Sunday, 19 July 2009

The Starbucks summit

Step one: get some expert advice. Two separate people from unrelated areas of my life had told me that I should talk to Jacqueline Burns, co-founder of the London Writers’ Club and the website, and it seemed silly to ignore such an obvious piece of serendipity. (Does serendipity come in pieces?) So I arranged to meet Jacqueline early one morning in the basement of the branch of Starbucks just up the road from my office.

I started by giving her a bit of background about my project (as per the entry above) and then showed her the spreadsheet I’d created on which I painstakingly compared the self-publishing companies I’d researched, according to a number of key criteria.

She barely even looked at it: “You should use these people to print the book for you,” she said, scribbling a name on my spreadsheet. “And this guy will do a great job of designing your cover. He can liaise with the printers, too.” Another scribbled name, and that was the two key points I’d wanted to cover dealt with in under five minutes.

That gave us 55 minutes to talk over the details of what I could expect from the process, what I needed to do to make it work, and how I could publicise my book, both before and after publication. I emerged blinking into the daylight an hour later with my head spinning with ISBN numbers and Twitter feeds, pre-publication offers and ebooks, unit costs and press releases – a little daunted, it’s true, but mainly excited at the prospect of not only doing it myself, but being in control of the process.

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