How did you publish Teine Sāmoa? What steps did you take? What did you learn and what are your next steps? These are some of the questions I have been messaged, emailed and asked from teachers, students and supporters of my recent ebook, Teine Sāmoa. And because sharing our learning for others to win is just the island way #MorePasifikaAuthorsNeeded here are my top 5 lessons from Teine Sāmoa so far –
- Write it.
Get your story down. Whatever your process is – type, hand write, plan, join a writing group or get feedback from a writing circle – do it and finish it. Then get feedback from at least one trusted person to give you some constructive criticism. Remember if you’re thinking of publishing your writing, this means having other people read and see it, you may even want a focus group of your book’s targeted audience to get some valuable feedback.
I have to be quite passionate about something for me to thoroughly plan, so I take note of ideas or usually just write and then keep writing figuring it out as I go. For Teine Sāmoa I felt like I had to get it out of my system and didn’t really plan it. But the idea of it had come from a previous article I had written which was inspired by my own personal experiences and years of talanoa with tamaiti, āiga and faiā’oga. So I guess it had been kind of collectively planned across my life and one thing I knew before I started writing was that I wanted all these different perspectives to be the anchor of the story. This then structured my story – the 4 students perspectives/stories, then their parents and then the teachers.
- Edit it.
Something I’ve learnt during this short time as an author is that editors are #Magicians literal masters of the written word and if you aren’t one then approach or contact or hire one to look over your finished story. Their number one job is going over you work to make you and your writing/story #win!
In my own experience, the editors I have worked with over the past year each have their own distinctive style and processes but all have gone above and beyond to answer my questions, gave amazing feedback, made suggestions or edits so that my written piece’s intentions or messages are conveyed clearly and that my writing is enhanced overall.
I am blessed to have had access to very experienced editors for free and have paid for others which have ranged from $300 – $700 based on the projects I have under taken. And there are two types of editors I’ve used. Copy editors look at the surface features of your piece (Punctuation, grammar, word choice etc.) and then there are structural editors who look at the deeper features of your piece (flow, organisation of ideas, voice etc.). There are people who do both and others who just specialise in one or the other, so definitely shop around.
- Publish it.
You can go the route of submitting your manuscript to traditional publishing houses that specialise in your specific book genre, which I did for Mila’s My Gagana Series, or you can just do it yourself by self-publishing, like Teine Sāmoa.
The fairy tale idea I had in my head of traditional book publishers was that they accept your manuscript and then abracadabra they sort the rest from there ensuring your book gets put out in the world for others to enjoy. And for the most part it is like this. My publisher at the time took Mila’s My Gagana Series, created the books, marketed and promoted the books their way. But there was a lot of waiting #2-3Years in between because publishers not only publish your books, they’ve got other books to publish, they have limited budgets to spend on each project and then there are other random things #Covid that pop up which can impact the publication of your book.
So I’ve always been a super organized busy bee #ControlFreakWithADHD and raised to be a highly independent problem solver #AskMyPoorHubsta so being a new author I found myself asking and wanting to be involved or understand everything. Plus I’m an educator, always learning to share new knowledge with students and teachers to encourage more Pasifika writers.
But like many authors, Mila’s My Gagana Series 1 were very personal to me, not only featuring my children, nieces and nephews but were physical representations of my mission to help develop gagana and cultural confidence, so I felt I had a duty to ensure the books successfully aligned with this. This was reinforced when I had submitted my manuscript to a previous publishing house in 2015 and they asked if I would consider changing ‘Malia’ from ‘Malia Shares’ to ‘Molly’ #NoJoke #StopColonisingAlready
So I learnt a lot and thankfully we live in a digital age where everything and anything is now accessible thanks to the internet. Something that was definitely highlighted by lockdown, where I turned to self publishing.
I had no clue on how to self publish. When I first heard about self publishing a few years back I thought it was just for rejects who couldn’t get picked up by traditional publishers #NotTrue what I found instead is that some self published books have won awards, been turned into movies and it was Lani Wendt Young who had told me, ‘You should self publish’ – Okay well if Lani could do it, maybe I could do it too, I thought.
So I followed in her foot steps by using Amazon to self-publish. I had no idea what a kindle was or any other ebook formats, but the biggest pull for me was the access and reach. Across major ebook platforms, Teine Sāmoa would be instantly accessible to millions of people around the world. So through the online guides and tutorials I was able to publish Teine Sāmoa via Amazon KDP and then Smashwords which automatically distributes to online e-book retailers Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo and Tolino, and to libraries via distribution relationships with OverDrive (40,000+ libraries), Baker & Taylor Axis 360, Bibliotheca CloudLibrary, Odilo and Gardners #Translation=HeapsOfPlaces
I am very grateful to be a traditionally published author – especially as I’m now aware of how hard it can be for Pasifika authors to get a foot in the door. But I’ve learnt that being a self published author is pretty exciting and just a whole other level. Just think about it. You take the ideas in your head and make it into a story. You take your story through the processes of editing, book formatting, design, promotion then officially share it with the world for others to enjoy, be informed or learn from – all on your own terms, with no middle man and in full control of what’s happening and when it’ll happen. The best part of self publishing in my opinion.
- Promote it.
To be honest I’m not the biggest fan of social media. My cousin #FrancisTheTank started my facebook page in my twenties when I was teaching in Japan and then it lay dormant on and off for years. And it has probably only been the last couple of years that I’ve been regularly active on facebook.
But the power of social media is undeniable. The reach, access and exposure your book can have is limitless really.
Facebook was primarily used to promote MIla’s My Gagana Series 1 and with Teine Sāmoa I thought I would step it up a gear and add Twitter and Instagram too but #OML these are two other beasts I’m still trying to get to grips with really especially with the time and energy needed for it all. And I’m in total awe of people who can keep up with all 3 different platforms on the daily #CanYouDoMine?LOL I think this is why if I had all the money in the world I would probably pay someone to be my Social Media Manager which is a real thing and can be a viable career path for some our students and tamaiti #MarketingInTheDigitalAge
Besides social media, there are radio stations, newspapers and your own networks to contact and connect with in sharing your book. Thankfully there are also a number of different Pasifika platforms online who love hearing about our stories as well.
At the end of the day the idea is to get your story out there so that others are aware, care and share it.
- Do it again. Do it better.
Like most things, with becoming a published author you won’t know until you try it. Writing your story is really just the beginning. It does take a lot of time, energy, communication and depending on the choice/contract/path you choose it can involve money.
I guess I have always been a do-er #StartItFinishIt and a learner #KnowBetterDoBetter whose now driven by my intention to develop cultural confidence and understanding. So I think this has all been key in everything I have done as a published author and from the feedback and demand we have have had from Teine Sāmoa, all the effort and behind the scenes work for it has definitely been worth it #TYJ
This is why we will are in the final stages of publishing the paperback version of Teine Sāmoa. Like so many of you who have been asking for the hard copy version, I too feel that there is nothing else like holding your own physical book in your hands and Teine Sāmoa, the book will definitely be special – This is the do it better part.
The paperback copy of Teine Sāmoa will not only have the original fiction story from the ebook, but it will also have a Teine Sāmoa study question section included for students #ClassroomFriendly as well as the Teine Sāmoa Project for parents, āiga and educators, which we are so excited to share with you in our next blogpost!
*We need more Pasifika authors and our stories show others what is possible.
*You should be the one to tell your story because no one else can see the world the way you do.
*If I and so many others can do it, so can you.