How to Self-Publish; an interview with John McLellan
March 16, 2022
Whitehall Director, Joe Bendon, was thrilled to attend the THE FAULTLINE launch this month and celebrate John McLellan’s debut self-published novel.
Here, John shares the passion and the process of self-publishing, and offers advice to budding writers.
John, what made you decide to take the leap and self-publish?
The Faultline novel had been in my mind for years. Having written it, I needed to get it out! I knew it would take a long time as a new author to find an established publisher. People encouraged me to try self-publishing just as long as I did it fully professionally. That’s where Whitehall Printing come in! And it’s worked!
Why did you choose to partner with local companies on this project?
The novel is a product of lockdown. Like a lot of people, I came to truly value local businesses who struggled to make sense of new business realities during the Covid crisis, but who somehow managed to keep going and provided a good service. My local bookshop, Max Minerva’s, in Westbury Park, is one shining example. I bought books from them and they have helped me a lot.
How important was it to you to work with a sustainable printers/print the book sustainably?
I knew of your firm from a previous career in marketing, and knew you had a great reputation for producing good work. Whitehall take very seriously the way they work, as an employer and as a service provider- aiming to do things the right way all the time, including being thoughtful about the environment. That’s very important to me too – my novel is set in a wild and beautiful natural landscape, specifically the first national nature reserve in the UK.
How long was the process of self-publishing from start to finish?
Firstly, it took just over a year to write the novel itself. I then started working on the self-publishing route in May 2021 and Whitehall Printing delivered the finished books to me just a couple of days before Christmas. The longest element of that time is making sure the text is correct – endlessly checking and re-checking. The book production element was unfamiliar to me but Joe, Adam and the team helped me through it really well.
The full-wrap cover is stunning – how did you decide upon the artwork?
The cover image is actually one of my own photographs. The designer, Kai Harrison of Westbury Inks, did a lovely job. When I had the first draft of the cover, I circulated it to some of my proof-reader friends and allies – everyone felt it was very striking, which is what I wanted.
What advice would you give a writer thinking of self-publishing?
Don’t be scared but take time to find professional support. Bookshop feedback so far has been that The Faultline looks really good and stands-out. It looks and feels as good as any other book in those shops, and that is the key thing to ensure you get right! I had twenty people read drafts of the novel and I knew I had a good story. After that, it has to be made to look good, so people want to pick it up.
Why did you choose to donate to the Southmead Hospital Charity?
One pound of every copy sold goes to Southmead Hospital Charity. I am privileged, and proud, to be able to work at that hospital as a volunteer. In the first, strictest, lockdown I had a frontline role there and was working in an eerily quiet space as all the outpatient services were shut down. I used that strange space and time to write a lot of The Faultline ‘in my head’ – then typing it up the next day.
How did it feel to finally hold the finished, printed book in your hands?
Very moving! When your delivery guy arrived with all my book copies I helped him carry a box or two. He said to me ‘Are you ok mate?’. I replied, ‘I am fine…just having an emotional moment!’, tears running down my face!
Where can people get a copy of The Faultline?
Max Minerva’s bookshop on North View, BS6 7PY, have a good stock and are, currently, the main outlet locally. This independent bookshop will also take orders via their website www.maxminervas.co.uk. Alternatively, contact email@example.com – which is also the place for any comments.
Anything to add?
Writing The Faultline is the achievement of a lifetime, and I just couldn’t have done it without your help.
Whitehall Printing would like to say a huge thank you to John for kindly sharing his unique insight with us. It was a joy to support a local author and to help John turn his excellent words into a beautiful paperback book. Please get in touch if you would like to order a copy or if you would like to discuss your own self-publishing project.