You think you have finished…

My memoir is complete. I have written all want to write. I have told my story. I have lost count of how many drafts I’ve created. I’ve been writing various versions of this history for the last 16 years.

Lesson 1. The first draft won’t do. Most writers create, destroy, re-create. Writing takes a long time and much devotion.

A patient member of my family has checked and re-checked, at each new draft, for style, content, order of episodes, smoothness of reading, omissions, grammar and spelling. I’m by nature a minimalist writer so sometimes I have taken his suggestions on board, sometime not.

Lesson 2. You cannot complete your task alone. However, it is your manuscript. You have the power to say ‘No’.

When my story was in novel form, (and I thought it was finished) I submitted to agents. Nothing doing. As a memoir, I submitted to independent publishers. Nothing doing.

Lesson 3. Submitting and getting rejections is a learning process. You are forced to accept your work isn’t good enough, or not suitable for, the current market. You could give up, but I’m not writing this for quitters.

I have, at last, accepted there is no commercial market for my memoir. But I am still sure there are those ‘out there’ who would want to read it. I have decided to publish the book myself – one way or another.

Lesson 4. Be realistic and optimistic.

I certainly don’t want to waste my money on an amateur product so have found a professional editor, who knows my work, to copy-edit my manuscript. And a free-lance cover illustrator if I want to use one.

Lesson 5. Self-publishing is a big step. You need helping hands on board.

I have investigated partnership publishing (you pay a percentage, the publisher pays a percentage) and self-publishing (you find a self-publisher with a reputation for being reliable, you pay for whichever services you want to buy and that publisher fulfils your order).

I have made progress along this path. I’ve attended a self-publishing day offered by one company, obtained quotes for publication from more than one company, investigated marketing and distribution arrangements offered by more than one company and I have obtained draft contracts from more than one company. I have learnt they are not all on the same playing field.

I am almost ‘ready-to-go’. I have the six week fallow period, while the manuscript is copy-edited, to re-read and compare, think, add up the sums, research book shops I can approach for ‘Saturday tables’ to sell my book and talk to everyone I know who has experience of this big adventure.

Lesson 6. Publishing a book is a slow process. (I have rejected publishing only an e-book). Learn all you can about the services on offer. If you can, meet the teams involved. Most importantly, think, discuss, think again, discuss, think one more time and be sure you know what you are doing.

This is your book. It is precious.



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