Tag Archives: self-publishing

How to behave when not short-listed

I was watching the BAFTAs on TV the other evening and noticing those who did not win, hiding their disappointment with a smile and with whole-hearted applause for the victor. I want to be equally gracious in defeat, as I have not gone from the long-list to the short-list for the Crime Writers Association first novel award (http://thecwa.co.uk/news/cwa-dagger-awards-shortlist/).

I do keep reminding myself that it is already an achievement to be on the long-list, there were only twelve of us chosen out of 400 entrants. Even so, I do feel disappointed not to have gone further.

On the other hand, this could be an opportunity to hunt down an agent and I am preparing to do that. Plus I am working on ‘The Art of Survival’ the second book in my crime series which I hope to publish this Autumn (agent or no agent). I am into writing the final draft as well as planning the publishing schedule, talking to printers, copy-editors, proof-readers and so on. No time to dwell too long on the if onlys….

Confessions of an Indie Publisher – was it all worth it?

I meant to post this last week, but was struck down by some nasty germs. I had to spend several days in bed, which is very unlike me.

Indie publishing, was it all worth it? Anyone who regularly reads my blog will know I still feel ambivalent about being an indie publisher-writer. So ambivalent, I’m not even sure what to call myself. I am a writer, not a publisher. I’d prefer not to have to think about everything from editing, proof reading, through to design and marketing. I’d prefer to be able to put all my energies into the story-telling and making. On the other hand, I do feel proud of the novel I have created and I am very, very pleased that it is in the hands of readers. 

I believe I have a rather rosy view of what it would be like to have an agent/publisher. I have certainly heard from other writers about poor experiences. I have heard about books which have languished in an agent’s hands, never to find a home with a publisher. Or writers who have been encouraged to re-write and re-write for successive publishers until they don’t recognise the book as their own, and still the publishing contract doesn’t arrive. Or then there’s the book which is traditionally published but isn’t given the publicity meaning it doesn’t reach the audience in any numbers. 

I took the path of indie publishing because: I turned fifty; after an apprenticeship of thirty years I felt I had written a novel which readers would want to read; I did not want to subject myself to more rejection from literary agents; and it was within my capabilities to go it alone. I know I will – as long as I am able – be a writer, I don’t know for how long I will continue to indie publish. I imagine I will be an ‘also ran’ within the current world of writing/publishing, what I want is to grasp – really know deep within myself – is that this is not a reflection on my writing.

Judge for yourself – do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv



Confessions of an Indie Publisher – marketing (4)

As part of my marketing campaign, I did an event for Scarborough Flare – the REAL Scarborough literature festival celebrating local talent. Held in a local cafe, I presented a saunter through seven elements which make up a modern crime novel. It was illustrated with extracts from my novel plus others dating back to the nineteenth century being brought alive by my friends Felix Hodcroft and Kate Boddy. www.scarboroughflare.co.uk.

It was great fun and the audience was appreciative, though it did not yield sales, mainly 11AprilPPbecause most of the people who came already knew me and had bought a copy. I will be repeating it, however, at other venues around the town (and maybe further afield if I can get any interest) and this was an excellent confidence-boosting first run.

Marketing lore states that promotions need to be timely and relevant and that we need to know who are audience is. So are there any hooks in current affairs or any anniversaries which you could hitch your novel to? With my theme of psychotherapy and mental illness/health, I’ve made an effort to contact therapy training organisations, offering one free book to a trainee from each. Again it’s not yielded a lot of interest as yet, but maybe it is a slow burner.

It’s hard for an ‘indie’ to emulate the big organisations in collecting reader/audience information. I have an idea in my head about who my novel would appeal to: probably at least middle aged, probably a woman (though I hope not necessarily), probably someone who wants a bit of a challenging read. It’s not a bad demographic since most books are bought by middle-aged women. However, without the PR and advertising power of the traditional publishers, for an ‘indie’ to reach this audience might not be easy as they may not be as plugged into social media as a younger readership.

I have people who follow my blog – thank you to all of them. I know other bloggers who have a newsletter people can sign up to. This could be a way of finding out more about your readership, though I have not tried it. I do welcome feedback and there is an email contact asking people to get in touch at the end of my novel. No-one, so far, has done so via this method.

