I am delighted to welcome onto the blog the lovely Louise Walters. I’ve been captivated by Louise’s writing since reading her beautiful debut ‘Mrs Sinclair’s Suitcase‘ and I was super excited to read an early copy of ‘A Life Between Us,’ which is due to be published on 28th March. Louise carefully weaves a tale of family secrets and effortlessly spans decades in this cleverly crafted story. Tina Thornton lost her twin Meg 40 years ago, but still harbours guilt, but was Meg’s death really an accident? As the tale unfolds Louise slowly reveals the crushing impact secrets and lies can have on a family for generations to come. The tiny details included in this book instantly transported me back to my childhood of Sindy Dolls and Spangles. There’s a complex mix of characters in this novel, some I didn’t like at all, but to me that added to the richness of the story, and I found myself rooting for Tina as the layers of her family history are slowly peeled back. Louise has chosen to self-publish this novel and having also been traditionally published I’m eager to find out Louise’s views on her experience. Let’s read on.
“In January 2016, I made a decision: I was going to self-publish my second novel. It was a tough decision to make, with lots to consider – reputation, workload, sales (lack of?), time, time, time…
I decided I would go the assisted publishing route, and I went with Matador, who are well established, and reputable, a major consideration when you are going to hand over quite a lot of cash! The first thing I decided was I wouldn’t rush to bring the novel out. So I opted for a publication date one year on (originally February 2017, later put back to March 2017). I wanted time to work, to get the novel into tip top condition. I wanted to do all (at least, as many as possible) of the things a traditional publisher would do for my book – copy editing, proof reading, a professional cover design, sales representation and distribution. I didn’t want to hurry myself at any point (although even with a year “lead in” time, there have been a few urgent moments/calls/e-mails!)
What have I learned about publishing?
Publication is expensive. Publication is a gamble. It is multi-tasking, it is hard work.
Profit margins are minuscule; balancing the books, as it were, is a precarious business. I’ve no idea if I’m going to make a loss, break even, or make a profit. I’ll take either of the last two; I’ll even take the first if that’s how it turns out, because I have learned so much this year. It’s been a valuable exercise, and there are worst things to spend money on!
What have I learned about myself?
I love to project manage, and I’m good at it. I really am. I had no idea. Such a useful discovery! Still much to learn, of course, but I’m on it.
I’m also a dab hand at setting up a website. Again, something I’d thought I would never be able to do. But I have. It’s not brilliant, but it’s mine, it’s me, it ties in nicely with my “brand”.
I now subscribe to The Bookseller and I know a little more about what’s going on in publishing. I actually feel I’m part of it now, whereas before I felt as I suspect most authors feel – I was hovering on the edges, not really “of” the publishing world.
I have also realised something about myself I only suspected before: I love to be in control creatively. The whole shebang. That kind of ties in with the project managing thing! For instance, my involvement in the book’s cover was fantastic. I didn’t design it, but I wrote the brief for the designer, and my word was the last word in which design to go with (Matador had to approve it too of course, as they have their own reputation to think about).
Would I self-publish again?
Yes. YES. I would. Despite the snooty attitude that still prevails towards self and/or assisted publishing (but is slowly disappearing thank goodness), despite the endless work, the expense, and the fear that you are going to make an absolute arse of yourself, I would do it again. I would also consider publishing traditionally again, should that opportunity ever arise. We live in a plural world and there is no need to confine ourselves as authors to one method or another. It’s all there for the taking and it’s exciting to be an author right now. I think we could be on the cusp of big changes. For instance, I would from now on try very hard to hang on to e-book rights. There is little for an author to gain from handing those over for 25% (less print book returns!) when we can bring it out ourselves, get anything from 30 to 70%, and control the pricing. Just sayin’!”