This site is for you if you are very new to the world of writing and self-publishing and it is also for you if you wish to help new writers. :)
It has been 2 years and I have finally finished (ok it still needs a smidgen of work) my very first novel. It is short novel at approximately 62,000 words. The editing company I used told me that readers would much prefer a tighter story than one which is flabby and not as together.
I need an editor to tell me these things and a proofreader to find my errors. Hey, I can write a book but I didn't say my English was awesome!
I once thought 2 years was a long time but in the midst of this I moved back with hubby to the UK after 11 years in the Antipodes, started a new company, was busy with my business and just life in general.
Anyway, I digress...
So now I get to the hard part, or so people tell me. The world of SELF-PUBLISHING!
I don't know very much and I want my novel available by this Christmas. So I have decided to go with Kindle Direct Publishing.
Looks straightforward enough, looks like the royalties are way better than going down the traditional publishing route and it can be made available within 48 hours in the kindle store.
The tricky part looks like the conversion from word file to ePub version.
I don't know a heck of a lot about marketing it but I have been learning this world for many reasons I won't bore you with here, so I should be ok.
If you have any hints and tips then flick me a comment if you like either here or here.
I would deeply appreciate it.
Now we get into the trickiest part. I have had an idea for a third novel and have already started working on my second.
When inspiration calls your name you listen right?
My characters are patiently waiting but I am not sure for how long exactly they will hang around waiting to be heard.
I hope it is a long time, I hope they don't wander off.
My second novel is written in first person unlike this first book, which is in third person omniscient. It is a different ball game but I am enjoying it immensely.
I am itching to get going yet will need enough time to do the first book justice.
Have you self-published a novel?
Did you make it available as a printed version or just ebook?
What pitfalls can you help me and my readers avoid?
Which blogs can you recommend around this topic?
How did you navigate or are you navigating this road yourself?
I would LOVE to hear from you xx
So it happened today. Another step towards a dream and a goal of mine.
I submitted my book to BubbleCow, an editing company in the UK. After searching for the best people to edit my book, I revisited a website I have known about for some time The Creative Penn written by Joanna Penn. Joanna is a successful self-published author and I value the amount of care she puts into her work. She had a whole post on editors and when I found BubbleCow I felt some real connection.
I just hope they feel the same way about me. I submitted the book and then I got a message saying that they just need to check to see whether they are the right editors for my book, which I guess is kind of neat! I want the right people helping me to make my book better.
Below is the blurb for my book...Just in case you are interested.
Lenora sat with the rawness of her memories. They sat like china pieces, sharp, fragile and finally being put back in place to form the ugliest vase Lenora had ever seen.
Words can change everything.
Rosie is ripped from her mother’s loving arms when she is just three years old. She is placed into a series of foster homes; her only solace comes from her writing. She has always felt alone in the world.
When Rosie finds something from her past she must confront the possibility that her mother, the one she had always been told was mentally unstable, just might have been set up. Yet what if her mother does turn out to be crazy? Rosie knows all too well that some things are better left in the past.
Jacob has his own burden to carry; yet when he and Rosie meet he finally finds someone who can understand his pain.
Sarah has kept her shame and guilt hidden for so long but feels it’s time to let her truth out. Mary, who is nursing her own broken heart, listens to Sarah’s story as it unfolds into something she will ultimately be left holding.
Lenora waits for her daughter to come find her or might she be the one to find her daughter?
Spanning 1970’s to present and telling the story of two girls torn apart by love, A Pocket Called Past shows us what consequences secrets and regret can have in our lives and how we go about picking back up the pieces.
Gary from BubbleCow said he will endeavour to return my book within around 28 days so by the New Year, I should be able to pop my book up onto Kindle in Amazon and self-publish!! Exciting.
This is my first work of fiction and I cannot wait to see what the editor does to make it a better book, as I am SURE he will :)
I had the pleasure of meeting Sebastian in Wellington, our home town, a couple of weeks ago. A mutual friend had put us in touch and so we met one day in a cafe in New Zealand to chat about the journey of writing.
I must admit, I was a bit intimidated to meet, and have coffee with, an actual published author, one way younger than myself. I didn't know what I expected but Sebastian was the nicest guy. He was genuine and warm and very friendly and open about his experience.
After we met, I asked him if he would kindly allow me to throw some questions his way for this blog. I run another business so although I am not on here much, it is a place I love coming to and I hope, as I go along merrily in my own writing journey, that you come along and enjoy the ride with me.
What inspired you to begin writing?
It's something I've done for such a long time that I can hardly remember. I used to sketch to get my ideas out when I was younger, and I think I decided at some point that I needed the grandiose format of a novel to expand on them.
Where do your ideas come from?
