That’s all folks! Got there. Did it. Published!
Available in paperback and ebook
That’s all folks! Got there. Did it. Published!
Available in paperback and ebook
I’ve had a very productive month. Not on here – you’ll know that, if you follow my blog regularly (or should that be irregularly?) The blog has suffered from my rush of productivity, but the FINAL DRAFT of A Bed of Brambles has at last been dispatched to my editor! At least, I’m calling it the final draft… she may think otherwise.
It’s a relief and a delight, to get rid of the words I’ve been hunched over for the last six months. Rather like handing your homework in, and knowing you’ve done a good job, because the book is so much better for the editing. All the same, I’ve become rather jaded with re-reading, and re-writing. We needed this space; me, Hettie and Alexander, so that we can learn to love each other again. And my apologies to all those readers who’ve been clamouring for the second book and would rush at the chance to read more about Hettie and Alexander. I’ve been keeping you on tenterhooks for far too long, but we are getting there now – really!
With the chasm of time that losing the book freed up, I motored through the farm’s end of year accounts. Numbers are so much more obedient than words, aren’t they? The numbers are either right, or they’re wrong; no shades of grey here (pun intended). And at last I got around to submitting new plans for the barn we’re hoping to convert on the farm. It’s all go on the land. The combine is rolling, harvest is on us again: long days, weary men and an endless supply of refreshment to be produced from the farmhouse kitchen.
As I write, the sun is shining, a siren call away from my desk and the four walls of my office, but book three is calling too… It’s a habit, this bloody writing, that is hard to resist. So, I got to thinking, why can’t I have both? Outside, moving and writing a book. Uh oh.
I’m a devil for coming up with ideas which swallow hours of time when I find myself with ten minutes spare. And I’ve already learnt that Dragon dictation is going be one of those. Hours already spent learning how to work it, and I haven’t written a word yet (can you still call it writing if you’re actually speaking?) Oh well, I don’t have to worry about that yet, because so far my Dragon hasn’t listened to a single word I’ve said. No, I tell a lie! As I’m typing here Dragon has just opened the dictation box I asked it to open forty minutes ago. And this is meant to increase your word count?
I’ll let you know how I get on, but don’t hold your breath… I’m busy, taming my Dragon. I think we’ll both be spitting fire by next week.
As writers, we have a rich selection of words we can use to set a mood; an emotion; a moment. The art of good writing (and the joy of good reading) takes us right in to a time and and a place – and sets the mood of the moment – without telling us.
There’s a scene in the novel I’m editing (A Bed of Brambles – the sequel to A Bed of Barley Straw) where the hero (Alexander) is sitting above cliffs, recovering from the hurt of an emotional upset, and being soothed by the landscape around him. So, that’s me telling you what’s happening.
Amidst her pleas of “Show us!” My editor queried my choice of words in this scene – “would he be calmed by the waves crashing against the rocks?”
Good point; crashing and rocks are hard, angry words. How about “calmed by the waves washing across the pebbles on the beach?”
Here’s one picture of the landscape, similar to that which I’m seeing when I’m writing the scene:
It is angry isn’t it? The waves are crashing against the rocks. It’s moody, and melancholy; in turmoil. Blacks and greys and an unsettled sea – all very Poldark! Passionate, oh Lord, there’s all sorts of angsty words I could use (and a risk of becoming clichéd)
Here it is in sunnier mood:
Now I’m uplifted. The sun warming the cliff-face, ripples on the grey-green water… and I could talk about the clouds, but I mustn’t overdo it. I’m falling into that cliché trap again (frothy and fluffy, the ocean tumbling over the rocks).
The same coastline, different angle – let’s do serene:
I’ll let you chose your own words, I’m not sure Alexander is ever quite this peaceful, still, enticing. Oh, hang on, he is enticing, just not in such a clean way 😉
It’s a maze and a labyrinth, feeling your way to the right words. And that’s before I’ve even told you how he’s sitting on the bench… Is he leaning forward with his head in his hands? Is he lounging back against the salt-bleached wood with his long legs stretched out in front of him…
It’s a mood, a moment in the novel. It’s why editing fries your brain.
It’s hard juggling all the balls when you’re a self-published author. Writing… to editing… to cover design. Formatting, proofing, and uploading the finished (you pray) book. That’s a lot of hats…and then there’s the marketing. The bit that many (most?) of us find painful and frustrating.
