Twelve Things to do Prior to Launching a Book

Part 1

Hooks & Eyes

If I’d known then, what I know now, would I have ever written a book?

It’s a question I’ve been asking myself repeatedly over recent weeks and if I’m being perfectly honest, I think the answer would be no! That’s not to say I regret my move into writing. For the most part, I’ve loved it. It’s just that there is so much to do that if I’d known about everything, it probably would have scared me away.

I only started writing as a hobby, but even then, the hobby was more about my family history than being an author. The original intention was to give writing a go and if it was terrible, it would never see the light of day. I was about four years into the project before I made the decision to publish.

Now that I’m coming up to the launch of Hooks & Eyes, the first main book in the series, it has taken over my life. My day job is firmly in the background (fortunately, I’m self-employed and can afford the time) and I’m deeply immersed in the world of publishing.

So, things I’ve done:

  1. Finalised the book … or nearly anyway. It’s been edited twice and is now with a proofreader. It has a professionally designed cover and it’s own ISBN number.
  1. Written a blurb for Amazon / the back of the book / the website. Seriously, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do! I’ve read numerous self-help sites and books, but I think I’m almost there.
  1. Set up my Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest sites. It’s relatively easy to set them up, but if you’re not careful they can take over your life – literally!
  1. Got myself a website, and this blog. It can be a hard slog adding the content, but most importantly, they have the appropriate links for people to sign up to my email list if they’re interested.
  1. Asked my cover designer to make banners for the top of all web based sites.
  1. Developed an email List. This took a long time to get going, but gradually, as my websites improved, and I released my short story (Condemned by Fate), it started to build. I currently have about 1300 subscribers, which given where I was six months ago, I’m pretty pleased with.
  1. Set up a number of cross-author promotions for the time of the book launch. These typically involve offering a free book to generate interest.
  1. Started to play with Amazon advertising. I’ve also dabbled with Twitter and Facebook post boosts, but not ventured into their advertising yet.
  1. img_1959Had some business cards made (opposite). Even with just Condemned by Fate published, there have been a number of times I’ve wanted to give people something to remind them of the name of the book, but haven’t had anything. Not anymore.
  1. Used my email list to find about a dozen people who are interested in reading and reviewing my book prior to launch.
  1. Set up an Amazon account and author page. This was probably one of the best things about publishing the short story. It took me hours, one Sunday afternoon to initially set up the account with all the tax information they needed. I’m so glad it’s done now and hopefully loading the next book onto the site should be easy (fingers crossed). I also now have accounts with other major eBook outlets.
  1. Started to take my writing career seriously. This is such an important point. If you make writing and publishing your book a priority, you’ll have a head start over so many other writers.

There are still things I know I need to do, such as figuring out what I’m doing with the paperback version, preparing some press material, working on book 2, etc etc, but for now, they’ll have to wait. There are only so many hours in the day!

As I alluded to before, the list of things that needs doing can be overwhelming and could put you off starting. Because I had no idea what was involved, I took one step at a time and suddenly I feel as if I’m about to reach the top of the hill. Whether sales will keep me at the top or have me tumbling back down the other side, remains to be seen.

My one thought of encouragement for anyone else taking this journey is to take it slowly. Listen and learn from everyone you can and focus on the things that need doing now. Don’t worry about what’s to come. Honestly, if I can do it, anyone can!

Do you think I’ve missed anything? Let me know what preparations you make for launch.

Hooks & Eyes is Part 1 of The Ambition & Destiny Series. A compelling saga of love, loss and betrayal set against the backdrop of Victorian England. Expected publication date: March 2017.

To receive a FREE copy of the short story prequel Condemned by Fate click here.


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5 Reasons I Chose to Self-Publish


How to Publish?

There’s a lot written on the relative merits of traditional vs self-publishing. There is a view that many authors only self-publish after failing to secure an agent or traditional publishing deal. While this may be the case for some, more and more are now making the strategic decision to publish their own work without ever attempting the traditional route.

