Week 34 | Your thoughts on… Self-publishing or Traditional publishing?

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 34

“Publishing is a business. Writing may be art, but publishing, when all is said and done, comes down to dollars.” – Nicholas Sparks

Obviously, I work in Pounds Sterling (until Brexit requires us to trade exclusively in Tears of Regret) but the general sentiment from Mr Sparks is spot on. Whether it be self-publishing or traditional, publishing is a business and, after your book-baby is ready for market, I wholeheartedly believe that there’s not much room for sentimentality.


I’ve adored writing since I can remember. When I showed talent enthusiasm for storytelling in class, my Year 3 teacher, Mrs. Goode, told me that books were actually written by people – like me, but grown-up. This was their job and they got paid for it. After that, there was no other career for me. Mrs. Goode encouraged me in my ambition and I promised that one day, I would dedicate my first published book to her. This is a promise I intend to keep, by the way… y’know, if and when I ever get published.

When I told my parents I wanted to be an author ‘when I grew up’, they replied with “You’d best get a proper job too,” by which they meant one that pays enough to survive on. Not exactly what an enthusiastic 7-year-old wants to hear! However, it turned out to be the soundest piece of advice they have ever given me, with the exception of “Don’t touch that, it’s hot.”

The reasons?

  • It is hard to get published (traditionally). This is a fact. Competition is high and there are so many moving parts.
  • It is even harder to be a ‘success’ story; by which I mean that you:
    • a) make back any advance a publishing house gives you (T) and
    • b) can support yourself financially with royalty cheques (T) / sales (SP).

Back in 2015, I wrote an article called The Future of Writing: Is being an author a viable career? which stated that the average author earned £11,000 a year. That’s less than minimum wage and obviously less than a living wage. Sadly I have no statistics on today’s wages but I assume the average hasn’t shifted much in the past 3 years. This is simply the reality of writing books and so I have always believed in having a separate career to support my dream. Ambition is laudable, but pragmatism is better. As the old adage goes, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”

The article also stated that in a traditional publishing deal, an author could hope for 15% of the book cover price. This is because – as publishing is a business – the process of manuscript-to-bookshop is a lengthy and complicated one, which involves many people:

  • literary agents
  • editors
  • the marketing department
  • illustrators
  • printers.

All of these people need to be paid. They’re professionals and excellent at what they do, and deserve to be paid for it, the same as the author does.

Their collective expertise is the reason I would always attempt to traditionally publish a book instead of self-publishing, even though the profit percentage of self-publishing is much higher. In order to successfully self-publish a book, you need to be an author, agent, editor, cover designer and marketer all at once. Quite frankly, I don’t have the skills or time to do that and hold down a day-job. I applaud those who do but… well, you’ve seen my self-designed book cover, right? Yeah, exactly. Moreover, I barely have time to write a blogpost a week, let alone continually market my book. As valid as self-publishing is, I would rather focus on writing the stories and let someone else do the rest.


As much as I personally favour traditional publishing houses over self-publishing, there is a caution tag to add to my enthusiasm. Publishing is a business. The primary objective of all businesses is profit. For this reason, authors should read their contracts carefully and pay special attention to things like intellectual property rights / copyright. If you are signing a contract that relates solely to book profit, what happens if your story is selected for film, tv or even radio? If you are granted an advance but your sales don’t match what you were given, do you have to pay the difference? These are questions you should know the answer to before you sign on the dotted line.

For many authors, a publishing deal is the dream but the end-game should be approached without rose-tinted glasses. In the same way that you should pick the right literary agent for you and not just the first one who says yes, you should always go into contract negotiations with your eyes wide open – and possibly accompanied by a lawyer. You wouldn’t buy a house, a car, sign an employee contract or start up a business with another person without reading everything properly and this is exactly the same thing.

Week 33 | Your favourite scene

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 33

I can’t reveal my actual favourite scene from The Elder Throne because it holds all manner of major spoilers. Likewise, so does my second favourite scene. So, what you’re getting from me today is my third favourite scene – still worthy, just not at the top.

This following scene happens in the latter half of the book, just before Mabon Festival. Mabon is hailed as a peace festival between the Seelie and UnSeelie, which is why a group of UnSeelie faeries cross the border every year in order to celebrate with the Seelie. This is the first time Anna will catch a glimpse of them and her would-be step-mother, Janus Atropa.

This scene is also the one I can picture most vividly in my head. Hopefully I have done a suitable job of translating it into words but, if not – that’s what edits are for, right, S.E.Berrow?

Here’s an extract…

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Week 32 | What is your protagonist’s biggest weakness?

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 32

anna1Without a doubt, Anna Squire’s biggest weakness is her naivete.

As the heroine of The Elder Throne, Anna obviously has a lot of strengths: she’s compassionate, determined and generally well liked, and she doesn’t like bullies or anyone exploiting others for personal gain. In relation to this, she is also quickly loyal to those who she feels empathy for, and she is naturally kind. For example, when Anna, as a fish out of water, is offered the chance to be accepted by a popular and influential noble fae family, the Goodfellows, she instead sticks with the self-confessed outsider, Priya, because she recognises Priya is being bullied and therefore needs a friend.

However, as good as these intentions and actions are, they are not based on a fair, impartial knowledge. They’re based on Anna’s instincts – and Anna’s instincts aren’t always right. This is because she is both naive and strong-minded, both traits that can be attributed to her parents and her upbringing.

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Week 31 | Book recommendations | Fans of your book might also enjoy

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 31

I like to read a lot of children’s books and there are so many of different genres that I’d love to recommend. I suppose, in order to recommend books that share commonalities with The Elder Throne, I’d have to break down what those commonalities might be. Here goes…

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Week 30 | Describe (or show) your book’s ideal cover

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 30

My book’s cover has been through several evolutions and I’m still not quite sure I’ve settled on the right one. Covers are so important, aren’t they? Anyone who says ‘don’t judge a book by its cover’ has clearly never been in a bookshop. With so many titles on the shelves, you want yours to stand out.

It should be noted that I’m a writer, not an artist or a designer. So, with that in mind, I’ve included two covers – one is concept art created by my fiance as a favour, and the other is something I mashed together myself when I wanted a new ‘clean-cut’ look. It’s hard to settle on what I truly want, really, and I believe that if I ever get to the stage of publishing my book with a company, I will defer to their expertise.

In the meantime…

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Week 29 | Guest post: Get a friend who is familiar with your novel to speak about it

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 29

This week, I (somewhat nervously) hand the reins over to my writing partner, S.E. Berrow, who is both one of my closest friends and greatest WIP critics.

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Week 28 | Tell us about… sports in your book

Part of the Acres of Ink 52 Week Writing Challenge >>

Week 28

What a perfect time for a sports post! By sheer happenstance, this week’s question coincides with England facing down Croatia for a place in the 2018 World Cup Final, so what better time to embrace the topic? (**whispers** It’s coming home…) [Update: It did not, in fact, come home.]

The Seelie Court, like any society, has its own sports and entertainment, uniquely tailored to the abilities of its Fae inhabitants. The games range from the small, day-to-day sports, played by Fae children: catch; various races – on foot, by wing; to the seasonal: ice skating, snow battles etc., which are enjoyed by the community.

There is also a renowned tri-annual competition called the Solstice Games – featuring something called the Gauntlet – that I will be focusing on today.

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