Self-Publishing Support Thread

(152 Posts)
APodPerson Fri 06-Jun-14 17:24:07

Hi all,

Following a number of other threads suggesting this, I thought I’d set up a support thread for us self-publishers (although traditionally published are welcome too of course).

The purpose would be for us all to support each other, share our books, tips and tricks that have worked, and anything else self-publishing related.

MNHQ have given us the go ahead, although of course we need to make sure we behave ourselves, and if it ends up being nothing but spam it'll get pulled.

So, Rule 1: No spam!

I suggest one post introducing yourself with a link to your books, and goodreads profile, twitter, fb page, website etc, but then no further links or any kind of self promo unless it is directly related to a question from another poster.

APodPerson Fri 06-Jun-14 17:41:46

I'll go first smile

I write urban fantasy (although not PNR). I've been published for just two months (woohoo!) and it's been incredible so far.

My info: My book - The Secret Dead
Facebook Author Page
Goodreads Author Page
My website

Best advice I can think of so far:
1. You can do almost everything for free. The exceptions are cover art and a good editor. Those cannot be skimped on.
2. Do a Librarything giveaway (it's resulted in 3 Amazon reviews, 4 on Librarything, and 4 on Goodreads)
3. Make sure you use proper Amazon keywords in your categories. Not all of them are actually recognised. Keywords here.

^Biggest tip^: There are a lot of sharks in the self-publishing waters at the moment - offering anything from 'publishing packages' to editing, that do nothing but take your money. If in doubt about a service, take a look at the Writer Beware website.

APodPerson Fri 06-Jun-14 17:44:00

Argh, pressed post instead of preview. Apologies for the funny links and extra ^. Doesn't say much for my self-editing skills, does it hmm

Place marking so I can get to this thread from the app.

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 07-Jun-14 10:01:35

Marking my place for now but I will probably come and join you properly in a while - my agent has sadly been unable to sell my book (though it got to the final hurdle with one big publishing house) so we're thinking about doing it as an e-book.

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 07-Jun-14 10:04:31

Love your cover, PodPerson.
As a reader I totally agree about the importance of cover design....
How much did it cost?

ImperialBlether Sat 07-Jun-14 10:34:21

Hi OP, just looked at your book and it says you have one customer review, but there are ten reviews there. Do you know what's happened there?

ImperialBlether Sat 07-Jun-14 10:35:30

Yes, I like the cover, too. It's not the sort of book I read but it sounds as though it would be popular.

ImperialBlether Sat 07-Jun-14 10:37:55

This is my book.

I put it on Amazon in mid April at 99p. When I put it up to £1.83 it sold many more copies and of course the royalties are so much better, too. I've sold about 350 copies so far.

I did the cover myself using the Kindle template and a copyright free image.

ImperialBlether Sat 07-Jun-14 10:38:46

That's a shame, Tunip. If you publish on Kindle would you still have a working relationship with your agent or would you go it alone?

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 07-Jun-14 11:27:08

There's a service called White Glove where you do it through your agent and they get their normal 15% and Amazon gives a bit of extra promotion in return for exclusivity. I need to find out exactly what my agent would do for that 15%, given that I'm perfectly capable of doing the basics of uploading and arranging design and editing myself, but there is someone in the agency who has it as a particular responsibility, so I suspect he'd be rather good at it and will have useful contacts.
I haven't yet made up my mind completely but I'm warming to the idea. I like the idea of doing it as part of a team, rather than off my own bat, and the sense that we're working together to build my career. (I also find it very heartening that the agency is on the ball with the epublishing thing since it seems to be the way the wind is blowing.)

Re Pod's Amazon reviews, I think she has one at but they also show you the ones from, where there are more.

Re selling more books at a higher price, I remember MmeGuillotine saying her sales went up when it was priced higher, as well.

APodPerson Sun 08-Jun-14 06:15:59

That's interesting regarding the pricing. I put it at $0.99 because I've got the next in the series due out in the next few months, and was focused on getting readers rather than making money. Hmm, maybe it would be worth putting it up then.

Yes, my reviews are mostly on Amazon US. Most of my sales have come from there too.

My cover was from here:
I can't remember offhand exactly how much it was - around $70? It was premade.
If anyone is looking for covers though, there's a great site here. I've dealt with them before, and the man who runs it is lovely.
I'm going to be changing mine in the next few weeks - I do like it - but I wanted to go for something a bit more genre specific.

TunipTheUnconquerable Sun 08-Jun-14 14:40:03

Definitely worth reading more about pricing, I think.
Having said that some people say pricing it too low sends out the wrong message (because people think it must be crap if you're only charging 77p for it) I read something yesterday ( can't remember where, sorry) saying that when you have a series you should price the first in the series low to suck them in then charge full price for the second. The article also talked about bundling, so you save if you buy both together. I don't yet know what the mechanism would be for that on Amazon, though.

ImperialBlether Sun 08-Jun-14 14:53:47

I read that too, Tunip - must have been reading the same article!

I don't think you can do bundling on Amazon, can you?

SirRaymondClench Sun 08-Jun-14 14:59:07

Marking my place. This is a great thread!

APodPerson Sun 08-Jun-14 16:50:22

I don't know if anyone's seen this from Mark Coker at Smashwords with regards the pricing thing.
I saw him give a lecture at Kingston Uni recently. He comes across as a really nice guy, and enthusiastic about books.

APodPerson Sun 08-Jun-14 16:55:09

I don't think you can do bundling so you get multiple files on your kindle on Amazon the way you would on other sites, but I read a thread recently (can't remember where) about how authors can do 'boxsets'. The impression I was left with is that the only way is to upload a single document with all books, but have your links in front, so effectively it's only one file.

ImperialBlether Sun 08-Jun-14 18:58:01

Has anyone put an age rating on their Kindle novels? I haven't but wonder whether I should.

