As some of you may know, I was a teacher for thirty four years before I became a writer. Now that I have co-founded an indie collaborative, published three novels, (one of which became a bestseller in its genre), reached the final of the prestigious Exeter Novel Prize, and written 52,000 words of my fourth novel – it seemed a natural progression that I should share what I’ve learned with other writers.
Over the last year and a half I have given talks to writers’ groups, Ladies’ Luncheon Clubs, RNA chapters, third year Arts students at De Montfort University, Leicester and organised self-publishing workshops. I am very excited about my latest venture – outlined above – a four hour talk on how to self publish one’s novel. It wasn’t until I started planning my talk that I realised how far I’d come and how much I’d learned since publishing Tall, Dark and Kilted in November 2012.
SELF PUBLISHING IS NOT FOR SISSIES
So what will I cover during my talk?
here’s a brief outline –
- what to do now you’ve finished your novel
- where to have your manuscript critiqued, edited, proofread, formatted for kindle
- where to buy stock images/ have front cover images professionally designed
- Amazon ISBN vs Nielsen ISBN – which is best for an indie author?
- point attendees towards two ‘how to’ self-help books available in the kindle library
- explain the difference between formatting a ms for Kindle and Paperback
- how to negotiate your way round CreateSpace and create your ‘free’ paperback
- Tax witholding for non-US publishers
- explain how KDP Select/ KNRP/Kindle Unlimited works for indie publishers
- to preorder or not?
- how Scotch on the Rocks became a best seller within two weeks of publication
- how to form an indie collaborative
Many thanks to Alison Knight, fellow member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association for inviting me to give this talk. Here’s Alison’s latest novel – Rosie Goes to War..
If you are interested in attending this workshop, book a place by contacting the Wiltshire and Swindon History Centre on: 01249 705500
- I also present workshops on how to sell books through social media
- readers – where to find them and how to keep them!
- how to write contemporary romance
- I am available for Weddings, Christenings and Bar Mitzvahs (just kidding)
My husband (aka Bongo Man) and I have been married a long time. Here’s an Emma Bridgewater loving cup I commissioned to celebrate the fact – I’ll leave you to do the maths.
In 2014 we bought a vintage caravan off EBay and went on a tour of Scotland to research my third novel – SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS (published this spring). In particular I wanted to visit Holy Loch where the USS Proteus had been anchored, servicing nuclear subs in the early sixties. Vital details in my novel, and I wanted to get it right.
We started out at 5am on September 6th, Bongo Man’s birthday. The 350 mile drive to Scotland is a long one, especially if you’re towing a caravan. We finally reached the shores of Loch Lomond later that same day and set up camp. The setting was idyllic and my heart swelled because I was with the man I love and my feet were on Scottish soil, my own country. One I had left when I was eleven years old but which forever remains in my heart.
In fact, it was so inspiring that I got ideas for my next Scottish-themed novel – HEART OF THE HIGHLANDS – while exploring Castle Stalker, Appin and surrounding area. Making the most of the weather we travelled as far north as Oban and Fort William and then headed back down to the west coast. We couldn’t believe our luck when we rolled up the blinds each morning to find it was still glorious weather.
Next stop Gourock and the ferry over to Dunoon. Or, going DOON THE WATER, as they say in Scotland. We drove along the coast of Holy Loch and visited Hunter’s Quay where some of the most voluble anti-nuclear protests took place in 1961, and the scene in my novel where the heroine’s aunt is hosed off the anchor chain of the Proteus, setting a chain of events in motion. It was there, on the side of Holy Loch that I found my perfect writers’ retreat. in an ideal world, I’d buy the house and spend most of my summers there – just as well we have our caravan as back up.
Romantic evenings, days spent exploring and afternoons writing – the perfect combination when spent with the man I love, my anchor man – Dave. I hate to spoil this idyll but we weren’t alone. Our Hahn’s Macaw, Jasper, came too and seemed to enjoy every minute of his road trip.
It’s simpler to take him along with us as trying to organise a parrot sitter is a nightmare. This summer we plan to spend another couple of weeks touring the west coast of Scotland in June and have our fingers crossed that the weather holds.
Maybe I should have called this post – travels with a parrot. There is a naughty parrot called PERSHING featured in SCOTCH ON THE ROCKS. He’s based on Jasper our Macaw, although infinitely worse behaved !!
I’ve written in conjunction with the first birthday celebration of Isabella Anderson’s debut novel – THE RIGHT DESIGN
THE RIGHT DESIGN is on sale for $0.99, during the month of March – – – – – – – Purchase links
January gets its name from the Roman god Janus, who is traditionally depicted with two faces – one looking forward into the future and one looking back at what has already happened. As a self published author, I have taken Janus as my totem as I work on my second novel and have added my own catch phrase: Don’t Look Back.
As a new writer I took the advice to “polish, polish, polish those first three chapters,” too literally and spent months revising, editing and adapting my novel without finishing it. I harboured the mistaken belief that one could send out those first three immaculate chapters to an agent, or present them to an editor at a writers’ conference and wait to have one’s hand snapped off.
In this crazy stop-start fashion, it took me two years to complete Tall, Dark and Kilted (writing 70k in year one and the final 50k the following year.) I should have had the confidence to plough right on to the end to produce a ‘dirty’ draft or first edit instead of revising and editing as I went along. That would have given me a better idea of the arc of the story and I wouldn’t have spent hours writing scenes which I later jettisoned. I dread to think how many highlighting pens I wore out, the countless pages of the thesaurus I turned searching for the apt phrase, the pithy remark when I should have concentrated on keeping the narrative going.
I have learned my lesson. Honest, Guv, I have!
My current novel now stands at 80, 000 words and I have resisted the temptation to go back and edit. Now, if I can’t think if a word, phrase or an emotion – I simply highlight the gap/omission to fill in later. I should finish my first ‘dirty draft’ by late spring 2013, ready to submit to the Romantic Novelists’ Association New Writers’ Scheme. After receiving my critique, I will make any necessary revisions and send the polished ms to be formatted for Kindle and Create Space by a professional, and have my cover designed.
If everything goes according to plan, I should have the paperback proof to read through for typos etc by the middle of September at the latest. Do-able? I have a photo of my old pal Janus blue tacked to the window near my desk spurring me on, just in case I slip back into my old ways.
I’d love to know how you approach writing and completing your novel. Do share . . .