Wednesday, 30 April 2014

Projects progress

1st of May today and my Goodreads challenge is still going well. I'm about to finish the 4th book of 12 and start the 5th...

Also on target is project "Back Catalogue". This week saw the release of my poetry anthology - The Workings Of My Mind and my freelancing guide - Getting Ready to Freelance and Write.

Next up, I'm shifting my focus to Travel with a free e-guide all about travelling safely, especially with regards to protecting your identity and documents. I'm also launching my Travelling Dreams collection. More to follow on these exciting projects...

So it's a thumbs up from me. I'm learning something new about publishing everyday and sharing my own knowledge through my various rotating blog series tweets. 

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

eBook project

Just shy of three years ago when I was starting out in publishing, I blogged this:

I find it funny that people are incredulous when I say I could self publish an eBook on Amazon for 99p and still make the same profit (25 to 50 pence) as my current £12.99 offering (Little Child) on Amazon. This is the absolute truth, no word of a lie. The one thing you can guarantee in this game is that different publishing models all result in a very similar profit margin, but the real gain for us as writers and authors is when we hit a worldwide audience simultaneously with minimal effort. The more people you "hit" with your book, the better chance you have of raising your literary profile to dizzying heights. Remember what I said in an earlier post - it's not just about the book anymore, YOU have to be a brand as well. I thought about this for a long time today and I came to the following conclusion: the internet is an amazing resource with no limits, but to utilise it properly the only thing stopping you, is you. Anybody who has a remote interest in writing can self publish some kind of book, but if you know your market and your price points and you've done your research, the potential to reach as many people as possible is right there waiting for you. I'm going to experiment with my theory and come back to you on this. Don't forget, I'm still learning too. I'm a marketeer in the making!

And it's taken a while, but I'm finally there! My 99p eBook is now available on Amazon. The marketing is still a work in progress and I'll be exploring that side of things once I've built my back catalogue. There will also be a paperback version of Getting Ready to Freelance and Write available on Createspace over the coming weeks.

I have to say it's thrilling to see my book on Amazon and it's even more of a thrill to know that I did it all myself from conception right through to launch. I started small so each chapter is only one or two pages in length and there's only about 50 pages in total. I was glad of this during the editing and formatting stages - all of which I did myself (isn't it great to see the message from Amazon "0 spelling mistakes were found in the text") - and at this point in the process, after reviewing my formatting for about the 20th time, I was also thinking that writing in a series and putting out episodes rather than going full throttle with a whole book was something I would like to try because it would break it down into manageable chunks.

Of course, you can pay someone to edit and format, but I needed to try it for myself. In my humble opinion, the size of your project determines to a certain extent how much money you should spend. The only part of the process I wanted to pay for (due to budget constraints) was the artwork - eBook cover, Createspace cover and Facebook timeline banner. I wanted my designer in the US to source and purchase the stock photo and have that creative control. All of this cost me a total of 40 dollars and I found him on and I've used the artwork over and over on my different social media sites. I was itching to try this site and really enjoyed the experience, but as usual I tried to run before I could walk, so make sure if you're getting people involved in your project, that you have everything you think you might need ready to go. There's a little bit of forward thinking required and also anticipating, which only comes with experience after being through the process once. For example, have all of your text clear in your mind so when your designer needs it, you can shoot it straight across. Also, my big thing was I hadn't yet loaded up my manuscript to either Amazon or Createspace so I didn't know sizes for the cover artwork. Big fail! Luckily because Drew was specifically creating a Kindle eBook cover, one size fits all. The cover for Createspace was a little more tricky although you can start the process of creating a book with them and in the early stages you determine the book's sizing. I did take a guess on the number of pages - I wouldn't advise that. Try to be as accurate as you can. I think I've got lucky again and hit it spot on, but don't rely on luck!!

I would recommend you give yourself a couple of hours for loading up a short eBook (approx 50 pages) onto either of these sites because you can go off on different tangents at each stage of the process. For example, I didn't purchase an ISBN but used the one Createspace generated. This is down to personal preference, but before I made my decision, I read all the information about it. This is time you need to factor in so you can make the best choices for you and your project.

Once you've loaded up your text, edited and formatted until you're happy, the next step is Rights, Royalty and Pricing. The only snag I hit here was forgetting to factor in the 3% VAT Amazon adds for European countries, so when I looked at my eBook price the next day on UK Amazon, it said £1.04 rather than my desired 99p. The base price I should have loaded was 96p. It was easy enough to amend.

The final stage is to hit Publish and it takes about twelve hours
for your eBook to appear on all of the Amazon sites in the countries mentioned in the Pricing section. If you spot any mistakes or there are things you need to update, you can make your changes and re-publish as many times as you like.

Your book sits on your virtual bookshelf within your Amazon account and you can Unpublish at any time as well. All of your Royalty reports will appear in this section. 

Sunday, 27 April 2014

Poetry anthology creation

This is a poetry collection which is very special to me because each poem highlights a defining moment in my life where the event changed me as a person.