I haven't yet, I have linked books as a series though. Age rating is not that relevant to my Fairytale book, I might put one on the YA novella though.

The app kept logging off when I attempted to post links, so here goes:
I'm a professional children's storyteller and author, though I also format ebooks and write copy for 11+ exams when book sales are slow. I have self published an ebook, and teamed up with a local publisher for my latest two titles (one awaiting a cover) which have both ebook and paperback versions.
Short Story Lady (my website)
I have two titles out currently: "The Strangeling's Tale", and "Drabble Folk and Fairy Tales". Here they are on Amazon and Smashwords.
I'm due to publish "Memoirs of a Madcap Cyclist" as soon as I can agree a cover design with my publisher and my illustrator.
I'd second the advice about doing most of it for free, but not skimping on illustrations/cover art and editing/proofreading. It's a steep learning curve at first, but once you've got the hang of it, it's all fairly easy to work with.
I wrote a short free pdf guide to formatting ebooks here which I hope you'll find useful.

APodPerson Wed 11-Jun-14 13:38:06

InMySpareTime I'd never heard of a drabble in that context before. I may have a new favourite word smile
Do you also have print books? It seems the sort of thing that would lend itself to print very well.

The Drabble diaries are in paperback, I will print the Strangeling once I've written the other two in the series.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 11-Jun-14 13:54:47

Imperial, have you thought of making yourself a Goodreads page?
I don't use it myself but I'm going to have to learn because apparently teens get their book recommendations from there more than they do Amazon. I think it could get you a few more readers.

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 11-Jun-14 13:57:22

....and as if by magic the very next page I went to after here had someone saying 'I get almost all my book recommendations from Goodreads'!

Abra1d Wed 11-Jun-14 14:08:11

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

It's easy to make a Goodreads page, and if you have a blog you can get a Goodreads feed on it. I use Goodreads to log my reading (I have challenged myself to read 100 books this year), but it's a good place to keep all my links together and very SEO friendly.

ImperialBlether Wed 11-Jun-14 22:14:21

Some really great ideas here - thanks very much. I'm going to look at Goodreads now.

fackinell Sun 22-Jun-14 12:38:05

Hello all, back after a six month MN break (needed to focus on writing and RL for a while.) A friend/fellow MNetter told me about this new fred so I thought I'd check it out. Well done to you all on your writing success. grin

Tunip, I just saw an old post from you on another thread (about hating my lead character and I hadn't replied. She finally got some balls and I'm really happy with her.) Chicklit book two now released and now two kids ones. Just started #3 for adults.

I'm not brave enough to post my link but fair play to you all for putting them on here. It's nice to be back. I've missed you all.

GoEasyPudding Sun 22-Jun-14 17:51:41

This is a great thread. I am not a writer myself but I am very interested in what you chaps are doing!

fackinell Sun 22-Jun-14 19:06:06

Are you thinking about writing, Pudding?

MeanAndMeaslyMiddleAges Sun 22-Jun-14 23:46:15

Ooh, marking my place I'm afraid. I have been writing a collection of short stories and there's still a way to go yet, but I am thinking of self-publishing on Kindle. I've never been published and I am utterly utterly terrified of going it alone. But also terrified of giving up on my dream.

I suppose my eventual aim is to get something with my name on it 'out there' and then concentrate on a novel. Not that I am purely using short stories as a means to an end - as a medium, I prefer writing short stories to novels. However, I appreciate that there isn't the market for short stories in the same way that there is for full-length ms.

fackinell Mon 23-Jun-14 00:28:49

Mean, I am awful at writing short stories, I find it difficult to end books. You could try writing a book of short stories, there are a few of those around.

Mean, my book of 100-word stories is my most successful seller (so far). I'm good at writing short stories, I like the challenge of a tight word countgrin.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 24-Jun-14 15:04:26

Yay, Fackinell. Glad your heroine grew some balls and congratulations on getting so many books out!

GoEasyPudding Tue 24-Jun-14 17:45:35

I must confess fackinell I am thinking about it. Haven't written a darn thing but I have piles of note books with ideas, plots, and characters. More notebooks on films, TV shows and novels that I really enjoy and want to analyse why I like them.

I think I am a bit like a Train Spotter, I'm never going to drive the train but I like to know everything about my favourite subject.

TunipTheUnconquerable Tue 24-Jun-14 17:53:11

Wow, how interesting, GoEasyPudding. I've known writers who do that as part of their developing their own writing, but never people who do it without writing. Though there are a lot of people who do book review blogs, I suppose.
Have you read any books on the craft of writing? If you're interested in the mechanics of why you like things, you might find books like 'Story' by Robert McKee, or 'The Anatomy of Story' by John Truby, rather fun.

I'd love to see what happens when you do sit down to write, having thought so much about it in advance.

fackinell Tue 24-Jun-14 20:57:27

Thank you, Tunip smile

Pudding, I bet you'd be great at it. You can't put all that effort into creating characters and plots and then not be. You must feel like you really know them now. I always miss my characters when I'm finished writing, they become friends almost.

GoEasyPudding Thu 26-Jun-14 10:42:00

This seems really odd confessing all this fackinell and turnip!

I don't write but I have read Robert McKee and John Truby.
I adore Julia Cameron and On writing by Stephen King.

Love John Truby. Simply fascinated when he explains why a recent film doesn't work, and when it does despite bad reviews. I even went to see Godzilla on his recommendation.
I have even attended screenwriting classes. All this and yet I don't write! I am a strange creature!

My Uni degree is in film studies and I have friends who are real life film reviewers, and ones a published author. One self publishes after having an agent drop him.

I have just felt so intimidated by my friends over the years and the publishing world is such a mystery I have never ever had the nerve even to write a short story.

Back in school if there was a creative writing assignment I would Ace it and I would entertain my pals with decent fan fiction! When I read back those teenage musings I actually think they are pretty good and yet I can't do it now. Just so intimidated. UNTIL NOW!!!

