My Self-Publishing Diary – Part 1: Side-eyeing the starting line

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Well, as it’s the end of the month (and has been a big one for my novel) I thought I’d do a round-up of my self-publishing journey in diary form  – the nitty gritty of what I’ve been doing and how far I’ve still got to go. Not to mention what I’m actually aiming for…

Editing and formatting : DONE

So. This month I had my novel edited, and received the final manuscript, all clean and shiny and void of clangers. I have to say, I’m not entirely sure what I expected from a full copy edit, but I definitely thought there would be more changes. I was surprised by how light on red pen it was, and I don’t know if that’s testament to my writing or just a misunderstanding on my part regarding the scope of the edit. In any case, I’m thrilled with it. It definitely wasn’t something I could have done well myself. There were so many style points and grammatical nuances I just wouldn’t have picked up on. I’m going to study my edit like my life depends on it when it comes to self-editing the next novel though, partly because my editor is booked up about 6 months in advance and partly because it’s not cheap!

(Side note – I’m learning that there is nothing more satisfying than discussing your novel with someone who loves words and gets your characters.)

With the manuscript essentially publish ready (I think??) I’ve been focusing now on formatting it and compiling all the bits and bobs I’ll need once it goes live on Amazon’s Kindle Store. For example, I’ll need a description of the book to hook people in, an author bio – and I’m thinking I need to jazz up the title a bit. You know how everything on Kindle Store is called ‘Mynovel: The best and funniest and amazing romantic comedy you’ll read this year! Unputtdownable! Amazing twist! Book 72 in the Mynovel Series.‘ Personally I find this upsetting. It feels like showboating and noise, and I don’t like excess of either. But if I just stick with ‘Tilted’ it’s really not going to stand out, or tell people what it’s about. So. I’m going to have to suck it up and call it something like ‘Tilted: A sexy romantic sort-of-comedy where some people get shot.’ Or something, I’ll work on it.

Also – the author page: ugh. Writing about myself in third person feels weird. Writing anything at all about myself feels weird, especially as I’ve only written (or am publishing) one novel. But as with many things, I’m going to have to get over myself and push on through.

For formatting, I’m going to use Vellum. Even if you don’t actually intend to self-publish, I’d recommend downloading the free software (Mac users only) and importing your manuscript to see what it will look like formatted, because it is rather beautiful and motivational. And after actually weeping with frustration trying to compile ebooks with Scrivener (and making mistakes every single time) it was the easiest process ever. EVER. It will cost about £200 to purchase the license to format ebooks and print books – but if I keep writing then I do think it will be worth it.

 

Next steps : One, two, two and a half…

I’m dithering, actually. Technically – technically – I could publish my book this weekend. I mean, the actual book and cover are there – all I need to do is set up an account on Amazon’s Kindle Publishing Direct and go for it, and then start telling people. But… I’m not sure. I feel like I need to build up a bit of a head of steam, first. I’d like to set up an author website, for example, maybe set up a mailing list (both things EVERY indie publishing guide tells you to do asap). But that takes more time, more money and more fiddling around trying not to be a perfectionist.

I know that generally, it’s never your first book that gets noticed. You build up momentum by creating a funnel – publish a series of books that all feed into the other and hopefully one day it snowballs into lots of readers buying lots of your titles. Some advice I’ve read has basically been to just get the first one published however you can, and then immediately get to work on the second/third/fourth at which point you can get more bang for your buck on any promotions because there are multiple products in the funnel. You see?

I’m going to split the difference and throw a little launch celebration for Tilted – probably in a month or so – and then really crack on with the sequel and the novella. Yes – I’ve turned my standalone novel into a two-and-a-half piece boxset. Why not? The sequel is all planned out (thanks, Save the Cat Writes a Novel) and I’m still dithering around in my off-message (dark, gay, twisted) novella born from an Instagram dark love story prompt. My plan is to maybe offer the novella as a freebie for signing up to my mailing list? We’ll see how it pans out. It’s still a little spicy for public consumption right now…

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Where’s this all going?

I don’t mean the blog. Jury’s still out on that, but publishing-wise I’d like to focus first on my books in the Tilted series, then switch focus to my mystery novels – I’ve written the first of a planned five-part series, and the feedback so far has been really good, so I’m feeling positive! If I can crack on with those (and streamline the process) then in a few years I will hopefully have seven full novels published. And I’d also like to work on a serialised project – a sort of book soap-opera where I release an episode a week/fortnight or something (like they used to do in magazines back in the day!). I have ideas, but no plan, so that will take some thinking.

