We recently met with Este Meyer of Maroela Media for an interview on Indie Authors and the challenges they face.There are different reasons why people choose to self-publish, whether it’s a need for creative control; wanting to be involved every step of the way, or perhaps not wanting to waste time (years) finding a publisher willing to publish your book.
I chose to be an indie for several of those reasons. Firstly, because I wanted creative control, I wanted to do my own illustrations, layout and design. (I am a graphic designer with years experience in the publishing industry). I didn’t want to waste time getting a publisher to approve my work since I wanted my book to be ready while my kids were still toddlers and could benefit from the book and use it. On average publishers take 6 months to go through your manuscript and approve or reject, you can only submit to one publisher at a time and most of them prefer to buy rights to overseas childrens books (specifically picture books), since it’s cheaper to just translate and produce than to start from scratch with illustrators etc. Thus getting in with a picture book at local publishers is very hard for a first time author.
However, being an indie, doesnt mean that you are unprofessional. Indies also want to deliver the same quality of books or even better quality books, and the way to get there is by using a team of professionals. A professional editor, proofreaders, illustrator, graphic designer/layout artist, have it printed professionally and affordably. I was very fortunate to be in the industry whiuch saved me some money, but I still used a professional editor, proofreaders and printer to get the best possible quality book and did quality control myself to be sure any copies with the slightest damage or misprints got taken out.
Marketing your book is also a bit more tricky for indies, since not all bookstores buy directly from the authors and if your production cost of your book is too high, and book stores takes in the region of 50% your price is too high or you make a loss. Thus marketing is some times the hardest part for indies. You need a network to help you to get in with distributors, so you can get your books in libraries, schools and stores. You need to do direct sales, by going to markets and book fairs, and you also need to pick the right fairs to go to that suits your target market.
But although it’s hard work, it’s very satisfying. Every picture you receive of a child holding your book, every message from a parent saying that your book is their childs favourite book that they want to read every night and want to sleep with and take everywhere. That makes it all worth it.
Liam Goes to the Game Reserve is currently available in hardcover (English (UK) and Afrikaans), as well as ebook (English (UK), English (USA: Liam goes on a safari), and Afrikaans.
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