paperbackTwo bits of great news this week.

The paperback of ‘In A Right State’ is now available for purchase from CompletelyNovel. Just got a proof copy yesterday and it looks great, really good quality, especially the cover. The paperback will be going onto Amazon and other online retailers soon, but you can buy it from CompletelyNovel today. It’ll take about 2 weeks for the book to be printed and delivered.

Paperback £5.99 + Shipping £4.25 = £10.24

BUY ‘IN A RIGHT STATE’

Also, if you’re still not sure about whether to buy it or not, check out this excellent review by Anthony over at top notch sci-fi review site, SFBook.

plugged-inThe editor has returned a copy-edited manuscript and the cover is well on the way to being designed, so D-Day is fast approaching. This has got me thinking about the nuts and bolts of the ebook itself.

First I need to put the ebook together as an HTML document, then think about getting it uploaded to iBooks and Amazon but what about extras? Ebooks are capable are containing content other than words and if I’m going to try to stick my head above all the other ebooks out there, wouldn’t some original, different content be one way of doing this?

I’ve only read one ebook novel that had content other than words, it was a collection of short stories by Kafka and each story was proceeded by a short video about Kafka’s life. I thought it was quite good but I don’t think this would work as part of a novel as it would keep taking you out of the story (You could have content during the story if it was part of the story but that’s another matter…albeit a very interesting one).

So the extra content has to be after the main event, not a distraction.

It’s surprising how little there is. I’ve read a few ebooks recently and most of them don’t even have a link to the author’s website let alone any specially created content. Right there on the last page you’ve finished the authors work, you feel a connection, you want to know more about the person who wrote it and then…bam! You’re dumped, left alone to simply find another book. Why not harness this positive feeling?

Here are some ideas I’ve come up with for extra content;

  1. Interview video – this is probably the most obvious one. Either someone interviewing the author about the book or the author responding to questions asked by readers online. How often do you finish a novel and wanted to know why X did Y, or why it was based in W, or why they named Z. If you really don’t want to be on camera then do an audio interview.
  2. Location tour video – this is one I’ve thought of as I’ve based my novel in Worthing which is an unusual location. It’s not really, but London gets so much attention that basing anything outside London is probably ‘unusual’. Anyway, name another story based in Worthing since ‘Wish You Were Here‘?
  3. Cover drafts – show how the cover evolved.
  4. Book Commentary – like a DVD commentary talking about stand out scenes, how something got completely changed, where scenes got deleted, easter eggs, go through handwritten notes too, etc. Probably best to avoid a Noel Gallagher approach until after you’ve made a couple of million.
  5. Twitter Hashtag – #IveJustFinishedInARightState, this can be added to as and when people finish the book and want to leave comments or ask questions at that vital moment – not a review on GoodReads or Amazon, or  a blog post, just a simple comment. An interview that never stops. Readers can discuss the novel in an open forum, maybe the author can get involved too.
  6. A link to author’s website – duh.
  7. Jump Off Points – if your novel addresses issues, covers a period of history, an industry, a country, etc then point readers in the directions you took as part of your research.

Can you think of any others? What would YOU like to see from an author? From me?!

rip-railroadedOne of the first comments I got back from my editor on her critique of ‘Railroaded’ was; the title needs changing.

She put it better than that. For a near-future sci-fi novel with no trains, railways, railroad companies or the like, it sounds a bit antiquated…and confusing.

I chose ‘Railroaded’ because it’s about how everyone is getting led by companies into doing things that aren’t in their best interest. She stated the problem wasn’t the reasoning behind the title, it was that the title could be misleading on it’s own.

It all made terribly sound, good sense, so I was compelled to think of a new title.

Do you know how hard that is? It’s been known as ‘Railroaded’ since 2007, when the first draft was getting started, and now I had to change it! How?

In my notes I already had a few pages of potential new titles I brainstormed a few years ago when I made a half-hearted effort to come up with a new title. I looked through the thesaurus and kept my ears open for words I liked. I had the title, ‘The Acquiesced’, for a few weeks but wasn’t 100% confident about it. I’m not sure how I actually came up with ‘In A Right State’, it’s not on that list of brainstormed titles, I think it just came to me one day so I let it sit, mulling it over until it started to sit comfortably.

I double checked it with Sophie, my editor, and she said yes. So it’s a goer!

I like that it works on two levels. Firstly, in a literal sense of the story being about a country under a right leaning, very small government, controlled by capitalism. Secondly, the playful, humorous slang meaning of the country being in a mess.

Also, the title makes absolutely no reference to trains, railways or railroad companies…just like the novel itself.

