Final, Final Proof Reading

 

One thing that I’ve quickly come to realise about blogging is that essentially one is writing to and for ones self. Firstly, I can’t even find my blog if I copy and paste the http address into Google  so what chance would anyone else have of stumbling across me? Maybe I’m just doing something wrong. Maybe I’ve clicked a button in settings that says ‘Keep Blog Private’. Hang on, I’d better just check that. No, I haven’t. Secondly, it seems that the world and his wife are so busy blogging that no one has any time to spare to comment on other people’s blogs. Can anyone else smell sour grapes?

But it doesn’t matter anyway because this blog was not conceived as something that people were going to read or subscribe to in their legions with a view to keeping up with my occasional witterings about my mundane existence or my dull views of anything.  From the outset it has been intended to be a weblink that people who might download one of my books from Amazon Kindle (when they are finally uploaded) could follow to see what’s planned or what they’ve missed or what they can look forward to or what they will know to avoid in future. (Cunningly, I’m going to include my blog web address in the uploaded Kindle book. I notice another self-publisher did this. Mind you, there’s not much point if the web address doesn’t lead anywhere. I will have to sort that out.) And, of course, it’s going to serve as a record of my self-publishing venture. My self-publishing diary. Depending on how that goes I might have some useful stuff to include for any others who decide to do what I’m going to but don’t know where to start (and stumble across my blog when they type in search terms like ‘failed self-publishing experiment’ or perhaps ‘how to make a million pounds from self-publishing your set of three crime novels’). To that end I’m including in the Blogroll any links that I think might prove useful or interesting.

Today I made a start on my final, final proof read of my first title, Rope Enough.  Actually, that’s not strictly true. I started by reading the first three chapters yesterday, but I was tired and feared that I hadn’t been concentrating and might have missed something. So today I shut myself away for a while and started again, but with a difference. It’s a difference that is instantly working and paying dividends for me. I’m reading the book out loud to myself. It’s not a proof reading technique that I read about; it’s just a different approach for reading a book that I’ve read at least five times already. And, like I said, it’s paying dividends.

Reading aloud gives another dimension to the reception of the text. Because I’m hearing it, I’m hearing things that don’t flow, words that could be bettered, things that aren’t necessary. I’m also enjoying hearing the story. I’m making alterations that I wouldn’t have thought to make if I hadn’t heard the text and I think that they are all improvements. That’s seems obvious, doesn’t it? I mean as an aspiring Kindle millionaire I’m hardly likely to deliberately make the book worse am I? But I hope that you know what I mean? I do, actually. And it needed saying. (That was me blogging to and for myself and answering me.) Of course, now that I’ve started I’ll have to continue reading aloud, which could get a bit awkward on the bus in the mornings. Still, as I always say, fuck everyone else.

Yesterday I made a couple of extra pages for my blog. They were unrelated pages about the separate series of books that I’m writing. I realise that now that I’ve done this I have an opportunity to give a brief synopsis of each of the titles included in each series. That will fit in with my self-promotion to me about my books. I can’t wait to write and then read them (probably aloud for effect).

Blog (noun) good

I’m very new to blogging. I’ve currently been doing it for about a week. Most of that time has been spent trying to understand how to set up my blog rather than actually writing anything. Tonight, for instance, I worked out how to add links and a blogroll and new pages. I’m really impressed and astounded that I can customise my own piece of cyber space with all these widgets and none of it costs a penny. That’s brilliant and a wonderful thing.

When I was figuring out my long-game plan for my self-publishing I thought that I’d need a website. I even bought my domain name in advance – olivertidy.com. Now, I’m not so sure. Having spent a couple of evenings getting to know and understand the options and possibilities of a blog I’m beginning to think that a blog might be all that I need.

What I need from a weblink for anyone whose interest I can attract to my titles is simply somewhere that they can visit to see something of my proposed publishing time-line and maybe a bit of blurb on each of the books. As I have been able to set up two new pages on this blog to incorporate the two series of books that I have written/am writing this would appear to have satisfied that need.

