Be prepared to work hard

Friday, December 1, 2017
Ellie Marney interviewed by Amy Adeney

Ellie Marney headshot
Ellie Marney

When choosing to self-publish, "People often assume that you can slap something together and hit Publish," says tutor Ellie Marney. Ahead of her upcoming workshop, we talked to Ellie about the importance of being organised, doing the research, and most importantly, writing a book that readers will love.

Self-publishing can be a daunting prospect for a writer – is it possible to achieve success in this model without any expertise in finance, design, marketing and distribution?

Self-publishing is daunting because it’s quite a lot of work – you are taking on the role of both writer and publisher, and so all those behind-the-scenes things (like finance, design, marketing and distribution) are now your responsibility.

But having a writing career is rather like running a small business anyway. Much of the responsibility for things like promotion already rests on your shoulders, even if you’re traditionally published. And there are many self-publishing authors who’ve done it before you, so there are plenty of books and blogs and other guides to help you along. I think it’s quite possible to achieve success with this model – as long as you’re well-informed and prepared to work hard.

What are some of the common mistakes people make when self-publishing their writing?

Well, first of all, you need to write a great book! People often assume that you can slap something together and hit Publish. Your first job is always to write a book you’re proud of, that readers will love – this is what will drive people to your work.

The other mistake people make is assuming that it’s just a matter of popping one book up online and then you can sit back and wait for it to become a smash hit bestseller. Self-publishing is about the long game – it’s about releasing new books regularly, to slowly build momentum.

You also need to be organised and do the research. If you make a plan for how you’ll tackle all the jobs related to self-publishing, and read up on how things are done, the process will go much more smoothly.

Participants in your course will learn about hiring outsourced help in self-publishing their work – how important is finding the right people to work with, and how can writers go about finding them?

It is important to find the right people, because those are the folks who will help walk you through this business, be there for you when you hit snags, give support, and generally save your bacon. So you want good people! But, as I’ll explain in the workshop, there are plenty of networks locally where you can find those people – and you might already have them in your circle.

There is an increasing focus in today’s publishing marketplace on building your author platform – what role does a writer’s social media presence play if they are self-publishing their work?

I think the days of being an author who hides in their writing cave are long gone. Whether you’re a traditional, self-published or hybrid author, there’s an expectation that you will have some kind of platform that allows you to communicate with readers and the outside world. It’s not just about your ‘brand’ and promotion – social media is often not the best way to promote – but about forming a community of people around you who give support, read and review, talk about general life, share interests and help each other out. Having a community around you is important.

As a hybrid author, you have published work successfully through a trade publisher as well as self-publishing some of your writing – what does a writer need to consider when deciding which publication pathway to pursue?

You need to consider everything from the genre you write in, to the kind of resources you have, how much time and energy you can commit, and your goals for your career. Every writer is different - what works for me may not work the same for you. But the whole point of self-publishing is that it gives you the flexibility to react to changes and adapt things to suit your own career and goals, so on that level it has a great deal of potential.

About Ellie Marney

Ellie Marney is a teacher and YA author of the Every series, contributor to 'Begin End Begin', a #LoveOzYA advocate, and a Stella Ambassador. Her first independent title, 'No Limits', made No1 in Amazon category bestseller lists on its first day of release. Find out more at is external)

About Amy Adeney

Amy Adeney is a Writers Victoria intern. She is a primary teacher and founder of Busy Bookworms, a bookclub for preschoolers.