Publishing Lessons Part 1

Earlier this month, I completed stage one of my largest publishing project to date, when the ebook version of my debut novel Gorgito’s Ice Rink  came out on Amazon for Kindle. Work continues on the print version, which will be launched in November, but I thought I’d jot down some of the lessons I’ve learned so far:

I do need a proof-reader: Everyone tells you this when you publish independently; and I did what I was told, hiring the wonderful Julia Gibbs to ‘give it the once over’. My manuscript had been read umpteen times by me; twice by my husband; twice by my sister; and a final time by the laptop, as discussed previously on my blog. I challenged Julia to find anything in what I considered to be a near-perfect manuscript. She laughingly accepted my challenge; and found dozens of errors including a misunderstanding of how an em dash works and at least two spelling mistakes!

I do need a professional cover designer: When I publish non-fiction ‘how to’ ebooks, they tend to sell on the basis of content and I design my own covers, using Create Space templates. When I published my collections of short stories, I used illustrations by artist friends. My first inclination was to follow this route again. Colin Avery , who illustrated both Life is Not a Bed of Roses and Parcels in the Rain produced an illustration for me, using a photo of ‘the original Gorgito’ as a model. It is a beautiful picture, and it will hang on my office wall as soon as it’s back from the framer, but it didn’t express the concept of a serious novel. On the recommendation of another author, I approached Berni Stevens, who agreed to take on the task. I scoured her website for examples of my favoured style, told her what I wanted to achieve – and she did the rest.

I can do the rest myself: Actually, this isn’t a new lesson. I’ve been formatting my own books for the past three years and, apart from the first time, have been putting them up on Amazon and Smashwords myself too. All that’s needed is a reasonable understanding of Word (or whichever word processing software is being used), a copy of one of the publishing guides (several of which can be downloaded for free) and a bit of patience.

I need to allow more time for the process: Despite taking nearly seven years to complete the novel, I left myself a ridiculously short period of time to get everything done when I set the launch date for 8th October. To set up a pre-order page on Amazon, you need to load your final version on the site at least ten days prior to launch. This was a bit of a problem, since my manuscript was still being proof-read at the time and (as mentioned above) was not quite as ready as I’d thought. Luckily, it is possible to update the file up to three days prior to launch.

Writers are a generous bunch: Again, nothing new here, but worth saying once again. I set up a twelve-hour online launch party via Facebook and then set about planning how to fill the time. Music was relatively easy (thanks to my husband and YouTube) and virtual cake and champagne are easy to find (I use morguefile.com to download free images), but I needed something more to keep people’s interest. With less than a day to go, I sent out a few emails and messages – and quickly gathered more than twenty ebooks and audiobooks to use as prizes in the draw. So a big thank you to the following writing buddies who helped to make my launch party such a success: Margaret Barnes; Tina K Burton; Judith Cranswick; Patricia Fawcett; Della Galton; Susan Holmes; David Hough; Peter Jones; Edward Lanyon; Liz Lee; Tarja Moles; Madalyn Morgan; Clémence Moulaert; Terry Tyler.

[If you would like to enter the Goodreads Giveaway with the chance to win a free copy of Gorgito’s Ice Rink, you can find details here] 

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By Elizabeth Ducie

Elizabeth Ducie was a successful international manufacturing consultant, when she decided to give it all up and start telling lies for a living instead.

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