Peter Farrell: New Zealand Writer
Getting published- One writer's experience
Getting published- One writer's experience
"Once upon a time, a well-told tale like this would have found a publisher. That it didn't says less about the quality of the writing than it does about the state of mainstream publishing" - Jane Westaway review of The Lie That Settles NZ Books December 2013
One of the many things I learned about self-publishing was that you cannot do it on your own. I was fortunate to have a group of supportive friends but the best decision was involving Sue, my wife, as a business partner for the project. Without her involvement I would still be prevaricating. Neither of us had experience in this field but we managed to reach deadline day successfully and with our relationship intact.
On 19 August 2013 I handed over two copies of my book to the National Library in Wellington, New Zealand. This is required by law and is called Legal Deposit. There was no fanfare, no velvet cushions and putting on of white gloves; just a form to fill in and it's done. So, how did I get it to this stage where I have a printed book, ready for publication?
When I finished my book late in 2012 I thought that was the hard part done. Wrong!
'Offering' your work to publishers can be one of the most demeaning, discouraging processes a new writer can go through, particularly if the work is a memoir by an unknown author rather than ex All Black or a celebrity chef.
After failing to get a publisher interested, the next decision was to select the format of what was to be effectively a self published book. Perhaps it was an age thing but we decided early on that we wanted to produce a paperback book for the New Zealand market. The decision on the E book was put to one side to be considered when we were fully aware of the implications both technical and personal of a wider readership base.
The second, digital edition of the book is now available on Amazon under our own brand Petone Publishing. There has been some interest in UK and elsewhere so we felt it was time to make the book more easily available around the world. The book has been reformatted with help from DIY Publishing, a Wellington based company. I have agreed to remove some of the photographs at the request of my half brother and sister. Apart from that the the digital version is the same as the the First Edition
Some myths about self publishing.
The collapse of the publishing houses and the emergence of independent publishers, prepared to publish at a cost has seen many writers self publish. This is no longer 'vanity publishing' but some of the eye-watering quotes we were given to move my book from a draft to the finished product ready for sale in a bookshop made us realise that we would need to understand the business environment we were going to be operating within. For the sum of $100 I became a shareholder in a publishing company Oceanbooks which was a cooperative of writers. Some would say that is a contradiction in terms and so it turned out. However we did get some support and advice and basic things like an ISBN number and a publisher's brand for the book. We are very much on our own for sales, distribution and marketing if we want to reach a wider readership.
Assessment, Editorial,Proofreading, Design and Printing.
We knew enough to know that these were all critical stages in the book's production and that I would need good professional/technical assistance to achieve the quality we were looking for. Proof reading was a particular issue for this book, given its subject matter and the author's cavalier approach to grammar and spelling.
I accept that others choose off the shelf approaches to the design of their books but this was a very personal piece of writing with over 60 photographs. We needed the design to reflect that.We were extremely fortunate to find Mission Hall Creative. Working with a brilliant creative team that had read the book and was enthused by the subject has been a most enjoyable part of the production process. We also chose not to shortcut in the area of distribution and promotion. In the process I am learning the part social media and sites like this play in getting an author noticed. Becoming a self publicist is not a role I am comfortable with but it is something I have to do. We are currently managing overseas sales ourselves but the exchange rate and cost of postage make it difficult to fix a reasonable price.
An accountant would never have signed off to the business plan for The Lie That Settles.We will need to sell 1,000 plus print books to get anywhere near to recovering the costs of this project. There was a spike in sales in the week of the launch when the book was 3rd on the bestseller list for independent bookshops - quite an achievement for a self published book. Since then sales have been steady although more and more than have been direct sales or in support of speaking events.
In the meantime some 100 copies have gone overseas. mostly to family, friends and ex Red Hill boys in UK, USA and Canada. Direct sales have also gone to France, South Africa and Denmark
Going straight into Kindle may have been a much more sensible business decision but it was important to me to produce a printed book for the New Zealand market which is the book's true home.
The photograph above of my daughter and grandchildren proudly holding the book provides a tangible link about whanau which is a strong theme of the book. Accountants don't deal in the emotional benefits of a project.
NZ Society of Authors
There has been interest in the book and there has been interest in the process we have gone through to get it published - See Presentation to NZ Society of Authors Wellington February 2014.
Auckland Writers Festival
The book was selected for the Auckland Writers Festival 17/18 May 2014 (www.writersfestival.co.nz) This was recognition way beyond any expectations I had when I started out on this book all those years ago. I was part of panel which included Lloyd Jones, the Scottish author Janice Galloway and poet Siobhan Harvey called "Life Stories" in which we read extracts from our work. The second session was a panel discussion on self publishing chaired by Graham Beattie called "Vanity Fair"on the pluses and minuses of publishing one's own work. The first session had house full notices out and the second session was also well attended. With 50,000 people there over three days, The Festival was apparently the best attended ever. It was a real buzz to be part of it all.
Fiona Kidman's memoir class
Dame Fiona's creative writing class was where it all started for me many years ago so it was a great honour to be invited to to talk to the memoir classes of 2014 and 2016
I have spoken to a number of Probus, U3A, writers and book groups. Some are interested in the story itself, some in the process of publication. I am happy to adjust my presentation to the requirements of a particular group. Please contact me at [email protected] for further information.