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My possible plans for A Simple Guide

27 Jun

I have spent  a lot of time thinking about A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing. I haven’t worked on the marketing of it as I should, there has been something holding me back. Just a niggle, but it has been there.

So what is this niggle?

It wasn’t something I was fully aware of at first, I thought it was self-publishing nerves, the doubts that we all inevitably have. What if our work isn’t well received, what if (and you know how I feel about them) you get poor reviews?

It wasn’t nerves.

When I spoke about the guide, I found myself having to explain the book more in-depth than I feel  necessary. Was it that I hadn’t nailed the blurb enough to create a short explanation? Did the fault lay with me?

Nope, not that either.

As I read blogs, and chat on twitter, I find myself (hopefully) advising people on the steps that they can take to make their own self-publishing experience a little easier. There is something very strange about what I am telling people, IT ISN’T IN THE BOOK.

And that’s the problem.

My guide isn’t as comprehensive as my knowledge. It certainly takes you through the basic steps, and I can, quite happily, hold my head up and say my guide does exactly what I set out to do.  It is great for all of those who want to consider self-publishing that haven’t already got a blog – for those truly at the beginning of their long journey. I know this because I have spoken to many people who are at that very stage. I think as ‘bloggers’ we fail to realise the amount of knowledge we gain from one another about various areas of the industry. I am not even convinced when we sign up for our blogs we know what the purpose of that blog will eventually be.

So I’m thinking…

I interact with writers on a daily basis, each at different stages of their career, each with their own goal. The one thing they all have in common is that they have already done the hard part, they have opened up to the world that they write. they want to have their work read. So the question I am now left with is, what can I do for them?

I have 'borrowed' this image. Click on it if you want to know where it came from. (The site itself doesn't provide the source and I am totally confused by the proper way of doing this image thing!)

I have several options;

* Write ‘A Guide to Self-Publishing’

* Forget about the writing a book thing and just continue to throw out advice as and when someone asks

* Update the existing guide, filling it with everything. It will intrinsically make it less ‘simple’, but it will certainly answer all the questions.

So what do you think? I have to say I am slightly stumped by what to do. My gut tells me to make ‘A Simple Guide’ free, once I have written a more comprehensive one. The idea being you will download the first one, like my interpretation of the process, and then buy the new one. However, I really like being free with my information, and I love helping people. At the end of the day, self-publishing is the one industry that says ‘hey, look at me, im free’ but when you take a closer look, free it definitely isn’t.

The problem with writing a more in-depth guide is I know it will be extremely time-consuming. On such a tight schedule, can I afford to undertake a further project? Sure, I say I have more to add, but I would never add the information without checking it several times first. I would say my writing tends to be 90% research, that is a LOT of time.

As writers we are always seeking perfection. Our last draft is never final in our minds (even if it is on the shelves of Waterstone’s). I don’t think my doubts are that. I want to be proud of what I have done, and I am, I just think I could do more.

Am I rambling? I would love to know your thoughts. Oh and yes, this is self-doubt. (For the record I am afraid of  writers that do not show self-doubt, there is something icky about them!)


Reviews = Sales (But make sure they are genuine)

20 May

Many of you may remember my post about reviews. I discussed how fake reviews can seem, and how even with self-publishing, authors are using friends to write glorious reviews.

There is nothing wrong with friends writing reviews, in fact, I would expect it. Your friends are your greatest support network, and they will want to champion you in your work. They will want to tell everyone to buy your book – they want to see you succeed.

Great! My problem is the reviews written by people who either feel they are an authority on the subject (though ultimately would never have purchased the book had it not been written by a ‘friend’), or those who just wouldn’t go near it and say things like, ‘this is great, buy it!’

Well we all want reviews like that, but I am after genuine reviews. Maybe in my case it is different. It is not a novel, it is actually a rather specialist book. Although for beginners, so no it’s not complicated, its subject area is very niche. We might be all about the writers community here, but how many people have interest in self-publishing in the grand scheme of things?

So where does that leave me  – and whats that got to do with reviews? Well…I understand my sales will be relatively low, I also understand that it takes time for sales to build a momentum. I still haven’t finished arranging the pod copy (I get a headache just thinking about it), but for all that, I am OK with my sales. That is to say, I haven’t sold masses, but the small number I have made surprise me. I didn’t expect to sell any so from that view-point, sales are excellent, Ha!

What isn’t excellent is my reviews. Or should I say, my lack of reviews. I have not outwardly pushed for people to write reviews. Many writers, as a standard practice hand out copies left right and centre to get the reviews written. I chose not to. Sure, I have mentioned it briefly on twitter and the Facebook page, but I haven’t pushed it. I certainly haven’t held competitions to make you one of my lucky winners!

