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Just a little Hocus Pocus, I mean self publishing - what have I learnt trying to self-publish?

Very soon, I'm going to be publishing my first work of fiction. Am I an amazing author you ask? Have I been scribbling on note pads and ring binders since I had braces and Clinton was president. Not even close.

So what happened? Years into what was a medical career I took a three month break. Like many people in my profession I was hitting burnout. I took time off, I traveled and got incredibly inexpensive drinks in some Cambodian town I can't remember the name of. And then I flew home and had two months to spare before I started my new job.

So the clock was ticking. I organised my flat, gave clothes to charity, filed all the paper work I could into organised folders, and had watched everything there was on Netflix. I turned to an old hobby, reading the Fantasy/science fiction novel. But after three weeks ... I was strung out. How can this be you say, with so many books available on so many platforms.

So there I was in a too small Bungalow with a laptop and my cat. It was Spring and I lived right next to an English park, a short footpath away. It was there that the first images of what would be my first manuscript came to me. No spoilers here, I will tell you later.

But this isn't about the story. This is about going from that moment to now, when I'm waiting for the final touches to a finished manuscript. You are probably here because you want to know about self publishing. So here is how that journey has been in 10 points.

  1. I had an immense amount of fun. I've always been obsessed with the Fae, Sidhe, Fairies .... whatever iteration of these magical beings, I love them. So creating my own world with my own characters was joyous. If nothing comes of my novel, I still have them and that was success numero uno.

  2. It took me years to get the manuscript together. The last few months have been a firestorm of writing, editing, story planning but the real work I did over time. I once heard and author say it would take 7 years from the birth of a story idea to publish. I'm just hitting year 6.

  3. It took a little courage to say, why not me? Now I don't want to bash on any author after my experiences, writing a novel is a huge task. But I also read novels thinking, I could do this? I could do better than this ( I was wrong on this front)!

  4. They WANT you to self-publish. After an online search I filled out a form: what my novel was about, details about me and a contact number. Hours later the publishing agency was on the phone, they were more than ready to publish my book. My book description was just that hot. * Que the sarcasm *

  5. I gave myself a budget of how much I wanted to spend after talking to the agent and hearing about several different plans. Wouldn't it just be cool to see my name on a book that was in stores? Wouldn't that be enough? I blew that budget and then some. Let's talk trippling.

  6. Why did the costs start mounting? I was sweet talked in with a flat fee, to save face I'm not going to tell you how much. This basic package required me to dip into my savings and discuss the financial spend with my partner, it was that significant. Every time I hit a mile stone, there was some new and amazing opportunity. They would advertise for me, they would get an artist to make my book cover, they would have someone make me a website ( thanks Wix). Oh, we forgot to tell you professional editing costs a ton, but you can't get a respectable book out there without it. Now I am really excited about my book and really excited to have a professional editor help me with it. But let me be clear, you DO NOT need to spend this kind of money!

  7. My most amazing find of this year is a website called Canva, don't pay someone for your book cover unless you want to. Websites are easy to make these days so unless you want something super professional don't spend the money on it. Trust me, some of my favourite authors are still using webpage designs from the early 90s, you are going to be ok.

  8. You can get your own freelance editor, I have at the end of the day used my publishing company. They offered me a massive discount because they could see they were losing me. There are sites where you can even have Editors bid to edit your manuscript. There are also online editing softwares such as Autocrit that can even help with language and structure, showing not telling etc. That said, editing is important, so don't skimp on this area.

  9. Marketing and advertising, are my achilles heal. I am by nature, an introvert who likes to have my nose in a book. I have yet to really be clear on what my goals are for my novel. It's very existence is an accomplishment, but it would be really nice to recoup some of the money I spent publishing it. Please Fae gods, let me break even! A simple fact of life is that to make money and sell a book, people need to know it's there. So on this, I also caved and spent some money on advertising.

  10. This has been a revealing and hard road. Trying to write a novel while working full time is a huge commitment and I'm proud to have done it. If I could time travel ( this won't happen in any of my books, I forbid it) I'd still do this whole process over again. From the very first words " She wasn't his favourite human ...."

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