Just as much as I believe in the importance of story, I believe that those who wish to tell the story need to be supported and encouraged to do so.
There are those who say that everyone has a book in them. I say that everyone has story to tell, all they need is a vehicle and opportunity to find an audience. For some, “telling the tale” may translate into writing a letter to their friends and family, for others it’s a reminiscence told around a campfire and for those who have the courage and the persistence to set to and write, it’s through the pages of a short story, memoir, novel, podcast or film. The medium is not important. If the medium is appropriate and well executed, the tale will be well told and well received. However, without a friend or family member to receive the letter, a group of campers around the fire or an audience for the book, film, podcast or video there’s no one there to hear the tale.
Publication for new authors, whether young, middle aged or older, is not easy. For economic reasons,in the wake of the rise of ebooks and the loss of popularity of reading as a pastime, among many other reasons, publishers take only a few books into their lists each year. Gone are the days of submitting a manuscript to a publishing company and getting feedback (even if it’s rejected) from the publisher. You can submit a manuscript online to some publishers and if you haven’t heard from them after three months, consider your book rejected. The competition is intense. Without employing a literary agent, it is extremely hard, and very expensive, to get your work to an audience.
There is however, an avenue open to every storyteller – self publishing. In the old days it was called “vanity publishing”; a way for those whose work wasn’t worthy of publication to satisfy their ego by getting their books into print. Now, with the barriers to publication so high more and more writers are turning to self publishing as an alternative. It is a pathway fraught with danger, one in which a good deal of money and time can be wasted.
My advice to anyone going down this path is;
- You need a good copy proofer. If you have bee working on a book for months, over several drafts, you see what you expect to see in every line that is written. you WILL miss typing errors. You WILL miss bad grammar. You WILL miss poor spelling. Your spell checker no matter how good, does not pick up misuse of words like ‘there’ instead of ‘their’ if they are spelled correctly and will not pick up misuse of its and it’s.
- You need an editor. An editor is not a copy proofer. An editor reads your book or story and helps you to make it flow better, improve its readability and ability to engage the reader. A good editor will help turn your book into a great read, a terrific story. Good editors don’t change your story, they help you find your voice to tell it in way that is more engaging, easier to follow. A good editor is a great mentor.
- You need someone who can lay your book out in an appropriate size, in the standard dimensions, with the correct margins, bleeds and gutters for the printer. Graphics and photographs need to of the right size, colour mode and resolution.