I tend to start off with a 'mood', which is quite a vague thing but a starting point. The Train to Paris began with a recollection of the atmosphere of the Basque country in Southern France, which I had travelled through on my first trip alone to Europe when I was eighteen. I thought at the time, this would be the perfect place to set a story that has all the suggestions of romance and opulence, even if, underneath all the surface beauty, it's just like any other part of the world. And then I started conceiving of Paris in the same way.
What inspires and informs your writing?
Other works of art, not limited to literature. Film definitely inspires me because I'm a visual thinker in many respects – I, like a lot of people, often picture how a book would work as a film when I'm reading it. And of course painting, photography and sculpture, given I spend a lot of my time studying Art History. The Train to Paris was very much inspired by Impressionist painting.
How do you begin a novel?
Again, with a mood. I like to jump straight into the action rather than laying out the backstory, which I think should come through naturally as you write. So The Train to Paris begins with an anonymous man arriving at a train station, and it's really just his observations setting the scene until halfway through the chapter when he starts talking to another character.
Do you pull any real life conversations into novels?
No, I try to keep my fictional worlds as separate from the real world as possible.
Do the characters evolve over time or do you know who they are right from the start?
It depends on the character. Some of them require more thinking through than others. Élodie Lavelle in The Train to Paris came out of nowhere, and she arrived absolutely fully-formed – it was like running into an old friend, even though I've never known anyone like her.
Do you pull any real life conversations into novels?
No, I try to keep my fictional worlds as separate from the real world as possible.
How long did it take you to write The Train To Paris?
I wrote the first draft quickly (over about six weeks) and then spent two years revising it.
What is your writing routine, if you have one?
I wish I had one! The thing is, if I have a project going then it takes precedence over everything. Earlier this year I found myself with an idea for a short story while I was on a twelve-hour flight, but I didn't have my laptop with me. So I wrote it on my phone, with that tiny keyboard, just because I couldn't help myself. If the inspiration strikes, I have to get it down
Are there times when you feel rather stuck when writing? If so, what do you do about that?
I don't think anyone can deny writer's block exists. Hemingway read over his other work whenever he hit the wall, which I do sometimes. Usually if I go out for a prolonged run the problem sorts itself out.
Approximately, how many drafts of a manuscript will you complete before you are happy to utter the words “It’s done”?
About five or six. But even then, they're living things and I don't think they stop changing unless you force yourself to let go of them.
Who are your favourite authors?
I'm a bit of a Hemingway fanatic, and I've started revisiting the other great Modernist writers lately – Fitzgerald, Woolf, Lawrence, Joyce and Faulkner. Out of contemporary authors: Ian McEwan, Julian Barnes, William Boyd, Philip Roth, Paul Auster, Michael Cunningham, John Irving and Mario Vargas Illosa all have a high place on my list.
If you won the lottery tomorrow and didn’t have to think about how to make money, would you still write?
Writing is so independent of money for me. I do it because I love it.
When you are not writing, what might one find you up to?
Getting as much out of life as possible – reading, researching, exercising, cooking, taking photographs, spending time with my friends, and travelling as often as I can.
Do you have advice for writers beginning their writing journey?
In a word, persistence. If you really love what you do then you can't give up on it.
Ok, so someone tells you they have written a book and now what? What advice would you give?
If this is what they're passionate about, they should absolutely try and share it with a wider audience. There's no limit to what you can do with your talents.
Thank you Sebastian :)
Ok, so I am a bit over this now...
Like extremely over this...
I have written the book. I have given the book to two people to read. I got really great feedback. I know its kinda alright, ok it might be good....ah that was hard even to type!
So I sent it to two places on the correct days of their open submission thing wherby you can send in samples of your novel and a synopsis. I didn't hear anything back and wasn't surprised...
It needs a teensy bit of work on it. It probably needs edited by some cool person who can make my book flow better. It needs a cover designed.
I need to decide if I am going to self-publish...
I need to therefore learn a bit more about self-publishing...
That leads us to the title of this post. It is a pain in the ass. It sits there in all its bound glory on my coffee table in my home office and it looks so pretty and thick. It was printed out by one of my beta readers and when I first held its weight in my slightly trembling hands, I felt a mixture of pride and dread. Kind of like when you first put on your school uniform and your proud parents take your picture and you smile, oh so excited about your first day, only to walk into the school gates almost peeing your pants!
I know I want to do something with it. Heck, I have already started my second novel (in a completely different genre but hey) and I feel a bit guilty working on it with the first novel pressing itself behind my back saying...hey what about me bitch???
So any advice would be welcome...I mean it...I would really love some help.
Usually I am the one giving out advice and coaching people to make decisions but on this one I draw a blank. Do I just finish it and get it edited or do I learn more about self-publishing? Arrgggghhhhhh
Help me please....
Thank you Kindly xx
The rain is pounding at the windows in my office as I write and I am snuggled up to the radiator.
