Category Archives: Progress update

Indie publishing update – and the seven p’s of marketing

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated you on how I’m progressing with my plans to independently publish The Big Smoke, so I thought I’d remedy that today! Things are slowly moving forward and although I’d like everything to be progressing more swiftly (because I’m impatient), I’m really happy with how it’s all coming together. Here’s a snapshot of where everything’s at right now, based on the seven p’s of marketing I learnt at uni (a number of years ago now!).

Product (the novel itself)
I’m investing in my book AKA the ‘product’  by paying for professional copy editing. I’ve found a fantastic editor (called Ken Spillman) who seems to ‘get’ my voice and characters. So far, he’s provided line-by-line edits for almost half of the book, and I’m expecting another installment later this week. The edits are definitely helping to tighten the prose and make sure everything is as realistic and plausible as possible at the micro level. We’re aiming for the copy editing process to be completed by early September so fingers crossed that’s achievable.

Package (cover)
The front cover is done and looks totally awesome, in my humble opinion. My cover designer, J Matthew McKern, is putting the final touches on the back cover (for the hard copy) and then it’ll be ready to rock and roll!

Placement (publishing)
I’ve been doing a lot of research about the best way to actually publish said book, including who to use to produce it and where to sell it. I’ve looked into a number of ‘self publishing service providers’ but for the amount they charge and the services they offer, I’ve decided I’m better off DIY-ing it. If you’d like to know the companies I researched, email me and I’ll let you know.

For my e-book version, I’m going to publish through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, which will make it available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony.

For my paper book (p-book), I’m going to publish through Createspace’s print-on-demand service, which allows me to order small quantities (e.g. 25) for reasonable prices. Although it would be a lot cheaper per unit to print with an offset printer, their minimum quantity is in the thousands and I don’t want to outlay that much initially nor take on that much risk (or garage space). I weighed up the benefits and drawbacks of Createspace versus Lightning Source, who offer a similar print-on-demand service, but I decided the ‘hand holding’ (and free ISBN) that Createspace offers is something that I appreciate at this stage in the game.

I’ve also investigated some local print-on-demand companies, but unfortunately they don’t seem able to match Createspace’s cost and quality offering (yet. Hopefully this will change in the future).

The p-book will be available to buy through Amazon. Due to the high cost of shipping books to Australia (where I live) and New Zealand, I’m also planning to set up a page on this site where Aussies/Kiwis can order a copy of the book directly from me. This will save in shipping because I will buy in bulk (25) from Createspace (which lowers the shipping cost per unit) and then on-sell the book, so readers will only have to fork out for domestic mail charges.

I’m also hoping to make the novel available in a few local stores around Australia, which I will do by contacting them individually, providing them a free copy of the book to read and seeing if they would be willing to stock it. Can’t hurt to try!

The price between my e-book and my paper book will vary quite a bit, mainly due to the differences in production costs, publisher margin thresholds and customer expectations. Obviously, all of this is subject to change depending on further research, but at the moment I’m planning to price the e-book at $2.95 and the p-book at $16.95 + postage. My profit margin will be quite slim at each of these price points, but I’d rather sell more (and have more people reading my work) than make more for each individual sale.


How do I want The Big Smoke to be positioned in the market place? My blurb and cover are probably the biggest tools I have at my disposal in this respect. Other ‘positioning tools’ include the categories I choose to list it in on Amazon etc, and the way I present the book and its characters in interviews, guest posts etc. Perhaps I also need to work on a very short description of the novel too…


The fun part! In order to promote The Big Smoke, I’m planning to do the following about six weeks before the launch date:

  • reveal the book cover on this blog and others
  • send out Advanced Review Copies to people interested in reading and reviewing the book
  • set up an author page on Good Reads so eager beavers can add The Big Smoke to their ‘To read’ lists
  • set up a pre-order page for hard copies for Aussies on this-here blog.

And I’m planning to do these activities once the book is released (which will hopefully be end of October):

  • hound random people in the street to buy a copy
  • tweet incessantly that people MUST buy my book
  • tour the blogosphere, guest posting and/or being interviewed on a number of different writing or reading-related blogs
  • host a blogfest where people share memories about the year they turned eighteen
  • continue to send out review copies to interested peeps
  • contact local media in the vain hope that some of them might be interested in interviewing me
  • have a MASSIVE book launch party with all of the family and friends who have supported me during the writing process.


In traditional marketing speak, ‘people’ are all of those “inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales and marketing strategy and activities.” So, I guess that’s… me! But I’m hoping it might be you too (see how I sneakily worked that in!). Yes, this is the part where I recruit you see who might be interested in helping me spread the word. Feel free to choose as many or as few options below as you like.

