Today, indie author, Steven Kedie joins me to share his self-publishing journey.
Who are you and when did your journey begin?
My name is Steven Kedie. I live in suburban Manchester with my wife and our two young sons. My writing life consists of writing fiction across genres including, amongst others, crime, and sports. Outside of writing I run, watch far too much Netflix, and try and manage what could be considered quite a serious Nutella habit.
I’m not from a family of creatives. My parents run a small glazing company that they built from the ground up. When I was a kid, if I had told them (I didn’t) that I wanted to be a novelist for a living, my dad would’ve probably said, ‘That’s great, but make sure you get a proper job as well.’ I do have what they consider a proper job, so I fit writing in around my 9-5 corporate role.
When I was a teenager I wrote a script about bullying for a school drama class. My teacher gave me great feedback. Hearing her say such positive things about something I had created was a feeling that I’d never experienced before. It made me think writing might be my thing. For a long time, writing was also my secret. As I said, I wasn’t from a creative world, and didn’t really know anyone who was, so I didn’t really get the guidance I would’ve liked when making selections for college courses etc. I just kept writing at home, filling note books, hoping one day something would change. I still have the stereotypical first-novel-that-no-one-will-ever-see in the drawer at home. It’s about a rock n roll band. That novel acted as evidence I could actually write 80,000 words with twists, arcs, and characters that weren’t wooden. Only a handful of people have read it. It gave me the confidence to keep writing.
Tell us about where you are on your self-publishing journey right now in terms of books published, where you publish, etc.
I have published one novel on Amazon using Kindle Direct Publishing. Suburb is the story of Tom Fray, a twenty-year-old university graduate who moves home to Manchester to save money before going travelling. It’s a novel about that strange time in a young person’s life when they are not kid any more but are not quite a ‘proper’ adult yet. The book deals with his time back at home, the frustrations of life, the relationships with the people he left behind when he went away, and the affair he has with a married neighbour, Kate.
I’ve also used the same platform to publish two short stories in the Carl Stone series. The series tells different people’s stories in the world of Carl Stone, who is a drug dealer and gangster, with Carl never being the main character in a story. It’s a fun series to write as I can play with perspectives and writing styles. From a self-publishing point of view, it allows me to have something to give away for free on a regular basis to (hopefully) increase exposure and give people an opportunity to read my work.
Finally, I’ve published a collection of flash fiction pieces under the heading: Six A Side. The collection is based around a penalty in a football match and each story tells a new version of the impact the penalty has on people. Again, Kindle Direct Publishing allows me the opportunity to put this work out to a wider audience.
My latest novel, Running and Jumping, is nearly done. It’s about the rivalry of two fictional Olympians over an eight-year period (Beijing 2008 to Rio 2016). It is currently with some very trusted readers who are providing their feedback. I’m really proud of this book; it’s taken four years to write and I’ve put a lot of work and research into it, including doing a long jump training session with a pro long jumper that nearly broke me. I have a decision to make about whether I immediately self-publish it or go down the more traditional route.
Why did you choose to self-publish?
I chose self-publishing for a number of reasons. When I was about 20 and (secretly) starting to write my band novel I did bits of research about how to get published and I found it all overwhelming. It felt like the publishing industry worked behind this massive iron door and someone like me would never be able to access the secret codes to open it. It didn’t put me off writing, but I did find the whole idea of approaching people to sell myself and my work very anxiety inducing. So, for years I just wrote for myself, letting my wife and friends read bits.
One friend read an early draft of Suburb and really liked it. A few months later, he emailed me out of the blue and told me he’d bought an e-book online and the author simply sent him the book via email once the payment had cleared. My friend suggested we set up a website and sell Suburb in the same way. And that’s what we did. I’d spent long enough at home re-working lots of drafts of stories and novels and “doing some writing”. This email made me think about doing something different and putting something out there to see what the feedback was.
When I decided to sell Suburb online in this way, I’d never heard of Kindle Direct Publishing. Createspace meant nothing to me. The book blogging community had never appeared on my radar. My friend and I set up the website and a company, created a front cover, learnt about mobi files and launched Suburb. People (friends, friends of friends) bought it. The feedback was really positive. But, in all honesty, we were naïve about what it would take to sell the book to a wider audience. We did research into bloggers etc and tried to be professional in our approaches to them but found out that people wouldn’t review the book if it wasn’t on a platform such as Kindle or Kobo.
So, we started looking deeper into it and suddenly this huge world of self-publishing opened up. I now know bloggers, other writers, editors, cover designers. I know what a blog tour is. I was involved in the Manchester Bookbash, which ran for about a year, and I shared advice with other writers there. My friend and I ended our business partnership, but I continue to use Amazon to sell Suburb and my other work.
As I said, we were naïve, but starting out in self-publishing this way was an incredible experience. From what was a simple idea I had for a story, we managed to set up a company and sell books. That’s something I’m incredibly proud of, especially when somebody I didn’t know bought my novel for the first time. The guy who designed my website and front cover lived across the road from me when we were kids. I was able to give another friend experience in her new editing adventure. As inexperienced people in this massive industry, we managed to make it work, even on a small level.
