Wednesday, 31 March 2010

So, September

I intend to be published by September.

That's 4 months away, and technically my book isn't finished. You couldn't do that through a TradPub house.

September is important to me. I start my HND in September (I'm going back to college to study making movies. I was working in a warehouse for years and lost my job ((Thank Gods)) in January. I hated that job).

I turn 28 in September. I've set a goal of being published at 27. It's a good age and I have a weird fondness for odd numbers.

But I'm not fixated on September. The book will go when it's ready, and if that means November so be it. I think it might mean July; we'll just have to wait and see.

My deadline is very important to me. You see, left to my own devices, I have a tendency to procrastinate like fuck. (That's not what I'm doing just now. Don't be silly. I'm building my platform!)

So September; a deadline, but not a hard deadline. The book will go when it's ready.

My to-do list:

  • write new chapter for book
  • write short story set in book universe and publish for free
  • re-write 2 chapters
  • research and re-write 1 chapter
  • revise, reduce word count
  • get someone to crit book
  • decide on a cover design
  • do cover design (beg my artisty friend for cover design aid?)
  • get professional author photo
  • research all the businessy crap like working from home, tax returns, etc
  • market my book
  • format my book
  • publish my book
  • keep marketing my book
  • write another book
  • publish my book in print

So, not a lot, then.


Tuesday, 30 March 2010

10 self publishing questions

In a brilliant bit of marketing Nathan Bransford has posted 10 questions to ask yourself before you self publish.

Why is it a brilliant piece of marketing? Simple, really - people who frequent agent's blogs are desperate for some way to get published, traditionally published. He knew that the majority of people would instantly dismiss the idea of self-publishing.

If you want to know why they dismissed the idea, Zoe Winters blogged about the real source of self-publishing stigma.

Anyway, I thought I'd have a go at the 10 questions, see how I do.

Here goes:

Have you taken the time to research both the self-publishing and traditional publishing routes?

Yes. I've wanted to self-publish since 2005. I know all about Smashwords, Lightning Source, going straight to Kindle, and I've spoken extensively with others who have done this. I've also researched traditional publishing, and regularly read
Nathan Bransford's and Kirstin Nelson's blogs.

Does your book appeal to a wide audience, or a niche?

Well it's a steampunk sword and sorcery adventure so I guess a large niche.

Question 3 is "if you tried to find an agent..." but I never tried.

Do you know which self publishing model you want to follow?

Yes. Due to monetary constraints I will publish by ebook, then when I have enough money coming in I will buy my ten ISBNs from Nielson. Then I'll publish through Lightning Source.

Can you afford to lose any money you plan to spend?

If everything goes to plan I won't be spending any money.

Do you have a plan for copyediting, cover design, ISBNs, etc?

E-books don't need ISBNs. Cover design will be done nearer the time, I'm researching the Hell out of it (I've just read so much info on typography that you wouldn't believe. And when you look at other, published books, the word placements become so obvious). Copy editing will be my kryptonite, but I'm active on a Runboard writing forum, and Kelly Armstrong's Otherworld OWG, and if I have to I'll join critters or something.

Or I'll do someone's book if they do mine.

Do you have a marketing plan?

Absolutely. It hinges on me being published by August/September. It's still being worked on, but there will be money-off vouchers, special offers, competitions, and a few other things I'm not mentioning yet.

Do you have a plan for your next book?

Of course I do, just because I intend to DIY doesn't mean I'm not a real writer.

Do you have a healthy amount of self-esteem and an entrepreneurial spirit?

Yes, and oh yes I certainly do.

10. Are we having fun yet?

Oh yes, I love all this. The danger, the excitement. Okay, maybe not danger; but it is exciting, like being on the edge of something awesome, the edge of the future. I feel like an explorer in new territory, a pioneer in new technology. The world's a-changing, baby. You're either going to change the world or let it change you, and I've always hated being told what to do.

