In this, the second interview with a self-published author, I talk to Kathryn Brown, a writer whom I've known through the blogosphere for several years. I knew Kathryn was writing a book but only more recently discovered that she decided to self publish after receiving the usual spate of rejections to her submissions to traditional publishers.
Discovery at RosehillFinding your dream home is difficult enough, but what if you found it and then discovered it was haunted? Medium Camilla Armstrong is led to the beautiful Rosehill country estate after communication with her deceased grandmother. On first inspection she senses tranquillity within the house; the gentle atmosphere of a Georgian manor that is crying out for new life. But when she moves in, Camilla discovers the house contains a dark secret, one which is to change her life forever. When The Reverend Marcus Calloway introduces himself to her, a friendship develops and Camilla realises she could at last have found her true love. But all is not what it seems when further spirit contact confirms that Marcus harbours a guilty secret. Spirit communication, manifestations and an eerie atmosphere all add to Camilla's new surroundings as she tries hard to decipher mixed messages and a life she never knew existed.
What made you decide to self-publish, and had you tried to traditionally publish (or been traditionally published) before going the self-publishing route?
I originally wanted to traditionally publish and sent eleven submissions away and spent a long time perfecting each one. After receiving five rejections I decided to self-publish. Six months on, I still haven’t heard from the other six agents to whom I submitted my work.
There is a lot of talk about the publishing industry being in a state of change, did this influence your decision to self-publish in any way and what do you think the changes taking place in the publishing world mean for writers and for writing/literature per se?
This did influence me because I realized that new authors have a hard time being traditionally published. I wanted to be in control of my book and was somewhat reluctant to wait a further two years to see it on sale, probably after a few re-writes. I don’t think there is the same stigma surrounding self-publishing as there was because more authors prefer to have the final say on their work.
Is your book published as an e-book, Print on Demand, paper book, or all three?
The criticism of many self-published books is the lack of editing and proof reading. Did you use an editor to polish your book before self-publishing, and if so, how do you feel this helped?
Yes, I used a professional editor and we spent around three months getting it to, what I class as publishing standard. It cost approximately £500 which is most definitely money well spent. In my opinion, it is imperative to have your book edited before self-publishing. The competition is huge and unless you have a polished manuscript your book stands little chance amongst the masses of books available.
Did you use a designer for create a book cover for you? If so, what difference do you feel this has made?
Yes, Andrew Brenton designed the cover and also did the formatting for paperback and eBook versions. This made a massive difference to the appearance of my book. I am thrilled with the cover and could never have done something like that myself.
How did you decide which self-publishing option to use? What were your reasons for your selection?
I chose Lulu because I’ve used them before when publishing two children’s books. They were recommended to me by a fellow self-published author.
How do you feel about the less than complementary remarks so often made about self-published books vs. traditionally published books – and do you think this perception is changing?
I think it’s quite insulting if I’m honest. The only difference between a self-published and traditionally-published book is that the traditional one has been scrutinized by several professionals in their field and past from pillar to post before appearing on the shelves. An author of a self-published novel is still an author. I do think the perception is changing because more and more self-published novels are coming onto the market. There are some incredibly talented authors out there who deserve recognition and unless they are established, well known or in the celebrity status, they find it very difficult to be taken seriously.
With self-publishing, you carry all the risk – the onus is on you to create as “perfect” a book as possible and to market it. How have you found the process of being your own publisher, and what have you particularly learned?
It is difficult to market a self-published book, I have learned this during the past few months. You have to really push yourself and to an extent, boast about your achievements, which I personally find hard to do. Making announcements is something one has to do as second nature; selling yourself becomes a way of life. I have thought about contacting a PR consultant but up to now, I’ve persevered by myself.
What marketing platforms are you using to promote your book(s), and how much of your time does the marketing take?
I mainly use my blog, Twitter and Facebook but I have recently branched out and made enquiries in local book stores. Many local shops are keen to encourage and support local authors which does help. We are inundated in my area with gift and souvenir shops, some of which I will be approaching soon. I tend to give my book a mention every other day on Twitter but I have a page dedicated to it on my blog (Discovery at Rosehill Information).
It’s a personal question, but do you feel you’re making, or are able to make money by having self-published your book? Do you feel you are making more than you would be being traditionally published?
I’m not sure because I’ve never been traditionally published and don’t know how much in comparison I would have made otherwise. But I very much doubt I will make much money from my current novel; I have made a few hundred pounds so far but I’ll never make back the amount I spent on editing and cover design, which totaled approximately £750.
Are you happy with the level of your sales? Do you think there is more you could do to improve your sales?
I don’t think, unless you sell thousands/millions of copies, an author will ever be happy with the level of sales. I would very much like to sell mine to a much wider audience and definitely think there is more I can be doing to improve sales. It’s hard though; I’ve had one very small article published in my local paper after writing to three local newspapers and two local magazines. Two of the newspapers haven’t replied after three months. The magazines weren’t interested even though they compliment themselves on promoting local authors, businesses and talents. I found this very disappointing and not at all encouraging.
Will you continue to self-publish, or do you want to be traditionally published (and self-publish), and why?
I’m not sure right now. I have started my next novel and will see where it takes me. I would like to think I’ll be offered that contract of a life time by a well-known publisher but I won’t hold my breath. In the meantime, I’d be happy to self-publish again.
Would you recommend self-publishing to other writers?
Yes, I would. But I would also emphasize to them that there is a lot of hard work involved with self-publishing and it doesn’t just stop once you’ve sold a few copies. The sales soon dry up if don’t market and advertise and this becomes a very disheartening aspect of self-publishing.
What do you see as the pitfalls in self-publishing?
I think mainly, the marketing aspect. If you don’t market your book in the right circles or to the right audience, you don’t stand a chance of selling it. You have to do your research in order to reach the right people.
Do you have any tips for writers thinking of self-publishing?
As above, do your research. Think carefully about the genre and who you’re targeting as your readership. Be prepared for the hard work “after” you’ve published and remember you’re on your own. Join writer’s websites where you can share information, get tips and advice, promote your book. Be cheeky; ask people to do a review on their blog or their website. Write to newspapers, magazines, publications that you feel will offer some relevance to your work. Make your work stand out from the rest; visit other writer’s blogs and websites, get an idea of what readers want, the best ways to talk about books. Also, be prepared to send out free copies for people to review. Maybe even do a few giveaways which occasionally encourage people to buy. I have done this and sold a few copies to people who didn’t win a free copy!
To find out more about Kathryn Brown and her books, please visit her personal blog, Crystal Jigsaw, and her blog about the paranormal, Marvellous Mable.
You can also follow Kathryn Brown on Twitter or on Facebook.
Kathryn's book, Discovery at Rosehill, is available on both amazon.co.uk and amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle formats.
Discovery at Rosehill is also available from Lulu and Smashwords.
Or you can obtain a copy directly from Kathryn Brown.