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Let’s Talk About Self-Publishing

I assume that a lot of our readers are interested in writing, whether it be news articles, fiction or poetry. Well, I recently wrote and published a poetry book that is now being sold on Amazon and at Chapters Indigo at their Scarborough location.

Throughout the process of writing I’ve been updating my Instagram. I’ve noticed a lot of questions basically asking how I managed to pull this off. Now, I’m here to answer some of those common inquiries.

What was your inspiration for writing your book?

It’s different for everyone. I just have a strong and vivid imagination and dreams that I pull things from. Usually I write fiction though I recently found that I enjoy poetry.

I decided to try poetry for my first real book. I wrote and published a short story on Amazon during my junior year of high school but this is the one I’m super excited about.

I tend to get inspo from other books, songs, movies, characters. It’s weird; I just basically immerse myself in a character and write from their perspective. My poems are usually also works of fiction. And, let’s be honest, friends play a part too. My friends would just say or text something and I use that in my stories. The best thing is when you’re hanging with someone and something they say sparks a feeling in you and you’re so inspired the next day. It’s my favourite thing. Thanks guys!

Best and worst part?

In the writing process, the best part is definitely finishing a poem and having that feeling of, “this is so good.” The worst part is writing and writing and hating everything because it just sounds phoney and gross.

As for the publishing process as a whole, the best part would 100% be seeing my book in store. It’s unreal. I work at the location they’re selling it and it’s the weirdest feeling putting books away and seeing my name on a table. I love it. And the worst part? The anxiety that comes with, “Will anyone even buy it?”

Tips for someone just starting to write for the first time?

Write what you’d want to read. If you don’t like it then no one else will. If you can’t sit there and read it back without getting bored then how can you expect someone else to? Just don’t quit. Keep going. If you love writing then you’ll do great. But, like anything else, you can’t just expect it to be done without at least a little hard work.

How did you even get it published?

So, I went the self publishing route. I wanted control over length and cover and what I wrote. I also wanted to be the one to say when and how I’m publishing. It’s also really hard to get your work published in a big publishing house without an agent. If you have any questions about self publishing vs. traditional publishing check out this video that really helped break it down.

After deciding that I wanted to do it on my own, I needed to get to the how part. I used Createspace. It’s a publishing company by Amazon. I picked it because it’s easy to use and it’s just the one I’d heard of. However, I encourage you to do some research. Maybe you’d find a publishing company you like better.

On Createspace, you basically just set up your book, they distribute it, collect a small royalty, and provide it on Amazon as paperback and Kindle if you choose. You have a choice in how much royalties are collected, and total say when it comes to pricing and what Amazon platforms it’ll be available at. It’s also simple to get author copies to take to stores or give to your friends and family. You can also easily opt out and take it down if you choose.

How in the world did you get your book in Chapters?

Consignment. You ever go in a Chapters and see their local authors section? That’s probably a bunch of consigned authors.

Just ask for the manager in charge of consignment and talk to them about your book. They’ll ask you some basic questions: what’s it about? How long is it? How much does it cost? And when it’s ready to be published and brought in, and they’ll want to read it to make sure it’s good (ie. grammar is good, cover isn’t pixelated, etc). Then you -- yes, you’ll have to buy copies of your own book for this -- bring in the amount of copies you two agreed on, sign the contract and there you have it.

But, that’s only for one store. If you want this in multiple stores you’re gonna have to do this multiple times. This is why many writers opt for traditional publishing. Your agent is the one who basically markets your book to publishing houses who get it in stores for you. If you’re self publishing you have to be good at selling yourself and your book to everyone … on your own. I’m an extrovert so this step isn’t as scary to me as it may be to someone more shy and introverted but worst case scenario: they don’t take it and you just continue to another store or just stick to the online market.

 

No matter how you go about it, writing an entire book is an accomplishment in itself. Good luck!

Zeinab Fakih

Toronto MU '21

Hey y'all! My name is Zeinab and I am a writer for HerCampus and Ryerson. An Aquarius who is ready to share all her opinions and experiences.  Enjoy! Feel free to follow me on Instagram @zeinab_jawad and YouTube at Zeinab Fakih.
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