On the trail of a first time indie author

The Inky team were delighted to be approached by Isle of Wight author and illustrator Marianne Su Yin to help see her dream of publishing a picture book become a reality.

Marianne is a talented illustrator and, like Zoe, used crowdfunding to finance her book ‘On the Trail of the Missing Pets’. This was Marianne’s first foray into the world of self-publishing, so we asked her to share her thoughts on becoming an indie author.

On The Trail of The Missing Pets

Naively thinking the process of actually writing and illustrating a book would be the hardest part, it was a surprise to learn this was just the beginning. After six months of revisions, edits, formatting and preparation I made the wise decision (thankfully, in hindsight) to employ a professional for its transition from storyboard to publication. It is so easy to become attached to our work that taking a step back can be difficult, and sometimes impossible. Plus I simply didn’t have the expertise for the final stages.

As a first time author I confess I was creating a book for personal rather than commercial reasons. Focussing on the logistics of style, layout and print was not a priority. Having now published ‘On the Trail of the Missing Pets’ I applaud everyone who manages to do the same. It is a big achievement so well done all.

Fortunately I had successfully crowdfunded my book and a proportion of these funds were allocated to professional services. Even without this, unless you have the experience yourself, I would say that investing in publishing services is a must. My friends had proofread and given editorial suggestions, ruthlessly, and more than once. I had learnt there is a particular format for children’s books on word count, font, layout etc. Readers are so familiar with the way these books look that straying too far in order to be ‘unique’ or retain one’s artistic integrity may limit its purpose. Which is to be easily read and enjoyed.

On The Trail of The Missing Pets by Marianne Su Yin

Collaborating with Zoe at Inky Ever After Press was invaluable to give my book the look, feel and finish I needed. My expectations were high, and after all the hard work I had invested I didn’t want to produce something which shouted out ‘first timer’ or ‘self published’.

The feedback since launching has been fantastic. Children and adults love the book. It can proudly sit on the bookshelf next to familiar favourites and I hope it opens a genre of it’s own. Which is illustrated rhyming verse for older children by the way, but that is another blog for another day.

For pictures of the launch of ‘On the Trail of the Missing Pets’ visit our Facebook page

For more information about Marianne visit her at www.mariannesuyin.co.uk

Vanity vs Self

Inkyeverafter Press

By Zoe Sadler

So why did we set up Inkyeverafter Press?

For years I have been trying to get my work traditionally published, and yes, like you have probably heard over and over again, it is a long hard road and not always easy. However; books, reading and illustration have always been my biggest passions in life. Have I considered giving up my publishing dreams? Yes! Frankly I have, more than once, but I always come right back around to my love of books.

When I left University after an illustration degree I couldn’t find any work. I was too inexperienced, the market was too saturated. I submitted my portfolio to publisher after publisher and received rejection after rejection. It was soul destroying! I tried to find an agent but I didn’t really have any luck there either, not with anyone truly reputable that could help me on my way. So I went back to University. After a brief flirtation with the National Film and Television School I settled on Publishing. I had come right around to books again. I learnt everything through from commissioning a book, to editing, to design through to book printing and distribution. I also had a great work experience opportunity with a traditional children’s book publisher on Fleet Street. I felt I finally had the knowledge I needed to pursue my book dream, although I still didn’t quite know what that was.

So where did I end up? Confession time… working for a vanity publisher. I still inwardly groan at the thought! They were one of the worst and that is all I will say about them. Fortunately I had no direct involvement with their day to day practices. I worked from home obliviously illustrating their children’s book list. I remember bashing out one book a week which included ten illustrations and a book jacket. After a while, it too, was soul destroying! I was having to knock out illustrations so fast I really didn’t have time to even contemplate creating my best work. It put me off self publishing for what I thought was going to be for life! I had no respect for this part of the industry and I still have absolutely no time for vanity publishers and the way they exploit authors.

After finally being made redundant, which although horrible at the time was a blessing, I started painting for therapy. I didn’t actually do anything book related for quite a long time. I needed a break! I started enjoying my art again and selling my work at craft fairs, exhibitions and in art galleries. I slowly started incorporating more illustration into my work again and then started doing private commissions. I set up my own business and became a freelance illustrator and designer. Slowly I started submitting my work to traditional publishers and agents again with varying degrees of success but nothing I can say that really worked out particularly well.

Fast forward nearly 8 years and I finally self published my first children’s book through crowdfunding which was a huge personal milestone and a great success. After which I finally got myself a reputable illustration agent. Two years into the relationship I realised that no one is going to push your work as much you will do yourself, and decided to go it alone.

The industry has changed so much in 10 years and I had finally gotten over a huge personal mental block when it comes to self publishing. However I do believe in doing it properly. There are a lot of badly produced, terribly edited and illustrated books out there. I do think if you are going to self publish or be an independent author you have to take it seriously and do it properly. Get your book professionally edited, listen to feedback and if you need someone to help with design or illustration then you should work with other reputable people to help your book be the best it can be. I slowly realised with my publishing background and experience I had a lot to offer. I really want to help authors publish high quality beautiful books and of course Inkyeverafter Press will also help me on my journey to publish and illustrate my own children’s books. I now believe successful self publishing can be a great way to get your writing out to an audience and even act as a launchpad to becoming traditionally published.

And of course now I have collaborated with the wonderful Krissy with Inkyeverafter Press. She has a great knowledge of PR and marketing and is a self confessed social media addict. So who better to help get our books out to the world after they have been published. I am afraid to say the marketing and launch of a book is just as important as the book production itself. It takes time and a lot of energy.

ALLi Partner Member

We have also now been approved as a partner member of ALLI (The Alliance of Independent Authors) a non profit association for self publishing authors. They vet and ‘watchdog’ all their partner members for trusted self publishing services and needless to say I am a huge advocate of this.