My Publishing Journey – An Update – The Dreaded Edit

The latest version of this post is available here.

I’m about to embark into the unknown world of self-publishing my first book, In The End. Here I document my honest journey so far and the steps I think I’ll need to take. I’ll repost each time I have any major update or when I learn something new or if anyone comments with some useful or important information.

This is the fourth update after a week of activity on the project. Depending how you’re reading this, the updated sections are shown in blue.

A thank you to the community

Each time I post an update I get more and more insight from the WordPress Community. So I’m going to keep doing it. Thanks Guys!!!

Expected Publication Date – Autumn / Fall 2018


Step One

Write the book. DONE


Step Two

Build a following. Build a community.IMG_3486


Step Three

Editing.

Under my own rules of how I wanted this work to develop, they’ll be no development editing of the work. It’s done! Now I need to get the work polished and hunt out those pesky typos, or mistakes as a good friend calls them! It’s the area I’m weakest at so I have to rely on my wife to do it for me and she’s a busy lady so I’m trying to be patient.

I’ve also decided to look through the work again myself and I’m glad I did. Although I’m not breaking my own rule set out above, I am changing more of the words and phrases than I thought I would have too. The edit is now completed

I’m revisiting the subject of development editing again. I’ve had some feedback, one comment on my previous update, about the work benefiting from a development edit to get some of the sentence structure until control and I won’t lie, I’m torn. I guess this is a question of my motivation. This has never been about money, making it or spending it. I know only 20% of authors actually make a living out of writing and that’s not going to be me. I have a good full time job and I’m not looking to replace it. I write because I enjoy creating worlds and telling the story then soaking up my reader’s reactions. Publishing for me is all about getting the work out to a wider audience and hoping more people like it than don’t.

The question is would a development edit turn the work into something else, would spending £800-£1,000 turn this into a money pit whereby I need it to be a success so I’m not just throwing good money away.

However if I don’t get it edited and it ruins people’s enjoyment, can I handle the criticism, the bad reviews? What would that do to my writing confidence when the work is out in the big wide world for anyone to read and tell me exactly what they think about it?

I need to think on!

Had a comment from one of my first readers over the weekend and he spotted a section early on in the book which jarred with him. I totally agree with what he said, but it was an easy fix. I’d rather hear it from him than a reviewer!

I’ve also made a tweak to a reoccurring sentence throughout the book, it also happens to be the opening line and I’m pretty happy with it. As part of the publishing process, mainly running through the MS Word grammar suggestions (once I switched it from US English) I made a few more updates.

The dreaded development edit question again!

So, after some great comments from the community, I followed a suggestion to a writing services site and after a discussion with one of their team, we agreed a manuscript review would be a good idea. After checking out the credentials I hit the button, paid half the invoice and sent them the manuscript. It should be back in six weeks and all I have to do is wait to find out if I’ve been wasting my time! Of course that is the extreme, hopefully there won’t be too much for comment, a tweak here and there, but we’ll have to see. Better to find out this way then when it bombs on Amazon’s virtual shelves. I just need to forget out the words themselves for a little while and continue with the background word and pre-publication work. Easier said than done of course!


Step Four

The Publishing Process.

Figure out how the hell I’m going to get this published on Amazon. I want to publish as an e-book and also use Amazon’s print-on-demand service. CreateSpace. So I’ve bought the top selling books on the subject from Amazon which the reviews seem to think will guide me through the process! Lots and lots to learn here, so much more information to be added.

It seems that using an Amazon Print on Demand services was the right choice from what I’ve read so far and much easier to format the work this way and then publish for Kindle. Plus it’s free to get your book on the shelves and if you want a copy it only costs the price of the book through the Amazon store. However I’d assumed I’d be using CreateSpace, but during my research I discovered KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing). This is also a service from Amazon and from what I’ve read it seems a newer and improved service, with benefits to those authors outside of the UK. This calls for more research!

KDP vs CreateSpace – The advice is clear – KDP is the emerging technology which almost provides the same service as CreateSpace, plus it has the added advantages of providing one log-in for Kindle and POD sales, plus author proof copies are posted from the UK which keeps the costs down and the timescales low. I’ve signed up to KDP, so I guess the journey begins here and I’m logging all the steps in preparation for the possible future post.

It seems I may be missing out if I just publish on Amazon. I need to look at other publishing outlets and using a platform called Smashwords seems to be the way to go. You just publish to the Smashwords platform and they do all the rest. I’ve had a look at the service and it seems reasonable and again is free. They have their own style guide which I need to read and in conjunction with any similar guide I’m assuming Amazon has to, which I’ll get on to later. Many thanks for the comments on my last update post which led me down this avenue!

