On Assisted Publishing, Self-Publishing, And Insanely Optimistic Feelings

NaNoWriMo Word Count: 3 and a half, approx, give or take 1,000

So, even in the twilight hell that is NaNoWriMo, I’ve been exploring different publishing methods lately, mostly through the efforts of some very talented Dublin-based authors and their publishing experiences. And the results of these investigations are absolutely inspiring. I am a total pessimist (I have been known to see the downside of kittens and warm fluffy towels), but even I have been forced to see the good in some options available to authors nowadays.

1. Assisted Publishing (Carolann Copland’s Summer Triangle)



Summer Triangle is a fantastic and absorbing read (I already read a draft before it was published, but when I got the finished paperback I found myself carrying it with me everywhere so I could dip into it every chance I got) but this book is not easily shelved. Is it crime? Romance? Thriller? A family saga?

Successfully weaving subjects such as young adults, the consequences of impulsive behaviour, family dynamics and disasters, cross-cultural divides, Islamic fundamentalism, unexpected parenthood, terrorism, alcoholism and the violence of first love, Carolann chose assisted publishing (with Emu Ink – www.emuink.ie) in order to better place her book. And seeing how it’s working out for her, I think she was dead right. She may well have got lost with a larger publisher, in an industry where if your book crosses genres, they can’t manage the challenge.

From the outside looking in, it seems to me that assisted publishing gave Carolann a better deal. By assisted publishing here, I mean that yes, she paid them a fee, but this is not some sort of half-hearted consultancy: they offer a full service, and crucially, they don’t accept everyone who knocks on their door. Unless they think they can sell your book, Emu won’t take it. As part of her package, she got all the structural and copy editing, proofreading, cover art, e-book digitising and traditional paperback publishing. But here’s the kicker. They also promote it. Emu Ink are a small press, eager to grow, and hungry for success. They have the direct line to book distributors and industry PR of traditional publishers, but more investment in their titles, making each and every sale more precious to them.

2. Self-Publishing – Johanna Buchanan’s The Cinderella Reflex

the cinderella reflex cover

The Cinderella Reflex is a charm-riddled rom-com about professional women who spend their time talking about how independent they are, all the while waiting for some loser on a white horse to come along and rescue them. We all know those women. Feck it, we’ve all been that woman at some point in our lives. You won’t find a funnier way of looking at this phenomenon than reading this book.

The Cinderella Reflex is a true self-published work in that Johanna pressed the ‘Publish’ button on Amazon KDP herself. She hired an editor and cover artist separately, and is the one doing all the marketing and promotion work.

As her background is in journalism and radio production, Johanna is particularly well placed to manage this, so it makes a lot of sense. It means that she can get her book out how and when she wants it, stick to her convictions on it, and not have to wait around for 2 years whilst someone else makes the decisions. Also, I think anyone looking at her cover will see that she has an eye for this sort of thing. It’s not for the faint-hearted, but for some, as I outlined in this post, it definitely makes sense.

So Yeah, This Is What I Think

When I see the traditionally published authors I know going through the agony and the… well, agony of slush piles before getting a deal, only to spend 22 hours a day on their blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Stumbleupon, Reddit and GoodReads anyway, doing their own promotion like everyone is expected to now, I find myself wondering what benefits traditional publishing is giving them really.

I’m going to be doing a few Q&A sessions with small publishers and presses in the near future, because I think I’m a little bit in love with them. I’ll keep you posted (see what I did there? Eh? Eh????!)

*Both Summer Triangle and The Cinderella Reflex are available now on www.amazon.co.uk and www.amazon.com.

  10 comments for “On Assisted Publishing, Self-Publishing, And Insanely Optimistic Feelings

  1. johanna buchanan
    November 6, 2013 at 12:27 pm

    Thanks Tara for this post. It is definitely a different era for authors in 2013. I think if anyone is approached by a big publisher they are going to be flattered and probably say a big “yes please” (although I know from the Alliance of Independent Authors website that many established authors are now forsaking traditional publishing contracts to forge their own path).
    As you say, a traditional publishing deal is not always a choice for newbie authors – it is something that is way out of our control whereas self-publishing or assisted publishing definitely isn’t.
    I found the process mildly challenging (mainly because my technological skills aren’t as developed as they could be yet) but it was always really interesting. And seeing my book on Amazon yesterday was the best fun I’ve had in a long time!
    Now comes the marketing and selling bit but as you also say in your post, authors with traditional publishers have to do that anyway.


    • November 6, 2013 at 1:14 pm

      More stories like yours, and good quality self-publishing like yours, and more and more will realise that it’s the best option for them, I reckon. We watch Amazon with baited breath 🙂


  2. November 6, 2013 at 7:05 pm

    Great post, Tara – very inspiring for writers out there who might not immediately think of self- or assisted publishing. I don’t think authors should underestimate the work involved, but as you say, even traditionally published authors don’t get away scot free from marketing and promotion duties. And as Johanna says, the option to have control over your own writing and the sense of achievement and pride to be gained can be an amazing experience. May success continue and increase for all.


  3. November 6, 2013 at 11:20 pm

    Sooo enjoying the path to Publishedom! What a wonderfully satisfying journey! Definitely the way to go! 🙂


  4. Jan
    November 9, 2013 at 10:35 pm

    I loved this blog, Tara! This is definitely a changing world as far as writers being able to publish their works and it’s affordable. I am in the process of launching a new company specifically designed to help newbie authors maneuver through the maze of self-publishing and avoid the pitfalls and scams along the way.


    • November 10, 2013 at 12:00 am

      Thank you for the kind words, Jan! I wish you the very best of luck with your company – seems like a great idea to me. There’s so much more becoming available to authors now, and so many different roads to publication, that good advice has never become more precious. I hear a lot of horror stories, and people who’ve become embittered by the whole process, which makes me sad. Because I really don’t think it has to be that way. Although, sometimes it’s hard to sort from the comments which authors had quality stuff to begin with, which is always going to be the most difficult variable…


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