I have absolutely no idea if that sounds too ambitious. Tilted has taken me almost four years to get to this point! I’ve learned a lot, though, and I’ll get there. Most importantly, I no longer have The Fear about it all, or worrying that people won’t like my books (they won’t! But some will!). I’m willing to put myself out there. You’re a long time dead, after all.

Anyway, that’s May done!

Come at me, June.

Writing, parenting, everything: it’s only ever about the journey

I find it so hard to exist in the moment sometimes.  Especially when I’m writing or sleep training or staring at my boring white walls; I want the end goal now, damn it!  I want the novel finished, edited, enrobed in a glossy cover and out there making money for me!  I want my children to be sleeping through the night and not waking every few hours for no reason!  I want to be able to embrace the ‘dark walls’ trend without having to go through the ‘living-room looks like a bomb-site’ bit!

Who was it who said that being alive is basically just dying a little bit more every day?  I don’t think that was my brain, though I frequently think similar thoughts.  But it’s true; wanting the end goal in any situation is a bit like saying ‘I want to just get it all over and done with and do the being dead bit now, please, because all this bit in the middle is just a bit tedious.  I’m impatient, you know?  I don’t feel like I’ve achieved anything.’

It’s a really weird way to live.  We all do it, but it’s fundamentally flawed.

I’m starting work on a new story at the moment, about a woman who wants to relive her teenage years because she felt that her own were such a disappointment, but when she does get to experience teenage life again, she realises it’s a total mind-fuck.  (That wasn’t the word I was going to use, actually, but it slipped out.)  Anyway, I wrote the outline this morning and then wrote the first couple of scenes, and then thought, ‘Ugh.  This is going to take a long time.  I’m still working on the first novel and I technically finished that two years ago.  Why can’t it just be done already?’

Then I caught myself.  What?  Why would I want the thing that I most enjoy doing to be over?  I love the act of writing. I love coming up with ideas and pulling almost-tangible characters out of thin air to go and live these adventures.  I bloody love putting words in people’s mouths.  I’d put ’em in yours, if I saw you.  So why on earth am I wishing it was all over already?

Then I realised that what I actually wanted was the freedom to keep doing it.  Even whilst I was doing it, I wanted to be doing more of it.  The money fantasy…it’s great.  It’s unlikely, but it’s a lovely dream.  But even if I never made a penny I’d still write, I just love the idea that someone one day might pay so that it can be all I do.  But it’s strange to fantasise about doing the thing you are CURRENTLY DOING.

I saw something on Instagram a while ago that captured that feeling of having a beautiful moment, and whilst you are still experiencing that beautiful moment (like a kiss in the rain, or a breathtaking sunset), you are simultaneously experiencing nostalgia FOR THE SAME MOMENT.

I guess what I’m basically saying is we are all screwed up and strange, wanting what we’ve already got but ignoring the magic of it at the same time.

I woke up the other morning and for a second, felt really excited.  Like something amazing was going to happen.  Then I remembered it was just a random Tuesday, nothing exciting was going to happen.  But THEN (I know, it’s a rollercoaster of emotion in my head before 9am) I told myself: No!  Something amazing COULD happen!  Anything could happen!  This is a brand new day, which you are alive to witness, influence and create, and damnit you SHOULD be excited!  Every morning!’

This was meant to be a few words to say: let’s all stop being so focused on the end goal and just enjoy the little moments, shall we?  They don’t all have to be amazing.  Having my hair pulled by my 6 month old isn’t enriching for the soul.  Scraping Babybel wax out of the rug isn’t invigorating for my well-being.  But in every moment, anything could happen.  Everything could change.  It might not.  But it could.

That’s what makes great stories.  That’s what makes great lives.

Off to peel stickers off my laminate wood flooring now.  #livingmybestlife

X

 

Book review: Let’s Get Digital by David Gaughran

It’s taking me a really long time to admit to myself and the world what it is I really want to do. I get easily distracted, or inspired by other people, and suddenly find myself going off on tangents… Maybe I can make a range of baby clothes?! Maybe I can become a life coach?! Maybe I could actually put my experience and training to use and become a freelance Copywriter?!

Gotta face facts: I want to write stories. I want to write stories and get paid for doing so. I want to spend my life creating, writing and looking after my kids. That would make me happy.

