Unbelievably, it’s been seven years since I self-published my first novel Endurance. I’m not afraid to admit, I’ve learnt a great deal in this time.
I remember writing the Endurance story alongside my studies at university, and I most of all remember having doubts about self-publishing Endurance; there was a niggling fear of what people would say or think about me on both a personal level and for the quality of my work. What if my hard work was torn apart? What if people started to look at me differently? What if people started picking on me?
My answer to all of these doubts was, ‘who cares?‘. You live and you learn, and you only learn from your mistakes.
Even after coming to that conclusion, the decision I needed to make about venturing down the self or traditional publishing route was just as difficult. I had to sit back and really think about what option to go down. Becoming a traditionally published author would be a huge achievement. But what’s the likelihood for a completely unknown author to achieve this within the first draft of their first novel?
I knew that getting published would be a challenge for anyone, let alone a nineteen-year-old university student. And there was certainly no harm in my trying my hand at becoming a self-published author to gauge a reaction to my work.
And that is where my self-publishing career as T. J. Blake began.
I’m sure many of you reading this will be sharpening your pitch forks and asking, ‘why would you self-publish? You won’t make any money from this, there’s no career down that route’…
… simply put, I could self-publish; whatever I wanted to and no one could stop me.
Secondly, I wanted to see what people thought of my writing. I had an inkling due to my Creative Writing and English Language studies – where I often read out my work to the class. But I wanted to know what more people thought; more than my peers.
Self-publishing has provided me with this platform – to put me out there, open to honest and potentially hard/hurtful feedback on me as a writer and my work.
It’s given me a great amount of experience, a huge boost in confidence, and now, I’m ready to self-publish more for the foreseeable future.
I see T. J. Blake as a career – it’s like a business. The product being my work and me as the brand.
So here I am, seven years later with five books self-published, and a sixth on the way.
Self-Publishing on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) & Createspace
I love the freedom of self-publishing, even if it it does require a huge amount of time and resource.
My experience of self-publishing comes down to using the Amazon companies, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Createspace. Both platforms provide the ability to allow you to ‘publish your words, your way’, and I have to back them on their statement.
Createspace/KDP is extremely easy to use. Both sites provide a number of tips for beginner self-publishers, and offers support throughout the entirety of their publishing process; from implementing your cover design to finalising the layout of the book’s interior. Not only is there constant support throughout the process on the website, but the employees of Createspace are extremely helpful and responsive to your needs.
Self-publishing means doing it yourself, which is why I have designed all of my own book covers. Admittedly, looking back now, a lot of my covers aren’t great. But then again, I’m an ideas person who tells stories, not a designer. Putting this aside, I needed to adjust all measurements to perfectly fit the book, using a template for the size and length of the book (height, width and spine width). For my book The Author, I had strictly followed the template, but was millimetres off on the spine of my book. But not to worry, the team of Createspace helped me by editing book’s spine on the template; allowing me to approve what they had done and successfully get it ready for publication.
Createspace is a great platform to use and I would highly recommend it for not only new authors but experienced ones too.
You can easily find out more about the process of self-publishing with Createspace, the royalties and the print on demand service by continuing to Createspace.
What are the benefits of self-publishing?
The key benefit to self-publishing is without a doubt, that you get to publish (so to speak) your writing and allow readers across the world to experience your stories.
That’s any writer’s dream, right?
New writers should try their luck with self-publishing; to engage with readers, create a following, and most importantly, allow unbiased readers to experience their work.
Encouraging people to read your stories is key to self-publishing; even if you give them the book for free. At the end of the day readers are unlikely to buy a book from an author they’ve never heard of, unless it’s in the mainstream media with the backing of notable names. This is part of the challenge to self-publishing – you must create a readership.
Independence – you are your own boss
I see this as a benefit, others may see it as part of the larger issue to self-publishing – you’re on your own. You must do everything.
Traditional publishing obviously means you have representation and support with everything, from editing and distribution to marketing. As an indie author however, you’re wearing all these hats.
With this power you are in control of the writing itself, the book cover, and of course, marketing the book. But you’re never truly alone; there are other authors and professionals out there willing to help us self-published authors.
If you’re not entirely tech-savvy or clued up on marketing and design then I would also recommend finding someone to support you on those things you’re not a specialist in. Your book cover for example is a huge element to your novel. It’s what pulls people in and makes them pay attention. If the cover doesn’t jump out at them, they won’t read your book. The cover is also pivotal to your marketing. Even though you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, readers always do.
Although there is a bad name for us self-published authors, it gives us a platform to shock our readers. As long as you do a great job, readers probably won’t even realise your title is self-published if it’s been created well. Readers are merely interested in reading a book for its story. As long as you have a great story, intriguing plot that is well written with believably enticing characters, you have every chance of impressing your readers – which is such an amazing feeling.
My self-publishing career so far
I’m not a famous author, but I have a readership and great reviews, which is a great achievement for me. I’m happy with that. I’m doing what I love and my readers are enjoying my fiction stories; that’s my job done.
To date I’ve written four full length novels and a short story. I’m also working on my sixth novel, Familiar.
My latest novel, DECEPTION: A Love of Lies is my most successful piece of work. The cover is great (I worked with a designer), the reviews are amazing, and the story itself, I believe, is compelling, enjoyable, dark, mysterious, addictive, and unpredictable. Everything I look for in a book as a reader.
The title I’m working on now, ‘Familiar, is set for release this year (2020). I’m working with a designer on the cover and I will also have an editor and proofreader working with me once the novel is ready for that stage.