Write It, Self-Publish It, Sell It
By Bill Keeth
Paperback: 252 pages
Publisher: Halterburn (9 May 2008)
How time flies! As I write this review, it appears that it has been some five years now since I self-published The Banana Leaf Men. When I started that project all I knew was this – I had a manuscript, I wanted it published and I wanted the books sold. I remember agonising over what font to use, how many lines to squeeze onto one page, what the cover design of my book should be and so much more. I had to learn (very fast) what words like ‘typesetting’ meant; the accounting concept of ‘sales-on-return’ and ‘taking on consignment’ soon became the norm. When someone pointed out to me that it had not been properly formatted in that there were just too many spaces between the paragraphs in the text, I remember being completely dumbfounded. Now, had I had Write It, Self-Publish It, Sell It in my hand, I would have been able to read, on page 89, as follows:
SPACING OF TEXT FOR A NEW PARAGRAPH. A new paragraph should be indented on the next line down. That is, there should be no line space before the new paragraph begins (as you might otherwise do when writing a report, say). …
There are times I’ve listened to people stand up in public and ask questions like, “I have written something; I want someone to publish it.” When it is explained to them that they will have to go through a submission process, they say, “But no. I don’t want to have someone else have all the profits. I want to do it myself. I just need a publisher.” If you’re a person who’s asking, “What’s wrong with that question?” or you need to understand what words like, publisher, literary-agent, print-on-demand, editor, typesetter, printer, distributor mean, you will find this book extremely helpful.
The most important section, for me, was the information on page 69 wherein Bill Keeth provides the 25 Specifications for Self-Published Fiction. Again, I wish I had had them before. For instance, he asks, and answers, questions like: Are the pages of this book 90 gsm or better? Are the pages of this book white, or do they have a greyish/yellowish tinge? Does this book have an ISBN number? Does the book show the publisher’s imprint or the author’s? How I wish I had known all this before …
An excerpt of the official description of this book, which appears on the Amazon.com (UK) site, provides a more comprehensive idea of what the book is about:
Write It Self-Publish It Sell It supplies the answers to all the questions you ever wanted to ask about self-publishing. Why would anybody want or need to self-publish in the first place? Is your book good enough to self-publish? Isn’t self-publishing just another name for vanity publishing? Are there any famous writers who originally self-published, then went on to be commercially published? Should you self-publish with a print-on-demand company or a local printer? How much will it cost you to self-publish? How many copies of your book should you order for a first print run? How do you go about placing your book with bookshops great and small? Which mere handful of the hundreds of self-help manuals on sale is essential for writers of fiction? How may you sell your book title via Amazon? What is the simplest way of getting your self-published book into every public library in the UK?
Make no mistake about it, Write It Self-Publish It Sell It is an absolute must for every writer of fiction – unpublished, self-published and otherwise.
As for the necessary qualification needed to write such a book, Mr. Keeth has self-published two novels, Every Street in Manchester and Manchester Kiss. The former was shortlisted for the prestigious Portico Literary Prize and I think that says enough about his expertise in this area.
This book is no ‘boring’ manual. Instead, the style of writing is one I have not read or heard spoken in a long time. The manner in which Bill Keeth has written this book is so entertaining; the descriptions are apt, the conversations recorded made the text come alive and indeed, the humour can make you laugh out loud. At times, I was so reminded of Sir John Mortimer’s Rumpole of Bailey. Here are two of my favourite pieces from the book:
Page 20 STARK TRUTH No. 8: Having duly succeeded in fulfilling all the required submission criteria, and/or avoiding all the pitfalls listed above, there is no way you are guaranteed commercial publication unless you also have: Price Charles’ mother; or Angelina Jolie’s photogenic good looks; or Wayne Rooney’s feet or Jordan’s wobbly bits; and preferably, all six.
Page 93 A SPACE OF YOUR OWN “The will to work,” says John Braine, “builds all the seclusion one needs,” But you really should contrive to create a space of your own in which you may do your writing undisturbed – even if it’s only your garden shed, the family car parked up in some quiet spot, or your place of employ when everybody else has gone off home for the day.
For instance, I have a room, small in itself, which is invariably commandeered as an when a guest stays overnight or household items no longer enjoyed the approval or regard of She Who Holds the Casting Vote At My Present Address are temporarily side-lined en route to the charity shop or the council tip. The room contains my PC, printer, hi-fi, bookshelves, and a small filing cabinet (aka a bedside cabinet with a deep drawer). It is not a perfect location, partly for the reasons already stated; and certainly, an upstairs room would be marginally better in order to distance myself from household noises and to afford me a more expansive outside view. (From the upstairs window on a good day I can see the Pennine Way above the M62 footbridge at Windy Hill). But the room I have serves its purpose well enough, affording me shelter, privacy, reasonable quietude, and the triple benefits via an opening window of the wall beyond my PC of daylight, ventilation and an exterior vista consisting of a couple of hardy perennials, the door of an outbuilding and beech tree which, luckily for me, is a neighbour’s responsibility.
The single complaint I have about the book is the fact that new chapters do not begin on a fresh page. Still, from experience, I would hazard a guess that having to commence each chapter on a new page might have increased the total number of pages and, hence, the overall budget. Having chapters begin on a new page would have been nicer but this is just an aesthetic problem which does not in any way detract from the content.
Would I recommend this book to others? Firstly, last weekend, a subscriber to my newsletter asked me a question I’ve been asked many times since the publication of The Banana Leaf Men: how does one go about self-publishing a book? For the first time, my answer was different from the normal, “Well, I cannot explain it all to you now. Why don’t you send me an email and we’ll discuss this further?” My answer was, “I have just the book for you – Write It, Self-Publish It, Sell It!” Secondly, some time ago, a reporter asked me if I would be willing to self-publish again. My answer was a firm, “No.” However, after reading this book, I am so tempted … really tempted. Is this not enough of a recommendation to invest in this book?
1 July 2008