Tag Archives: self publishing

Does romance equal happiness in fiction? Plus two interviews with two Lauras!

STOP EIGHT

In the eighth stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting over at The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective about whether romance equals happiness in fiction (and whether it should). Here’s a taste of the post…

I’m a sucker for a good romance. Twilight is one of my favourite books and movies like Ten Things I Hate About You never fail to make me smile. But as much as I love stories like these, they make me slightly uncomfortable. Why? Because they seem to equate romance with happiness, and I’m not sure that’s a great message, particularly for young (and new) adults. Read more…

STOP NINE

In my ninth stop, I’ve answered all of Laura J Moss‘s burning questions about self publishing, including why I decided to self publish, what factors I had to consider, how I chose my publishing mediums and what advice I’d give to people considering self publishing for themselves. Want a preview? Here you go!

Be aware that you will need to commit a great deal of time to the [self publishing] process to do it justice. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my self-publishing journey (except for the 2 a.m. crisis!), but it has consumed a LOT of my time and energy. You need to be prepared to not only be the author, but to also be the typesetter, the proofreader, the accountant, the distributor, the publicist… and the list goes on. Read more…

STOP TEN

And in my tenth stop, it’s my turn to answer Laura Howard’s famous six questions over at Finding Bliss. I’ve revealed my top three favourite books (for now), my editing process for The Big Smoke and my inspiration for writing. Here’s a little sample for you:

When it comes to editing, focus on the macro issues first – look at the forest rather than the trees. With earlier iterations of The Big Smoke (then Entwined, before I decided to completely re-write it), I spent countless hours perfecting the prose of certain scenes, only to decide later that the entire chapter needed to go. Read more…

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Filed under blog tour, The Big Smoke, Writing, Writing craft

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: typo-phobia

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! Can you believe that? September just flew by. Some lovely friend on Facebook tells me that Christmas is only eighty-two days away. Gah! Add another 18 days to that and you’ve got the due date for my baby. That means I’m going to be a Mum in about one hundred days. Oh my goodness!!!

So anyway, some exciting news for you. Yesterday, I received five proof copies of The Big Smoke, so I got to experience the thrill of seeing my writing in a physical book for the first time. Such an awesome experience! (In case you’re wondering, I ordered five copies to spread the America-Australia shipping costs and to have some hard copy ARCs up my sleeve). Mark, my thoughtful husband, video-taped the experience so I could share it with you:

Unfortunately, about sixty seconds after Mark pressed stop on the recorder, he uttered those words no author wants to hear: ‘There’s a typo.’

‘Haha, good on you,’ I said, confident he was joking.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t. As you would expect, I’d checked the final manuscript over and over again, scouring it for any errors. But I hadn’t been quite so fastidious with my final electronic book proof, which includes the ‘About the Author’ and ‘With Thanks’ sections that were never part of the manuscript. And sure enough, on the ‘About the Author’ page (which is the FIRST page of the book), I’d typed ‘thier’ instead of ‘their’ (in a sentence I’d changed at the very last minute). NOOOOO……

Thankfully it was identified at the proof stage, right? Crisis averted! But as a result, I’m now paranoid that the story itself is littered with typos that both I and my copy editor have somehow overlooked. I’ve given two proof copies away to people to read, under strict instruction that they’re to let me know if they spot any errors. So they will share the blame if any suckers slip through!  😉

I know that, at the end of the day, a couple of typos in a book of more than 130,000 words is not the end of the world, but the perfectionist in me is losing sleep over it. What if it’s not just one or two that have slipped through? I wonder as I lay in bed. What if there are ten in there? As a reader that would drive me crazy, and I’d lose respect for the author. What if I become one of those authors even though I’ve tried so hard?

And then I say to myself, ‘Get over it, Cally. You’ve tried your best, and that’s the beauty of self publishing – if there are errors, you can go back and fix them at any point.’

I’m trying to listen to that logical voice. Honestly, I am. But if you pass me in the street and notice that I’ve developed a facial tic, it’s probably a side effect of my latest ailment: typo-phobia. Ahh, the joys and woes of an insecure writer…

In other news, I’ve nailed down another few planks in my social platform, creating my very own Goodreads author profile and Facebook author page. Like me, friend me, follow me, make me feel loved! 😀

Your turn

What do you think when you read typos in a published novel? How many will you put down to ‘mistakes happen’ before it affects your view of the author/publisher? If you’re a published author, have you learnt of typos in your own work? If so, what did you do?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

The Big Smoke cover reveal – it’s finally here!

Hold onto your hats, people, the day you’ve been waiting for has finally arrived. It’s time to reveal the cover for my new adult novel, The Big Smoke!

