Self-publishing on Kindle… again… for anyone who missed it!

I had one of my writing groups this afternoon, and we rather went away from what I had planned and veered off into self-publish on Amazon for Kindle – KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing. I shared something I wrote a while back, and then thought I might share it again here:

I have always written, and before I could write I told little stories to my sister and I continued to write, first of all short stories, and then longer novellas and novels. My first three complete novels are embarrassing to look back on, apart from one where there is a enough to maybe use and rewrite… we shall see. I wrote a couple more novels which were okayish… and then I stepped up a gear and began to write properly. During this time I sent off my work to agents, publishers, entered it for competitions, and all without any success at all… I had many empty promises, I had my hopes raised so many times… but it came to nothing. It didn’t stop me writing.
In 2011 I was able to give up my day job, and what joy to be able to write full-time… and in a casual conversation, someone mentioned that it was possible to publish for Kindle through Amazon. What? Really? And How much does it cost? Nothing? Nothing??!!
I went on the site:

https://kdp.amazon.com/

…and I found it very accessible and it seemed as if it would be easy to use. I decided I would try and see how I got on, and chose my shortest novel, Farholm, as it was my first venture into this new world, and I wanted a manageable book to work on.
Suddenly the editorial process became much more focused; there was no-one but me to check the story, to look for spelling mistakes, grammatical and punctuation errors, to spot inaccuracies and inconsistencies, continuity glitches… and boring bits!  Knowing I was going to have an audience (I hoped) I had to look at my novel in a whole new way. I worked really hard and spent hour after hour, day after day for a couple of months trying to make this, my first published novel the best I could make it.
Ready to rock, I went back to the site and signed up and began the process; it was all so easy I wondered if I had somehow made a dreadful mistake. There are a series of pieces of information you have to submit (but there is an easily understandable guide to everything you have to do, bit by bit, not all in one massive document)
You have to

  • submit the book name (title)
  • subtitle if there is one,
  • edition number if there is one (if it’s part of a series)
  • publisher (that’s you)
  • description (I’ll write more about this later)
  • contributors (you and anyone else such as illustrator)
  • language,
  • ISBN (there’s information on this)
  • publishing rights (whether it is in the public domain or not, and if not that you have the rights)
  • target audience for your book (a drop down list gives you suggestions)
  • age-range (optional)
  • key words (really important so people can find your sort of novel – for my Radwinter series I put in ‘genealogical mystery for example).
  • You can upload your own cover, or KDP will help you create one – I’ve never done this so I don’t know how the process works.

You can save all this at any time; you don’t need to do it all at once and then publish; in fact it’s better to spend a while doing it to make sure you have the right description and keywords. Finally, and this is the exciting bit, you upload your file and if you’re sure you can press publish, if not, press save and think about it!
Once you have done all that there is a more complicated page about rights, and price and various other things, but again there is very clear support through drop-down boxes. I will write about this next time.
Description: it is really, really, really important to get a description – a blurb, which will intrigue and interest people, it needs to be specific and despite feeling modest you have to get over it and blow your own trumpet, and really try and promote and sell your book. Look at other blurbs to get ideas if your brain is empty! You might like to quote some lines from your masterpiece just to give people a taste.
There is something called Author Central where you can write about yourself and your writing, with an inviting photo – this to my mind is quite important to, so your readers engage with you and then want to read more things by you.
My author central page
Lois Elsden was born and brought up in Cambridge, but spent most of her life in Manchester; she now lives in a small Somerset village by the sea.
Having worked at Manchester Airport, as a white-van woman, in a pickle onion factory and as a waitress, Lois taught English as a second language in Manchester and Oldham, before working with young people not in school.
Lois writes full time and has just published her twelfth novel through Kindle Direct Publishing. Her most recent novels have been in her Radwinter series; Thomas Radwinter not only unravels genealogical mysteries, but is commissioned to find missing people and investigate kidnappings and abduction, attempted murder and secret sects. In his latest adventures he investigates a supposedly haunted hotel and tries to discover the truth about the death of a schoolgirl… which happened in 1931.
Lois now leads two creative writing groups, travels round the country to live music events, and watches the world go by in her local pub

Here is a link to that first ever book I published, Farholm:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/FARHOLM-Lois-Elsden-ebook/dp/B007JMDAFO/ref=sr_1_7?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1497284799&sr=1-7&keywords=lois+elsden

… and to all my other books:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_8?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+els%2Caps%2C147&crid=OD5VNC8DJ076

 

I didn’t realise!

