Tuesday 29 March 2011

Plans Can Go Astray...

I should have been doing my follow up post on Kindle Direct (it's under construction) but life has got in the way again...

My plan for Wednesday was to finish the next post and then get on with my short story (poor Jack will have a cold in his back by now. I left him stood in the doorway of his cottage...)

I'd be home too, so I could get my food shopping from Asda delivered as well, but what happens when I go to sign in? They've got server problems so suggest 'I try later'...Don't you hate messages like that?

It's not the end of the world of course but I do like my daily pineapple pieces and the coconut chunks I can nibble while I'm writing- I've now finished my last supply.

Even when I'm reading I do like a little bit of chocolate, or a glass of wine (evening reading only).

So I'm off to try signing in again...

When you're reading and/or writing, what do you prefer? Or are you very strict with yourself and won't have food or drink anywhere near your computer?

But the one essential in my opinion is coffee...

Friday 25 March 2011

Kindle Direct Publishing...

Today I'm welcoming Deborah Durbin to a Q&A on Kindle Direct publishing. Deborah is a journalist, freelance writer and author. She has recently begun successfully selling her Kindle book Oh Great, Now I Can Hear Dead People.

(I've kept the questions simple because there is a lot more information once you get into the process. I'll be gathering a few more facts for you next week.)

 Q. Most readers will have heard of, or even used a Kindle e-reader, but may not have realised writers can make their work available to purchase as an e-book from Amazon (and other versions- more later).
How did you find out about this potential publishing opportunity?

A. I received an e-mail from Amazon direct informing me of their Kindle Direct publishing venture.

Q. Do you need to be very computer literate to prepare a manuscript for loading?
(I think this is something that puts many writers off, thinking it will be too difficult.)
Also what advice is there available to help if you have a problem?

A. No, you don't need lots of computer experience. There are many other publishers out there who are more than happy to help and if you go to kindleboards there are pages and pages of questions you can go through and lots of helpful members who have all done it before and are only too happy to advise.

Q.From your experience, what are the most important issues to be considered before you make that final commitment?

A. I tested the market with a book that was just sitting gathering metaphorical dust in my PC. I would suggest you test the market with some spare material you have first- a book of short stories, or poems.
Regardless of how you choose to publish, you have to market yourself.

Q. What are the Pros and Cons?

A. For me the Pros were that it was very quick and easy to do and my book was selling within hours of publishing it. The royalties are much better too.
The Cons are the time it takes to proof and edit your work, then design a cover and marketing of your book, but it is worth a few hours a day joining forums, social networking, blogging etc because it is mainly an online business.

Q. On the basis of your experience so far, will you be adding more, now or in the future?

A. Yes, I have a couple of half written novels that I will eventually publish to Kindle Direct. The marketing opportunity for a writer is worldwide, very fast and instant and I think that many mainstream publishers will have to re-think their marketing strategies in the future.
I've had 11 books published traditionally too, so can compare the two and I honestly believe that e-publishing is to books what itunes is to music.

Q. Not everyone has a Kindle device- I have a Sony Pocket reader myself- so if they want to read your e-book but may not want to read it on the computer screen, is it available in different formats elsewhere?

A. If you also join Smashwords and upload your book with them, it is available to every e-reader or computer (including Macs), but even if you don't have an e-reader anyone with a computer can download your book to their PC/laptop/ipad etc. They just have to first download a free application from Amazon.

Thank you Deborah, I'm sure this will have inspired many readers to investigate further, perhaps they will even decide to embark on e-publishing now or in the near future.

I think this is a great opportunity for writers to get their work out to readers, especially if their work isn't what mainstream publishers want at the moment- not long enough but the story is complete, they don't publish collections of short stories unless you're a well known writer etc. You can even publish a collection of poetry. But you still need to produce a good manuscript, just as you would if submitting to a publisher or agent.

If you've already ventured into Kindle publishing then please let me know how you're doing. All comments welcome.

Wednesday 23 March 2011

Coming up on Friday...

If you've read my blog before, you'll know I enjoy e-books and have been following the various news stories relating to them.

I mentioned on Monday that I'd be talking later in the week about writers publishing to Kindle. On Friday I will be posting a Q&A with writer Deborah Durbin who has kindly agreed to give an insight into the basics- from her own experience.

I realised a couple of years ago the potential advantages of turning short stories, novellas and full length novels to e-books, so wanted to know the answer to some obvious questions- if you're considering this publishing route.

I hope the post will lead you to wanting to find out more and hopefully I'll be bringing a follow-up item next week...

Monday 21 March 2011

Monday News...

