Sunday, March 31, 2013

Here I am, with nothing better to do on Easter Sunday than write another blog. Well of course I do have other things to do - clean the spare room, polish the furniture, get started on readying the book for publishing. However, I am the consummate procrastinator so instead I took the dog for not one but two walks (she is still astonished), watched two episodes of David Attenborough narrating Planet Earth on BBC Knowledge (because if it has Knowledge somewhere it is not in fact wasting time but enriching the mind) and am now writing the next episode of my publishing story. You will note that I have written this much without as yet even starting the publishing story. Procrastinator, remember?

In truth the next two steps of the publishing story are quite mundane. No real frustration here, just large chunks of time that I will never get back. I went to the trouble of creating an Excel spreadsheet before beginning the research on book reviewers with online blogs, procrastination masquerading as organisation. I happen to excel (haha) at online research so it didn't take me all that long to create a list of 120 reviewers expressing an interest in the genre of book I have written. I stopped there, but according to my initial research this is not nearly enough reviewers so once the book is published I will have to go back to that. But I figured that was a good start. I can't send the book off to any of them until it is published, so my line of thinking is that I will send it to those on the list, and then search for more. Stagger my book review requests, as it were.

Step 4) in the process I thought was going to be a doddle. RESEARCH YOUR KEYWORDS  was stressed in every item of research I did, but I still thought how hard can it be? Until I started and found that there is actually a science to keywords, and in order for my book to be that metaphoric squeaky wheel that gets noticed, I really do have to be extremely careful in my choice of keywords. I have a short list of about 20 keywords, and I'm hoping that when I follow the mystical steps to publishing on Smashwords and on Amazon, the correct keywords will pop into my brain like magic. Sadly, magic is not the genre of the book and I say sadly simply because of the incredible number and variety of magical themed books available, and the demand for them.Then again given the variety and number of magical themed books, perhaps it is a good thing that mine has no supernatural aspirations.

I should perhaps give an idea here of the genre of the book - not using the keywords garnered from the internet. I wrote this book quite simply because I woke up early one morning with the entire outline sitting in my brain. I was, believe me, astonished. I have always loved to write, I have many times coerced myself to sleep by writing myself a deliberately boring story in my head. I have composed in my head short stories and novels (the latter chapter by chapter night by night) as a way of entertaining myself before sleep. I even wrote a first book which I never finished because I was unhappy with how the characters were  behaving and too lazy to go back and rewrite.

But this book practically wrote itself. I would love to attach here the book summary that I spent three weeks sweating blood over, but sadly my desktop computer has crashed and I have lost the thumbdrive that I kept all this vital information on. Go me. So I will attempt to give a quick outline of the story now.

If you woke up one day with no recollection of who you are, or even where you are - and more immediately the identity of the person sharing the unfamiliar bed with you - what would you do? That's a very brief outline, and I'll give you more as we go along. Mainly because I want you to buy the book, so I can be a full time writer because that's what I want to do, and because I have a series of four books trying to fight their way out of my head and I want to write them!

I will leave you now with a photo of where my procrastination led me this morning :)

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Step 1 in the publishing quest

