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Author, Avid Tweeter & Blogger, Lover of books, Teacher of Maths & Swimming, Mother, Speaks Spanish, Friend to many...

Monday, 27 August 2012

How to publish a book...my journey

Along my writing journey I have been faced with a lot of issues...

1) Prose - what is that exactly?

As far as I can see it's finding your voice.  Be that in first, second or third person.  I have decided that I prefer to write in second person, although writing in first person is also fun (and I am still editing my first romance chick flick type book) 

For those who don't know the difference (that was me a couple of year's ago...) I hope this is a fair distinction...

1st person
If I have to clean that dam table another time I am going to scream.
2nd person
Suzie was convinced that if she she had to clean the table another time she would definitely scream.
3rd person
Suzie did not want to clean the table again.  She would scream if she had to.

2) Making your storyline work

Even though when you first write something it seems to work, when you finish your book and step back you might find that the order of events does not work. 

When I first wrote Hybrid it started in the summer months, from's Steven's point of view (POV for those in the know...).  When I was editing and polishing I realised it was not a punchy start so I have to change the entire beginning, cut chunks out, lose some writing (about 5000 words!) and rewrite.  I had some great friends who chatted the scenario out with me (thank you Kay & Kathyrn) and helped me to make it work better.  Then after all that rewrite I decided to add more to the end and took a chunk out of the next book (which I was writing whilst editing Hybrid).

Funnily enough, this is what I have done with book 2.  I had to do a major rewrite and took a chunk out this time, which I moved to book three.  Then I had to rewrite the ending - a new 10,000.  At the moment I am editing book two which needs a fair bit of work and have started to continue to write book three (which now has to be changed to take into account the changes from book two). 

This is the world of series writing.  Do any of you other writers out there have the same issues?

3) Editing

There is no easy way to say this... editing is hard work!

You have to check, check and check again... and use friends or anyone that is willing to give feedback to make sure when you publish your work is as good as it can be.  You could pay for a professional to edit it for you.  Again the advice is mixed here.  Obviously, a well edited book will get better feedback than one that is not, but is there any guarantee that the story will fair better?  Let's face it FSOG could do with a major edit and yet it has sold millions... I rest my case.  So, as a reader I still believe the story has to be good too.  So, if you are a first time writer try and get free help if you can and avoid paying until you know if your story is any good.

I would recommend www.thewordcloud.org to make friends and to obtain feedback.  Although, I do think you have to be prepared to give feedback yourself (which also takes time).

To publish your work and just get feedback go to Wattpad or Booksie... but be warned some other writers could copy your idea since there is nothing stopping them unless you put a disclaimer on your work, i.e. copyright it!

4) How to publish an ebook

When I first looked into publishing I turned to Smashwords.  I was new to the whole thing and Mark Cokers's guide gave me some excellent tools to work with.  I do have to admit that I am very proficient on MS Word.  If you are not you might struggle.  It is not perfect since it leaves huge spaces in the writing when you download to kindle but after some tweaking it does the job. 

It did take ages to get it into the premium catalogue and I have to admit that since most of my firends had a kindle I decided to try out amazon instead.  I was frustrated by the lack of sales or interest.  Honestly, it did me a favour.  The month on smashwords helped my edit further.  With smashwords I could download to my ipad whenever I wanted and edit my story easily.  You can't download this easily to any device from amazon.

When I went to amazon, my document needed very little tweeking.  I just had to change the obvious mentions of smashwords and again reduce the spaces in between the chapters heading, etc to make it look better for kindle.  I decided to try the KDP scheme and the jury is out - I am not sure it does what it is supposed to. 

I put a sample of Hybrid on smashwords and this backfired... Amazon UK put Hybrid for FREE for a month.  Although I am now seeing a steady stream of sales so it might have helped?

I am looking forward to going back on smashwords to see whether I should have waited...

My advice though is try smashwords first, then amazon... unless you have forked out for professional editing advice in which case you won't need the help... right?

5) How to publish a paperback

I am not an expert on this.  I used createspace.  Again, if you are doing this alone prepare for frustrating back and forths to make sure it works.  I also changed the cover a lot and needed help to make it right.  I ordered a few samples (which I could give to friends, etc...) and it felt great to hold my own book in my hand.

In an ideal world, I would make the cover different but again as a self published writer createspace do what they say... you get to hold your book in your hand for a relatively small cost!

For those who don't know, they print to order... so no stockpiling or waste of paper!  Save a tree... lol!

6) Avoiding distraction

As a self published author I have to do all of my marketing and social media interaction.  I have to admit that blogging (well I am writing a blog now aren't I?), going on Twitter, Facebook, checking emails, other social media sites... all takes time.  When I found out about Hootsuite it helped.  Now I can send tweets throughout the day without having to constantly monitor whats happening.  I don't actually know if these tweets are that successful but it makes me feel better - and that's what counts. It does mean that when I go on Twitter I can chat and see what's happening instead of tweeting about myself!

When I did not know about publishing and promotion I just wrote.  Sometimes, I wish I could go back to that.  Saying that I have met some amazing people online and don't feel so alone anymore.  I am part of a wide community of writers all striving to share...

There is a lot of brilliant advice out there for FREE - I know, amazing...

7) Going on courses

I decided to take myself a bit more seriously and signed up for a writers weekend in York (England) from the 7-9th September.

I have no idea how this will go (I am bricking myself...) so I will blog later...

But, I will have 2 one to one meetings with two different agents, a one to one with a book doctor, go on loads of seminars, as well as socialise and mingle at a gala dinner, breakfast etc... I KNOW!

No kids, but a lot to learn... I guess I just wanted to see what the world of publishers and agents is like!

I hope you all wish me luck... I have no idea what will come of it!


Anyway, the reason for this blog was to share my experience as an "indie" author.  I am happy to take questions and to help any of you out there... so give me a shout!

And if you do read Hybrid please leave a review - your opinion matters!  Thank you...

Hope my ramblings help
Vanessa :) xx

3 comments:

  1. Wishing you a great time at York and hoping for lots of learning, lots of fun and lots of good contacts for the future. I've never been able to make it so I'm madly jealous! It'll be fascinating to hear how you get on.

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  2. thank you...

    I will keep you posted! :)

    Vanessa

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  3. Interesting to read your 'journey' Vanessa. I've blogged about the decision to self-publish, and the er...adventures I had uploading to Amazon. The world of publishers and agents is not the panacea many think! I am agentec, but my agent was still unable to place 5 of my books. It seems publishers keep moving the bar around, and the 'ordinary' (if anyone who completes a whole book can be said to be ordinary) writer is no longer welcome. If you/I had written The Vacant Casualty, we'd have been shown the door. If you/I were a celeb, you'd be welcome, however badly written our work was. This is especially true in my field, where 'celebs' abound. That's why I think going indie is a good choice. At least you don't get book after book rejected. And you are in charge of your destiny!.

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