Category Archives: Publishing

What’s your road to publication?

Phil: It’s Stratford Literature Festival time again. Sadly, we aren’t on the bill this year, but there’s still many sessions worth tootling along for.

“My Road to Publication” featured three debut authors talking about their first books with Meg Sanders, how they came about and what happened next. Ironically, thanks to refurbishment of the local library forcing this to decamp to the arts venue, the session took place in an adjacent local theatre (this is Stratford-upon-Avon, there’s a theatre on every corner daahhhling) which I’d never been in before. That made it even more interesting but I have to apologise for the lighting confusing my phone’s camera.

Anyway, the author were, from left to right, Emma Slade, Ruth Hogan and Harriet Cummings.

Ruth and Harriet were both conventional authors in that they have written fiction and writing has become their livelihood, albeit with some freelance copyrighting thrown in for Harriet.  Her novel, We all begin as strangers is inspired by happenings in her parents village. It’s actually her second book, the first absorbed a year an a half before being abandoned. The current book was written in a 3 month session where she devoted her time exclusively to the task.

Of the three, she is the only one with anything approaching formal training with a Faber Academy course. Despite claiming it didn’t provide any real technical knowledge, the course gave her the confidence to write a novel and more importantly, an agent as she had to take part in a mass pitching session. Fellow attendees form a feedback group for each other to provide help and support.

Ruth was an avid reader as a child and had always wanted to be a writer but kept finding excuses not to start, until a car accident in her 30s left her working part-time and with the time and no more excuses. Her writing method is interesting – a chapter at a time laid down in longhand with a fountain pen. This is then typed up on the computer and edited at the same time. Then the pages are printed and edited again. This contrasts with Harriet who writes the entire first draft before doing any editing. The idea for The Keeper of Lost Things possibly relates to a long forgotten, until a “What was your favourite book as a child?” question unearthed it, short story of a child who finds a teddy bear in a puddle and manages to restore it to its owner.

They say all books should start with a bit of a bang and that certainly applies to Emma’s. Her memoir starts with her being held hostage.

This is the least conventional story of all. Emma was a high-flying investment banker but when she saw a photo of her kidnapper after her release, the process of changing her life to becoming a Buddhist nun started. The book is a fund-raiser for her charity Opening Your Heart to Bhutan. written as a respite from her work towards becoming a nun, including creating several thousand hok mandana’s, unlike the others, this is very much a one-off. Buddhism teaches you to either be working for the community or be in retreat from it. Eventually she plans to go into full retreat, but at the moment it’s time to raise funds for a minibus.

All this is of course at odds with one of the first things all three were instructed to do by their publishers – get on social media. Ruth picked on Twitter and Instagram. Harriet is on Twitter too as is Emma. In the modern world, the author can’t sit back and do nothing between manuscripts – writing is just a small part of the job!

 

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I bet JK Rowling doesn’t buy her own books…

amazonpackPhil: A few days, the postman delivered an exciting parcel to chez Parker. Inside was a rather excellent book ordered two days before.

The same day, my mother was dispatched to Waterstones to pick up a copy ordered a couple of weeks earlier.

“Why are you buying copies of your own book?” I hear you cry. “Is this an attempt to force it into the best seller charts?”

Not a bit of it. That would be cheating, underhand and also far too expensive.

No, all I wanted to do was make sure that the process of ordering physical copies actually worked. That and try to push the book into Amazon’s “People who bought this, also bought this…” section.

Anyway – buying from Amazon or Waterstones works. So what’s stopping you?

P.S. Signed copies also available. E-mail me.

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Letting the book fly brings success

bookwithwingsPhil: Last week I gained a new Twitter follower. Pleasant enough, but there was a surprise attached.

My new friends last tweet was: “A very funny read: an horticulture agency, including plant pathology and redundancies!” along with a link to our book on Amazon.

I recognised the name as one of the scientists I’d worked with over 16 years ago in my days on the veg research IT helpdesk. Joana wasn’t one of our regular visitors (the one you remember with a shudder) so how had she found our book?

It turns out that it was all down to Leamington Spa railway station.

