WRITING FEATURE Self-publishing during a pandemic


Author Dawn Treacher explores her own path to publishing in these tricky times.

For many, the year 2020 has been extraordinarily difficult and we have seen unprecedented times. Writers, wherever they are in their journey to publication, have encountered more hurdles to overcome. Like many, in the first lockdown I hit a writing block which wouldn’t budge, and my mood and well-being plummeted. I had spent seven years chasing a publishing dream, each year submitting a new novel for agents to consider, and though I seemed to be edging slowly closer, that goal still alluded me. I persuaded myself I wasn’t good enough, despite being noticed in some competitions and the string of full manuscript requests that followed. It was becoming very clear to me that the traditional publishing route was one of luck and I had never been a very lucky person. Each disappointment fuelled my belief that I would never be good enough and my stories would never see the light of day. 

Two years ago I entered a national writing competition run in Writing Magazine to find an unpublished writer to collaborate on a middle grade fantasy adventure novel that would be sent directly to the main publishing houses. I was amazed when, after an interview in London, I was selected as that writer and I went on to spend two years working on that project only to once again have my hopes dashed. Publishers spoke very highly of the book I had written on this collaborative project but none would take a chance on a debut writer for a Christmas book. It was another hard blow to my confidence during the months of lockdown. 

But out of the darkness must come light, and I saw that maybe this was the year to be braver than ever and take steps myself to release my stories to those they were intended for. Instead of allowing the gatekeepers, as I was beginning to see agents, make decisions about which stories children wanted to read, maybe I should be making that decision myself. This year, more than any other, we need stories, fantastical and exciting adventures, to escape into. Children need books. They need stories of hope and triumph, of bravery, resilience and magical fun. 

So I decided to make my own decision of what was good enough and self-publish one of those novels myself. I was lucky enough to be a member of a number of writing groups, so I found a lot of support. One member had lost his job during the lockdown and had just started a new business to help writers self-publish their books - and, as it happened, I noticed his post advertising his new service on the SCBWI Facebook page. It seemed like a sign to me, but as a full-time carer I didn’t have the funds. However, I vowed to try to raise the money needed and it was then I discovered that in times of adversity people really do rally round to help others. Out of the blue an acquaintance I hadn’t seen in over 20 years sent me all the money I needed with a note saying “dreams can come true.” So you see, 2020 has seen not only unprecedented times but also unprecedented kindness, with people supporting each other.
So in October this year I published The Curse Of The Goldicoot through Amazon KDP. It was a fantastic moment. For me, a dream come true. But that’s not the end of my story. I spoke to the group with whom I had spent those last two years writing our Christmas fantasy adventure book, which was still unplaced, and they were so inspired by my decision to self-publish that they decided to follow suit. This year children really need a Christmas adventure, one full of hope and determination and magic and they are going to get it.
So my second book, The Kringleset Chronicles – Rise up, Rise up, was published through Amazon KDP in November. Now begins a new journey following publication, one of learning marketing and book promotion, but it is a journey I am enjoying and one I would recommend. 

Dawn Treacher is an author and illustrator of children’s books living in North Yorkshire. She runs a local writing critique group and is an active member of SCBWI NE. You can find her on her website, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

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