I post about many things here, but a lot of what I share is about my books, and trying to promote them and get people interested in them. I always link to my Amazon page, and link to the particular book, but I didn’t realise I can offer an excerpt…

For example, here is a link to the first few pages of my latest Radwinter genealogical mystery, Earthquake – please follow it and have a look!:

https://read.amazon.co.uk/kp/embed?asin=B06Y18H8JR&preview=newtab&linkCode=kpe&ref_=cm_sw_r_kb_dp_C5jhzb38TZ8W0

If you follow this link you will be taken straight through to the opening chapters of Earthquake. I hope you will do that, and I hope you will want to read more and find out what happens next… and if you do, I hope you will make a comment, or message me with your thoughts!!

Here’s a link to my Amazon page:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

Any minute now!!!

I am so excited to announce, and you’re the first to know – I have launched my next book, Earthquake, and it’s just uploading to Amazon; it will be available through Amazon KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) within the next couple of hours.

It is the fifth in my Thomas Radwinter series; as in the other books, Thomas has some genealogical research to undertake – this time trying to unpick what happened to a group of adopted Chinese girls in 1931… there was a death, but was it an accident? He is also commissioned to investigate a haunted hotel; he is deeply sceptical, but doesn’t anticipate the dangers he will face while looking into it. As usual, Thomas’s family life is complicated, three brothers and their families, and his own growing brood keeps him busy… keeps him more than buys, and he begins to feel as if he isn’t coping.

Here is a link to my Amazon page, where before long you will be able to find Earthquake, and my other novels too:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

Farholm, five years on

Five years ago today I published my first book through KDP, Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon – it was an e-book, Farholm, a story I had actually written sometime before when I was still at work and not a full-time writer. I was so excited, and it gave me the courage to go on and put other books out into the big wide world –

  • The Stalking of Rosa Czekov came four  months later, another novel I had written while at work
  • Loving Judah in the November
  • Night Vision in 2013
  • and Flipside in the September of that year

All these books I had tried to get published in print, without success, but now, there they were bravely out in public!

At the end of 2013 a different thing happened; I took up the challenge of writing 50,000 words of a new novel in the month of November; this was the first new thing I had written in my new life as a writer – and the words just flowed… the result was that in February of 2014 the first of my Radwinter books appeared. I never dreamed I would write a sequel, let alone a series… but look…

  • 2014 Radwinter
  • October 2014 Magick
  • April 2015 Raddy and Syl

I returned to my completed novels in 2016 and worked hard on editing a far tool long story of dark love and betrayal and murder, before returning to the Radwinter family:

  • The Double Act
  • Beyond Hope
  • and then another long novel which needed a lot of work – Lucky Portbraddon

All my life I have wanted to be a writer and now I am!

This is a celebration day for me, but I have to say a lot of thank yous. I have to say a massive thank you to my family, all my family for supporting me and putting up with me! I have to say a great big thank you to all my friends near and far, and those I have never even met in real life but only through social media. And I have to say thank you to all the people I don’t even know who have bought my books. THANK YOU!!!

I hope my next novel, another Radwinter story, Earthquake will be out in May… watch this space!

… and if you haven’t read any of my stories, here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

Biscuits

The world is full of biscuits these days, there are even shops which just sell biscuits – ok, so actually they call them cookies, but in essence they are biscuits. My mum was a great cook and baker, and there was always something in the cake tins which she had made – and not just cake also scones and buns, but apart from Viennese whirls and melting moments (which we called cookies) there were no biscuits. We did have packet biscuits sometimes at home, not often it’s true, but we might have jammy dodgers, or custard creams or even occasionally chocolate Bourbons. perhaps home biscuit-making wasn’t popular, maybe there weren’t the recipes available, maybe for some reason she just didn’t make them.

A recipe I’m sure would have been popular in our house is for walnut and date biscuits; dates were an ingredient we always had at home – they were sold in solid blocks of compressed fruit ( we also had boxes of single plump dates, but that was only at Christmas time) The blocks of date were cut or shaved and the fruit used in puddings, cakes and desserts – and also, when we visited my aunty who was on a very limited income and lived a bedsit – date rolls! Date rolls were small bridge rolls, split, buttered and filled with slivers of dried dates.

The main variety of nut when I was a child was the peanut, and they were sold either in their shells, or in their red skins, or roasted and salted. Other shelled nuts were used throughout the year in baking, mainly walnuts and almonds, but also occasionally Brazils and hazelnuts. At Christmas there would be nets of fresh nuts, what a treat – although my grandfather who had spent some time in Manaus,  always said Brazil nuts weren’t fresh because the nuts didn’t come down the Amazon until the end of January.