Post number 2)
I was in truth amazed that so many people actually took a look at post number 1). Phew! I wasn't only talking to myself! Now of course I'm anxious that nobody will bother with post 2...
So yesterday I listed the steps I needed to take to publish this book as an ebook. Step 1) was to design a cover for the book - one that will stand out from the 800 000 or so other ebooks, that will tempt prospective buyers to take a closer look and also give an indication of the story. No pressure there right?
Unhappily I am creative with words, and pretty much nothing else, so I had absolutely no idea what the cover should look like - no clue at all. Bearing that in mind I decided to do my research and find a professional designer who would do my cover for a reasonable price. As with everything else on this particular journey, it proved to be a nightmare - too many choices and most of them wanting far too much. Now while I am sure the prices are an accurate representation of the quality of the work produced, it must be remembered that I am an indie author and I don't have much in the way of financial wherewithal.
In the end I selected a designer and was a little taken aback to receive a query as to what I wanted on the cover. I mean, if I knew what I wanted on the cover I probably could have done it myself. So I explained that I really had no idea, and gave a brief outline of the story. In due course my cover was emailed to me and proved to be a resounding disappointment. In a nutshell it was blah. The designer made a few changes, but appeared to have no more clue than I did. Obviously I was at fault for not supplying the picture I wanted, at least that was how I felt. Ah well, when in doubt do it yourself!
Of course doing it myself meant first getting some sort of clue - all I really had was a clear idea of what I didn't want (thank you designer). More hours were spent researching book covers and pictures until finally I had 3 different pictures. Then I had to turn these pictures into a professional looking cover. I tried several different programmes and only proved to myself how totally clueless I am. Finally I wrestled with powerpoint and managed to produce 2 fair looking covers. But they were still a bit blah.
When in doubt take a break so I did, and came back to it the next day before work (really, life as an indie about to be self published author would be so much easier if I didn't have to go to work each day) and in 10 minutes I had myself a cover I was happy with. I understand terms like soft edges and translucent and glow in a totally different way now!
So, all done right? Wrong! The lovely cover now had to be altered to the correct number of pixels to suit Smashwords and Amazon. And that I found so frustrating that I was sorely tempted to throw the laptop out the door. Thank goodness I have a super cool sister who works with computer programmes for a living - she has way more patience than I do. Bless her heart she altered the pixels for me - sadly I then had to add the text in again and then she once more worked her computer magic and voila! I have a cover.
Now this blogging being a whole new thing for me I have no idea how to add a picture so I'll tell you my plan is to add here a picture of the cover so you can see if you think it is worth all the frustration. Also so you know what it looks like and thus make it easier for you to find when you go to buy the book, haha! (No, really)
Tomorrow I'll tell you all about steps 2 and 3 - and since I will be starting the necessary changes to make the book suitable for publishing as an ebook I may be a little snarky when I start, if I have not in fact thrown the computer out the door, or at the very least stomped off for a sulk.

Friday, March 29, 2013

First blog ever

This is my first post ever on my first blog - not something I imagined I would be doing at all. The reason is simple, even if the process is not. I wrote a book, a book I am quite proud of. I sent this book off to agents, and was thrilled when I got a request for the full manuscript.
Some weeks later I was disappointed to have my first serious rejection - by serious rejection I mean this particular agent really liked my writing, and she liked the book enough to send me a long, personal, apologetic rejection email. She wasn't sure if the subject would sell.
Oh well, I decided to write a new book with different subject matter (more on that in another post). But my first book would not go out of my thoughts, and so in this age of ebooks I decided that that I would self publish. Easy right? For sure it is relatively easy to self publish a book and watch it disappear into literary oblivion. To self publish and make a success of it (hopefully) there is a lot more to it.
There seems little point in publishing if I do not give it the very best shot I can, so I am following all the recommended steps - and these steps do in fact make sense to me. But soooo frustrating!!
Here is a list of what I have had to do, seems pretty easy:

1) Design a kick ass cover and make sure it has the right format for the main ebook publishers.
2) Find as many online reviewers as possible, and request a review of the book - the reasoning is to get the book noticed.
3) Do the research to make sure the keywords selected when publishing the book are the right ones to bring it up in a search by a potential reader.
4) Write an author blog - social media is a great marketing tool - no mention made of how scary it is to put a blog out into the ether and hope someone reads it...
5) Be sure to have the book edited and formatted into the correct style for the main ebook publishers. I can choose to do it personally or pay someone else to do it. Tricky choice really as I am sufficiently anal that if I pay someone I will most likely check their work.
6) Remember to embed a link to the author blog and a review option and a few other things that I forget right now but luckily have written down somewhere.

Of this, I have done numbers 1, 2, 3 and now I am doing 4. Was it easy? Not at all, this is the most frustrating part of the entire process. Writing a book is the easy part - the rest has had me almost tearing my hair out and more than once I have had to close the laptop and walk away when what I really wanted to do was throw the damn thing at a wall! Yes this last sentence was a long one and hopefully had you slightly breathless when you got to the end - that is how I have felt many times during this process.
Now I have no idea how long a blog post is supposed to be, but each stage of the process is a long story, so I'm going to stop here today, and write a stage per day. Hopefully by the time I get to describing step 6, I will have the book published and it is not sinking without trace. Also, fingers crossed, I will not be the only person reading this :)