Maybe it's my film student background (I'm going to do an HND in television this September) and maybe it's because I'm Scottish (for such a small country we have loads of entrepreuners and often lead the world in innovation), but I love the idea of being Indie, whether it's Indie films, music or writing.

What about you? How did you score?

Monday, 29 March 2010


I've wanted to self-publish since 2005. At the time I hung around a lot on Scribes, a forum at Runboard. I'm not linking to it because it's gone now. I mentioned there that I wanted to self publish, and I was shot down by so many voices.

Under their advice, I decided to concentrate on "real" publishing. My book died and has to date not been resurrected.

A guy called Alan Baxter joined Scribes, and he went on to self-publish. His books are out under his own imprint, Blade Red Press. He was doing all the things I'd wanted to do, using all the ideas I'd come up with on my own.

I thought about self-publishing again.

For a while I yoyoed between the two, never realizing that every time I considered "real" publishing my books would die. I've written this book with the goal of self-publishing from the start. The book is the story I want to tell.

I have a character no mainstream publisher will touch: a 72 year old woman dying from consumption. Which might not be a problem if this wasn't a sword and sorcery styled story. But it is. Actually, genre is my second problem. My book is sword and sorcery, in a steampunk alternate Edwardian London. I've taken to calling it a steam and sorcery book. Publishers tend to get nervous when you go around inventing your own genre.

And for a third thing, I love designing covers. Okay, so I can't draw, but I'm handy with a digital camera and I'm learning my way around photoshop.

But the main reason is this... with a self-publishing goal in mind I've written more than I ever managed before. The very idea of sending out to publishers makes me feel ill, and not with nerves. Well, yes, nerves - but not rejection nerves. Trust me, I know how good my writing is. It makes me feel ill with mismanagement nerves. Publishers still have their heads in the past. It wouldn't take much to shake up the publishing world, to make things happen.

But publishers are too interested in their profit margins. It keeps being parroted over the net, publishing is a business. Well, writing is an artform. And without writers, there would be no need for publishers.

I went way off on a tangent there, did you see that? Cool.

Anonymous Independent Author

Hello, hi, how are you?

Well, I'm Chris and I'm an anonymous independent author, or I will be soon. See, I decided (like, years ago) that I want to self publish.

I know, I know - it's always the same reaction. How dare I suggest self-publishing as a genuine, reasonable, inexpensive, realistic alternative to the traditional way of doing things?

Um, because it is...

Oh, it's not always been so, I get that. There was a time when it was possible to bankrupt yourself just getting your book out there. I know that. But that's not my plan. I intend to do this with a budget of about a £5er, tops.

Yes, let the laughter roll in.

I'm serious.

This blog is going to detail the run up to my self-publishing adventure, and the aftermath, and will also feature my writing. I'll be setting up a free website soon, too, so I'll link to there. I'll link to everywhere that has any information on self-publishing, and I'll let you know exactly what I do and how it all works out for me.
It may all end in tears.

Probably not, though.

Even if it isn't a fantastic success story, I doubt it will make me cry.

And finally, why... do you know some publishing houses offer a £5000 advance for the rights to a novel for 50 years in all formats worldwide? Now partly that's due to the credit crunch and partly it's because of e-books. But my problem isn't the money, it's the "all formats, worldwide, for 50 years" part. If I hate my publisher, then what? I'll get my book back when I'm 77?

Yeeha, I'll be doing a lot with it when I'm nearly 80, won't I?

Probably not, no.

Okay, so not 50 years, that's a bit extreme. But seven years, fifty years, it doesn't really matter how long it is. 1 year is too long.

I want control. Over everything. I don't want to end up with a crap cover (it happens a lot) and I don't want to have to change the ending of my novel (I'm not one for happy endings. I like heroes to be martyrs. Publisher's don't).

So, yes, I'm self-publishing. I don't think it will make me rich, but I do think it will make me happy.

Of course, I'm happy as I am, too. I'm quite lucky that way.