I read literary fiction mostly. I get frustrated by genre fiction, although I love the thrill of the plot. So I guess something like Sarah Waters or John Faber would be my ideal. However what I fear most is my writing will be like Garth Merenghi. (If you know what I am talking about high five Dark Place fan!) and here's a link!

what I fear my writing will be like!

Its very exciting to see that self publishing works for people and its something I can have a go at without worrying about agents and publishers and what they want.

I just feel so liberated reading this thread and watching the kindle self publishers on You Tube.

GoEasyPudding Thu 26-Jun-14 10:50:58

Whoops....I meant Michel Faber... you know, Crimson Petal and the White.

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 26-Jun-14 10:52:02

You are deeply bizarre grin
Maybe it's about not having found a story you want to tell up to now.
There's also a point at which reading too much on craft can inhibit you because you know too much about what you should be doing so you keep stopping to check you're doing it right.
Maybe you could do NaNoWriMo, or set yourself your own NaNo-type challenge, where you write a 50k first draft in a month.
Also, here's a thought - maybe if you're scared you have Garth Merenghi tendencies (loved the link btw) you should set yourself the challenge of writing something that is like Merenghi but grabs the reader anyway!

GoEasyPudding Thu 26-Jun-14 11:13:45

Yes. For a good 15 years I had nothing to say. Truly, nothing real, nothing that meant anything.

In my real life I had issues with not acknowledging difficult and uncomfortable feelings and of course it's the bad and juicy stuff we all want to read about. Even comedy has a dark side.

Now I am fully in touch with all that stuff...I have the time...I have a invented KDP...I can't hide anymore.

You are very kind to listen to me and click my link. I shall look into your suggestions as I haven't heard of NaNoWriMo before.

What stage are you at Tunip? Whatyerdoin?

TunipTheUnconquerable Sat 28-Jun-14 16:44:49

I'm about to take my first foray into self-publishing after my book almost-found-a-publisher-but-then-didn't.
And busy writing the next book which has been in doldrums for months but is now racing along, yay!

It's all about rewriting. Write your book but then get someone to read it, and then rewrite it. It's amazingly satisfying and interesting.
I wrote for years but I kind of expected everything to come out right first time and if I didn't, I assumed it was because I was crap. Then when I started reading books on the craft of writing, I learned a vocabulary to talk about why my books weren't working and what could be done to fix them, and then I was away.

fackinell Mon 07-Jul-14 11:08:12

Just back from my hols. Love the link, Pudding! grin
Do you think their could be another area of lit you'd prefer to do other than write? Maybe a critic or an agent. It sounds like you have a flair for it and it does take huge confidence to put yourself out there. If it is writing you're interested in then at some stage you will end up just going for it, I reckon. The good side is that often it will surprise you and do well. If it doesn't then you generally have some feedback from reviews to go back and change it. Tunip is right, rewriting is key.

Well done on your hard work, Tunip, it sounds like your writing is going from strength to strength. smile

olivespickledonions Fri 11-Jul-14 12:33:34

Very interesting thread! I submitted my book to agents this week but am already planning for rejection and then self-publishing. Great links re. book covers, I was having nightmares about having to draw something, taking a photo of it on my iPhone and then attempting to turn it into a jpeg...or something (hopeless non-tech whizz)!!

Peacocklady Sat 12-Jul-14 08:21:30

How do you serialise a book? I've written about 10000 words of a novel. I quite fancy trying out a bit to see how it's received and if it does well finishing it!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Sat 12-Jul-14 08:34:52

Marking my place

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 11:02:07

Good luck, Olives. I hope you get the answer you're hoping for. I do some of my own illustrations and they've turned out fine. I drew my lead character and a few surrounding details, scanned and then used the paint option to do the title and background. Well, DP did that bit but it looked really good.

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 11:05:25

Peacock, you can get feedback on sites like Authonomy but do expect a lot of spam in the inbox. There are lots who will read and critique in return for you doing the same for them. You can make the HarperCollins short list to end up in the Editor's desk too.

Personally, I got friends to give me feedback but you have to expect them to be honest. Some of mine took no prisoners. grin

olivespickledonions Sat 12-Jul-14 14:08:28

Ooh interesting fackinell, did you use a particular (god I don't even know the word!) programme, app?
Re. agents, thank you. I am totally realistic. I'm assuming what I've written is utter shite. I think it's the only way!

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 14:34:20

The programme is called GIMP, Olives (unfortunate name, I know grin) it's tricky but you may be more technical than me. We use publisher for my kid's pic book layout.

I'm sure your writing is amazing but SP is a great option too. I've now sold circa 40k of my first novel and that was turned down by three agents. Well, one didn't have time to read, one didn't reply and one said not their style.

FollowTheGreaterSun Sat 12-Jul-14 15:11:16

Hello, previously PodPerson here.

For those of us already published, I've just found out about the Autumn Indie Book Fair.

I don't know much about it yet, but it's being run in conjunction with ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) and tables are only £5.

>waves hello at everyone who's joined the thread<

ImperialBlether Sat 12-Jul-14 17:39:02

Fackinhell (that's what I said when I read your post) - 40,000? Wow! Is that for one book? How long did it take you to sell that number? Do you sell many worldwide?

Would you approach an agent with your next book?

Peacocklady Sat 12-Jul-14 17:50:45

A couple of friends have read mine and said it's great but it's quite ahem niche so I would rather be anonymous and just try it in the great unknown a stage at a time. Is that possible?

ImperialBlether Sat 12-Jul-14 18:03:54

I've noticed on Kindle it's easier to do well (in terms of charts) if you're in a niche area. What kind of niche?

Peacocklady Sat 12-Jul-14 18:11:14

Porn from a woman's perspective. I haven't read shades of grey but from what I hear it's not at all like that.

