Going ‘Independent’? (Self or Assisted Publishing)
Many writers – and not just novices – frustrated by the endless arrival of enough reject slips to paper the downstairs cloakroom, are turning to self- or assisted publishing – now more commonly called ‘Independent Publishing’.
‘But,’ I hear you cry, ‘isn’t this the dreaded vanity publishing?’
In a word: ‘No!’
Vanity publishers take your manuscript as it stands; their only input is to turn it into print, glitches and all, crop the pages to make it look somewhat like a book and slap a cover on it – for which they will charge you through the nose, no matter how well – or otherwise – you have written it. Your book is not produced to sell in bookstores, but for you, your friends and family to admire and enjoy. And there’s absolutely nothing wrong in that – if that is all you want.
To self publish implies a greater degree of author-involvement. Indeed, and as the term suggests, it is to do everything for yourself bar the actual printing. From obtaining an ISBN, to finding a printer to print your novel; an artist to design the layout and create the cover; a copy-editor to help make the best of your writing; a place to store box-loads of books and, finally, the determination to do your own marketing and selling. Some authors do this very successfully, but it takes time and dedication and can end with a garage full of mouldering books because you have run out of the motivation to get out there and sell them. The mice using your paper as a cosy nest are often the only beneficiaries.
With assisted or independent publishing, much of the work will be done for you. Neither vanity nor self-publishing offer any quality control; the standard of writing is down to your own judgement, but this is not always the case with independent publishing houses. Some companies do at least offer a copy-editing service, provide graphic design and a few insist on a basic standard of writing before they will accept a novel. The better the quality of your writing, however, the more likely your book will be marketed and therefore sold.
“Using an assisted publishing company can be extremely helpful if you choose carefully and select a team that offer you the support and assistance you need,” says Helen Hart, Publishing Director at SilverWood Books (www.silverwoodbooks.com). “Writing is a lonely business, as I know from my own experience, and self-publishing can mean you’re still on your own – without the friendly ear of an editor or professional who can offer advice. Bestselling author Rosamund Lupton (‘Sister’, Piatkus) recently said ‘I have huge admiration for writers who self-publish and it’s fantastic they succeed, but I personally welcome the support of a publisher, especially the creative input of my editor’. As a writer myself, I know exactly what she means! If you choose the right assisted publishing company, then you can benefit from their on-going support and creative input just as you would if you were with a mainstream publishing house.”
And they take care of all the technical stuff!