Towards the end of 2020, CWC member Paul K Joyce launched his debut novel, The Will Of The People. Having taken the decision to self-publish it, he now reflects on the whole process and the lessons he learned along the way.
“I always thought that self-publishing would be my, ‘if everything else fails’, option. This perspective began to alter, when, in 2019, at a literary festival, I went to a seminar on the very same subject. The session’s host had experienced the traditional publisher pathway and when this went badly wrong, came, via self-publishing, to relish the opportunity to re-build his career and engage directly with his readers.
I should have known, really, something of the feeling of building a community from the ground up. In 2018, I crowdfunded an orchestral recording for a poetry and music project. I had worried that asking people for money might be viewed negatively, but it was exactly the opposite. I reached out to a group of people who were happy to help, eager to be involved. Several years on, and many subsequent conversations and much reading, later, I now see that self-publishing is a way to shape your career, control one’s destiny and feel good about writing. The indifference and lack of constructive feedback from agents is maddening and ultimately, demoralising.
Launching my debut novel, The Will Of The People, has, as one might expect, been a steep learning curve. The most important thing I learned is, yes, you’ve guessed it: write a good novel! I think it has to be the single most important factor. My manuscript was assessed (twice) by an independent literary consultant and then (after two re-writes) read by six beta readers before publication. I then engaged a professional graphic designer for the cover and a trusted web designer for a new website. Yes, there’s quite a lot to do—the fine detail of the layout; credits; landing pages; free content to help establish a mailing list; pricing; promotion; whether to be exclusive to Amazon or not, etc. etc. Admittedly, these are initial processes that once complete will be straightforward the next time. I couldn’t have done it without the help of online tutorials and blogs that really bring clarity to the process.
Finally, giving in to my completist tendencies, I also decided to create an audiobook version. Why? I now ask myself. Why? Fifty-one thousand words took me 3 months of near-constant work. There were technical difficulties and problems with performance consistency (FYI: my afternoon voice is a deeper, hoarser version of my preferred, morning voice!). It was a mountain to climb, but I did it. Speak slowly—that’s the main piece of information I can share!
The novel is out, and it’s been such a great experience with some unexpectedly positive feedback and reviews to spur me on to further activity. Thanks to those from CWC who were able to read and review, it means a lot to me. Being part of this writing group is a significant and motivating factor in my writing journey. Now all I need to do is write the two follow-ups to complete the trilogy.”
Paul K Joyce