Grandma’s Poetry Book. What I’ve learnt so far

So it seemed so easy … and it was, eventually. After a year of agonising and researching how to self publish my poetry book I thought I was ready.

I am self -publishing with Matador. Why Matador? While they are the only self-publishers recommended by the Writers and Artists’ Year book, I had other reasons. My decision was partly based on the fact that, for a beginner and someone with little computer expertise save for basic social media, internet, email and Word, Matador undertakes as much or as little of the publishing process that you require. While other self-publishing companies or printers want PDF files and ready-to-go layouts, Matador will accept a Word document uploaded by email and take it from there.

After talking to staff on the Matador stand last year at the Winchester Writers Conference and browsing their sample books, I was impressed by the superb quality of their finished product so there was no doubt that I would use their services.

So what have I learnt? The importance of seeing in advance what a finished product is like is at the top of my list. I have seen several other self-published books which appear amateur and cheap. Matador like professional covers and do not guarantee to use author-provided images. Fortunately, after a nail-biting wait, they agreed to use my illustrator’s drawing after a plea from myself that if my illustrator had 57 illustrations in the actual book then her cover picture should be used. Initial feedback about this cover is excellent and I know this was the right choice.

Lesson two was to look carefully at the publisher’s website. Matador has a sample quote which I found extremely useful as I knew immediately what costs would be involved. Some of these attract added VAT and, I have to say, I initially forgot this when doing my maths. My final quote, when it did arrive, was identical save for the number of pages and unit cost. Other costs such as marketing packages are standard.

Lesson three </was to post questions on author’s Facebook ages or pages linked to the Independent Authors Association. I received plenty of feedback indicating good experiences with Matador even if the author had not used them subsequently. I also looked through their list of publications to see if I recognised any author names. I did. There were a few who were linked to some of my author friends via Facebook. This seemed recommendation enough.

Lesson four was to have a list of questions to ask prior to the signing of the contract. Also, I have been proactive about asking questions during the process. Matador staff respond quickly and helpfully.

Lesson five is to have the manuscript polished and pristine. If using their marketing services the publication date is set six months down the line, something to bear in mind, although my own copies should arrive earlier. While I have obtained offers for book signing venues I am advised to wait until my books arrive before making firm dates.

Lesson six was to allow plenty of time to read through all the written information, procedures, and guidelines. Once I had uploaded the final document and signed the contract indicating which services I would use, I received acknowledgements and further information. Being of a certain age, I do not trust my memory so I printed out all the attachments and emails.

Another milestone is when the Type Set proofs arrive. These initially came via wetransfer, a file sharing program, and while I did manage to view the files on screen, I asked for hard copies. Paper copies enabled me to see how the final pages will look with the left hand page aligned with the right hand page. This is particularly helpful when images are placed in the work as get a view of what the reader will see on turning the page.

The final lesson and probably the most important. I paid for a proofreader.

It would seem we are almost ready to roll.
Ps As I post this blog, the proofs are at the printer’s!
Grandma’s Poetry Book, written by Di Castle and illustrated by Denise Horn is out in November.

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