Thursday, October 31, 2013

Griselda Heppel on self-publishing: 'You have complete freedom!'

Undeterred by publishers' scepticism, Heppel self-published her rewriting of Dante's Inferno for young adults, and found an audience

• Ante's Inferno was recommended by ChrisM and trufflehunter. Scroll down to recommend your own favourite self-published books
Infernal business ... Griselda Heppel. Photograph: Griselda Heppel

Why did you choose to self-publish Ante's Inferno?:
    I tried the traditional route, sending my manuscript round to agents and publishers, and while some were interested enough to give me useful feedback on how to improve it, that was as far as I got. Most were baffled by the idea of a children's book based on Dante, and felt that young people wouldn't be able to cope with such disparate themes as Greek mythology and the first world war (which just shows how children's publishers can sometimes underestimate their readership!). I knew this wasn't a problem – Ante's Inferno had already been read by several dozen 9–13 year-olds who'd all loved it – and decided self-publishing was the answer.

    Tell us a bit about the book:
    Running from her worst enemy, Florence, 12-year-old Ante (Antonia) causes a terrible accident which plunges them both on a journey through the classical underworld, accompanied by Gil – a boy who died 100 years before the story begins. Set upon by Cerberus, Harpies, Minotaur and Furies, battling through rivers of flame and ice, all this is bad enough; worse is the doubt in Ante's heart that strengthens the deeper they go. Which, if any of them, will return?

    What are the advantages of self-publishing?:

    You have complete freedom! How and when you publish the book is entirely up to you. With Matador, it's six months between signing the contract and publication day; a traditional publisher usually takes much longer than that.
    I wanted Ante's Inferno to be a pleasure to look at and hold as well as to read, so I commissioned a dramatic wood engraving by Hilary Paynter for the jacket and worked closely with Pete Lawrence of Oxford Designers & Illustrators on the cover design. I could also make all the decisions over page design, typeface used, production quality, print run etc. Going with Matador (the self-publishing imprint of Troubador) meant that I had professional publishers to handle the whole process, and deal with pre-publication data, publicity, marketing and distribution.

    No comments: