Going Viral

September 28, 2014 8 comments

This week I’m trying to go viral. The Omnibus Edition of The Museum of Fractured Lives is reduced to only 99p/99c until Saturday 4th October. The Museum of Fractured Lives Omnibus Edition

And I need the world to know!

Have you ever loved and lost? Have you kept something to remind you of that relationship? Do you think it might be easier to move on with life if you let go of that object? That’s what The Museum of Fractured Lives is all about. It displays objects donated by people who have suffered a trauma in their lives. Each of the three stories in this book tells the emotional tale of that object and its donor. And this omnibus edition also includes a prologue telling how the museum came into being.

The individual stories (each around 9,000 words) have been well reviewed:

“I thought this was a truly excellent novella. The central character, Maxine, is vividly portrayed, and her story is touching and powerful, with some surprising twists and turns.” Mr N. Daws on Maxine’s Story

“The story drew me in very quickly as I needed to know how Karen would go about putting her plan into place … and the erotic episode between Karen and John was an added bonus!” Lesley on Karen’s Story

“Another good story in the Museum of Fractured Lives. It was good to have a story from the male perspective with a good twist at the end. Thought provoking.” Mrs J A Williams on Pete’s Story

So, how to tell the world?

I’m going to try a range of Facebook groups:

The Kindle Publishing Bible
Debbie Young’s Kindle-loving friends
Kindle Publishers
The Review
Short eBook Reviews

I’ve already contacted Indie Book Bargains who send out a daily e-newsletter. They kindly featured One Day for Me a couple of months ago but I think they select according to number of Amazon reviews and, being fairly recent, I fear the Museum Omnibus hasn’t yet generated enough.

I’m also going to investigate The EasyChair Bookshop which I heard about via Helen Laycock on the Writing Magazine Talkback Forum.

If anyone knows any other promotional places please let me know. Maybe together we can build up a list of useful sites.

(And if anyone downloads and enjoys the Museum Omnibus, I’d be over the moon if you could leave a review!)

 

Four Lessons in E-Publishing by Emma Jordan

September 22, 2014 5 comments

Emma Jordan got in touch with me recently after using Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners to publish her first e-book, 119 Style Boosts from the Size15Stylist119 Style Boosts

Emma runs the fashion/shopping blog Size15Stylist and I asked her to share with us the lessons she learnt during her e-publishing experience.

This is what she told me:

Lesson One – Format
Keep it clean; don’t worry about tables and images, unless they are really necessary. There are books to help if you want to incorporate images and tables (Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide; Steve Scott’s Kindle Publishing Package) but when you are converting your Word document to HTML (web page) to upload to Amazon, a lot of your formatting will be lost. To emphasise your points, use different font headings and use spacing well. Amazon Author Natalie Penna uses spaces beautifully in her YA novels, encouraging readers to read on.

Or, put simply:

An e-book screen is smaller than a paperback.

You don’t want to read too many chunks of texts.

It halts your story.

Spaces keep the reader reading.

 
Lesson Two – Front cover
I spent precious writing and editing time searching for a cover (and trying to get my head around rights’ issues) and even tried to create a front cover on Publisher software; silly me. Sally rightly points out that Amazon’s Cover Creator offers thousands of options and I created my front cover, for free, in less than a few minutes.

Lesson Three – Triangul-edit
I detest editing, although I realise this is how you shape your words to reach your readers. I am always more motivated to write during the planning stages; coffee, computer, no deadlines. I learned how to reduce the editing process so that it’s manageable and now triangul-edit:
1 – Content (do I have enough words, and are my words explained?)
2 – Grammar (can I say my words better in another way?)
3 – Typos and Format (has spell check picked up a wrong word? Are there problems with spacing?)

My ebooks so far have been around 10,000 words (a novel is around 80k, depending on author) so when I have accumulated around 30 pages of single space text then I start to edit. I head for the nearest coffee shop with my print out and trusty pencil-case.

Lesson Four – Technically, you’ll be okay
I put off self-publishing for years, because I just didn’t know if I was technical enough. But I bumped into Sally’s book, Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners and after I read the book a few times, I realised the technical details were within my capabilities. On publishing day (pyjamas and no distractions), Sally’s book sat by my laptop, so I could refer to common sense during the uploading process.

When it comes to converting your Word doc to a web (html) doc, as per Amazon’s requirements, you cannot check formatting enough – after 10 saved web documents on my hard drive, I still discovered a wayward additional space in the final Amazon published version. Note: delete each copy of the web document as you amend, and save under a new name if necessary – you don’t want 10 copies of a web doc lurking near the upload button.

The paramount wisdom I unearthed – You are Your words. Do not rush your self-publishing journey in a hurry to see your name listed as an Amazon author. And, pressing the (self)Publish button is only the start of your journey. You are also your own Marketing department.

 
Author Biography
Emma Jordan is a freelance writer and creator of the Size15Stylist blog.Emma Jordan

When she’s not blogging or writing, or entertaining her toddler-daughter, she can be found undertaking research in the shops.

Paying for an Editor

September 16, 2014 15 comments

Recently there’s been discussion around the web about whether or not writers should pay to have their novel edited.

On his blog Nick Daws puts forward a very good argument against paying for an editor. Instead he advocates making sure that your written English is up to scratch and also taking advantage of free resources, such as beta readers, writing groups and writers’ forums offering feedback on work. Nick also points out that an editing service is likely to only provide copy-editing. A thorough structural edit is an iterative process requiring the manuscript to go back and forth – which can’t be done if the author is paying per 1,000 words.

Similarly there has been discussion on the Writing Magazine Talkback forum, ‘Writers On-line’. It was pointed out that any suggestions coming from an editor are subjective and are only that particular person’s point of view. Also, be prepared for a damning report – if a paid-for edit is to be worth its money, it has to be honest and therefore may not be what you want to hear. And of course editing services cost a lot of money.

