Interview with Vivienne Tuffnell – part 2

PART 2 – the publishing process

Here we are again with Vivienne Tuffnell, author of Strangers and Pilgrims. Last time we heard about her writing process, now let’s hear about the publishing process!

B: Did you query agents/publishers before publishing? If yes, for how long?

V: Not with this one. I’ve been through all that before. I had books at committee stage and I even had an agent. If you want to drive yourself into an early grave, go that way. It nearly killed me once and I decided that the stress wasn’t worth it: the game was NOT worth the candle. While doing revisions for a novel for one of the big publishers, I was rushed to hospital with a brain haemorrhage. When I got out I finished the revisions, the publisher decided not to go ahead and I decided enough was enough and stopped writing for eight years. You have to be tough and thick-skinned to get through this stuff and in some ways, that’s the very opposite of what most writers are like. I don’t deal with this kind of stress well.

B: What was your overall experience with self-publishing so far?

V: Overall, excellent. In actual fact, I didn’t do much of that side of things at all, so I will pass you over to my friend Jes, who did that side of things for me….

J: Ahem!! To sum it up in a few words: Trial and error!

This was a new and very steep learning curve for me in that this was my first experience with self publishing or any kind of publishing for that matter. Prior to this, the only kind of publishing I had any experience of was putting a few post on my blog ( ) now and again.

The format of Lulu is fairly straight forward and if you are someone who are good at reading manuals, you may have an easier journey than I did. I am not a fan of manuals and prefer to go at it and learn through mistakes of which many were made!!! However, I found that it was very easy to get the hang of it and the different aspects, from choosing the book size, cover type were quickly learned. The cover design aspect took a little longer simply because we both wanted something unique and not a standard template. Added to this I was working on a very ancient laptop aka the hair dryer (excessive fan noise) which at times did create some frustrations.

There were many small mistakes in terms of graphics, layout etc, but the one mistake I think we have both realised is that for the next one we really need to pay a lot more attention to type setting to create a better reading experience for the readers. Once you have completed your project, you are required to buy a review copy and accept it before it is ready for publishing. I guess the excitement of getting the review copy stopped us from being truly objective. A lesson learned!

Other than that it has been a good experience and the integration with Amazon was easy and completely hassle free.

B: I published with Lulu too, so I know what you mean… my first PDFs were so heavy I had to redo them (but it was graphic novels, thus a bunch of JPGs. the only Italian novel I published on Lulu was much smoother!). But, back to Viv, I think the has a little more to say…

V: On reflection, I realised a couple of things after we’d published. First, three is the magic minimum number for proof reading; more typos slipped through than either of us liked, including one that really made me gnash my teeth. But even in professionally proof-read texts you always find typos so perhaps these first editions may become a collector’s item in years to come like the so-called Unholy Bible! The problem with the format we used is that any later corrections or alterations basically require you to create a totally new edition which then takes another six weeks before it reaches Amazon again. This means that though we’d like to reformat it, along with a few changes to font size( my older readers have commented the print was too small) and typesetting we’re waiting till we can get Kate my editor back and we can also do a print run for more direct distribution in the UK. We all have day jobs that are exhausting and no-one wants to do things twice when once is enough. We’re learning as we go, so there are always mistakes. Seeking absolute perfection is a blight on creativity; there will always be things you can improve on until you suddenly realise you’ve walked away from the real purpose of the creation, like the story about the Taj Mahal. If you don’t know the story, basically the Taj Mahal was built as a splendid tomb for the wife of the king, known as Mumtaz Mahal, (the splendour of the palace). When the building was complete, it was the most beautiful building ever seen but one little thing rankled when the king saw it: the tomb itself where the body lay. The king said, “Take it away” and the tomb itself was removed and hidden elsewhere.

B: Wow. Thank you for your time, Viv, and you readers out there go and buy her novel right now!


  1. junebugger

     /  01/07/2010

    Ohhh Thanks for this awesome interview! I’ve always been curious about publishing via LuLu.


    • I’m a Lulu author too… although so far I published only the graphic novels because I’m still editing the novel… follow the “” tag for more… 😉


  2. J

     /  07/07/2010

    It was a bit odd reading my own words here. Lulu was a good experience. Amazon have their own self publishing route called CreateSpace, which I have yet to research fully..


    • I have printed the CreateSpace stuff along with the Kindle stuff – Amazon obviously has its own thing for self-publishers… Check the Mickey Mills interview, he used CreateSpace
      I’ll stick to Lulu with my graphic novel, as it’s full color and Lulu has the A5 format (which is very European, I couldn’t find it in other all-American companies).
      My pleasure meeting you through Viv! 😉


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