As most of you will be aware by now, I am very interested in e-publishing and have been building my own e-publishing empire(!) for the last twelve months. I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge along the way and have also had many people say to me that they wished they were ‘technical’ enough to do the same.
A couple of months ago Helen Yendall asked if I would talk about e-books and e-publishing to the writing class that she tutors at Moreton-in-Marsh. Whilst sorting out what I might say, quaking in my boots and being glad that I made the effort to join Sutton Coldfield Speakers’ Club, I realised that I had enough material to write a short e-book for beginners who want to publish their first e-book via Amazon KDP.
And so Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners was born.
It starts with the definition of an e-book and moves on through topics such as choosing what to write (if you don’t have a manuscript ‘ready to go’), how to get your book cover, basic marketing and much much more.
Once I’d finished, I followed my own advice and found a beta reader who matched my target audience i.e. a writer who is contemplating e-publishing for the first time. Peter Hinchliffe is an ex-journalist and news editor who has also completed a novel. He gave my manuscript a big thumbs up and said in his review, “This book shares the skills needed in a detailed, easy-to-follow way. It could be the most rewarding book you ever buy.”
The launch of Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners took place yesterday, following my talk to the lovely writers of Moreton-in-Marsh. There was Bucks Fizz, chocolate cake, coffee and one of the writers celebrated her new grandchild by providing cream cakes for the class – so no one went home hungry! It was really nice to be able to involve other people in the launch instead of doing everything virtually.
So, if you’ve ever fancied seeing your work for sale on Amazon, go and take a look at Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners - it might help you on your way!
Last week I made two ‘performances’. Firstly, I made my first prepared speech at Sutton Coldfield Speakers’ Club and then, as a shortlisted contender in the Winnie the Pooh Laureate Competition, I read my children’s short story out loud on the telephone for final judging.
Speakers’ Club. Prepared speeches are usually between six and eight minutes long and the subject matter should suit the theme of the evening – the exception being first speeches when the advice is to talk about something you know well. So I veered off the evening’s topic of ‘Love & Romance’ and talked about my hobby of church bell-ringing instead (exciting stuff I hear you say!).
I spoke for 7 minutes 40 seconds (everything is timed with a stopwatch) and the speech was then evaluated by another club member. This is a bit like giving feedback at a writers’ group when work is read aloud. My evaluator was very kind and full of praise but also had some useful advice – I’d positioned myself to one side of the lectern and that meant that half the audience couldn’t see me properly and also the majority of my eye contact was down one side of the room. So some good advice to take away.
My next speech is in around six weeks and the evening has the theme of ‘Springtime’. At the moment I haven’t a clue what to talk about – all that comes to mind is cute lambs, chicks and rabbits. Anyone got any ideas?
Winnie the Pooh. I dialled into the conference call at the appointed time, only to find a lovely Scottish lady in full flow. I sat very quietly whilst she finished a wonderful story about Pooh visiting a park in Glasgow, complete with different voices for all the characters.
Then it was my turn to read my story, ‘Winnie the Pooh and the Birmingham Iron Man’ – needless to say I didn’t do any special voices. The judges made some polite comments and said they’d let me know.
So now, like an actress after an audition – I’m waiting to hear from them …
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn was one of the most talked about books of 2013 but, typically, I’m behind the times and have only just read it.
The first couple of pages of the paperback edition that I borrowed from the library are covered in excellent reviews from newspapers and magazines so I was expecting great things.
For those of you who don’t know the story, very briefly Nick’s wife Amy goes missing after what appears to have been a fight or struggle in their house. The police have difficulty working out what has happened and Nick becomes a murder suspect. But all is not what it seems …
What did I think?
I’ve got very mixed feelings about Gone Girl. I loved the way it was written from two different viewpoints, switching between Nick and his wife Amy. This technique seems to allow the reader into the heads of both main characters, which I like. However, I found the first half of the book a plodding rather than a ‘thrilling’ read and I kept wondering when the story was going to ‘grip’ me like the reviewers had promised it would.
Then halfway through the book there is a big switch. At this point the reader realises that he’s been ‘had’ and that one character has been an unreliable narrator. We then start getting the truth about what happened to Amy and from then on I was, as promised, ‘gripped’. I read the second half of the book much quicker than the first.
But the ending seemed an anti-climax to me. I don’t want to give anything away but to my mind it wasn’t satisfactory – I wanted the villain to be punished.
Having said all that, I’ve given it 4 stars on Amazon because I did enjoy the story . But I wish the first half had been a little shorter – the book would have been a much tighter and, for me, a more gripping read.
The film version of Gone Girl will be released towards the end of 2014.
Has anyone else read it? What did you think?
Finally, I was interviewed by the lovely Lin Treadgold this week and you can read all about it on Lin’s blog. She asked some interesting questions, including one of those difficult, ‘Where do you see yourself in 10 years time’, queries. And our pet goldfish, Reg, even gets a name check! Read it for yourself here.
A couple of weeks ago I told you about a Guest Posting contest organised by Nick Daws.
Well, I took my own advice, entered – and won!
My guest post was about the benefits of writing a fiction e-book series and some tips on how to go about it. The post is now available to read in full on Nick’s blog.
And I’d like to congratulate Sharon Boothroyd, who is a follower of this blog, she also entered and was one of the runners-up. Her post too will appear on Nick’s high-traffic blog.
The Page is Printed Creative Writing Prize
Now here’s an unusual writing competition based around a single A4 page. The website says:
“Submissions are invited in any genre, it could be a love letter, a short story, a poem, a court summons or a shopping list … the only rule is that your entry must be contained on one side of A4.”
Closing date is 1st may 2014. There are first, second and third prizes of £200, £100 and £50. Entry fee is £4 or three for £10.
Full details can be found here.
Most of us have a working-title whilst we’re writing, whether it be a short story, novel or a work of non-fiction. Usually it’s the first word or phrase that came to mind as we sat down to begin our masterpiece.
And that’s the way it should be. Too many writers waste time trying to find the perfect title before starting to write – and then never get anything down on paper. A scrappy working-title is fine but take some time to refine it before sending the manuscript out into the big wide world.
If you’re intending to go through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), it’s worth bearing the following points in mind:
- For non-fiction don’t be too clever, simply focus on the benefits the book will bring to the reader – for example, Fast Weight Loss or How to Grow Cacti.
- The title should give an indication of what the book is about. In 1925 ‘Fleece of Gold’ by Gautier sold 6,000 copies. It was then re-titled ‘The Quest for a Blonde Mistress’ (which is a much better description of the story) and in 1926 it sold 50,000 copies. (I know this was way before KDP but it illustrates the importance of choosing the right title)
- Try a brainstorming session with a couple of friends and note down all the ideas that come out. Review them a week later and see which still seem good.
- If possible, try to include in the title any keywords that a reader might use on Amazon to search for books, for example if your work is similar to Fifty Shades of Grey you might want to include ‘Billionaire’ in the title
When you’ve dreamt up something plausible, put your title to the test using a clever tool provided free by Lulu.com. Go to lulu.com/titlescorer/index.php and simply fill in the boxes. The tool will give your title a score of between 9% and 83% chance of bestseller success. Obviously there are no guarantees but it’s worth a try if you can’t decide between two or three different titles.
Anyone else have any tips on how to create a great title that will respond well in Amazon searches?
Finally, a writing prompt for you based on something I saw this week. On a visit to the supermarket, I used the ladies’ toilets. In the cubicle was an empty pregnancy test packet – someone obviously couldn’t wait until they got home to find out if she was expecting. Who was she? What was the result of the test? Was it the result she wanted? What happened next?