Tag Archives: e-publishing

The Sphinx Project – Review

6 Mar

Today I want to share with you The Sphinx Project a new title that has just been released by self published author Katherine Hawkings.

Lets start with the blurb:

Not many people can say their entire existence has been one big lab experiment: poked and prodded by scientists, genetically modified to be the best and endure the worst, subjected to daily tests and trials that would kill a normal human. All Michaela wants is her own life, to be able to go to school, flirt with boys, maybe eat ice cream now and then. So when the chance to escape finally comes, Michaela and her sister grab it, taking their friends with them.
But they weren’t the only ones to find their way out of those labs. Following close behind are another breed of creature, one that doesn’t know the difference between right and wrong, who exist only to feed their own hunger. The appearance of a strange boy who seems too much like them to be a coincidence makes things even more confusing. But as the world begins to literally fall apart around them, Michaela must accept his help, especially when she could lose the very thing she holds dearest: her sister.

Sounds good. Believe me, it does not disappoint. Fast paced, action packed, compelling storyline..even the slightest hint of romance is included in this genreless book.(Maybe I have made that word up – lets run with it!) And it is genreless, its crossover is what holds its appeal, a bit of everything for everyone and it certainly seems effortless, and there is not one point that I scrunched my face feeling that it didn’t work.

Sure, it may predominantly fit YA but i think to pigeon-hole it would detract from its quality.

I just have two negative points to raise. During the first half of the book a couple of times I felt the information was repeated. Just the odd line, but I noticed it, so I have to mention it. The other one is the fact that this book is part of a series, and I need the rest of that series NOW. Seriously, I feel like my iPad has been stolen midway through a book.

My recommendation is that everyone should read this book. Even if it isn’t your usual cup of tea, the drama and action is too much to ignore, you will be at the end before you even know you have started. If, like me, you are impatient, I recommend you follow Katherine Hawkings to keep up to date with new releases so you can get the full series in one hit as soon as it is available.

You can pick up your copy here.

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.

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.

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.

A fab example of a self-publishing book launch

10 Apr

Just wanted to alert you all to a live book launch for Changeling happening over on Facebook. 

A full day event, the author, Morgan Gallagher has participated in interviews throughout the day.

http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=111726445568742&index=1

A fantastic example of a well executed book launch.

If the link doesn’t work, check out the blog: http://thedreyfusstrilogy.blogspot.com/2011/04/changeling-is-now-live.html

(I should tell you the book is fab – i’m sure it is, but I haven’t read it yet!)