And now? I am having a re-think. I need reviews. Everyone needs reviews for sales. I still don’t want reviews that are gushing. I want honestly written, genuine reviews. As in, did this book serve its purpose?

So, will you be my lucky winner? Ha. No seriously. If you are a writer that is considering the self-publishing route either now, or for the future, and would be happy to write a review in exchange for a free copy of ‘A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing,’ then please email me

How Not to Self-Publish?

6 May

My next book shall be titled, ‘How Not to Self-Publish.’ To be honest, I think everybody who has taken the route, could probably write the same guide.

As with everything in life, no matter how much you know, and no matter how much of a perfectionist you are, mistakes will be made. Anyone who disagrees with this is not entirely honest with themselves.

For me, the mistakes I have made in my little adventure sting more because of the books contents. To produce ‘A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing’ and then make errors in the process, make me question my knowledge. If I’m questioning it, then others must be too.

But knowledge, and following a process are two different things. I relate this to getting married. When it came to going to get the dress, I knew exactly what I wanted. I tried on hundreds of dresses, but nothing seemed to work. I finally chose the dress, headed home, so happy, only to receive a call from the bridal shop saying the dress was damaged.

When I returned to the shop, I walked in and spotted the most amazing dress. Still, I tried on the damaged dress (because I had chosen it and it was what I knew I wanted), to realise it wasn’t right. Straight away I chose to try on the amazing dress, and you know what? It was that dress I walked down the aisle in.

At the time everyone around me was really annoyed. If only I had been more open to styles in the first place…

With my book, I knew what was required. Completing the steps I got lost in my knowledge, rather than being receptive to different ideas. A good example of this is sizing of the physical book. As I had researched, I had at that stage decided the style and design, when it came to conversion (oh what another headache), I was stubborn in my choice. Eventually I gave way, and it was sorted within thirty minutes. Seriously, I need shaking at times!

Another idea that has been drummed into me is that as soon as the book is completed, get publishing. With this in my mind, you have to be thinking about marketing, blogs, author pages, twitter, Facebook pages…I should have stopped, and reminded myself that yes, I want to be published, but you don’t need to put pressure on yourself.

My final assignment is due in next week and that is me finished at uni. Yes that is right. I have tried to get this book published and marketed, whilst completing my final year…oh and did I mention I have a daughter under one and a son of three?

As the semester is ending, I am now able to look at things more realistically, whilst patting myself on the back. I have several people who helped out with some areas of the book – those with a more credible stand within the self-publishing world. I need to email them and tell them of the books process (assuming they are not reading the blog). I have made a decision I shall wait for the paper version to be available, as well as the e-book being listed on the iBookstore (it is now available on Amazon), before making contact. In the meantime, I shall finally get to grips with twitter, make the Facebook page more credible, whilst I may finally sort out the links and images for this very blog.

One thing I am sure of, there is no need to rush in and make this work, because I can’t just make it. I need to take time to study and understand before I go further (whilst reminding myself to be more receptive to ideas).

I am already being asked what the plan is next. I have everything ready to send to agents for my novel (although not complete – it is fully outlined with the first nine chapters written). I am also considering how the guide could be improved. Whether that be an extended version, or just ‘A Guide,’ I don’t know just yet. I shall take my holiday to Spain in a few weeks and decide after that.

One thing it won’t be for sure is a guide of ‘How Not to Self-Publish.’ We all make mistakes, and no one learns better than those who make them. My guide is just to get you started, and perhaps you can share your own mistakes. A giggle between friends with a cuppa is always welcome.


The back cover! A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing

29 Apr

Just wanted to show you this:

Isn’t it fab? I have to say, I actually like this design for the back cover even more than the front design…I’m not weird, honest. It is just I was astounded when I saw the words and the layout put together like that.

By the way I also have the formatting completed so the ebooks shall finally be available to buy for your iPad and Kindle, and work properly in the next ten days or so. Yay!

In the mean time come and find me on Facebook.


Bit of a ramble on various things..

14 Apr

Hands up I’m beat.

Many of you will have read about my formatting nightmare, along with small snippets in further posts expressing my difficulties in including my chart within my e-book.

After many attempts, and much help, I have finally contacted a ‘professional’ formatter, as recommended through Smashwords. I hope this will finally mean I can upload my work in full.