And so, without further ado, here it is!

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson

And, to refresh your memory, here’s the blurb:

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

I know you’re all dying to add The Big Smoke to your Goodreads to-read lists, so here’s the page where you can do just that: The Big Smoke on Goodreads! The Big Smoke will be available to buy from Monday 29 October – that’s only 34 days away (or thereabouts. Maths isn’t my strong point).

Thank you to the fantabulous bloggers who are helping me reveal my cover – Rachel Morgan, Laura J Moss, Michael Offutt, Aimee L Salter, Alex J CavanaughRebecca Enzor, Kirsten Lopresti, PK Hrezo, Melissa Maygrove and Charity Bradford. You guys rock!

Your turn 

What do you think of the cover? Pretty awesome, hey? If you’d like to jump on board with the reveal, please do. The more, the merrier! 🙂

P.S. I want to give another shout-out to my amazingly talented cover designer J Matthew Mckern. Love your work, Matt!

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Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

The date is set… for my cover reveal!

Yes, that’s right. The date you’ve all been waiting anxiously for has finally been decided (well, the interim date before the REALLY big date of the book launch). The cover for my debut New Adult novel, The Big Smoke, will be revealed on … drum roll… Wednesday 26 September! Only 25 sleeps to go!

To whet your appetite, I’ve included two slivers of the cover in this post. If you’d like to be part of the biggest cover reveal this year (hey, a girl can dream!), let me know in the comments and you’ll go in the draw to win prizes, such as my eternal gratitude and never-ending friendship. In fact, every entrant is guaranteed to win both those prizes. Could this get more awesome?! I think not!

In other news, baby-girl-in-tum is growing nicely, and Mark (beloved) and I are having all kinds of fun coming up with possible names. There are some front-runners but we don’t have a firm winner yet (and if there was, it would be a secret!).

Your turn 

Any guesses about what’s featured on the cover based on the slivers? Would you like to be part of the cover reveal? Have you seen any truly awesome covers recently?

P.S. Thanks to those who have already said they’d like to be involved in the cover reveal. I’ve got your names saved and you receive an extra large dose of gratitude!

25 Comments

Filed under Marketing, New Adult fiction, Personal, Self publishing, The Big Smoke

IWSG: Are we jeopardising the indie book industry by being ‘nice’?

Insecure Writers Support Group Badge

“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

For this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post, I’d like to discuss something that’s been on my mind a little bit lately, thanks to Andrew Leon’s two-part post titled, Is It Better To Be “Nice” Or Honest?

You can read the full post part one and part two by Andrew (and I recommend you do, it’s very thought provoking), but in the interests of time, I’ll give you the extremely abridged version. Essentially, what I took from Andrew’s post was that we are doing the indie book industry a disservice every time we write a positive review for a self published book that doesn’t deserve it. Why? Because reviews are the only currency independent authors have, and if we discredit that, then readers will assume all self-published books are as rubbish as each other and stick with traditionally published books, which have been judged as worthwhile by someone they trust (mainstream publishers).

I agree with Andrew on this point. Writing a good review just to be nice doesn’t do anybody any favours. It tarnishes your reputation as a writer/reviewer, it tells the author they don’t need to grow, and it turns readers off the indie book industry.

However, I’m not entirely comfortable with the extension of this argument, which says that we must write negative reviews for books that deserve it. While I agree this would add to the overall credibility of the industry, I just can’t bring myself to publicly criticise another author’s work. If they asked for my opinion, I would give it to them – in an email, not a public forum. I would rather recommend the books I enjoy and not mention the ones I don’t. I guess this is because I understand what it’s like to be an insecure writer, and I don’t want to cause others pain.

But maybe I’m just soft and my reluctance to criticise is actually harming the industry. Almost every self published book you see has a handful of glowing reviews, even those that clearly don’t deserve the praise. I assume these reviews are written by family and friends who would love whatever the person wrote regardless of the quality. By not balancing these reviews with honest, critical ones of my own, am I contributing to the erosion of review credibility, thus diminishing the indie publisher’s only currency?

I’m really keen to hear your take on this. Do you think I(/we) should be tougher and write critical reviews of self published books? Do you write reviews like that? What would you think if you read an ultra-critical review on my blog? And what effect do you think the absence of these reviews has on the industry as a whole? Let me know what you think!

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

My book cover for The Big Smoke is done!

