“As a writer, with a lifelong dream of being found in the travel memoir section of airport bookshops worldwide, my dreams are far from being fulfilled.
Approaching it as I would any business proposition, I applied the seven P’s – Purpose, Product, People, Process, Pitfalls, Preparation, and Practical Concerns. I burnt the midnight oil reviewing all I could on others´ experiences, compiled numerous lists, requested written quotes, challenged unlawful promises, and set a strict budget for my investment. I also set a limit on my personal expectations. Plan for the worst and hope for the best, I told myself. Well informed, and admittedly with a slight taste of defeat in my mouth, I embarked on my journey, not knowing whether I would enter my field of dreams or the gates to nowhere.
Preparations stood me in good stead, and I knew not to reinvent the wheel. I wanted my writing to stand out but my book to blend in. Text, font, format, cover, size, paper quality. They are called industry standards for a reason. Finally, on receipt of my book I was both impressed and delighted by the production quality. Despite this, it wasn’t long before disaster struck. Within weeks of my first book – Fully Booked – being available through Amazon, Gardner’s, and so forth, my publishers went bankrupt, and my book disappeared into thin air. Gone were the boxes of back stock which I had paid to house at their warehouse, my working stock for book signings. The book became “unavailable” online, and I was essentially out of business. Adding insult to injury the eBook version had been uploaded by the publisher, in their own name, and thus was still available. I received no royalties, and it has taken several years to convince the largest internet sellers that I own the intellectual property. The other hundreds of sites where it appears, who have not cooperated, are my daily reminder of how things can go wrong.
An expensive and disappointing foray, the cynics could rightly scream “told you so”. Despite this and some six years later, I again found myself venturing into the world of self-publishing. This time, I did things a little differently. Firstly, I chose a larger publishing company that offers self-publishing as a branch to their existing publishing activities. I engaged a separate, prominent, PR firm (Palamedes) to handle my PR.
Above: Travel writer Emma Strandberg endured six grueling months surviving Iceland’s harsh winter to create her second, critically acclaimed book, “Where in the World is Blönduós?”
My second book – Where the f**k is Blönduòs – also is a high-quality production and conforms to book shop standards. It was professionally edited, with the opportunity for me to make changes up to the time of printing. Although the publishers offered several packages, I found none matched my requirements, instead choosing a bespoke service. Opting out of their marketing and PR service enabled me to spread the risk, and I controlled costs by opting for a print on demand service. Quality service must be paid for, and I was determined to invest where both myself and my book needed it most. I paid an additional annual premium for a sale or return option to book sellers, and while I am still not on the physical shelves of WH Smith, Waterstones or airport book shops, I know that should they choose to stock me, they can. I am available in their online catalogues.
Engaging the services of a PR firm has met and exceeded my expectations. I may not yet be a household name, but I’m certainly more visible where it counts today, the internet. Palamedes secured several quality reviews and articles to promote both myself and my second book. They also secured valuable endorsements which I used on my book cover, website etc. Without their expertise, contacts, and tenacious dedication to achieving the mutual campaign plan, I would never have reached these platforms of mass readership. The Yorkshire Evening Post, Female First, London World and National World to name a few, the potential audience is vast.
In new travel memoir Where the f**k is Blönduós?, author and photographer Emma Strandberg strays far from the beaten path to head out on an unforgettable, and at times downright dangerous, adventure in Iceland, finding healing and inner peace in the process.
With my third book ready for publication, am I a converted believer in self-publishing? Honestly, yes and no. What I have learnt is that writing a book is only part of the journey. The sales, book marketing, distribution, conversion and so forth are all equally important. This is laborious, expensive and time consuming to navigate alone. Without a mainstream publisher, or at least a literary agent working on your behalf, you have only two choices. Go unpublished or self-publish. I believe that doing something is better than doing nothing, though as I glance at my bookshelf and see two beautiful books which bear my name, although I know I should feel pride, I hear a voice that shouts vanity publishing. Will I self-publish again? It looks as though I may have to. Would I engage the services of a professional PR and marketing firm? Hell yes.”
Emma Strandberg is a critically acclaimed travel writer whose books have been described as “profound” and “masterpieces” by the British national press.
As a writer and photographer, she has travelled widely with extended research stints in the Far East, Middle East, Europe, and Scandinavia where her work focuses on the natural world and those within it.
She lives on the west coast of Sweden.
For further information about Emma and her books (including her third title, out soon) and photography, visit her website: emmastrandbergbooks.com