It often, but not always, costs money. It’s time consuming, trying to keep both your name and your book out there (without pissing people off by banner waving). In a perfect world, you want a gaggle of followers AND your book to be seen by new potential readers… over and over again.
We all know that isn’t easy, and when I’ve spent half a day submitting the book for promotions, twittering, posting, sticking my neck out and generally shouting about how GREAT-WONDERFUL-UNPUTDOWNABLE my book is, I start to feel like a grubby billboard. If the promo cost money, I wonder is it worth the dent in my purse (and the nasty taste in my mouth?)
So is it actually worth it? Well yes, I’m afraid it is. I know that because over the last few months I have been running an accidental experiment. Ok, I’ll be honest, I took my eye off the ball. My target of one promo a month dropped to… none in the last three months. An operation, Christmas and 100k words begging to be edited… The result of my lack of effort? My first and only month with ZERO book sales. Hey, it’s not so bad. I still had pages read on KDP select (Kindle Unlimited to readers, who can download the book for free. The author gets paid by the number of pages read. A great incentive, if you didn’t need one already, to write that story which keeps readers turning.) And then there’s Volume II which, when it hits the shelves, will be the next big push. It just isn’t happening fast enough.
Ten months now since I published the début, and my ‘next book within a year’ is almost on schedule. But it would have been published sooner if it weren’t for the time spent on marketing. It could be out there, sitting smug… in total anonymity because no one would know that I, or the books, existed. As it is, I’ve got readers nagging, and that has to be a good thing.
Those ten months have kept me busy; here’s my tongue-in-cheek summary of how I went about selling my
soul book: Promo Chart 2015 …
…sorry, sorry, I’ll stop now. It’s all or nothing with me.
I am editing. Argh!
I’m deep in the thicket, with 100k words between me and the timber of my finished novel, and every one of them has to be tested to earn its place in the manuscript.
Do my characters have, well, character? Is the plot believable? Am I consistent with point of view? Have my scenes got structure and motivation. Shit…am I actually writing scenes at all?
If you thought that writing a novel was hard, try a substantive edit. I believe I could knock off 20k words in the time it takes to edit a paragraph (10k of those words will be cut later of course). I’m learning on the job, and I figure I always will be. There may be writers out there who find it
a piece of cake (cliché) easy, and wield their cutting pen with stern, orderly (adjective+adverb) precision. Who get that perfect story arc and place their reactions/dilemmas with pin-point (you work it out) accuracy within it.
I’m not one of them (she
sobbed, wept, cried, sighed SAID!). This is damn hard work, and right now I really can’t see the wood for the trees (yet another cliché slipped in there).
But it’s also exciting. I’m writing, I’m learning, and learning is good isn’t it?
I’m off to find the path through this forest now.
Champagne, friends and fireworks at the seaside!
That takes some beating. Now the holidays are over and and I hope to channel that sparkle and fizz into the final edit of the new book. A busy January, and a second novel for 2016. I’m excited.
As for the rest of the year, well I’ve already started writing book three and my resolutions are sorted – go crutchless (that’s crutchless, not crotchless), publish book two and get myself back on a horse 🙂
A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND PROSPEROUS NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL
I’m patting myself on the back this week, and CreateSpace is my new best friend. When I first first blogged about CreateSpace (Setting my manuscript free) just ten short months ago, visiting their website felt like arriving on an alien planet. The language was new and foreign, the terminology beyond confusing. Mercy, have I learnt a lot since then. You know how London cabbies get an over-developed hippocampus from learning ‘The Knowledge’, well I think I’m developing one of my own. It might throb and give me a headache when I use it, but the great thing is that even a fusty, middle aged brain can rise to a new problem when you push it. So now I love CreateSpace. We’re communicating, and everyone knows the importance of that. It’s all a lot easier when you’ve learnt the language.
A Bed of Barley Straw, Edition 2 is about to hit the shelves (don’t get that confused with the sequel which won’t be released until early next year) This is an updated version of the original book, with a gorgeous new cover, courtesy of Jane (my other new best friend) at JD Smith Design.
