I recently attended a workshop entitled social media for business at our local Business Incubator. Having attended a number of these sorts of workshops at various times, I didn’t anticipate anything amazing. But, in the spirit of always being open to the possibility of learning something new and (hopefully) useful, I decided to give it a shot. Besides which, it was free (as in funded by local government), fell during my week off and might provide an opportunity to connect with people in similar industries (either community development or writing).
As it turned out, the presentation was well structured, on-topic and useful. The presenter, Holly Walton, was interesting, spoke clearly and (later) emailed out copies of the presentation to all the participants, as promised. I was surprised and impressed – and walked away both better informed and with a much clearer social media strategy.
I also exchanged business cards with a few people and chatted to a lady who had just (one week earlier) self-published her first book. As it happens, this conversation was somewhat serendipitous as I’ve been toying with this idea myself. Earlier this year my manuscript was politely declined by a local publisher and, after licking that particular wound for a few months, it’s time to move on. A logical next move might be to submit the manuscript to other publishing houses, but the return time on the unsolicited manuscript option is lengthy and there’s no guarantee that the outcome will be any more positive. After some internal debate, I’ve concluded that I actually want a speedier resolution so that I can close the door on this project.
Is self-publishing the answer? Well, I do have a completed and edited manuscript ready to go and, whilst self-publishing wasn’t on my agenda when I started down this pathway, that was largely because the work involved in publication, marketing and self-promotion held little appeal. On the other hand, conventionally published authors actually receive relatively little support and promotion from their publishers these days – and most authors end up doing a good deal of self-promotion anyway, particularly for their first book.
The next obvious question is how do I find an appropriate online publishing company? There are any number of options available and even more reviews and opinions on all of them. My newly self-published buddy told me that she’d signed up for a publishing deal with Xlibris. This included all the usual things: an ISBN, cover art and both paperback and eBook formats, listings on several book sites and a veritable plethora of other good stuff. She bought 300 physical copies outright and intends to market them herself in the hopes of optimising her return on investment. The entire experience appeared to have been a positive one for her, although my research shows that others may not have been as fortunate.
Even so, having laboured long and hard over my memoir and procrastinated mightily, it’s probably time for me step up, establish a clear plan of action and timeline for publication and put some of my all-new social media skills to work to promote my book.