Phil: I spent quite a lot of last week swearing at my computer. It was not fun.
We use Amazon to publish both of our excellent books, and when we received the proof copies of the latest version of Kate vs the Dirtboffins, they were bigger than Kate vs the Navy.
While Mrs Picky was at it, she pointed out that the text on KvN was a bit small and dense on the page.
There was nothing actually wrong with either book, they just weren’t the same as each other. Told to go away and do something about it, I learned a few lessons on the way:
- Preparation is everything. Decide how big you want your paperback, and stick to this. You can’t change once the book is published. I suggest comparing the options to a few paperbacks you have lying around.
- While said paperback is in your hand, measure the margins.
- Count the number of lines on the page. Most seem to have 32-36. Navy had over 40.
- Set up your manuscript in Word (OpenOffice broke our text) and make sure the page size and margins are set to the size you will be published in. Yes, you can upload something different and let the Amazon machine do its thang, but it won’t do a great job. It doesn’t exactly replicate your layout even if the margins are right, so you certainly can’t trust it to do all the work.
- Word is also a pain. Just because you have told it that the default for a paragraph includes an indent on the first line, don’t think it will bother applying this to all paragraphs, not when it can randomly leave some out. Check every page.
- Be prepared to mess with your cover. If your page count increases, the spine needs to get wider. Our designer, Zoe, was brilliant and kept sorting out revisions for me as we found the system that only works in inches (why?) kept throwing up tiny errors.
- Allow lots of time. This stuff matters and you are likely to need to walk away from it a few times to calm down or have a drink.
- Proof the thing using the Amazon viewer. I needed to tweak our text to avoid odd-looking pages. We use asterisks to denote changes of scene, but a lone * at the top or bottom of a page just looks wrong.
All this is horrible, but a necessary evil if you don’t want to shell out £600 for someone to typeset the thing for you. I’ll admit that in the depths of despair, I did contact a company who would do this sort of thing, then baulked at the cost and time this would take. I’d promised to sort everything out by the time madame came back from holiday. I didn’t quite make it as the system uploaded our cover twice in the previewer and I had to wait for technical support to sort it out. Fortunately, she took a couple of days to recover from being back byt which time I could claim victory in my battle againast the forces of publishing.
The really worst bit?
Our precious reviews haven’t moved across to the new version of Dirtboffins. I still need to look at this, but as Amazon considers it a new book (because I changed the size) this isn’t likely to be possible.
Next time, I’m sure this will be a whole lot easier. So, dear reader, learn some lessons from my woes. You thought that the writing was the difficult bit…
Phil: You’d think with 15 best-selling novels under your belt, when your next book appears on the shelves, you’d be able to sit back and take a bit of a break. After all, success breeds success, doesn’t it? 3 million readers will be waiting for something new and will run out to snap up a copy.
It seems not, or at least if you follow Adelle Parks Twitter or Instagram accounts it doesn’t.
The arrival of I Invited Her In has seen a rush of promotional activity. There are appearances at shops up and down the country for a start, with an awful lot of book signing. Several radio interviews in a day last week, a blog tour, an interview for Hello and even a short story in a Sunday supplement magazine. In addition, there are poster campaigns at railway stations.
It all goes to show just how much marketing work is required to flog books. Considering this is from a well-known author with an established track record it makes me wonder if this is a chicken and egg situation. Finding a budget to promote a successful author is easy as the bean counters are confident of a return. This is a crowded market and resources need to be targeted carefully.
It makes you realise just how much extra effort it takes to launch new authors. If no-one has heard of you, how do you change that? It’s not like radio stations are queuing up to chat with new writers, selling a chat with someone the audience have heard of is far less likely to lead to anyone switching off. Social media matters and for that, you have to rely on having a marketable writer who can promote themselves. Mind you, since the main requirements are an imagination, it’s probably an area where an author has the advantage!
