Thursday 8 July 2021

THREE reasons to self-publish books

With imminent publication of the Ninth Victorian Detectives novel, Deceit & Desire, I have now moved into the entirely self-published category. And I been asked once again by several people why I decided not to stay with a commercial publisher.

Here are my reasons:

1. Control: As a self-published author, I  have a lot of autonomy. I can do whatever I like, publicity-wise, and if you follow me on Twitter (@carolJhedges) you will know that I do. I had very little autonomy with Usborne and OUP and I gather that some big publishing houses like to keep a close eye on their writers so they don't run amok on social media, which could rebound back on them. Also I gather that many houses prefer writers to promote other writers on their list (possibly why I rarely get promoted by Choc Lit writers, lovely though they are).

2. Choice: I  chose the wonderful Gina Dickerson ( @GinaDWriter ) of RoseWolf  Design to come up with my new covers. They are certainly quirky and different ... just like the stories .. and, dare I say it, like the author of the stories herself! When I was mainstream published, I had to accept whatever their in-house cover people produced whether I bought into the concept or not.

Also, I can choose and change the key words that help readers locate my books, and I can fiddle around with Amazon's book categories, if I want to. As I am an inveterate fiddler, I do.

3. Cash:  As a commercially published writer of adult fiction I was getting 40% of all ebook sales, far less on printed books. As a published children's writer that dropped to 12% of all book sales. And my then agent creamed off 10% on top of that. As Little G Books (my publishing imprint), I can command 70% of ebook sales. The difference in my monthly income figures has been remarkable.

Ok, I know it is all too easy nowadays to write a book, cobble together a cover and upload the finished product to Amazon. Advances in technology have opened up enormous opportunities for self-publishing that were never there when I started writing books, and that is a good thing.

I also acknowledge that inevitably, there is a lot of dross out there and it lets the side down. Poorly written and produced books with typos, badly designed covers, sold at rock bottom prices or given away for free, which is not the way I want to go.

However, despite the many ''Hey, I produced a book for virtually nothing'' blogs, the writers of the best self-published books have usually used beta readers, then paid out for professional editing, proofreading and cover designing. It is hard work at every stage, and having done it nine times now, I can attest to the pain.

But in a world where celebs are sneaking all the good publishing deals, and agents are less and less able to place books, if you can get an agent in the first place, I still think that going solo, if you can, is the best and most lucrative way of presenting your work to the reading public. And there is HUGE satisfaction from holding a book in your hand, or seeing it in a shop, and knowing that you produced yourself.

Sunday 14 February 2021

A Letter from a Curious Citizen

 Dear Ms Patel

I know you are very busy at the moment processing thousands of applications from Hong Kong people with British National (Overseas) status plus their extended families, who have been given permission from you to settle in the UK. And then there are all the failed asylum seekers to be deported. I do appreciate that you have a lot on your desk. However, I wonder whether you can help me. You see, I remember what you promised when you were part of Vote Leave. 

You said: " There will be no change for EU citizens already lawfully res
ident in the UK. These EU citizens will automatically be granted indefinite leave to remain in the UK and will be treated no less favourable than they are at present. (June 1st 2016 /Vote Leave)

Now, your government's position seems to have changed. EU citizens are told to apply for pre-settled status, or for settled status. This is a complicated procedure, involving a lot of past records, documents, photocopies and certificates about employment, NHS, tax, and all sorts of things that some, particularly the very old, or the disabled or those who came here to live because they had that thing called Freedom of Movement (remember it?) just don't have. Your department says applicants must register on an Android device or an iPhone. Again, some people do not have these either. 

You have certainly managed to deviate a long way from your original pledge, haven't you, Ms Patel?

Setting all this aside (as you seem to have done with our human rights and your promises), I find myself in a bit of a dilemma. You see, I am a dual national ~ I was born here, of Jewish German parents who arrived in the 1940s as refugees. As I lost family members in the Holocaust, I have applied for, and recently been granted, 'restored' German citizenship. So now I am a citizen of here, and a citizen of there simultaneously. 

But you say that any EU citizen without pre- or settled status post 30th June 2021 may be removed from the UK. So here is my problem, Ms Patel: 50% of me (the German bit) does not currently have pre- or settled status, and will certainly not have it by the required date. I would therefore be grateful if you could inform me, as soon as possible, which part of me will be deported, so that I can make the necessary preparations and warn my family.

Yours sincerely

Carol Hedges (British/German dual national)