Freebies & give-aways
Everyone loves a freebie, don’t they? I paid to have some bookmarks made which I give away liberally, they advertise my current novel and also the series which is yet to come, so they have some longevity. On Wold Book Day I left copies of my novel around town on benches and at the railway station. They all disappeared from where they had been left. Once again, I invited anyone who picked one up to get in touch. No-one has as yet.

I joined Goodreads. I have an author page although, unless you’re famous, there appears to be some prejudice against writers who are on Goodreads. One person I sent a friend request to said she doesn’t normally respond to authors because they’re all about selling their own books. I try to be a reader on Goodreads, sharing what I think about books by other people. I’ve enjoyed some of the exchanges and I hope, maybe, some people will be drawn to my page via these conversations.

Goodreads have ‘giveaways’ and Kindle has ‘countdowns’ when you’re basically giving your book away for free. You can only do a ‘countdown’ for so many days, so many times a year. I have decided to do both a ‘giveaway’ and a ‘countdown’ on my first novel when I am ready to launch my second novel in the series later this year. From what I’ve heard on the indie network, neither ‘giveaways’ nor ‘countdowns’ necessarily translate into actual sales as people take the freebie but it doesn’t encourage others to buy it later. But since I’m more interested in finding readers than making money, this doesn’t bother me overly. Giving away via Amazon or Goodreads means that my book will probably cross the North Yorkshire border and that’s good enough for me.

Missing the Kindle boat
I think the time when an unknown ‘indie’ can sell tens of thousands just by being on Kindle has probably gone. Those extraordinary sales were during a time when there was less choice on Kindle, now every publisher brings out a Kindle version, so it’s as hard as being found in a bookshop, a vast, international bookshop. However, this book is an interesting one, even given the different times: ‘How I Sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle-An Easy-To-Follow Self-Publishing Guidebook 2015 Edition’ by Martin Crosbie.

Talent, Hard Work, Luck
I believe to create a book and then find readers for it, you need a modicum of talent, a lot of hard work and shed loads of luck. I know I can provide the first two, how to create the latter is my conundrum. I think I can probably reach a few hundred readers doing what I’m doing, maybe even a thousand. What still confounds me is how to change that into a few thousand or (the dream) tens of thousands. I am not sure this is possible without a large pinch of luck. From all the stories I have heard/read, marketing is about hard graft, yes, but for a book to really take off, there is some kind of good fortune; particularly the book falling by happenchance into the hands of someone more famous than the author who will champion it. I am still waiting for that to happen!

Next week: ‘Indie’ publishing, was it all worth it?

Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv

Confessions of an Indie Publisher – marketing (3)

I’m beginning to worry that these posts on being an Indie Publisher and especially the ones on marketing might be getting a might too moany. To be clear, I know how lucky I am to be living in a situation and in a time when I have so much freedom to follow my writing passions and to put my writing out there. And I want to thank every single person who has read, bought and commented on my novel, every reader is precious and a little bud of joy in my garden. 

I guess I am trying to work out for myself what works and what doesn’t in terms of marketing. I hope my ramblings will also be of help to others. 

A brief update on last week’s post on social media
It is possible to use the ‘Twuffer’ app to send out automatic tweets which you can schedule for during the day and night over days at a time (other such apps are available). I have done this a few times to promote my book and, as far as I can judge, this has not resulted in more followers or more sales. Putting a cute photo of donkeys on Scarborough beach, did, however, result in around 30 re-tweets and a little flurry of new followers. Maybe there is a lesson for us all there.

Where to start?
One PR specialist I spoke to said start local and work outwards. So my first act was to send an email to everyone I had ever spoken to with a link to my Amazon page. This in itself was difficult. I was putting myself out there, I felt exposed, naked even. I was saying not only that my book is worth reading but it is worth spending money on! I felt (and still feel) uncomfortable making these claims. However, as an Indie publisher, I don’t see how this step can be avoided. Plus, I got some lovely responses, and some enthusiastic readers.

