13 Apr 2024

Hurry Up and Wait to Publish Your Book

My experience self-publishing two books is that it takes almost as long to complete the book production phase as it takes to write the manuscript.

Here is how it went with our second book.

The Book Idea 

My initial idea for A Poetic Journey through Aotearoa was to produce a collection of poems to showcase my partner, Steve’s landscape and nature photography. 

There is a word for this type of poetry. Ekphrastic poems are an emotional and intellectual response to visual works of art - paintings or sculptures or, in our case, photographs. 

The Writing Process (6 months)

Choosing the right images was the first hurdle. We selected over 50 potential photographs that could be paired with poems, enough for a book collection.  

Starting with my favourite photos, I began penning a poetic response to what I saw reflected in each image, and the experience of being there.

Sometimes I went searching for more information about a place, a bird or a fish - the habitat, eating habits and other interesting tidbits. 

Because I work better when I set goals, I settled on producing two poems a week over a six-month period (52 poems in total).

I experimented with different poetic forms and leaned towards prose poems. Some days the writing flowed easily: on other days, not so much.

Respected authors like Stephen King and Julia Cameron remind us to keep showing up and doing the work. 

Each month I had a zoom call with my mentor, Mark, to talk about the latest set of poems and how they could be improved. Without his guidance and mentorship, I would have lost my way. 

While working on the poems, I asked a book cover designer to come up with a front cover design. This became a visual reminder ‘you can do this’ and an extra incentive to keep going. 

Book Production (6 months)

By November a draft manuscript had emerged, ready for professional editing and proof reading. Each stage involved several revisions.

Once the final manuscript was approved, we moved onto print formatting.  

The page design was influenced by the shape of the poems and how they were integrated with the photos.

A landscape layout was selected as the best way to present Steve’s photos. When you turn each page, you see a poem on one page and a paired photo on the facing page. The e-book is in fixed format for Kindle.   

We puzzled over the best way to order and index the poems and photos. The book title provided the answer.

The reader is taken on a poetic journey from the top of New Zealand's North Island to the bottom of the South Island and Stewart Island with a glimpse of the Pacific Islands.  

During this stage, the cover design was refined for publication with test runs and multiple revisions of the book interior to produce a polished and professional publication.    

Book Launch 

Finally, a year after the process began, our book is almost ready for release on Amazon in full colour print and Kindle formats. 

‘Hurry up and wait’ says it all. After finishing the manuscript, it has taken another six months for our book to be ready to publish. 

When we cross the finish line and press publish on Amazon, we will be ready to celebrate a significant milestone.

Book Promotion 

Book promotion is the next step. This is the part where many authors struggle, including me.

With so many titles available, and self-publishing opening the doors to more budding authors, how can potential readers find your book unless you tell them about it? That’s another story that can wait for another time. 

P.S. We will let you know when our book is available for you to pick up a copy. 

Buy Now!


Mary Somervell

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