Edition two has been reformatted into a slightly smaller book by me, myself and I (hence the perpetually throbbing hippocampus). Published via CreateSpace with their easy to follow (this time around) step-by-step guide to publishing your novel, and their brilliant interior reviewer which shows you what the inside of your book will look like. I have fallen out with Microsoft Word a few times during the process. It’s a devil for deciding it knows better than I do and rearranging the entire manuscript because I added a full stop. But we got there, apart from this…
…can you spot the amazing vanishing page number? Try as I might I can’t seem to resolve it (hippocampus pulsing). Next book – Scrivener here I come (when the brain has recovered, I don’t want that hippocampus exploding).
And talking of messy, the sequel – A Bed of Brambles – is still with my editor, and boy has she got her work cut out. I tell a great story, but I’m raw and lack finesse so a bloody good edit is essential. I love my editor, despite and because of her honesty. Her words may smart, but she is the one who will turn my masterpiece into a work of art. Here’s a visual to demonstrate. This is where I work, where my creative juices run free (a chaotic scene which I wouldn’t usually chose to share with you)
and here’s what I’d like you to see…
The edited version, you get me?
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned it here before, but at the same time as I publish my sequel I’ll be re-publishing Barley Straw as a second edition.
There were a couple of things which led me to make that decision. The actual manuscript hasn’t been massively altered, some minor text changes and additional material that I either didn’t have or didn’t think to put in the first time around (author bio, chapter one of the sequel and a plug for the new book). Edition two will get a brand new cover which will sit nicely with the sequel (If you follow me on facebook or twitter you might have already seen my cover for the sequel A Bed of Brambles). The new cover for A Bed of Barley Straw in on my book page here…but it isn’t actually on the book yet and won’t be until I release edition two, so it shouldn’t be there. I was playing on WordPress and suddenly lo – there it was. Tech tinkering is a dangerous pastime for me. I ought to remove that cover (I don’t want to be accused of mis-selling, am I breaking any laws?) but in the meantime I’ve done even more tinkering, to build a book page with both of my books on it (ooh that sounds good) which is currently lounging in cyberspace on WordPress auto-save. I fear if I update anything I may launch the sequel by accident (and you may also notice that the heading on the page now reads my books, with one poor friendless novel featured below it.)
Doing the second edition is a logistical nightmare. Four manuscripts to format and upload (2 x paperback, 2 x Kindle) along with their respective front matter/back matter and the right covers. I see the potential for cock-ups, and I promise I will embrace that potential. I’m fearful of losing sales and reviews on Barley during the change over, and right now I’ve got no idea when I should take edition one out of publication (I’ll ask my mates at ALLi, they’ll know the answer).
This week I’ve been reading Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard. Great book. Everything you need to know about self-publishing in an entertaining package which flows as sweetly as a novel. My copy is riddled with turned down corners to redirect me to the legion of useful tips (sorry Catherine Ryan Howard, but I was reading it in bed and I’d run out of tissue bookmarks). A lot of delicious lures back into techno-tinkering, don’t read it if you’re fighting a habit. Lord knows what you’ll see on my website next week. You may have noticed that, on Catherine’s advice, my blog has a new, more enticing name – welcome to Rustic Romance. Does it tempt you in?
I won’t tell you how many colour theme changes I’ve made this week. I’ve updated my header image too (my idea, not Catherine’s). Carried away by autumnal romance…pic taken out of the window of the tractor this morning while I was grass cutting (it’s a long climb down for a shorty, that’s my excuse. You can pick the blackberries from the cab too!)
My editor needs to send that manuscript back, and fast, to bury me so deep in edits that I haven’t got time to be led astray with this tinkering lark.
When I wrote my first novel I willingly handed over the interior layout of the both the paperback and eBook to CreateSpace. It cost me money of course, but my brain was reaching new-skill overload at the time, and frankly I felt beyond learning anything else.
You think a book is just printed words right? So did I until CreateSpace started asking awkward questions. Trim size and font were just the beginning. There were fleuron (or dividers) to be selected to decorate white space between the scenes. Front matter, back matter, dedications. Page numbers (If you glance at the book nearest to you, you will see that the numbers don’t start on the very first page, but when they do begin, they still start at number 1. An issue I’m currently wrestling with on my Word document.) I’m jumping ahead. I forgot to mention headers and footers (different on odd and even pages). Blank pages falling in the right places, and margins? Don’t get me started. Gutter width for binding (so you don’t bind the beginning of every sentence), weird and accidental formatting in your manuscript which throws the entire layout . Dropped capitals on the first sentence of the chapter, paragraph indents…I could go on.
