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Self-publish and be damned? Tags: writing Writers Abroad self-publishing Kindle Amazon

This yearís NaNoWriMo is approaching the halfway point. Congrats to everyone taking part. Even if you donít make the 50K words, the commitment is still a great achievement.

Once the month is over, the dust has settled, youíve added another 30K words, rewritten it, had it beta-read and edited it again for the nth time Ė what do you do then?

  • Chalk it up to experience and put it in the proverbial drawer?
  • Submit it to agents or to the rare publishers that accept unagented submissions?
  • Self-publish it?

The first option would be a pity after so much effort, but itís your novel. We all know how difficult the second is. So what about the third option?

Self-publishing became a lot easier after the advent of e-books and print on demand. For some time, though, it was widely regarded as an option for work that wasnít good enough to be published by traditional means. Fast forward to 2017 and some of the most successful authors are self-publishing their books. Itís not necessarily an either/or: some of those authors, such as our own Nicola (Nina to her fans), continue to be traditionally published as well.

The stigma that once applied to self-publishing has been largely dispelled. There is still a quality issue in some cases, but that also applies to traditional publishing.

I never thought I would self-publish a book, because I was afraid of everything that went with it. You are responsible for the whole thing: writing, quality control, editing, production, cover design and sales and marketing. This is not to say that you do all of these things yourself Ė in fact, I would always advocate commissioning professional editors and designers Ė but you are the driving force behind the project.

I dipped a toe in the water when I recently self-published via Amazon a collection of my short stories set in France. Having already been traditionally published, this was an experiment and I started off with something short (itís 104 printed pages) and uncomplicated.

A great deal of advice exists, but sometimes you donít find it until itís too late. I learned many things in a short time, but these are the key ones:

Research as much as you can beforehand.†Amazon provides guidance, but itís always good to talk to other authors who have done it. This can save you from irrevocable mistakes.

Allow enough time to do everything and do it in the right order.†I almost came a cropper here. For various reasons, I wanted my own ISBNs. Since I live in France, I had to apply to the French ISBN agency. They said it would take three weeks. This almost scuppered my already-announced publication date. Fortunately, after I pleaded urgency, they emailed them the following day.

Donít try to do everything yourself.†A three year-old has better design skills than I do. Amazon provides its own cover design templates, but itís difficult to make them look professional. In my view, a professional-looking cover can make a lot of difference to potential buyers, so I commissioned a designer and was delighted with the results. As I said above, a professional editor is also a good idea.

Fortunately, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace (Amazonís paperback production arm) allow you to amend and upload your manuscript and cover countless times before you hit publish. Itís still a scary feeling when you do. Then you have the nail-biting wait to see if anyone will buy it, but the marketing side is another story.

Clearly, thereís much more to self-publishing than I can go into here. But if I can do it, anyone can. Here's the result and it looks like a book!

This Week on Writers Abroad 25th September
Category: Site News
Tags: Writers Abroad writing ex-pat writers

The news feed is whizzing past at the moment, so it is not easy to keep up, but great to see so much activity. I have added an image at the top to see if we can stop Facebook posting our mug shots! (It didn't work...).

First and foremost, we have two new members this week, both of whom have contributed to Writers Abroad anthologies. Welcome aboard, Susan Eames and Bruce Dodson!

Monday Muse this week is a great selection of word prompts and picture prompts from Crilly. Alyson has posted them on behalf of Crilly, who is recovering from a hip operation Ė see below. Usual drill Ė 500 words (or poem) in 20 minutes or so. Just go where the inspiration takes you.

Richard is down for this weekís blog post and we wait with bated breath to see what topic heíll cover.

Apologies if Iíve missed anything, but the Bragging stool was unoccupied last week. Considering the fabulous run of WA successes recently, members have to have a break sometimes! But I can mention that Nicola has a new release today: Unspeakable in her ĎBeyond Humaní series. Dianne recently released the fifth book in her WWII series ĎThe Yankee Yearsí, Only One Remedy. Those are certainly worth a brag.

Contributions are due for the WA Magazine 7th edition by 30th September. Ideally, please post yours onsite for others to comment on if you have time. Mea culpa, just about to post mineÖ

The October Challenges and Opportunities are still on, but the November ones will be posted soon. If you know of any appropriate competitions or opportunities, please post details and links in the forum once itís up.

Crilly has been out of action for a short time while having a hip operation. We wish her all the best for her recovery and trust that she is using any period of immobility to get a lot of writing done!

Thatís all this week. If Iíve missed anything or got anything wrong please let me know.

Have a creative week.

Question Time
Category: Writing
Tags: Writers Abroad writing writers

You know that thing where you look at the WA planner and realise itís your turn to write the weekly blog post and youíve been occupied with visitors all week and your head is devoid of ideas and other members seem to have far better ones than you do. That.

So I sat down to chew over what I could write about. After a few minutes looking at a mental blank sheet of paper, my thoughts turned to other things. Chief among them was an author session Iíve been invited to do at a literary festival soon. Iíve done a few of those in recent years (pic of me above signing copies at one) and I always enjoy the opportunity to talk with readers and other writers in person. You get some great insights and they are an excellent sounding board.

Occasionally, though, you come across someone who wrong foots you with an undiplomatic or just slightly daft remark. These are the ones that leave me struggling for a response.

So, today Iím imagining that I have carte blanche to be honest with impunity. Here are five selected observations/questions Ė all of which have been addressed to me Ė and my imaginary responses.

Will I like your book?

Since I donít know what you like to read, itís hard for me to answer that. Naturally, I hope you will, but if you donít, please donít give it one star on Goodreads without saying what didnít appeal to you about it.

How much money do you make from writing?

I think you might object if I asked you what you earn. You would be surprised at how low the figure is, anyway, at least for fiction. Very few authors make a living from writing fiction.

I lent my copy of your book to all my friends.

I hope your friends enjoy it, too. And if they do, perhaps they will buy it as a present for their friends and family.

Iíd love to have a copy of your book! (I.e. please give me one).

Iím so pleased youíd like to read it, and you can buy it from these retail outlets (list).

Iíve just finished a novel. Would you read it for me?

I lead a busy life. I work, write and have plenty of other activities to keep me occupied. I also do this for a number of writing colleagues already. So, no, Iím afraid I donít have time. And if I criticised it you would probably be very unhappy. I suggest you find a writing buddy/buddies and/or a writing group and share your work with them.

This is all tongue in cheek, of course, and the vast majority of the time one has sensible and enlightening conversations with readers.

As fellow writers, what tactless questions have you had to parry? And how did you reply?†


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Break Out
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