Heather Dawn: Godfrey.  P.G.C.E., B.Sc. (Joint Hon)


The journey from idea, pen to paper, to publication.

“You become what you believe, not what you think or what you want”.  Oprah Winfrey

The readers experience of a book is as significant as its academic and/or creative content.  Good publishers respect their readers as well as their authors, and produce books that people want to ‘own’, add to their collection, read and keep to re-read and lend to friends and family.

Getting a book published is not an ‘overnight’ process; patience and tenacity are significant requisites. And, while self motivation and a willingness to proactively promote your own work are a ‘must’, a certain degree of humbleness is also required to manage the ‘reality checks’ along the way.

Publishing is not a journey anyone can make entirely alone and synchronising the right support is as significant as writing the book in the first place (among other things, even for those who self publish, finding a good ‘proof- reader’ is an absolute must…..the truth is, no matter how proficient a writer, we all have ‘blind spots’ when it comes to our own work).

I have learnt so much, and continue to do so, as I travel through the process – the journey of learning and discovery is ongoing.

Your living is determined not so much by what life brings to you as by the attitude you bring to life; not so much by what happens to you as by the way your mind looks at what happens. – Khalil Gibran

This is the first book I have published, so I am still a novice, and my experience is limited.  However,  if I were share any advice based on what I have learned so far, it would be this:

    • Believe in your aspiration; it’s your journey, your road to travel (no matter the outcome, you will learn and grow)
    • To write, you need to be focused and disciplined.  You need to set time and space aside to complete your task.
    • Writing is an insular process, and this sometimes is misinterpreted as ‘selfishness’, or ‘self obsession’, even ‘delusional’,  by some people – you will learn a lot about your relationships, your tenacity and inner resolve, and who your true friends really are.  Conversely, though, you will also be pleasantly surprised by the belief,  love,  respect and support of those you least expect it from
    • Be honest about your strengths and weaknesses
    • Understand that you will have ‘good’ writing days, and ‘not-so-good’ writing days – sometimes you just have to walk away, and return to the task later when you feel ready to pick up the mantel again
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help
    • Don’t expect to do everything by yourself, no matter how capable you believe you are (there is great value in gaining the right support…something synergistic happens)
    • Be very clear about your anticipated audience
    • Thoroughly research your publication options (publication is a highly competitive industry/market).  For example, if you are producing a book to support a teaching course, an organisation ‘hand book’, or personal project, self publication may be an option.  However, if you are writing for a wide audience, or with the intention of being a serious novelist, then a well established professional publishing company may be your best option. Carefully review the advantages and disadvantages of both
    • Large, and/or well established publishing houses will know the market well, and will have the right professional team and expertise in place to deliver your work from manuscript to book in very good shape to the ‘wider world’
    • A publishing house who believes your work is viable to print will  contract with you and pay you a retainer and/or a royalties advancement  – be wary of those who charge you a fee to publish your work
    • Make sure you sign and receive a co-signed contract – read this thoroughly, run it by a solicitor or another reliable third party before signing
    • No matter which publication route you decide to take, engage reliable proof readers (don’t leave the task to a trusted friend, get objective support, preferably from more than one source) – we all have ‘blind spots’
    • Ensure you read and correct your work again and again before you submit it to a publisher (or self publish) – the closer your work is to a viable end product, the better and more appealing to a publisher who will, no doubt, have hundreds of manuscripts to plough through to accept or reject based on ‘first appearances’

My leap of faith has brought many challenges but also many pleasant surprises and, as my publishing journey continues to unfold, I am sure there will be many interesting and exciting encounters, learning curves and revelations yet to transpire.