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Thursday, 22 November 2012

How Easy is it for Self-published Books to really Make a Splash?

If you’ve ever typed ‘self-publishing’ into Google, you’ll know there are around 14,000,000 results. Click on almost any one of them, and you’ll be forgiven for becoming slightly high on the premise of how simple the process is; how endless the possibilities are. You might nod in agreement with the comments regarding how the industry was in need of a shake-up, how the notion of ‘gatekeepers’ had had its time, and the suggestion I particularly like, ‘quality will always rise to the top, however it’s published’.

Well, it’s around two and a half years since I started working with Helen at Cornerstones on Watermelon, and around two years prior to that when I began writing it. Throughout this time, I have put hundreds, possibly thousands, of hours into writing, learning about writing and improving my writing. And like many authors, I swing between having an absolute, deep, unshakable devotion for my books, and wondering if they’re actually worth the space they take up on my hard drive.

But other people tell me they’re good, not just my mum (actually she’s a nightmare, and I rarely get more than a, ‘it’s alright’ from her). But people who know. Industry professionals describe them as, ‘compelling, strong, powerful, haunting, incredibly authentic’.

And more importantly, my target audience. I’m in a very privileged position; I work with young people, and they don’t ‘do’ tact. It wasn’t unheard of for one of my earlier readings to be met with that well-considered and insightful comment, ‘Miss, that bit were crap.’

So my books have been re-written and reworked, until I’ve reached a point where the kids don’t say they’re crap anymore, in fact, they won’t stop reading when the bell goes for break, and that ultimate, heart-warming compliment has been uttered several times, ‘Can I take this home to read?’

On the back of this approval, my new titles, Watermelon and Someone Different, have recently been launched into the big, wide, open-sea that is self-publishing (as ebooks initially and with paperbacks following). In an innovative move, my immensely talented writer friend, Wendy Storer and I, have joined forces to form Applecore Books www.applecorebooks.co.uk; an independent writing co-operative, publishing contemporary fiction for children and young adults. And I am so excited I might pop!

But am I right? Are my books good? And if they are, will they rise to the top?

Currently, I have a modest following on Facebook and Twitter, and not much else in the way of marketing. I am up against novels that are advertised on buses and billboards and in supermarkets. Novels that will be reviewed in national press, novels that are written by ‘celebrities’. Can my little old books make a splash anywhere near the surface? Will they find their way in that stormy sea, amongst all those luxury, corporate liners? Ultimately, is writing good books, combined with amateur but tenacious marketing, enough?

Well, it’s fair to say I’m about to find out. And in part two of this blog, which will be coming soon, I will be sure to let you know.

You can visit Kate Hanney's website at www.katehanney.com


  1. Very well done. I shall retweet this as I know people who would find it inspiring. Thank you for posting it. I

  2. Many thanks, Carol. I am so pleased you thought it inspiring, and I do hope it helps other self-published authors along the way. I really look forward to seeing how the process goes and sharing my experiences.

    All the best, Kate Hanney

  3. This was great! Made me lol, and yes, it's so true you have days thinking your work is rubbish, and days when you think, yeah actually it's pretty good! Off to find and buy Watermelon...
    Ps. Goodreads is quite a useful site for self-published authors.

    1. Hi Daisy, and a big thank you for taking the time to read and comment; I'm delighted it made you smile! I'll be sure to look into Goodreads more - I am on there, but have only dabbled a little so far.

      I really hope you love reading WATERMELON - I know I certainly loved writing it.

      Best wishes, Kate Hanney

  4. Cornerstones is superb. I truly don't think I'd have achieved earning a single penny through my writing without its help. I wish you lots of success with your books and Applecore!

    1. Hi Debbie - I completely agree! Working with Cornerstones was a real turning point in the way my writing has developed, and I will always be very grateful.

      It sounds like you are now being really successful! Congratulations on that, and many thanks for your kind wishes.

      All the best, Kate Hanney

  5. Good luck Kate! I'm about to take the plunge in January, having worked at building up my blog and twitter following so I have (fingers crossed!) a strong support network behind me. I feel really excited about launching my book by myself. Well, excited and terrified in equal measure, really. Eek!

  6. Eek indeed, Rachel! It is nerve-wracking in some respects, but the excitement and opportunities will carry you through. I'm sure building up your network before publishing will be a real advantage.

    Big thanks for commenting and for your kind wishes - do let me know how your launch goes!

    Kate Hanney

  7. Speaking as something of an 'old hand' at this - joke - I think you're going through what everyone does at first. I was terrified when I saw my first book on Amazon - I thought the whole world was going to read it and criticise it. Then I realised that no-one was going to read it, because they didn't know it was there. That was when the marketing bit started! Since then, just over a year ago, I would imagine that the amount of self published books on Amazon has probably quadrupled or more; everyone who ever wrote a half decent short seems to be publishing a novel! Thus, it's getting harder and harder.

    I am of the belief that the good will rise to the surface, too, until I think about the success of TV programmes like The X Factor....! Seriously, though, you DO have to spend a LOT of time marketing, unless you are very lucky and your books just sell - this happens to some people. It takes time. My third book did nothing for the first two months and I thought I'd made a dreadful mistake (it's a bit unusual...), but then it started selling, and its reviews are terrific. By the time my 4th one came out, I had developed a small readership who were looking forward to it. But I am still only just beginning. For the first few months I didn't really know what I was doing, didn't know how to approach the whole process.

    This comment is in danger of becoming longer than your original post, so I'll stop now, and wish you all the best! x

  8. Thanks so much for your comments, Terry. You make some really interesting and valid points that I would certainly agree with.

    It sounds like you've done amazingly well so far! And I really hope it continues for you!

    All the best, Kate