Why self publishing South Africa?
Being at home for most of April 2020 gave me time to think, time to reassess. I was still working, but working from home and without Johannesburg traffic found myself with time at the beginning and end of the day. What do I love to do? The answer is writing. I love writing. I’m currently well into my fifth book in my Puzzle Train series and loving every second.
My first book was self-published through a company in the UK. It was expensive and I didn’t receive the personal service I wanted, which left me feeling unimportant. I left key decisions to that publishing house, specifically the cover and the blurb (the words on the back cover) and because they didn’t take the time to understand me or the book, I would not recommend them nor ever use them again. When I had request they showed no interest in offering a service to help. This has spurred me on to offer the best, most personal service I can possibly offer to my clients. My second book I published myself. Armed with feedback and determination, I went through the steps myself.
Now I am full of determination to help other aspiring writers turn their word documents into a book. It’s a feeling like no other, to see your vision turned into reality.
What is self-publishing South Africa and how can I help?
Self-publishing is, as the name suggests, an author not only writing their own book but also publishing it themselves too. There are many advantages to self-publish:
- Complete creative control over the output, cover and blurb
- It’s almost an instant turnaround. There is no longer any waiting for publishers, wholesalers, distribution channels and book shops
- You’re in control of your royalties
- Your stories belong to you, you keep your copyright
Many authors are looking towards self-publishing as an option and with the technology available today, the obvious question is why not?
There are several global players in print on demand and ebooks, all accepting self-published authors.
So, how can we at Beyond The Vale Publishing help?
I know as an author, that the fun part of my creative process is in the writing. When I wrote my first book, I got a real buzz from creating characters, places, events and challenges. But then what? I was left with a book and didn’t know what to do. I have found out I was not alone. Many authors are intimidated by the next step. That’s why we’re here.
We’ll take your book and you through the process. We will dedicate the time and effort your book deserves, so that you can see your book available for sale to the world, and even in your hand as a finished product.
We will design a cover, working with you and your ideas. We have a team of editors on hand to make your book the best it can possibly be.
We’ll convert and upload your book to multiple sales platforms. We even have a marketing package for you to help you boost awareness of your book.
We believe that every story deserves to be told.
Come and self-publish with us. We’re author’s too.
Is self-publishing right for me?
I love being an author. I feel the buzz of creation as I develop characters, scenarios, twists and turns and danger. Putting the main character through their paces as they grow and evolve throughout the book. But then what? You have a book and it may be amazing, what are you going to do with it?
Really you have three alternatives:
- You can approach agents in the hope they will take on your project,
- You can leave it, saved on your hard drive for no-one to see, or
- You can self-publish.
Let’s look at each in turn:
Very few publishing houses will take an author on directly. Most will want to go through an agent. If you’ve ever looked for an agent you will see there are many agencies with many agents.
There’s no doubt a major book deal with a major publisher is the dream of most of us who bang on our keyboards at all sorts of hours, and while it will happen to a few, for most it will not.
To be even taken on by an agent is hard. Be prepared for hours of research – which agent is looking for the book we have just written? Which agent represents that author who is similar to me? Get that application letter and synopsis ‘just so’ and send off that email only to be rejected. Or worse, sometimes no reply at all.
This is not the agent’s fault. They are extremely busy and you’re competing against thousands of other authors. And have you ever looked around your local bookshop and considered just how many choices there are? Thousands of books lying on the shelves, many gathering dust. If you got that deal, would that be your book?
- Leave it
This is an option. I wonder how many people have written a perfectly good book but been afraid to show it to anyone? It seems such a shame.
Take the leap and publish that book yourself. You can do it yourself or pay a self-publishing company, like Beyond The Vale, to help you. Upload to Amazon, or have the book printed or both. Friends and family will usually help an aspiring author by buying a copy of your book.
Before you decide, here’s a checklist of some things you may want to consider:
My one greatest question to anyone ready to self-publish a book (or send to an agent) is, “is it finished?”
On the face of it, this seems like a stupid question. You’ve written the last chapter, the guy has the girl, the baddies are destroyed, your main character has overcome all their obstacles.
The reality is, if you’ve only just finished your first draft, it almost definitely isn’t complete. Has it been read through by someone (these are called beta readers) to make sure it makes sense, it’s consistent and the story flows?
Has an editor checked through the book for grammar, missing question marks, or spelling mistakes?
Is your book, the best version of itself it can possibly be?
