I dearly love Australian (actually English) writer and teacher, Joanna Penn, and have followed her and her mentoring for some time … Well, she has a great guest post written by author, Andre Gerard, on her Creative Penn Blog really worthy of paying forward.
It details one man’s adventure from being repeatedly rejected, his discovery of modern self-publishing and his rewarding journey to literary success.
Here then is How To Succeed As An Accidental Publisher, A Self Publishing Odyssey by Andre Gerard:
This is a guest post from Andre Gerard, author of Fathers: A Literary Anthology. It’s a lovely story of how self-publishing can be a rewarding journey, which I have also personally found to be true … Joanna Penn
When I first started thinking about editing an anthology I was fifty years old, and I knew absolutely nothing about the book trade. I had a decent idea for an anthology, a deep belief in the importance of my subject, a marathoner’s tenacity, and not much more. While I had heard of slush piles and rejection slips, I didn’t even know about query letters or query packages.
Four years later, I knew far more than I wanted to know about query letters and rejection slips. I did not, though, know much more about the book trade, other than it was frustratingly opaque. Unable to interest an agent in my project–anthologies are not money makers and agents don’t seem to like to work for free–I was still wasting inordinate amounts of time and emotional energy sending off packages and waiting for replies, which, more often than not, never came. Occasionally a kind, small publisher would offer me a crumb of encouragement. All I had to show for four years of work was half a manuscript.
But several small publishers had told me that my project was worth doing, and their words strengthened my self-belief. Also, because of the effort and time I had invested–easily some four thousand hours –my project had become an obsession. If I could not find a publisher, I would simply have to become one.
Becoming a publisher is surprisingly easy. Because of vanity presses, Espresso Book Machines and print-on-demand services, almost anyone with a manuscript and a few hundred dollars can self publish. There is a massive industry which preys and feeds on the hopes and dreams of unpublished authors. By way of proof, just cut and paste this paragraph into Gmail, and read the targeted advertising bar which forms to the right of your newly created letter. But if you are serious about publishing, there is more than enough genuine help available.
The problem is one of efficiency rather than possibility. How do you publish a book without spending thousands of unnecessary dollars? How do you publish a book you can be proud of? In my case, I started by taking a couple of university courses. Very quickly I knew about freelance editors, proof readers, layout services, and graphic designers and publicists. I had not only other writers to talk to, but also small press editors and even agents who would answer my questions.