Now I’m here with a new title, the bulk of the editing done, starting the cover design process and feeling a whole lot happier with the book than before. I also changed one of the main character’s names too, because, what the hell, when you’re editing, everything’s up for negotiating, right?

stuck-inI’m in the middle of editing my first novel after getting feedback from my hired editor, and in a quest for some major procrastination, I’ve decided to take a pit-stop and write this post.

The project is to self-publish my first novel.

The goal is to self-publish it with some degree of professionalism, not just slam the 4th draft up on Amazon with a cover made in Paint.

To do this I’ve hired an editor to give me feedback and then complete a copy-edit. I’ve also got a professional designer to do me a cover (once I finalise the title). I’m going to put the ebook together myself as I used to be a web developer plus I’m interested in the process. I’ll also do the marketing myself as I used to work in internet marketing and I’m looking forward to this part almost as much as the actual writing of the thing. Ironically, my favourite ideas are all offline.

I’ve given myself a budget of £1000. I can’t really imagine doing this for much less unless you have friends who owe you big favours…see next… £600 for editing, cover for free because I have a wicked designer mate who I also did a website for, and then £400 for marketing and other sundries.

What defines success?

I have different levels of success in my mind;

Moderate Success – Releasing a professional ebook on Amazon is my No.1 goal and the whole point of this exercise. Even if I don’t sell one copy (well, two, my Mum will buy one…I hope) then I’ll be gutted but this whole process has already proven a worthwhile exercise in my writing development and gaining knowledge. Having an ebook to promote on my own website will look better than having none, plus being able to tell people to search my name on Amazon and for them to find something professional at the end of it is a noble cause (even if there is more than one ‘Ben Ellis’ on there).

Success – Selling 50+ ebooks and getting 5 or more 4/5 star reviews on Amazon would be great.

Blinding Success – Selling 250+ ebooks, getting 20+ good reviews on Amazon, getting some reviews and recommendations on other sites, some positive tweets and general good feedback.

Mega Massive Unbelievable Success – Breaking even.

I’m not even going to think about levels of success exceeding this. I did that when I first sent this novel out to agents back in 2009 and was half-heartedly acknowledged with muted indifference by only a handful.

I’m now a shell of hardened rejection encapsulating a colourless, humourless void.

I think I’m ready.

 

editorThe first step in getting my first novel self-published was to find an editor to knock it into shape and make it half-readable and, hopefully, sellable.

But how? I’ve never done this sort of thing.

I searched the internet and got a kinda confused mess of all sorts, eventually narrowing it down to 3 really good starting points;

  1. Mediabistro – GalleyCat’s Freelance Editor Directory
  2. CreativePenn – list of editors
  3. SfEP – Society of Editors and Proofreaders

From this list I set myself a few criteria of ‘must haves’;

  1. Sci-fi – my first novel is a near-future dystopian story (or so I thought, more on that in another post) so obviously I didn’t want a children’s editor, but I also wanted one who had actively listed sci-fi as an interest.
  2. British – my book is set in England, has British humour, British references, etc. I didn’t want to complicate the whole process by having a foreign editor come back with ‘I don’t understand bollocks’. Neither do I mate.
  3. Reasonably priced – not cheap, but I have a budget.
  4. A Developmental/Big Picture/Critique edit – there’s different types of editing. I wanted a critique of the whole novel and copy-editing, not necessarily by the same person though.
  5. SfEP Qualified – after some searching and learning more, I thought an editor with this qualification would guarantee some level of professionalism. It wasn’t essential but as a total stranger in this world, it did give me a little more confidence.

…read more »

to-do-listThe 1st draft of Blindsided is now finished and I need a break from it before going back in and tackling the 2nd draft, but I’m not going to sit around and download mountains of specialist porn, I’m going to enter the big bad world of self-publishing.

My first novel, ‘Railroaded‘, has been submitted to 44 agents and publishers without much success. I still like Railroaded and recently read a similar traditionally published novel which I didn’t think was as good, so that’s all the motivation I need to release it into the wild and back up my wildly biased opinion.

I’ve started researching into what I need to do to get a respectable, semi-professional ebook online. In my mind I’m budgeting £1,000 but I’d like to get it done for less although I’m not sure it’s going to be possible with editing and copy editing.

My first ports of call have been two free PDF downloads and a paid for app;

  1. Joanna Penn’s – Author 2.0 Blueprint
  2. The Book Designer – 10 things you need to know about self-publishing
  3. Writing Magazine – How to Publish Your Ebook – £5
  4. (Added 29th Jan 2014) – ‘Let’s Get Digital‘ by David Gaughan – £2 on Amazon or a free PDF

All 3 offer comprehensive information for absolute beginners in all aspects of ebook creation and marketing. I’m not a beginner but the book publishing specifics such as formatting, ISBN’s, pricing, etc is all new to me.

…read more »