Friday, May 17, 2013

Holly Hepburn - Being Brave...

I am delighted to welcome the very lovely HOLLY HEPBURN to Coffee & Roses. Her brand new e-book novella, Cupidity, has become an instant Amazon bestseller and if you haven't read it yet you're missing out! I asked Holly to tell us about her scary decision to self-publish - a decision which has clearly paid off...

Brave. It’s a word you associate with heroic people – like firemen and soldiers and trailblazers. It’s not the kind of word you associate with writers, unless they are Salman Rushdie or E L James.

It’s certainly not a description anyone would normally level at me. I’ve never done anything remotely brave, apart from risk my stomach contents on Nemesis Inferno at Thorpe Park. I’m even scared of spiders.

But when it came to self-publishing my first adult book, I didn’t so much as flinch. Self-publishing has come a long way since the days of murky, sweaty-pawed vanity publishers, who charged you a small fortune for a badly printed, thin papered, unprofessional looking version of your dream. Thanks largely to the rise of e-books, self-publishing has stepped into the light and, boy, has it stolen the show from its papery co-stars. Some people even think it’s the future of publishing. I’m not sure that’s true but it did offer me a way to dip my toe into adult writing.

I’ve always wanted to write a chick-lit novel and although I’ve started writing one, I’ve never managed to finish it – other commitments have got in the way. So it stands at 35,000 words, sad and neglected, waiting for me to come back to it. My agent even sent out the first three chapters to a couple of publishers, and the response was positive, with one gigantic publisher requesting the full manuscript. And that was the problem – I didn’t have it, and lacked the time to finish the novel. So I worked on other things and forgot my chick-lit yearnings. I wrote an opening chapter for the Harry Bowling Prize for New Writing 2012, which reached the final ten. And still I didn’t feel I could finish a book, until the end of 2012, when I had an idea that wouldn’t go away. I don’t have to be a novel, it whispered, I could be a novella...

Once I’d decided to write a novella, self-publishing was a natural home for it. No publisher would be interested in a 20,000 word story from a debut novelist, after all. And I knew several other people who had self-published with great success. So, after a false start or two, I finished the novella and set about creating a cover, one that set out very plainly that this was a chick-lit story. Once it was ready, I uploaded everything to Amazon and Cupidity was born.

It’s absolutely terrifying, putting something out there that hasn’t had the benefit of an expert editor and proof-reader. Of course, you can employ professionals to do this for you and I recommend that you do. I ran out of time to do it with mine but I went over and over it so many times that I hope the mistakes are few and far between (memo to self: ask writer friends who have read it if they spotted any mistakes). The morning I was ready to publish, I felt sick. The project felt much more personal than anything I’d put out there before. What if people hated it? What if they thought it was rubbish? What if – horror of horrors – they didn’t laugh?

I hit publish anyway. That was two weeks ago and it’s been OK. Cupidity was an instant bestseller. In fact, it’s been top of the Amazon bestseller chart ever since. People seem to be reading it. More importantly, they seem to be laughing and it seems to be at the bits I meant them to find funny. I’m thinking about running a local course on how to self-publish, to help other writers to navigate the lumps and bumps of e-book formatting.

So it strikes me that although I’m not an astronaut or a tightrope walker, maybe I am a little bit brave after all.

Thanks Holly! I adored Cupidity and absolutely recommend it! You can follow Holly at her gorgeous website: and on twitter @hollyh_author.


Loretta Livingstone said...

Yes, definitely. You have to have the corpurage of your convictions. If you believe you can do it and you don't - you will always wonder "What if..." At least that will never be your lot.

I have self published 3 of my own books, largeky because I have ME and don't have the energy to stress out waiting for the post every day until I can find a publisher. At least when you self-publish, you are in control, and you remove some of the stress levels. You also make the deadlines!

I completely agree though, if you don't pay someone to proof read and edit, do it yourself until you go cross eyed, take a break, and do it again. Then draft in your friends to look for errors. All the best, I hope you sell loads. I will go take a look.

Holly Hepburn said...

Thanks, Loretta. I agree that self publishing is much less stressful than waiting for the right person to discover your work. Congrats on your own books - three is brilliant!

Here's to making our own fairytale endings!

Loretta Livingstone said...

Yikes, happened to spot this again, only to discover I made a HUGE typo! I meant, of course, courage! Unfortunatley, although I edit my books thoroughly, I rarely remember to edit my comments before I hit "post". Anyway, as you now know Holly, I read your book, and enjoyed it. (Note to self - always remember to read your comments carefully BEFORE hitting "post")

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