What self-publishing looks like now: notes from lockdown

By   Hannah Bickerton 2 min read

whitefox: helping brands, thought leaders and writers create beautiful bespoke books

Over the past few months, whitefox has been posed plenty of questions. Does my book really need a copy-edit (yes)? Can you finish my dissertation (sadly not)? We’ve also been set any number of creative publishing challenges. By people who want to raise money quickly and give something back to the NHS and Key Workers. By younger writers starting out on their first tentative forays into fiction or non-fiction. By established novelists who want to write and publish additional novellas between their existing contracted titles. By those for whom writing at a time of such collective anxiety represents an antidote to the uncertainty that lies ahead.

Looking back over what already seems like an eternity since March, a few themes have emerged that maybe start to tell us something about life after lockdown. We’ve called this piece What Self-Publishing Looks Like Now because this is the reality of everyday conversations within the team at whitefox and our trusted freelance collaborators. We may all still be working remotely, but a lot of our observations overlap and have been shared.

It will be fascinating to see how these and other issues inform the future.

I have a limited budget. Help me find readers.

Never has marketing been more important, and never have relevant, targeted digital marketing skills been perceived to be of greater value. With bricks and mortar retailers only just back in play and online delivery times patchy, it focuses the mind on what really moves the dial.

Don’t just tell me the cost, explain the value.

We take for granted an understanding of the difference between help from your friend or family member and professional editing and proofreading at our peril. No, a spell check isn’t enough. The Amazon reviews will quickly tell you that. 

It’ll take how long?

Successfully navigating a course between moving at speed in taking a new and timely book to market and ticking every data box which means you can actually find it in stock on all platforms, seems more challenging and important than ever.

We appreciate even more the people in the publishing process that really make a difference.

A founding principle of whitefox. But in periods of crisis, this mantra seems even more relevant. It doesn’t matter what your title is. Are you making a material difference and will your absence from the collaborative team affect the success of a book project? 

If I can’t make a living from my usual services, can you help me create a product I can sell?

Lives and livelihoods have been hit hard since the outbreak of the pandemic. So, if I physically can’t work in the same way running events, teaching a skill, feeding my customers, or any number of affected business areas, can I write a book and make it available digitally as an ebook, POD and audio edition to help me market myself to my network? And create a new revenue stream.

There will be more that we learn of course. Greater and deeper understanding that will help us all evolve our respective models. The coronavirus has challenged some pretty robust businesses. But not writers who are using this time to experiment and create. Not the more entrepreneurial publishers and agents. And not individuals doing plenty of due diligence in exploring routes to self-publish.

Hannah Bickerton
Hannah Bickerton
Hannah has worked in marketing for nine years, specialising in strategy development for start-ups and EdTech companies. Having recently jumped across industries to join the Whitefox team, Hannah isn’t a complete stranger to the publishing world with previous employment at Macmillan and TES Global. She is now dedicated to ensuring that anyone who has something interesting to say knows all about whitefox.