From Courtrooms To Cupcakes

My route to self-publishing


Since I am about to launch my book, and the first question I am asked is who the publisher is, I feel compelled to explain why I have finally gone the self-publishing route.

I submitted my edited and completed manuscript to eight of the top and supposedly main publishers in South Africa, with the required synopsis, query letter, sample chapters and author bio. Being very aware of the stigma of a ‘new voice’ and ‘debut’ work, I included my main competition, and why I was different and tried hard to justify the fact that this book was worth publishing.

Publishing is a business- like anything else. It requires budgets and targets and feasibilities and marketing strategies but basically it all turns on that essential requirement: money. Money is the essential ingredient to anything. Or at least, it helps. Sadly.

And of course everyone is a wannabe writer and these poor souls get 300 manuscripts on their desks every month. Apparently.

So, I start getting in the rejections (as new authors are to expect- yes, it’s all part of the process and I can quote many a successful author who was rejected several times, and many others who first self-published, including Virginia Woolf, Beatrix Potter and James Redfield (The Celestine Prophecy) and even old JK and EL!) and I start developing big shoulders and my breathing is uneven every time I log onto my emails …waiting, waiting, waiting.

But I am not discouraged. I refuse to be because at least half of these publishers tell me that at least I can write. And this is a very important aspect because of course, this is one of the many fears that writers have. Self-doubt. This was the first response I received:

Received and I have passed on to xxx at head office for review at our next Submissions meeting.
I did not read the whole manuscript but your writing is honest, funny and well written and reminded me of many moments in my own journey.

Not long after this, I received the following email:

Thank you so much for coming to xxxxxx with your proposal. From Courtroom to Cupcakes is an absolutely charming and touching read, and our editorial board found the work to be of great merit.
Unfortunately, however, it was something that we eventually had to turn down. Although the book certainly has appeal, it just isn’t quite the type for our list at the moment.
The South African book trade is in a very precarious position at present……etc etc.

I am thrilled. And I do understand.

And I wait for the next one:

Thank you so much for your submission, From Courtroom to Cupcakes, to xxxxxx South Africa for our xxxxxxxxx Imprint. From Courtroom to Cupcakes, certainly takes a look into the heart and soul of motherhood vs working, with a hint of wit. Your writing holds promise and certainly, as Stephen King says, ‘Gives the reader a rope’ to string along with ease with the story. However, after the completion of our review process it was felt that your manuscript was not suitable for our publishing programme.
While I am not rejecting on poor quality of your work, I am rejecting on the basis that this title will compete with an already-in-syndication title that we have coming in 2013, which we signed up in August of this year. However, there are many other publishers who may be willing to take on your submission, I can suggest you contact xxxxxxxxxx, xxxxxxx or xxxxxxxxxxxxxx.

Bad timing it seemed.

And then the next one:

Thank you for submitting your manuscript to xxxxx . Unfortunately we cannot offer publication of From Courtroom to Cupcakes.
Your manuscript was sent to an external reader, whose report is attached. I do hope you’ll find this feedback helpful. While you are a very competent writer we must unfortunately…………..

On the strength of this, I go to a publishing seminar in Johannesburg (a special treat with a flight and one night in a hotel …on my own. Super)

I take in every single aspect of this seminar and listen attentively but I am frustrated.

Writers get frustrated and rejected.

I meet with someone (important, wonderful, kind, lovely, hugely experienced and knowledgeable about books) who very kindly agrees to read some of my chapters: This is what she says:

You have a very nice, light writing style, easy to read, amusing, heartfelt and engaging. As a memoir, there is charm, affection and some wit in the material and I can see right away how enjoyable it must have been for you to write it. It has all the conflicting ingredients that so many mothers will relate to: professional working life, home working life, the disarming sabotage of children and the frustration and delight that result.

She tells me to pursue one of two options:

“go straight to the self-publishing option, get a professional editor to smooth out the creases, a typesetter/designer to do a professional job on the look and feel, and print up a couple of hundred copies, or ……..get an on-line following………”

So that’s what I did:

And that’s why I chose to go the self- publishing route. And why I had to set up a blog.

Not because I am desperate to sell the book (very very few authors actually make any MONEY from books) but because I spent so much time and passion on this project and it seemed a waste to put it on the shelf.

Here’s what people have since said about it:

It’s a wonderful read – I liked it because I could relate to it and I think any mother could, especially the dilemma she faces about giving up her career or trying to do it part-time. It’s funny, poignant and totally true to life.
NELLA FREUND, writer,editor – see her website

(Niki)…is an insightful, funny and smart writer. As a new Mom myself, I laughed out loud and also felt relieved that I was normal while reading her book.
I’m pretty sure I won’t have 4 kids but I’d recommend this book to anyone that wants a glimpse into motherhood when work has been their focus.”
ARIANE DE BONVOISIN, writer, speaker, entrepreneur (www.

I hope you enjoy From Courtrooms to Cupcakes

My next book (commissioned by a real publisher with real deadlines will not be quite as personal, fun or frivolous)

But the one AFTER that… will carry on From Cupcakes…

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