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 18:41:41

That's for one book, Imperial. I first published it at the end of 2011 and it only sold around 100 copies until April 2013 then went bonkers. I hadn't done any kind of marketing in the run up and then did a huge advertising campaign on the cheap. Stuff like begging local paper for editorial and handing out fliers. Once it gets into the top 30 or so it just self perpetuates. It's still top 20 for fiction humour now, over a year on. Only does well in the UK though.

I thought about an agent for my new book but I have a market still from the first one. I kind of want to prove I can so it by myself. My two kid's books are fairly low key but I have sent one to an agent. Haven't heard back yet. Don't mind so much with the kid's ones as they're easy to change if they don't like it. I like the freedom of my own creativity without interfering agents for my adult books.

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 18:44:38

Follow, that is so exciting about the book fayre!! grin I'm booking in. Anyone else?

Peacock, you can write under a pen name, nobody need know. Yours would climb high quickly on Amazon in a niche group as there are categories for erotic and gay/lesbian etc that aren't clogged up unlike some.

ImperialBlether Sat 12-Jul-14 18:46:51

Yes, I think it's one of those things that if it sells, it continues to sell and if it doesn't sell, it sinks. Those are really good sales figures - congratulations!

ImperialBlether Sat 12-Jul-14 18:48:28

So what is the axis on your graph for Kindle? Must be in hundreds!

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 19:12:27

Thanks Imperial. The axis on the graph? I have no idea what that is grin I just look at ranking, sales and reviews. I'll tell you if you know where I can find it!!

ImperialBlether Sat 12-Jul-14 19:23:24

When you go onto the KDP site and see the reports, the graph is on the opening page. You are doing it through Kindle, aren't you?

Mine's here (though nowhere near as impressive as yours!)

fackinell Sat 12-Jul-14 19:53:31

Oh yes, i know what you mean now. I'm such a technophobe. Can't see past this months' graph but it goes up to 30 at one point and up and down all the time like one of those heart machines grin I don't know how to post it or view yours on my phone (can I even do that on mobile site?) 7998 was my highest month of sales, that was last June. At the moment it's around 1k a month which has calmed down a lot but still enough to keep it up high enough apparently. It was around 4k per month for ages.

FollowTheGreaterSun Sun 13-Jul-14 07:54:06

fackinell it would be good to see you and others at the book fair. I've booked my table.

Wow! I'm impressed by those sales figures. I'm not even close. Am hoping for a 'bonkers' moment grin

olivespickledonions Sun 13-Jul-14 09:30:45

Fackinell thank you for GIMP smile. Your sales figures are fantastic!
I sent my book to 12 agents! I know you're not supposed to 'hit' so many in one go, but a crisis of confidence and a re-writing of my synopsis after agent six dictated it! I'm half looking forward to/impatient for my twelve rejections as I've seen a cover I like on goonwrite!
(So many exclamation marks! Another submissions no no! I'm on a roll!! grin

Oops, it dropped off my Threads I'm On blush
Progress in the last month:
"Memoirs of a Madcap Cyclist", my latest little book, is at the printers and uploaded as an ebook on Smashwords and KDP.
I have my proof copy, it's so lovely I keep reading it just to make sure it's actually real grin.

fackinell Sun 13-Jul-14 10:34:30

Follow, we are waiting to hear back from our email asking if we need to be a member of ALLI as that wasn't clear. Maybe you could answer that though. Will book a table then. Can't wait to meet all MNetters going. grin

I played around a lot with prices, at a friend's suggestion. The cheapest books go out in an email drop so I kept going from 77p to 99p to catch Amazon's mail drops. I also pushed it so hard, FB advertising and a blanket request of a repost from
My FB friends (I rarely ask and a lot share automatically now.) I ordered 10 books from creatspace and did a giveaway of signed copies competitions from my FB author page and got some editorial from the local paper. It was a huge push but it paid off.

fackinell Sun 13-Jul-14 10:56:35

Olives, you never know, I bet it's way better than you actually give yourself credit for. The literary world can be so arsey. I watched that TV prob about Amazon recently and there is a little bit of unrest amongst publishing houses where SP is concerned. That's no bad thing IMO.

I like to think I'd stay true to my SP roots but the truth is that if someone offered me an advance and a promise of massive sales then I would be tempted. I just hate all the changes they tell you to make. It'd feel like it was destroying my creative license. My books are exactly how I want them and out of over 100 odd reviews I have 4+ out of 5* as an average. I would hate for my books to be picked apart after so long. I also like the fact that after tax it's all my own profit.

Inmysparetime, I know what you mean grin my local library has said they'll take my books to put on their shelves to loan out but I have to donate the copies, that's exciting. Yours would do the same, I'm sure.

Fackinell, my first paperback is on the shelves of a local library, and I'm running story-writing workshops over the summer at a couple of libraries already (stealth book promo eventsgrin). I've got a list of places to ask about stocking the book once it's printed (Indy Bookshops, bike shops etc) I just need to actually put in the legwork.
It seems that the writing bit is the easy bit, it's the editing and most of all the marketing that I find difficult.
I know my books are awesome, and when people read them they love them, but I find it very uncomfortable closing sales for some reason.

ImperialBlether Sun 13-Jul-14 18:57:45

InMySpareTime, are you self publishing?

fackinell Sun 13-Jul-14 20:09:36

Inmysparetime, that's great that you have them in your local library. I wish I thought my books were awesome, I think they're alright but they're not exactly Dickens. I don't really believe in myself but I am proud that I've managed to string together 80k or so words and that people seem to like it. As Imperial asked, are you SP?

fackinell Sun 13-Jul-14 20:10:46

Follow, my table at Chorleywood is booked!! I guess I'll see you there grin

CocktailQueen Sun 13-Jul-14 20:14:12

My daughter aged 10 wrote a book a few months back and I edited it and put it on Smashwords. - I have been happy with their service. It's free to download - search for Sapphire by Rebecca. The cover has heart shaped sapphires on it.

