Tag Archives: A Simple guide to self-publishing

I don’t have Writers Block!!

31 Jan

I felt I needed to write another post in response to a comment about me suffering from writers block in my last post, Reflections of the toffee type.

Maybe I am in denial, but I really do not believe I have writers block. Let’s roll back the clock somewhat and see what I have achieved in the past 12 months.

Now I know many busy people have children so I am not saying ‘look at me, I’m a mummy’ but I do believe it is a valid point to be noted when we look at work levels.

So the first half of 2011 saw me completing my degree, which resulted in a first class honors and I am immensely proud of what I achieved. During that time, I completed A Simple Guide to Self Publishing, and tried real hard to promote it blah blah blah.

I also had a ten thousand word creative writing project in which I started my first novel. The result was the first three chapters and a full synopsis. Eager to continue I worked out full character bio’s, and a ‘post it note’ scene breakdown. Shortly after completing my degree, my computer died and I temporarily lost my work which by that time was at 20 odd chapters. Several months later when the work was recovered, I had lost heart in the story. If I am honest, during this time I didn’t have writers block, just writers depression. The part where you decide you cant do it, feel the effort is not worth it and wonder why you ever started.

Being sensible, I didn’t dwell on it, just chose to take a break.

During this time, I had started acting as editor for several writers, a role which I continue still.

By the end of August, I had found employment, and other than those precious hours of an evening, I didn’t get time to write.

It was at this time that ‘A Cuppa’ came along. Spotting a worthwhile project, I grabbed it with both hands and worked non stop (at least three hours every evening, on top of the kids and my day job). This finished in December and I think it is fair to say I collapsed. I had done too much, too quickly.

But I still wasn’t writing. Now we are on the eve of February, and I still haven’t put pen to paper.

That doesn’t mean however that I have writers block. Far from it. The recent posts that have been based around food (unintentionally) have been more about me getting back into writing, blogging, just testing the water. How much time can I commit? What should I allow my limit to be? Am I ready to go again?

Take a deep breath, yes, yes I am. And I am really quite excited.

I have two projects burning away, just waiting for me to say go. This time I have had has provided me with some fantastic thinking time, without pressure, and the stories and ideas have developed gradually.

The first project will involve you. It is still formulating, and I need to gather some more research and prepare a study plan. But it is looking promising. Whether it will work only time will tell but I am rather quite excited.

The other project will be a script, a series for TV. It is based in a uni, think the Inbetweeners but older, but from the staff point of view. If my idea continues to develop as it stands, the basis of the uni will become less of a factor, as the characters really do tell their own story.

Am I mad sharing my idea? Will somebody steal it? Well, if they do then I will take it as a compliment. As they say, no idea is original, it is the way you tell it that’s important.

I haven’t been a writer for the past six months or so, and this does not worry me. Sure I have had wobbles, slight panics that the dream was sliding out of sight, but there is always more to be had. Writing takes time, but it isn’t just the telling of the story, it is the formulating, the preparation, the time to watch the world.

Anyway, I am here, I am dipping in and out but I am thinking, always thinking. I hope you are too.

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Self – promotion. Are we allowed to sleep?

10 Oct

Today is the final submission day for a Cuppa and An Armchair. I am sure you are all aware of this as many of you have already sent me your shorts.

So far this project has been a real learning experience. You would think, having done a book before it wouldn’t be anything new, but you would be very wrong.

A Simple Guide was a massive flop. One simple reason, I didn’t follow my advice. That book focused on how to do it all, but I wrote it without having experienced it, I had just completed months of research. Now, I will say, my learning was very thorough. I have applied everything I learnt during those months of research, and the bits I have picked up on since, to promoting the submission process of A Cuppa and An Armchair.

What I suspected, but didn’t really understand, was the hard work that promotion involved. I have spent on average two hours every evening trying to get the word out for the project. I have hopped online at every given opportunity throughout the day also. This would have been easier for FB status update and tweets had my Blackberry lasted a bit longer. Since being dropped, I think it had survived longer than could be reasonably expected. All the same…

So what is this promotion?

Well obviously there has been this blog. I have been very wary about just writing project related posts but I am not convinced I have provided enough variation. My main consideration was about not wanting to annoy my regular readers. There is something known as too much promotion. Personally it drives me mad when I am reading other writers blogs and it is all about their current WIP. Don’t get me wrong, this is fine if that is all your blog has ever been. What I’m saying is I don’t want my blog to be about one thing only. That is not where I am at the moment and I don’t want to lose readers because they may think I am.

Sticking with the blog I have tried to spend time reading new blogs, commenting, trying to spread the word. I haven’t been as successful as I would have liked, mainly because I haven’t done it anywhere near enough. promotion scares me, I don’t want to be a spammer…

On Twitter I have become a spammer lol! This was most obvious the day I discovered the problem with the email. Ahem, the day Charlotte told me about the problem. I just had to get the message out there. The only way I could do this was to keep posting the same thing over and to ask for others to retweet. Other than that I sent DMs to many tweeters, and attempted to join in with the conversations. Twitter is definitely my weak point, I’m not sure I fully understand it. Either way I gave it a good go and I am pleased with my progress.

Now Facebook i dreaded. How many times have you been told that Facebook is not the place to promote? Well, sure, the amount of effort I put in, hunting down writers, being inventive with updates and such, may not have been reflected in the ‘likes’, however, we have still managed to get up to 61 likes as of this evening. Bearing in mind A Simple Guide sits at 57, I am certainly not complaining. Now I know many writers have a higher following on Facebook, but I have been at this for a little over a month. We haven’t even put the book together. If the page grows at this rate, by the time the book is released, I shall be ecstatic.

I have dabbled at Google+, thought about LinkedIn and many others, but I decided to concentrate on my three main areas. I am glad I made this decision. I think I would have spread myself too thin otherwise.

So I guess I should get cracking with organising the shorts for the panel to read, plus a little last-minute tweeting and FB updating. I am hoping to take a week off from here, just to re group, and consider the next stages in full before we jump straight in. After all, not only have we had the problem with the email, the submission date has got somewhat muddled also, whoops! It will never run smoothly when you are doing all the running, but I guess a few rocks keep you on your toes. I am just very grateful that I have my Simple Guide knowledge to help steer me through this process.

As always big thank you to all of you who have shown your support, submitted, or just wished us luck.

When an Opportunity comes Knocking

29 Sep

Sometimes opportunities come knocking on your door when you least expect it. This is what has happened to me of late and I wanted to share with you what I am up to.

Now don’t get excited, its nothing more than many of you are probably doing, but for me this is all new and exciting and I am throughly enjoying myself.

Obviously I have the #cuppa project happening. This was put to me through a friend I had been to University with. It was one of those things that was mentioned briefly, and then went quiet for a few weeks, and then bam, next thing you know it’s happening. It is great fun, and great to have so many of you supporting us.

As many of you will be aware, I have also been reading through Gav’s work for his novel ‘Reset’. I am still following this up, and have even started setting Gav deadlines for getting the next chapters to me. Why? Well, I want to read the ending obviously! But seriously, this has been a fantastic experience for me. It has opened up another world to me. I will point out the occasional grammatical error, but I am working more on the flow of the story, the characterisation, hunting out the flaws. It has even got to the point now with Gavs work that I don’t even tell him the lines that are exceptional. I don’t need to. My role has been established, and it is something that is working for both of us.

I shall be starting a new book project for a local company that visit schools. They show a variety of reptiles to the kids. As a teaching tool they use stories to give an insight into the animals natural habitat, and I have been asked to get these stories available as a ‘real book’. This is another opportunity for me to continue gaining experience and confidence.

Finally, the last thing I am doing related to the writing world…well it would seem I am handing out advice to writers. Not just on self-publishing, but they are asking me to read their work, just snippets at times, but they want my feedback. There is still the element of publishing information, but mostly it is looking at the best way of preparing to get started in either self-publishing or traditional publishing. Where do you start? Who to trust?

Uh….

I reply as honestly as I can, and to date, I don’t believe I have offended anyone. Likewise though, if I have, I never actually asked, or promoted myself outright as a go to person. Namely because I don’t have the self confidence to say, ‘I know about this…’ So if they haven’t heard what they wanted to hear….nah forget that, if you didn’t like what I said, get used to it, that’s the industry.

I may waiver at times on my knowledge, I may scream self-doubt, but I do know it, I know more than I often care to admit. I have not asked to be paid for any work at this time, and it is unlikely that unless I start being asked to the point I can’t escape my computer, that I will. You see, I believe we should all be there to support one another, through good and bad, and I know without support I wouldn’t have the knowledge I have now.

So, if you have anything you want advice on, want me to read through your work, or even would like me to host your guest post, then please do contact me.

I’m off to get cracking on another story that has been sent my way…

 

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 chat@elenaransley.com.

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.

http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-Simple-Guide-to-Self-Publishing/160149427377605