Creative Writing Self Publishing Event

This was a very successful meeting attended by 24 people on Thursday 7 March 2019 at The Pheasant Hotel, Kelling. There were five published authors speaking about their experiences of getting published. First was Edward Hackford, on his novel Deadly Consignment, a novel about people smuggling. His first publisher went bust, but his next one, Acorn Publishers, was very good and produced a novel that has sold well and got good reviews. His inspiration for writing a novel was his belief he could write one, doing it a chapter at a time even though he had no idea where it was going. He just let the characters take the novel forward, and he managed to bring all the characters together for a dramatic conclusion. As he said, a novel needs a compelling beginning, a varied and believable middle, and a feasible and realistic end.

Anne Shilton, who has published two novels, unfortunately couldn’t attend, so her talk was given by her friend Joy Hodge. Anne, who used to be a policewoman, used her extensive police knowledge to produce a crime novel, Barricades, which was self-published via Amazon. The process was very quick and has produced a good profit. Then we have Joy Hodge, who after a long career in publishing, couldn’t resist the urge to publish her own book, The Rose Bower, from her collection of short stories. It was an expensive going to a book designer but, to her, a very worthwhile achievement.

Another such novelist is Pat Pinsent, with her children’s novel Life with Grandpa, which dealt with the issue of dementia in a grandfather seen from the child’s perspective. This was produced by a publisher, and sales haven’t covered her publisher costs. Our final speaker was the prolific children’s novelist Ken Lake who has written 10 children novels published by Sweet Cherry Publishing of Leicester. His advice is “The simple but time-consuming route to publication is through a legitimate publisher but once the editor gets their hand on your manuscript you will lose control, they do have the power of literary gods.”

 This meeting was Introduced by Robert Herring from the Holt creative writing group. He has produced a booklet of his short stories, laid out by him and sent direct to Cheverton printers in Cromer to print 50 copies.  He has, of course lost money, on this but the cost of a booklet at £2.40 is the price of birthday card, and they do make nice presents!

Robert also presented results from a questionnaire on self-publishing circulated to the authors and nationally through the U3A Creative Writing group. Results indicate the traditional route through a literary agent is obsolete (or hopelessly optimistic), as less than 1 in 1000 manuscripts submitted get selected. The solution is now either working with a small publisher, who often demand upfront payment for their costs, or Amazon self-publishing.

However only 1 in 5 of those going to a publisher recouped their costs and the publishing process can take months. Those going to social media (Amazon Kindle, Createspace, etc) benefited from there being no upfront costs, and it is a very quick method. However, authors at this meeting were not discouraged by their publishing route, but many said they should have devoted more effort to sales and marketing. Overall, they put in a lot of time and money but were pleased with the result of holding in their hands a book