As a brand new writer, with no knowledge of the publishing industry, I needed to understand the pros and cons of each approach. This meant reading a lot of blogs and other articles. As I did, the same themes struck me over and over, and it didn’t take long to decide I was going to self-publish. As a result, I have never written a query letter, nor do I plan to any time soon.

The reasons I chose to go it alone are:

1) Time: I want to be able to publish my books when I am ready, not when someone tells me to.

This covers several aspects of the publishing journey:

a) Numerous articles from aspiring authors describe the querying process. Most send out query letter after query letter, only to get the dreaded rejection months later. Rejection letters are often seen as badges of honour and it can take years before a person finds representation.

b) Once you have an agent it is only the beginning of the process. The agent still needs to find someone who will publish the book. Even once your manuscript is in the hands of a publishing company, it can take another two years to actually see it in print.

2) Control: My books are my work, not someone else’s to change at will.

Yes, I’m a control freak! The idea of handing over my manuscripts and letting someone else to change them, with little agreement from me, is too much. When you self-publish, and work with an editor, they will suggest how to improve the text. None of their suggestions are mandatory, however. The author gets the final say on whether the to make the changes and how they will implement them.

The same is true with covers. I know I am not a visually creative person, but I don’t need to be. There are many websites selling pre-made covers or you can use a professional cover designer. I did the latter, which meant that I had a lot of input into the them. I also got to say yes or no to the final versions. It seems that publishing companies often take control of the design, leaving the author with very limited input. 

3) Genre: I’m in a niche genre. Would a traditional publisher have any interest in my manuscripts anyway?

For those of us in specialised areas, the chances are high that the market wouldn’t be big enough for traditional publishers to take a chance on us. That’s fine. As a self-published author, I don’t have their overheads and am likely to be happier to accept lower sales than they would.

It also highlights an area where self-publishing can help broaden book availability. By enabling self-published works, Amazon (and others) are encouraging diversity in the book pool. Books in niche genres are now readily available. If they prove popular, they may help to shape the birth of new segments in the market.

4) Marketing: Don’t be under the illusion that the publishing houses will do this for debut authors.

Before I started researching, I assumed an advantage of traditional publishing was that the marketing would be taken care of. It now appears that this is only the case for celebrities and best-selling authors. It tends not to apply to first time authors. I read many articles stating that you need an established email list and social media presence before they even consider you. If you are going to go to the trouble of building a platform yourself, why would you then pass it on to somebody else?

5) Royalties: Why should I give up over half my royalties?

I understand that publishing houses need to make money. They couldn’t support authors if they didn’t. I know they provide editing, cover design and other services. Authors may also get an advance before their books are complete, (although these are unlikely to be the eye-watering sums some might hope for).

The thing is, there’s a huge difference between the 70% royalties you get from Amazon (or 35% for books less than £2.99) and the approximate 10% you might get from a publisher. Particularly when the help they give to new authors is diminishing as time goes on.

With everything an author has to do to even raise the eyebrow of a traditional publisher, why not self-publish? Yes, it’s hard work, but that way you keep control and the vast majority of your earnings.

Will I ever use the traditional publishing route?

Who knows! I’m old enough to know, never say never. Traditional publishing still has a role. As an outsider it appears to me that they have a place for extended distribution. It could also be useful if there is a chance of getting a movie or TV deal. I’m sure there are also be other benefits I haven’t come across. With the publishing industry being in such a state of flux at the moment, it’s anyone’s guess what it will look like in ten years time.

First I’ve got to get my books out there and get some sales … after that, we’ll see!

Do you have any thoughts on the debate? Let me know in the comments below.

The Ambition & Destiny Series is a compelling saga of love, loss and betrayal set against the backdrop of Victorian England.

To receive a FREE copy of the short story prequel Condemned by Fate click here.

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Suffer the little children

Writer's Lot

As people’s interest in family history continues to grow, many people will be shocked to see the high infant mortality rate in the United Kingdom in the 1800s.

Causes of death you may come across include typhus, whooping cough, smallpox and a condition described as Phthisis (pronounced thigh-sis) or Consumption, which is more commonly known now as tuberculosis. In the 1860s, two-fifths of all deaths in Glasgow were due to respiratory diseases and tuberculosis.