In the meantime there is much to organise. Amazon author page needs consideration, whilst I still haven’t sorted out my print on demand options through CreateSpace.I need to create a Facebook page, learn how to use twitter (properly) and organise a proper book launch. I have probably missed so much out of this list, but seen as this is the first time I have fully considered even the basics for my book, I view this as enough for now.

In other news, I have completed chapter nine of my novel, whilst having worked out the full story in a chapter by chapter breakdown. I am researching the various options of approaching an agent/publisher, and have started drafting my proposal letter. In my last post I mentioned exploring the various steps that one needs to take when approaching an agent. I hope to start posting in th next week or so the general break down of requirements.

I am also half way through my last uni assignment (aside from my creative writing portfolio). I have four weeks until I am fully finished. Once I am, will I write or find a job? I have no idea. I can’t actually think properly at the moment, but do know a well-earned rest is definitely required.

Talking of rests, I am off to bed now. Yes it is early, and no, I didn’t get to watch the 7.30pm episode of Eastenders. I would normally wait until 10pm but I fear I will fall asleep on the sofa waiting. (ooh and I just remembered I am reading a novel that made me chuckle on the first page – will tell all another day).

Traaa for now.


I broke the rules.

9 Apr

This week I have officially broken every rule that ever was about self-publishing. Whoops!

I may regret this later, but for now, I am just content with the fact that I have as good as finished my assignment that is due in on Monday. Let me explain.

Last Monday night, as many of you will know, I uploaded ‘A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing’ to Smashwords. As I write my post, the book was in a converting queue. I eventually gave up waiting and went to bed.(I will discuss this in a post this week – bear with me please!)

On Tuesday, we discovered that the chart, which we always knew was tricky, had not converted properly, but the book was available to buy. I quickly told people don’t buy it – I am dealing with it!

It is now saturday night and despite having uploaded another version the chart still isn’t working. As I type this, my husband is still trying to work it out.

During this week, instead of talking to people, I have been busy working in the library on my assignment. Last Monday, my Mum had arrived to look after the kids all week whilst I tried to catch up with uni work following weeks of childhood illness’.

As I was leaving for the library on Tuesday morning, I glanced at the calendar and realised that one of my assignments, was due in a week earlier than anticipated (this Monday). So yes, Mum was here, but rubbish, I would have to work solidly on a single assignment. I never do this! I never leave an assignment so late either!

What has happened to me?

In my shock at being so rubbish, I literally did work non-stop and avoided posting on this blog, or spending too much time fiddling with formatting because I just couldn’t afford the distraction.

My apologies.

Anyway, assignment is complete. Fingers crossed the chart will be sorted today (?). I shall be in touch and will keep you informed of the progress – as well as fill in the gaps in more depth in future posts this week.

Thank you for bearing with me whilst I muddle through.

(Oh, and just to let you know there will be some random posts appearing this week as I upload posts to fit an assignment and not the specifics of this blog!)


Converting in process

4 Apr

So the day has finally come. The uploading the body of my text and cover to create my very own e-book is happening now.

I have actively been avoiding this blog, not wanting to admit to the delays, and the obvious mistakes I kept walking into. Not that I didn’t know they would present themselves, just that I had decided it wouldn’t happen to me…I have always had, and always will have totally unrealistic expectations.

So what has been going on?

Well I have been rubbish really. I am the first to admit this, and there are no excuses. I take on everything I do through choice, and expect to be successful (unrealistic expectations). Quite honestly failure is not an option. So what happened? I think I burned out. Not completely like unable to get out of bed, but I lost all capabilities of focus. It was not totally unexpected. I have too much happening in my life now, hands up, I admit it!

Luckily for me, once again Jessica S. stepped in after the formatting nightmare, and gave me another helping hand. My husband then sorted a lot of tidying up. I was finally ready to upload, when it occurred to me that I still had issues with the copyright and final blurb (as in it hadn’t been written). I also hadn’t written my bio, or the book description.

Today all of it was finally completed. After hours worth of consideration, I opted to use Smashwords. I completed the boxes, uploaded the image and text, and allowed my finger to hover over the publish button. It felt like the moment should be massive.


I pushed the button to be told I am 549 in the queue, at the time of writing, 85 minutes after having hit publish, I am now 261 in the queue.

What I am waiting for is the file to be converted to the different formats that is required for each ereading device. But at this moment, I can’t even say 100% that the conversion will be successful. I can only keep my fingers crossed.

I shall expand on all of this over the coming days and weeks, why certain choices have been made, what was easier or more difficult than anticipated.

For now, I shall continue watching my Smashwords counter as we await the conversion of A Simple Guide to Self-Publishing.