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- author Jackie French

Wednesday 24 January 2024

Guest Post: Independent Publishing Q&A with Kristy Nita Brown

A couple of years ago, Kristy Nita Brown released her first junior novel with resounding success. She did it all herself. 

Today we delve a little deeper into her independent publishing journey and her second junior novel, Mavey and Beth's Double Act. Welcome back, Kristy!

What is independent publishing?
With independent publishing, the author takes on the duties of the publishing company – printing, distributing, marketing, and everything in between. 

An author who independently publishes has full control over their work and their rights. They set the recommended retail price and earn a more substantial slice of the sales pie. 

On the flip side, it’s a hefty responsibility. 

The author oversees every step of the publishing process, from selecting illustrations, setting budgets, choosing printers and paper quality, selling, promoting, administration and post-sales services and feedback.

Why did you choose independent publishing over the traditional model?
I won’t lie. The allure of traditional publishing has always been there for me. I sent Looking for Lily (2022) out to traditional publishers when I finished it, but patience isn't my virtue. So while I waited for a reply, I explored independent publishing options to keep the momentum going. I felt confident I had a great story so I went for another round of edits, selected an illustrator, toured local printing facilities, and inked a distribution deal. When I finally received a rejection from the traditional publisher, it was a relief because my book was already in market.

Have you found the independent publishing process easier or harder for your second book?

With Mavey and Beth’s Double Act: Where’s My Whistle? (2023) I built on the groundwork laid by Looking for Lily. The brilliant Alison Mutton returned for illustrations. I stuck to local and ethical printing, and I continued with my national distributor. But this time round, I hosted a book launch at a local library which I hadn’t done before. I received glowing testimonials from renowned authors for the back cover and press materials, and inside, the book itself got a splash of colour and some interactive elements, including whistling facts, a craft activity, and a song kids can play on the recorder. It’s rewarding to see readers engage with the core theme of Mavey and Beth. It’s a blueprint for problem-solving.

Can you share one positive and one negative thing about independent publishing that you’ve discovered on your journey?
One of the most empowering aspects of independent publishing is having total control over the entire process. Being involved in every step means I can tailor my book exactly to my vision and audience, from the cover design to the pricing and marketing strategies. I also keep a larger share of the sales.

However, a negative includes the sheer volume of responsibilities that come with this control.

How do you book speaking events and workshops in schools and libraries?

My local library gave me my first shot. Even though I’ve had a lot of public speaking experience as a TAFE Lecturer with a Bachelor of Education and training in Instructional Intelligence, I was nervous. But it went well, so I reached out to another nearby library, leading to an on-the-spot booking. Then, word got out, I guess, because my bookings snowballed. I think the energy and excitement that I have for books and reading really comes through in my workshops. I get a lot of great feedback from teachers and librarians about how captivated the kids are.

What are your proudest achievements?
Looking for Lily was shortlisted in the 2023 West Australian Young Readers’ Book Award. In 2024, I'll be working with Sasha Wasley in the Path to Published mentorship on a middle grade novel. And, in incredibly exciting news, Sean E. Avery and I have just been awarded a grant from the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries to deliver a program we’ve created called The Book Builders Challenge. We’ll work with primary school students to create their own books, and the winner will be professionally published. We’re also creating a resource that will go out to teachers to help them run their own version of the program.

To find out more about the process of self publication, read Kristy's first Guest Post.

Visit Kristy's website or connect with her on Instagram. You'll also find her on Facebook.