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My Publishing Journey: Tips for Writing & Self-Publishing

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The nature of publishing has radically changed in recent years and is constantly evolving. The advent of self-publishing, print-on-demand and e-publishing have all contributed to offering writers many more choices from the traditional ways of the past.

There are now publishing services companies that, from a menu of tailored services, offer writers step by step guidance and hand holding through the entire self-publishing process. On the downside of this, it means that established, old school publishers and literary agents have become much more cautious and risk averse in taking on any new, unknown and untried authors.

My experience was that while new, fresh young writers - offering the potential of a lucrative, long line of future material - might get a look in, older, first time authors were regarded with less enthusiasm. Having tried the traditional route in submitting my original manuscript to numerous agents and publishers and getting the ubiquitous emails and letters of rejection, I decided to opt for the self-publishing route.

As a 66 year old man writing his first novel, I could see I was not a good bet for the newly cautious old world of publishing! I don’t really blame them - the whole nature of the industry is changing so rapidly and it is self-evident that many on the old model, unable or unwilling to adapt, will not survive these changes.

Publicity wise, I feel it should be possible for older writers to publish their first debut novels. Not everyone will agree with this, I know. However, the fact is that without the ease of self-publishing today, I doubt very much that ‘The Other Side of Loss’ would ever have got into print.

One of the keys to success in business, I have found, is to focus on your strengths and delegate to people with specialist expertise and so it is in self-publishing, too. In my journey to publication, I was very fortunate indeed to have a first class editor (who did the edit of the only other book I’ve ever written - a corporate biography, published in back in 1986) and a red-hot copy editor, both of whom have been invaluable.

Whitefox Publishing Services, and currently Quiet Press Publishing, provided me with a brilliant cover designer for the book and a very capable, professional publicist who seems to have adopted the project with skill and enthusiasm. It’s important to stress just how vital a role a good independent publicist plays in getting the word out about a self-published book. Without this skill, a first class book could easily die from simple lack of exposure and public awareness. Equally important is establishing a strong online presence and utilising social media, so in this role I am very lucky indeed to have been able to employ my niece, who is doing an excellent job developing my website and getting me going on twitter!

I have undoubtedly learned a great deal about the world of publishing from my experience so far and, to a large degree, it has de-mystified the industry. In many ways, self-publishing now resembles a set of steps and procedures - much like any other business in fact!

My six top tips for writing and self-publishing

  • Don’t procrastinate! You’ve heard it before, but it’s so true. Discipline yourself to sit down and write - whether you feel like it or not. Almost always creativity will follo

  • Set yourself realistic goals - whether daily, weekly, or over longer periods.

  • Make notes of ideas (send yourself texts or emails) and collect/cut out articles that have nuggets of good ideas, or well-crafted words, for incorporation in your book.

  • You no longer have to rely on getting a Literary Agent or Publisher. In today’s world you can self-publish, with or without an agency to assist you.

  • With the ever increasing popularity of e-books and in today’s media savvy world, you will need to either have yourself, or engage someone who has, the capability to put together and run an on-going social media marketing campaign for your book.

  • Don’t be discouraged by extraneous factors, thinking I’m too young, too old, too inexperienced, or haven’t got what it takes. Just keep going and believe in yourself - remembering that wonderful quote: “ Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eye off the goal”.

Debut novelist Tom Vaughan is a successful entrepreneur and co-founder of Juliana’s Discotheques Holdings Plc, the first global discotheque/nightclub entertainment company. Founded in the ‘60s with his brother Oliver, the business, which started out of the back of a van, went on to become the largest entertainment group of its kind in the world. Tom’s first book No Ordinary Experience – the Juliana’s Story, a lively memoir of this experience, was published in 1986. His debut novel The Other Side of Loss is available at £9.99 in print format or as an e-book at £4.99 from, take a look at his website and follow him on Twitter here.

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