Another week and I've got a few ideas for items to talk about, but I need to sort out some info and speak to people first, so it may be later in the week before you hear more about getting your unpublished books on Kindle...

Meanwhile the Authors for Japan auction closed yesterday and the winning bidders are receiving e-mails telling them their bid was successful.

The sum raised at the moment is over £10,000 (exact figure to be confirmed) for the Red Cross Japanese Tsunami appeal. If you weren't one of the lucky bidders and want to donate to the appeal, you can still do so here.

Spring is trying to grab our attention, so enjoy what sunshine you may see- and feel- and perhaps you're bursting with ideas already - I think I need a little bit more sun and warmth to be bursting with anything at the moment...

Friday 18 March 2011

Red Nose Day and beyond...

Today I've been wearing my Red Nose Vivien Westwood designed t-shirt- this is the only time I'll ever get into (size wise) anything by her, but it does also mean money goes toward very important causes.

I bought Hogarth's The Laughing Audience a month ago, but would have loved the Louis XVI Lady with her very very low neckline with two red noses covering strategic points, but they didn't do a XXL in the slim fit... :-(

I've had the television on all evening watching the Comic Relief event, enjoying the various items and performances- especially Peter Kay and Susan Boyle recreating the Elaine Page and Barbara Dixon video of 'I Know Him So Well' from Chess.

But I don't think many of us won't be moved by the images of children in Africa suffering from malaria- and knowing some will even die.

Also I didn't even realise children could get cataracts, it is something I've always associated with the old rather than the young.

There are a lot of causes at the moment that need donations as we know, but even £1 can help- apparently it costs 80p for a malaria testing kit, so even £1 will help someone.

There are a lot of causes supported in the UK too, young carers among them.

We might complain how bad things are in the UK with the economic problems, but I'm not having to watch my children suffer in any of these ways.

You can find out more here.

(Monday, normal writing related service will resume on my blog.)

Tuesday 15 March 2011

Authors for Japan -website up and running

Following on from my post at the weekend the website Authors for Japan is up and running- thanks to Tracy on the Talkback Forum for providing the web address.

So visit Authors for Japan and see if you can find something you'd like to bid on between 8am (GMT) 15th March and 8pm Sunday 20th March.

Monday 14 March 2011

Catching up on Romance...

Well spring is bursting out so romance should be too-hopefully...

Actually this is a follow up to an earlier post on whether men can write romance. This followed the announcement that a man was in the shortlist for the RNA's (Romantic Novelists' Association) 2011 Romantic Novel of the Year.

The winner was announced at a reception last week. The winning novel, 'The Last Letter from your Lover' by Jojo Moyes.

Other awards presented on the night were Outstanding Achievement Awards to Josephine Cox and Penny Jordan (I've read a large number of her Mills and Boon books over the years and enjoyed them all).

Nottinghamshire author Elizabeth Chadwick received the Historical Novel Prize for 'To Defy a King'. I've met Elizabeth and know how intensively she does the research for her books.

The Romantic Comedy Prize went to Jill Mansell for her book 'Take a Chance on Me'.

While Louise Allen received the Love Story of the Year for her Mills and Boon historical 'The Piratical Miss Ravenhurst'. This award is for a category romance. Louise Allen is one of the authors for the Historical Romance UK blog.

You might like to read all about the RNA and the awards reception and see the pictures from the event, so look here.

The RNA even has a blog that you might like to follow.

If you want a good read I can certainly recommend their 'Loves Me, Loves Me Not' Anthology. I bought it as an e-book (rather than the paperback) and I've still got a few stories left to read- the book would make a great gift for Mother's Day next month.

Saturday 12 March 2011

Japan and how we can all help...

I don't think many of us haven't seen the pictures of the devestation caused by the Earthquake and Tsuanami in Japan that have been shown on every news programme, in every newspaper and online.

In previous disasters writers have shown their willingness to help raise money, so as before writers are stepping forward to help.

Many thanks to Womag on her blog for providing the link to Keris Stainton's site- here is Keris' idea-

"If you’re an author or a publishing professional willing to contribute something to be auctioned in aid of Japan, I’d love to hear from you. I’m thinking proofs/ARC, books, naming a character, swag, chapter/query letter/synopsis critiques, even writer mentoring."

She will have a dedicated website up next week.

Now you may not have anything you can contribute but you can bid for the items/services when it is organised...

Thursday 10 March 2011

My Chance to be Stylish...

Two lovely writers-Teresa Ashby and Patsy Collins- have both awarded me the Stylish Blogger Award, sadly I've been too full of cold, plus coughing and spluttering, to concentrate on it. But I feel a little better now, so I better get on with the big reveal.

