Tag Archives: publishing

Navigating your way to publishing success

Phil: While might be blisteringly succesful with our writing, I banked another £1.56 from sales earlier, we are both still interested in the whole publishing world. With this in mind, I attended a seminar at Stratford Lit Fest last week looking at the continuing changes in the industry. An interesting hour, which provided some welcome pointers.

  • Series sell better than 1 off novels. Readers prefer to invest in something that isn’t a one-off story.
  • Sales don’t really kick in until book 3 or 4. This seems pretty consistent – it worked for Harry Potter after all.
  • Differential pricing works. Price book 1 cheap to get people hooked and then offer the follow-ups at full price
  • Publishers are using e-books as a slush pile and picking up the best-selling ones. Traditional submissions still exist but more and more they are letting sales on-line handle some of the filtering process for them. Why read a thousand poor manuscripts when you can just cherry pick something other people already like and has a proven track record of sales?
  • The biggest trend is authors selling direct to readers. 9 out of 10 members of the Independent Publishers Group are doing this at events.
  • To sell non-fiction, try relevant special interest groups or sports bodies. They may be willing to offer grants to help pay for the work. At the least, they will offer a route to a potential audience.
  • Authors can go to the London Book Fair in April, it’s not trade only any more and there are seminars worth attending.
  • Quality matters. Do not launch without a professional edit. Likewise, get someone who knows the market to design the cover and don’t get upset if they reject your ideas on this.

Of the 40 people in the room, 1 had traditionally published and 2, including. me had self published. Only half the room seemed to be working on a book at the moment which makes me wonder why they had given up a Wednesday evening to find out about publishing.

Anyway, from this, I took that we are doing the right thing. Once Kate vs the Navy launches we are another book towards big sales. The point about the covers was well made too, long-term readers will know that we changed ours at the suggestion of our publisher to something more market-friendly. As a bonus, it’s more bloke friendly too, I’ve been reading something with an overly chick-lit cover recently and couldn’t bring myself to finish it on a train ride…

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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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So close…

Candice: Phil and I have been beavering away over the last few weeks, desperate to finish book 2.  We’ve missed our end of March deadline, but not without giving it a good go.  And, to be honest, it’s not the end of the world as having a deadline has helped focus the mind.

So, it’s now the 21st April as I write this and we are now on 73,000 words.  For those of you who write, you know that is close to being a full novel.  The last one was around 80,000.  But who’s counting?  Its more about the story than adding another 7,000 words.

Phil was worried a week or so ago about how we were going to find 12,000 words.  Well, since that discussion we’ve managed another 5,000 so I think we are doing ok.

However, the bit we are doing now is the hardest.  Going back and checking the plot lines.  I have spent two hours this afternoon not just adding new parts to the book but also writing down the timeline.  Who is where, when is it, what were they wearing, what do we mention that might cross over later.

This is what took such a long time with our first book as it wasn’t written chronologically.  We mostly wrote what we felt and then put it together.  We then spent a lot of time going back over it to stop all those continuity errors.

This time has been slicker because we did some storyline mapping first, but still, when you go back and add scenes in to the middle of your book, you find that you have mixed up a timeline.

So my job is the make sure there aren’t any glaring errors before we take it on to the next step… handing it over to some people to read.  GULP!

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That was 2016 that was…

Phil: Today is the one post of the year when I can legitimately look backward. The news telly people have been doing it for a couple of weeks to save themselves the bother of going in to work so it’s fashionable.

Anyway, for team Nolanparker, 2016 has been a very important year. For a start, we published The Book in paperback:

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If you haven’t bought a copy, please do so from the links on the left of this page. It’s not just me who thinks this is a good idea, the reviews for the electronic version are really good. We’ve plenty of other people who have read it and say the same. Even my mum likes it although she doesn’t think much of Tracey…

With the book out, we’ve been on the road doing our thang in front of real audiences. First there was Stratford Literary festival:

Strat Lit Fest 2016 - 1

A “proper” festival appearance means we are “proper” writers. Even JK Rowling wouldn’t have enjoyed better cake in the festival green room. Perhaps her audience might have been bigger, but those who came, enjoyed us a lot.

After this, we gigged in London, where the Queen lives:

candice-in-focus

Thanks to Steve and Kim for sorting this out for us. I think our brand of storytelling mixed with pantomime shouting at pictures of Michael Gove went down very well with the metropolitan audience. And Candice got to wear a shiny top and nice shoes.

Best of all though, we have readers. A few promotional events in the year mean we know over 100 people have a copy of the story in their hands or on their Kindles. Getting our words out there is what it is all about. And every time someone tells us they liked them, we are full of smiles.

So, what about 2017? I’ll talk about that next week.

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Watching people read our book

readingPhil: The Interweb is a wonderful thing that has changed all of our live, mostly for the better.

Authors like us can publish our book without recourse to the traditional gatekeepers of publishing houses. A few minutes work and your words can appear on Amazon available to all for purchase.

Working this way provides a completely new experience for the author – watching as people read your book.

I don’t mean looking over their shoulder as they leaf through the pages. That would be creepy and we’d probably get caught.

No, we can do this electronically. And no-one will know.

Anyone signed up to Amazon Prime can read books like ours for free and we are paid per page read. Yes, the more you read, the more money we make.

To provide results, there is a graph and it’s this that provides the entertainment. Every so often the line leaps into life and we know how many pages have been read each day.

The graph shows some action from last week. Total pages read, 475.

This is a bit odd as there are 313 pages in the Kindle edition of the book. Even if you lose the blank ones at the front and back, this is more than one read through but less than two. Not sure what is happening but we’ll not worry too much. What I do know if people do pick it up electronically and read our story, which is the point of the whole job. Every time the line surges skyward, I imagine a reader enjoying the story so much they can’t put the book down!

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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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