A Guide To Self-Publishing Part V

Posted on: 29 September 2008 by Gareth Hargreaves

The final part of Johnnie Johnson's self-publishing guide.

It’s great to get your new book in your hands.  You’ve done it, all the writing, the planning and the worrying but at last here it is and you’re delighted. But in the euphoria don’t lose sight of the one important fact - It’s sales time!

Now of course it is sensible to go to bookshops but they may not be your best outlet! After all they are competing with the latest blockbuster with all the muscle that major publishers can put into the project. How can a barely literate celebrity write best sellers? He can’t.  Nor can she? But up at the publishers they can write persuasive copy. And the shelves of our best known bookshop chains will heave with the blessed things because they are commercial outfits – and nothing more than that – with no concern for little you.

My view is that you have a better chance of selling through the internet via a decently constructed website and better still through targeting public libraries in the UK. There is a website which lists every library in the country and when my self-published novel came out last year I emailed each of the library HQs, sending them an A4 sheet with the cover picture, the synopsis, the publication details, price  and where to write to for a copy. Tedious work, yes, but I think – though I do not know for certain - that it was useful.

Another strategy was to send six copies of the book to two library authorities. They agreed to let their Reading Groups comment on the book and on the strength of such good reports which they sent to Newbooks magazine the book was picked up by Oakhill Audio publishing and is now released on disk.

Whenever people have complimented me on my writing I have asked them to email the recommendation to their local library if they do not stock the book.  This is very effective.

A friend of mine whose book about his experiences as an evacuee in Berkshire has recently been published and is in the process of arranging his launch at Waterstones in Reading. There are to be all sorts of uniformed figures in attendance, Americans as well as British. The walls are to be plastered with wartime notices and photographs. Vera Lynn is going to be belting out on the hi-fi and at the moment a look-alike Churchill figure is being sought.  Imaginative, eh?  I’m pretty sure he’ll sell a lot of books.

I have to say that straightforward book signings can be dire affairs. It can be lonely and humiliating unless you are one of those authors that people queue round the block to see.

And do not forget the local press. Write up a good press release. They don’t always read the book – they do not have time - so what you write is very helpful. Tell them what the book is about but do not forget your local connections. ‘Mr Snooks was a former member of the local bowls team and in 1979 won the annual trophy’ sort of thing.

I don’t know what you think of this idea. It’s not original. I spotted it somewhere on the net. I gave five books to acquaintances and asked them to pass the book on to other people, relatives, friends or even total strangers.  Another book I left in a pub for someone to pick up. On the fly-leaf I wrote a few lines encouraging the recipient to read it and pass it on. I included a reference to my website.  Has it worked? I haven’t a clue. But it did strike me as being another way to get the book talked about.

In this brief series I have tried to touch on the complex business of self-publishing. I have not covered the subject in any detail but I hope that it will at least give you some idea of what is involved. I hope too that it will have encouraged you to have a go. You won’t make much money. You may even lose some. If that worries you then it’s best not to attempt self-publishing but if you do self-publish, you’ll get a great amount of pleasure from it.

By Johnnie Johnson

About The Author

Johnnie Johnson and David Arscott have written more than 60 titles between them, both fiction and non-fiction, and have a broad experience of both mainstream and self-publishing.

Now the two local authors with a wealth of publishing experience between them are organising a day's seminar in Lewes to take writers through the process of organising your book, hardware and software, designing a cover, preparing your book for the printer, costing and pricing and promotion and distribution.

Their seminar is at the John Harvey Tavern in Lewes, on Tuesday, 21st October, from 10am until 4pm.

The fee is £100 a head, including morning coffee and tea in the afternoon. The Tavern serves snacks and lunches.

For further details contact David or Johnnie by Tuesday 30th September on:

Johnnie Johnson: 01323 725524 or johnhijo@btinternet.com
Website: www.johnniejohnson.co.uk

David Arscott: 01273 470100 or pomegranatepress@aol.com
Website: www.pomegranate-press.co.uk.

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