I’m enjoying my journey as a self-published author very much and that’s partly because one of the great things about the self-publishing community is how supportive indie authors are of each other. We often compare notes, and offer each other advice. But I don’t really know many traditionally published authors, so I was delighted to be introduced recently to Paul Finch, whose novel Stalkershas been in the Kindle top 100 for over a hundred days. We had a chat about the similarities and differences in our experiences.
RA: We are both lucky enough to have been in the Kindle top twenty recently, but we became bestsellers by quite different routes I think. Would you tell me a bit about how Stalkers came to be published?
PF: The idea behind Stalkers came from one of my brain-storming sessions, where I simply devote a day or two to hatching high-concept ideas and jotting them down. Not necessarily ideas aimed at any particular project … just anything that strikes me as the basis for a good story, be it for a novel, a novella, a short story or even a screenplay. Stalkers originally began life as an idea entitled The Nice Guys Club. It just hit me one evening…this idea about the most terrible kind of secret club. At first I thought it would only work as a horror story – it was too dark to imagine it falling into the realms of crime or thriller fiction. But I’d been massively impressed by US cop shows like The Shield and The Wire, and have long felt that we are painfully lacking in this kind of stuff over here. In all honesty, you have to go back to The Sweeney to find that kind of edgy, gritty, fast-moving crime series in a British setting. Several times I’d spoken to my agent on this same subject, and he’d always responded: “if you can give me one, I’ll try to sell it”. The Nice Guys Club seemed a perfect fit for this new police hero I was evolving – an affable but isolated character, hard-boiled as hell, and loaded with baggage – but it was also obvious that it would be near enough impossible to place this story on television; the subject matter was simply too disturbing.
As the debate about traditional vs indie publishing goes on – and probably will do for some considerable time – it was great to hear from one author who has experienced both. Author David Treanor has kindly given us his perspective on the two sides of the publishing coin.
In my old life as a BBC journalist I would occasionally have to interview people for jobs. I’d take home a stack of application forms — maybe a-hundred or more — and try to draw up a shortlist of twelve. I used to like it when people made spelling mistakes. It meant I could rule them out right away. But I know I didn’t always get it right. Then would come a couple of days of interviews. Sometimes I felt that half the people I’d seen would be great at the job. But there was only one vacancy. So I did my best. But I will have made mistakes again.
I feel traditional publishing is like that. Far too many submissions, far too few opportunities to get into print. And those taking the decisions will have made mistakes. We all know the stories of the best sellers rejected a dozen times.
I came across this amazing resource for writers a couple of weeks ago, and I contacted Elizabeth S Craig to see if she would be kind enough to pay a visit and tell us all about the Writer’s Knowledge Base. If you don’t know about this, you need to visit the site and bookmark it, because it is crammed with really useful information. We agreed to swap posts this week. I have written one on her site for Indie Authors : Getting those All-Important Reviews and you might want to check that out too.
Here’s what Elizabeth has to tell us.
A Free Tool for Writers—the Writer’s Knowledge Base—by Elizabeth S. Craig
The Writer’s Knowledge Base, or WKB, is a free search engine that’s specifically for writers. For years, I got frustrated with Google when I was trying to find articles on the writing craft. There were tons of writing blogs out there, but these individual blogs, frequently with fantastic tips for writers, were getting buried by other, non-relevant sites.
If I were trying to find an article on POV, internal conflict, scene structure, or dialogue? The highest ranking posts in Google for any given writing search were frequently either an assignment that a college professor has posted (an assignment on the topic, not a resource), or a vague article by a content mill site that didn’t address the topic in any kind of depth.
Since reaching the coveted number 1 spot in the Amazon charts, I have been asked on an almost hourly basis for tips by other indie authors. I have tried to respond to these, but it occurred to me that the best thing that I could do would be to create a whole series of blog posts on the subject, and try to get feedback from other authors too.
Can I start by saying that I am not an expert in any of the fields that will be discussed. I am an amateur in every sense of the word. So I will be talking about the process that I went through – without any guarantees and in the sure knowledge that there are people out there who know more than I do about each and every step in this journey. I will reiterate this every five minutes, so that nobody is under any illusions!
I was delighted to be able to interview Alan McDermott, author of the fast-paced thriller Gray Justice. I read Alan’s book some time ago, and thoroughly enjoyed it. It has been receiving amazing reviews, and his responses to my interview questions give a real insight into his thinking.
Gray Justice is Alan’s debut novel, and tells the story of Tom Gray, an ex-soldier running a successful business until his world falls apart. His young son is killed by a joy rider and his wife, overcome with grief, takes her own life months later. When his son’s killer walks free from court, Gray decides that the current justice system needs an overhaul, and kidnaps five serial offenders. Parading them on the internet, he lets the people of Britain decide if they should live or die, and the government are powerless to stop him. Gray believes he has the perfect plan, right down to the last detail, but one man travels four thousand miles to prove him wrong in an explosive climax. continue reading …
I recently wrote a few blog posts to help some of the people that I had met on forums to get to grips with Twitter. I said from the start that I am no expert, but over the last ten weeks or so since I launched Only the Innocent I have learned a lot more about Twitter which I’ve tried to share with other indie publishers. I got some great feedback to the earlier posts, and some very interesting comments – which have cast a slightly different light on things.
I have concluded (and am happy to be disagreed with) that as authors, we have to wear three hats.
In terms of Twitter, these are almost mutually exclusive.
In the last post, we managed to get rid of all the unnecessary formatting – the stuff that e-readers hate. And now, if you haven’t been using styles, you will have ended up with a whole mass of text without any apparent breaks. So we can fix that now SO easily.
I’ll give you a step by step breakdown with explanation, and then a summary that might be quicker and easier to follow. Just remember, this is only the first phase of editing for Word uploads only – there’s a lot more to come! Continue reading …
Just to reiterate some of the information from the last post, there are several stages to getting your book ready to publish. It’s not just a matter of writing it, and then uploading it. At least, not if you want to be successful (and I have yet to discover how successful I will be!). The main phases are :
writing a good book (obviously);
proof reading until you are blind – some notes on this below;
preparing your social networking sites, at least in a rough format so that you can add links within your book – you don’t want to be doing this later. This is covered briefly in the previous post, but there will be more on getting the most of your social networking sites later;
preparing all the other stuff you are going to need – photos, blurbs, book cover images – more below;
formatting your book so that it can be easily uploaded;
This is the new blog of Rachel Abbott – a writer, and I’m just about to publish my first book using various e-book formats.
I previously had a blog, but first of all the design just simply disappeared, and then to my horror the blog was hacked and filled with porn. It was quarantined by Google, and the best outcome seemed to be to delete and start all over again.
The next blog will be about the start of the e-book process, and I hope to update the blog constantly to record the ease or otherwise of getting the perfect e-book.