Writing graduates embrace self-publishing

21 December 2018

Writing graduates embrace self-publishing

NorthTec applied writing graduates are taking control of their works and joining the increasing number of authors who self-publish.

Full-time writer Kathy Servian completed the Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing (Level 7) in 2017. She published her first novel while studying, and has gone on to publish three further works, with another in the pipeline.

Her books are available as paperbacks or can be downloaded to electronic devices like Kindles. Kathy says while self-publishing is hard work and requires effort and motivation, it gives her control over her own works.

Her first novel, Peak Hill, is a contemporary romance set in Northland, and was a finalist in the Romance Writers of New Zealand’s Pacific Hearts Award. In late 2016, Kathy took the plunge and self-published the novel.

She followed this in 2017 with a romantic suspense novel, Throwing Light, which shifts between 1990 and the present. As part of her Level 7 studies which required her to write a novel under the supervision of a tutor and an established author, Kathy then produced a historical work, The Moral Compass. Set in New Zealand and England in the 1850s, it became the first of a trilogy and was followed by A Pivotal Right, and Kathy is currently working on the third and final volume, Slaves in Petticoats.

Kathy, who now lives in Auckland, said the process of self-publishing involves work and financial investment on the part of the author, including organising beta readers for peer reviewing, employing professional editors and proof readers, and having the work formatted for both paperbacks and eBooks.

The author also organises the book cover – which has led the versatile and artistic Kathy into another income stream. After struggling to find authentic images for her historical novels, she decided to combine her talent for fashion design and dressmaking with her love of photography, creating a series of photos featuring characters in period costume, which she now sells online.

She said: “I found making the costume, finding the model and doing the photoshoot helped me visualise the character. It was a really interesting process.”

Once a manuscript is completed, Kathy uploads both the cover and the book’s contents to a specialist website. Within 24 hours, the published work can be purchased worldwide as a ‘print on demand’ paperback, or an eBook, via the Amazon and Book Depository websites.

Meanwhile, fellow graduate Trish Fenton, from Maunu, Whangarei, is preparing to self-publish her first novel, supported by a range of local services. Beyond the Rimu Grove is a New Zealand novel about a young teacher starting out on her career in a remote, rural community. Trish says it’s not an autobiography but does draw on her own experiences.

The retired teacher’s first novel is also the product of her NorthTec studies – she too graduated with her Diploma in Advanced Applied Writing last year, and received the New Zealand Society of Authors Northland Award for Excellence. Encouraged by her assessor, Trish began approaching trade publishers but realised that with so few new writers being published in the traditional way, self-publishing was a better option.

She employed NorthTec tutor, Lesley Marshall as her editor – who she says gave her a “masterclass in editing” – while her daughter, a graphic designer, has created the book cover and will complete the layout, in consultation with the printer. Having met Hazel Oliver from Whangarei company Jeff Oliver Print at a NorthTec hui for applied writing students, Trish is now preparing for her first print run of 400 paperbacks.

She will work with a local specialist, Michael Botur, to launch her novel and connect with distributors. He will also assist with setting up a website and providing an online version of the novel.

Trish says she is enjoying the publication process and is pleased with the interest in her first novel through the various groups she is involved with.

She and Kathy became friends while studying NorthTec’s online writing programme, and have kept in touch since graduating.

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