Her is the recipe:

Walnut and date biscuits:

  • 180 g flour
  • 180 g butter
  • 350 g castor sugar
  • 225 g chopped walnuts ( plus some whole ones for decoration)
  • 1 egg
  • 350 g chopped dates (I like them in fairly big pieces)
  • ½ tsp vanilla essence
  • ½ tsp bicarb dissolved in boiling water (I  just use self-raising flour as I don’t like that bicarb tang)
  1. cream butter and sugar until pale and fluffy
  2. mix in the egg and vanilla
  3. mix in the rest of the ingredients and you will have quite a sticky mixture
  4. drop spoonfuls onto a greased and line baking tray, flattening slightly (I use a fork)
  5. decorate with the walnut halves and bake at 180° C, 350°F, gas mark 4 for about 12 mins until golden brown

My featured image is of my grandpa who lived in Manaus for a while; I’m sure he would love these biscuits – with string black tea!

Pre-launch reread through

Having decided that my next e-book, Lucky Portbraddon will come out on Monday, 12th September, and having been through it goodness knows how many times, I suddenly had a crisis of confidence as I realised I’ve not done what I always do with my books before sending them out into the big wide world, I haven’t read it aloud to myself!

One of the great things about self-publishing through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing on Amazon) is that it really is all your own work; one of the disadvantages is that you don’t have any editor other than yourself, and if you’ve written the work, it is really difficult to be objective enough to spot any mistakes. However wonderful spell-check is, it only does so much… and quite often the so much isn’t the right ‘so much’…

I am lucky that I have a dear husband who reads my stories for me; he is great at spotting spelling, punctuation,grammar mistakes, and missing words, and continuity glitches or not fully explained things. However, some things which need changing are perfectly correct in every way, except maybe it’s the wrong choice of word, or too much or not enough emphasis, or it becomes apparent that a name isn’t quite right, or a description doesn’t actually suit the character… only the writer can see these things.

But how to see them? How to find them? The words are so familiar, that it is really difficult to stand back sufficiently. I have several things I usually do. I read the whole text from the computer screen; I download it onto my own Kindle and read it there; I read it backwards, last chapter, penultimate chapter, antepenultimate (last but two) chapter, preantepenultimate (last but three) chapter, propreantepenultimate chapter, and so on… (I’ve learnt some new words!)

The best thing of all is to read it aloud to myself; not mumbling away under my breath, but actually reading it as if I have an audience there listening to me. This of all methods is the best, and I’m sure, picks up most mistakes – even tiny ones like missing commas, missed capitals or capitals in the wrong place, a need for italics…

Why haven’t I read Lucky Portbraddon out loud? Because it is so long – this is no excuse! …I wondered whether I should… then I decided I wouldn’t… I  thought again that maybe I ought to… and then felt I’d checked it enough – read it through twice on the screen and three times on my Kindle…

But now, sixty hours before it leaves me, I have realised that I must, I actually must, read it aloud… even if I have to stay up all night, I actually have to read it aloud. So over the last couple of hours, I’ve started… and I was justified in this decision because I have already spotted some micro-errors; some wrong words which no-one else would realise, some punctuation mistakes which I know eagle-eyed readers will see… except now they won’t because I’ve changed them!

Here is a link to my other novels, if you haven’t read them yet you can find them here:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_noss_1?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden

 

A week today!!

I’m excited (and very relieved) to announce that a week today my next novel, Lucky Portbraddon will be available from Amazon as an e-book! I started writing it over ten years ago, having had the idea of it for longer, and finished the first draft about five years ago; it sat on my virtual bookshelf until earlier this year when I set about editing it – a much bigger undertaking than I realised!

I’m doing the last little checks, I’ve chosen the cover and am just tweaking that too, and I am just getting ready for the launch! It’s a relief in a way – but I shall be so sorry to say goodbye to my characters, the Portbraddon family! Once they are out there on people’s Kindles, they are independent – like a load of children going off to school and away from their parents.

The Portbraddons are a big family of cousins; the reader gets to know them through a visitor who is also meeting them for the first time – she’s lost her contact lenses so they are all a bit blurry and she only identifies them a few at a time, which I hope, will help the reader properly identify them. Some names don’t appear until much later!

Here Ismène meets a couple of the wives: Even without her contact lenses and eyes sore from cold, she could see that the woman was very beautiful, her golden hair held back with a blue Alice band and falling over her shoulders, tumbling down her breast… “I’m Alison, Ally, I’m Alex’s wife…” Like Alice in Wonderland, the blond hair, the blue hairband.
The door opened to the other two women and their names came to her, Ruby and Carla. Ruby in a high-necked red sweater with auburn hair, easy to remember Ruby in red and even with her blurry vision Ismène could see her ready smile, an easy person to like.

At dinner she meets the rest of the family, and again I give descriptions first before names to try and help the reader: …a massive woman in black with a wild mane of ebony hair… The man sitting next to her made conversation, a blurry face, bearded and with blue eyes…

Some of the characters, the children for the cousins are not ‘introduced’ until much later in the book, once the reader has, I hope, established the main players.

Next Monday, 12th september, you’ll find Lucky Portbraddon here, with the rest of my novels:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_6?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C141