Platform 3 is home to a bookcase in the waiting room. People leave books and collect others, all free of charge. A few weeks ago, I’d dropped off a copy of Kate vs the Dirtboffins, complete with new cover in there.  When I checked a couple of weeks later, it had gone and I wondered if the person who’d got it was enjoying the read.

It seems she was.

Not only that, but she passed it on to her friend Joana who suspected that HRI where she works and HRA in the book might be related!

The book has continued on its journey and a signed copy has been bought and dispatched. Giving away copies of your book pays off it seems. Best of all, I keep hearing, “We can’t wait to see what happens next.”

So Nolan, we better finish book 2!

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Kate vs the Dirtboffins paperback – Out Today!

booflash

A big day today – Kate vs the Dirtboffins, the funniest novel you will read this year – IS OUT IN PAPERBACK!

Yes, you can head on down to your local Waterstones and order a real, physical copy for £7.99.

Check it out on the Waterstones website.

Or, if you are reading this at your desk and it’s wet outside, go to Amazon.

Check it out on the Amazon website.

And if you want the cheaper option, they have the Kindle version – and you can read our reviews!

Or if you’d like a signed copy, drop me an e-mail and I’ll sort it out post free.

That’s Christmas sorted then!

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Kate vs the Dirtboffins – now on paper!

KvDB

Phil: Exciting times for Team NolanParker – the paperback version of our novel has arrived!

While we might be very pleased with the e-book version, and it’s on over 100 reading devices now, for some jobs, only paper will do.

Let’s face it, we all like to hold a novel in our hands and if that novel is one you have written then it’s even more exciting.

So, working with Clink Street Publishing, we’ve created a real book. It’s has out new cover and inside you’ll find professionally laid out pages – the difference between these and my efforts is considerable. Not that mine were terrible, but there is an indefinable “something” that employing a professional brings to the job that makes it look and feel like a “proper” book.

The good news is that in a few weeks, the book will be orderable (ISBN 978-1-911110-42-2) from Waterstones and other high street book shops. We’ll also be happy to sell signed copies direct from this website as well for the same price. I’ll fill you in on this later but you need to start saving a tiny £7.99 for this…

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Why are you giving away your book?

Candice: I’ve been taking a good, hard look at book selling in the modern age. It seems to me there are two routes to success:

Be a celebrity. Phil hates this but you can’t deny that a famous name on the cover sells copies. Sadly, I didn’t end up writing with Joey Essex so that’s not going to work.

Create some word-of-mouth. Get people talking about your book and hopefully sales will grow by recommendation.

So, I have decided that we need to concentrate on reviews, not sales.

This sounds stupid. After all, we ought to be trying to sell books shouldn’t we? At this stage, I don’t think so. What I want to do is establish us as authors whose work people like. If we can get them hooked on our first book, selling the second one should be a lot easier.

So, we’ve decided to give the electronic copy away on 3 summer Sundays. We’ll plug it on various social media outlets, including our new Facebook page. There’s even a video of us waving the new look book around on there and Phil is fiddling with his camera to make some funny photos up.

What we need out of all this is a selection of reviews. We’ve got some good one so far now people are being bullied or bribed to do more than just read it. Even this is helping as people at work are now reading it on the recommendation of others!

Hopefully, once we’ve collected a healthy number, somewhere between 25 and 50 seems to be the target, sales will start to grow.

In the meantime, all the good feedback has encouraged us to get back to Book 2, so watch out for us holed up in a library any day soon.

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Rick Astley nails it

Phil: So there I am listening to Dermot O’Leary on Radio 2 last weekend and he’s interviewing Rick Astley about his return to prominence and No.1 album. Suddenly Astley says something profound:

“It’s never been easier to make music that gets ignored.”

By jove, I think he’s got it!

It’s true. Anyone can cut a track (I know all da modern lingo daddy-o) sitting in their bedroom fiddling with a computer. They can even knock together a video and release it to the world on YouTube.

And the world probably won’t even notice.

The same thing is happening in publishing. Whereas writing used to be the preserve of a select band of people, monks mainly, now any numpty can string together some words and stick them up on Amazon for the world to buy.

The trick is to MAKE the world beat a path to your door, or at least the webpage selling your book.

So the skill is no longer making the product, it’s selling it. Marketing people are the new kings. Nolan is going to be insufferable now I’ve worked that out…

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Read. My. Book.