Looking around at what I’ve managed tonight I’m really quite pleased with the way it’s shaping up. For the first couple of days I felt like I’d just moved in to a new flat. My blog was bare and functional. There were no pictures on the walls or books on the shelves. Now, I have both. Now, it’s beginning to feel like home.

Creating an e-book cover

I’m keen to do everything myself that’s involved  in my foray into self-publishing. That includes the creation of e-book covers. I did look online at professional artists who offer this service and while I will freely admit that their work is stunningly good I want to do this. Unlike just about everything else in my life this is about the principle, not the money. And this is, after all, self-publishing. So, after fifteen minutes following a Youtube tutorial here is the e-cover for my first novel in my Romney and Marsh police detective series. I don’t hate it. I actually quite like it.  Here is the link for the tutorial.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wp2X68syG5E It’s very simple to follow. In fact I enjoyed the exercise so much I might go back and try the other two.

Fail to prepare, prepare to fail.

 

It’s a glib cliché, but it’s also a truism. And it makes sense. If you have an idea and a shot at making it work, why not give it the best chance of success? especially if the idea is something that you’ve been building up to for a couple of years and poured just about all of your creative juices (yuk! Do they smell?), not to mention a good deal of sweat, tears (yes really) and time into. Just re-read that – perhaps I should be writing cheesy motivational speeches for people who have become emotionally involved (unstable/deluded) with their dreams of being an overnight online publishing sensation. Hang on that’s me! OK, I’m paying attention. Go on.

So, the plan is as follows.

  1. Write three books in a series. Check.
  2. Buy my own name domain name for my author website. Check.
  3. Start a blog in the hope of being able to ‘network’ and generate some interest in what I’m doing. Check.
  4. Set up a website that will link readers to more information about the series and what’s out next and when.
  5. Design and create my e-dust-jackets for the books.
  6. Investigate the ins and outs of the Kindle author options.
  7. Format first book ready for Kindle.
  8. Upload first book to Kindle by Christmas (just in time for the Christmas rush of lucky people who were gifted a Kindle for Christmas and are looking for some free books to download). Yes free. I’m going to give the first one away. Imagine how truly devastated I’ll be if no-one wants to read me for nothing. (Stop thinking negatively. Sorry. It’s just counter-productive and unnecessary. I said sorry. Can we leave it?)
  9. Format second book and download to Kindle for a small fee (about a £1) to see if, out of the tens of thousands of people who were happy to read me for nothing maybe some of them will be (a) hooked into following the characters in another tale of policing the South-East of England and (b) don’t mind paying a ridiculously nominal fee for the (pleasure? You’re doing it again. What? Being unattractively self-deprecating. Sorry.)
  10. Format third book and download to Kindle to satisfy the nationwide – make that the English language speaking world’s – thirst/hunger/pathological demand for more of the same. These enthusiasts will not mind paying the paltry sum of £2.99 for this book. (Three good reads for under £4!
  11. All the time I’m interacting with my legion of fans through my website and blog.
  12. Repeat process of formatting and downloading to Kindle the second series of books. By the time the first two have been received to huge critical and reader acclaim I will have finished the third and formatted and downloaded that.
  13. Be fought over by agents and publishers (maybe someone could die in the crush? Preferably one of those who rejected me) for my signature pledging the world rights (cinematic and written) to my back catalogue.
  14. Accept seven figure non-refundable sum in a five book deal.
  15. Be clinically diagnosed with writer’s block.
  16. Retire to villa in Bodrum to wake late, swim in the Aegean, breakfast on the balcony and read in the afternoons. Evenings will be taken up socialising, eating and drinking too much and playing the guitar and my own songs in a bar that I bought into because I ran out of things to do with my new found wealth.
  17. Die happy.