I’ve started to read through the publishing books and straight away new tasks are popping out:

  • Decide on the title. Is it right?
  • Same too for the strap line.
  • Come up with the blurb. Now that is a daunting task!!
    • Amazon recommends around 150 words which are easy to scan. This is the project i’m now working on!
    • My first, well maybe third draft is done and I’ve added it to the bottom of the page.
  • Come up with Keywords and Categories so people can find it when it’s sitting on the virtual shelves. It seems it’s pointless to repeat the keywords if they appear in the category, so it’s best to choose the category first. I’ve swapped them around to take this into account.
    • Categories – I’ve researched other books of the same genre and the following seem to have the best fit. You can only pick two.
      • Fiction > Science Fiction > Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic
      • Books > Fiction > Horror > Zombies, Werewolves & Vampires
      • Books > Fiction > Science Fiction > Dystopian
      • I’ve looked at a few books I think my work is most like and you can see how well they are ranked against each category. There’s some surprises in there I’ve found.
      • Books > Crime, Thrillers & Mystery > Action & Adventure
      • Books > Fiction > Horror > Thrillers
      • Books > Fiction > Horror > Fantasy
      • It’s going to be difficult to make a choice. A lot of the popular books with Zombie’s or any of the other paranormal type creatures are sitting where you would expect. 
      • I’m leaning towards the Apocalyptic & Post-Apocalyptic category and Horror > Thriller for now. At least that will help me choose the keywords, at least which ones not to pick!
    • Keywords – Amazon is basically a search engine after all. The more I research about keywords the more I can see how much of a tricky decision it is. You want to make your book stand out from the crowd, unique even, but still you want to appear in popular searches and high up. My first thoughts were Zombie, Apocalypse, Survival, End of the World and Dystopian, but rather than keywords, I should be looking at phrases. There are loads of tools out there, at a cost, which will help you select your keywords. The keywords should be based on:
      • What people actually type when they’re looking for books
        • Test your keyword ideas and see what Amazon search auto completes and combines with other words. Do the same in google.
          • Zom = Zombie Apocalypse / Zombie Science Fiction / Zombie Fiction / Zombie Survival Guide
          • Surv – How to survive the end of the world / survivors
          • Apoca – Post Apocalyptic Fiction / Apocalypse Culture / Apocalyptic Fiction
          • These are pretty crowded spaces. More research to be done here.
      • What they will be will to pay money for
      • Where the returned list is not too crowded, i.e. you’ll appear at the top.
  • Dedication – Who the book is for. Another tricky decision. I wrote this for Sarah so that’s who I should put here right? I need to include my wife, a no brainer. A double dedication will sort this out, but then I can’t leave my Mum out right? I managed to get this done and I’m really happy with the result.
  • Acknowledgements – Who helped me along the way? I have to make sure I mention those who gave their input, and maybe a few of those who didn’t! This is done now and again I’m happy with what I’ve come up with.
  • I need to decide if I want to pay hundreds for my own ISBN I can use across all editions or just use the free Amazon one / free with Smashwords too, but you they would be different. I’ll be using the free one. Note all ISBNs are 13 digits long now. I have mine. How exciting!
  • Figure out what i’m going to put in the back end of the book. Options include:
    • A call to action for Season Two – It’s in.
    • Short Biography – I don’t think anyone will be interested so I’m leaving this out.
    • A link to my WordPress pages / Facebook – It’s in.
  • Back page cover image. Hadn’t thought of that! After starting a dry run of the KDP process I’ve found for the paperback I need to supply one image for the entire sleeve, so that’s the front, spine and back cover in one image, all at the right size and ratio. KDP provides the exact measurements for the trim size I’ve chosen so I’ve sent it back to my artist friend to work it up. Should be back by the end of July, I’m in no hurry. It’s done and the featured image at the start of the post. There may be a few tweaks in the future, but wow I’m pleased!
  • Read the style guides for the publishing platforms and make any changes needed.
  • Research and make all those little decisions about how the book will look, like chapters, fonts, size etc.
  • I’ve downloaded the template from KDP and along with everything else I’m formatting the document. More on this in a later post. As I work on this in MS Word I’m finding a few more editing issues which Word is picking out, so now the Word document is my master. I’ve had lots of fun formatting the template, NOT. It mostly went okay and is great to see the work with chapter numbers, justification and the final font and sizing, but little things were a pain and needed quite a bit of research to get right, like page numbering and getting the to start from 1 on the first chapter. But it’s done now.
  • KDP Dry RunPrint options  – You can play around with these to get a cost per print. Not quite there yet.Paper and ink colour – Cream, black ink
      • Trim – Set as per the template you’ve populated – I chose the closest size to a commercial paperback, 5×8 inches
      • Bleed Setting – No bleed as have no images, just text
      • Cover finish – Matt

Other publishing things to think about:

  • Kindle Unlimited – Amazon’s lending library whereby you get paid per page. Figure out what are the pro’s and con’s. Not researched this yet but feedback is that some people have struggled to sell books but they do make an income on Kindle Unlimited. I guess people are more likely to take a risk if they’re not paying outright for it. While researching this I came across KDP Select. At first I thought it was a separate scheme and now, although I have not one hundred percent confirmed, I believe it is effectively one in the same thing as Kindle Unlimited and you have to enrol in Select in order for your ebook to be available on Unlimited. However the downside of Select is you must give Amazon exclusivity on the distribution of the eBook. You can still sell it on Amazon, but it must not be offered via any other channel, including your own website, so Smashwords would be out, for the time being at least. Another decision to make, but I’m erring on the side of joining, at least for the initial 90 day agreement period.

Step Five

Marketing.

Continue to build the community and market the book. Lots to learn here. So far my marketing strategy consists of:

  • Preparing a Amazon product / home page for the book
    • Write a biography. Keep it short and make it interesting. Also the place to put in contact information like website and twitter details.
  • Blogging (as above) – World building and about the process
  • Investigate other social media outlets
    • I’ve signed up to Twitter @stevens_gj so I’ll be getting to know how it can work for me over the next few days. Feel free to follow. 
  • Prepare social media posts
  • Business Cards – See below
  • Blog about it and build a Season One landing page to compel people to click the link to the book’s page on Amazon.
  • Writing Season Three and releasing on WordPress as I did with Season One and Two.
  • Find a way to get people to provide reviews of the published book
    • Bloggers
      • Check out what their requirements are, genre, copies etc
  • Print and send out author copies for review
  • Write Short Stories
  • Promotions
    • Giveaways
    • $0.99 promotions
      • Promotion advertisers
        • Freebooksy – Promotes free kindle books
    • Paid Ads (Bookbub? / Amazon / kboards? / Online Magazines)
    • Host AMAs (AMAFeed / Reddit)
    • Email for interviewers from book podcasters / book sites / reviewers
    • Promo sites (there’s so many of them)
    • Local newspapers
  • Other sites to look into for marketing
    • Reddit

Other decisions to make:

  • Investigate Goodreads as a promo platform
  • Audiobook version?

Business Cards

I’ve had these low cost business cards printed as simple low volume marketing idea. One side shows the cover of the book and the other side shows the blurb and my site address. I can either hand these out when anyone asks me about my work, or I can strategically leave them in locations where I travel.

I previously had simple cards made up with the web address on one side and the first and last paragraph of the first chapter on. They worked really well and my friends would take great delight in handing them out and placing them in prominent locations on their travels. I think these will work even better and with the cost of internet based print companies I was astounded by the low cost.

IMG_4117


Step Six

Hit the publish button!

I’ll take Season One off WordPress and add in my own advertising to link to the book on Amazon. Lots more to learn here.


In parallel with all the above I’ll be doing the same for Season Two and writing Season Three. I’ve made a decision not to start working on Season Three until the book is released and I can put all my energy back in to writing again. I’m getting itchy fiction fingers, so I might have to write some short stories and use them as promotional material.

Want to read Season One before I take it down? Here it is.

If I’ve made some massive misjudgement, missed out any step or you just have some advice, then please let me know in the comments.

On the next post I plan to tidy this up, archive some of the older stuff just to shrink it down and make it more readable.


The Blurb!

What if you woke to find the electricity off, the internet down and the streets deserted? What if you were forced to run for your life, no longer top of the food chain? What if the government had no interest in keeping you alive, but you’d found a reason to struggle on, a new meaning to this life, those around every corner intent on hunting you down?

Could you survive the end of civilisation?

Meet Logan. That’s me. The first to believe the world had changed forever. The first to urge our friends to run. The first to kill, but not the first victim. I was the first to see for myself as nature bent before my eyes. With death surrounding, getting ever closer, they looked to me for answers.

This is my story.

19 thoughts on “My Publishing Journey – An Update – The Dreaded Edit

  1. Definitely spend the time and effort on editing! I have watched great stories get tossed aside because of simple punctuation and grammatical errors.

    Best of luck to you, and much fandom for your story!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Yeah, I’m in agreement with you now. I’ve weighed it up in my head and I want to take it as far as it will go. If I have to delay release then it’s no big issue. Thanks for taking the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Awesome post! It’s well detailed, and something all indie-authors should take a look at before hitting the publish button. I started studying indie-publishing last year and I’m glad I’ve taken my time on the subject.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great post, it’s amazing how much work and time goes into publishing and promoting yourself, the part about editing struck a cord with me, I used to write short stories, with the idea of using them and the characters in a novel, lol if I ever find the time, I have rewritten them a couple of times over the years, I think because my perceptions and experiences have changed, all the very best of luck
    Neil

    Liked by 1 person

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