In 2007, as a naive and starry eyed aspiring author, I completed my first manuscript and my publishing journey began. Great expectations ran through my veins as I submitted the manuscript to various publishing houses across South Africa. Like many before me, I hoped of securing a publishing deal and make enough money to retire young. So I was on the brink of greatness. I was going to become the next big thing and be invited to sit on Oprah’s couch (Well, maybe I should have aimed to sit on Noleen’s couch first) and speak to the world about my book and life experiences.
However, a few months after submission of my manuscript to the publishing houses I started receiving rejection slips and letters in the mail. “Dear Mr Jackson, we have received your manuscript and after consideration we think that your book will not garnish much interest with the South African public. We regret to inform you that it has been rejected for publication.” Another one stated, “We think that the topic of your book is not of interest to the general reading public and therefore will not be a good financial proposition as a published book.” You can just imagine the despondency and dejection I felt after reading those slips. It felt as if the wind had been knocked out of my sails. My momentum had stalled and I was brought down to earth with a thundering thump.
It was then that I started doing research into self-publishing. I was not going to let those rejection slips get me down. I tore them up and moved on. I wiped them out of my mind and picked my self up. Self-publishing was the only other alternative. However, I was clueless. How do I go about publishing my own book and what will the costs be? How do I market my labour of love? How do I get my message out to the world using my own resources? Will I crash and burn? How do I design my book cover? It all seemed so overwhelming back then. I had limited knowledge of formatting and cover design. Navigating your way through some of these computer programs can be a frustrating task often riddled with mine fields. But the lessons I learnt on this journey have been invaluable.
Since self-publishing my first book I have had the privilege of meeting and working with some of the most remarkable people in the field of publishing, social media and speaking. A special mention must go to Ramon Thomas who was instrumental in assisting with marketing and giving invaluable advice on social media marketing and branding. I have met both traditionally published and independent authors over the years whose insights and advice I have heeded and implemented. My gratitude to them is immeasurable.
I have since published two books. Losing The Faith, which chronicles my journey through the Jehovah’s Witnesses, was the first and very controversial. The second, Cults: How They Work got me onto television shows such as Carte Blanche, African Views and an eTV interview slot with Jeremy Maggs. In addition I did countless radio interviews and I have been featured in newspapers and magazines such as Cosmopolitan and Drum magazine. Not bad for a self published author don’t you think?
I have learnt through colossal hits and monumental misses that self-publishing can be very fulfilling and could elevate you to a whole new level. Thank you to those who have supported my efforts through the years. Its time I give back.