That’s the simple truth of why I self-published. My friend sent me an email and we tried to do something we thought might work. It wasn’t about choosing self-publishing over traditional publishing. It was just about timing and opportunity. Now, with more knowledge and understanding, I can see self-publishing’s benefits for all their worth.
What’s the best thing about self-publishing?
The control over what you write. As I’ve mentioned above, the work I’ve produced so far is across varying genres, as are my ideas for future novels. There is great freedom in being able to come up with a story and write it because it’s what you want to do, as opposed to an agent or publisher requesting a book like a previous one you’ve written. I know of self-published authors who are on ‘brand’ with what they write and they’ve done very well out of it. Fair play to them, many are earning a good living out of it. I feel that if I’m on this writing journey on my own, I can at least get the benefit of the freedom of writing all the stories that live inside my head, whatever type of book they happen to be.
And the worst?
The non-writing work: promoting, designing covers, the business side of things. All of the extra stuff you need to do that a more traditional publishing experience might have people to help you with. Every hour I spend thinking about how to promote myself as I writer is an hour I’m not spending writing my next novel. And yet, the more novels you have, the easier it is to promote yourself. So, the whole thing becomes a balancing act.
Time is a precious commodity in my life. My young family demands (quite rightly) a lot of my time. Sometimes the only writing I get done in a day is a two line note on my phone about a potential scene or story idea, or the odd snippet of dialogue. And then I feel guilty about not doing enough. If some of the ‘other’ bits of the writing life were removed, I’d free up more time to be creative.
A working example of this is I’m currently trying to figure out Createspace to create paperback versions of Suburb. It’s a whole new element of a world I’m still learning. It’s fun, and creating that final product is a brilliant feeling. But it’s not as exciting as crafting a novel from scratch.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known before you published your first book?
I wish I’d known more about the infrastructure around releasing books and the self-publishing industry in general. There’s so much detail out there about book bloggers, Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace, along with how Amazon works, and I only discovered it afterwards. I wish I’d contacted lots of bloggers in one hit before releasing Suburb, in order to get a batch of reviews before the official release date. I also wish I knew more about the other platforms. Amazon is great for self-publishers but it’s not the only way to sell books.
I wish I’d known how long it would take me to write my next novel. I think if I was going through the process of putting my first book out there again, I’d want to have at least two or three more short stories written to put out and be closer to finishing my next book (or, ideally, to have it written). I don’t intend to spend nearly five years on my third novel, like I have with Running and Jumping. Although, being fair to myself, in the last four years we’ve moved into and completely redone our house (along with planning an extension that is starting in a couple of months) and had our second child. Add this to working full time, researching, and writing novels is not always easy to fit in around these types of life events and maintaining some form of balanced life.
If you could change one thing about your self-publishing journey, what would it be and why?
I would’ve learnt about Createspace earlier because having a physical product might have helped people take me more seriously. Telling people you’ve self-published on Kindle can often be met with a slightly negative reaction. I think having a physical book to give to people would’ve allowed them to view the story I’ve written slightly differently. It also would’ve been easier to get people to read my work (especially people I knew) by being able to lend or give them a copy.
Do you have any advice for those who might be looking in to self-publishing?
Research. Research. Research. Learn as much as you can about the self-publishing process before you put your book out there. There are millions of books available to buy and lots of people are fighting for the same space. Give yourself the best chance to get your work noticed through good preparation.
Be nice to book bloggers. Not to butter them up but because they are a fantastic group of people who love books and spend hours of their spare time reading, reviewing and promoting books because they want to see authors do well. I’ve heard some stories about people being really rude to some bloggers and I simply don’t get it. Many of these bloggers have an audience of their own and are really helpful in getting your stories to people.
You can keep up with all Steven’s news by following her social media accounts:
Twitter: @stevenkedie Facebook: Steven Kedie – Writer
If you’re an indie author who would like to share your journey, please click here.
Steven’s first book is now available on Amazon, here’s the blurb:
Tom Fray finishes university and returns home to find all the people he left behind living lives he doesn’t want.
He plans to get a job, save some money and escape the suburbs before it’s too late.
Then he meets Kate, a married neighbour, and his simple plan becomes a lot more complicated.
About the author …
Born in Manchester in 1982, Steven Kedie began writing at an early age. The first piece of writing he shared with anyone was a script he wrote for a secondary school drama project on bullying. The positive feedback received lit a fire in him and he’s been writing ever since.
Steven has worked on the checkouts in a major supermarket, for a rubber products manufacturer, at Granada Television (a job he quit to go backpacking around Europe with his then girlfriend, now wife) and for a vehicle leasing company. He has spent time in all jobs daydreaming about characters, plotting and planning future stories.
Steven lives in a Manchester suburb with his wife and two sons. His spare time is spent running, watching Manchester United, and trying to complete Netflix.