I didn’t realise that I’d been thinking about it quite so much. Still plenty to do, but five minutes surfing the www for Bodrum villas won’t hurt. After all, fail to prepare…..

Self-publish and be damned.

 

I never was intending to self-publish. I was adamant that I would not. I really was not even considering ‘vanity-publishing’. I was going to hang out for as long as it took until I could get a literary agent who would recognise the possibilities in my writing and launch me. Then I experienced a dose of reality.

I wrote my first book and liked it well enough.  Even after giving it a few months locked away in the darkness of my desk drawer I liked it. Two of my friends read it and they liked it. My mum liked it, too. I tried a few literary agents. They didn’t like it. Or rather they didn’t even bother to read it. That was the genuine impression that I got from my rejection emails. But I still liked it.

I wrote another book and liked that too. So did my mum. I tried a few literary agents – some different ones. Guess what? They didn’t like it, or rather…you know what.

I don’t live in the UK. The number of literary agents who will accept submissions by email – I really can’t afford to keep sending out the first three chapters in hard copy at international postage rates – is surprisingly small, I found. Coupled with this was the impression that I was getting that they weren’t even reading my submissions. And, from my research of literary agents, I was getting the picture that getting published – actually make that just generating some interest in the submission – was next to impossible. Typically, agents’ submissions pages mention that they receive hundreds of submissions every week from which, perhaps, they might actually take on two or three new authors a year. Not great odds. Certainly not odds that I was prepared to settle for. Maybe mum knew what she was talking about after all.

I looked into self-publishing an e-book through Amazon’s Kindle. The idea appealed to me. Still does. I read stories of authors who had gone the Kindle route and done well. The more that I read the more I understood that even this route is not as simple as convert your text to an acceptable format, download it and sit back and wait to get rich and famous. The successful e-book authors who had come from obscurity had often had long-games that they were playing. This was a business and like every successful business it needed a business plan. So, I thought about it some more and continued to write and formed a business plan.

When I finished my fourth book (two in one series and two in another) I was beginning to feel that I should start doing something pro-active about kick-starting and furthering my ambitions. Above everything – even the fame and fortune – I really just want people to read my stuff and let me know what they think.

Having looked into e-publishing more deeply and put my I-must-get-published-in-the-proper-way-vanity aside, I can see that self-publishing through the internet as an e-book isn’t really vanity publishing in the traditional sense of the term. I’m not going to invest thousands of pounds getting a few dozen copies of my book(s) published only to have them sit in my garage (if I had one) sprouting mould. It’s not like that at all. Depending on one’s motives it can be a form of literary entrepreneurship; a shot at a small business and like all small businesses it would need a good business plan and a good product.

One argument from the self-interested traditionalists of publishing that will never go away is that because e-publishing has no gate-keepers and is unpoliced it is therefore an unworthy mode of publishing. But, be that as it may, that doesn’t automatically mean that everything that is self-e-published is rubbish. Some of it is. I’ve wasted some of my valuable reading time on stuff that was e-published and was, in my humble opinion, dire. And some of it is very good.

So, I set my sights on e-publishing and I etched out a long-game plan – I don’t really like the term business plan for this, even if that is, essentially, what it is. One of the fundamental requirements – other than that my writing must convince me that it’s good enough to make a positive impression on readers of the genres that I’m writing in – was that I have three books in one of my series all finished to varying degrees. This was stage one and is now completed. The first two are just awaiting final, final, proof-readings and then formatting, jacket-designs and downloading to Kindle and the third has been completed in a first draft. No rush on that one.

There is still much to do, but for the purposes of my – what to call it? – literary adventure? the back of it is broken. The books are written. It’s exciting. It’s interesting. It’s going to be a lot of learning and work – a labour of love. But I’m looking forward to the journey with relish and enthusiasm. Whatever happens, my writing will not sit slowly evaporating off the pages trapped in my desk and on my hard-drive only to be incinerated and wiped when I’m dead. And at least I’ll have tried. I’ll know.