Dear readers and followers
Let’s start with a history lesson.
When I finished my very first novel, The Windfarer, as Book 1 of the Celenic Earth Chronicles in 2006, I searched around for local traditional publishers. I did not know at that time how to use the internet to my best advantage. I found one in Cape Town and quickly submitted a hard copy of my novel to them. Their response was that my story was fantastic, but the market for fantasy in South Africa was low, and they did not see it selling well against the Clive Cusslers and James Pattersons of the world. So it wasn’t about me… it was about them.
So I decided to see what I could find on the net, teaching myself the fundamentals of research. In 2007 my very first epic fantasy novel, The Windfarer, was published in paperback by what I believed was a self-publishing company called Raider Publishing International. Continuing in my ignorance, I had ‘The DragonRider‘, Book 2 of the Celenic Earth Chronicles, published in paperback by them too in 2008.
The books the above links send you to are the old, incorrect versions of my novels. The publisher still sees fit to try and sell them, and no amount of discussion with Amazon, or trying to get the publisher to even notice me, will get this removed. Please don’t order them. They are out of date and you are filling the pockets of someone who doesn’t deserve to be called a publisher. As a matter of fact, I have seen many online missives of people trying to report them to the FBI and CIA, one of them being the chief editor for Raider at that time.
To this day, I have only received $10 from them at the start of the publishing period, informed by the reports that the books are hardly selling. What made it harder for me to know if I should believe them was that the publisher was in America, and I live in South Africa. I had a low profile on the net; as a matter of fact, the only way you would have known I existed was the fact that my book was available, if you happened on their site.
I got despondent. The publisher ceased having contact with me after 2008. It became increasingly obvious that they had taken me for a ride. I learnt that they are nothing but a Vanity Publisher (the difference will be explained in the book). Not only that, but in 2015 I had found over 100 positive and constructive reviews for my book in various places on the net, making me wonder where my royalties had gone to.
I had been struggling with my writing insecurities since 2009. Even though I finished the Sadgi, Book 3 of the Celenic Earth Chronicles that year, I did not know who I could trust. There seemed to be con artists everywhere, and no matter which publisher I looked at, they seemed to have the same costly packages and false promises as Raider.
In 2015, when the fire to get back into writing and getting published, my father had pointed me to an article in the local papers about African Publishers, a publishing group that did self-publishing here in South Africa. I first tried traditional publishers again, but almost none of them receive unsolicited manuscripts, and I was not willing to pay someone (and be conned again) to be my agent to these publishers. Some traditional publishers that did accept manuscripts told me that I need to be able to compete, again, with the Clive Cusslers and James Pattersons of the world… but I was free to try their self-publishing route and pay them to publish me. That’s right… popular traditional publishers are now offering the self-publishing route too with the ‘promise’ that, should you sell well, they will move you into the traditional publishing sector.
Yeah… nice try. So I looked into African Publishers. They do all the work that real self-publishers do, except the marketing. So I signed up with them to publish Windfarer, DragonRider and Sadgi in 2015. I basically paid them to set everything up and publish me, but then I was on my own. Feel free to buy those versions if you wish; the sales come straight to me and not the publisher, but they are not the latest editions either.
And then I grew smarter
It took a while to realise that I could do this all on my own. I was accidentally privy to an email discussion between my publisher and the printers that made me realise that some of the things I had been charged for, like obtaining an ISBN number, was free. Yes, if someone is charging you to get a number, you are simply paying for their effort. You can get one yourself at no cost at all.
I wasn’t upset by this though. I had paid for the full service and had received it. Yet, I hate paying for something that I can learn to do myself. And so I set to it, learning how the publishing and marketing processes worked, since I had the writing and editing parts down already. Being a natural autodidact, it only took a month or so to assimilate as much of the internet as I dared. And then I was ready.