Hello from Cally land! 🙂

Firstly, I’d like to thank all of my wonderful commenters who convinced me that it would be a bad, bad, bad idea to send out Advanced Review Copies of my book The Big Smoke before I have it edited. I’ve taken your advice on board and tucked my impatience in my back pocket. (Sigh…. 😉 )

The next test for my patience is my cover. After many versions and lots of brainstorming with the designer, we’ve finally got it perfect. Considering I had no idea what to put on the cover, I’m thrilled with how it’s come together.

So, you’re probably asking, what are you impatient about? You’ve got the cover, what more do you want? Well now I want to share it with you! It’s taking all of my strength not to include it in this post, because I’m so excited about it.

But again, I want your advice/opinion (I know, I’m so demanding!). How soon before the book is available should I reveal the cover? I’d like to do a blogfest with a fun theme so the cover is revealed on several blogs at the same time, but I’m not sure how long I should wait before I do it.

I’m planning for the book to be available by mid-October, and obviously I’d like to build some buzzzzz before the release. If it was up to me, I’d do the cover reveal blogfest at the start of August, but something tells me that might be too soon and the buzzzzz could fade before the book comes out. When the book is released, I’ll be doing a blog tour and hoping to have some (preferably favourable) book reviews popping up around the blogosphere so that would help to re-build the buzzzzz, but I’d prefer for it to continue to build rather than have to re-build, if that makes sense!

So, what do you think? When is the best time to do a cover reveal blogfest?  Six weeks out? Two weeks out? Somewhere in between?

Also, if you’re keen to take part in the blogfest, let me know in the comments and I’ll add to you the list (and you’ll get to see the cover before everyone else so you can post it on your blog!)

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Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke

Patience is not one of my strong points

I’ve never been a particularly patient person. As a child, I’d always go hunting for my birthday presents ahead of time. Invariably, I’d find them hidden in Mum’s cupboard and be disappointed that I hadn’t waited for the special day.

Considering my track record, it’s no surprise that I’m chomping at the bit to just get my book, The Big Smoke, out there already!

At the moment, I’m working on a cover design with a great artist, and, after a bit of hunting, I’ve found an editor who seems to ‘get’ the novel’s voice and who I’m looking forward to working with.

Really, things are going along quite well. But… I hate waiting. After providing feedback on a version of the cover, I hate the idle time before I get the next version. And I hate the idea of waiting for weeks on end for my editor’s feedback.

Ugh, I’m so impatient. It’s not a good trait, I know. Quality takes time, and I am prepared to wait to get it right. I just wish I didn’t have to. I wish it’d magically happen overnight. But it’s important to me that the final product is as polished and professional as possible, so wait I will. *Exaggerated sigh*

Question for you, though. Is now the time to send out Advanced Review Copies (ARCs)? Some of the novel’s wording will obviously change through the editing process, but the plot is set. I’m hoping the book will be ready for release by October – so is now a good time to get that review ball rolling? Or should I wait for the copy edit to be finished? If it’s too early and I’m just letting my enthusiasm get the better of me, feel free to say so!

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts.

Hurry up and comment already. I’m impatient, remember? 😉

89 Comments

Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke

Insecure Writers’ Support Group: review-phobia

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“Let’s rock the neurotic writing world!” Alex J Cavanaugh

It’s time for this month’s Insecure Writers’ Support Group post! I’m going to preface this post by re-stating one of the key reasons the blog-father, Alex J Cavanaugh, founded this support group:  “Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak.”

So no teasing! Cos I’m about to tell you one of my real, genuine fears.

Now that I’ve decided to indie publish my first novel The Big Smoke, I’m faced with the fact that people everywhere around the world will be able to purchase my writing and then tell everybody else what they think about it. That’s AWESOME but it’s also FREAKING TERRIFYING.

I fear that, soon after The Big Smoke is released, my Amazon page will be swamped with bad reviews by people who absolutely hated my book.

Thumbs down

Bad, bad, bad.

Now, I know that bad reviews are par for the course. I know that every book is bound to get a few negative reviews in its time. But what if they come first? What if the very first reviews that appear on my Amazon page all say my work is rubbish? Then no one else will give it a chance – including the people who just might love it.

Don’t get me wrong. I have confidence in my writing. I do. If I didn’t, I wouldn’t have decided to put it out there. But that confidence doesn’t negate the fear. And I think indie publishing perhaps makes that fear a little stronger. If I had the tick of approval from a publisher, I don’t think I’d be as concerned about reviews. But for indies, reviews really are the make or break. Hence, the fear.

I know a lot of you reading this have published your own work – either traditionally or independently. Did you fear bad reviews too? Have you had any? I don’t mean luke warm, I mean reviews where the reviewer seems to believe your fingers should be chopped off so you can never write another word. Any advice on how to quell those nerves?

