Self-Publishing – Easy or Excruciating?

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As with most newbie writers, we not only put our heart, soul and time into writing our stories, but also, once all is said and done, look for the most cost-effective way to publish.

Some of us are not so lucky to get that break where a Publisher will take on your novel and run with all the costs for editing, graphics, printing and marketing. Most of us, for the now, as we always keep the faith that someone will notice us, go with the self-publishing route.

You can do this fairly inexpensively. To get your book out there you just need a good editor, possibly a proofreader and a self-publishing company.

I made use of the services of BookBaby.com a few years back and they were brilliant. Even though they were American-based, they handled the process very well. Once I had sent them my freshly edited, re-read (a few times I might add) and what I thought was a polished novel, they took it from there with ease.

Within a few weeks I had my first novel on all the major online websites i.e. Amazon, Kobo, Gardeners, Barnes & Nobel (to name a few).

Now, a few years later, I have managed, with the help of SA Writers College, to complete the sequel to that novel and have decided, after many emails to possible agents and publishing houses, to re-publish on my own.

I took on the services of Partridge Africa, who are also based in the US, but to date have been good with communication and the entire process.

A word of warning though. I feel that publishing ones novel is up there on the stress level with building a new house, getting married and bringing a new child into your life. While all are feel-good episodes in your life, they do have their moments when you want to crawl under the covers and shut the world out.

The process of self-publishing requires some balls, excuse the language. Not only are you letting your baby go into the hands of an editor who will literally pull it apart and then give it back in a somewhat similar fashion to what it was, but with some add-ons and extractions, you are also expected to check every single adjustment that was made.

One cannot trust that all the adjustments make sense and are to your liking. Read. Read. And read again.

This means a few hours of checking and accepting each and every edit. This is your chance to adjust anything like add in words, change words and whole sentences or revise entire paragraphs.

Something odd happens when you re-read your own words over and over. You find so many areas where you feel you could have written it better, been more descriptive or rather have left out completely.

You have to, at some point, let it go and leave it be.

Further, once you have accepted the edits they will collate the book into a mock up of what it will look like for print. They would have applied the accepted edits, your new additions and exclusions at this point.

You then need to re-read the entire novel to ensure they have adjusted correctly.   Yes, read again! With eagle eyes.

It is quite a lengthy and laborious process.

And so begins the back and forthing between yourself and the editor, to get your masterpiece just right.

Thereafter, you will have to look at various graphic outlays for your novels front and back cover. Dealing with someone who is so far away, and not across a desk from you, makes that process a little bit difficult.

Sometimes your instructions and descriptions can get lost in translation.

At the end of the day you and you alone have to decide when it is 100% ready and release it to the print Gods. Another nerve-wracking few weeks where you wait for those printed books to arrive and hope to heaven that there isn’t an error somewhere and that they got it all correct.

But in the end, it is a feeling of pure exhilaration when you pick up your novel, all shiny and smooth, in your hands.

Enjoy the feeling. Take a moment and just enjoy it.

Hopefully this will be the beginning of many happy feelings when it comes to your novel, but remember always why you started to write in the first place.

For pure enjoyment of the art and because you had a story to tell.

Whether your novel becomes a hit or whether it sits sadly on the bookshelves in a bookstore, or as it is today, on the virtual bookshelves in cyber space, know that you are an author.

That, in itself, is something to celebrate and commend yourself on.