I firmly believe that Google is a girl – she knows everything! The problem with girls like Google is that because she’s so approachable and easy to talk to, you sometimes end up with way too much information.
I’d had one of those weeks – fired up with too much enthusiasm and not enough patience; I’d been researching all my options with regards to getting my personal growth book published and out there amongst those who need to read it. Ignore what any long-suffering writer tells you – writing the manuscript is the easy part. Just when you think the process is drawing to a close, as you dot the last “i” and cross the final “t” and watch your labour of love print out onto beautifully clean, crisp sheets of paper, there’s a tough little guy hiding around the corner chuckling softly to himself. He goes by the name of Mr-Getting-Published, and it seems he has unfinished business with Miss Google.
When I looked at what people had to say about the traditional method of getting a manuscript into print, I will admit that it frightened me more than a little. The traditional publishing route often gets a bad rap; a well-known occupational hazard and widely-held belief amongst the writing community is that for every letter of acceptance sent, thousands more rejection slips wing their way around the world every day. When you’ve poured your heart and soul into writing a book, it can be very difficult not to take that personally. If, however, you are one of the fortunate few who are granted exclusive membership into the swanky club of ‘Published Author’, there’s still a minefield of legal and technical matters to wrap your head around – copyright, royalties, distribution, marketing etc. It just made my head spin.
Because I’m so impatient, and (if I’m honest) rather cynical, I figured that there had to be an easier way to get my book into print. As I began researching the vanity publishing industry, at first I felt like I’d landed in clover. I was clearly spoiled for choice; I could either do everything myself if I so pleased, at very little cost, or I could just say “yes!” to the thousands of companies out there begging to publish my manuscript. In fact, they’re so eager to read it, that they’ll do absolutely everything from cover design, formatting, distribution and marketing all for NO EXTRA COST! I wrote off to a couple of the more promising and professional looking companies and in no time at all my phone was ringing off the hook.
“Hi, I’m Tiffany/Shelly/Ambrose (AMBROSE??). I’ve been appointed as your Publishing Consultant. I will do everything I can to guide you through the process – it’s really very easy. We’ll bring in a specialist designer to design the cover, we’ll go to leading bookstores on your behalf, and you keep all your rights, all the royalties, we’ll even throw you launch parties in London, New York and Hong Kong. You just pay a small fee which includes the entire package… blah blah blah blah.” Incidently, that ‘small fee’ could feed a small African nation for a year!
While Tiffany/Shelly/Ambrose was waxing lyrical, I was asking my friend Google to check them out on the side. Shock, horror, dismay! There were thousands of posts on message boards everywhere about how honest writers chasing a dream were caught for absolute fools, the rights of their books lost, substantial extra costs conveniently camouflaged in the fine print of verbose contracts, shoddy printing resulting in a mediocre-looking end product. It made my blood run cold.
Fast forward a few years and LOTS of research, soul searching and rewriting later, I finally decided to bite the bullet and go indie. Did I just fall into an alternate universe? Sometimes it still feels that way. I have new respect for the indie author – wordsmith, typesetter, IT expert, graphic designer, editor, marketing whizz – they seem to wear every hat ever made!
What it boils down to is this: whatever route you decide to take, go with your gut. Remind yourself why you wrote the book and who you wrote it for. Put aside any dreams of fame, riches or glory. If those things happen somewhere along the line, then you can celebrate and we’ll all celebrate with you. Until then, your book needs to be read, savoured, cried over and loved over and over again.
I guess I owe my friend Google a lunch sometime. She sure saved me a lot of drama, even if now I know too much about what I shouldn’t and too little about what I should. Choosing the indie route not only got my book out there, but through the process (which I am still learning, humbly and haltingly) I have come across the most generous, encouraging community, a group of amazing human beings who, like me, have also wished upon a star one too many times.
Copying the writings of another author word-for-word shows a complete lack of integrity and respect for REAL writers – those who have the talent and patience to creatively craft and mold the English language, writing and rewriting until they get their message across effectively. There is no richer reward for a real writer than to bask in the praise of an original piece well written.
Author of “Beautiful: Simple, everyday advice for improving your self-esteem and living the life you deserve”