Obviously, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to indicate that you’d like to be involved but it would be great to get some early interest!

Your turn

I’m planning to post in more detail about each topic that I’ve covered in this update at some point in time, but is there anything you’d like to hear more about sooner rather than later? Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Anything I’ve said that you think is a bad idea? Let me know!


Filed under Editing, Marketing, Progress update, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

Why I’ve decided to go indie

If you’ve been following my blog for a while, you’ll know that I’ve been leaning towards indie publishing my novel, The Big Smoke, for more than a year now. Well, I’ve finally decided for sure – I’m going to do it. I’m flying solo.

If you’re new here, you’ll probably assume that I’ve already tried my hand at getting a traditional publishing contract and clocked up countless rejections. But that would be incorrect. I’ve decided to skip that part.

‘Are you crazy?’ I can hear you saying. ‘Don’t you at least want to give traditional publishing a shot before you make the decision to indie publish?’

Short answer: no.

Why? Because, as we all know, it’s incredibly difficult to get an agent and publisher, even when your manuscript fits the narrow window of what traditional publishers are looking for. And The Big Smoke doesn’t fit that window. Based on my research, traditional publishers are unwilling to take a risk on young adult fiction by new authors that’s over 90,000 words. The Big Smoke is about 140,000 words.

That doesn’t make it unsellable. It just means that the risk for a traditional publisher to take it on is higher, because they would earn less profit for each book sold. Why? Because big books cost more to print, but you can’t necessarily charge much more for a big book than a thinner book. There’s only so much readers are willing to pay for a book, after all.

I get that. And I don’t blame traditional publishers for avoiding projects that have more risks, especially not in today’s market. But that doesn’t mean The Big Smoke isn’t worth reading, or that it won’t find an audience out there. I believe it’s good enough to publish, and so do my beta readers. So that’s what I’m going to do.

There are a few more reasons why going indie appeals to me:

  • The Big Smoke will be available to readers a lot faster than if I waited for a publishing offer (which in all likelihood would never come).
  • I’m a bit of a control freak, so the idea of having ultimate control over the whole project really appeals to me
  • I probably won’t sell nearly as many copies, but I’ll get much higher royalties for each book sold.

Where to from here?

Once I get feedback from my second group of beta readers (in early July, hopefully), I’ll make any required changes then send the manuscript off to be professionally edited and proof read (if you know any high-quality Australian freelance fiction editors, let me know!).

While that’s happening, I’ll also be commissioning a professional cover designer to produce an awesome cover that will work for both hard copy and e-books. Once all of that is done, I’ll release the book through Amazon, Smashwords and Createspace Print on Demand.

And then the blog tour and celebrations will begin! 😀

As you can probably tell, I’m feeling pretty excited about all of this. I’m not expecting to be the next Amanda Hocking by any stretch of the imagination, but just the thought of my book being available for readers makes me feel all warm inside. And if I can make back the money I spend on publishing and a bit more, that’d be awesome too.

Stay tuned, because I’ll be keeping you up to date every step of the way!

Your turn

What do you think about my decision? Feel free to be honest! What are you plans for your work-in-progress? Are you hoping to get a traditional publishing contract or does going indie appeal to you too?


Filed under Progress update, Self publishing, Writing

Beta readers: a change of plan

Earlier this evening, I had the great pleasure of sending Part 3 (the final part) of  The Big Smoke to my beta readers. This is only a week behind the original deadline I set myself back in August, so I’m pretty happy with that.

However, in my original project schedule, I allocated time in between editing parts to go back and consider feedback from my beta readers on the previous part and make changes. That didn’t happen, mainly because it felt more natural to continue on with editing in a linear fashion rather than backtracking, and also because editing took longer than I’d expected. Especially Part Three. Part Three was a slog.

Don’t get me wrong – I did read the feedback from my beta readers, I just haven’t processed it fully yet. Now that Part Three is in the hands of my beta readers, that’s exactly what I plan to do.

I already know I’ll have some difficult decisions to make because my readers had quite different opinions about what works and what doesn’t, but I’m happy to say that overall my readers have really enjoyed what they’ve read so far (phew!). They’ve also had some fantastic insights about how I could make the story even better so I’m looking forward to mulling those suggestions over and deciding what to take on board.

In my original project schedule, I planned to distribute the whole manuscript to my second group of beta readers at this point too, meaning I would receive feedback from my first group on Part 3 and my second group on the whole manuscript at roughly the same time. Obviously, that’s not possible any more because I haven’t made changes to parts 1 and 2 yet.

