Checklist 2 – how to self-publish on Amazon

As I’ve mentioned, a friend and I have picked up the challenge to try and write blogs on seventy-three different subjects. I am just working my way down the list, he is picking his topics at random. Yesterday I wrote about checklists; I produced a checklist for self-editing a book, forgetting completely that I had written about self-editing in another of the 73! Doh!!

So, to be fair, I am going to write about another checklist, this time I am writing about how to self-publish on Amazon

  • set up an Amazon account – this is easy, at the bottom of the Amazon page, under ‘Make money with us’, is a link ‘independently publish with us’
  • you should arrive at a page titled ‘bookshelf’ and there is a box which says ‘create a new book’ with a choice of paperback or kindle – choose which you want (you can always do the other one later!)
  • I am going to follow the set-up for a paperback, but it is equally easy to set-up for Kindle
  • You will be taken to a page where you enter the details
  • Language – the language you are publishing in…  I publish in English but there are plenty of languages to choose from
  • Title and subtitle – you write in your title, if you have a sub-title put that in its own box, if you don’t have a subtitle leave it blank
  • Series – if you think you might write a series, put in the title of the whole series – for example for my Radwinter series I put ‘Radwinter’ and then the volume number and the volume title
  • if you are doing this for the first time where the next box asks for edition number, it will be 1. If you edit or revise your text, then it will be a subsequent number
  • The next box is for author – and that is you; if you are writing with a different name, put your writing name in here
  • under that is another box for contributors – and there is a drop down menu which includes such things as ‘editor’, illustrator’, etc. I am shortly going to publish an anthology with two friends, so their names go in there and they are both credited as ‘author’. You can add as many people as you like
  • the next text box is for a description – this is what the prospective reader will see when s/he comes across your masterpiece on Amazon. You want to make it as intriguing and interesting as possible!
  • the next check is for copyright and publishing rights – tick as appropriate (there are helpful explanations if you’re not sure!)
  • Next you have to think of seven words or phrases to describe your potential best-seller. For our anthology to be we used: poem, short story, creative non-fiction, polemic, geology, science fiction, euphoric writing
  • The next choice is of category, and there is an impressive selection to choose from – you can choose two – these are things like fiction/non-fiction/poetry etc
  • The last question on this first page ass if you have ever used CreateSpace… I haven’t so I didn’t have to answer any further questions
  • The next page continues first of all by checking if you need an ISBN number; Amazon will assign you one if you don’t have your own already
  • Then you can if you wish, set your own publication date
  • for a paperback you have a choice of type of paper, cover and size
  • You then upload your manuscript – it is as easy as attaching a document to an email; it may take some time if it is a very long book! When I say some time, I mean time in minutes not hours! Enough time to make a cup of tea.
  • Once you have manuscript uploaded then you can design your cover – if you already have one, upload that (I’ve not done this, I have just used Amazon’s own formats) This is quite tricky – not in the doing of it, but in the choosing of the right style, colours, pictures, the etc – trying to make sue you have got it right!!
  • The next step is to preview it, where you have a virtual book on the screen in front of you and you are able to edit and adjust… If you change your manuscript, you have to upload it again, but that is no problem
  • The last page you have to do is to decide on price, publication details, various admin details… it is very straightforward, and there are drop-down boxes explaining and guiding you all the way.
  • Good luck!!

Maybe this is not so much a check-list as a guide… well, whatever it is, I hope it is helpful!

Here are my books self-published on Amazon:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_4_6?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+e%2Caps%2C419&crid=1RW9VEPBQPRLE

and a direct link to my Radwinter series, including the first paperback (more to follow!)

https://www.amazon.co.uk/RADWINTER-5-Book-Series/dp/B072HTG366/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1507662328&sr=8-5&keywords=lois+elsden

Respect your readers

I’m always very ready to accept ideas or to listen to good suggestions – for most things, but writing in particular! I write on my own (although I belong to a very helpful and friendly writing group, we share specifically written pieces rather than discuss on going projects!) and I self-publish so I don’t have an editor (but I do have a proof reader, plus kind friends who give honest criticism) … so any advice or suggestions I can find elsewhere I give serious consideration to!