I also had to take a deep breath when I asked for reviews. I asked people I knew, of course. I also used the Book Reviewer’s Workshop group on Facebook, plus asked reviewers I came across on Twitter. Currently I have 18 reviews on Amazon, and I’ve had three reviews on blogs and one review in a local newsletter.

I think it does help to be part of a writing and arts-and-culture community. I think it is essential for any writer to be connected to other creative people anyway, but when you begin promoting your book, being part of a community and having contributed to that group in the past (‘paying it forward’ attitude) means opportunities are likely to open up to you. For instance, a local gallery prepared to stock my book and the chance to do a book event as part of Scarborough Flare, a local spoken word festival.

One of the things I enjoy doing is events and talks. So I have set up various local ones. I am now beginning to contact festivals around the country offering a workshop on indie publishing. I have one taker so far. Maybe others will come along.

Bookshops & Libraries
I have sold my soul to Amazon in terms of my e-book. To get the KDP select terms, I have to give them exclusive rights to the digital volume. For the paperback, however, I can sell through any channel I like. As I may have mentioned before, for my next novel, I am looking into printing some copies off locally in order to sell and give-away. As an author, I get copies from Createspace at cost price, but with the delivery from the US, it will probably work out better for me to go to a local printer for my own copies. It would also help me feel better, as I do believe in supporting local businesses when I can.

I love bookshops and libraries. It was relatively straightforward getting my book into my library as I already knew staff members and had worked with them on projects before (part of the ‘paying it forward’ attitude I think we indie publishers need). Similarly with local independent bookshops, galleries and cafes. Ask nicely and there’s rarely a problem.

Getting into the chain bookstores is another matter, however. I haven’t found a way to be stocked in my local Waterstones. My novel can be ordered by any bookshop as I have filled in the requisite forms for the book distributors Gardners (and got the ISBN sorted through Nielsen). Plus I have found WH Smith open to hosting a signing, even though, again, not keen to have my novel on their shelves. I’ve decided to give this a whirl when I bring out novel number two, ‘The Art of Survival’.

Next week more on marketing …. how to keep going and how to get creative.

Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv



Confessions of an Indie Publisher – Marketing (1)


I realise as I write that this should have been my first ‘Confessions …’ post, because marketing starts way before publishing. I knew this vaguely before, but four months following publication of my debut novel, I now know it for certain.

For me, at times, the idea of marketing has become overwhelming, practically paralysing. The thought, ‘I can’t do enough, so what’s the point in doing anything?’, has inveigled its way in and almost brought me to a halt. I am, therefore, going to try and break things down here into bite-size points. I am hoping this will assist me (especially in the run up to the publication of my second novel this Autumn) as much as it helps my readers.

Your author platform
Unless you have massive dollops of luck, your book won’t sell itself, YOU have to do it. YOU have to be visible and out there. This is scary for some and exciting for others, I find it both by turns and sometimes both at the same time.

It’s never been easier to build an author platform through blogging and social media. I’ve had a website and have blogged regularly for years. Prior to launching my novel series, I gave both a bit of an over-haul. I chose to move to this wordpress website/blog as I find it easy to use and it is essentially free (though I pay annually for my writingourselveswell domain name). There are, however, loads of website/blog packages out there, plus many skilled people in design and all-things web, if that’s what you decide to spend your money on.

My prime purpose in life is to write and I want to keep the amount of time spent on marketing to a manageable level. I have, therefore, decided to stick to one website and one identity. I haven’t, for instance, set up a Facebook page for my book on top of my own personal page. Every aspect to your author platform has to be kept fresh and up-dated. Updating my website, writing a blog post once a week and keeping up with my Twitter and Facebook are enough for me.

I also think it’s about preferring quality over quantity. I’d prefer to bring people to me because I have something of worth to offer, and I know I can only do that if I restrict my activities.

There’s loads of advice out there about building an author platform. Here’s a starting point I can recommend: https://katemcolby.wordpress.com/2015/03/04/building-your-author-platform-what-when-and-why/

I have found Kate M Colby a great source of wisdom and advice, we also did a blog tour together (more on that in later posts). I wish I’d read her post on pen names a little earlier: https://katemcolby.wordpress.com/2015/03/09/building-your-author-platform-how-to-choose-your-pen-name/ Kate Evans is a ridiculously common name, and perhaps if I’d read Kate M Colby’s guidance before publication, I might have gone for Kate H Evans. I’m still wondering if it is too late to change.