But even if I had, I think that I would’ve decided to wait until I received feedback from my first group on Part 3 before sending the entire manuscript to my second group. Why? Because if there are major doozies /deal breakers in Part 3, I’d want my first group to let me know so I can fix them up before my second group starts reading. That way, my second group will (hopefully) get a much more polished version of the entire manuscript, rather than two-thirds polished and one-third good but ‘flawed’.

This means my beta reading stage will take longer than I’d first hoped, but I think it will be more valuable this way. Fingers crossed that’s the case!

Your turn

What do you think? Do you agree with my thoughts about drawing the beta reading process out or do you think I’m just trying to make myself feel better for not sticking to my original plan? (Feel free to be honest!) Have you done something similar with beta readers? If so, what were your experiences?

P.S. If you’re part of my second group of beta readers, expect an apologetic email about the delay coming your way soon! 🙂


Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled

First major edit: complete!

Yes, you read correctly. I have edited the final word on the final page of The Big Smoke.


I am very excited, and I wish I could write a full blog post in honour of this momentous occasion, which occurred less than a minute ago. But it’s 11pm and I have to work tomorrow. So I shall tuck myself into bed and dream about celebrating instead. Good night! 🙂


Filed under Progress update, Tangled

Location: truth or fiction?

It’s been another hard week of editing Part Three of The Big Smoke, but I’ve managed to get through another 25% (or 13,600 words) and I’m feeling quietly confident I’ll have Part Three ready for my beta readers by my revised deadline of 12 December (fingers crossed!).

While reading Part Two, one of my beta readers asked me about my choice to have my two main characters, Seb and Ceara, come from fictional country towns in rural Queensland. My answer: I didn’t want to say they were from real country towns and then have people from those towns identify things that clearly didn’t fit with their town (from scenery to slang words).  The only country town I know intimately enough to write about is Gatton, my home town. But I didn’t want either of my characters to come from there because I didn’t want readers (particularly readers who know me) to think the story was auto-biographical (because it isn’t).

That was my original rationale. But after my beta reader asked the question, I’ve been revisiting the decision in my mind. I know that I really enjoy books that have real settings, particularly if I’m familiar with those settings. But do I enjoy them more than books with imaginary settings? I’m not 100% decided, but the more I think about it, the more I don’t think it’s a huge factor for me. I mean, I love reading books set in Brisbane, my current home (like Nick Earls’ The Fix and Ian Wynne’s Gavel), but I also enjoy reading books with fictional-but-still-realistic settings (like Christopher Currie’s The Ottoman Motel).

I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Does it make a difference to your enjoyment of a book if the settings are real or imaginary? The Big Smoke is realistic fiction – does this make a difference? Meaning, are you happy to read about imaginary settings in fantasy but not realistic fiction? Or does genre not change your opinion?

Also, many of my settings are real (like the city of Brisbane, where most of the book takes place). Would you prefer settings to be consistently real or imaginary, or does that not matter to you? And finally, do you think it would be worth the extra research involved to have my main characters come from real country towns or do you think fictional-but-still-realistic settings are good enough?

I love hearing other readers’ and writers’ opinions on things like this, so please let me know what you think!  🙂


Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled

Past the halfway mark

Finally! I’ve passed the halfway mark in my edit of Part Three of The Big Smoke. It’s been a real slog, this last part. Much harder than the first two.


I should’ve expected it, really. When I was writing parts one and two, I went back and edited frequently. But with Part Three, I ploughed ahead regardless of the rubbish that came out. So, naturally, the standard of writing isn’t quite the same. Thankfully, amongst the rubbish, there are some gems. It’s just a matter of putting a peg on my nose and sorting through the awful stuff to find them.

I’m pretty happy with the passages that are emerging, but the editing process is taking much longer than I’d anticipated. At this stage, I’m thinking my goal of having Part Three ready for my beta readers by 5 December is a little ambitious. After all, that’s only two weeks away and I’ll definitely need to do another proofread before I send it off. With all of the changes I’ve been making, I’m sure the writing is littered with typos. And nobody wants to read that!

I’m hoping that another week will be enough and I’ll be able to distribute Part Three by 12 December, but time will tell whether that’s achievable. To give myself the best shot, I think I need to stick to one blog post a week until Part Three is complete. But don’t be glum, I have another crazy awesome picture to make up for my lack of posts…

80s bogans!

Yep, we get invited to a lot of fancy dress parties… heaps of fun! 🙂

How about you? How are you going against your goals and deadlines?


Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled

A new working title!

