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September Musings: Self-publishing and going back to uni

1September is always a busy month what with going back to university, settling back into regular classes and a routine, and getting ready for winter (I’m desperately trying to hold myself back from buying the entire knitwear section in Primark) so I haven’t been posting as many blog posts as I ordinarily would have this month. So, to keep moon child ticking over, I thought I’d create a little September Musings post to talk about my little self-published book’s first birthday on September 25th and entering third year at university.


Exactly one year (and *cough* two days *cough*) ago, I self-published my first little book: Ivy Moon and Other Short Stories. At that time, I was just starting my second year of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at the University of Strathclyde and having accumulated a fairly decent sized portfolio of work in my creative writing class – where we’d write a short story, poem or dramatic scene every week – I decided I wanted to do something with that body of work.

While creating a physical portfolio in a big folder with page dividers, stickers, freshly printed pages and other assorted, colourful stationary did sound appealing, I wanted to do something different with my little collection of stories and to display my work in a different way. That’s when I discovered Lulu, a self-publishing website where you can create and design your very own books with every style from hardback and paperback to eBooks and photobooks.

Logging on to Lulu, I went to work straight away to put all my stories together in one Word document and began to build my own little book:

» Short fiction collection – “Ivy Moon & Other Short Stories

‘Her irises had the texture of reptile scales, like small circles of crinkled foil or thin flakes of gold. They burned a radioactive, liquid, lime green that morphed into a murky mustard shade of yellow with the changing sunlight.

Even her dense, muddy pupils were hypnotic with their way of dilating and stretching to inky black saucers when she was excited and shrinking to tiny, devilish slits when she was angry. She stood at five foot seven, a few inches shorter than myself with the slender body of a woman but the long, swishing tail and soft, fluffy head of a cat…’ – Extract from short story Feline.

“This collection contains nine short stories which include elements of gothic horror, fantasy, science fiction, romance, tragedy, historical fiction, surrealism, folklore, fairytale and the paranormal. These pieces were written by 18-year-old English Literature and Writing student, Sophie McNaughton during her first year at university.”

→ You can buy my short story collection from Lulu, Amazon and Barnes & Nobles.

Self-publishing has a lot of advantages. Firstly, it’s very simple to do and very quick. I put my book together essentially in one night and by the next week, I was holding my own little book with my name on it in my hands. Secondly, if you’re lucky enough to have your little self-published book go viral like Estelle Maskame, you will receive around 70% of the proceeds your book makes whereas traditional publishing would see you receiving a much smaller percentage of the dosh.

I also liked self-publishing because it’s a much more creative, artistic and innovative way of showing off your work as oppossed to the traditional portfolio. And your self-published book is a great thing to have and look back on when you’re old and grey and can’t quite remember writing it in the first place. It’s also a good thing to keep in mind when it comes to the dreaded dissertation in your last year at university. Instead of burying your dissertation when it’s done and desperately trying to forget the blood, sweat and tears it caused, you could showcase it in your own little book and be, quite rightly, proud that you managed to get through it.

So my little book has turned 1 and my new collection Moon Child: Collected Essays is still just a baby. You can view my self-published work both with Lulu and Kindle Self-Publishing here.

Going back to uni

This week marks my first week of third year. I still find it hard to believe I’m in third year (and more than half way through my degree) already when I still feel like I’m in school. The great thing about uni this year is that all my classes are great. Along with the obligatory but still enjoyable core class, Victorian Literature, I’m also doing another module of Creative Writing: Short Fiction and Poetry, a creative non-fiction class called Writing Real Life, and a literature and film class called Adaptations.

I’m particularly loving Adaptations right now as we have a film screening every week as well as a lecture and tutorial where we learn about the art of adapting a literary work into a work into a work of cinema and discuss the techniques used and principles that should be adhered to. We’re doing a lot of great texts/films including In A Lonely Place, Picnic at Hanging Rock and Crash, and I’m just counting down the weeks until we do Trainspotting towards the end of the semester which, anyone who knows me well will know, is my favourite film and one of my favourite books.

Going into third year is also a bit scary because at the end of this year I will, hopefully, have a degree. I plan to stay on to do an honours year and I imagine I’ll probably try to go on to specialise in either creative writing or feature writing in an MA course but it’s strange to think that I will have a standard degree in under a year from now. Quarter-life crisis, anyone? Why yes, I would love some. Wish me luck!

  • I have plenty of new blog posts, guest blogs, reviews, articles and works of fiction lined up to show you all soon so stay tuned the rest of this month and into November!

Featured image created with Canva, edited by Sophie McNaughton.

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