She is working on her next book and I am wondering if we should publish differently next time, so this is a great thread!

fackinell Sun 13-Jul-14 21:16:45

Cocktail, I just looked for it but it wouldn't download to my kindle app. What a great achievement at the age of ten. You must be so proud of her. smile

CocktailQueen Sun 13-Jul-14 22:35:00

Thanks, fackinell - yes, v proud of her! Wonder why it won't download for you? Can you try it in another format?

fackinell Sun 13-Jul-14 23:00:19

It only offers me the kindle option, shall try on laptop tomorrow. Well done your girl. grin

ImperialBlether Sun 13-Jul-14 23:17:24

Fackinell, I thought you could only download from Amazon onto a Kindle; that might be why you can't do it.

Well done to your daughter, CocktailQueen; I hope she writes many more!

Blether, I self-published my first book (an ebook) then helped a friend of mine set up a publishing company for the paperbacks. Sort of a bit of both, but I did a lot of the set-up with the publisher. I got the security of knowing my books would definitely be published, and the clout of working through a publisher.

fackinell Mon 14-Jul-14 01:21:29

Ahh ok, that could be it, Imperial. Shall have another look later on.

CocktailQueen Mon 14-Jul-14 18:34:03

There is the option to download a mobi for kindle file - hmm. I did it and it worked.

Thanks, imperial! X

GranitaMargarita Tue 15-Jul-14 21:10:50

Looks like my novel won't be making its way into the world via the traditional publishers, so I'm joining this thread as a fellow would-be 'indy' novelist.

I'm finding it horribly intimidating at the moment, but trying to get my head round all the complexities of marketing, cover design etc.

fackinell Wed 16-Jul-14 00:38:30

Welcome Granita, although in rather disappointing circumstances for you. You're the boss of your novel, how it's designed and laid out is all your choice and nobody can tell you it's wrong. Gerrit out there and join us at Chorleywood. smile

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Wed 16-Jul-14 07:14:53

Hello everyone. What a great thread. Total novice here. I wrote a short piece called baba, and on a mumsnetters advice (you lot have been so utterly supportive and brilliant), published it on wattpad there are also 3 other short pieces on there.

Since I published, I have started to rewrite baba. It was generally noted that the original was more like an essay. So now it's sounding and looking more like a short story.

I'm not sure what I should do with it now though, once the new version is finished. Should I replace the old one on Wattpad, with the new one? Should I make it totally new, and publish it again on Wattpad? Or should I self publish on amazon? confused

any advice would be greatly appreciated xx

GranitaMargarita Wed 16-Jul-14 08:26:49

Thanks very much, Fackinell! I know there's a lot of experience and encouragement on this thread, so hopefully this is the start of a new journey...

fackinell Wed 16-Jul-14 11:31:49

I'm sure it is, Granita. A lot of us on here have been responsible for our own advertising and marketing so feel free to ask away.

Charlie, if it were me then I'd replace it. I did this with my first novel after feedback. I tidied it up a bit and changed a couple of things that reviewers consistently said they didn't like, so mine is really a second edition now. Could you have a look around for competitions to enter? I have no idea how to publish a short story on Amazon. How short is it? I imagine that may be difficult to price. Do you intend on writing a book of them?

olivespickledonions Wed 16-Jul-14 12:24:30

One down, eleven rejections to go...! I am stepping closer to self-publishing!
I was planning to have a welcome break from writing, now that my novel is being laughed at considered by agents, but after two days I felt the need to start writing something else. I'm treating it as a summer project and writing ad hoc straight onto wattpad. Thanks to apodpersons recommendation on page one of this thread, I've just bought a lovely cover for £24 from goonwrite. And I guess I'll see how it goes!

fackinell Wed 16-Jul-14 13:44:14

Ahh crap. Sorry to hear that, Olives. I'd say go with the creative flow. There will be times when you want to write but are staring at a blank computer screen. You're best to go for it if the creative juices are flowing. And think how nice it will be when you get an acceptance and you can say that you have a few chapters of your new book for them to look at. smile

olivespickledonions Wed 16-Jul-14 14:00:49

Thanks Fackinell. I'm also finding that writing something else is excellent for helping me forget all about 'that other novel'!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Wed 16-Jul-14 15:16:11

Thanks for the advice, fackinell. I will replace on Wattpad. I never thought about whether I'd be able to publish it as a short story. It's currently at around 3000 words I think.

Thing is, there is so much to this story that I've omitted, I could easily make it into a novel. It just scares me, writing something that long. I never know how to end either. Creating chapters terrifies me for some reason

Anyway, maybe I'll give it a go. Try a novel. And get it on amazon. Thanks xx

fackinell Wed 16-Jul-14 17:14:08

That's good, Olives, the wait is awful I'm sure smile

fackinell Wed 16-Jul-14 17:16:52

It's a scary thought, Charlie but if you have so more to tell then thats a great start!! Try and see your chapters as mini short stories, each chapter will take a new turn and before you know it, you'll have a book and can join the rest of us on Amazon. grin

olivespickledonions Wed 16-Jul-14 18:17:02

Fackinell, I'm actually very chilled about the whole thing. It's just something I thought I would 'give a go'. I'm under no illusion that I will gain success or recognition, and I am long enough in the tooth to not get unduly upset by rejection. Been there, done that! I'm happy that when I decide to self-publish I will have a whole novel, all done, to plonk on amazon and if I sell any copies I will be thrilled.

olivespickledonions Wed 16-Jul-14 18:20:57

Charlie, I look forward to reading the new version of Baba and think you should go for the novel! Could you add imag

olivespickledonions Wed 16-Jul-14 18:23:19

...blast! I'll continue...
Could you add imagined scenes/scenarios that take it away from real life? Use the real Baba as a springboard for a whole story?

