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Inside Story: Publishing with an Indie Publisher

We are delighted to share this interview with you! John Gerard Fagan shares his thoughts on publishing his memoir Fish Town and what the publishing process was like. Hope you enjoy it. xx guts

How did you find out about Guts?

After finishing my manuscript, I was compiling a long list of suitable agents and publishers that accepted non-fiction submissions and Guts came up in that search as one that met my criteria.

What drew you to Guts?

I had read Aidan Martin’s Euphoric Recall and thought it was brilliant and consequently saw Guts as somewhere that could be a good home for my book. The covers looked good for their other books too. I had a good feeling about the publisher from the start.

How did you envision publishing your memoir?

Initially, I didn’t think I would go with an indie publisher. But I was impressed by Julianne at Guts in that she understood the story and what I was trying to do with the experimental form. I knew it was likely that I would be asked to change the book’s form to something more traditional if I went with a big publisher, so I was glad my vision for the book could be kept as it was.

What surprised you about the publication process?

I was surprised how quickly it took to get the book published. It was a quick three-month process, whereas I was expecting at least a year. But the time frame was perfect for my particular project. I worked with Julianne on an almost daily basis to get the manuscript into the best condition it could be in. I have had close to 100 short stories published and previously worked with many editors and publishers over the years, so I was perhaps more prepared for the process than many other first time authors.

Did you have any misconceptions?

No. I knew the reality of it. I knew the amount of hard work and self marketing I would have to do. A lot of writers don’t realise that you can’t sit back after the book has had its final edit. Especially with a small publisher, you need to do a ton of self promotion, get reviews, get on podcasts, get interviews, get extracts in newspapers and magazines, and be active on social media to give your book a chance.

How did you find working with a small independent publisher?

It was great. There were no disagreements or issues at all. I enjoyed everything from editing, choosing the title, being a part of the cover design, to seeing my book take its final form. Half the battle is finding a publisher with the same vision for your book and having a more personal approach from a small publisher makes that easier to maintain. Yes it’s a lot more work for the author than if they had the financial clout of a big publisher behind them, but for something as personal as a memoir you have to decide what’s more important.

What are you working on now?

I have several short stories in the works and a near-future Japanese novel about a man living in a deserted fishing village. I started writing this novel when I lived in Fish Town and it’s almost ready to be sent out for querying. I also have a few more travel memoirs from my time in India that I am working on in the background too.

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John Gerard Fagan is a Scottish writer and author of Fish Town who has published stories in English, Scots, and Scottish Gaelic. For more information see or follow him on Twitter @JohnGerardFagan.

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