One of the things I love about writing for Chandler’s Ford Today has been the chance to interview fellow authors, to share news from the publishing world and so on.
Today I talk to Jacci Gooding, who I met at the Winchester Writers’ Festival. As well as learning a great deal from talks at conferences like this one, the other big joy has been making friends with other writers and knowing you are not alone out there. Mike Sedgwick touched on this theme recently with his post about the Secret Lives of Chandler’s Ford anthology.
Jacci and I regularly email each other with writing and other news. She is preparing to self publish her book (A Collection of Unsettling Short Stories) in October in ebook, paperback and audio formats.
Here is a look at why she has taken this decision, along with hints and tips for other writers who may be thinking of doing the same thing. Oh and you may never see chickens in quite the same light again!
Tell us about what you write, Jacci, and what inspires you.
Hi Allison, and thank you for this opportunity to share my writing life with you and your readers. I write contemporary young or ‘new’ adult fiction, as well as short stories and the occasional bad poem. As for inspiration – all sorts of things, often just passing comments from people or observation. I also write plays.
What made you decide to self publish your short story collection?
Well, with modern technology so available and with such a seismic shift in reading patterns – Kindles and audio books for example (other reading platforms are available!) it would be an opportunity missed if I didn’t self publish. However, my short story collection is also available as a good old fashioned paperback, should you wish to read it in the bath.
It is widely known that publishers generally don’t take on short story collections unless the author is phenomenally well known yet the irony is that short story’s popularity has risen in recent years. I’m sure this has been helped by the fact short stories are a good format for mobile devices.
Was this the sole reason behind your decision to go it alone?
I agree – on both counts – yes, the interest in short stories seems to be on the rise and of course this is aided by mobile devices.
The links below confirm the popularity of short stories and writing competitions can be a great way for writers to get into print (even if that “print” is online!).
Why decide to publish electronically only or are you hoping to bring out a paperback later?
Going three-point on this one. I shall epublish via Amazon, do a print on demand (POD) run at the same time, through IngramSpark and invest in the rising interest in audiobooks. As a book lover myself, and of course a total control freak, I couldn’t imagine writing a book without having an actual book to show for it, if you see what I mean!
I’ve yet to come across a fiction writer who is not a control freak! Why? We are all controlling our plots/characters (or trying to anyway!). And the links below give a wealth of advice for anyone seriously considering self publishing.
What are you hoping to achieve with your short story collection?
A growing fan base begging me to write more. Joking aside, if just one of my stories could inspire someone else to have a go at writing then that would be an achievement in itself. As writers, with this amazing technology and support network we have, I think it is important that we all encourage each other as much as possible.
What have you liked most about the self publishing process?
As all self published authors will say, the control. Plus you get to meet new equally as-enthused writers.
Equally what you have disliked?
Unless you know what you’re doing, it can be a bit of brain fry – but then, learning anything new usually is.
How are you hoping to follow your short story collection?
With another. I feel a series coming on..
How have you found the self publishing experience? Easier than you thought or harder?
Well, don’t be mistaken on this one. Initially I found it so confusing I didn’t bother – it was just too much for my tiny brain. So I did some research, joined The Alliance of Independent Authors, and got some help. Self-publishing does not mean Lone Publishing, which is a mistake.
Some writers do think they can cover every single aspect of the epublishing experience, but that usually results in a poor product.
Do not design your own book cover unless you happen to be a graphic designer.
Likewise do not edit or proof-read your own work.
Hook-up with and get help first from other writers on-line, and then pay for a good cover and proper proofreading. If your first effort is poor, no-one will bother with the second. Imagine you’ve baked a cake and it tastes horrible – no-one will want a second slice, will they?
What would be your top tips to pass on to other writers?
Absolutely first and last – Don’t think you can do it all yourself. You can’t.
Get a graphic designer – after all, you’re the writer, not the book cover creator.
Then bite the bullet and get your work edited and proofread.
Don’t think you can do without these skills – you can’t.
I have seen enough atrociously written and badly produced self-published books to know that.
Jacci, thank you so much for sharing your advice here. I wish you all the best of luck (and every writer needs some!) as you prepare to launch A Collection of Unsettling Stories. Great title by the way and comes with its own inbuilt warning this might not be a bedtime read!
And for all writers, whether you self publish or go for traditional publication, good luck. Have the stamina to take rejection after rejection and explore publishing options. There are companies out there who will do everything for you, others where you can cherry pick what services you use and then do the rest yourself and so on.
It also pays to have “beta readers” who can give you honest feedback about your stories and can spot the typos and other errors you miss. And trust me you do miss them. It really is a case of being too close to your own work and needing to step back a bit. The role of editor is a crucial one and shouldn’t be underestimated.
Read blog posts by Allison Symes published on Chandler’s Ford Today.
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