Self Publishing – Realistic Expectations Part 2 – Finding a Solution
I will briefly set up the situation for those of you who may not have seen yesterday’s Realistic Expectations blog post.
I was meeting a writer yesterday called Tony to see how I could help him self publish. He has been working on his manuscript for 10 years. It is a mammoth project. He has approached everyone for help and been given all the usual self publishing advice. He is now confused and bewildered. He fully expected someone, an individual or organisation, to agree to finance his book through direct funding or sponsorship…….read on.
First off Tony is a nice chap. Bright, witty, intelligent, and he knows his subject and how to write. The manuscript is about horseracing – 0ne race in particular, the St Leger. It’s the oldest classic horse race in the world held every year in September at Doncaster in West Yorkshire (North of England for non UK readers).
I looked at the manuscript on his laptop. It is an incredibly long and detailed and dare I say it passionate book (750 pages A4 at present). It’s well written. Extremely well written. Amusing, entertaining, informative, and crafted with love and affection, inspired by his father, a miner who lived and worked all his life in Doncaster.
I only had to read half a dozen paragraphs from the manuscript to recognise this as something special. This is no ordinary cobbled-together work of ‘fluff’. Tony would love the book to be hardback, full colour, in other words what they used to call a ‘coffee table’ book.
So the manuscript is excellent. He also has over 500 images, colour and black and white, that he has collected over the years from various sources. He has the copyright on most. He has a staggering assortment of beautiful old images, photographs, postcards, illustrations that would certainly look terrific in a large glossy book.
It took less than ten minutes to make up my mind about the manuscript. Yep, it is very good.
So I told Tony to switch off his laptop and put away the double-sided colour ‘brochure‘ one of his former students produced for him a couple of years ago that was okay, but in terms of showcasing his book was totally hopeless. The font in the leaflet was one of those dreadful flowery copperplate ones….you know the kind of thing…totally un-readable. I think you get the picture. And this brochure and his laptop are his only promotional tools currently at his disposal. So far he has relied on just chatting to potential backers and I’m sure, like me, they saw that he was passionate about the subject. But a financial proposition?
So to sum up……Tony’s idea of finding sponsorship has fallen flat. The current sponsors of the St Leger are the bookmakers Ladbrokes, but they have showed little interest. Who can blame them? Books cost money to produce and promote. Ladbrokes make money from gambling. They are not in the business of publishing coffee table books.
Other organisations Tony has approached have all applauded the project, and in many cases have offered support, advice, and mentoring but no hard cash. You can understand why. Tony by the way is not a known ‘name’ in the horseracing world.
And Tony’s budget for the project? In two words, hardly anything. So, what did I say? (By the way Tony agreed to let me explain the situation and share it with you)
Without financial backing his glossy 750 page book is a non-starter. He knows that, but he is reluctant to let go of the dream. So I have to take that on board.
Suggestions to ‘Publish on Kindle’ were considered but you could see his heart wasn’t in it.
The possibility of producing a short run of digitally printed books was discussed but we still come up against the lack of a budget.
He accepted all my advice but I could sense I was probably only telling him what he’d heard many times over the years, but he did concede that my ideas were a lot more ‘modern and up to the minute’ than the traditional advice many had served up.
The advice I suggested was this…….in the first instance, as a short term solution, to let me set up a website for him with a blog page on which he could promote and showcase his book and chat about it. Also show him how to set up and run his own WordPress blog to try to build some kind of following and interest. These two simple, inexpensive, short term solutions would also allow him to continue to contact potential sponsors/backers and direct them to the website and blog so that they could recognise there was a potential market for the book and sample some of the text and images. This would keep his dream alive for a while longer and give him at least an outside chance of finding funding.
If the website and blogs fail to find the elusive financial backing then I suggested publishing it for him as an eBook. This is far from what he originally wanted but at least it gets the book out there and could make him some money. It also still keeps alive the prospect of having print books done at a later date.
I did offer other solutions, all of which he took on board, and also promised to help him as much as possible….which is more or less what I do for all the writers I work with. I will have to wait and see what happens now. You have to remember I’m now just one of the many people he has received advice from over the years and so in the end he may well choose someone else to work with. But that’s the name of the game. If you’ve any thoughts I’d be interested to read them.