Really Useful Links For Self Publishers

If you’re jumping into the self-publishing game, you’ve probably spent hour upon hour trawling the internet for information (when you perhaps should have been writing instead). I know I have! So I thought I’d give you some links to some great articles for writers who are looking to self-publish.

Self-Publishing a Book: 25 Things You Need To Know – This is a good overview, although I’m not sure I agree with all of his points.

A Few Random Notes on Self Publishing – This is a great blog post on what to expect when you self publish and what to be prepared for.

A Newbie’s Guide To Publishing – This guest post by Sabrina Chase looks at traditional versus indie publishing, based on her own experiences. There are lots of other interesting posts on this blog too.

The Five Mistakes Killing Self-Published Authors – I know that sounds rather negative, but she puts a positive spin onto it (ie how to avoid said mistakes).

Fantasy Authors Facebook Group – This is an open group that seems to be mostly made up of indie and unpublished writers. We give feedback to each other and discuss things relevant to the Fantasy genre. I’m sure there are other groups for writers of other genres as well.

If you’re self-published, or looking into self-publishing, have you found any invaluable resources? Share them in the comments below!

Quest for Revenge excerpt: Goblins

Firstly, I just want to say that my Pozible campaign was a success! I reached my target with 26 minutes to spare! I’m so excited, and I can’t wait to get people their rewards! So now it’s time to finish up my final proofread/edit of my manuscript of Quest for Revenge and send it off to the editors.

Here’s an excerpt, recently rewritten, that I posted for my Pozible supporters.

——————–

A short time later, they strolled out of the armoury into the main chamber. A cluster of goblins briefly glanced at them but paid no further attention to them. Melina breathed a sigh of relief. Smearing their faces and arms with dirt and donning goblin armour seemed to be working. She resisted the urge to tear off the helmet she was wearing. Although it was the smallest one she could find, it was still far too big, even with her hair tucked in underneath. The T-shaped hole in the front hid the features of her face well, but she could only see directly in front of her. To make matters worse, the helmet smelled horribly of decay. She didn’t want to think about why. She turned her head and Glenowen entered her narrow field of vision. She didn’t think he looked much like a goblin, but surprisingly they were being completely ignored by the hundreds of real goblins swarming around them, going about their business.
Glenowen lead the way, striding purposefully across the cavern. The ground was flat and hard packed, levelled by years of pounding goblin feet. Melina followed him, trying to stride as he did and not run like her instincts told her to. Her heart pounded in her ears and nearly stopped when a relatively short goblin with a squashed nose looked right at her. They locked eyes and for a terrible moment Melina thought she had been discovered. But then a tall goblin holding a whip barked an order at the shorter one and he scurried away.
She released the breath she had been holding and her knees nearly collapsed under her in relief. She turned back to Glenowen, and froze. He was nowhere to be seen. Before her a crowd of oddly shaped, green skinned creatures walked past and around her, shoving her out of the way if their path intersected with hers. But there was no short figure ahead of her, identifiable by the way he was clearly far too small for the huge goblin armour.
She panicked, turning in circles, becoming more frustrated than ever of the limited range of vision the helmet gave her. As she whirled, she crashed into someone.
“Oi! Watch it squirt!” a harsh voice spat at her as a hairy fist appeared before her eyes. Her ears filled with a metallic ringing like a gong, and her vision swam. She fell to her knees, her head exploding with pain. She gasped, her hands clutching the sides of her helmet. Now all she could see were feet, huge and hairy, some with jagged nails and others with crusty sores oozing with pus. She staggered to her feet, struggling to find her balance under the weight of the goblin mail and armour. Goblins surged all around her, pushing her backwards, away from the mouth of the tunnel, the top of which she could just see above the horde surrounding her. She ran for it, pushing her way through, heedless of being shoved. Someone made a grab for her, but she dodged and kept running. She had to reach the tunnel. Glenowen would be there waiting for.
He will be there, he will be there, she told herself over and over again. She did not allow herself to think of any other options.
Her foot caught on something and she fell forwards, landing on her hands and knees. Her shoulder jarred and pain shot down her arm. She drew it to her chest and struggled to rise. The heavy mail and breastplate made moving so difficult.
“Hey, kid!” a voice shouted from somewhere nearby. “Whatcha doin’ wearin’ armour? Tha’s not a toy for younguns!”
A huge hand wrapped around her good arm and lifted her to her feet. She looked up into the face of a goblin so scarred its features were almost unrecognisable. Most of its nose was missing, a misshapen cavity all that remained in the middle of its face.
“You’s can come wiv me,” the goblin said firmly, its voice resonating with an oddly nasal quality due to the cavity where its nose should have been. The goblin marched off, dragging her behind it, in the opposite direction to the tunnel.