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 17-Jul-14 09:18:29

fackinell and olives, thank you for your responses. Some sound advice and great encouragement. I have decided to go for it as a novel [scared face].

I have had a good long think about it and I think I should take out a rather personal part about my sister. Its quite a large and important part of the story, but it just doesn't feel right airing her private business. OK, on an anonymous forum that my sister would never in a million years read - but if I am really going to do this, I want to use my real name and I want my sister's support with the whole process. She can even help me with details of the book.

Sorry, I'm waffling now blush - I have a tendency to do that.

How many words should I be aiming for?

Also apologies that every post I have written has been about me! I am just a bit wrapped up in it right now.

This is a great thread, and everyone has been making very useful comments and some good advice. Its really taken away the mystery of publishing / self publishing for me. It IS attainable after all!

grin thanks

fackinell Thu 17-Jul-14 10:29:52

Congratulations on your decision, Charlie. A typical sized novel is around 80k words or more. Yes, if its a negative aspect on your sister's life and you're using your real name then that's probably is a good idea to remove it. One of mine is based on truth but as it's humour, my family don't mind.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 17-Jul-14 10:37:38

I have just been staring blankly at my writing for the last hour.

I am lost.


olivespickledonions Thu 17-Jul-14 10:59:51

Charlie, can you make a plan? Make a list of chapter numbers - say 30 - and roughly think what you could include in each? Would it help??

olivespickledonions Thu 17-Jul-14 11:02:09

Or make a list of scenes you would like to include?

disclaimer: I am still a complete novice at this whole game!

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 17-Jul-14 11:08:52

Olives - thank you. I will make a list of chapters and scenes. It just seems so daunting. I only have just over 3000 words - and a novel is usually around 80k?! ARGH!

I am still determined though. Coming on here does wonders.

Sorry for hijacking the thread everyone blush - I will go away and try to get this done!


fackinell Thu 17-Jul-14 11:15:36

That's what this thread is for, Charlie. smile can you start with looking at what you've already done and adding 'threads' to pick up on later?

I'm planning on doing four hours this afternoon and I really can't decide where to take it. This usually happens after a few chapters though.

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Thu 17-Jul-14 16:30:11

After an agonising morning, I have started to make leeway! I have basically started from scratch. Will write the novel in third (rather than 1st) person.

Its really quite difficult going back over old stuff that happened in my life, bad stuff. It got me down a little today, but I am kind of over that, and my decision to make it less about my life and more fictional has helped.

Thanks for your support, and I hope you too make some leeway today fackinell

GranitaMargarita Thu 17-Jul-14 19:40:51

So, some very practical questions to those with experience...

What level (if any) of editorial input have you opted for? I can see that there are all sorts of levels, from simple proof reading to line-by-line and structural editing.

What have people chosen, how useful did you find it, and did you feel it was worth the price?

fackinell Thu 17-Jul-14 20:24:04

It may turn out to be more cathartic than you think, Charlie. Not good that it's got you down though. Well done on making a start. I got sod all done, just wasn't in the mindset.

fackinell Thu 17-Jul-14 20:27:44

Granita, first book I got a professional editor, he took £650 quid but I wasn't happy with the result (changed words that I wanted to keep, sent back docs in varying formats and fonts and read only.) Second book, paid a mate who edits as part of her job £100 but there were still a few mistakes. I'm at a loss to know what to do now really.
<helpful> wink

GranitaMargarita Thu 17-Jul-14 20:29:33

Fackinell - That's interesting, thank you. Would you mind PMming me the name of the person that you wouldn't recommend? Was he supposed to be doing proof reading or a line by line editing?

fackinell Thu 17-Jul-14 20:59:42

He was doing a full line edit and lives in West London. Would you be using someone in that area? I'd feel awful naming him as he was otherwise a lovely man. Just not very savvy with computers.

GranitaMargarita Tue 22-Jul-14 20:58:51

Sure - if I go for this, I'll check with you just before I sign anything, if the editor sounds like it might possibly be the same!

fackinell Wed 23-Jul-14 14:39:36

Ok cool, his first name begins with N. it really isn't my nature to name people but I totally get that you would t want to pay that money and have problems. smile

My books arrived from the printers todaygrin.
I picked them up from the publisher, promptly sold one on the way home, then another on the school run.
This bodes well for future sales, this one has better mass-market appeal than the last one (it's about cycling), and the newspaper interview I did was the second most-viewed article in the paper.
Bubbly is currently on ice...

fackinell Wed 23-Jul-14 18:36:08

Congratulations Inmysparetime thanks
How good does it feel to actually hold something you have created? Try as I might, I just can't get excited about digital copies but an actual book...grin

charlietangoteakettlebarbeque Fri 25-Jul-14 12:56:29

InMySpareTime - wow! Congrats. Hope you enjoyed your bubbly!

Its been a quiet morning at work and I have spewed some words onto my computer. Something completely different to Baba. I needed to take a break. Its called The Cutting, and its very short. The start of a story, a story which I have no idea where to go with. Not sure I will continue, but if anyone is suitably bored and fancies a read and to give me any feedback, the go for it. I'd be well pleased.

I reckon it would be aimed at teens.

Very unoriginal title, but I am off to lunch now and wanted to just get it up there.

here it is

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 13:02:58

One of the dullest questions ever - how important is chapter length?

Some of my chapters are rather variable in length - between about 1500 and 3000 words.

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 15:49:17

Probably not hugely important. I usually have around 25 over 80k words and tend to end a chapter if there's a twist or a subject close.

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 16:50:59

Yeah, I thought I was probably getting unnecessarily wound up about it! Thanks Fackinell.

I'm starting to suspect some of these worries are delaying tactics as I get close to pressing the big red 'publish' button.

Next. would anyone be interested in helping me shape my back cover blurb into something that will grab the reader?

