Book Chat

By Des Kenny

Book Chat : Philip Casey: An Extra Dimension to Self -Publishing in Ireland

I have been aware of Philip Casey’s adoption of Self-Publishing for keeping his own out of print novels alive. Thanks to this, the three novels are now available in print form and can be purchased on-line or in “Book Upstairs” and   ”Kennys Bookshop”. When I asked him, for the purposes of this column, what his thoughts were on self-publishing in Ireland he sent me this comment which is most informative:

fisher-fabulist“Philip Casey’s first novel, The Fabulists (Lilliput, 1994) won the inaugural Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award; his second, The Water Star (Picador, 1998), was the lead review in The Times. Having published his third novel,  however, prompted by an old love of history and by  the mid-section of The Fisher Child (Picador, 2000), which is set in the 1798 Rebellion and the Carribean, instead of writing more fiction, Casey set about writing a history of the Irish. His agent tried to secure him an advance, but publishers remembered him as a novelist, and only wanted to see his next novel. He realised he was spending more time honing synopses and outlines than he was writing the book.

It was then that he appraised how self-publishing might give him control of what he wanted to do. He had been an early user of computers and the web, his Irish Writers Online being the best known of his several websites, so he had a useful skillset. In late 2013 he set up eMaker Editions (, primarily to publish new editions of his novels. He uses Ubuntu Linux, which meant he had no access to industry standards like Photoshop, InDesign etc, but relied on their open source alternatives: GIMP for book covers, Scribus for typesetting, and using his xhtml skills, Calibre for creating ebooks. He says it’s simple, if still a lot of work, when you know how, but in fact it was a longer learning curve than he anticipated, not least when he tackled the intricacies of CMYK, the colour combinations required for printing a cover.

4.a Casey-1His selected poems, Tried and Sentenced, was his first publication with eMaker Editions, and he asked Marion Kelly of The Parlour Review ( to edit it. Her attention to detail and uncompromising editing meant a much longer process – and a shorter book – than he had anticipated, but he felt deeply engaged with his poems again. He has since published new editions of his novels, as well as a Japanese translation by Noriko Ito (who has also translated Colm Tóibín and Brian Moore) of The Fabulists.

Brian Lynch had set up his own publishing house, Duras (  publishing others as well as his own second novel, The Woman Not The Name, but Lynch opted for a local printer and conventional distribution. Emer Martin, living in the US, had found herself invited to a reading in New York, but without any books to sell, so she established Rawmeash ( and published a new edition of her novel Baby Zero using CreateSpace. Casey took a different route, using print-on-demand with IngramSpark, which is part of  Ingram, the largest distributor in the world. He realises now that he should have used CreateSpace for Amazon buyers, as well as IngramSpark for booksellers and libraries worldwide, and Martin  is thinking along the same lines – as is Helena Mulkerns, who will shortly publish her short stories Waiting for the Rain with her own label Adulis  Books ( Mulkerns, he says, offers a service assisting those who wish to republish out-of-print work, as well as epublish (

Casey-WaterlooAre there any remaining learning curves? Yes, promotion is something Casey still has to grapple with. Although he had a spike in paperback sales before Christmas, his most consistent sales have been on Kindle, so he’s thinking about how to sell more paperbacks. The single but major drawback of being an author publisher, he believes, is lack of time.”







July/August 2015 Books Ireland

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