You’ll have to forgive me. I’m a bit grumpy tonight. On my way home from work, I missed my normal train and unthinkingly got on the next one, not realising it was express. I was listening to my iPod and reading blogs on my mobile, so I missed all the warnings and only realised there was a problem when we starting sailing past stations. I watched out the window as we flew past mine. And the next 12. Yes, that’s right, the train didn’t stop for another 12 stations. So a 30-minute one-way train trip turned into a 90-minute return train trip. Yes, it was completely my fault but still. Frustrating much?! GAH!!!!

Okay, I feel better now. Thanks for letting me vent. Moving on…

You may have noticed I didn’t post last night even though Sunday is my regular posting night. I blame Suzanne Collins for that. If she hadn’t made The Hunger Games so ridiculously addictive and unputdownable, I would have put it aside and kept to my schedule.

But hey, I’m a writer. And I write because I love stories. And The Hunger Games is one damn impressive story. I’ll do a proper review of it soon, but let me just say this – if you’re a bit slow on the uptake like me and haven’t yet read The Hunger Games, remedy that immediately. You won’t be disappointed.

Loving my new toy!

And to make the reading experience all the more exciting, it was the first book I’ve read on my new Kindle. Squeee! I’ve been umm’ing and ahh’ing about whether to buy a Kindle for a while now, and so when some wonderful girlfriends bought me a sizeable Amazon gift voucher for my birthday, I knew the time had come. I was worried that I wouldn’t like reading on a Kindle but I love it. LOVE it. I’ll do a full post about my thoughts once I’ve read a few more books on it. Stay tuned…

By now you’re probably wondering what the heck my headline has to do with this post. Perhaps I’ve left the most exciting news till last. I have a new working title for my novel-in-progress!

As my regular readers know, I love my previous working title, Tangled, but I believe that Disney has spoiled it for me. So, after a lengthy conversation at work with my awesome colleagues Laura and Joe, I’ve changed the title to… The Big Smoke! I really like it for a number of reasons, but I don’t want to tell you what they are because I’d rather hear what you think without skewing your judgement. So…. what do you think? Love it? Hate it? Indifferent? What does it tell you about the book?

I sent Part 2 of said novel-in-progress off to my beta readers yesterday and I’m looking forward to their feedback on the new title and of course the 43,000-odd words they’ll be reading. They’ve already given me some wonderful, insightful feedback on Part 1, which is helping to guide me as I go forth and edit Part 3. Not far to go now!

So yeah, that’s me this week. What’s happening in your world? And don’t forget to tell me what you think of The Big Smoke as a title!


Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled

Finding balance

For the past two weeks I’ve been a lady of leisure, on holidays from work and the day-to-day hustle and bustle. I spent the first ten days road tripping around northern New South Wales and Sydney with my delightful husband (heaps of fun). I then spent the remainder of my holidays at home with a husband with man-flu (not so fun).

In case you’re interested, here are a couple of photos from our time in Sydney.

In front of the opera house

In front of the opera house

The Gap

The Gap, Watsons Bay

One of the best things about road tripping (apart from the scenery), was that I could edit along the way – when I was the passenger, not the driver, obviously! One of the only good things about being on holidays with a husband with man flu was plenty of time at home, which I spent – you guessed it – editing.

Over the past two weeks, I’ve managed to edit 32,000 words of Tangled and cross the halfway mark. That’s very exciting (I did a little happy dance in my pyjamas when I crossed the threshold), but I still have another 21,000 words to edit by 24 October in order to have part 2 of Tangled ready for my beta readers by the due date in my project schedule. Ideally, I’d like to proof read part 2 once more before I send it to my readers. But given that I’m heading back to full time work tomorrow, that’s a pretty big ask.

And to make things a little more challenging, my husband and I are starting a competition tomorrow (just between each other) to see who can get into the best shape in ten weeks. Winning this competition will unfortunately require exercise – something I haven’t made much time for since I started this blog in January. To be brutally honest, for the past ten months blogging has replaced jogging and my butt is starting to look like the chair it’s been parked in. I need this competition to get me out of that chair!

So what does all of this mean? It means that somehow, I need to find a better balance between novel editing, exercising, blogging, working, and having a life.  To achieve this, I need (among other things) to scale back on my blogging a little. I can hear your gasps of anguish and despair already, but don’t worry, I’ll still post twice a week – just not three times or more like I have been recently.

My new blogging schedule

Sunday night (AEST) will be:

  • a progress update, discussion about writing technique, industry spotlight or book review (in other words, whatever has taken my fancy about writing or reading that week).

Thursday night (AEST) will alternate between:

Wish me luck!

Your turn

Have you made any changes to achieve balance in your life recently? Or do you have any fun stories about failing to achieve balance? Please share. 🙂


Filed under balance, Progress update, Tangled, Writing

WiP Part 1: off to beta readers!

