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  • Writer's pictureWill Brenton

"They say everyone has a good book in them... judging by my waistline it looks like I ate mine..."

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

SELF PUBLISHING 1 : What do I think I'm playing at?

I thought I'd track a little of my journey to self-publishing, assuming I get there. In which case this isn't so much a journey as a long, stressful walk ending up right back where I am now. Not self-publishing. Watch this space for the 'Grand Designs' equivalent in writing - the foolhardy plans, the obviously insufficient budget, the painful interviews half way through full of silence and tears. Let's see if I end up with a glass palace or a ramshackle shed....

Forced by the Coronovirus lockdown I'm finally collecting together all my books currently gathering digital dust on my laptop and self publishing. No more excuses. I can no longer tell myself I'm a forgotten great author only because of my appalling time management skills. At last the world will get to sample the Intellectual Magnitude of my Tyrannical Dinosaur Monarchs and Boys Who Hunt Farts.

The truth is I've been meaning to do this for years. They say that everyone has a good book in them, but judging by my waistline it looks like I ate mine.

My indie publishing label is called 'Bad Books'. (I always liked outliers such as Stiff Records and Rough Trade) It gives me a neat little 'Get Out of Jail Free' card because if anyone says my books are bad then I can point out they totally on brand...

“ Why not go to a 'proper' publisher?. ”

Good question. Complicated question. I've had a picture book 'properly' published, (stunningly illustrated by the amazing Holly Clifton Brown. Buy it here) and I have had many conversations with potential agents, publishers and the like. The truth is it is painfully slow, and it's just like TV. Lots of people desperately seeking the 'Next New Thing' which has to be fresh, innovative and different - but similar to something successful. It is Schrodinger's Book, a book that is completely brand new and the same as what has gone before - all in one moment.

The corporate model works. For the corporation. But for authors it is far from a satisfactory process. There are too many layers of decision makers taking decisions out of your hands. Many good books have fallen at one of these hurdles in what is inevitably a risk averse process. I get it. Every book they publish has to help carry the workforce and pay for the offices they have in prime sites all over the world. For me the risk of losing a book in the workings of that machine is not one I'm prepared to take. So I've decided to do it myself, which means I only have myself to answer to.

First off I need a brand awareness meeting. It goes something like this:

ME: Are you aware of 'Bad-Books'?

ME: Yes.

ME: Great. See you next week.

Now I need a release date. At the moment of writing traditional publishers are looking at their releases for 2022/23, My meeting goes like this.

ME: We need a release date.

ME: End of the month?

ME: Great. See you next week.

And of course a creative brain-storming for our 'pipeline':

ME: We need a book about a boy who chases farts.

ME: Oh, I've just written one.

ME: Great. See you next week.

You get the drift. Look, I'm not naive about this, I understand that most of the time self-publishing will involve me not writing, but checking, revisiting and revising my methods, imagery and branding, and I will get a lot of it wrong. But what is certain is that my books will be front and centre of that process.

There's self protection in this decision too. I don't need someone else to tell me I'm crap. I leave that to my rampant self-doubt and anxiety. I would rather one of my readers told me that so I knew the reaction was real, than have any judgements being predicted or assumed. Too many times I have seen people make creative calls based on a research exercise that only actually consulted 15 people. My thinking is if only 3 people out of 15 like my book, then out of 15 million people 3 million will like the book... and that is plenty .

'I don't need someone else to tell me I'm crap, I leave that to my rampant self-doubt and anxiety.

It comes down to forming a connection to my readers. I do a lot of live shows. The beauty of theatre is the honest reaction of your audience, and my ability as a writer/director to take that on board and into future shows. I hope my instinct for good stories is still strong, I hope my ability to listen to the truth of my readers is just as good. Time will tell.

Here we go then.....

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