Pozible Rewards

So my last post spoke about the crowdfunding website Pozible and my experiences with it. Now I thought I’d give you a little rundown on the various rewards available on my project. I put a lot of thought into what prizes I would offer. They had to be interesting enough that people would want them, but simple enough that I could actually provide them! After looking at a LOT of different projects, mainly by writers but I looked at others as well, I decided on a mixture of my main commodity on offer (my book) and various personalised and home made gifts and experiences, mostly related to the medieval fantasy theme of my book.

There are varying rewards depending on how much you pledge. You can choose a reward that is less than your pledge, but not more. Here’s what I went with:

$5+ reward

A personalised thank you on Facebook and Twitter. It seems that most people do this for the minimum reward. NB the minimum anyone has pledged on my project is $10. Most have been $30, $50, or $75.

$10+ reward

An ebook copy of Quest for Revenge OR an exclusive bookmark. The latter will have the cover of Quest for Revenge on the front, a personalised message on the back, and will possibly have a tassel (I like tassels).

$20+ reward

An ebook copy of Quest for Revenge OR a bookmark
AND an exclusive release ebook or PDF of my recipe collection, “Akalian Booke of Cookyry.” This includes a heap of tried and true recipes, some of which are referenced in the trilogy, and some of which are just delicious, old fashioned recipes that I could reasonably see the characters in my book eating. It’s been quite fun putting this together, actually. And yes, I have tried all the recipes in the book and my husband has approved them 🙂

$30+ reward

An autographed PAPERBACK of Quest for Revenge AND a bookmark AND the cookbook. So you can read my book, save your place with the bookmark, all while eating a delicious meal from the cookbook!

$50+ reward

An autographed paperback AND bookmark
AND an official invitation and voucher for 2 free drinks at the book launch! The launch will be held after the books are printed, and will probably be in Adelaide or the Adelaide Hills (there are a few lovely wineries I have my eye on…). I expect this will probably be in August or September. However, if my project isn’t successful, I probably won’t have a launch at all as I won’t be able to afford to make printed copies of the book.
AND a thank you in the acknowledgements in Quest for Revenge

$75+ reward

This is where it really starts to get interesting!
A paperback and a bookmark (what can I say? I want everyone to read my book!)
AND you can become a minor character in the third book in the trilogy! You might be a rebel soldier, a foppish nobleman, an elf, or a bar wench, to name a few. You can have your real name or an assumed name. All you need to do is fill out the character form I will send you that includes appearance, personality, habits and mannerisms and so on. The third book (Quest for Peace) is currently being written (read it here ), and I will weave your characters into the story as I go.
You will also receive a mention in the acknowledgements in both book 1 and book 3.

$100+ reward

This includes a paperback, a bookmark, an invitation and 2 free drinks at the launch AND appear as a character AND a thank you in the acknowledgements in book 1 and 3. So basically all of the above. This reward is really the jackpot!

$200+ reward

So the amounts have been going up fairly gradually til now, but now there’s a big jump to $200! Should I have had one at $150? Maybe, I’m not sure, but I figured that if someone was interested in pledging more than $100 then $200 wasn’t too much for them. And to be honest, I was running out of reward ideas!

This reward is completely different. My husband and I are both musicians: he plays piano, and I sing. We have done dinner music, weddings and other functions as a duo, playing mostly jazz standards but mixing in popular songs and the odd musical theatre number as well. For the $200 reward we will provide an evening of entertainment at your next function! We bring all our own equipment, so all you need to provide is a space and a nearby power point. We also take requests, as long as you tell us in advance.
This is only valid in Adelaide and surrounding areas within an hour’s drive. So we’ll go as far as Gawler, the Fleurieu or Murray Bridge, but not the Barossa.

$300+ reward

The ULTIMATE reward! A Medieval kids party! I’ll come dressed up in medieval costume with a cake (made from scratch, and yes I do cater for allergies), and I’ll provide medieval games and a princess or knight themed craft. The craft will vary depending on the age of the kids. There are several flexible options here, and if you choose this option I would like a phone number so I can call you and talk about how to make this suit your child (or the young at heart!). Like the jazz duo, this is only available in Adelaide and surrounding areas.

Whew! That’s it! If you’re planning your own campaign, don’t underestimate the draw of your rewards, regardless how interesting and awesome your actual project it. It might mean the difference between someone pledging to your project or not.

