“Publishing can’t be that difficult, can it? It’s not rocket science… is it?” Thor Noggson did not say this on his way to the Upper Nile in the 18th century; I did when I realised that, barring divine intervention, the only publishing company likely to publish my novel was… my own. As Thor did once remark, on long journeys confusion is obligatory.

Thankfully I had been well-prepared for this task; successive waves of NHS cuts had gradually deprived me of secretarial support and forced me to learn basic word processing. Maybe I should have taken a secretarial course in the first place.

So, having armed myself with various publishing manuals, I prepared to cross the black and inky sea of the dark arts (fonts, formats, typesetting, bindings, paper types, file conversions). My initial terror subsided as I slowly learned to navigate the ‘word’ help system and discovered that… it was all there. Labyrinthine it may be, but it’s like granddad’s cellar; every tool under the sun, if you can root them out – more like caving than rocket science. So after much, much brain pain, I had a word file sized and spaced like a novel, converted to PDF (printer format).

To get official recognition as a publisher of serious work rather than a back street leaflet man you also need to register with Neilson and buy some ISBN numbers  from them (each book needs one). Not expensive, and it turns out the forms are a piece of piss compared to the average disability benefit application…bingo, Makri press was born. And yes, I am going to publish other people’s work too, if it’s good enough.

A quick mention for editing; you can pay someone to do it, or you can risk your sanity and do it yourself. Reading aloud to yourself for weeks on end can be a bit risky, especially when your wife used to be a psychiatrist. (Fortunately for me, these days Sheila usually has her earphones on while she listens to her Ipod.) Then there’s copy-editing; this is a bit like letting loose your inner obsessive-compulsive…yes, I can hear the laughter from my old university housemates at this point…

The most important task is to get a decent cover; when it comes to books, that’s what most people look at before they buy, let’s face it. Here, I was just lucky to meet someone – thanks again, Angela.

Printing? Well, it’s like removals or anything else. Find out what other people say about companies, get three estimates and choose one. Then prepare to fill your landing and other spaces with piles of shiny new books wrapped in polythene.

They arrive; reality bites. “Oh my God, I’ve done it now.” This is where the urge for self-expression (shout it from the rooftops) finds itself at war with the urge for privacy and self-protection (put them in the loft and hide). And the practical bit… how on earth am I, with the business sense of a lab rat, going to get them out to that mysterious entity known as the public?

…to be continued…


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