Guest post written by Sarah Scotcher, Director of Rowanvale Books
Some writers just want to see their work in print (or on e-reader), and have no intentions beyond that, while others see writing as their future career. It is important to consider what you want out of the process, and to ensure that your expectations (of yourself and your service provider) are realistic. If you want to sell lots of books, this isn’t going to happen by itself; it takes a great product and effective marketing. If you want to establish yourself or your book(s) as a brand, you must consider social media and audience building in order to achieve this. Self-publishing and independent publishing services have undoubtedly given authors more options when looking to publish, but the market is highly competitive. Being aware of your own expectations, and learning how to manage these, is hugely important.
There are a huge variety of publishing services and options out there, and it can be overwhelming – especially if you have your mind set on not paying to publish. Of course, one option is the free platform whereby text files are simply uploaded (without editing or formatting), along with a template cover design. It is just my opinion, but I would strongly advise against this; it might seem like a quick, easy (and free!) way of doing it, but you really are getting what you pay for. Unless you have had your manuscript professionally edited and formatted, and had a designer provide you with a great cover design, chances are you will be sorely disappointed when your pride and joy gets lost in the masses on Amazon. If you have spent years perfecting your manuscript, pouring your heart into it, then to ‘publish’ with such a flippant attitude will only undermine you and your writing. It is also worth being careful of the extra services offered on seemingly free platforms, as these costs can stack up quickly. On the flipside are the many fee-charging service providers; as with most industries, some are professional, genuine, well-meaning companies, while others are effectively scam operations. There is no getting away from the fact that editing, design, print and e-conversion (not to mention distribution) cost money, but be wary if you are being pushed to cough up more than a couple of thousand pounds and are not sure what you’ll be getting for it.
If you use a publishing services provider for things like editing and design, use this opportunity to gain knowledge and expertise. Listen to the advice they give you, whether about editing or social media, and trust their judgment. If they are professional and respectable, they will only want the best for you and will support and help you as much as possible. That said, they will inevitably have other clients to manage, so do be patient and give them a chance to respond to your email. If you feel that you are not being helped or dealt with properly, for whatever reason, then, by all means, explain this to them in a reasonable and polite email; any decent service provider would much rather be told if something has gone awry, and be glad of the opportunity to resolve the issue. More often than not this is just a case of miscommunication, and a little clarification can clear it up in no time.
Sarah Scotcher (left) is a Director of Rowanvale Books, a publishing services provider based in Swansea, Wales. Sarah and her business partner, Cat Charlton (right), have been providing editorial, design, production, marketing and distribution services to indie authors since February 2012.
The team strive to support authors in their ongoing writing development as well as in publication itself, and provide guidance and support to help writers perfect their craft.