Everyone has a story to tell. People commonly say “everyone has a book in them”. Maybe it’s time to tell your story. You may have experiences that no one else has had, or maybe other people will feel you are speaking for them if you tell your story. The most important thing to do is to start writing and see what happens.
Everyone’s writing improves with practise. If you don’t feel confident and want to improve your skills, join a writing group or a creative writing class to help you to develop your skills. Don’t worry about your spelling and grammar if that’s something you’re worried about – that’s what I’m here to help you with. What matters most is telling your story, so concentrate on doing that in the best way you can.
The traditional publishing industry is very profit-driven, with very tight margins. I would encourage anyone to approach agents and publishers, but many brilliant books fall through the cracks and never receive the audience they deserve.
There is a whole world of independent authors out there, self-publishing through websites such as kdp.com (the self-publishing arm of Amazon), Smashwords or lulu.com. There is a lot of competition, but if you have the talent, skills and determination, you will find readers who will love your books, and you also earn more in royalties – up to 70%, which is a far higher percentage than in traditional publishing.
As an independent author myself, I am aware of the advantages and challenges of being self-published, and I would encourage authors to use it to reach their readers.
Traditionally, self-published authors and traditional publishing houses alike would need to order a minimum amount of books from the printer for the process to make financial sense. Nowadays, this process has been transformed. If you order a paperback copy of a self-published book from a website such as Amazon, an individual book will be printed out and delivered to you – and most readers would never know the difference between print on demand and a conventionally published book.
Print on demand means that you can order as many author copies of a book as you like – and your book will never go out of print!
E-books are formatted to be read on an electronic reading device, such as an Amazon Kindle, or on an e-book app on a smartphone or tablet. It means that your book is available to anyone with access to the internet, anywhere in the world! E-books can also generate more royalties for you, because there are no printing costs.
Royalties are the payments to the author for each book sale, after printing costs and the publisher’s share of the cost. Royalties in independent publishing are usually much higher than those in traditional publishing. If I am helping you to publish a book, I may ask you to add your bank account details to your kdp.com account – this is so that your royalty payments can be made directly to you!
A good editor should iron out any mistakes with spelling, grammar and punctuation, as well as spotting mistakes, factual errors, text that does not flow and other things that are preventing your writing from shining. An editor can point out any major structural problems with your writing and can suggest many ways to improve your book.
If you are already pretty confident that your writing is good enough to be published, a proof reader can give you that final polish and shine, eliminating any spelling, grammar and punctuation mistakes, as well as fact-checking and correcting any formatting errors.
Whether you are self-published or conventionally published, you are competing against a sea of other books clamouring for readers’ attention. However, if you have enough determination to market and publicise your book, you will gain loyal readers who will help you to spread the word. Building solid social media platforms and a good presence on the internet helps, as well as interviews, author events and talking about your book wherever you can. It’s a long and slow process that you need to keep working on, but it is worth it!