P.S. Don’t forget to support other insecure writers!

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Filed under Creativity, Fear, Insecure Writers Support Group, Self publishing, Writers, Writing

Book review – two self publishing how-to guides

Now that I’ve made my decision to indie publish, I figured I’d better do some research. So I jumped onto Amazon and, after reading countless reviews, bought myself two how-two guides on indie/self publishing.

Let’s Get Digital: How to Self Publish, And Why You Should by David Gaughran

I really enjoyed this book. It got me quite excited about the indie publishing scene and fuelled some wow-this-could-really-take me-places fantasies. Throughout the book, Gaughran explains why he decided to self publish and dispels what he believes are common misconceptions about the traditional publishing and digital self publishing industries. He then guides the reader through the process of digital self publishing, encouraging writers to invest in quality editing and cover design.

The third section of the book is dedicated to success stories of self publishers. It steers clear of the well known stars like Amanda Hocking, John Locke and Joe Konrath, and instead lets thirty-three relatively unknown self publishers tell their individual stories in their own words. As you read story after story, the over-arching message of this book is driven home: “Self-publishing takes work, patience and a lot of luck to succeed, but the rewards are tremendous.” 

And another cool quote: “People love discovering new writers and new stories, and they love sharing their discoveries. As long as you tell people your book is there, as long as you promote it beyond your family and friends, you have a chance. Readers will hear about your book, either from a friend, or a review, or one of your promotions on a forum, or on Facebook, or on Goodreads, or on Twitter and they will check it out. 

If they like the cover, they will read the blurb. If they like that, they will read the sample. If they like the sample they may purchase the book. If they enjoy the read, they will tell more people. This is word-of-mouth, and it’s the only thing that has ever really sold books.”

What didn’t I like?

I was disappointed that the book only focused on digital publishing because, unlike Gaughran, I don’t believe that ‘print is doomed’. Perhaps it will be one day (I hope not), but we’re a long way from there at the moment. Also, I was hoping for some more nitty gritty detail on the self publishing process itself. Overall though, this book offered some fantastic insights and I’m definitely glad I read it!

Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self Publishing by Catherine Ryan Howard

If Gaughran’s book had me gazing up at the stars, Howard’s brought me back to earth with a crash. According to her, sane self publishers are a rare breed. ‘I ventured into their [self publishers’] forums, where the decorative scheme was five shades of Crazy, the distinct scent of eau de delusional hung in the air and everyone seemed to be complaining, confused, or both.’ 

You can imagine how many people’s hackles might rise when reading that! My hackles, however, remained stable. I loved this book. It gives you the self publishing facts with no holds barred, but softens any potential blows with witty, dry humour.

The nitty gritty that I would’ve liked from Gaughran, I found in Howard’s book. I also found some fantastic information on the in’s and out’s of print-on-demand publishing. Howard takes you through each step of: building an online platform (fairly happy with my ability in that area), publishing your paperback (using Createspace), publishing your e-book (using Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords), selling your book, launching your book and ‘everything else’.

Gaughran’s and Howard’s books probably sound poles apart – and in style and tone, they are. But they actually have a lot in common. They both stress the importance of editing, cover design, blurbs and reviews, and they both agree that with a lot of hard work, success in self publishing is possible.

What didn’t I like? 

Not much, to be honest. Occasionally, Howard’s blunt style was a little off-putting, and sometimes, I wish she’d stop with the witty banter and just get to the point, but I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this book to any self-publishing hopeful. If readers take offence, it could be because they’ve breathed in too much of the scent of eau de delusional! 

Some of my favourite quotes

‘Do you have any idea how many people are self publishing books right now? There was probably a couple born in the time it took you to read that sentence and chances are neither of them are very good. Yes, there are a number of very successful self-publishers self-publishing very good books that lots of people like, but they are the exceptions to the rule.’

‘Before we go any further I want you to read these next three sentences aloud: I cannot expect each individual reader to compensate me for the years of blood, sweat and tears that went into writing this book. The price tag on my book is not a reflection of how much work went into it. I have to look at the big picture and acknowledge that if I insist on being a greedy b—–d and overcharging people, then I won’t sell any copies at all.’

‘Covers are important to books, but they are the most important thing about self published books…. even if you’re the next Jonathan Franzen and your book is better than The Corrections and Freedom combined, no one is going to buy it if your cover looks like a pile of (water-coloured?) poo.’

How about you?

Have you read any good books on self publishing? Do either of these books appeal to you? Or is self publishing totally not your thing?

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Filed under Book review, Self publishing

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?

39 Comments

Filed under Progress update, Self publishing, Writing