What do you do when you’re writing in multiple genres and don’t quite fit into contemporary classifications? If you’re Zoe Duff, you start up an independent publishing house and learn the process of printing and selling your own books.
For Zoe, it wasn’t just about seeing her books in print – though that’s been the benefit. There’s freedom in independent, hybrid publishing. It’s a way to connect authors, editors and illustrators and to build the team that a book needs for publishing. That means more hands-on attention for each book. You have control over cover art, book design and format, and the ability to get your stories into readers’ hands more quickly. Here’s Zoe’s take on the process:
Monique Jacob for Amazing Stories: “What made you want to publish your own books?”
Zoe Duff: “I fell into it accidentally. I’d written some erotica and posted it to the internet. The website was quite popular and I was encouraged to put my stories into a print version. In 2003, erotica was not the genre of manuscript that most publishing houses were accepting. I had friends who made handmade paper covers and hand bound books. I commissioned them to print the first version of my first book and discovered that setting up my own publishing house opened some doors for distribution that negotiating as an author didn’t do. I just wanted this book published and recognized as Canadian literature, and was motivated to jump all the hurdles needed to do that. After that the process was in place and it has just been about finding time to pull together the many projects that have sprung up from the well of creativity that opened with that first accomplishment.”
AS: “What would you do differently if you had to start over again?”
ZD: “Trust in myself and dare to publish sooner. I have a voice that needs to be heard and there are people who want to hear it. That continues to be a surprise to me. Every hurdle has seemed absolute at first and minor in comparison to the next one. Trusting that it would all come together and I could make it happen has been hard won. Sometimes it was just being stubborn and blindly pushing on. I would listen to the feedback and criticism but in the end trust my gut and not let the doubt cause me to pause or set a project aside.”
AS: “How do you attract authors and how do you promote their work?”
ZD: “I’ve a website www.filidhbooks.com and accept new manuscripts on perusal. We use the website in combination with our Facebook fan page and Twitter account to seek new authors and new audiences for our current authors. My company also hosts events like our current “Double Dog Dare Authors Tour” where published authors read from their books and unpublished authors read from their manuscripts. I give each participant some informal positive feedback, and the applause of an audience of other writers, friends and family is very beneficial.
New authors who I think have something going for them are encouraged to join our Eclectic Writers’ Boot Camp group, which meets regularly. Peer review and the sense of community of other creative people is excellent motivation to complete projects. We also talk about self-marketing which is very key to promotion of their published work. I guess I’m trying to give the authors in our group what I wish I’d had sooner – trust in themselves and their voices.
Once an author in the group has their work completed, we refer them to editors and self-publishing options or we contract to publish them ourselves as they choose. As publisher we look for events, such as conventions and conferences, which relate to the genre of the author’s work. We set up author tours and book launches.
We get our authors into the public eye presenting themselves and their work. We also arrange for their books to be listed with Amazon and Barnes & Noble and in local book shops. We are continually looking for new ways to market our services and promote our authors as part of their success team.”
Filidh Publishing has released a variety of novels and children’s books since that first collection of erotic short stories. Zoe Duff is creating a buzz among local writers with her willingness to mentor beginners to the field and her ability to pull together fun events to showcase new talent. I’m pleased to count myself among her in-house list of authors.
Join us when the Double Dog Dare Authors’ Tour comes to your town! Next stop: February 28 in Vancouver, British Columbia. Contact www.filidhbooks.com to sign up to read from your own work and for details on the Tour’s stop in Seattle, Washington coming up April 25.
“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams.
Live the life you have imagined.”
– Henry David Thoreau