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Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Queen of self-publishing

We ran an internal competition recently that invited our authors and the public to vote for their favourite self-published book, based on a sentence blurb and the jacket. There were a flurry of votes as the deadline drew near, and three out of the 50 authors who entered were almost neck and neck. In the end, the winner was Jan Ruth for Wild Water. It was great to see how these savvy authors spread the word via twitter, emails, blogs and local word-of-mouth to garner support. It goes to show that apart from being a good read, marketing your own book is an essential part of being published. Have a look at Jan's journey to self-publication:

Congratulations Jan! Could you tell us a bit about yourself and your journey to self-publication?
When I'm not writing I'm thinking about writing, or reading. I try and counter-balance this physical inertia by walking in the mountains or riding my friend's horse. (That sounds very self indulgent but now at fifty plus, I finally have the time to be!)

What inspired you to write Wild Water?
I wanted to write a book about infidelity where the man is the wronged party and the main voice of the story, and I wanted to write about the Welsh landscape; make it function almost as a character in its own right.

Is this your first book?
No, it's my second. My very first novel (25 years ago) went to a London agent trying to set up her own project, publishing love stories with a difference but it never got off the ground because of finances.

How did you find the writing process?
Until I get the main guts of the story down I am consumed by the process really, to the exclusion of everything else. Husband could quite likely come home and find dinner in a burnt out pan in the garden!

Did you submit to agents and publishers?
Yes I did the usual route with agents, and with Wild Water I was lucky enough to get Jane Judd on my side, who then referred me to Cornerstones. After some tweaking with the original script we were ready to go but unfortunately Jane failed to place it with a publisher because 'it fell between two genres and didn't quite fit anyone's list'. So it sat in a drawer for twelve years.

What led you to self-publish?
All of the above really. My son alerted me to the steady growth of kindle, helped me with the technical details and set up a website.

How has the experience been so far?
The best part of self-publishing is being in control of the whole process and getting feedback from the paying public. And although I have a sales background, the marketing of something internet based is somewhat different to a physical book, and I am still learning. But then, I didn't set out to write something commercial, just something readable.

As we've seen from our competition, every vote counts. How did you market this?
The advantage I had with Wild Water is the tremendous support I have locally. I talked to a lot of people about the book and the competition. Generally I find people will respect something sincere and will get behind you, especially if it champions where you live. 

What next?
Okay here's the marketing! My second book MIDNIGHT SKY is almost ready to go out on kindle, after a careful re-write courtesy of Cornerstones. Winning a competition like this opens up numerous ideas to be explored.

Thanks, Jan and we hope sales fly for you. Our next blog is an interview with Rowan Lawton, a literary agent at PFD, on what kind of author she loves to represent...

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