I like the speed but there's a certain amount of hair-pulling on launch day - Meet award-winning author/editor/publisher Nanette Littlestone
Bella Toscana -Though she dreams of more, the ever-practical fifty-year-old Toscana Blake has settled for a "nice" husband and a "comfortable" marriage. There's no magic. But when she travels to Italy for Rome’s chocolate festival, she’s startled by visions at the Temple of Vesta and an unexpected meeting with Flynn Harris, a young history professor, who feels strangely familiar.
Why did you decide to self-publish? Did you have any doubts?
Shortly after I completed my first novel, I attended a writer’s conference and submitted my first chapter to a Los Angeles agent. The meeting went well. She told me she liked my writing and was interested in seeing the full manuscript, and she asked me to email it to her. I was so excited about this favorable turn and did so promptly, patiently waiting for a reply. After 3 months, I emailed again. Nothing. After 6 months, I emailed again. Nothing.
Needless to say, I was sorely disappointed. Several months went by and a friend, who loved my book, suggested I try again. I diligently queried agents, editors, and publishers over a period of about a year. About 125 of them. A handful of agents asked to see the full manuscript, but none of them responded more favorably. The reply was always, “Thank you, but it’s not for us.” After that, I put the manuscript away (on a closet shelf, I think) and decided that was that.
Some months later, I was involved in a collaborative nonfiction book with over 20 other authors. Not only did I submit a chapter, I was also hired to edit the entire book. I’d been a freelance editor for years with my own company, Words of Passion, but I had only edited one author at a time, never such a great mix of writing styles. Working with so many authors was eye-opening and a wonderful learning experience. The woman who managed the project was also a graphic designer and created the book cover. When the book was ready to go, she published the book on Amazon.
With my editing experience and my partner’s graphic design skill, I decided I could do the same thing she did. The following year I launched a collaborative nonfiction book project that involved 14 authors (including myself) and published the book on Amazon. After the successful publication of that book, I realized I could self-publish my own novel and took that step. I’ve never looked back.
What did you like best?
I love working with other authors, newbies to professionals. It's always thrilling to guide an author on the publishing journey, to see a book go from draft to polished manuscript, to see a cover design unfold, to receive a proof copy from a printer and hold the finished product in my hand, to hear the excitement from the author when they do the same, and, ultimately, to see that final product on a retail site (like Amazon or Barnes and Noble).
What was the hardest part?
There haven’t been any doubts about the professional quality of the books that I publish. But I do lack experience in marketing and self-promotion. When I hear about other writers securing agents or publishers for their book, I often think that they’re better off because they’ll have more marketing. A champion. Someone who believes in them. Self-promotion is hard. I’m happy to promote someone else, especially a book I love. But doing it for myself is like pulling teeth. I have lots of doubts and hesitation.
Would you do it again?
I’ve been self-publishing since my first novel came out in 2015 and I just published my fourth novel last year in December 2022. The routine is fairly easy now since I’ve done it for myself and others so many times, but there is still a certain amount of hair-pulling and frenetic energy on launch day. Yet I like the speed at which you can self-publish vs. the almost 2-year wait with a traditional publisher. And I like being in control of the decisions about the layout and cover.
What advice do you have for authors just starting?
Research the market and see where you stand. There are numerous independent publishers out there that are hungry for authors. You don’t have to go with only the big traditional publishers. On the other hand, if you feel that self-publishing is a possibility, go for it. The royalties are much higher, you’re in control of all the decisions, and there are ways to cut costs.
Nanette Littlestone is an award-winning author, editor, and publisher. As a writer she loves to explore relationships, curious about why people do what they do. Her stories focus on love (what we always strive for) and forgiveness (what we always need). Her books include F.A.I.T.H. - Finding Answers in the Heart, Volumes I and II, the historical novel The Sacred Flame, the contemporary sequel Bella Toscana, the underwater fantasy The Heart of Everything, and the Irish romance For the Love of Brigid.
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