A tour of self-publishing at the South African Book Fair

This past weekend – at the Turbine Hall in Newtown, Johannesburg – Benoit Knox from BK  Publishing and Colleen Higgs from Modjaji Books spoke about the ins and outs of self-publishing.

Knox started off the discussion by introducing the publishing cycle.  He made the point that self-publishing is quite the same as “normal publishing – the only difference is that the author takes over the responsibilities of publisher, e.g. project managing the editing and design processes as well as marketing the book.

If you do decide to go the route of self-publishing, one process you can’t skimp on is the editing. This fresh pair of eyes will help you immensely with getting your story across and making sure that the people for whom you’re writing understand and appreciate your story.  This is why, said Knox,  that before you start writing you need to be very sure of who your story is intended for because if you don’t know, how are you going to tell the others who are involved in the publishing process with you?

Higgs spoke about how to get your book to your readers. This is possibly one of the most challenging yet essential parts of the publishing process. Hard copy books are fighting to get noticed and stand out from books published on platforms such as blogs and ebook sites.

Every author should have a blog as a book’s potential target market will get a taste of the author’s writing before committing to buying the book. Gone are the days of old where authors weren’t involved in the marketing process of their book – they need to also take responsibility for all the processes involved in getting their book under the noses of their readers. It’s not just the publishing house’s responsibility anymore.

Knox and Higgs both spoke for about 10 minutes each, after which the audience fired questions at them about the topic.

The message that I took away is that self-publishing is not an ‘easier’ way of getting your book published. It still requires a lot of work and determination.