This IS the book you are looking for.Phil: The route to fame and fortune is more convoluted and full of unexpected pitfalls than negotiating a trip around Ikea on a Sunday. We’ve learnt to our cost that when other authors tell us something will be a problem, it usually is and we should pay attention.

One problem we didn’t expect was persuading people who have bought or been presented a copy of our book to actually read the thing.

It might seem like a small problem, but if we want to become rich and famous, and we do, then people need to read the story and then be so pleased that they tell others about it. That way word of mouth will spread, sales will rocket and we can buy more cake.

From an authors point of view, it’s really difficult to explain the reticence to open the pages and enjoy the fun. To us, this is a baby and we want everyone to love it, or at least to tickle it under the chin and make goo-goo noises.

To everyone else, it’s just another book. OK, they know the author but that’s just luck.

Of course there is the dread that it might be terrible. Far easier to put off the reading rather than admit you don’t like it perhaps.

So, I’m on a mission. Everyone I suspect of owning a copy is now being badgered to get reading.

I’ve emphasised that I don’t mind if they don’t like it – and I really don’t. After all, we all like different things and not everyone is going to love our book. People with no taste for example, they won’t like it. And stupid people. And possibly Michael Gove.

Seriously though, not everyone will love it but if they don’t I’d like to know this and even possibly why. That way, maybe the next one will be even better.

Of course, when they do like it (yes, WHEN, no author really thinks they have written anything but brilliance), some glowing reviews on the web and perhaps an Instagram photo holding the book and grinning. Maybe tell everyone you know on Facebook, remembering that copious linking would be appreciated.

Which brings me to you lot. Our blog readers. Have you bought a copy yet? Why not? Come on, just click on the picture of the book cover on the left of this page. It’s a really good read!

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Introducing Dandylion Publishing

dandylionlogo

Phil: Many, many months ago, you will have heard us mention that we’d done a deal with a publisher. Then things went quiet and just before Christmas we self-published on Amazon. You might have wondered what was up.

Well, truth was that we really had signed a deal, but the process of coming to market took longer than anyone expected so we decided to jump early. Our publishers are the newly launched Dandylion Publishing.

We showed Jade and Sarah our novel 18 months ago they loved it. After the usual round of edits, some of which we agreed with and so we ignored (they took it very well), the book joined their list and then things went quiet as the list was built in preparation for the website launch. Anyone who has been involved with a start-up business knows that things take longer than expected so went away and started work on Book 2.

However, Monday saw the “soft launch” of the business so we can tell you about it properly.

dandylionbooks

Two aspects of Dandylion appealed to us:

First, they aren’t based in London. When we met the owners, they explained they wanted to work in publishing but not to relocate to the capital from Leeds. You might not think this matters much but we were determined to set our book in the Midlands and London publishers like London locations.

Second, the business model works well for authors. If Dandylion accept your book, you agree terms for publishing based on a series of services they offer. No money changes hands but you agree how much each party receives from every sale. We’ve gone for the full-fat Fitzgerald service which included copy editing, proof reading, story structure suggestions etc. as producing a quality book mattered more than the income.

For the writer, it means that the publisher has a financial interest in selling copies of your book. If they don’t than they see no return on the work they have put in.

So, if you are an author looking for a publisher, give Dandylion a go. We’ve met them and been bought dinner (OK, a TGI Friday burger each, this IS a new business) and they are lovely people. Of course we like anyone who loves our book, so perhaps we are biased.

And if you are a reader interested in something new for your e-Book thingy, then see what their growing collection can offer you.

Visit: Dandylion Publishing.

 

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Setting the book free

loosebook
Phil: Right – Book 1 is finished. Done. Dusted. We’re just working on the marketing and have sold a few copies.

Our signing session before Christmas saw us leave with a few printed copies. Some of these have been given away as presents but I decided that I was going to do something different with one of mine.

My local station has a “library” in the waiting room on platform 3. In the corner of this marvellously restored Art Deco room there is a small bookcase. On the shelves are books donated by travellers. If you need some reading for your journey, you can pick it up from here for free.

In the collection is a copy of Kate vs The Dirtboffins.

I wonder what will happen to it. Presumably it will be picked up by someone who has never heard of us.

I hope they like it.

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