How To Self-Publish: pt 1 with Riaz Phillips

The way we work is changing massively. More and more often, 18-30-year-olds are choosing to leave the office environment and start their projects solo. In fact, that's exactly what we at The Tung did back at the beginning of the year. With that in mind, we've devised a How To... series, full of helpful tips to get your creative projects off the ground. Every two weeks we'll switch the theme, and present practical advice from three entrepreneurial and creative people we admire. Welcome to Publishing Fortnight!

Helping us kick Publishing Fortnight off is Riaz Phillips. He’s a writer, photographer, and founder of independent publishing company Tezeta Press, through which he put out his first book Belly Full: Caribbean Food In The UK. Last month Riaz won a Young British Foodie award for his work on the project. Not bad for a piece of work that started life as a Tumblr blog... 

Hi Riaz! Why did you make the decision to self-publish? 

There’re tons of reasons people choose to go down the self-publishing route these days – ownership, creative control and so on. For me it was a project I really believed in and was passionate about creating. When it seemed like I hit a brick wall trying to reach out to publishers etc I didn’t have any other choice.  

How long did the process take from inception to distribution? 

About a year and half with many bouts of procrastination and “why the hell did I quit my job / what am I doing?” moments in between. I had to put on many hats: transcribing, writing, photography, editing, PR…

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How did you fund the project? 

I did a crowdfund round on Kickstarter. There are loads of good crowdfund websites, I just happened to choose that one because I had a few friends who had launched film projects on it and it seemed like a fun, engaging platform.

How important was design and formatting to the process? Did you do it yourself, or did you outsource a designer?

Very important. It’s definitely on the wane but there’s still some scepticism around self-publishing so I was very intent on making sure it didn’t look like it was produced by two kids in an Ace Hotel lobby. I did the whole layout on MS Powerpoint then worked with Kara (who I found on Instagram) who put it together and made sure it looked amazing.

I had to delay the project deadline because I was sourcing rolls of high-quality paper from all over Europe to my flat so I could gauge how it looked, smelled and felt. It was hard letting people know the project wouldn’t be ready for Christmas (2016) but I had to think long-term vs short term and it was worth it as I and all the backers were really happy with the end product. People are still shocked I produced it.

How did you market your book? 

I reached out to as many people as possible but at a certain point one person can only do so much marketing alone without money and/or a PR company so I just put it out and had the assurance it was good enough that people would spread the word. Luckily they did which lead to some great coverage. It’s sort of like the Butterfly effect.

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What do you know now that you wish you’d known then? 

To be honest, I wish there was stuff I knew now. I’m still learning lots and its stressful but I’m enjoying the process a lot.

Do…

Get physical. People think in the age of digital that you can do everything online but some of the great opportunities and so on came from going old school and putting up posters or having hundreds of business cards ready.

Don’t...

Expect that everybody on your social networks or social circles will care and immediately buy and support your creations. This is especially true if you’re creating sort of novelty things like niche books. Sometimes people think, “oh I have 1000 Facebook friends - that’s 1000 sales” but far from the truth. Everyone has their own issues, life and money situations and they’ll support in time if they really care. 

Like the sound of Belly Full? Buy the book here!
Follow Belly Full on
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Follow Tezeta Press on Twitter

Stay tuned for our the next installation of How To: Publish A Book, out this Saturday.