I'm all for self publishing as there are only so many times a publishing house/agent can tell you, 'The subject matter isn't for us,' before you begin to doubt yourself and wonder whether anybody will want to read it. However, what I've found is, writing the book was the easiest part!
If you're going to self publish, you need to make sure it is perfect before putting it 'out there.' That means paying for a professional editor. The editing process is an interesting thing in itself. The editor sends you chapters that have been pulled apart, changed and rearranged until you wonder whether there is any of your words left! And of course, you don't have to agree with everything the editor says. Being quite stubborn, I didn't mind at all the grammar being corrected or being told I had repeated myself, but I often dug my heels in when a descriptive passage had been questioned. But all in all my editor, Jane Lake, made the whole process quite painless and often very humorous. Then finding a printer to print hard copies was quite interesting. I emailed many but only one replied. Luckily for me they were professional and friendly and very patient.
The interesting part for me is, what made it so hard to get the book published, which was the subject matter ( a hero with Parkinson's ) has made it much easier to self publish. This is beacuse of the kindness and interest of the Parkinson's charities and all those people on Twitter who I have been talking to, who have Parkinson's, who have reacted so positively to the notion that the hero of my novel has just been diagnosed with Parkinson's.
The novel is not a self help book, it is a story about how a man reacts to his diagnosis, how he copes with the symptoms and how he meets a young woman who makes him see his life in a different way. It was difficult to be as honest as I could about what the illness entails without being pessimistic and negative. So I brought a lot of humour into the story and wanted to make the ending uplifting.
Everything I wrote about has been witnessed by me or told to me by the people in my classes. None of it has been made up, but of course everyone's experience with Parkinson's is different and everyone's approach is different. Ultimately, I wanted to show that people are still who they are, but they have an illness to deal with. And deal with it they certainly do, with courage, humour and strength.
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