5 min read
Self-Publishing with Troubador - An Author's Experience by Andrew Mullaney
In January of 2021, I knew that my manuscript was completed. My debut book, Didn’t Anyone Ever Tell You? It’s All A Game! was ready for publication and was going to be let loose upon the world. But, the challenge for me then, as the post-Christmas blues were at their height, was - how do I get it published?
Surely the biggest dilemma and challenge for any first-time author. I explored many options, researched various publishing houses and even considered just putting it out on Amazon and hoping for the very best. My wife had helped me massively with the pre-submission editing, but neither of us had any experience or training in making a book come to life. I also knew that, like the messaging contained throughout my book, I wanted it to be the very best version of itself that it could be. So, after deciding that my first choice of publisher would be Troubador and having downloaded their free guide on self-publishing, I nervously picked up the phone and made a call to them. I’m not usually a nervous person when it comes to making calls, but this was different. I had a piece of work that was there for scrutiny, judgment and critique.
The best way that I can describe my feelings at this point is similar to a stressful dream where you are naked in a crowded street and everyone is looking at you. I didn’t need to have worried. I spoke to Troubador's Customer Services team, who immediately put me at ease. It was a lovely chat with someone who got it, understood my anxiety and above all else respected what I had done. She encouraged me to send in the manuscript and said that they would decide whether this book was for them over the coming two weeks. What I felt at this point was that even if Hannah decided it was not something that they wanted to progress with, there would be someone out there who would. I had made the leap of faith and felt like I had someone holding my hand as I jumped.
Just over a week later an email arrived in my inbox with the amazing news that Troubador would like to publish my book. I cannot begin to describe just how uplifting it was to know that my book would be available for people to buy. This was to be a lifelong ambition realized, a genuine bucket list item ticked off and a part of my legacy. Subsequent conversations and emails happened over the following weeks with Hannah, her sister Emily, Fern (who would make the book come to life), Jonathan (who would help me with the marketing) and Andrea (who was the eBook guru).
The contract that you sign is easy to understand and you only go to this point when the conversations have happened and everyone, not least yourself, is completely at ease with the process and have a realistic grip on the detail. What surprised me the most was the timescales. The expectation was that it would take six months to get from the point of my original manuscript to a completed book. Six months! What on earth was going to take this long to print a book? And there lay my naivety in its rawest form. The process is professional and requires an up-front payment at each stage of the contract.
Again, this is not taken until you are ready to proceed. It is lengthy for a reason and that is to ensure the book is right for you, right for your readers and that once it goes to press there is no turning back without incurring additional cost. The proof and copy reads were essential. Yes, they took time, but they were so worth it. I never believed that there could be so many areas that required clarification and Troubador's eye for detail is incredible. As one example I had spelt Mum as Mom, which is local to the West Midlands where I come from. Troubador had even picked up on this to ensure that was how I wanted it spelt. Wow!
I took most of the services that were available and offered - and I am really glad that I did. The team have made the finished book thousands of times better than I, without any experience or professional knowledge, could have ever done. Their advice along the way was always gentle, and with masses of respect for me and what I was seeking to achieve. They even talked me out of one service that I had signed for saying that in my case this wasn’t a necessity. That is business integrity and wonderful to receive.
One area that I had decided to try to accomplish myself was the design of the cover. I had engaged a local young artist to work up my ideas several months earlier and they had done a magnificent job. However, once I began the process with the team I realised that my cover needed to be adjusted. I wanted to back the artist and was happy with the concept that they had crafted. My exact words to Jack (the man who makes magic happen with cover designs) were to help me make it stand out as a book cover and to encourage people to open it and read more. I gave him no other steer than that. And again, like all his colleagues before, he delivered. The design kept its authenticity and originality but suddenly looked like a professional book cover. I like businesses that operate in a client-centric way and never take that relationship for granted. There is a massive difference between being a customer and being a client.
Customers transact often on price, whereas clients will buy often irrespective of cost because of the way that they are treated. I am proud to say that I am a client of Troubador and regard every one of the team as a trusted friend whom I know I can turn to for advice and support even now that my book has been published. They get the Andy Mullaney thumbs up and recommendation which is something that is very hard to win, believe me. I hope that anyone who reads this blog and may be considering writing and publishing a book talks to Hannah and the team.
No matter what stage you are at, knowledge is power and a conversation costs nothing more than time. Take it from me that you will be respected, warmly welcomed and encouraged to take your journey of creativity to the next stage. Above all else, I believe you’ll enjoy it, which has been one of my greatest pleasures in getting my book to publication. I have thoroughly enjoyed it and so much of that is because of the wonderful people at Troubador, who for me don't just publish books, but they make dreams come true as well.