It was highbrow stuff for a newbie techno-stresser, so I paid CreateSpace and they did a beautiful, stress-free job.
My second manuscript is currently being edited, and I’m thumb twiddling. I want to be getting on with the re-writes and publishing the book. The cover is ready and waiting. I could make a start on book three. Or I could try to save myself a few quid by learning how to format this one for print myself.
First step for me, in all matters self-publishing related, head for the Alliance of Independent Authors to see what advice they’re offering. I threw a question out on the ALLI members’ Facebook forum, to lots of other indie authors who will have faced this decision. Answers ranged from “do it yourself – it’s not rocket science” (gulp) to “I use this company.” There was a mention of HTML, which sent me into a tail-spin, a lot of reassurance that it is a learnable skill, and a fair few £ signs evident when I researched outsourcing (many variables but the lowest quote was £130 and the highest £450). Time to get learning I think.
I armed myself with Jessica Bell’s Self-Publish your Book (A Quick and Easy Step by Step guide) and a couple of free-to-download templates (one which came with the book and one from CreateSpace because they will be my publishing platform), brewed a strong coffee and settled down for a morning of frustration.
But glory be – the book really is quick and easy! So quick and easy that I decided I needed to make it more complicated by adding a few frills of my own. I’m a sucker for punishment, but I’m almost there. CreateSpace have a very useful online ‘interior reviewer’ which allowed me to upload the formatted Word doc and see the result. A few nips and tucks required, but better than I expected. Mysteriously an entire chapter has developed bullet points (I wasn’t aware I had bulleted any part of the document), and I’m still wrestling with those page numbers, headers and footers. But all in all I think I’ve earned a pat on the back, and saved myself a few quid in the process.
Just the formatting of the eBook to learn now. Maybe I’ll leave that for another week.
Our supermarket has had a makeover. The car park is fantastic. An entire level for blue badge holders (which, given the battle anyone has to park within a mile of our market must be a godsend for those less sprightly on their pins) AND there are always spaces!
Incredible, remarkable. But it may have something to do with the fact that you can’t find a bloody thing in the shop any more. If you can find the shop at all. The lifts have been reversed and you’ll see many a confused shopper (yes all right, me) stuck in the lift staring hopefully at closed doors while a trick-or-treat set opens and closes behind them. When you park the signage tells you that you are on level G+1. There’s a level G+2 and a level G-1 as well, but the buttons in the lift do not correspond with any of that (the stickers which the staff helpfully sellotaped up failed to stick). So your hallelujah joy at escaping the lift is short lived when you discover you have arrived at a floor which doesn’t exist, and you can’t even remember which town you are in any more.
Now I could be accused of being change averse, but don’t get me started on the shop’s new lay-out. In our uber-quaint market town, cafes and tea rooms are three a penny. There isn’t a combination of hot drink plus calories which you can’t locate within seconds of arrival. So why oh why did our town centre supermarket think it was necessary to add not one, not two, but three areas inside their shop where you can now get a coffee?
You fall over the queue for the first one as soon as you walk in. A coffee machine wedged conveniently (not) between Customer Service and Quick-Check hand-set collection. Slow quick-check hand-set collection (sounds like a line from Strictly Come Dancing.) Very slow shop, because nothing is where it used to be. Trip over second cafe in the bakery section, notice the seated diners judging as you try to buy cake covertly.
I fear there is a clash of customer versus marketing going on here. Me, I just want to do a grocery hit and run. Marketing wants me to be distracted by all the fripperies they have on offer. They succeeded in distracting me (before I got out of the lift) and they have well and truly slowed me down. Too many special offers for a befuddled brain to cope with…six for five, three for two…or a baker’s dozen and a cappuccino? Four backtracks to hunt out items I’ve missed and I still turf up at the ‘quick-check’ (note ironic inverted commas) with less than half of my shopping.
Cafe three, I see what they’re doing. You do actually need pit-stops to break up this ordeal. And…a security check. The final insult to prove it would have been quicker to grow the groceries myself. I remind myself to be polite. It isn’t the shop assistant’s fault, and given my now total confusion there is actually a very good chance that I’ve stolen something…three for two, seven for six, one for nothing? I smile at her sweetly, I may need her in a forgiving mood before this shopping trip gets a whole lot worse.
As it is, I’m out! Now I just need to find the bloody car. And breathe.