How it all Started – I discover self-publishing

So, I had a vegan cookbook, with full colour photography, compiled over a year and all ready to go. But neither agents nor publishers, even ones I carefully researched from the Writers & Artists Yearbook, in the genre, were interested in my three sample chapters and my ‘about the author.’

So, I read in a magazine about some colleagues who had successfully used a free publishing site to publish their book and put it onto Amazon for sale. That sounded like the best option, so I went on line and researched the US publishing company, Lulu.

It was indeed free, all you had to do was purchase a proof copy and check it before publishing. That was no problem at all, in fact it was fantastic later on to hold in my hands my own soon-to-be-published book!

I produced my own covers in Microsoft Publisher and the finished product looked glossy and professional. The website was easy to use and helped you to set up your content and covers and add the book description and other details. It also assigned and added an ISBN to the cover and the book details.

The blurb sounded like as soon as I pressed the ‘publish’ button, my book would fire into the ether, only to surface on all the Amazon sites and the shelves of Waterstones, W.H. Smiths and all the other fine bookstores.

So, happy with the way it looked and the final edits done, I clicked on ‘publish’ and waited with baited breath for it to hit the book stands.

That’s when I first started to discover that it ain’t that easy!

Catherine Greenall

I suppose have been writing all my life. I loved to write stories at school, then moved on to scientific writing during my education and then in my career as a government scientist. I was involved in writing various books and pamphlets that were published during my career. Of course, all the nuts and bolts of editing, formatting, publication and distribution were taken care of by the organisations that employed me.

When I was presented with an opportunity to move into full-time writing, I seized it eagerly.

I started out with a topic close to my heart, a vegan cookbook, ‘Vegans Can’t Eat Anything!’ which I have been told many times by restaurants and other people. As you will know if you’re a vegan, it’s not true and I set out to prove that you can have a healthy diet and still be a vegan.

I then tried to get a publisher…

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One thought on “How it all Started – I discover self-publishing

  1. So I had a publisher – Lulu. All I had to do was upload my book, design & upload the cover and follow the simple instructions and my book would be available on Amazon, Lulu and bookstores and libraries using Lulu’s free distribution service.

    The first stages were great. My book proof looked very professional and glossy and I approved it. The only thing that surprised me was the price that Lulu stipulated, £25.99, which seemed a bit high for an unknown cookbook writer. But the site explained it was because I had colour photographs thoughout the book and I didn’t think they looked a good in black & white.

    I ordered a stock of books and arranged press releases and a book launch. I was interviewed on local radio and featured in magazines and on-line publications.

    Then I became aware that there were problems. Friends were telling me that they could not get my book in the library or in bookstores. When they had asked for it, they were told that it couldn’t be obtained as it was ‘an American publication.’

    Amazed I said that’s impossible, I am British! I checked the Lulu site again and tried to find out what was happening. That was difficult in itself, as there is no telephone help, you have to email then wait several days for a reply. You could not speak to an actual real person about the issues.

    Finally, I was told that Lulu had changed their distribution services and the free service only provided books via Amazon and on-line retailers. I was then advised to go for a new Expanded Distribution service that would make my book ‘more available’ to bookstores.

    However, the book format I had carefully chosen for the free distribution was not eligible for the Expanded one! Grr! I now had to produce another version of my book in a format that was eligible and then pay extra for this service.

    Unfortunately, this was now one year on and I had lost all momentum from the initial marketing campaign. I had to start again and re-market the new version.

    Publishing ain’t easy is it?


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