If you’re reading this blog then it’s probably quite likely that you’re aware of my book Dr Ripper’s Fabricated Freaks, a collection of adult humour horror stories written in verse… available on Amazon bla bla bla etc
I used to publish comic books back in the early 2000s and by publish I would say these were just about printed. I’d find any way of getting my weird little comic books out there, printing using my brothers old printing press, printing from home or cheap local printers, anything that looked reasonable would be fine.
Things just that short time ago were a lot more difficult for anyone with a desire to write without wanting the hassle and complications of a publisher.
Nowadays, there are a lot of options for the self publisher. When my friend Ken Boyter wrote The Legends of Grimous Ironblood (also on Amazon) which I illustrated, he approached a local printer and had a beautifully created A4 book published.
He now sells the book himself online through Amazon and at book fairs etc and from what I hear it’s selling quite well.
I considered approaching different publishing houses when I’d completed Fabricated Freaks. My concerns however were with the content. Freaks is a book that I like to think tests the boundaries of decency a little without being too distasteful. A recent children’s book I illustrated was reviewed before publishing by an ‘expert’. She tore into my illustrations and said that certain facial expressions conveyed an image that the child was distressed (even though it was that kind of scene and intentional) and she would worry why the child was so upset. It almost felt as though she was implying a darker intent on my part which annoyed me slightly. Along with other comments this made me realise how overly anal these people can be and so I decided I’d best go it alone.
If a facial expression upsets an expert then a lady with lizards living in her cleavage and a man with a sword sticking out of his head would put them in hospital!
I first uploaded my book to blurb.com, a company that produces superb quality books and lists them on Amazon for you. After the whole upload process I discovered that they would list my 88 page paperback at around £12.50 without me taking any profit and postage would be around £10. No, just no. My readers, of which there would be few, would hate me before they’d even read it.
I then began downloading publishing apps and searching different publishing sites and was still finding the price high or the quality dubious.
Finally, through YouTube I looked up self publishing and discovered a lot of people using Createspace. This is an Amazon run company that is just so simple to use as you upload a complete PDF of your book and they do the rest. It’s a print-on-demand service too meaning that when someone orders they print and send it out for you. Royalties then come in on a monthly basis.
With two options on inside paper stock and a glossy or matte colour cover, this method ticked all the boxes and so Fabricated Freaks was finally born.
Sales have been great, it’s really nice to see it selling in different parts of the world and the royalties come in nice and smoothly which helps fund future projects.
I think most of my friends and family have read it now, but the ones that really please me are the comments from strangers.
Herein lies the problem with self publishing. Unlike regular publishing, you have to do a lot of self-promotion to keep it in the public eye.
Last year I attended the London Horror Festival to draw caricatures promoting the book. I get the impression people loved the free caricatures but didn’t necessarily go check the book out. Of course I have no proof of this other than the fact I didn’t see a huge boost in sales at the time.
I did however meet the truly awesome Nicholas Vince of Hellraiser fame who turns out has published quite a few books. His suggestions were brilliant.
Now I have a Facebook page Dr Ripper & Co promoting the books, have made a little YouTube film about Fabricated Freaks and you’ll find me running competitions (check out my previous blog post) to get yourself in future books.
Self publishing is like a full time job on top of a full time job.. but I still seriously recommend it.