And if from this you think I’m a bit jealous – too right. Running around the country plugging our books? Team NolanParker would be well up for that. But then having legions of fans telling you how wonderful your latest story is, is all part of the writing dream. We’re not the sort of shrinking violets who just want to hand down our work from an ivory tower!
Still, having a goal makes us want to work harder. Now, I better go and write some more for book 3…
Phil: On my reading pile at the moment are Still Me by Jojo Moyes and Make a Killing on Kindle by a shouty American.
Both are good reads and neither has accompanied me on a train, my favourite place to read. Why not?
Because both are stupidly heavy. 1.7kg in total.
Now, I love a proper book as opposed to an e-reader, but looking at these things makes me wonder if I need to change my mind. In electronic form, these would be lighter than a feather. I’d be able to take them anywhere. Reading could be enjoyed wherever I have a few minutes.
Instead, the Kindle book has been sitting around since Candice gave it to me at Christmas. I’m up to chapter 8. It’s not that it’s bad (a bit shouty perhaps) but A4 sized and weighing as much as a large cat, I’m just not willing to lug the thing around.
Still Me was read in 4 chunks at home – the story is engaging enough to make me want to charge through it, but I’d still have rather read it on the train. I’ve passed the book on to the Nolan having warned her to bring a big bag. It’s a good job she’s a bit of a gym bunny.
Why are these things so massive?
The American I understand. It’s all bigger and better from him.
The novel? Publishers or authors ego. “Look at me”, the book shouts from the shelf in the supermarket, “I’m a really luxurious product.” In this day and age, there’s no need for hardbacks. The words would be the same in paper covers. I’m assuming it’s a combination of prestige and I suspect, profitability driving this.
Publisher – please think of your readers! I can’t be the only one put off reading because of the weight of the book, can I?
Phil: The nervous wait is over, first reviews are in for Kate vs the Navy:
Winnits – Much like the first book in this series – Kate vs the Dirt-boffins – it’s not my typical reading genre. Having read the first book already and enjoyed it very much I was already familiar with the key characters, and it was good to check in with them and see how their stories had developed in the time that elapsed between the two stories.
Plenty of twists, turns and intrigue both in the main story arc but also in the intra-character relationships as they form or shift – much like before another outlandish chase scene, and the ‘punch line’ of the story was kept well under wraps until the conclusion. Recommended as a good entertaining piece of light reading. *****
Someone just identified as Amazon Customer – Really enjoyed the first book and was disappointed when it ended so was really chuffed to see Kate back in print.
Another great story with plot twists and excitement. And I won’t spoil the ending but needless to say it was worth the wait.
A nice easy read, and now need another one!
Can highly recommend it.*****
Yay! People like it! (also, Phew!)
Buy Kate vs the Navy on Kindle – 99p
Buy Kate vs the Navy in paperback – £5.99
The wait is over. Fire up your e-reader and settle down with your favourite mug full of tea and some biscuits. Then head over to Amazon where you can purchase our second novel, Kate vs the Navy for a bargain price of 99p.
Plenty of high jinks on the high seas and one of the team becomes an unlikely hero. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll be desperate to know what happens next…
(Don’t worry paper book fans, we haven’t forgotten you. The print version is coming very soon)
Design by Zoe Collis
Phil: As I watched the final episode of Strike – The Cuckoo’s Calling, I wondered about the sales of the book it’s based on.
Obviously, JK Rowling (writing as Robery Galbraith) isn’t worried about the royalties, but I’d certainly be interested to see how the sales fare. Surely, most of the joy of any whodunnit is trying to work out who the criminal is, and once you’ve seen it on telly then the secret is blown. OK, you might still enjoy the read but part of your brain is always going to be shouting, “The butler did it!” as the characters bumble arnound trying to solve the crime.
Or does knowledge of the outcome allow you to get on and enjoy the story?
(Note to broadcasters – This isn’t an issue for Kate vs the Dirtboffins, there’s loads more to the book than the whosdoingit aspect, which is why any adaption will be so succesful the other channels will just switch off to save electricity. Please start the bidding war for rights now.)