In cities, living conditions were far from healthy with overcrowding in poorly-kept tenements. In the mining communities of Scotland, the conditions were exacerbated by the ever-present dampness in the two-room dwellings that often housed ten children, and the coal dust that hung in the air and on clothes.

Families were decimated as adults and children of all ages succumbed to the highly infectious disease of tuberculosis which was characterised by the wasting away or atrophy of…

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10 Things I’ve Learned From Self-Publishing

A Writer's Path


by J.U. Scribe

It’s been three years since I self published my first book. It’s definitely been a learning experience marked by relative successes and failures. As I mark the 3rd anniversary since I self-published Before the Legend , here are the top ten things I’ve learned over the course of three years in no particular order.

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The Problem and Solution to Writing Book 2 of a Trilogy — A Writer’s Path

by Teagan Berry I don’t know why, but for some reason when writing a trilogy I find the second book the hardest. Book One is simple. Introduce the characters, establish their working relationships with one another, and tease the big, BIG conflict which will happen two books from now.

via The Problem and Solution to Writing Book 2 of a Trilogy — A Writer’s Path

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Becoming a Published Author

Condemned by Fate – Now Published! It all happened quite quickly and quietly really. After months of pulling together my short story, reworking it after the editing, making sure the formattin…

Source: Becoming a Published Author

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Becoming a Published Author

Condemned by Fate – Now Published!

Condemned by Fate

A Prequel

It all happened quite quickly and quietly really. After months of pulling together my short story, reworking it after the editing, making sure the formatting was right and then navigating my way through the IRS tax exemption questionnaire on Amazon, suddenly my book was up there on Amazon, waiting to be reviewed and formally accepted.

They said it could take up to 72 hours and so, although I had the expected butterflies in my stomach when I pressed submit, in reality I was quite calm. What I didn’t expect was that approximately four hours later I would get a message back from KDP saying that my book was now published. Just when I was having a night off too!

So there it is, without any fanfare or even a celebratory glass of anything, I’m a published author!

The gloss was taken off the ‘launch’ a little, when, for some reason, the description didn’t show on my Amazon page as it should. I immediately went in to change it, but that takes time, and even when the changes were made, the text I added had been removed again. I’ve no idea why and I feel a little frustrated that you can’t preview it before you submit.

Nevertheless, it’s up there and available, now with the correct book description! I know the hard work of making it’s presence known is about to start, but this book is my trial run.

It is a short story prequel to The Ambition & Destiny Series and I am offering it as a free pdf download to email subscribers. The main reason I put it onto Amazon was to familiarise myself with the system. I’ll also use it to practice my advertising techniques and see how it goes. The main series is still to come … and that’s what I’ve given six years of my life to so far. When I get to launch that, I want to know what I’m doing.

It feels strange to have my work out in the real world for people to see and (hopefully) comment on. I just hope the comments are on the positive side.

If you’d like a free copy of the book, click here and complete the box at the bottom of the page. Alternatively, click here for a link to my Amazon page (still sounds unreal!)

The Ambition & Destiny Series is a compelling saga of love, loss and betrayal set against the backdrop of Victorian England. Part 1 is due for publication in early 2017.



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Does Every Story Need a Happy Ending? — A Writer’s Path

by Allison Maruska Every story needs certain elements to be a story. We’ve talked about characters, settings, and problems. If we’re following the mnemonic below, that leaves us with solutions to talk about. Cows = Characters See = Setting Pretty = Problem Sunflowers = Solution This works great for eight-year-olds learning the parts of […]

via Does Every Story Need a Happy Ending? — A Writer’s Path

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Copyright Infringement, 403 pirated book offers blasted.

Myths of the Mirror


“It only takes one click to copy and republish a creator’s original content without his permission.” – Blasty

Back in July, Debby of dgkayewriter and Damyanti of Damyanti-writes both mentioned a new online service called Blasty.