Next week more on marketing …..

Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv

Confessions of an Indie Publisher (part 7)

You’ve got a beautifully crafted, clean manuscript. You’ve worked out the best ‘indie’ options for you and you’re ready to publish. I found this next bit incredibly tedious, but at the same time I had to stay focused and I had to learn an awful lot with my formatting ‘hat’ on. It was tough being bored and maintaining concentration at the same time. 

Each e-book and print-on-demand company or printer (depending on which way you decide to go) will have its own guidelines for how they want the manuscript delivered to them. They will often also offer formatting services for an extra cost. I decided to do it myself, and if I can do it, anyone with a working knowledge of MS Word can do it too. Before you start, make sure you keep one copy of your manuscript on your computer untouched and also back it up in various ways. Then if you really mess up, at least you have that to return to.

 Kindle and Createspace have excellent guides for their systems and it’s just a question of working through them. What I’m sharing here is what I learned which didn’t seem to be in the manuals.

 Firstly formatting for Kindle (and possibly any e-book). I had created my manuscript in MS Word and the initial step was to rid it of all the formats MS embeds in its Word documents. I did this by cutting and pasting it into notepad and then cutting and pasting it back into a Word document having turned off all the ‘autoformat’ functions using the ‘format’ tab. This wipes your document of certain aspects of its layout which you now have to put back using the ‘styles and formatting’ function. The Kindle guidebook tells you how to do this.

 A few things to remember. (a) Kindle does not recognise a line space, this has to be created by formatting in a ‘spacing’ before or after a paragraph. (b) All my italics were wiped out with the move to notepad. I use italics a lot because they indicate internal thought and my characters do a lot of ruminating, so it was a pretty big job to put them all back in. I didn’t work out a fast way of doing this; it was simply a case of having an original copy open, finding the italics using the ‘find’ function, then going to the same place in the Kindle version to put the words into italics.

Once you are sure that you are happy with your formatting, you save into HTM. I had heard from other Kindle publishers that things like elipses and letters with accents on, such as café, go awry when you save into HTM. I did not find this, so maybe it depends on the version of these programmes that you have. The HTM version is ready to upload onto Kindle. Once again the steps for doing this are well explained.

I’m presuming you will have already set up a KDP account and filled in the bits about title, author, royalties etc and done the tax form. You can upload and delete your HTM file as many times as you like, which is good, because once you preview it on the screen you will no doubt pick up some mistakes which need adjusting. I was particularly struck with how long my first paragraph looked on a Kindle screen. I went back and put in some more paragraph breaks. One way the new technology has effected the creative process.

Even though I had already had my manuscript proofread, I got someone else to check through the Kindle version on line before I published. As soon as you start messing around with format, typos can creep in, so if you’ve got someone who can help (in my case it was my lovely sister) it’s worth doing.

Secondly, formatting for Createspace. On the whole, I found the formatting for the paperback more straight-forward. I’d been told I would need to save as a PDF before publishing, but this has changed and I could use my Word document. So it was merely the case of choosing the page size and Createspace pretty much did the rest. One issue I didn’t properly think through is indents; they may look fine on an A4 page, but on the smaller book-size page they look too big. It’s something I will remember for next time.

Cover design. This was something I considered spending money on, but in the end decided not to. There are plenty of designers out there (especially on-line) who will create a design which fits with the Kindle and Createspace requirements. Though, in fact, both Kindle and Createspace have perfectly good cover templates. In order to get the same cover for both versions, I created mine in Createspace and was able to transfer it to Kindle. There didn’t seem to be a way of doing this vice versa. I also got tripped up by the DPI of my photo. When Createspace stretched my photo over the whole cover, the DPI (quality) of the photo went too low for it to be accepted by the system. In the end I chose a design where the photo is smaller and this seemed to work.

Because I wanted to use the Createspace cover, I started my publishing journey from Createspace. This also means, in theory, that my Kindle version and paperback should have been linked on the Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk pages. In reality this took several emails to Createspace and KDP support. Though I will say, both help lines were very responsive, polite and helpful. Since I had already formatted my Kindle version myself, I did not use Createspace’s offer to format it for me, so I don’t know whether that works. Will investigate next time.