Not only did I want to do the words justice and commemorate the events behind those words, I also wanted to make this anthology a show piece for my website.

Of course, this work is very personal to me so may not appeal to a wide audience and the hardback edition and imagewrap edition featured on Blurb are expensive. Cheaper versions will be available from Amazon and Createspace over the coming weeks, both in eBook format and paperback respectively. 

That being said, I am thrilled with this creation and enjoyed the building process with Blurb. Having held the final product (I ordered the hardback with dust jacket) which now sits proudly on a shelf in my office, I can say it's a high quality work and I can't fault the design or materials used.

You can sell with or without mark up on Blurb and they are now offering the option to sell through Amazon as well. However, Amazon will add 15% to your Blurb price which possibly then makes your book unsaleable. What I shall be doing is, re-create the eBook on Amazon's Kindle and the paperback on Createspace to then be able to lower the price substantially. This is more work, but it was always my intention to sell primarily through Amazon. 

Out Now! The Workings Of My Mind

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Who follows rules anyway?

I'm finally doing it! I'm finally turning all of the book projects I've sat on for years into a credible back catalogue to showcase to the world. I had to wait for my contractual publishing ties to expire before I could start, but now that's happened, I can roll out these creations. Nothing like seeing it all come to fruition slowly but surely.

I read earlier this week, when starting out in writing, you should stick to one genre and build your audience from that basis so they can get used to you, your writing ability, content and style. But who follows rules anyway? My dream has always been to bring my many, many ideas to life even though these ideas cover an array of genres.

On my self publishing journey, I plan to try out a range of publishing models and marketing and advertising methods and report back here at All Things WTP, so I can give you an honest insight into the complete life of a modern day writer. Writing really is just the beginning of the story!

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Snowdrops by A.D. Miller

This book has been sitting in my pile of "must reads" for a while now. It was on my list because I wanted to read a thriller where weather is used to create the tension and atmosphere in the novel, like Lee Child's Echo Burning which I absolutely loved.

I expected great things from Snowdrops because of the hype. It was shortlisted for the Man Booker prize and the CWA Gold Dagger in 2011.

After finishing it, I definitely feel that the things that were left unsaid are actually what make the story so completely gripping and disturbing. It's a real eye opener into Russia and the corruption, and the geographical references and description enhance the plot as it unfolds.

I found the worldly confidence of the main character carried an unnerving wave of hopelessness. I wouldn't want to live the life he was living, every day his conscience eroding away. The less you know, the better - to quote the book. But that's what gave the story its unhinged edge.

It was a bit of a shock after reading chick lit and I still can't decide whether it's a keeper. I will have to ponder that for a little while. In terms of learning from the writer's style - the lesson I picked up here was don't try to include everything. Leave some mystery and reading between the lines for your audience.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Here's Looking At You by Mhairi McFarlane

I bought this book at the same time as Somewhere Over England because I quite fancied some lighthearted Chick Lit (haven't read any for a while). McFarlane's debut got rave reviews and this is her second novel. I haven't read You Had Me At Hello so I didn't have any expectations when I started Here's Looking At You, but what a brilliant book. Lots of laugh out loud moments, gorgeous little quips I wished I'd created and a catchy, distinctive style. I loved the fact I could relate to the numerous being a 30-something references, the "looking back at secondary school" references and the fashion, culture, music etc refs. Just spot on.

I always think Chick Lit is a difficult genre to tackle because it can so easily come across as mega cheesy. McFarlane doesn't seem to have any trouble because she keeps it real. A classic case of writing what you know. There is a moment in the last third of the book which blew me away with its tenderness - and I'm not talking about a sex scene or even a "kiss and make up" scene, which is usually the backbone of your regular rom com. McFarlane writes on a tightrope of gentle comedy. She's taken a different tact to change it up and it works superbly.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Somewhere Over England by Margaret Graham

I picked up this novel on a whim whilst doing my food shop. It caught my eye because I'm a big fan of books set during the World Wars and also the author had previously published it under a different title, which is something I'm considering doing. I started to read and the opening chapters didn't immediately grab me (like it's drummed into us writers they should) but I kept going because I just had a hunch it was going to be a good storyline. When an English woman marries a German man on the brink of the Second World War, it's an intriguing hook.

I'm always trying to learn from published authors so, what I wanted to uncover here, was how Margaret Graham would write about the agony of conflict amidst a tight family unit and how the three members of the family would cope with the burden of war and discrimination. The book deals beautifully with the subject of being a German verses being a Nazi and how during war, the two lines become quickly blurred.

Every book needs a strong main character who the reader can connect with and, more importantly believe in, and Graham does an excellent job with Helen. You feel everything she feels and how she keeps going, even after the war, driven by pure determination to find peace in her life for herself and for her family and still hold it all together, is anyone's guess. But there are characters in our lives like Helen, which is what made this book so special to me.

I also enjoyed the way Graham moved the story along with historical references. I admire any writer who has the patience to weave history into their plot/s because of the amount of research it must have involved.

