A guide to getting published: Part 2

Welcome to part 2 of A guide to getting published….

 

So to recap from part 1; by now you should have answered the initial questions of wanting to be a writer, are you the right ‘person’ and very importantly are you dedicated to endure this journey?

These wont be questions you can answer over night and of course what comes next will also take some time. Social media has many platforms in which a writer can delve into and explore. I started with Facebook and twitter, then I created a blog some few years later. At this point I have only been on Instagram for a fraction of that time.

But during all of this you can and should be writing. It will be lonely and quiet and you wont have news to share every day. 95% of my writing life is spent with just me and words.

Eventually after a lot of dedication and time you can do it, because I did, you will face those two synonymous words; ‘THE END’

Everything up to the point of having ready material to show the world is protected by a curtain I call theory. ‘I’m going to be a published author, uh in theory’ is what you have probably said to yourself at this point but now you have some work to show for it and hence the plot thickens…

This time for me (August 2015) I was ready to make a huge decision. Before this date I was a book writing machine. In three years I had churned out not only my first book with several edits and drafts, but the two sequels all of which were related to that initial first idea I had back when I was 12 on that rainy day with the windows 98 PC. This is where I really learned my craft and developed a style which coincided with my process. I learned to become a writer. 

Book 1 had been through several rounds of submissions to various ‘big time’ and ‘smaller time’ standard publishers and literary agents. All of this received no success. Three years of starting a blog, launching Facebook/twitter and building a following was being blocked by the people whom I wanted to like my work the most, the literary industry. Now they weren’t personally blocking my success they probably didn’t even have much idea I was writing them as like many writers their work ends up on the ‘slush pile’.

Hence comes the fork in the road for you…

fork

Yes, I went there…

Your masterpiece is written and now you are asking google how to get published. You find yourself here maybe and read a few other people’s well earned experience. Right now the world perceives there to be two main ways to find your book into print.

‘Traditional’ – This involves sending your manuscript out to masses of literary agents and waiting. Then wait some more and receive a rejection letter maybe up to or over a year later. Or if you are really really really really lucky. And I’m talking 1 in a JK Rowling billion you’ll be offered representation by an agent who will then pitch your book to a big time publisher.

To begin with this is the route I envisioned to take. But I never got to the representation offer. There are many reasons why rejections happen, firstly agents and publishers really want the very best and are swamped with submissions every day so you have more chance of being accidentally discovered from a slush pile. Not suggesting your book isn’t the best, but it is a humbling reality check trust me.

A lot of places are picky and take first impressions as an opportunity to reject E.g. If you don’t present to them with a  ‘standard’ covering letter or they want more than just a sample such as a synopsis. To be honest why would I write a story about my story, which is essentially what a synopsis is.

They are just doing their job and finding the very best is just that.

This isn’t the route I have taken but good luck if you do try this route to begin with. I recommend you do just for perspective.

 Self Publishing/Independent Publishing – So back to August 2015 and after sending out over 100 submissions I had finally accepted that it was time to try something new. Albert Einstein did define insanity by doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

The stories which I desperately tried to get published were sealed away via USB mass storage and a new journey began. This was no easy decision mind but if I really wanted this it was a liberating and difficult decision I had to make. I needed to do this if I wanted to arrive in publishing and so I turned a corner

My focus was for a new stand-alone story based upon some notes I wrote after a vivid dream I had when I was 14. The choice to do this meant if this project wasn’t a real success then I have no real loss other than my pride and I’ve experienced publishing!

Quickly Open Evening was born and I was going to get this one published by an independent publisher I had my eye on for a little while.

To define an indie publisher can be a little subjective as its classed as self publishing. I wanted to find someone who would edit, format and upload my stuff to amazon via their operation so it’s hardly a ‘self’ activity. But I would be paying for the services provided.

Finding a publisher

satin-logo

Check out my review of Satin Publishing here!

I had come across Satin Publishing whilst networking and generally being an author with an online presence. Never underestimate the power of networking or even exchanging ‘likes’ over Facebook. Always be nice, courteous and of course helpful because you never know when you might need someone who offers a service. Having looked at the work Satin produced, to me they seemed like the perfect choice to give Open Evening a home. Soon enough I made contact with Satin’s own Nicky Fitzmaurice and she was happily to publish my book!

After that journey of trying to get my last book published ‘traditionally’ I quickly asked myself why didn’t I try this sooner?

The package with Satin Publishing included editing, formatting and uploading to amazon and kindle. So this was actually happening!

There are numerous independent publishers out there looking for first time authors and to me Satin Publishing was a perfect place for me to begin this journey. They had a decent number of followers on social media and looked all around professional. The work they had previously published was a good mix of genre which convinced me to contact them.

As much as I knew they were going to be great to work with this is a leap of faith (of sorts) and that’s something all authors have to take if they want publication.

I could have just asked Nicky to edit and format the book but the deal also included uploading and sorting out all the nuts and bolts that comes with getting the whole thing up on amazon.

I had researched prior and knew exactly what I wanted; Open Evening to be published and available on amazon via print on demand paperback and e-book!

Let’s just break that down – My book is available to anyone who can order it via amazon in two different formats

  1. Paperback – via a print on demand service. This means when one is ordered one is printed and dispatched so there is no need for me to store them. If I wanted to send a copy overseas I can via amazon and it saves me mailing it as they print and package it locally.
  2. E-book – An electronic version readable on most e book readers such as Kindle.

Agreements were made and a quote was sent out. We quickly arranged a publication date and then I got busy social media-ing. What I needed next was a cover for Open Evening and an artist to make one….

Next time on A guide to getting published…..

