Self-published author, Carolyn Steele joins me today to share her writing journey …
Who are you and when did your journey begin?
I’m Carolyn Steele and my journey began back in 2004, before self-pub had really become a thing. I was a travel writer at the time and having some small snippets published in the Rough Guides quite turned my head.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
Back when the options were either get an agent or get ripped off by a vanity press, I had a lot of polite letters from agents saying, ‘write me a different book, do something sexier and do it in the USA…’ I wanted the first book in print at the time because I was running a B&B in Canada, the book was about Canada and I reckoned I’d sell a few over the breakfast table. Fortunately the insane charges I paid for the privilege came out of my marketing budget and were tax-deductible. By the time I’d written the ‘sexier’ book (about lady truckers) the publishing world had changed, and it was almost impossible to get an agent in the travelogue market unless you were already famous. I’d become friends with a helpful bunch of indie authors by then and I knew I could do it myself for next to no money so, with their help I learned how. I did consider contacting agents with the novel, but I wanted it out fast. The trouble with a political satire, originally conceived before Brexit and Trump, was that the world was starting to catch up. I didn’t want to wait for real life to nick all the gags. And they’d probably still say no.
What’s the best thing about self-publishing?
I have three books out, with a fourth almost ready to pre-order. I was planning to stick with non-fiction but, hanging out with other indie authors, I got the fiction bug and discovered you could be meaner to non-existent people. So, I currently have two travelogues, which will be an emigration trilogy someday, and a novel which will be a trilogy somewhat sooner. I publish exclusively on Amazon/Createspace at the moment. I’m reviewing that decision, but the Kindle Unlimited option to try a book and read a few pages seems to help me, since I don’t write in easily defined genres. I did put books out on Smashwords and Kobo etc. to begin with, but all the sales came from Amazon anyway, so I take advantage of their market dominance while disapproving of it. Does that make me a bad person?
And the worst?
Having to learn (or pay) for everything that isn’t writing. I’m lucky, I can code websites and format book files, which is a start. I also edit for other indies, so I can spot a good editor. Covers and marketing though, I’m useless. And the marketing world is a minefield now that so many people have twigged they can make money from desperate authors.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?
To trust other authors and give everyone else a hard time. I’ve found fellow indie authors to be unstintingly supportive and generous with information and help, and almost anyone who has an interest in your bank balance to be an unreliable source of truth.
If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?
I wish I’d changed my attitude to ‘proper publishing’ sooner. I spent a long time apologising for my books because they weren’t the real deal, until I was roundly told off one day by a journalist friend who reads almost exclusively indie books. She told me she has no interest in stuff that is deemed commercial because it’s like other stuff and ordered me to be proud of the quirky and the bonkers. So, I am.
Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?
Spend as much as you can afford on a really good editor, and as little as possible on everything else. Most editors also format (or know someone who does.) You also need a decent cover designer. Don’t get sucked into any ‘services’ package that charges you to do stuff Amazon and Smashwords etc. offer for nothing. And join some indie author websites and groups. My favourites are http://indiesunlimited.com for writing and publishing advice and http://enovelauthors.com for up-to-date marketing advice.
Anything else you’d like to share?
Early readers of Queenie’s Teapot told me it was a series, who knew? Both books are available now:
A post-Brexit, post-Trump romp through the world of what-if…
In a world where democracy has been declared no longer fit for purpose, a cohort of randomly selected British Republic citizens receive their call to serve in parliament. As the strangers gather to learn their tasks for the next three years, the Cabinet Support Team try to fit jobs to skills—but Queenie can’t do nuffin’. Naturally she becomes head of state. Together the new government muddles through, tackling unrest on the streets and a spot of global bioterrorism in addition to their own journeys of self-discovery.
Christmas 2032: The British Republic’s citizen government are about to begin the second year of their time in office. Last year was pretty rough for some of the randomly chosen ministers, despite the best efforts of the Cabinet Support Team to keep them in line. But they survived, and news that the nation came close to disaster never did leak out. They are wiser now. And a bit cockier and possibly a tad bolshier. It’s just a pity someone will have to put their life on the line this year…
You can keep up with all Carolyn’s news by following her social media accounts:
Author Website: http://carolynsteele.ca
Latest Book news: http://queeniesteapot.com
About the author …
Carolyn has been a psychologist, a paramedic, a proof reader, a patisseur and several other things, not all of them beginning with P. A trucker, for example. She began writing the day she decided to try and see the world…doing both just to find out if she could. When excerpts from her first travelogue were published by the Rough Guides she decided to keep on doing both. It made a change from teaching CPR to nightclub bouncers and designing wedding cakes.
Carolyn maintains that she is either multi-faceted or easily bored, depending on who is enquiring.
Her Armchair Emigration series, currently sporting books 1 and 3, will be complete with ‘Bed and Breakfast’, which was under construction when Queenie, Carolyn’s first fictional character, popped into her head. Queenie accidentally became a trilogy (eta for book 3, Jan 2019) so after all that excitement Carolyn might get back to the B&B. Plus a couple of children’s books and some serious stuff about life and death.
Find Carolyn on her websites: carolynsteele.ca and queeniesteapot.com
Be warned, Carolyn uses UK spellings, terribly English vernacular and the occasional spot of Cockney rhyming slang. Consider it a spot more armchair travelling.