Recently I realised that I had all but stopped writing. I actually know exactly why. I have been working away on my other business Safe Space Coaching and dreaming up new business offerings. I don't really believe in Balance. We are always giving our attention to one thing more than another.
Currently I am learning French, researching my second fiction novel, thinking of finishing my first non-fiction novel (part memoir/part self-help), learning the language of sales, improving my written English, competing in my first Bikini Series Challenge (don't ask) and taking care of my home. Now, I cannot possibly get all of the work done that I need to do on all of these during ONE day. I have trello boards for all of them and plans too but that doesn't mean they are balanced...AT ALL. I'm tired just reading that back really. ZZzzzzz
I adore writing and I have a friend who is waiting on my completed chapter, which I have mostly completed, but once I finished the book I must admit I got impatient and wanted to start the next one right away! Alas, I find myself unable to start writing it because I know nothing about the time period...PERIOD! It will take lots of research to know how things were in the 1860's in Scotland and NZ.
Then why aren't I writing more of just anything?
You did look at the list above right?
I know, I know...So everyone is busy, I get it. We all have the same amount of time in the day as the next person so I ought to just dive in.
Except, I want to do my best and not do something half-arsed.
Is it better to do something than nothing?
That is the question I pose to you new writers?
How do you ensure you are writing daily? What do you sacrifice to make it happen? What falls off your plate?
I would LOVE to know. You can comment here or tweet me back @safespace.
Happy Monday :)
Not only is one of my fave authors a great and talented writer, she is also a wonderful speaker. Her messages are clear and simple yet profound.
So I submitted my book Harper Collins NZ Wednesday post and Allen & Unwin’s Friday Pitch a few weeks ago.
It was with a slightly trembling hand that I pressed the submit button first making doubly sure I had actually filled everything out correctly and attached everything I needed to attach.
It was scary and yet exciting. HC wanted the first three chapters. Allen & Unwin only wanted one chapter.
I knew deep down that it would be a miracle if I heard anything back at all. I knew this but yet some small part of me hoped that maybe this would be it. Then I thought how I would feel if it went either way. I boldly said to my husband, chest puffed and fists tight, that if I just expected not to hear anything back then I would be ok. He looked at me and smiled. It will still sting he said. Remember though, it is all so subjective.
Then it got me thinking. It is so subjective. This writing business is not for the faint of heart but take heart in this, new writers out there (who aren’t yet published), it is not a rejection of you as a person.
I will repeat that because the weight of these words deserves a repeat.
It is NOT a rejection of you as a person. Period.
There is a reason that they tell you, once you actually work up the courage to push the submit button, that if unsuccessful you will not hear back from them. They get hundreds of manuscripts in these open submissions- they simply couldn’t give feedback on every single on now could they?
Back to the rejection part.
Imagine your email with attachments is opened. The person opening them will have got up that morning and maybe they had a great sleep, maybe they had a shitty one. Maybe they just had a fight with their boyfriend or parent and without them knowing it already, their world is a different place. Trust me, I work with people…a lot and I know the subconscious mind well.
So their filter may be on or off depending on their morning.
They read your synopsis and maybe they snore, maybe they yawn. They have just had so many like this lately. Same storyline, same idea and they may not even go any further. They may still read it but say they have already just accepted someone whose story is very similar to yours. Or whose writing style is in the same vein.
Your manuscript will just go into the reject pile and they will move on.
Now that is perfectly ok. They may even have thought your writing sucked or lacked any sparkle or potential.
This STILL doesn’t mean you have been rejected. This is just your manuscript we’re discussing here. The person who reads your manuscript may never meet you, doesn’t know what you look like, who you are or what goodness you have carried out in your life. All they know is that they don’t wish to publish this particular piece of work.
Don’t make it about you.
When I didn’t hear back after the 2 and 3 week cut off dates, obviously I was a little bit stung. Then I looked myself in the eye, no I actually did, in the mirror and I told myself that I was bloody brilliant. I wrote a novel. A friggin novel.
Me, someone who always said they wanted to finish a manuscript had actually ticked that off her list.
I will obviously keep trying to get it out there and even if I have to go down the self-publishing route, I will do what it takes.
I will not allow myself to feel defeated by a rejection and neither should you.
Imagine if J.K had done that…
Would love to hear your thoughts on this one.
It was my husband who sent me the information on the upcoming Writers Week in Wellington.
I received the email and glanced at the poster but then forgot about it as one does. Only, how could I have forgotten? I am an aspiring author. I am a full on lover of words. I adore books and yet I completely forgot to look into the festival.
Yet as fate would have it, I was reminded nearer the time and when I heard him say two words I just knew I had to go book tickets right away.
Those two words were Elizabeth Gilbert.