Finally, there’s only 8 days left on my project, so if any of the above rewards appeal to you, head to my project and help me get my book in print! Click Here

Is it POZIBLE to get published? :p

Is it POZIBLE to get published? :p

Many of you have already heard that I’m running a Pozible campaign to raise the funds needed to get my book edited and printed. There are now only 9 days left for me to reach my target amount! Scary…

For those unaware, Pozible is a crowdfunding website. You can run a campaign for your creative project, aiming to raise a certain amount within a certain time frame. People ‘pledge’ to your campaign and select a reward based on how much they pledged. It’s called a ‘pledge’ rather than a ‘donation’ because no one’s money is actually taken until the end of the campaign, and ONLY if the campaign reaches its target. So if you don’t reach your target amount within the time frame, everything gets cancelled. No one gets charged, no one gets their chosen rewards, and you don’t get any money at the end of it.

I’m aiming to raise enough money to 1) pay for professional editing for my book, 2) print at least 100 copies to sell privately and give away (some as Pozible rewards), and 3) set up my own website with my own domain name, and pay for some online advertising.

But I’m not there yet! 9 days to go and I’m still a ways from my target. So I’m asking my readers: please, if you like my writing and would like to see Quest for Revenge in print, jump over to my campaign and pledge! The great thing is that you’re not giving something with nothing in return. You’ll see that there are plenty of rewards to choose from, and if my campaign is successful I’ll make sure they are distributed as soon as possible.

If I’m not successful? Well, I’m still going to try to get published, but I don’t know how long it’ll take. I don’t really have much in the way of disposable income right now, so it’ll take me a while to save up enough for the editing costs. And there’ll be no website, no print copies, and probably no book launch (which isn’t part of the campaign, but I was going to hold one if it was successful). Which is a little sad.

So head over and take a look, and if you have family or friends who are interested in fantasy and new authors, please pass on the information to them! I will be eternally grateful.

 

Regular blogging returning soon: My journey into publishing

My Journey Into Self Publishing: Editing

Editing is a scary business. Someone taking your manuscript and pointing out everything that’s wrong with it. That’s what I think anyway.

However, editors aren’t there to be mean. They genuinely want to help you produce the best piece of literature you can. And I also want to produce the best piece of literature I can, which is why I have gritted my teeth and approached several professional editors. There are a number of things I have discovered:

1) Prices vary. A LOT.

One company offers a set price depending on word count. Another offers a ‘per hour’ service and you need to contact them for a quote. Another has a tier system depending on what level of editing you require.

All in all, it’s very confusing when you’re trying to compare companies’ services and prices. A lot of companies will give you a complimentary “sample edit” which helps a lot. I’ve sent one chapter of my manuscript to several editors to see what they would do to it, with varying results. More on that below.

2) Editors are not necessarily good website designers.

Unfortunately. A number of the websites my google search coughed up were basic to say the least, and I found three that seemed to have identical website designs, to the point that I suspect they’re actually the same company with several different names. Or a scam. Generally, if the website was not easy to navigate, I gave up and looked somewhere else.

My preferred layout is a clear “about us” section that says what they offer, where they’re located, and whether they specialise in a particular genre. Also, a clear pricing guide that gives you an idea of whether or not you can afford them! There’s no point contacting someone that is way too expensive for you. Also, if they have varying tiers of editing services, it needs to be clear what each service includes. A few websites said something like, “Manuscript Assessment: $xxxx.” That’s all good, but for a newbie like me who didn’t know what “manuscript assessment” meant, it’s not very helpful.

3) Beware the tick-box!

I filled out a form on one of the editing websites I visited to get a quote from them, and I also included a sample that they could edit. They sent me a very reasonable quote, but their sample focused almost solely on spelling and grammar and didn’t really go into content at all. I’m not sure if that meant my content was fine, or if they simply weren’t thorough. They also went and changed all my English/Australian spelling and grammar to American, which was annoying.

I replied and said, “Thanks, if I decide to use your company I’ll be in touch.” After this, I was spammed every single day with emails from them: “Did you get our editing sample?” “You won’t find prices cheaper anywhere else” and so on. After a few angry responses from me, I finally discovered a tick box that I had neglected to uncheck when I sent in the original form, which gave them permission to send me emails.

I don’t think those kind of emails are very nice, and needless to say I’m not using that company.

4) Finding someone local (or even in Australia) is difficult.

Thanks to Google AdWords (which I’m not dissing at all, by the way. I think it’s a great advertising service), whenever I googled “book editors australia” I had to scroll several pages down to get past the companies who have paid to have their websites pop up first to get to companies who are ACTUALLY in Australia. I finally found a company called “The Book Doctor.” Cute name, huh?

Their website had a very clear page on the editing services they provide, including a “what we will do/what we won’t do” section. Their prices page showed prices for manuscript assessments according to word count, and then said “all other editing services $70 per hour.”

