Wednesday 26 February 2014

Alice On Self-Publishing: 27iD and Rojak

Alice Clark-Platts, who writes our monthly column on self-publishing, also runs The Singapore Writers’ Group (SWG). Here she discusses  SWG’s forthcoming self-published anthology of members’ work, which has the working title Rojak.

Andrew Fiu is the best-selling New Zealand author of Purple Heart, a conventionally-published memoir detailing his Samoan boyhood and how he overcame a chronic heart condition by undergoing six life-threatening open heart surgeries. Today, Andrew is a writer and educator and is planning to climb Mount Kilimanjaro for charity.

Andrew visited Singapore at the end of last year. While here he got in touch with SWG, and he offered to come and give us a talk on writing and facing adversity. Out of that meeting came an introduction to Michele Gray, founder of the Australian design and self-publishing agency 27iD, who offered to help SWG publish a book of short stories.

SWG is a real melting pot of different nationalities, people who have lived in Singapore all of their lives jumbled in with people who have arrived off the plane and come straight along to a meeting - that has happened! A good term for it is rojak – the Malay word for an eclectic mix. Hence we chose our book's working title; the anthology will certainly be rojak-like in its mix of authors, and in its ideal of promoting a global community of writing and expression.

Through her company, Michele has helped over two dozen authors tell their stories. She is an editor, a book designer, a website developer; she sets up an author’s Apple and Kindle accounts and advises them on how to market their eBooks.  Some authors also want a print edition of their book. Michele can work with them both to publish print editions through CreateSpace, a distribution service for independent publishers and self-published authors, and also to market the print edition alongside their eBook on Amazon.

Michele is a huge believer in self-publishing. She told me: “Self-published authors have the same shelf space on Amazon and the iBookstore as Penguin Random House, Hachette, HarperCollins, etc, but their royalties are better and they no longer have to vanity publish and store boxes of books in their garage.” She pointed out that once an eBook is created  it can be sold over and over again with no on-going printing costs: “Frankly, there’s never been a better playing field for self-published authors – it’s better now even than only five years ago.”

As always in the self-publishing sphere, marketing is crucial. Michele advises her authors to put a marketing plan in place and to use a variety of strategies from blogging to social media to gain a following. She tells them to take small steps at first: “It’s a bit like Goldilocks finding the right bed – not too big, not too small - but eventually they will find their comfort zone.” However,  she reminds her authors there’s a lot of competition out there, and that, like everything else, promoting a book takes time and hard work.

One of Michele’s favourite books is Yann Martel’s Life of Pi, which holds that life is a story and that you can choose your story. Michele is helping twenty authors in the SWG to do that very thing. She helps writers tell their stories and she says she couldn’t ask for a better way to make a living.

Useful links from around the web
You might like to take a look at these useful sites seen elsewhere around the web:

The Creative Penn run by Joanna Penn, hence the spelling - resources to help you write, publish and market your book.

Libiro - a new eBook store exclusive to indie authors. 

Alice's next column will appear on Wednesday 26th March.  If you are a self-published author, or are otherwise involved in self-publishing, and you would like your work to be featured, then please contact