Welcome to our new series on self-publishing. For a long time, we have been trying to find a way to cover self-published books. As many of you will remember, we've had a couple of false starts, but now we think we've come up with a way of finding the best self-published works without getting overwhelmed by emails and manuscripts.
We have started this series because we know there are some great books being self-published, but it's not always easy to find them. We don't only want to discover the good stuff for ourselves, but for other readers, too.
The format of this series is straightforward: each week we invite a self-published author to complete a Q&A, telling us about their work and giving us a little taster of it. They then nominate the next self-published author to answer our questions - like a daisy chain. If we find that we have a run of pieces from authors writing in the same genre or on the same subject, we will break the chain. This is where you come in. Using the form below, we'd like you to tell us about any great self-published authors you have read and you think deserve more attention. We'll pick the next author from your suggestions. Make sense? I hope so.
As always, if you have any suggestions about how this could be better executed, do please tell us in the comment thread.
If you are a self-published author who'd like to put forward your book for this series, please fill in the form and make it clear that you are the author. This will not automatically disqualify you from being picked, but we will prioritise those titles that we think have been nominated by a true fan.
If you know of a self-published author you'd like to recommend, please take the time to do so. Promotion is a difficult thing. Authors, especially those of us without a big publishing house and their publicity behind them, need all the help we can get. Besides, you may just find another handful of authors you enjoy reading!
Somebody very special to me died
recently. Her death should not have come as a surprise. She’d been struggling
for half a dozen months, the last two of them horrendous in many ways not only
for her but for her four daughters who had rallied around her and devoted their
time, energy and love as they cared for her. I knew she would die soon and had
known it for a while. Her mind had become a muddy, scary place due to Alzheimer’s
and her sight had been leaving a little at a time in the past thirteen years
since she’d be diagnosed with macular degeneration leaving her confused,
unbalanced and afraid. She’d suffered two severe head injuries in the same
number of months and had been left speechless and in pain by the second one.
Her weight dropped and only one of her arthritic hands had the strength to grasp
the fingers of her daughters or those of her grandchildren when they came to
sit beside her. Her body and mind were both unsettled and agitated, rarely at
peace and her legs and feet swelled beneath the bed covers.
I did not see her in this state of
confusion and failing health. I am far away. More than 5,000 miles and the wide
expanse of the great Atlantic Ocean have separated us for nearly two years. Three
years before that there were at least seven states resting between the two of
us, but that was only geography. What she and I had was history, and we had
plenty of it.
There are very few memories of my
childhood taking up residency in my head that do not include her in some way.
For the first thirty-eight years of my life I either spoke to her on the phone
or stood next to her at least three or four times a week. I loved her when I
was a small child snuggled up in bed next to her as she read books with me. I
loved her as a struggling teenager, her home an undeniable refuge to me as I
matured and grew into a young woman. I loved her as an adult, as a wife and
then a mother of my own beautiful children who grew to know and love her as
There were many phone conversations
these past five years. Miles and time zones stretched between us but there was
always that familiarity, that bond that had begun decades earlier that had
rooted itself and was neither concerned with nor diluted by distance. Letters
were written, cards were sent and visits were made. She kissed me, those light
and feathery butterfly touches of her lips, and her crooked hands held tight to
my fingers and I knew she loved me. I knew that as a child and now, even though
she’s gone, I know that still.
Another undeniable fact that I have known
for some time is that someday I would lose her. The last exchange we had on the
phone was memorable in ways both good and bad. The voice I heard on the other
end was without a doubt the one I had known all my life. The tone and cadence
lifting and falling as it always had in its soft and flowing way, but the words
she spoke were nonsensical and out of context. She knew who I was but not where
I was calling from. I was certainly her granddaughter, but in her mind I had
regressed somehow and was a handful of years younger than my true age. My
children had become infants again and she wondered how we liked our new house
although we have lived in the same place for some time. She was confused and
child-like, floating along a sea of quiet chaos that her unwell mind had created
and the conversation made me sad, made me ache for the woman she had been years
Although I have physically not been
among the other members of my family trailing in and out of the nursing home,
hospital rooms and the quiet and somber halls of hospice, I have followed along
through this time in the only manner I knew how from such a distance. Several
times I have wondered if this absence, my not being there as her mind and body
grew increasingly weak made those words I heard nearly whispered on a sob
through the telephone line, “She’s gone” that much harder to hear. It’s
impossible for me to know for sure, but even though I traveled all of those
many miles back home, spoke at her funeral and watched them lower her casket
into the ground, the absolute finality of her death is just now sinking in
nearly three weeks after she took her last breath. The fact that I wasn’t there
when it happened, or even the few years before her steady decline has not made
the loss of her any easier to bear, nor the pain any less severe. I lost her as
much here where I am as those that spent every day with her did.
In the days that passed between her
death and the long trip back to the states I understood that this would be a
difficult journey. As I gathered my things and packed them up, I found myself
slipping inside my bag a well-worn copy of a book I hadn’t read in a while in
the hopes that the story sandwiched inside the covers would take me away, even
for a short time as I flew across the ocean. What I didn’t remember was just
how special this story is and as I read it again, first on the plane and then
at night when the room I’d slept in during four years of high school was hushed
and dark, the pages lit up by the buttery yellow light of the bedside lamp, I
was happily reminded. I am reminded every single time I pick it up and read the
text along the pages and this time I silently congratulated myself for tucking
the book in with the rest of my things. It was a comfort to me, this book, and I
was glad to have it with me.
Kill a Mockingbird has been a long time favorite of
countless readers. I am no different than many when I say I’ve read it at least
a dozen different times and, although my son shakes his head at such an
illogical idea, perhaps I am not the only person who believes that one can never
have too many copies of one’s favorite book. I have five copies of Harper Lee’s
masterpiece. One of them belonged to my aunt when she was in the eighth grade. Its binding is hopelessly broken, nearly a third of the pages are loose
and out of order and the torn and tattered cover, which still has the price tag
of sixty nine cents stamped upon its frayed corner, is held together by a
bright green rubber band. Another copy was given to me just recently by a very
sweet and generous friend. It’s a 35th anniversary hard cover edition in pristine condition
with Harper Lee’s signature marching boldly across the title page. I love each
and every copy I own and will keep them all forever. Truth be told, I will probably
gather a few more before it’s all said and done.
My true comfort during this unhappy time
came from my husband and our children; this wonderful trio that knows and has
suffered from every one of my downfalls and faults a multitude of times…and
loves me in spite of them all. They packed their belongings and braved the
lengthy boredom of international travel to be by my side. They touched me with
warm hands, held me tight, let me cry and reminisce and understood how great my
loss was. I could not have gotten through it without them and am grateful to
know that when a memory lights up in the corner of my mind and sadness comes to
me again, they will still be there for me.
Books can’t help with all that ails you,
but sometimes, if you’re lucky, you come across one that is so special, one that
touches you in a way you simply cannot explain and, even without realizing it,
you lean on its prose and strong sturdy lines of typewritten words to lend you
a bit of the support you are seeking. To Kill a Mockingbird has done this for me. That’s the power of a good book.