Blasty allows writers to sign up their books, and then continually monitors Google for infringing copies of content. Each suspect link is flagged to the writer’s dashboard, and the writer is given the opportunity to “blast” (eradicate) the link from Google with a simple click! No paperwork, no cease and desist notifications, no time-consuming and frustrating dealings with pirates.

Intrigued, I signed up. In four months, I’ve blasted 403 copyright infringements on 8 books.

Per Blasty: “Each time you click on “Blast,” a copyright removal procedure under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) is automatically initiated, resulting in the complete elimination of the infringing webpage  from Google on a worldwide basis. Since Blasty has been approved…

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When Writing Fiction Based on Real Life – Should you Change Character Names?


Naming Characters

When I started my writing journey, I used the real names of the characters. It wasn’t because I was being lazy, it was because I was writing about  my ancestors and I wanted to ‘connect’ with them and know who I was researching. I always knew that somewhere down the line, if I ever published the book, I would change at least some of the names. As time went on, however, I became attached to the names and I started to question if I really did need to change them. There are two reasons why the answer to this question was YES, at least for the surnames.

Reasons to Change Names

One is obvious (to me anyway). Some of my fictional story lines paint certain characters in a bad light, and one is incriminated in a couple of murders. I clearly don’t want the real people being associated with their fictional counterparts; I also don’t want to upset any living relatives.

The second reason was less apparent. When family members read my early drafts, most were confused by the number of characters. I thought it was because I hadn’t explained myself clearly enough, but when I had a short story prequel to the series edited (which only names about five characters), the editor made me realise that part of the problem is that some of the names sound too similar.

In real life, across the whole series, I have:

  • Mary (x2), Mary-Ann, Mary-Anne, Maria (x2)
  • Sarah, Sarah-Ann
  • Ann
  • Elizabeth (x2), Eliza
  • William (x5)
  • Charles (x3)

… plus an assortment of other names that are only used once.

After the first draft, one of the Williams had to go. Even I was confused! Part of the problem was, however, that I had to leave four of the William’s with the same name – it was part of the story to show the relationship between them. I think I’ve managed it. One of them is always referred to as Mr Weatherby (changed name), one stays as William, one is William Junior and one is William-Weatherby. I did consider using Bill, Billy or Willy, but the names didn’t fit their personas or circumstances. I specifically asked my beta readers if William and William Junior (who were actually sons of the same mother!) were confusing and I got comments to the effect that they weren’t. Hopefully it won’t confuse the wider audience.

The Charles’s were relatively easy. One died before the last one was born and the other was a father / grandfather, so that is how he is always referred to.

The women are not so easy.

I decided the best way to get authentic names was to go back to the census records and see what their neighbours were called. Do you know what I found? The majority were called Mary, Elizabeth, Ann, Sarah and Sarah-Ann. Those that weren’t were called Lucy, Emma, Martha, Rachel, Rebecca, Charlotte, Katherine … and I already had them as well!

How was I going to rename at least six different female characters from such a small pool of names?

Dickens had to make names up

As I was considering this, I came across and article on the BBC website about naming conventions through the last few centuries. It included the following:

For centuries, name giving was determined by custom, with most babies being given one of only a few names that were handed down from one generation to the next. Even in the late 18th Century, more than half of all boys in Britain were baptised William, John or Thomas, and more than half of all girls were baptised Elizabeth, Mary or Anne.

I could have told them that!

It went on to say:

[Charles] Dickens alone created a thousand named characters … for example, his characters named Daisy, Flora, Rose and Rosa probably helped foster the Victorian fashion for botanical names for girls.

So it looks like even Dickens had trouble and needed to make up names for his characters. That made me feel slightly better.  🙂

I’ve started, but not finished, my renaming process. William was such a common name of the time I decided I could leave it unchanged, but for the women I suspect in weeks to come I may be adopting some of Dickens’ names. Don’t be surprised if you see someone called Rose or Daisy crop up in any of the books!

If you want to know more about The Ambition & Destiny Series or receive my monthly newsletter, visit my website here.

Anyone signed up, will automatically receive a free copy of the short story prequel, Condemned by Fate, when it becomes available

ReferenceBBC Website

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