Friday, 13 August 2010

Old Fart Wannabe Blog 10 - The plan takes shape

Old Fart Wannabe Blog 10 ,  August 13th
So what have I learned so far?
The life of a book, my book, your book, consists of a number of linked events.

     The first is the writing of the book. The product of this stage must be stellar; or as near thereto as you can possibly get.
To improve your initial production, to make it the best your ability will allow, take a course, link with other aspiring writers, get tutor and peer group feedback and keep working at improvement.
One book I would recommend here is Writing Dialogue by Tom Chiarella another is
Nigel Watts -- Write a Novel - And Get it Published.
Another source I found useful is the Ken Follett’s novelist master class at this website
The good news is that the craft of writing can be learned.
The bad news is that this is the easy part. Each following part in the process, with one important exception, increases in difficulty.

     The second event is the editing of the book. Most writers on this topic agree that a professional editor is essential. The exceptions to this, who I have come across in my limited reading, are
J.A Konrath, The Newbie's Guide to Publishing (Everything A Writer Needs To Know), who says the writer should never pay for any part of the publishing process, only for the selling part.
The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success (How To Do It Frugally series of book for writer) by Caroline Howard-Johnson who whilst strongly recommending using a professional editor admits the possibility of self editing and gives many of the tools necessary for doing so. This book is gold and should be read at least 20 times and committed to memory before embarking on the process of editing the manuscript yourself. It contains some great time saving hints for those using MS Word.
I would have accepted the advice to get professional help until I discovered that a freelance, due to the size of the Axe and the Shield would charge me about $4500; way beyond the range of a UK Bus Pass holder.

     The third event is design. A manuscript to be submitted to an agent or a manuscript ready for self-publishing must follow the accepted design rules for the sake of credibility with the reader if for no other reason. A simple exposition of the basic rules is contained in the Kevin Sivils Create Space book mentioned below.
A much more detailed treatment is contained in Perfect Pages by Aaron Shepard ( see link to website below). This is a must read if like me you don’t want to invest in expensive design software but have access to MS Word.

     The fourth event is publishing. In order to even get a trade publisher to look at your manuscript, unknown hopeful that you are, you must have an agent. I have made my feelings on this known earlier in the blog but for those who feel they want to go the traditional publishing route read the Newbie’s Guide, there is some great advice on strategies to use. Be warned though. The author of the Newbie’s Guide collected hundreds of rejection slips before striking the rich seam.
     In the Newbie’s Guide to Publishing by J.A Konrath  the author mentioned self-publishing but didn’t recommend it. But then why should he? He is published through traditional routes and gets six figure advances. However for insight and wisdom about the whole business of writing and getting published he is gold. His book, e-published for Kindle, at a giveaway price is a truly enormous collection of his blogs on the subject. For those without Kindle this collection of really useful information and suggestions can be accessed through the hyperlink above or Google. Just Google the title The Newbie’s Guide to Publishing and enter the site. There are many advertisements, quite properly, for this authors prodigious output of published thrillers, but the gold is in the right hand column; the archive of the blog. Here you will find the 1100 page content of the book, in blogs going back to 2005. Go mining there are nuggets there.
By the way, the e-publication of the Newbies Guide appears to have led to an epiphany moment. Read this author’s latest blog on the virtues of  e-Publishing.

     My decision to self publish, arrived at early on, arises from my conviction that I don’t have the time, the energy or the optimism to go through the depressing traditional process.
I decided to opt for self-publishing but not what is called vanity publishing. Most folk would say the difference between the two is slight but it isn't to me.
     Vanity publishing is where the author hands over a big wedge of cash in order to have a room in her house filled with indifferently printed and produced books.
     What I call self-publishing is where the quality of the book rests with the author who is responsible for writing, editing and designing the book, soliciting reviews, writing the blurb and delivering the cover picture. The author obtains the ISBN and publishes through her own publishing house (Mine is Wyrd Sisters Publishing as The Axe the Shield and the Triton and its sequel The Axe the Shield and the Halig Rood are paired novels in which the Fates have a major role). --- Yes, I looked at the printing costs and likely sale price of the original and decided to split the two parts of the Axe and the Shield running to 600 pages into two separate novels of about 300 pages each.

     The publication can be as an ebook or a pbook printed on demand. The printing arm of a major distributor carries out the POD and the book is advertised and distributed by that distributor. My initial choice was Amazon, the biggest and most accessible distributor in the world. For me the most important part initially is that there are no significant up front costs. After reading POD for Profit by Aaron Shepard I changed that decision to publishing direct through Lightning Source which distributes world wide including Amazon.
Books that are must reads here are:
Aiming at Amazon by Aaron Shepard, POD for Profit by Aaron Shepard
( google him or go to his website ),  he will let you download and read the draft of this book-- be in no doubt, if you are serious about self publishing, you will buy it.
Self-Publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace: A Resource Guide for the Author Considering Self-Publishing [Paperback] by Kevin Sivils
The Step-by-Step Guide to Self-Publishing … by C.Pinheiro et als
Print on Demand Book Publishing by Morris Rosenthal
The Create Space and Kindle publishing pages on Amazon also give a optimistically clear view of the ease of publication through this source.

     And now we come to the really hard part. Getting people to buy your book.
     First as many as possible must know of it and be sufficiently intrigued to part with cash for the opportunity to read it.

     Secondly it must be a good and satisfying read so that they pass this on by word of mouth. If it is badly written or a boring read it will die right there.

     Lets assume it is a good book, which a buyer will feel was money well spent. The self-published author’s job is to spread the news and sell enough of her/his good book that word of mouth will take over and sell more. There are many good books covering strategies for marketing and selling your book. Here are a selection:
Self Publishing … by Dan Poynter ( the original SP bible but now a little dated by the fast moving changes that are overtaking traditional publishing).
Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing For Authors …by Steve Weber
JAKonraths Blog mentioned above.
There are of course many more excellent books on the subject but consider the above your starters, most of the others you will discover along the way and can decide whether you want them or not.

Sorry to have been so prolix but the subject is worthy of a book, which is why so many have been written on it. I hope my rather hasty précis of  some of my readings over the last few weeks is useful to you.
Bessaruck as they say and take care out there.

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