And then, dear reader, I published. After several weeks of trying to get everything just right, the publishing process is actually just a question of clicking on a button. A bit of an anti-climax. Maybe next time I’ll have some friends round for that moment and we’ll celebrate with hugs and tea and cake all round.

Once you’re published, of course, you’re not finished. There’s the marketing of your newborn. I will be tackling that thorny issue in my next blog. Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv.


The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Kimberly DuBoise

Featured Image -- 454Our interviewee for this Monday is – Kimberly DuBoise.

I live in the Midwest with my husband, cat and dog. I have taught preschool in the public school system for ten years. I have written and published a book of poetry and a non-fiction book on faith. If I am not reading or writing I am probably cooking or walking. My blog is called the tinypoet because I am tiny – 4’6 to be exact. I have Turner Syndrome, which impacts my daily life and thus my writing.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

kim bookI wrote a book titled “The Hidden Castle” when I was nine and still have it. I remember choosing the cover. It was fun to illustrate, too. It is a mystery, action story that reflected my love of Nancy Drew back then! I got an A+ on it, still remember that. It meant so much to me.  My first self-published book is a poetry collection that exemplifies my heart toward worship and seeking spiritual connection.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

My favorite aspect of writing is expressing my deepest emotions. Using my creativity. My least favorite aspect is marketing, promotion.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

Yes, I do believe it occurs. I think so much of our mental energy is destructive unless we channel it constructively. To beat it I change my locale, surroundings, give myself a break. Staying inspired and knowing why you are doing this is important.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

I am writing my first fiction story right now. The challenges for me have been plot kimdevelopment and not editing too much as I go along.

What supports you in your writing?

Other writers and the groups I belong to on social media.

What are you currently reading?

I am reading along with my husband as he studies his online travel course!

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

Readers can find me on my blog, http://www.tinypoet86.blogspot.co.uk/and find my latest book at http://amazon.com/dp/B00L2AST2I

Thank you! Happy Reading!

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Lani V. Cox

Featured Image -- 414I was born in a pink hospital on the beautiful Hawaiian Island of O’ahu, a week after my mom landed from Thailand (‘cause she’s crazy). And even though I was lucky to be raised there, we moved to the middle of the Mojave Desert when I was 12 years old and did not return to Hawaii until about 2 years later.

At the time, I felt isolated and cursed because it was the first time I was a minority and had no friends. But now I can see it as a pivotal time in my life because it was when I started to read and write. I fell in love with reading and magically an old-fashioned green typewriter appeared in the kitchen one day – probably right around the time I decided I could write, too.

I’ve lived a rather nomadic life and I want to say this was not by choice, but on some level, it must have been. For my adult life, I’ve lived in Chico and Oceanside California, Durango Colorado, Eugene and Portland Oregon, Huntsville Alabama, Cuenca Ecuador and Chiang Mai Thailand. Currently, I teach English in Chiang Rai and have lived abroad for about 5 years.

LaniAnd despite all of this wandering, I’m proud to say I just finished publishing my first book, the missing teacher.

What is the first piece you remember writing (from childhood or young adulthood)?

When I was about 13 years old, I remember buying a diary with a lock and key. On the cover it said “Crusin’” and it had a 1950s car, like a Studebaker on it, too. It was pink and silver and I loved the idea that I could lock it from prying parents or siblings.

For my first entry, I wrote about a family road trip we took from Barstow, California to Las Vegas, Nevada. I wrote about the passing desert landscape and my thoughts on the journey. I was writing from the backseat of the car.

What is your favorite aspect of being a writer? Your least favorite?

What a question! Can I say my favorite aspect is writing? I suppose not. Hmmm. I like how writing forces me to be clear and creative in my thoughts.  I love how I get lost in the act of writing. I even like the challenges, but what I don’t like is all the other stuff that surrounds writers these days. The self-promotions, research on how to publish, or agents to pitch to, or the endless publications that you can submit your work to. It’s just a lot and I don’t think I’m the only person who wishes it was easier.

