These books are lovely. The paper is white, and thick, and the colours on the cover are just right for this story. Perfect tones, not too garish, not too pastel. The book even smells delicious! I couldn't be more pleased with the book as object. I feel so fortunate to have worked with Jennie Rawlings, Troubador Publishing and TJ International.
A Life Between Us is currently available on Netgalley (until 17 March); there are 3 signed copies up for grabs over on Goodreads (giveaway running until 10 March). The print book is available for pre-order on Amazon, and the e-book is up for pre-order on Apple.
I guess this all means there really is no going back now! The decision I made just over a year ago to self-publish has come to fruition. It feels appropriate to write this post on International Women's Day. It's been quite a year! Here's what I've learned:
1: Self-publishing is not giving up. I know some people think you should never "give up" looking for a "proper" publisher, and for many writers, that is true. But for me "giving up" would have meant stuffing this novel away in a drawer and forgetting about it; followed by starting a new novel, not knowing if that one would meet a similar fate. I wasn't prepared to do that. For a start I couldn't afford to, both financially and time-wise. I'm going to be 50 this year. My time on this planet is limited. If I want a novel I've written to be published, it's going to be published. End of.
(That's an advantage of becoming older... you stop worrying about what other people think, and you get on with your life, and your work. The need for validation diminishes. For women especially, that's very freeing, and I'm so relieved I've finally arrived at this point. It took too long, but I made it).
2: Self-publishing, or in my case, "assisted publishing", is "real" publishing. Believe me, when you hold in your hand the book, fresh from the printers, it is "real". The early reviews on Goodreads are "real". The work that has gone into this book is "real". I've invested money and time in this project, and both of those are very "real" too! I've worked so hard to make this novel a viable novel, to rival anything you will find in a bookshop. I even gave myself a "real" lead in time, thirteen months, just as a "real" publisher would do (and am I ever glad I did that! I've needed those months).
3: Self-publishing is frustrating. This is because too many people resent it, look down on it, regard it as a threat. I really wish that attitude could change because self-publishing is here to stay and those of us who do it professionally, for "real", care passionately about our work and we are doing our best to bring out books of the highest quality, in every respect. I would contend that the best self-publishers out there produce work that is indistinguishable from the work of traditionally published authors. Yet most of the major book prizes still keep their doors firmly bolted against the self-published (looking at you today in particular, Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction...!)
4: Self-publishing is hard work. There is so much to do. Editing, re-writing, copy edits, proofs (no different to "real" publishing, of course) but on top of that comes the marketing and publicity, both of which are hard to do as a self-publisher. It kind of links in to number 3 above of course. A few of my - polite, not pushy - e-mails and letters have elicited zero response; but only in some quarters. Many other people have been nothing but interested, and some intrigued, and none more so than my fellow authors, and that now indispensable group in the book world, the venerable book bloggers. I am so grateful for their interest in this project, their offers of blog posts and interviews, their wonderful reviews on Goodreads, and the many encouraging messages of support I've received.
5: Saving the best to last... the autonomy is mind-blowing. In both a good and a bad way! I've lost a lot of sleep worrying about copyright, historical facts, grammar, punctuation... you name it. BUT... I got to pick my own cover designer. We worked together (which for me meant sending quite a detailed brief) resulting in a cover which is, I think, perfect for this book. I had the final say over every aspect of the writing... the book is very much "mine", and reads exactly as I want it to read (at least, as far as my limited talents could take it). I decided on the length of my initial print run. Tricky stuff, but a useful exercise. I even got to decide the price, both of the print and e-book.
I also decided not to plaster the book in quotes or endorsements. I wanted a clean, uncluttered look on the cover, and more importantly, I need it to stand on its own two feet. There is one concession. The cover announces I am the author of Mrs Sinclair's Suitcase. But that is all. No "Stunning!", no "Thrilling!", not even a "Compelling". This of course also meant I didn't need to badger authors for quotes; thereby cutting one task from my workload!
So, despite the hard work, the industry resistance, the hard work, the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction (and others) barring my book's entry into their prize, the hard work, the self-doubts, the hard work, the sleepless nights, the hard work... would I self-publish again*...?
A Life Between Us is published on 28 March
in paperback and e-book.
* I will ask myself that question in 6 months time! (But Yes)