Thursday, June 27, 2013

Interview with Kiwi Self-Publisher Jay Baker.

Hi Jay, thank you for taking your time to answer a few questions for our blog 'Confessions of a Kiwi Self-Publisher'. For those who don't know you, can you please give us a brief intro and tell us about what books you have published?
I've published just the one book, titled 'Mr. Something'.  It is a new take on the superhero story, set in the real world where physics still apply and there are no super-villains.  Our hero is left trying to solve real-world problems – in this case, the problem of extreme poverty, which kills more people each day than most super-villains could aspire to.  It's a fairly fast-paced action/adventure story, but with a solid grounding in real world issues, and some solutions that might surprise you.
You got yourself an agent and tried to pitch Mr. Something to a number of publishing houses here in NZ, but because of its unusual themes it wasn't picked up.  Will you tell us about this please?
I actually managed to get signed up to an agent in New York, and the book was pitched to all the big publishing houses over there – but with no luck, unfortunately.  The general consensus seemed to be that they liked the story and the writing, but I needed to get rid of the bits about poverty.  It was suggested that I do a re-write, but the poverty aspect was really the core of the story, not an add-on which could be removed.  The story wouldn't have made any sort of sense without it.
What made you decide to self-publish and why did you choose to use CreateSpace?
It got to the point where is was self publish, or give up altogether – and I figured it was better to have some readers than none.  I chose CreateSpace after researching a bunch of similar services – they seemed best in price and ease of use, plus they integrate really well with Amazon, so it's easy for people to find it.
One thing to be careful with for new authors... just because you can self publish, doesn't mean you should – yet.  Make sure your manuscript has been edited, and re-edited, and proofread by several other (impartial) people, then re-edited another few times... before you even consider going to print.  It's painful, but worth it.
Did you use a professional editor for your book?
My mother (Wendy Baker) has written a couple of books herself, so she helped a lot with the first few edits.  I also got a lot of feedback from my agent, so ended up not needing to pay a professional editor.
How did you find the process with working with CreateSpace?
Great.  They are very easy to work with, well priced, and the finished product comes out looking really nice.  And up-front costs are very low – because it is print-on-demand, books are only printed when people order them, so you don't have to buy a whole stack and hope they sell.
Did you use CreateSpace for a cover design?
No – I sketched up the cover idea myself (very badly), and my wife turned it into an actual image for me.  She also did the chapter title graphics for me.  And I'm really happy with the result – I think it looks great.
Does your wife, Booke, offer cover design services for authors who self-publish?  How can we get in contact with her please?
She would love to – try her on
Doing it all over again, what would you change, what would you do better, and what would you keep in the whole experience?
The self publishing experience worked well for me.  I ended up with a book I'm really happy with, in both paperback and ebook formats (using for the ebook).  The biggest problem with self-publishing is that it is very hard to get any attention for your book – it seems you need to put as much effort into marketing your book as you did into writing it, and that can get expensive (not to mention requiring a whole different set of skills).  So better marketing would definitely be a priority, if I was doing it again.  As part of that, I might change the title – people seem to have trouble remembering 'Mr. Something' (it gets called 'Mr. Somebody' a lot).
For those who haven't already read Jay's book Mr Something, you can find it on Amazon here:
Jay's author page is found here:  Go and say hello and give him some support.
~ Joy Findlay


  1. Okay, so you made me want to read this. Also, I love the cover art - your wife is very talented!

    1. Thanks Zee! Please do :-)

      I've just been having a browse through your blog - nice work with the film! It did a great job of building tension. We did the 48Hours comp this year too - we got techno thriller, and it was a whole lot of fun. (

    2. Zee - meet George the first AKA J H Baker. :)

    3. Hi Jay!

      Argh - I thought I wrote a comment yesterday, but it obviously didn't go through. Must've done something wrong.

      Thanks for taking a browse through my blog - and watching our film! Oodles of fun (and stress!) but I'm sure you know that :)

      You guys did a great job - well-executed, good narrative, and stuck to the plot. Awesome. Some fantastic shots in there, too.

      I am looking forward to reading your book - I also see that you have a free review copy available...