Your series Iskìda of the Land of Nurak was traditionally published in Italy. Why did you choose to project manage it yourself when doing the English translation of the first novel in the series, The Amulet of Sleep? Well, it might sound paradoxical, but the decision was taken together with my Italian publisher. Selling translation rights abroad is getting more and more difficult, especially for small independent publishers like Edizioni Condaghes, and in a minor market such as Italy. Therefore, we decided to try to stay independent until the very end and, thanks to Kobo Writing Life, to step out onto the English-speaking book market by ourselves, sharing the costs and efforts. Publishing is changing, indeed.
Despite a solid grounding in all things writing and publishing (including a Masters in publishing and several years’ experience as an editorial assistant) you still sought help when it came to self-publishing. How important is collaboration? Is it ever possible to do it all by oneself?
I think self-publishing is largely misunderstood. There will always be the need for an intermediary between author and reader. Successful and valid self-published novels are those where the author, alone or with the help of freelance professionals, does the traditional work of a publisher well. ‘Self’ or not, the work remains. An author, however, even if they are a professional editor, probably won’t be the best editor of his/her own work. Editing – after a certain point of precision to which every author must aspire – requires an external eye, and this is same for marketing and promotion too. Again, with a certain taste for paradoxes, in order ‘to do it all by oneself’ you really need help!
When finding the right people to help make your book, how can an author decide which freelancers are right for the job?
I believe the best option for an indie author – lacking trusted personal contacts – would be to ask advice to an agency, in order to access an already established professional network of freelancers in the publishing field. These professionals, particularly the best (and therefore busiest) ones, might be more open to accept a commission from a trustworthy channel than if they were approached directly by an unknown author.
What has been the most difficult part of the self-publishing process, and what advice would you offer to other authors going down that route for the first time?
In my case – a ‘self-translation’ of an already published work – the most difficult part was to trust your novel again. There was no fancy foreign publisher eager to pay thousands pounds for translation rights, leaving you with a check, a lot of satisfaction and nothing else left to do. There was a decision to take: a novel that was successful in its home market, in its own country, could it also do well in a foreign one? We trusted, we invested, and now it seems something is starting to move. And maybe for this very reason a traditional publisher will be interested in acquiring the rights for the rest of the work, who knows!
What are you writing at the moment?
The Iskìda’s trilogy has been completed in Italy and I started working on a script based on The Amulet of Sleep (fingers crossed!). As a novelist, I continue to write speculative fiction and fantasy, partly still in Mediterranean settings, both for YA and adults, for two different Italian publishers.
By coincidence one of the two Italian publishers I am working with, Acheron Books, is trying the same strategy I followed with Iskìda; translating the work independently before taking the book directly into the English-speaking market, rather than trying to sell translation rights to a UK or US publisher. Italian fantasy fiction of my generation seems to have great potential right now, even though our traditional publishers will probably understand it too late.
To hear more about Andrea’s work and to be updated about his future releases, follow him on Twitter @AndrAztori.
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