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If you believe in your book - go for it! Why I went from traditional to self-publishing.

As an enthusiastic #EFL #teacher I often wrote my own materials for class and enjoyed the satisfaction of sharing fresh ideas with my students. So, after nearly 30 years in and out of the classroom, I was excited to secure my first commission #writing #coursebooks for teenagers. On my first project to design a completely new course for teenagers, I was part of a great team but I was the new kid on the block and I felt a bit overwhelmed at times. Everybody else had more experience but I was encouraged by their support and advice. On the plus side, I absolutely loved sourcing inspirational ideas and creating #texts while knowing that a designer would give the course a great image and a #marketing #expert would make it sell. On the negative side, I was broke. The promise of #royalties had hooked me in and despite an advance, the wait for those first royalty payments seemed endless. #Schedules could also be tough but I threw myself into my writing because it was what I wanted to do.

The first book was followed by several others and I was grateful that I always had a steady flow of work and as royalties came in, I was financially more comfortable. But after several years, things were starting to change. #Author #briefs were becoming increasingly complex and demanding with extra #digital #tasks, #smart #keys, loads of exercises and #exam #materials for the back of the book. Depending on the project, the list could seem endless. As well as that, the fun of being part of a team was reduced. Face to face #editorial #meetings were often replaced by long #Skype #calls or #Google #Hangouts. In addition to that, the reality of the financial situation started to sink in. As royalties were replaced by fees that didn’t seem to rise over several years, I was beginning to feel that my #income was declining but I was working harder than ever.

When a family crisis occurred last year, I was just coming to the end of a royalty project but was feeling increasingly challenged by the #publishers’ #demands. In the end I decided that to ensure my #workinglife was more #flexible, things had to change.

That’s when I decided to focus on what I really love – writing – with someone I really enjoyed working with - @kathrynalevizos. We were bursting with ideas for a new book and decided we just had to have a go at something we were passionate about. So, we wrote #Is that clear? – Effective #communication in a #multilingual world.

Overnight, writing was fun again – in fact, really fun, and we felt we had found a topic (how #native #English #speakers communicate with #non-native English speakers) that we wanted to start a discussion about. As #published #authors we were unsure how to proceed with our #manuscript. It was a bit too niche for #traditional #publishers and we wanted to keep control of the publishing process. We had an offer from a #hybrid #publishing house which felt like a sweet moment - an endorsement maybe. But hybrid contracts come at a price. The publisher wanted a considerable amount of money (which we didn’t have although we did consider, and then decided against, #crowdfunding) and advised us to increase the word count by around 3,000 words. While the fee would have been fine if we'd had a sponsor, we felt we couldn't take on that kind of debt. As well as that, while we were prepared to accept changes to the manuscript, we felt that the idea of making it more wordy wasn't something we could agree to. The ethos of our book after all was #clarity and #brevity for busy people who really didn’t want to read or didn’t have time to read. On a #marketing front, we loved the idea of a hybrid publisher who could promote the book and offer their expertise, but we were also up for the challenge of doing it ourselves and saving ourselves money - it was a bit of a leap in the dark.

So, the only option was to #selfpublish. We couldn’t have done this without finding a really good #editor who was happy to play around with design and #proofread for us. He was also on board with the idea of the book right from the start and that was important to us. In the end, it couldn’t have been simpler. We now have #ownership of our book, our #marketing and our royalties. It's been a steep learning curve and we're still learning something new every day - but we see that as a positive. There are times when we think it would be great to have the support and advice of a publisher, but then when we have successes they're all the more satisfying knowing that we did it on our own.

So if you asked us if we recommend self-publishing, we'd say yes. However, we came with a wealth of experience from working in #traditional #publishing and yet we've still had to learn a lot along the way. We've challenged ourselves to learn essential new #skills such as #creating our own #website, managing several social media accounts, securing coverage in the national press, learning to sell our products whilst trying to generate an income at the same time. Fortunately we love what we do and are really proud of what we've achieved. We just can’t wait to get on with writing our next book.

Zanne Gaynor

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