Publishing my own novels
To this day, it has cost me nothing. Not a cent. All the royalties I have received are just that, pure royalties. Or should I call them sales and income. All those costs towards getting self-published (not the same as publishing your own novels; I will explain this in the book) were basically to enrich someone else’s pockets. Some of them deserve it; thank you African Publishers again for that publishing.
Yet, these are things that neither traditional, vanity or self publishers will not tell you… since they will lose customers and therefore money and we would have no need for any of them. This is why traditional publishers pay you to write for them.. they know they will make their money back in sales, since they know the tricks of the trade. I will explain in my novel too how even they, the good old faithful traditionals, are also stealing your money and you could be making so much more.
This does not make it a bad thing. You could still make good money from traditionals, since they pay you upfront to write for them. In my book, though, I will explain why I believe that this is not your best option.
Growing my publishing base
In the book I will carefully explain all the steps I took to get to this point. Let me explain what has happened since I started publishing my own work. I republished Windfarer, DragonRider and Sadgi under my new publishing label, Celenic Earth Publications, in 2016. This was done in both paperback and ebook, and until that point I had only released them in paperback. I also released a full Volume with all three books in them, something I had never done before.
I started up this blog. I learnt very quickly how important it is to keep your followers up to date with your writing. I wish someone had taught me this when I first published in 2007. I attribute to my blog, and thereafter all my social media feeds, all the huge success that was my next novel: Silent Hill: Betrayal. I will explain more on this in the book, since I just want to give you a summary today.
I started joining groups and networks. This was key to get Silent Hill to the right audience. The most important part was that I met other published and unpublished writers, and opened up a whole new world. I joined NaNoWriMo in 2015 and am still an active member to this day. I became a member of the Writers Guild of South Africa, and quickly learnt how to write screenplays. This earned me a high recommendation for ‘Space Drifter’ during the 2015 Cinequest Screenwriting Competition.
My focus remained on writing though. Through my writing network created in 2016 and 2017, I have achieved the following in 2017 alone:
- Became assistant writer for an upcoming fantasy MMORPG, Antreya Chronicles;
- Became a writer for two popular gaming news and review sites, Pulse Entertainment U.K. and GameTyrant;
- Started my own short story anthologies with various writers under Celenic Earth Anthologies (CEA), two of which have been published under their first volumes: CEA Through the Dark and CEA Writers without Boundaries;
- Became the exclusive publisher for Hegis’ Grasp, on which an upcoming horror game of the same name will be produced by Salty Goal Productions;
- Obtained my own clients in terms of authors that would like to be published;
- Started my own Celenic Earth press release forum where press releases receive the highest hits on the news, dropping on the most viewed news daily, weekly and monthly (I get more exposure there than on my own blog!);
- Received interviews, reviews and announcements for Silent Hill: Betrayal, and listings of the novel on several Silent Hill Community sites.
If it’s so easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?
The easy answer: the workload. A writer’s core focus is writing. They don’t want to be tied up in all these processes. I’ve explained to many of them how I have gone about it, but many of them have asked if I can’t simply published their works for them. And I don’t blame them. My novel writing has suffered slightly from all the effort that has gone into publishing.
However, I have streamlined my processes. I now know how to get my work out there instantly and gain exposure for them. Celenic Earth Publications has become a publishing firm that publishes writers, while teaching those that want to know how to do it for themselves in the future. It’s not about enriching me, but to help and motivate writers to keep writing and publishing, whether you become rich or not. Now, the hardest, longest part of the whole process is the writing. Everything else comes naturally and easy, if you know how.
You may find that after reading my upcoming book, that you feel the same way. That you would rather someone else publish and market you. Yet I believe in one key philosophy… why catch fish for people to eat, when I can teach people to fish for themselves and they can live on even after I die? Everything in this life should be about sustainability, knowledge sharing, self-achievement and legacy. And that is the knowledge I want to pass onto you.
The moral of the story – I no longer wait to make enough money to afford publishing further books. I publish when I want, as I want, and I want to teach you how to do it too.
With Warm Regards
The Count of Celenic Earth