I came across this headline:

5 Essential Pieces of Advice You Need Before You Publish

I immediately read it through, and although some of the advice was more relevant to me than other bits, it was all sound. The ‘5 Essential Pieces of Advice’ are:

  • Editing is VERY important
  •  Marketing can’t be avoided!
  • Reach out to other authors for advice
  • Research publishing – what’s a good fit for you?
  • Respect your readers, and the craft itself

This is the order in which they appear, but if I was to put them in order of importance to me – just my thoughts, you understand, they would be like this:

  1. Respect your readers, and the craft itself 
  2. Editing is VERY important
  3. Reach out to other authors for advice
  4. Research publishing – what’s a good fit for you?
  5.  Marketing can’t be avoided!

I was thinking about the first point – writing is about the audience as well as the writer! it took me a long time to understand the importance of ‘audience’ a very long time.

Here is something I wrote while ago but I think it is still very true:

I made a commented recently about the importance of not falling in love with my characters… and I had some great comments which I really appreciated, but it made me realise I need to make it clearer what I mean. I sometimes think that writers, particularly of a series of novels, that they become so close to their characters that they are no longer objective about them and become almost indulgent. I don’t wish to criticise P.D. James  heaven forbid! She actually is an old girl of the school I attended in Cambridge and a wonderful writer, a great writer. I, along with other people  will never forget the way she took apart the Director General of the BBC, Mark Thompson, when she interviewed him in 2009… however… however… I think she is too indulgent with her detective, Adam Dalgliesh. I haven’t read her latest Dalgliesh mysteries so I may need to retract this statement!
Someone commented that a fiction writer is the creators and so makes the rules… I suppose that is true to a certain extent, especially for great writers… However, but I’m just an ordinary writer, a story-teller, and I want people to read my work so like it or not, to a certain extent I have to conform to a certain structure and convention. It’s the same as if I were a performer, I would want people to watch me, so maybe I would have to compromise in order to get that audience. As a writer, especially an unknown writer seeking an audience I might sometimes have to adjust what I write to catch people’s interest, and then sustain it… and yet I must continue to be  my own person and true to what I want to do.
I do love my characters, I really do, in fact there is one who I am almost ‘in love’ with! If you have read my three published novels you might like to guess who that is! I guess what I mean by not falling in love with them is that I should also try and see them objectively so they behave within the context of the plot in a consistent and believable way. maybe I should have used the word indulgent, perhaps I believe I shouldn’t be too indulgent with them.
My characters are important to me, really important, they live with me after all! They continue on with their lives long after the story has ended… just because there is nothing more for my readers doesn’t mean the characters don’t continue their lives and adventures!
As a reader I love it when characters stay with me…  and so they do when I write; I just don’t want to become too close to them!

In this piece I mention I’ve published three novels – well, I have now published twelve as e-readers, and one is available as a paperback. I would really appreciate your comments, and criticism, so here is a link:

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_1_8?url=search-alias%3Daps&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+els%2Caps%2C140&crid=3A6GAQYMCT6PP

Here is a link to the article ‘5 Essential Pieces of Advice You Need Before You Publish’ – I really recommend you read it!:

http://services4authors.com/2017/05/23/5-essential-pieces-of-advice-you-need-to-hear-before-you-publish/

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

 

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

 

Exciting news! I’m nearly there!

It has been a long struggle… a much longer struggle than I expected, but I am delighted to share the news, that apart from a summing up sort of chapter when everything is explained – at a tea party in a Tudorbethan house, the first draft of my next novel Earthquake is finished! Yay! Hurrah!

I first wrote about the Radwinter family in 2013, published as an e-book for Kindle in February 2014; I had intended it as a stand alone novel about a family of four brothers. All my other books are without sequels, and I had no intention of writing one for any of my stories… however the Radwinter tales turned out somewhat differently.

