I went to a seminar on self-publishing yesterday evening that was very useful. Run by Storyville at the swanky Adam St members’ club, it featured creative consultant and agent Jacqueline Burns and expert publicist Sue Blake. Both were fascinating speakers, and were talking about how the publishing industry has been changing over recent years and how self-publishing, particularly for business-people and niche markets, might provide you with better money, have more long-term potential, and be a valuable marketing tool.
They were very clear about the difference between self-publishing and vanity publishing, and emphasised the importance of investing in making the product as professional as any book published through a major press, hiring in the skills you don’t have. At the talk was one of Jaqueline’s clients (I think she may have been an a hypnotherapist), who has earned £70,000 in the last two years from two books and retains the rights to use them however she feels fit in the future.
I felt like something of an imposter sitting there because I don’t currently have a business or special skills to impart to the world, but I can see that it’s information well worth storing under my hat, and Sue Blake’s discussion of publicity and the importance of your public profile was enlightening, if terrifying. I know I need publicity because how can people come to my writing retreats if they don’t know they exist? But the thought of cold calling journalists makes me want to hide under my cover.
One thing I did learn from both though, was the importance of building a good team; that you don’t have to do everything alone. I’d forgotten that, and really it’s what the Urban Writers Retreat is about. At the moment I don’t have the kind of support network I eventually want to provide for writers, but I don’t have to feel like I’m climbing this big hill alone and neither do writers. It’s nice to meet or at least to be around other people who think writing matters.