The Publication Process

That concludes part 2 of A guide to getting published! Stay tuned for part 3 of A guide to getting published. I will explain how it all formed into what you can see below…. I will also speak of how much you need to spend, and I will even give you a basic step by step guide.

 

 

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A guide to getting published: Part 1

Very recently I was asked in person about my experiences of being a published author. What does it take to reach that moment of holding your own book in your hands?

How do you go from imagination and thought harnessing all the way to print?

Thinking about it, if we can go deep only for a few reflective moments and if I were to turn around and look at the road that lays behind me. Just beyond that moonlit horizon is a whole series of stories and experiences that made up my official journey to publication.

This series of posts is a guide of how I did it, what I learned, what went well, what didn’t and above all and like everything in the world of ‘publishing’ it’s subjective towards the beholder. By that I mean there is more than one way to get ‘published’ and be ‘successful’. There are several inputs that result in different outputs, but luckily for you this is my road map of a journey which started in 2012.

First of all above anything you have to answer the 3 following questions…

So you want to be a writer?

I was twelve years old when I first started writing on that old windows 98 computer, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon… Everyone has their story and mine probably isn’t any different to how you or anyone else realized they wanted to be a wordsmith. It’s the very first thing you must decide, do you really want to do this?

For me I just had a story in my mind which expanded by tenfold over the years, it grew with me as I became an adult and never ever went away. Sometimes you should listen to the various characters in your head even if they do talk out of term. This persistent universe which I had created convinced me that I should one day show it to the world and hence question number 1 was answered.

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Do you have what it takes to dedicate yourself?

You have to be really dedicated! No I really mean that…

Again I’m being subjective when say this because I can only relate it to my experience. Are you ready to dedicate the hours and time into putting together a story that is made purely from organic thought? Are you willing to learn the translation process?

Translation huh, you ask. Writing is nothing more than taking a thought in your brain and converting into written word. But the big revelation is that you don’t have to be that good at it to be successful! And most writers are judged for their particular style of translation.

So can you translate what you see in your mind into words and sentences?

To be honest in the earlier days I struggled immensely with my description and detail. This is something which will only improve after spending hours practicing and even now I struggle. Back space will feature heavily along with giving your laptop or computer screen the death stare of ‘vacancy’.

My original routine consisted of coming home from work, taking a shower, making a cup of tea and then spending 4 hours writing. This grasping the translation stuff doesn’t happen overnight and for nearly two years I was writing more than I was doing anything else outside of work. Was the stuff I made any good? Probably not and I would even say that out of that 4 hours of work 30 minutes of it produced anything readable. It does take time and there is no short cut to putting in hours.

Nowadays my process has evolved as I have. I will spend up to an hour drafting new material, and all of it mostly readable work!

In this step you will have to financially commit yourself in buying a PC or laptop. Unfortunately and as romantic as pen and paper is, it’s just not the fashion!

So do you have what it takes to put in the time?

Okay so you’re dedicated but it still isn’t enough!

Are you the right person to call yourself a writer?

This is NOT a deep reflective question where you will spend days pondering about what your calling is in life. Take it at face value. Are you willing to be very very patient, so patient that it’s a discipline.

There is no better way to look professional and serious by being patient/cool about things. Just breathe and relax.

So you’ve sent a dozen copies of your manuscript out and haven’t received a reply. You may never will and what have you lost? Sending stuff out to zero response will happen but the concept of not being bothered by any results will really give you a one up. There are probably many many sorry cases of people following up and demanding they read their manuscript and consider it to be the next Harry Potter series. Just be cool and if someone likes what you write, they’ll find you trust me.

Mold yourself into a patient and professional person even if this is just a hobby. There is no excuse for bad manners in life and writing is no exception.

This will be a journey of solitude, and by that most of the time nothing really happens other than you, a laptop and the story. So be prepared to be alone, only a writer becomes a story teller alone.

Prepare to be criticized and judged. People react in weird ways when you say you’re a writer. How you handle that will define how you take any criticism.

write 2

Next comes the real journey…

I can’t physically teach you how to write and develop a work process, that’s up to you to figure out.

So you’ve written your masterpiece and edited it over and over again until all you see in those words is white noise.

Now it’s time for the big plunge, going public!

Arrive on social media and figure it all out

In order to build a profile as an author you have to have an online presence.

You can do this as you are writing, but to really be taken seriously you must be on social media. I began with small baby steps, I created an author page on Facebook and then got all my friends to like it. Over time friends of friends will engage and as you network other writer types will join in.

Next came twitter and eventually I got myself into blogging which is a big thing these days.

Blogging is an opportunity to talk and not be interrupted, its also an opportunity to share your opinion to the world. Whether that be a topical review, pressing journalism or just an update about what you are writing. A blog is a center piece to your online presence. Give it a catchy and even a slightly humorous name. Remember we aren’t curing disease here we are just arranging words together that turns into something that reads well. Have fun, be silly, be serious but above all be there! To date my most successful blog post is nothing about books, its about Yoga! 

Social media success is somewhat an enigma at times. It’s not all about ‘hey I’m a writer and my big book is coming next year’. You almost have to go fight club and not actually talk about that sort of stuff. It’s sounds weird but it’s true. Post stuff that you find interesting and may not be relevant to writing, you may just find yourself with a new follower or comment. In my resources section you can see a brief guide to social media including the use of Instagram. 

And so you’ve taken the plunge into deciding you want to be a writer. By now you may have even completed a first draft, and yes my first drafts are also awful. The Facebook page has been launched and you have started to blog. You may even be thinking about how weird twitter really is.

Your building blocks are starting to form a foundation towards getting a book out there! 

Part 2 will feature my journey and the choices I made in getting my first book published! We will cover the details of what goes into being independently published and what you need to do to get there.