I hate to start this article off with something that sounds a bit cliché, but here goes: ever since I was a kid, I’ve always been writing stories. It’s true though. I remember reading out a short story where the chapters were a few sentences long to my Year 2 classmates. As I’ve got older, my writing has become more refined, and eventually led to me taking a degree partially in scriptwriting.
But for the last year or so, I’ve felt that I’ve been in a bit of a rut, writing-wise. I’ve had plenty of ideas, but I’ve struggled to make them long enough on paper, without padding them out. Then I discovered poetry. I can’t properly explain it, but it just clicked with me. Because there’s literally no rules when it comes to structure, I could present my ideas however I wanted, without worrying about form or length.
So, to pass the time when lockdown hit, I decided to self-publish something.
I think the biggest thing that hit me was that every aspect of the book’s content is up to you. You don’t have a publisher looking over your shoulder to spell-check for you, or make sure that your contents page info and page numbers match up; every single thing within the pages is your responsibility to make perfect. Whilst this can seem daunting to begin with, not having a traditional publisher gives you a massive sense of creative freedom. You get to call the shots on all aspects of the story, instead of being forced to re-write sections to actually get your book printed.
Your role still continues after the book is all finished though. Publicity is entirely down to you. You’re your own agent. I organised a virtual book launch event where a few friends who also write read out some of their poetry, before I read out some of my own book.
Overall, it can be stressful. There will be times when you just want to stop and have someone else take over and sort it all out for you. But, if you can push through it, and have the mindset that all this work will be worth it when you finally get a physical copy of your book, then self-publishing is definitely a good way for writers to get their work seen by a wider audience.