Do you believe in writer’s block? If so, what is your best tip for beating it? If not, why not?

No, I don’t.  I believe in making a writer’s mess though. Regardless, I do think that many problems can be solved by a good night’s sleep, and a willingness to fail, make mistakes and do everything over again. I believe we can learn a lot through the process or act of creating and sometimes it’s not as smooth as we’d like it to be and that’s okay. It’s going to be alright.

What is your current writing project? What is the most challenging aspect of your current writing project?

As I mentioned, I just finished self-publishing my first book the missing teacher. It was an incredibly challenging task from start to finish for many reasons. First, I didn’t really know how I wanted to outline or write my memoir. I tried different things and so I have very different versions and directions I tried out. Secondly, I carried this book with me for about 10 years. I lost motivation at times, but I stuck with it because I knew finishing this would be important. And lastly, getting the book ready for print, e-format and audio was a lot of work. I also had no idea creating a book cover would take so much trial and error, or that proofing for Amazon was going to be a test in patience and sanity.

What supports you in your writing?

I believe blogging supports my writing because it is through blogging that I can write what I want and attempt to reach an audience. I’ve also met people for coffee through my blog and it has been an interesting conversation starter at work or when I’m out being social. I’ve been surprised by how many people tell me, “I read your blog.” And for about a year, I did a learning Thai podcast with someone who upon first meeting me, gushed, “I love yourlani book blog.”

What are you currently reading?

I read a great deal online these days. But ever since I got my Kindle, I’ve been enjoying the free books available through great sites like Open Culture. So, I’m re-reading classic fairy tales and finally cracking into Jane Austin’s Emma.

Where can our readers find you and your books online?

If you are interested in continuing the conversation, I blog at Life, the Universe and Lani and my indie child the missing teacher can be found here.

Confessions of an ‘indie’ publishers (part 6)

You have your manuscript ready for publication and you have decided to ‘indie’ publish. There are probably as many ways to ‘indie’ publish as there are ‘indie’ publishers, all I can talk about are the decisions I made and my reasons for coming to them. 

I chose to create for myself the publishing identity: Avenue Press Scarborough. On reflection, I think this was to do with the hang-up I have with being an ‘indie’ publisher. I wanted a publishing identity to hide behind. Perhaps if I had one, fewer people would realise I wasn’t traditionally published. I’m not sure it was the best of decisions. I’m having to reveal myself as an ‘indie’ publisher to so many people to get their help with promotion and marketing, it feels like my cover is well and truly blown. I had looked into paying a designer to create a logo, in the end I decided against spending my money on this and I created my own. I’m fond of it, but no doubt there are designers out there cringing and gnashing their teeth.

I am glad I paid for my own ISBNs. It’s not necessary. You need an ISBN if you publish a physical book, but often the companies which facilitate this can provide an ISBN. I prefer to have ISBNs which belong to Avenue Press Scarborough and find it pleasing that the books in my series will have consecutive ISBNs. Whether this makes any practical difference I don’t know, but it feels emotionally right to me.

I decided to have both an e-book and a paperback. So where to go for these? With many misgivings about selling my soul to the devil (or at least a large corporation) I settled on Amazon Kindle for the former and Amazon Createspace for the latter. My reason? It appeared the easiest route to reach the biggest number of readers.

There are other companies which will do an e-book, Smashwords for one. But to get onto Kindle, you have to offer exclusive rights to Amazon, and I decided Kindle had the biggest reach of all the e-book devices. I get a royalty % of the price every time one is sold.

Createspace will also get you straight onto Amazon (with your page linked to your Kindle version) and deal with the distribution from that platform. It seemed more complex to get the title on Amazon with other print-on-demand companies, plus there were often up-front costs, which there are not with Createspace. I paid for a proof because I wanted to see the physical paperback before I okayed everything, but if I’d stuck with a digital proof, I could have ‘published’ without paying anything. I can order copies at an author’s rate (about half the cover price) for myself to sell and then I get a royalty % for every time someone buys a paperback of my title from Amazon.

