Porcupine Press | Self Publishing | Book Marketing & Distribution.

Self Publishing 101

Here’s some important information, which will be helpful to writers wanting to publish their work.

The Basics:
There has always been something hugely enticing for people who write to hold a copy of their efforts in their hands. Thanks to technological advances, that magic moment has become more accessible than ever before. Nevertheless, accessibility can sometimes mean that people are enticed into print prematurely. Many self-publishing companies are eager to oblige; Porcupine Press, on the other hand, is more interested in helping authors get their manuscripts as good as they can be BEFORE the actual publishing process begins.

To this end, Porcupine Press offers several services that will be of interest to would-be authors:

In the first instance, sample chapters and a synopsis will be evaluated, and a face-to-face interview suggested, so that the potential of the manuscript can be fully discusses. Both the initial evaluation and interview are offered FREE OF CHARGE.

Thereafter, there are two services offered to authors, if they feel they might be necessary.

•    The first is a PERSONALISED WRITING COURSE (click for details) provided by an experienced writer. This will provide basic coursework on writing and style, before proceeding to the selected genres of interest to the author (fiction or non-fiction, etc).

•    The second is a detailed READER’S REPORT (click for details). This will provide an independent assessment of an author’s work, which would be invaluable for those authors wishing to work further on their manuscripts before proceeding to publish.

Thereafter, the actual production process can commence.


New Technologies:
Computers have revolutionised the design and printing industries. Books can be written, designed and laid out at home. But be warned. Professional book design was happening long before the advent of desktop publishing, and the various design software packages are only as good as the people who operate them. There’s another problem with homemade books. If you’re thinking of entering the huge e-book marketplace, only professional design programmes are suitable for e-book conversion. Talk to Porcupine Press about the details. And remember, the production process at Porcupine is modular, and there may be modules that can be tackled at home to reduce production costs.

Printing has also been dramatically affected by computers. The old ‘hot metal’ linotype processes have given way entirely to on-screen processes. Although LITHO PRINTING is still in wide use, particularly for long print runs, DIGITAL PRINTING, where books are printed directly from digitalised computer information, has come into its own. The advantage is that very small print runs, even individual books, can be produced, which means that publishers needn’t tie up their or their authors’ capital in the warehouse. It is worth remembering, though, that the smaller the print-run the higher the unit cost of individual books. The digital technology is also used in a process called PRINT ON DEMAND, which is used by Porcupine Press to make hard copies of books available overseas to fulfil the smallest orders. The digital material is sent electronically to printers in America or Britain, who then produce the book, thus saving the post of mailing it from South Africa. A serious disadvantage of print-on-demand services is that remote colour printing can be very expensive, and the book dimensions offered are standardised and hence limited.

An inevitable consequence of the new technologies surrounding book production and distribution is the rise in self-publishing opportunities. Self-publishing used to be called vanity publishing, and for an often exorbitant fee authors could have their books produced without going through a commercial publisher. A substantial disadvantage was the almost complete separation of production from marketing and distribution services for self-published books. Frequently, authors were left with hundreds of unsold copies, cluttering up their garages, storerooms or attics.

The situation is somewhat different today. As commercial publishers have relied more and more on potential bestsellers to make ends meet, increasing numbers of good manuscripts were rejected on the grounds that they wouldn’t sell in sufficient quantities. So a vacuum developed underneath the commercial market, and self-publishing companies (sometimes called ‘independent publishers’) were not slow to take up residence there. But when selecting a self-publishing company now, it is important that strength on the production side is matched by equal strength in the marketing and distribution processes that will shift your book into the various distribution platforms, and that specialised marketing services are also on offer. There are also distinct


Marketing and Distribution:   
Porcupine Press has always believed that these services are the most important that a publisher can offer. Books are becoming easier and easier to produce, but technology alone can’t sell them, or enhance the author’s reputation as a writer. If quality is strictly maintained, self-publishing can be likened to the fringe activities surrounding all the major cultural festivals in the world (for example, the KKNK in Outdshoorn or the Edinburgh Festival in Scotland). But people must know about the fringe events and also have ready access to them. That’s where good marketing and distribution packages come in. For more details about this vitally important aspect of self-publishing, contact Porcupine Press.