The first novel, the eponymous ‘Radwinter’ followed a genealogical investigation into the paternal line of the Radwinter family and having come to a satisfactory conclusion with the main character tracing their roots back to the beginning of the nineteenth century in what is now the Ukraine, I thought that was the end of that…

Except there was a maternal line… and so it seemed necessary to have follow-up to the story, but this time an exploration of their maternal line, the Magicks. The main character Thomas, was asked by a friend to help find her missing daughter… he had some success in his mission – he found all about the history of the Magick family, and helped his friend too… ‘Magick’ was published in the autumn of 2014 so surely that was it now…

Well it would have been… except Thomas had found all about the distant family, the Radwinters in eastern Europe, the Magicks in Cornwall and Australia but there was a bit of a puzzle about the more recent generations… his friend’s missing daughter had still not been found, other people needed his help to solve odd little non-criminal mysteries… and so ‘Raddy and Syl’ got written and published in spring 2015.

The final part of the Radwinter story, Beyond Hope completed what had been discovered about Raddy and Syl – Edward and Sylvia and that came out in January last year. The final story…

I did a lot of writing last year and completed and published other things, but the Radwinters were still very active… and the next (I daren’t say final) story of their lives has taken up my time for the last few months. I have been very busy with all sorts of other things, including being away in Tasmania and Australia for over six weeks, but now, tonight, I can finally say… the first draft is done! Yes, there is the summing up chapter and the tea party, but I have to go through the rest of the story before I write that. If I am honest, then I think publication day will be in April… possibly before… watch this space!

I hope to have some other exciting news about my books soon too… just looking at the details of a new venture!

If you have missed my Radwinter stories, or any of my others, here is a link:

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

… oh and now I have to think about a cover…

Uploading…

It’s been a tough and almost traumatic weekend here in my little writing room… As I have mentioned previously, my latest e-book, has had a long and quite challenging history.

  • 2004-2005 – ideas I’ve had for a while inspired by but not based on my own lovely family, and the stories my husband has told me of the bands he has been in the make-ups and break-ups, and bands I follow and go to watch – these ideas finally begin to find their way out of my head and onto the paper (well, computer screen)
  • 2010 – the story of the Portbraddon family is complete, but sits on my virtual shelf as I can find no-one to publish it
  • 2011 – I give up my day job to start writing full-time, and find out I can publish for free through Kindle Direct Publishing, and publish my first e-book, Farholm
  • 2011-2016 – I continue to publish off my virtual book shelf, but also write four completely new novels
  • 2016 – January I decide I have to start work on my Portbraddon novel, thinking it might be ready for early summer
  • 2016 – 12th September, I upload Lucky Portbraddon

This makes it sound like a smooth journey, especially as the novel was complete when I started editing it… it was quite a bumpy ride, for several reasons:

  • the book was far too long, over 300,00 words… it has been a slash and burn exercise to reduce it to a more manageable size
  • there was a whole back story, maybe 30-40 thousand words I had not included in the first draft which needed to be put in, in the right places, and within a context – this added to the total length, but I still pared it down, and now it’s about 190,000 words
  • a cover had to be designed – yes, KDP will help you design your own… maybe I should try this next time, but for my Portbraddon book I had a design in mind and eventually got it right (apart from the font… I may have to change the font if I put out a second edition)
  • I did a heck of a lot of editing, reading the whole thing through on the computer four times, on my own Kindle three times, plus all the spell-checks, eradicating too many repeated words (I noticed too late that ‘crass/crassly’ figured rather too frequently)
  • at the last-minute – like, three days before I had announced it would be published, I decided to read it through one more time out loud. I always do this, but this time, put off by the length, I hadn’t… Lesson learned… note to self, however long a book is, read it out loud, it will throw up so many errors! I stayed up till 2, Friday, Saturday and Sunday, I was up at 7 over the weekend… I got through quantities of tea and throat pastilles, but I did it.

So at 2 o’clock this morning, all was ready all done, all I had to do was press ‘upload’… which I did…

Technical error… what? Technical error and the blasted thing wouldn’t upload, no matter how many times I tried it, and tried different ways and saving the document into different files. Disheartened, I left it, went to bed and got up this morning to try again… technical error… and by this time I’m remembering all the little things I had realised over night I wanted to change, and wondering whether I should…

We had to go out briefly, and when I came back I tried something different… and thank goodness! All is well and shortly you will be able to read Lucky Portbraddon!

Here is a link to my other books, and you may be one of the first to read my new e-book!

https://www.amazon.co.uk/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_c_2_11?url=search-alias%3Ddigital-text&field-keywords=lois+elsden&sprefix=lois+elsden%2Caps%2C144

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