What did that mean? How was I supposed to know how long it would take? So I emailed them, and lo and behold….A HUMAN BEING REPLIED TO MY EMAIL! Wow, a real live human! They already had a tick in my book. They said that if I emailed them a sample of my manuscript they would give me a “twenty minute edit” and an estimate of how long it would take them and how much it would cost.

Well, talk about thorough! They picked up on so many more things than the American “tick box” company, and made regular comments on the content and characters and so on. They offered me a flat fee or an edit at $70 per hour and I could pay exactly how long it took them, up to a certain price. I liked the options, and they were so clear about everything. And did I mention that a human emailed me? A real live human? Oh, and they’re based in Australia 🙂

I’m going to use The Book Doctor when my Pozible campaign is over and I’m ready to send Quest for Revenge to them. I’m proofreading QfR at the moment, and I have a couple of grammar Nazi friends who are also reading it and giving it feedback.

So this is what I’ve learned about editing so far! I know some people who have said that they found professional editors a waste of time and money, but I have to say that what I’ve received so far from The Book Doctor has been extremely helpful, and I have already been able to apply the feedback they gave to the rest of the book.

Next Up: Book Covers. DIY or pay someone to do it?

My Journey Into Self Publishing: The Magic Word

Self publishing. The magic word. When I first heard of it, I felt as though a door was opening right before me, leading into a world of possibilities, or impossibility becoming reality. Maybe, just maybe, I could see my own novel, the words I had written, on a printed page, or even an e-page. The idea was, and still is, intoxicating.

If you’ve just heard the magic word for the first time, I encourage you to read on. I hope my experience can help you with the choices now in front of you:

1) Where can I get my book self published?

2) Will my book be visible enough to sell if I self publish?

3) What about editing?

4) Can I use the book cover I made myself?

Points 3 and 4 will be covered more in future posts, but I can give a short answer to number 4 now. Yes, as long as any images are legally yours to use. More on that later.

Here are the answers I discovered.

Question 1: Where can I get my book published?
Answer: Lots and lots of places! I heard of several sites through Wattpad, and on further research seem to be good places to go. Please note I’m mostly going to be talking about ebooks here, and not really go into print publishing. I might cover print in a later post when I know more about it myself.

Lulu

A friend told me about this website, and published his own book on there. I did a bit of research and found that although you can buy ebooks directly from Lulu it doesn’t get a great deal of traffic except from other writers. Lulu does distribute ebooks to the iBookstore and Barnes & Noble. You also get 90% of royalties through them, which is the highest percentage of anywhere I’ve looked.

Kindle Create Space

Amazon was a logical step in my search for information. I signed up to its “CreateSpace” site (free sign up) to see what it was all about, and I have to say that even after reading all the information and the FAQ’s I’m still a little confused. There are different percentages of royalties depending on what country you live in and what country the buyer of your book is in, and Australia is on the lowest ranking. Also, because I live in Australia, they will only send me my royalties via cheque (Direct Debit option not available) and only after I have accumulated over $100 for them to send me. I worked out that, at 35% royalty, an ebook that retails at $2.99 (a fairly standard price for a new ebook by an unknown author), I would have to sell 97 copies of my book before I see any money. Naturally I started thinking, “What if I never sell that many? I’ll never get any money from what I do sell!”
Quite frankly, I’m not too keen on that arrangement. While I’ve heard of others who have used it and found it fine, I don’t think I’ll go that way. It doesn’t seem to be the most user friendly site around, but maybe that’s just my frustration at the lack of Australian support coming out.
CreateSpace also has a “select” program, but I haven’t really looked into it, so I can’t really say anything about it. I just thought I probably should mention it.

Smashwords

I had never heard of this before, but I saw it mentioned on a Wattpad discussion board, and looked it up. It’s similar to Lulu in that it sells on its own site as well as distributing to other retailers. If you qualify for their Premium Catalogue (there are a list of quality control requirements) Smashwords will distribute to iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Baker & Taylor, Sony’s Kobo store, and a number of other smaller retailers I’ve never heard of. Their reach seems to be greater than either Lulu or CreateSpace, and they give you 85% of royalties regardless of what country you’re in. They use PayPal, which is pretty convenient, and will pay your royalties quarterly as long as there is a minimum of $10.
I’ve decided to go with Smashwords when my book is ready to hit the cyber shelves. However, I did just read on their website that they are limiting their Amazon distribution, so I might have to go directly through Amazon as well. Smashwords is not exclusive, so they don’t care if I distribute in multiple places.

So that’s what I’ve learned so far about self publishing platforms. If you google “self publishing” you’ll find a gazillion more sites that you can use, but these three are the most well known among the writing community.

Up next: Editing!