30 December 2013

A novel resolution

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions, so 2014 will be an exception. I've only made one, but it's significant, as it will test my perfectionism to the limit: I'm going to self-publish my novel.

In spite of the increased legitimacy of self-publishing, I've resisted this until now. Partly because, like most authors, I'd hoped for the validation of a traditional publishing deal. Mainly, though, because the wealth of choices surrounding the self-publishing process is overwhelming. The fact that I will have to make all of the decisions is both an advantage and a disadvantage of taking this route to publication. 

The first, and possibly hardest, decision will be which company to use out of the many currently operating.

This won't be easy, given that I always research everything to the nth degree, whether household goods, holidays or a car, to ensure I select the best possible product. For something as important as my novel, it's imperative I get it right.

Photo: Peter Gettins Photography
I'll also need to decide which of my chosen provider's packages is most appropriate: they all offer a wide range of services, from which authors can pick and mix. This will be determined both by my budget (as yet unknown) and by whether I have the time and expertise to tackle any elements myself - or with a little help from my friends. 

The next biggest hurdle will be letting go of the manuscript. Saying, once and for all, that it's 'good enough' will be extraordinarily hard, even after a professional copy edit and proofread. Knowing when to stop tinkering and checking is a problem I've written about before.

There are so many other choices to be made, too. I had trouble finalising the design of this blog and that isn't even set in stone. A hard copy book is an altogether different matter: I have no idea how I'll ever agree to a cover.

I plan to read as much about the process as I can - though I'll have to be careful not to turn that into never-ending procrastination - and to seek advice from existing self-published authors. Word-of-mouth recommendations and others' experience should help me to avoid some of the pitfalls.

The prospect of self-publication, and the many decisions it will entail, is daunting. It's also very exciting. Much more so than the alternative, of adding to my collection of rejections from agents and publishers: 45, if you include the 8 who never replied. 

I also have enough positive feedback to encourage me: from professionals, readers and, indeed, many of you who follow this blog. 

If I can accept, from the outset, that my novel won't be perfect - are any, after all? - I think I might just make it.

* * *

I'd love to hear your recommendations, tips or advice on self-publishing, if you've had experience of this.


Lindsay said...

Well done - it's a big decision I know, but your thorough research and writing friends will, I'm sure, help you in the process. I can't wait to see the book on my shelf.

Rosie said...

I'm looking forward to hearing all about your excellent self-publishing research - perhaps you could give a talk! And I look forward to buying your book xx

Helen Barbour said...

Lindsay, Rosie - thanks for all your support with my novel - your comments/input have improved it no end...which I'm sure my future readers will be grateful for, too! I'll line up signed copies for both of you...

Unknown said...

Funnily enough, i was thinking of the merits of self-publishing today and now i read this! Aha, I'm glad Helen and I think it'll be a success, i really do. I, for one, will be buying it and recommending to others xxx

Helen Barbour said...

Tina, thank you so much for your kind comment. I'll earmark a signed copy for you, too!