that can happen? Most advances in “Mankind” usually start with some sort of failure or less than totally successful outcome, so get writing and get your work noticed. One day you may just get that e-mail, Tweet or whatever from someone who works for a publisher and they say, “I read some of your stuff, I like it, let’s talk about a publishing contract.”

It will never happen if you are not prepared to put your head above the parapet and give it your best shot.

I now have my second book on Amazon Kindle and within days it will be available in paperback on CreateSpace. I have a trilogy, Fendrel’s Tale in the pre-publishing stages and a fourth book, The Truth, an adult crime thriller not far off as well. It is quite possible that all four will be published this year although I may delay the trilogy part 3 to see how parts 1 and 2 are received, but once they are ready to go, it will be all hands to the pumps writing the next book and promoting those.

 In the meantime I will be blogging, Tweeting and all sorts to build up my audience and interact and take part in the writing community.

My new book, The Handbook of TOP TIPS To Manage Your Writing is available on Amazon and already as a 5 STAR review

It will be available in paperback on CreateSpace very soon.

Keep writing for you know you have to…..


About purpleandrew

Andrew, recently diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome is a 54 year old former geologist always had short hair, suited & booted for work. That all changed when the credit crunch hit. Now a complimentary therapist, hospital radio presenter, and writer. Andrew writes crime thrillers, Young Adult, and fantasy books as well as blogging about writing and other stuff that he feels strongly about.
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