Before I get onto the subject of tonight’s post, I just wanted to say a big HAPPY ANNIVERSARY to my wonderful husband, Mark. Seven years ago today, we promised to spend the rest of our lives together and I’m so glad we did. I was a month shy of 21 when we tied the knot, and Mark was 24. We may have been young, but we knew what we were doing. Here’s some photos from our special day:

The wedding party

Cally on her wedding day

Wedding: sitting among the flowers

Oh the memories! 🙂

Okay, enough reminiscing. On to tonight’s topic! I sent the first part of Tangled, my novel-in-progress, off to my Beta Reader Group One peeps tonight. It’s quite an exciting and scary feeling. Mostly exciting though. I’ve been working on this novel for so long, I’m really looking forward to hearing people’s thoughts about it.

I thought you might be interested to hear how I’ve approached this stage of my beta reading, so I’ll give you a look at the email I’ve sent my beta readers, which includes a link to my purpose-built reader survey.

Hi there

Thanks again for offering to beta read Tangled. I really appreciate the time and energy it takes to provide considered feedback. Tangled Part 1 (about 45K) is attached! This is coming to you a week earlier than I originally indicated, however if you can still have your feedback to me by 17 October, that would be great. Feel free to get it to me as soon as you like though. 🙂

You can go about providing feedback however you feel most comfortable. I’d really appreciate it if you could fill in this survey I’ve created, but if you find surveys stifling, please feel free to ignore it. At the least, it will provide you with a guide about the type of feedback I’m looking for.


In addition to the survey, I’d appreciate more nitty-gritty feedback marked on the manuscript (either in tracked changes in Word or scribbled on a hard copy – I’m happy to pay for postage). Please mark any spelling or grammar errors, passages that read awkwardly, and passages that make you smile or cringe (either because of what’s going on or because of the quality of the writing!). I’m just as interested in the passages you like as the ones you don’t, because it’s always good to know what’s actually working!

Please remember, I’m after your honest opinion, so don’t be afraid to tell me what you really think. If you have any concerns about anything I’ve said here, please just let me know.

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


Your turn

What do you think of the survey? Too much? Too little? How are you going with your own writing? Please share. 🙂


Filed under Beta readers, Editing, Progress update, Revising, Tangled, Writing, YA fiction

WiP Part 1 editing deadline: done and dusted!

***For my readers in the path of Hurricane Irene, I’m thinking of you. Batten down, be safe and I look forward to hearing that you’re doing well.***

As my headline suggests, I have beaten my ambitious deadline of editing Part 1 of Tangled by more than a week. Not only that, I actually extended Part 1 by 12K, so I’ve edited a LOT more than I thought I’d be able to.  This weekend alone, I edited 26K, which probably explains the square eyes and dazed brain…

This was my work station today.

Work station

My work station

Yes, those are tweezers. It was breezy on the deck and I couldn’t find another bulldog clip.

In summary, I’ve reduced 62K down to 46K – that’s a whopping 24%. And thus, the size of Tangled Part 1 (which I will soon be providing to beta readers) will be 46K (or thereabouts).

While I’m on the beta-reading topic, I’ve made some progress since I put out a request last week. I had a great deal of interest (thanks everyone!), so I’ve decided to do two rounds of beta reading. The first group will receive the manuscript in three parts, and the second will receive the whole thing in one hit – in about December, if my beta-reading project schedule is accurate.

Beta-reading project schedule

My beta-reading project schedule (click for full size)

If you’re one of those gorgeous, amazing, delightful people who volunteered to beta read Tangled, I’ll be emailing you shortly to see which group you’d like to be in. I’ve also decided that since I’ll be receiving quite a bit of feedback, I’m going to develop a survey for my beta readers (like this guy did). This will help guide my readers on what I’m looking for and ensure I get feedback in a consistent format. Beta readers will still be able to provide feedback beyond the survey scope, but hopefully the survey will capture the majority of comments.

So, this is all pretty exciting for me! As you know, I’m new to this beta reading caper, so I’m open to any thoughts or suggestions about how best to manage this stage. Check out my beta reading project schedule (which is subject to change) and let me know if you think it’s realistic. Let me know what you think about a beta reader survey. Tell me I should go to bed because I’m not making any sense…

Oh, one more thing before I go. Does anyone know of freeware that has similar functionality to MS Project? That would be heaps better than doing my project schedule in Excel.

Hooray! Too much coffee! 😀


Filed under Beta readers, Editing, Progress update, Revising, Tangled, Writing, YA fiction