Thursday, August 29, 2013

Tasha Harrison on self publishing: 'I was sick of rejection'

After trying to publish her work through traditional routes for 10 years, Tasha Harrison decided to take control and self-publish

Tasha Harrison
Tasha Harrison
'Self-publishing has been liberating'... Tasha Harrison. Photograph: Tasha Harrison

Why did you choose to self-publish?

I first had interest from a literary agent back in 2001, after sending out a stack of manuscripts. It eventually came to nothing, but at the time I was over the moon just to have confirmation I could write. A year later, after another mass send-out, I found another literary agent who took me on but, unfortunately, she was unable to sell my book, Package Deal. After that disappointment, I told her I was thinking of self-publishing but she didn't think it was a good idea, so we parted ways. This was 2004 – before the rise of ebooks and the birth of Facebook and Twitter. My husband, Chris, runs a graphic design agency so he helped me to design a cover for Package Deal and we printed a few hundred copies. He also set up a website for me to sell them through. I had no marketing plan but to my amazement several branches of Waterstones in East Sussex took it on, as well as a few independent bookshops. I also got a tiny bit of publicity although most of the press refuse to review self-published books. All in all, I probably sold around 150 copies – but most of those were to friends.

Despite making a loss, it wasn't completely in vain. I sent off 50 of my new paperbacks and the first three chapters of my next novel, Hot Property, to another round of agents. Before long, I landed myself a new agent who was absolutely certain she could sell Hot Property. But after several drafts, she seemed less keen and told me to write something else, so I did, my third book – Pearls. When I submitted the manuscript, however, she turned it down and politely let me go. To say I was gutted was an understatement. I felt I'd reached the end of the road. It was then 2011. For 10 years, I'd been trying to find a way in, but it was "access denied" every time.

I put my books to one side for a year – I had enough to keep me busy working part-time as a copywriter and looking after two young children. Then Chris got wind of people self-publishing on Amazon and suggested I give it a go. As it would cost us nothing – Package Deal and Hot Property had already been edited and proofread, and Chris could sort out the covers – it was a no-brainer. I was sick of rejection and waiting for agents to get back to me while my books waited in slushpiles. That route clearly didn't work and I'd wasted enough time trying it. It was time to try something else, so in early 2012, I self-published with Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).

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