Seven things about myself-that's a tough one...

1. I hate Garlic. Well that should be, it doesn't like me. If I accidently eat even a little bit I am ill.

2. My first published letter was when I was eleven years old and it was in a music newspaper- can't remember the name, too long ago.

3. I couldn't read properly until I was 7 years old. I will be forever grateful to my teacher Mrs White, who took extra time in helping me with my reading, and demonstrated how to make specific word sounds. The results of her patience opened a world of books to me.

4. I don't like Marmite, Sprouts or Gravy-I don't think I need to say more...

5. I always played a man in school plays. I went to an all girls school and once you reached the senior years (equivalent to Years 10 and 11 now) we took part in the annual drama production (I was in the drama group anyway). The script was written by our English teacher Mrs Brandt and other members of staff did all the backstage and front of house work.
I played Sir Thomas Boleyn (Anne's father) one year. The next I was Mr Brocklehurst in Jane Eyre. I learnt how uncomfortable high collars on men's shirts could be and that fake whiskers itched.

(The long lasting advantage is I can understand how men in formal dress moved- an advantage for historical fiction.)

Now I have to admit, it was only because I was tall and had short hair...

6. I love long sandy beaches. As a child I lived about an hour by train from the seaside, so many summer Sundays were spent on the beach, with my parents in their deckchairs while I ran between my sandcastle and moat to the sea for water.

7. I have a long-standing admiration for Derek Jacobi. He has a wonderful voice. I first saw him at The Old Vic in Christopher Fry's, 'The Lady's Not For Burning' when my college O' level English Literature class were studying it.

Now blogs that I want to award the Stylish Blogger Award to:

Now Teresa and Patsy (mentioned above) would obviously be top of the list- they're great blogs anyway, but we need to spread this around a bit so here are my suggestions...

Lou Treleaven

Parodies Lost - this has a number of writers so I've chosen the latest posting.

All Write- Fiction Advice

Romy's Regency Romance- Rosemary Gemmel's other blog

Gone Writing

Sandra's Blog

Up the Down Escalator

There are a vast number of interesting blogs out and I always enjoy exploring the blogs mentioned on other sites. So I hope you'll find some you like from my list and theirs.

Monday 7 March 2011

International Women's Day- Tuesday 8th March

This post isn't the one I originally intended today, but when I saw the following item I just had to post it.

This short film with Judi Dench and Daniel Craig has been made by artist and director Sam Taylor-Wood and commissioned by a coalition of charities who campaign on equality issues.  It is produced by Barbara Broccoli- the producer of the 007 Bond films.

You can find more information and details of what events are taking place around the world at: http://www.internationalwomensday.com/

Friday 4 March 2011

E-books are making an impact...

There have been two news items on e-books this week that show they are starting to play an important role in publishing.

On Wednesday (2nd March) European Commission Inspectors made 'unannouced inspections' at a number of European publishers on the basis of "suspicion of anti-competition practices on the pricing of e-books."

Nothing is being said about it relating to agency pricing, but it isn't likely to be anything else, when the OFT in the UK has already launched an investigation into this issue and cited complaints and EU laws as the basis.

I do like the comments from appropriate spokespeople saying they have no proof and are not accusing anyone...

You can read the interesting responses from officials in this Bookseller.com article.

*   *   *
Mintel (a market research company) have revealed that existing e-book owners are more realistic about pricing (doesn't mean they are always happy with that pricing though) while younger readers expected to pay less- Mintel took this to be a reflection of previous experience of obtaining digital products cheaply or for free (and some of those free sources could have come courtesy of piracy). 

But it did confirm that most readers expected to pay less for an e-book, 40-70% off the hardback price. (As agency pricing has been selling e-books at the same price as a hardback- sometimes even more, then there is still a long way to go before a satisfactory compromise is reached between publisher and reader).

(For anyone thinking about pricing of their e-books) those who expected to pay less-for an e-book-preferred a price of £3 to £6, while existing e-reader owners expected to pay £6 to £10.

(For an 80-90,000 word e-novel by an author with a few books to their name I'd personally have no issue with paying £6 to £8).

The research was undertaken in December 2010 and in the run-up to Christmas there is often a push on e-readers. So by December 2011 the results they found could have changed if they asked those same people again.

49% did say they they would rather have a book than an e-book- so there's no risk of the mass demise of the paperback.
But clearly these same respondents were concerned (like everyone) about their money as 1 in 10 said they expected to buy less books this year than they bought last year...

I know I'm not buying as many books as early last year- whether solid or digital. So are you buying less books than previously?