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 17:17:43

Yes, I would. Or post the gist in here and we can all try. smile

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 17:51:13

Cool! Lets try it as a joint effort. Thank you smile

Young adult, dystopian science fiction. (A collegue of mine said 'Like Miss Marple meets The Hunger Games')

It's set in an alternative 1920s, in a city devastated by a deadly virus. To prevent the virus spreading and to deal with the consequences, the government has set up an authoritarian system of incinerating bodies, quarantining families, and rationing food.

Seventeen-year-old Lucille Harker has come to the city after the deaths of her mother and brothers, the failure of the family farm, and her father's suicide. She takes a job with the Medical Patrol, picking up the corpses, and she's proud to see this as a way of fighting against the virus. She's tactless, honest and loyal, but refuses to forgive her father for his suicide. She's also drowing in debts from the failed farm, that she feels honour-bound to pay back.

One night, Lucille and her colleague and mentor, Hank, go to pick up the body of the Mayor's late mistress, who has died of the virus. When they arrive, Lucille discovers that the dead woman is missing, but another body is lying in her place - a woman who's been shot through the head. Lucille is desperate to do everything openly and by the book, as much as she can in this situation, but everyone else (except Hank) is intent on a cover up.

The Mayor's office of Hygiene Control begin nosing round Lucille, trying to bribe her to forget the scandal..

Hank starts making cryptic comments and then disappears. Lucille is determined to find out where he's got to, and searches all over town, visiting including a freak show, a shyster preacher, a doctor on the search for the vaccine for the virus, and a jazz club. And then she gets arrested herself, and discovers that she didn't know half of what the Mayor was up to...

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 18:01:36

This is one of my attempts:

"The city has been devastated by a deadly virus. The only way to prevent it spreading is an authoritarian regime of incinerating bodies and quarantining families.

Seventeen-year-old Lucille Harker, alone in the city after her family’s deaths, sees her job collecting corpses as a chance to repay her father’s betrayal.

But when Lucille is called to a wealthy politician’s apartment to take away a murder victim, she must learn to make her own choices about what loyalty and betrayal mean."

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 18:06:33

Or how about

"After the virus came, everything changed. Seventeen ­year-old Lucille is left with just a pile of debt to remind her of her dead family and their failed farm. Working for the Mayor in his struggles to control the spread of the disease seems like a chance to repay her father’s betrayal. But little by little, she realises that the service she put her faith in is corrupt to the core. And now she must learn to make her own choices about what loyalty and betrayal mean."

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 18:14:22

I really like the sound of your story. I immediately want to know more. I'm no expert but I think I'd have the bit about Lucille first and the info about the city, including the name and the period (1927 or whenever it's set) included. Just a personal preference to have character before scenario. I'd like to see a bit more about the cover up in the last paragraph as in the description before that intrigued me.

I do think its a really good blurb. smile

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 18:15:46

Second one, with a bit more about the cover up and her life being potentially at risk if she tells all...

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 18:20:57

Thanks! I will redraft... (Lovely being online at the same time as someone giving feedback)

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 18:26:38

Haha I know, you can wait daaaays sometimes. grin

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 18:31:23

Are you totally finished other than blurb? How exciting!! grin I remember the fear well. You're SP aren't you?

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 18:43:58

I'm nearly nearly done - and yes, will be self-pubbing / "indy authoring". Have sent you a PM...

Meanwhile, how about
"After the virus came, everything changed. Seventeen ­year-old Lucille is left with just a pile of debt to remind her of her dead family and their failed farm. Working for the Mayor to control the spread of the disease seems like a chance to repay her father’s betrayal. Now, the city is under an authoritarian regime, incinerating bodies, rationing food and quarantining families.

When Lucille is called to the Mayor’s own apartment to take away a murder victim, everyone but her seems intent on a cover-up. Then the only person she trusts disappears...

Little by little, Lucille realises that the service she put her faith in is corrupt to the core. And now she must learn to make her own choices about what loyalty and betrayal mean."

I'm thinking about a shout line for the front (or back) cover as well. Something gripping and yet vague...

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 18:58:58

Love that!! Perfect. Great idea doing a grab line. How about something along the lines of 'who do you trust when everyone you know is gone?'
That thought scare the bejesus out of me. grin

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 19:09:18

Oh, I like that! That's really good.

(What happens when everyone she knows is gone is that Lucille has to get over herself a bit and trust some people who don't come up to her insanely high standards. One of them even likes... shopping.)

GranitaMargarita Sun 03-Aug-14 19:24:19

I've popped the blurb and the opening chapter on my GoodReads page if anyone wants to take a look (and / or has more comments on the blurb) and shout line.

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 19:28:47

Haha, brilliant!! Will try look at the Goodreads link but if it asks for my password then I'm humped. grin

fackinell Sun 03-Aug-14 19:31:00

Very good, gives enough away but leaves you wanting more. Well done. grin

GranitaMargarita Wed 13-Aug-14 08:47:23

So how's everyone going at the moment?

I'm currently wading through proof-reading and trying to get a response from the person I'm hoping will design my front cover.

fackinell Wed 13-Aug-14 11:25:02

Not great ATM, Granita. I have writer's block and seem
To have lost my funny, with chick-lit book 3!! shock
One of the things my reviewers say is that they laugh out loud at some of the lines. I'm going to sit down today and try and inject some humour.

Have you thought about designing your own cover? It's great fun if you're arty. I did two of mine and really enjoyed it. smile

TunipTheUnconquerable Wed 13-Aug-14 20:24:05

Great to hear you're all getting on with stuff. I've been moving house, had weeks without internet and to make matters worse my computer got broken in the move. I've got it back now (thank goodness) but still utterly snowed under with kids and house stuff. Very frustrating when I'm desperate to get on with getting the book out there/writing the next one.
GM, good to hear of your self-publishing plans.

GranitaMargarita Wed 13-Aug-14 21:41:17

Oh no, so sorry to hear that the computer was broken! I guessed the radio silence was just the whole house move stuff.

