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What I learnt about Self-Publishing – Darren Darker

Writing.ie | Guest Bloggers | Crime Scene

Louise Phillips

Darren Darker Fighting Back

My first set of novels are based around my character ‘John Morgan’. Morgan is an everyday guy in his early thirties who has a nervous breakdown after the death of his Fiancée. Retreating from everyday life, he finds himself in a series of desperate situations not of his making. What makes him different to so many other leading literary characters is that he isn’t ex-CIA or MI5. He doesn’t have a military or policing background. He is just an ordinary everyday guy with a definite sense of right and wrong and a desire to help those weaker than him. I wanted him to be an old fashioned hero with his realistic (ish!!) adventures set in modern day Ireland

Like many first time authors I found trying to get an agent and a publishing deal was next to impossible, but I wasn’t going to let that small fact stop me getting my books out! I really believed in my novels and in my ability to create a credible series of novels.

I had self-published ‘Under An Irish Sky’ several years previously but it was a half-hearted, badly thought out and finished affair. Looking back at it now, I am embarrassed about what I thought was good enough to print. Needless to say, the book died a horribly isolated death but not giving up on my dream, I went back to the drawing board.

I was determined to get it right the second time. The second version of ‘Under An Irish Sky’ would be a huge step in quality both in writing and in presentation.  Firstly, I rewrote the book from start to finish. Then I had numerous friends and family read it, searching for errors in the story context, punctuation and spelling. I had manuscripts coming back looking like someone had gutted a wild boar over them there was that much red ink on them! But it was worth it. The quality of the novel improved and my writing skills improved along with it. This took far longer than I had thought but it was worth it in the end. Finally I had something I could be proud off. Now to get it printed!

Confused by the number of businesses offering writers self-publishing facilities, I attended the ‘One Stop Publishing Conference’ .  I found it a very useful exercise and learnt a lot. I came away focused on what I needed to do.  I found a publishing company that looked after everything from final proof reading, layout & design, cover design and finally printing. And while it was expensive process as far as my miniscule budget was concerned, it was worth it. I am very proud of my novel. It was a long time in coming but having a copy in my hands made all of the late nights writing and scratching my head worth it. Having said that I constantly have the urge to go back and tinker with it!

It was nerve racking in the beginning. I felt very exposed upon the books release. Here it was out there in the public domain ready to be picked over by everyone and anyone. I felt like a parent watching their only child leaving to emigrate to Australia. After the launch party in the beautiful Killruddery House and Gardens in County Wicklow, I am delighted to say the reviews have been unanimously positive.  I have sold several thousand copies and posted signed copies all around the world.

As someone who has made mistakes in my initial attempts of self-publishing, if I have any advice for anyone going down the self-publishing route it would:


Edit, Edit, Edit!

Get the book professionally proof read & Edited before printing.

Spend as much money on the actual printing and design as you can.

Get your ebook ready straight away.

Plan out a marketing strategy early especially using Twitter and Facebook and use any contacts that you have to help you publicise it.

Get out and mingle with other writers. Listen and learn from them.

Be prepared to do it all yourself. No one is going to sell your book for you. You must be prepared to do it yourself!


I am about to publish my third novel in the John Morgan Series and as hard as the constant struggle for recognition is, I wouldn’t give it up for the world. For more information about me or the ‘John Morgan’ series of novels see www.darrendarker.ie or catch me on facebook or twitter. Best of luck with your writing! DD

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