The reason it has taken me so long to realise that this is what I truly want is largely fear and intimidation; I assumed that the only way this could be my reality was if I did things the traditional way: find an agent, get a publisher, wait for the royalties to flow in. (Hahahaha)

But there are many flaws to that plan, not least the fact it stops me at the first hurdle by playing right into the hands of my inferiority complex. Deep down I doubt that I’m good enough, so I don’t feel excited or confident enough to fight for an agent.

When I read David Gaughran’s book, Let’s Get Digital: How to self publish and why you should, it was as though the clouds parted. People – like me – have done this. They have written books, published them, found readers and made money. And they don’t seem to have regretted their writing path one bit.

I highly recommend this book, whether you need inspiration or a clearly laid out map of how to get your book from your computer onto other people’s e-readers. The author is down to earth, realistic and uplifting.

He breaks down some myths surrounding Amazon’s Kindle Store, and gives some effective ways to get your book noticed, starting from getting a brilliant editor and front cover all the way to running promotions and connecting with readers.

The part I found particularly insightful was the background to the publishing industry, and the impact that indie authors has had on it. Most eye opening was the royalties you can achieve as a self-publisher: 70% of the sale price, depending on the price you set, compared to around 14% for an average traditionally published book. More excitingly, self-publishing gives the author so much more control, speed and freedom to make money however they choose. It’s hard work, but it’s all to play for!

It made me see the possibilities and allowed me to gently, and without regret, give up on my dreams of being traditionally published. There’s another way and it’s exciting.

I’m now in the process of getting a professional critique of my first novel – I’ve been fiddling with it for too long and now it needs to either be finished or shelved – and to start outlining my next few novels. The key to success with self-publishing seems to be quality and quantity, so I need to find ways to streamline the planning and writing process so that I can publish as prolifically as possible.

I’ll be reviewing some books that offer advice on how to do this in the future, not to mention sharing my self-publishing adventures and mistakes!

And as always, I’ll be fitting all of this around my mothering career, housework career (please someone fire me from this one) and general life-administrator.

My cup truly runneth over…

Love

C x

Do the damn thing

There’s one piece of advice that seems to be repeated a lot in books, videos and blogs around entrepreneurialism and striking out on your own, and that piece of advice is:

Just do it.

Start the blog.

Write the book.

Make the prototype.

Do the training course.

Attend the event.

Ask the question.

Just do it, do it now. Now, quickly, before you have time to get distracted or over-think everything or let the tedious things get in the way of pursuing what your heart is really crying out to do.

If you want to start a blog, it doesn’t have to look perfect or have a great logo – the theme you choose really won’t make or break your early forays into blogging – so don’t waste time chasing perfection (oh the hours, God, days I’ve spent fiddling around with fonts and colours when NO-ONE WAS EVEN READING THE BLOODY THING). Just set up a blog, open up the editor and bang something, anything, out. Then just keep doing that. Et voila. You’re a blogger.

If you want to write a book – WRITE SOME WORDS. And for the love of all that is holy don’t stop to edit as you go – take it from me, you’ll never get past the first chapter. Just write some words, keep writing words, even if it’s a couple of hundred a day, whatever you can squeeze into 15, 30, 60 minutes. The first draft of anything is generally shit. But the point is, it exists. Which means it’s a billion times better than all of those novels that have never left the wannabe author’s head. And once you’ve got a first draft, you can create a second draft, and a third…. et voila. You’ve got a book.

And so on.

Inertia will kill our dreams.

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This ‘do it do it NOW’ approach transforms all areas of life. Do you have a ‘to-do’ list? I do, and it feels like I’m wearing one of those Aussie hats with corks on – the tasks are all bobbing around my head, nagging me and annoying me, and it just makes me feel a bit guilty and a bit stressed. Lately I’ve been doing my best to get the tasks off my list/hat before I can even put them on there. Need to transfer someone some money but sort of can’t be bothered? DO IT NOW. Keep meaning to give a load of old clothes to charity? Go upstairs now, stick ’em in a bag and put it on the front mat. Teetering pile of washing up threatening to bring you to tears despite it not being your rightful turn to do it? Suck it upnhoney, do the chore, breathe easy once more. And let go of the anger towards the person who was meant to do it. Just do what you gotta do to get stuff done and feel instantly happier.

I’m taking this all very much to heart. And when I put it into action, life feels better!

So my advice to you today?

Do the damn thing.

C x