Subscribe to Letters from Valentina Hepburn and be entered into a monthly draw

Friday, 27 March 2015

Self-publishing. My first year.

It's been nearly a year since I made the decision to self-publish my novels. I'm sure every writer has a different reason for taking the plunge into self-publishing, just as their experiences of it will be different to mine, so this is just a personal take on my first year.

As I get to the twelve month mark of 'doing it for myself', I guess the question to ask is whether I think it has been a positive experience. The answer is, yes, mostly. It has also been frustrating, depressing, and costly. The frustration comes about due to the fact that even though as self-publishers we're not waiting for a decision from an agent or publisher, publishing is always a slow business whether you're self-publishing or going the traditional route. When you've finally published your novel, you're waiting with bated breath to see whether you've made sales. It's great when you do, horrible when you don't. There's no one to put in the frame for whatever happens to your work but yourself, because there are no other decision-makers apart from you; about the subject matter or genre, the way it's written, the voice you chose to write in, the typos that crept in, the lapse in promotion because you're writing something else and you just don't have time, bad timing, lack of knowledge about social media and what works best. Whatever. It's all you. And that's hard. It's kind of like a life-lesson, learning about responsibility and taking responsibility when things sometimes don't go to plan.

At the end of the first twelve months, I will have published three novels - A DISH OF STONES, NOTES ON A REBELLION, and A GIRL CALLED RANDOM which will be published shortly. As you can see from the above lines, I've provided links to my novels on Amazon. This is my way of trying to get you, the reader, to take notice of my writing, to be enthused by the introductions I've written, and to fall in love with the covers. It's what I have to do. There's no point in my writing about my titles unless I'm being a sales-person first and foremost, because if I don't get the message out no one will. If you're not a natural sales person, it's something you must learn. No one else does it for you. But hey, you might get lucky. You might have written a book that takes everyone by storm, that racks up sales without lifting a finger, and now, you can sit back and write your next bestseller. However, during the last year, I've read about only three people in that position, although that's not to say they didn't work very hard. Those names crop up time and time again. Occasionally I read about others who are doing quite well, and good on them, but I think the reality for most of us is somewhat different. It's hard work, harder than I had imagined. Am I put off by it? No, because I like to work. I'm the kind of person that will give everything to whatever I'm doing and I will continue until I get results. I've made sales and had some very good feedback, but yet again, this is difficult to come by. You can't twist someone's arm to write a review simply because they've downloaded a freebie that was on offer to everyone. I do question whether freebies work. We'll see.

There are also costs involved. Unless you're or whatever savvy, (I'm not), you have to pay for someone else to do it. Createspace is different. The site allows you to upload a pdf of your manuscript on to one of their templates, along with your pre-designed cover. It enables you to make a paperback of your book, which is a great service for the self-publisher. Again, it's all down to you with regard to quality and appearance, but you do get the opportunity to order a proof of your novel, so you can check it out before you publish on Amazon. Be careful here. Make sure the book you upload is the one you want to stick with. You can upload second editions which I have done for my first two novels which have a change of publisher name and ISBN, but they don't always get promoted in front of the first edition which is very frustrating. My second editions are better than my first, and it's a lesson I've learnt. Well, it's all a learning curve. A very steep one.


Along the way, I've 'met' some truly lovely people. This has been one of the great positives apart from seeing my work in print and knowing that people have actually paid for my work, taken precious time to read it, and let me know how much they loved it. When that happens, it's just wonderful. Writers are a very encouraging band of people. They know about the dreams, the frustrations, the highs, the lows, and I've found they're willing to offer advice and practical help if needed. Be prepared to do the same. Pay forward and find some fantastic friends.

In conclusion, the last year has been a roller-coaster. When I see my novels I know I've achieved something great, something a few years ago I would never have been able to achieve. Next week I begin my new novel, and I can't wait. I love the beginning part, a fresh manuscript, knowing that at the end of the year I'll have something new and exciting to offer my readers. You know what they say, 'feel the fear and do it anyway'. It's what you must do to achieve anything. It's what life is for!

Lots of love


Monday, 2 March 2015


Visit for review paperback copies and an author bio.


Amazon Review:~ 'Using a unique writing style, Valentina explores the darker side of human nature and the results of bad choices. I followed Kate on her journey to overcome the choices of others and their effect on her steadfast hope in life. Sometimes these darker characters haunted me, kept surprising me, and I grew to understand and care for each of them. Very emotional to read.' ~
Tanya Reimer ~ Author of Petrified and Ghosts on the Prairies ~ 
Thank you to Tanya Reimer for her Amazon review.

It's 1975, the middle of a fabulous, wild decade when rebellious teenagers dance to the parent-defying music of Glam-Rock. Kate McGuire longs to be like other 16-year-old-girls, but she has something else on her mind, like the whereabouts of her missing father, Joe...and how to win her mother's love. The parental role has fallen on Kate's shoulders, but her sister has her own unique way of surviving the fall-out of Joe's disappearance. Wayward and independent, fifteen-year-old Emma sacrifices her innocence to find the intimacy and lifestyle she craves resulting in a chain of events even the engaging and resolute Kate finds impossible to solve.

Valentina Hepburn
can be found at
Reviewers ~ Please contact me on if you wish to receive a paperback copy of A DISH OF STONES. A link to your blog will be appreciated.
Many thanks

The Blogettes