Printers at work in 1568. Early woodcut. Public domain. Publishing has changed since then.
Printers at work in 1568. Publishing has changed quite a bit since then.

When I self-published my first book, Susan, through Amazon and Draft2Digital, I knew very little about book-writing or publishing. So from the moment I started working on it, I tried to think of it as “just an experiment”. No matter what the outcome, I was certain to learn something useful. I did learn a lot, and I had fun doing it.

Looking back, though, I could have done many things differently, especially when it came to designing, promoting and marketing the book. There’s a lot of good advice about self-publishing out there, if you search for it and follow it. But it’s not always easy to realise what’s needed until you’ve been through the process at least once.

Now I’m about to experience the more traditional way of publishing, with the news that my second book has been accepted by Fremantle Press. Instead of me being author, designer, publisher and marketer, I’ll be part of a team.

Already I’m noticing the difference between the two ways of publishing. For a start, there’s the excitement of having a book accepted by a reputable publisher. (Just ask my friends and family!) It’s gratifying and reassuring to hear positive feedback from an editor who has published many other books, rather than self-publishing and hoping for good reviews.

The time scale is longer, and takes in several steps I missed last time. Almost as soon as I finished editing Susan, I naively uploaded the manuscript and cover to Amazon, then pressed the big yellow “Publish” button. I only started thinking about how to publicise and market the book after it was “out there”. I didn’t even plan to produce a paperback version, until it became obvious that was what many readers wanted.

In contrast, although I’ve finished writing the new book, it won’t appear on the shelves until the second half of next year (probably under its current title, “The Edward Street Baby Farm”). Before then, it has to go through a carefully-planned process of editing, designing, typesetting, proof-reading, marketing and publicity. The e-book will be released at the same time as the print version. I’m very much looking forward to working with Fremantle Press and seeing how it all comes together.

Another piece of good news is that Katie Stewart of Magic Owl Design, who designed the cover for Susan, has also had a book accepted by Fremantle Press. Her illustrated children’s book will be released in March next year.

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Publishing the traditional way
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