I have to admit that I'm still faffing with the racism angle of the book. For YA, how racist can I get the heroine to be? How racist can the close 3rd person narrator get? How much does she need to consciously realise she was wrong? I'm pretty sure that I'm fairly historically correct about attitudes towards ethnic minorities in early 20th century USA, but wouldn't want to upset contemporary readers (well, I guess I do want them to be upset but in a learning way and to see that Lucille is wrong).

Meanwhile, a couple of minor characters turned out to be gay, which was unexpected. (Probably everyone else thought they were gay all along.)

fackinell Thu 28-Aug-14 19:06:27

Hey guys, how is everyone getting on? I've shelved my latest MS and started a new one today. Only written 1k words but think I may have found my funny again. Have decided I need to stick to Celtic style humour, it seems to work for me. smile

TunipTheUnconquerable Thu 04-Sep-14 11:23:32

I'm back at my desk in my writing room in the new house! Scrivener is open, the kids are at school.... things may start to happen again smile

How's the new one going, Fackinell?

Granita, any progress with the self-pubbing?

fackinell Thu 04-Sep-14 12:04:31

It's going good thanks, Tunip. Around 2k words in, only 78k to go haha. Well done you for getting back on it. The new season coming up feels inspiring. smile

mitchstrahsberg Wed 10-Sep-14 09:24:41

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

olivespickledonions Tue 16-Sep-14 09:27:57

Hi all. I'm looking for some advice! So I sent my novel to quite a few agents, have been rejected by all but 4, and still waiting for those last few to come in. I'm assuming they're all going to be rejections, I have rejigged the novel a bit since submitting and I'm itching to just get the damn thing on Amazon. I feel even if a few people read it and I make a tiny amount of money and if one of two people like it (I'll use a pen name in case it gets slated), the whole thing will have been worth it, and then I can happily continue with my second novel, which I have started. Should I wait though? (I sent out my novel to agents mid-July, so it's been two months. I know it's early days but I'm really impatient, and I truly expect the final responses to all be 'no's; I know how fiercely competitive it all is and I fear my book may be utter utter shit.

My other question concerns beta readers. No-one has read my novel but me. The only person who knows I've even written it is my husband and he only reads football biographies so he's no help. I haven't told anyone else in RL as I am scared of looking a fool if my writing is crap and this whole endeavour ends in nothing. And I've looked at/tinkered with the bloody thing so many times now I just don't know anything anymore! Have any of you used beta readers before self-publishing and where did you find them? Will I break any mumsnet rules if I just ask on 'chat' or 'fiction' if anyone wants to read it??
I'm a complete novice at this, as you can tell! Any advice would be gratefully received.

olivespickledonions Tue 16-Sep-14 09:35:36

Ps. Sorry, should have said I hope everyone else is getting on ok before launching in. (...Oh it's just all 'me, me, me'...Sorry!)

Guilianna Tue 16-Sep-14 17:08:05

My advice would be don't put book out there you fear may be utter utter shit. I've got a few of those manuscripts, and I wouldn't inflict them on the world!
Getting feedback is a great idea, though. I asked friends, then friends of friends, then paid for some feedback and started MA for some more. I also started a local writing group by advertising on twitter. Good luck!

mitchstrahsberg Wed 17-Sep-14 09:17:48

Message deleted by MNHQ. Here's a link to our Talk Guidelines.

olivespickledonions Wed 17-Sep-14 20:03:21

Thank you both for your advice. I've found a beta reader through a forum and will wait for their conclusions before deciding whether to publish or bin! Thanks again.

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 19-Sep-14 11:15:26

I agree Guilianna - feedback is everything. Make it as good as possible before sending it to agents or self-publishing.

GrendelsMinim Sun 21-Sep-14 19:10:40

I'm finally approaching publication date - would anyone like a copy of my novel in exchange for a review on GoodReads and Amazon? (Honest reviews wanted, of course, not puff-pieces.)

Meanwhile, I have to share my website-in-progress for the book with you all:

You'll see the book blurb as drafted on this very thread!

TunipTheUnconquerable Sun 21-Sep-14 19:28:38

Wow, massive GO YOU!!!!

I love the Sound and Fury website.

GrendelsMinim Sun 21-Sep-14 19:37:16

Thank you Tunip!

TunipTheUnconquerable Fri 24-Oct-14 11:22:59

Hello everyone.
I haven't got very far lately but I see GrendelsMinim is going great guns.

Anyone else got any recommendations for good cover designers?

Christmasbooks Wed 12-Nov-14 19:08:40

Hello! I came here because of a thread I posted in AIBU , which everyone told me was spam, about my mum's new book (Christmas at Great Madden£.

I really want to read other MNers books so am delighted to find this thread! imperial -your link from June goes to three books...are the first two yours?

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Thu 13-Nov-14 17:02:07

I've commissioned my cover designer!

He's too busy to start right away but it'll be ready in about a month.

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Fri 14-Nov-14 12:27:04

Has anyone on here set up their own imprint and bought ISBNs?

I'm about to do this so I can have something other than 'Createspace' on my spine and so if I ever want to move the printing to somewhere else I'd be able to keep the same ISBN. Is it really as easy as it looks?

TheCountessofFitzdotterel Wed 19-Nov-14 16:21:02

My author Facebook page is up-and-running - here
It's very gratifying to see how many of my friends have liked it. But even more gratifying that I already have quite a few likes from people I don't know. Am trying not to be too surprised at the fact that there are people out there interested enough in my writing to want updates on their feed grin

GrendelsMinim Thu 20-Nov-14 12:27:36

Proud to say that 'Changed Souls' is now up on Amazon, complete with the back-cover blurb that we all drafted on this very thread.

Changed Souls on Amazon

I'd be chuffed to bits if my fellow authors from this forum would read and review it (let me know if you'd like a free review copy) - at least one already has wink

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