This book surprised me with just how good it was, and for that, I really loved it and it will definitely be staying on my bookshelf.

Monday, 7 April 2014

The dangers of freelancing in everything

I originally gave up my full time job in September 2009 for five months to write a book. I didn't know it was going to be for five months, but I'd given myself a six month deadline, not knowing how I would cope working in a completely different environment without people around me. The book was something I'd been working on for ten years and I was desperate to put it to bed so I could move on with other writing projects. I'm happy to say I achieved it. Five months later I went back into full time employment, found an agent, found a publisher and the book was finally out there.

Thinking I'd like to give being my own boss another go and explore more of the new publishing model, I started my freelancing journey at the beginning of 2012, but I quickly realised I was trying to cover too much ground. I was in the midst of a giant project (my 30 Things to do before I'm 30) and couldn't stop myself hurtling along. I'd already started two months later than planned and was cramming in lots of travel and so many activities. The plan did change as I moved through the months, and while I don't think this is necessarily a bad thing, I ended up branching even further out into the unknown. Looking back at it now, that year was more about having fun than concentrating on my writing, but I blurred the line. I wasn't clear on what I was trying to achieve. The original plan was to clear the decks whilst having fun, but I flipped that idea on myself. I even took up a part time job two thirds of the way into the year - and that definitely hadn't been part of the plan!

So here's a few things from the second installment of my being my own boss I'd like to share with you:

It sounds obvious but be clear on your objective. What is the ultimate goal here? First time around, I knew exactly what I wanted to accomplish and I did it. Second time, it was very confusing.
And I caused that confusion on myself. Yes I had a fabulous year, but it was a completely different ending to what I'd originally intended. By the time I turned 30, I still had a mass of unfinished projects.

Don't start freelancing in multiple projects unless you are extremely disciplined. I know I need very strict deadlines. I'm more effective when I work on one thing, see it through to completion and then move onto the next. It's also better for my frame of mind. Putting this to the test, in only four weeks (last month) I completed a couple of guides for freelancing and publishing and a poetry anthology. To put how amazing this is for me into perspective, these are projects I've been thinking about for a few years!

Be ahead of the game, not continually running behind. In January 2012 I had a three week holiday in Canada and I was very relaxed and focused. Even coming in two months behind schedule appeared to be ok in my mind and I started out with the very best of intentions, but as soon as I got home, things spiralled. 30 Things plans completely overran any initial freelancing plans.

Finally, depending on how you work best and your circumstances, if you feel yourself
drifting away from the main goal, have the discipline to pull yourself back in the game. For me, in this particular case, until my 30 Things was over, there was no point in trying to do any serious freelance work. I had so many exciting things going on, it was impossible to focus. And I didn't feel so bad about this because 1) it was self induced and actually I was supposed to be going a little crazy and having fun and 2) I could see an end. Once I hit 30, it was crack down time. 

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Freelancing motivation

Read widely

Travel far

Lose your inhibitions

Work hard

Challenge yourself

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Freelance series summary

So, here you are, standing on the precipice of something very exciting – if you’re serious in all aspects of your new freelancing career and willing to put in the legwork.

We started off by discussing what it means to be a writer in today’s marketplace, planning out the year (or time off) month by month and creating a resume to showcase your knowledge and experience, what topics you’re an authority on and what skills and qualifications you have.

Next we covered ideas for making money freelancing, contributing online, setting up your company with advice from HMRC and we discovered that actually the subject of tax IS taxing!

After boggling you all with tax, it was time to lay out the frame of mind foundations for being a writer and my five pointers for staying on track as a freelancer:

Create your own definition of success based on what is important to YOU

Be prepared to make sacrifices

Don't panic if you lose your mojo, it happens! Bring yourself back to the status quo gradually

Surround yourself with people who will support you

Keep the vision clear so you keep moving forward

How do you fight isolation, disorganisation and lack of motivation when you work from home? I covered ten tips to combat these negatives. We were then staying focused by narrowing down our specialised topics and creating a marketing plan to give you a better idea of how to network with other businesses and writers each week.

Next up was how to challenge your ideas and think like an Editor, writing feature articles and avoiding content failure.

Top tip! Worldwide Freelance is a fabulous resource for worldwide markets.

Finally we looked at filling your Inbox with replies, how to invoice like a pro, tackle Writer’s Block and Blogger’s Drought and create the perfect work / life balance. 

I hope you’ve found this series useful to help you prepare for your freelancing journey.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Work Vs Personal Life

Here are three simple ways to ensure you separate your work from your pleasure, which is really tricky when you're writing full time at home because your writing could be considered as both, and your "office" definitely is both!

1) Manage your contact's expectations so in the age of fast and demanding comms, people know when to leave you alone.

2) Don't mix your working area with your living area. Create a home office that has a door you can close when you want peace to write and conversely you can shut and walk away from when you're finished for the day.

3) Keep a notebook handy. I'm at my most creative when I don't want or mean to be creative. Jot the idea down and then get back to your fun.