Quillpen, inky fingers
One writer ponders ...
on words-smithing or being happily distracted from the task in hand
and on the wayward nature of her Muse
and on the wayward nature of her Muse
My first guest on the blog is Hannah Vaughan, from TJInternational, with some great advice on self-publishing
How to do self-publishing and do it right.
The key to successfully self-publishing a book is to approach it like a business start-up. We help writers with all types of publishing projects and the people who really see a return on their hard work are the ones who have clear goals laid out from the start. This and a positive attitude get you far in this industry.
Every writer’s route to publication is different, but I’ve outlined five essential steps to give you the best foot-up possible. Here’s how to do self-publishing and, more importantly, do it right:
Nail down your aims with the same determination Stephen King pinned his rejections slips to the wall. Then, set out a clear route to get there. Ask yourself, what is it you love best about the process? What ambition makes your heartrate surge a little quicker?
Your dream might be producing a book for personal use, getting into bookshops or winning a major literary prize, but whatever it is remain realistic and determined. Paste an image of that award on your screensaver or mark your next target word count on the calendar. We’re writers after all, we’re stimulated by visuals.
Set overall targets for yourself and then break them down into more appealing chunks. For example, your main goal might be to write the first draft of your novel in a year – a pretty daunting feat. As soon as you divide this into word count targets to achieve each month, suddenly it’s a challenge you can get stuck into. This strategy works for most goals: sending out enquiries to agents, delivering marketing campaigns, planning social media. It all becomes manageable.
When your task is to research Victorian slang for the novel and not writing the novel itself, working on your book seems a lot more fun than cleaning the house and procrastinating.
Self-publishing a book is akin to launching your own start-up business and with most things in life, you get out of it what you put in. You don’t have to know everything about business, but you do have to apply a business mindset in order to achieve the goals you’ve set out. This means forming a strategy with each element of your book’s exposure.
The important thing is to do your research. If you’re planning on submitting to agents, start a spreadsheet of the ones who are appropriate for your novel, research their profiles, follow them on social media and make notes as you go. This is the difference between an amateur enquiry and a professional one.
When you market your book it’s important to always give people value. Whether it’s a personalised thank you letter for a book review, or a preview of your next book only available to your email subscribers, make sure they feel like you care. After all, you’ve found your niche audience so they’re already interested in your content, you just have to stand out from others in your genre.
Why is it you go to particular coffee shop or buy a particular brand? I bet it’s the personable customer service supported by a quality product, right? Just like a business start-up outstanding customer service should be incorporated into every aspect of your self-publishing project. This will make you stand out from the rest and help you stick in the reader’s memory.
People need to know you’re not just any other Romance fiction author. You’re the credible author whose writing offers the reader an escape ladder from mundane reality. Of course it’s important to use other people’s skills to drive your book forward, but it’s important you don’t get ripped off! Make sure you get to see proofs of your book at every stage, read the small print and trust your gut – how do you evaluate your relationship with them?
Stories have the power to challenge, comfort and inspire the world. Now is the time to take your writing seriously and self-publish your book. The tips above will give you the best foundation for getting started and once you get your story under the nose of the right person, great writing speaks for itself.
Hannah Vaughan is Marketing and Editorial Assistant at TJ INK in Padstow, providing advice and professional publishing services for independent authors. TJ INK love to help passionate writers craft, publish and thrive.
I loved a girl once; a lass with raven dark hair and eyes the colour of warm honey. I gave her a ribbon. Green it was, to tie up the silky hair that used to escape from her cap when we went a-walking along the banks of the river Torridge.
I often wondered whether she still had that ribbon. Or, when I marched away as did so many young men, did she tie it as a charm, like the tokens at the wishing wells, so that the pain of her memories would ease as the coloured threads faded.
Years passed. Then, one day I saw that very same girl, unmistakable, alive, mingled amongst a thousand luckless souls, the rag-taggle Royalists who marched out of a Cornish fortress on the Fal. She did not see me. Once again, she slipped through my fingers. But from that moment I vowed that, come what may, I would seek her out.
When I found her it was not how I had I had planned, going down on one knee, like a knight of old, when I came to ask her about that little gift. Amidst the commotion of neighbours responding to an alarm, she could not be heard, she could not say if the ribbon had been lost, nor tell me if it was faded. Nonetheless I promised to buy her a new one - if she would just give me a sign.
Yet I was on my knees as I pleaded with her to once again do me the honour of walking out with me. The Torridge was a way away but we could find another river bank instead, to sit together on a couch of soft mosses under dappled sunlight.
As I held her body close, I begged her not to leave me, this woman who should be my life’s partner.
She did not answer, lying limp in my arms, her blood staining my breeches and the scrubbed floor beneath us as the mocking laugh of a villain and the whimpering of a child were replaced by the clatter of hooves that faded into the distance.
I Betwixt Hammer and Anvil
When I was a youth I had no sense of my own mortality. I believed in a cause that I held unassailable, one for which I was prepared to fight, even to die. Of course, I had no expectation of having to make the ultimate commitment. Nor will I deny that the fact that my convictions were in complete contradiction to all that my father held true also had its appeal. As I marched from Bideford under the King’s standard, back in ’43, I was ambitious and cock-sure of nigh on everything.
As the years passed I found my convictions a lot like my armour - dented. I can't claim to fight for a cause any more. But my motives ...well, there's the rub for I doubt if Parliament, ‘King’ Cromwell or the man who thinks he has me under his thumb would approve of my motives at all.
True, I changed my uniform for that of the army of Parliament for the promise of pay. Turned coat? Aye, but just as many would think me just a professional soldier, no more the callow North Devon lad. I learned to comport himself as an officer who earns the respect of his men - that is what eleven years of civil war does for you though war gives men experience they could do without and earning respect gets a man noticed when it might not be in his best interests, then matters can get complicated. Yet I would never have supposed that Fate could deal me such a curious hand.
That’s how I found myself ankle deep in paperwork, mired in an investigation at the directive not of the military but of one of the highest lawyers in the land, set on a task proscribed so tight that should it o’erstep the boundaries, a court-martial would be kind in comparison to the consequences. That was at the beginning. As I said, my motives … let me simply say they are … knotty.
There’s a phrase that I first heard on the lips of a certain woman of my acquaintance which says I got caught betwixt a hammer and an anvil. I could hardly have put it better myself - not in polite company anyway.