Now lets consider the self-published book itself. We’ll start with the title and cover.
- What makes a good title?
The title is the first thing your reader will see. Probably before they’ve even taken in the cover. Have you ever been in a bookshop and picked up a book just because the title was interesting?
- Be unique – although many titles have already been done. There’s nothing stopping you under copyright law calling your book Lord of the Rings, but you’re likely to have many disappointed readers
- Be memorable – imagine you saw a really good book and you want to tell your friend about it – only you forgot the title.
- Give a clue to the books content – make the reader interested.
But how do you do this?
Brainstorm as many titles as you can. List them, play with the words, twist them around, change the order.
If in doubt, go back to the five questions – who, what, where, when and why.
Who is the novel about?
What is the novel about?
Where is the novel set?
When is the novel set?
Why should someone read your novel?
- What makes a great cover?
It’s a well-known phrase – “don’t judge a book by its cover” – and the reason it’s so well known is that people do exactly that. Books are judged by their cover.
The purpose, therefor, of a book cover is to get people to read your book. So, what makes a good cover?
What’s the story?
Your cover should be a representation of the story and draw the reader in, without giving too much away. Does your cover make the reader want to know more? Does it stand out from other books in the genre?
Title and subtitle. The subtitle is there as a teaser, to give the reader a little more information. Just a sentence or a few words to give them a little extra flavour
Give your cover a clear focal point. Where is the eye drawn?
Often less is more. Cluttered covers can cause confusion.
What are the next steps?
- Research your genre in your local book shop or on line. What do you like about the covers you see? How can you make yours stand out?
- There are many great designers out there who can produce a cover for you. But remember, you’re the writer – it’s your book and your cover, so don’t be afraid to push back on their ideas if you don’t like them
- Sticking with the cover, what is a blurb?
The blurb is the summary of your story you put on the back cover of your book. It will inevitably be the third thing most readers look at on your book after the front cover and title. It’s all important because this is what your reader will use to decide whether they will buy your book.
Why is it called a blurb?
But the word “blurb” first came about in 1907, when San Francisco author Gelett Burgess featured a woman named “Miss Belinda Blurb” on the dust jacket of his novel.
How do I write a good blurb?
You’ve only got between 100 and 200 words to sell your book. So, you’ll need to keep it short and punchy. You need to tease the reader so they want to find out more.
Do – make sure the blurb is in keeping with your book. If you’ve written a sci-fi book for example, then make sure that’s clear in the blurb.
Do – have a powerful opening sentence – just like your hook in chapter one, this is essential. A tried and tested method is the rule of 3 – for example – “A missing girl. A prison escape. A town in terror.”
Do – make sure the blurb highlights the general theme of the book.
Do – highlight a main conflict in the book – this will intrigue the reader. What is at stake?
Do – make sure that your main character is front and central. The reader needs to want to know more about them.
Do – avoid cliché’s and overused openings – Once a upon a time, in a world far far away etc.
Do – research. Look at other books in your genre and see how the writer has written their blurb. Read the blurb of a book you’ve read or take a book of a movie that you’ve seen. Either way, you know the story and you can see how the writer I’m aware of how the story
Don’t – expect to get it right first time.
Don’t – give away the ending, that killer twist or any spoilers.
KEY WRITING TIPS FOR SELF PUBLISHING SOUTH AFRICA
4.1 – the “show v tell” question.
What is “telling”?
Telling is where you as an author tell the reader what’s happening or how someone is feeling.
What is “showing”?
Showing uses descriptions and actions to help the reader feel more connected to the story.
Why should you “show” rather than “tell”?
Showing makes the reader part of the experience. Rather than being told, the reader gets to visualise your writing, enhancing their experience and giving them an active role in the story through their imagination.
Telling, on the other hand, prevents the reader from feeling this. Telling puts up a barrier rather than leading the reader in.
Showing helps to develop your characters. You could just say that a character was overweight – that would be telling. Or you could say that his stomach was overhanging his belt, which would be showing.
So, what are some examples of showing rather than telling?
Tell – John was angry.
Show – John banged his fists on the desk.
Tell – John was cold
Show – John shivered and thrust his hands in his pockets
Tell – John waited nervously
Show – John looked around, eyes darting from side to side
Can you ever tell rather than show?
While the general rule is to show, telling can also be used as a shortcut to avoid unnecessary detail, for example if you want to pass over a period of time.
Like everything with writing, each situation is to self publishing South Africa then contact us.