To show you my experiments with self-publishing
To argue that every creative writing student should have
a go at self-publishing, at least once.
To argue that you should form “collectives” with other
writers and set up your own publishing imprints
To use the tools of self-publishing to build a career…
A bit about myself
MA in Creative Writing in 1990
Teaching on and off for the last 25 years!
Best-selling „I‟m A Teacher, Get Me Out Of Here‟
Substantial advances for „Yob Nation‟, „Parent
Power‟, „Working the System‟ and „The Last Day of Term‟
PhD in Creative Writing since 2009 with Blake Morrison
and educational commentary with Professor Rosalyn
George: a revolution of the mind?
The old „writing‟ paradigm?
The slow burner
William Boyd, Margaret
Amis, Julian Barnes, Ian
McEwan, Andrea Levy
Small advances from a
major publisher lead to
Literary reviewing covers
Zadie Smith, Bo Fowler
(?), Hari Kunzru
From blogging, social media to book
Much more target-oriented: fan fiction, self-help, diet
The “prolific” writer is now free!
The “niche” writer: small presses, collectives, can
produce beautiful books at relatively low cost (Rick
Puskinsky & Gilbert)
The “calling card” book: book to TV/radio/talks/jobs/
GONE: relying on advances/book reviewing to sustain a
career (D.J. Taylor, Michael Arditti, Hugo Wililams)
Collapse of publishing?
Pirating of books; most famous books in copyright
available free online
Rise of self-publishing
Control of your own work
Print on Demand (PoD)
now cheap, not a huge
E-books can look
Royalties straight to you
No quality control
Not as “professional”
looking, esp. paperbacks
Self publishing websites
Amazon: Createspace.com & Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP)
Indie: BOOK BABY www.bookbaby.com
Photos: BLURB www.blurb.co.uk
Great title rater: LULU www.lulu.com
Design tools: SMASH WORDS www.smashwords.com
UK based: AUTHOR HOUSE www.authorhouse.co.uk
Live-chat: IUNIVERSE www.iuniverse.com
Author-centric (?): XLIBRIS www.xlibris.com
Started with e-Books on Kindle last summer: a backlog
of study guides
Graduated onto paperbacks and e-Books Sept, 2013
Useful for teaching
Easy to change; I really like the control. It‟s my “mess-
up”, no one else‟s (Yob Nation nightmare)
Good tool for planning over the next few years.
Becoming a publisher of other
Roger Titcombe, „Learning Matters‟
Amazing to work with one or two authors in same
subject area!! Incredible learning experience…
You realise what a privileged job being an editor with
As little money as possible invested (even ISBNs);
Need help with cover design (cover designer tools);
Have to work on PC, use Word etc.
Free to experiment; all I have to waste is my time!
Learn a little about book design (for free):
Proof-reading: I hate it but it has to be done, and still
there are mistakes…
Be humble: be prepared for people to laugh, say your book is crap.
Think about what you really want from your writing life.
Devise a “career” strategy for being a writer; think long-term if you‟re
serious about writing, think 20 years from now!
Explore “non-media” career avenues: we need more “creatives” in
SCHOOLS, on exam boards, in government, in the corporate world, in
Look very carefully at any contracts you sign with a publisher; “no
advance, poor royalties” from a traditional publisher is a BAD DEAL!!
Experiment, nothing to lose but time and pride?
Get a non-fiction string to your bow: do a journalism course. This is
tremendously useful for any job. Six week NCJ courses are fine.
Work with other like-minded people, set up a collective, e.g. Blackbird
Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and www.francisgilbert.co.uk
The Literary Platform
The Literary Consultancy
The Alliance of the Society of Authors
The London Book Art Centre
Society of Authors