So, now that I have a completed novel manuscript and a self-publishing package prize, where do I stand in the ‘paying for an editor’ debate?

The answer is – I don’t know.

Like everybody, I want my book to be something of which I can be proud. I don’t want to worry that people will buy it and then be disappointed. So ideally, I’d like a professional to give my work the once over.

But I’m also aware that it will be very difficult to sell enough copies of a self-published book to recoup the expense of a quality editing service.

Currently my book has gone off to its first beta reader – and I’m feeling very nervous about the outcome. Also I’ve taken advantage of the free sample chapter edit offered by Jefferson Franklin. I was pleased with the result – the things that their reader highlighted improve the text and I wouldn’t have spotted them myself. It would be good to have that experienced critical eye over the rest of the manuscript.

What does anyone else think? Are editing services worth the investment?

 

RIP David St John Thomas

September 9, 2014 2 comments

Most of you will be aware that David St John Thomas passed away last month at the age of 84.  David St John Thomas Letter Writer of the Year

David St John Thomas founded Writers’ News 25 years ago and still wrote a regular column for the magazine right up until his death. Prior to that he ran the publishing company David & Charles.

A lot of writers will remember him for his work with the David St John Thomas Charitable Trust. The Trust was created with some of the money from the sale of David & Charles. It ran a wide range of writing competitions and also provided bursaries to students taking part in useful work in the developing world.

It was through the competitions organised by the Trust that David briefly touched my life. I was the winner of the 2006 David St John Thomas Charitable Trust Letter Writer of the Year Award. I met David at the presentation event in Harrogate. He was very friendly and it was a lovely event.

It was the final year that the competition ran and so I was able to keep the silver cup that went with the £100 prize.

This Letter Writing Competition was a wonderful way of encouraging new writers. It entailed compiling a portfolio of letters published in magazines and newspapers over a 12 month period and so was accessible to a wide range of people who may not yet have had success in any other area of writing.

So I’d like to say my own personal thank you to David St John Thomas for the encouragement that that competition win gave to me.

Finally, and in the spirit of encouraging other writers, if you’d like to try out your letter writing skills, this competition offers £30 each month to the writer of the best letter of complaint.

Black Pear Press Short Story Competition and KISHBOO

September 2, 2014 2 comments

On Saturday I had lunch with the Birmingham Chapter of the Romantic Novelists’ Association.

It was a very positive affair with lots of people having good news to share such as excellent reports from the RNA’s New Writers’ Scheme, publishing deals and competition successes. As always I came away eager to get writing again.

One of our members, romantic comedy author Alison May has been asked to judge a short story competition for the first time and she gave us the details (unfortunately there’ll be no favouritism because it’s all judged anonymously).

The first Black Pear Press Short Story Competition is for stories up to 1500 words in any genre/theme.

First prize is £75 and second prize is two Black Pear Press publications. Entries may be published on the Black Pear Press website and may be included in an anthology.

Closing date is 26th September 2014 and entry is via email. Entry fee is £5.

Full details are here.

Another ‘first’ short story competition that you might like to consider is that currently underway at KISHBOO. This will become a regular quarterly competition with a first prize of £50 and a second prize of £25. The entry fee is £3 and the first competition closes on October 20th 2014. Again any genre/theme is acceptable and the maximum word count is 2,000. The full terms and conditions are here.

Good Luck!

Mountain Kingdoms Travel Writing Competition

August 26, 2014 8 comments

I’m just back from a short (wet) bank holiday break in Gloucestershire. Mountain Kingdoms Travel Writing Competition

Whilst wandering around Wotten-Under-Edge looking for the Town Hall (where tea and cakes were being served) I spotted this competition in a travel agent’s window.

Entry is FREE. Prizes are vouchers for Bob Books. First prize is £75, second £50 and third £30.  ALL entries receive 15% off the usual photo book prices.

Entries should be a minimum of 100 words and be accompanied by a photograph. The judges are looking for either a unique experience, a cultural encounter, a trekking tale or a piece of advice. A selection of entries may be published on Mountain Kingdoms’ website.

Full details are available on the Mountain Kingdoms Blog. Closing date is 30th September 2014.

I don’t think my tale of a wet bank holiday will be a winner – but maybe you’ve been somewhere more exciting?

The One Plus One by JoJo Moyes

August 19, 2014 9 comments

Here’s an interesting fact for you – Tanzie (one of the main characters in The One Plus One) was named after the daughter of the highest bidder in a charity auction in aid of the Stepping Stones Down’s Syndrome Support Group. The One Plus One

It’s a wonderful name and absolutely suits the young girl in the story. It makes me wonder if the book would have been different if someone named Hilda had been successful in the auction …

Anyway, I digress. I received this book to review for Mumsnet Bloggers. So here we go:

Tanzie is a young Maths genius. Her elder half-brother Nicky is being badly bullied. Jess, their mum, is struggling to keep them financially afloat with cleaning and bar jobs. They own a gigantic, drooling dog.

Ed Nicholls is wealthy, having made his money writing computer software. Then he makes a mistake and his world comes tumbling down.

This set of characters ends up on a car journey from the south coast to Aberdeen. Tanzie’s car sickness limits them to 40 mph. The dog’s digestive system pollutes the car. They live on sandwiches and food stolen from a hotel breakfast buffet. Relationships develop and are tested during the days and nights they spend cooped up together.

This is great light-reading and perfect escapism if you want to think about someone else’s problems instead of your own. I totally believed in this band of people and was rooting for each of them.

What more can I say – for me the characters make a book and these characters were brilliant.

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