I, like millions of others on this planet, adored Elizabeth Gilbert’s novel Eat, Pray, Love. I like countless others before me went on a trip to Bali as Elizabeth did. However, I wasn’t aiming to get over anything or seek something. That part of my life was completely sorted when I found the Love of My Life (aka hubby) when I was just 21 years old. We have been together ever since, although there is a whole story that goes with that one and that will be talked about in a future post I am certain.
The seeking is constant for me too so I don’t have to ‘go’ anywhere special for that. In truth I simply wanted to go to Bali because I wanted to visit this spiritual place people talked of. I had already been to Italy and India has never been high up on my list. Well it wasn’t but I would like to go some day.
Anyway, I am digressing.
Post EPL, I quickly consumed everything Elizabeth Gilbert had written. Then one day on twitter I noticed she had written another book called The Signature Of All Things. I couldn’t wait to get it on my kindle!
I read it joyously and when it was finished, I was sad. That’s the sign of a great novel to me, when I miss the characters after the last page has been devoured.
This post is my take on Elizabeth Gilbert coming to town. If you were there you likely took away different nuggets than I but here is my account for what it is worth.
So Liz (can I call her that? She wouldn’t mind I’m sure) Liz talked about how in every novel either someone goes on a trip or a stranger comes to town. Liz almost doesn’t feel like a stranger though, I’m guessing not to the people who read her books and have been affected by them. She also made a brilliant reference to one of my favourite TV series Breaking Bad when she said that her main character, in the second half of the novel, changed and became ‘I’m the one who knocks.’ Those of you who haven’t seen BB can just ignore that bit though.
She also talked about her childhood and she said a line, which struck me in my solar plexus. She was talking about the triad of female relationships and how her mother once said to a small Liz, when her and two friends were going through something at school within their friendship, ‘there’s nothing more evil than three little girls.’ It struck me because I have personal experience with evil and the forms it comes in (again, in another post I promise).
Liz didn’t know it, but she was giving me lots of ideas for future novels during her talk. Something else she gave me, which I actually didn’t expect, was a swelling in my chest and a full feeling in my eyes. She was talking about how women need a vocation. Not necessarily the source of your income but a source of your identity. She said that if you don’t give this something to do (pointing at her own head) it’s gonna do something bad.
Again, I have personal experience with this. I won’t leave this for another post because I think it needs to be understood.
I am a lifestyle coach and a meditation teacher but I don’t seek clients. I know weird right? I don’t seek clients because I don’t want to let my writing go by the wayside as I feel it would. Yet, I have guilt surrounding my husband supporting my lifestyle and dreams. Yes, I have clients but I could have more. Yet, the writing won’t do itself now will it?
I can also get quite destructive up here (pointing to my head) when I don’t let my creativity flow. So I heard Liz when she said this. I mean, I really heard her.
Liz said that her writing has kept her sown together (at least that’s what it looks like in my notes of the talk but I apologise profusely if I have it wrong Liz, if you ever happen to read this…ha ha I wish).
She said that she is lucky to be able to write and said that things like writers block still beats doing any other job for her. She said she goes over, under of through any obstacle with her character and this works for her. Good to note!
She then went onto to talk about the Creative Genius. Something she is very passionate about as I watched her practically leap out of her seat!
Again what she said spoke volumes to me. She said you don’t need a permission slip to create art. WOW!
I am aiming to coach my 12-year-old niece at the moment as she is quite into writing and books and creating. When we wait for someone to tell us its ok to do something we may just be waiting forever right? Liz said that she once had a teacher who basically said to her that she would never be a writer because she hadn’t suffered enough. Then she gave the audience the double fingers. Well, she didn’t give us the fingers but rather she said that was what she thought about someone saying that to her. I was almost cheering at that point. I now keep those words close by, you know right under my shirt slightly to the left where my heart sits under my skin and bones. There is truth and power in them and I’m all for that.
Liz even said that when she was researching her book, because of the time period, she consumed research until she knew the language in her bones. She said she didn’t need to tell everything to the reader that the author knows. However, I would love to know everything this author knows.
I asked a question at the end of the talk about my own manuscript that I have just completed. I even got a congrats from her, which was lovely. I told her that my first beta reader (a term she wasn’t familiar with) had read my first draft and given me tips and great feedback. I asked her how she knew when her books were ready to send in to publishers. She leaned forward and told me that feedback is great but it’s like a house, don’t dismantle everything you have already built (the bones of your book) from others’ feedback. You will intuitively know when it’s right.
Intuition has always served me well when I go with it so I nodded in agreement.
She said much more but this post is getting on a bit so perhaps I will pepper it through future posts like little nuggets of wisdom for you to chew on but for now I’ll just say that Liz’s talk was not only insightful but its like she handed me a permission slip to create my art and that is what I am going to do.
This is my first post and I would love to take you on my journey. Please find me on twitter @safespace for future updates.
P.S, I know I look like a hobbit in the above picture but by golly she is tall, although to be fair she was wearing mules :)