I registered my title with Nielsen which means bookshops can find my book via its ISBN and/or genre. I will have to deal with these orders myself (since I am really Avenue Press Scarborough). I don’t think this will be a lot of work at the moment, however, if it does become onerous, I will have to look into using a trade distribution company.

One thing I have discovered since publishing is that I should have given the paperback a different ISBN to the Kindle. The one order I did get from a bookshop appeared to be for an e-book, when in fact they wanted a paperback, because the ISBN was the same. I am now having to take steps to sort this out. I cannot apply to be available through Waterstones (another form) until this is regularized.

Technology continues to change and what worked in 2014 may not be appropriate in 2015 or 2016. It’s always worth doing your own research into what is on offer. For me the main things which swung the decisions about which company I used was about up-front costs and distribution. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, Amazon appears to have that all sewn up. If you decide to go with Kindle and Createspace, do make sure you fill in the required forms on-line so that you don’t pay US tax. These are easy to do, but, like all forms, need some attention.

The next ‘Confessions’ will look at formatting your manuscript for publication. However, this will be after I have embarked on the ‘2K International Writers’ Blog Tour’. I hope you will come with me for that. Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect’, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv.


Confessions of an ‘indie’ publisher (part 5)

So you’ve got a manuscript which is pretty much novel length, following a long (or not so long) process of writing, getting feedback, writing some more, researching, resting, writing…. Now what? The next steps are preparing the manuscript for publishing through editing, copy-editing and proof-reading. Some people appear to think these steps are inter-changeable, they are not, though they may merge into each other.

A good editor will look at the manuscript and begin to mould it with an audience in mind. A good editor will be a very, very discriminating reader. They will look at: the narrative as a whole; at the way characters develop (or do not); at whether dialogue is realistic enough; at the balance between action and scene setting; at pace; at the beginning, the ending and the notoriously soggy bits in the middle in order to try to firm them up; and so on. A good editor will have opinions about whether the writing fits with the audience or publisher being aimed at. A good editor will also be able to gauge whether legal advice needs to be sought for libel issues and will understand the rules around using quotes and references.

The editing process can be a very creative one; the editor posing the problems around, for instance, pace, dialogue, characterisation, and then the writer coming up with the solutions. There could be much backwards and forwards at this stage.

Following the editor comes the copy-editor. They look at the manuscript with more of a magnifying glass, checking for syntax and grammar. They could pick up on inconsistencies (like the character who had blue eyes on page 1 and has green by page 17) and areas of research (when did women stop wearing corsets with whalebone in them?) Usually a manuscript which has been to a copy-editor will arrive back at the writer for corrections to be done and there will be little conversation about it.

Finally, a manuscript which has been edited and copy-edited can go to the proof-reader whose job is to check for spelling and punctuation errors and for those cunning little typos. Usually, a proof-reader would not have the job of re-writing huge chunks because of poor grammar or deficient writing. And proof-reading must come right at the end of the writing process, if you’re still messing about with the manuscript, then it is not ready to go to the proof-reader; because even the smallest alteration to the text could produce another typing error.

I whole-heartedly believe in paying for a professional to do their job. Each has their own specialist skills and even if we possess those capabilities ourselves, it is very difficult to employ them completely successfully with our own work. However, needs must, and I could not afford all the professional help I would have liked. I, therefore, decided to do my own editing (with the support of writer friends) and my own copy-editing. It meant that I had to learn, and discipline myself, to read my work with a different hat on. When I read as an editor, I had to stop being the writer lovingly solicitous for all my beautiful words, and I had to become a critical reader. When doing the copy-editing, I had to restrict myself to analysing the sentences and not get distracted by adding to or deleting my descriptive flourishes. It was not easy to do and I dare say I was not as effective as I would like to have been.

I drew the line at doing my own proof-reading. For a novel-length piece, I think it is nigh-on impossible to proof-read our own work. So I paid the lovely Jenny to do it (jdrewery.thewriterthebetter@gmail.com) and, because of her skills, she was able to, for instance, pull me up on an issue around using song lyrics (see November post ‘Why writers need proofreaders’) something a good editor or copy-editor would normally do.

Next time I will look at some of the decisions an ‘indie’ publisher has to make. Meanwhile, do look at my novel, The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough, http://goo.gl/5r9WBv.