writing

Writing process? – part six – Publishing preparation

So, this is my step by step for self-publishing. It’s New Zealand based, because that’s what I have experience with. This is the stuff you can do up front, and will make the actually upload process very quick and streamlined when you get to it.

Get yourself an ISBN. In NZ you can get one for free from the National Library here. It’s free to issue but you will need to give them a copy of your book for legal deposit when it’s done, they’ll send the form, etc with the ISBN. Easy!

You’ll need cover art. There’s lots of options here, there are artists on Fiverr and on Facebook. Or you can check the credits on the books with awesome covers and find artists that way, or ask a fellow indie author who has covers you love for a referral. Many, many options. You’ll need to know going in if you’re publishing ebook only or paperback too, because there’ll often be an extra cost for a wraparound paperback cover.

Decide where to publish through. Most authors, myself included, go for Amazon. Amazon is a great choice because it has the widest audience and it has Kindle Unlimited, which is great for certain genre of books. Lots of romance readers are in KU and you get paid per page read, which can be quite lucrative.

You can also go ‘wide’ and publish with Kobo, Apple Books, etc. This is particularly easy if you use an online distributor. I use Draft2Digital for this because they upload books to library wholesalers, which gives me more options to sell. You can also do each website manually, but I like saving time, even if D2D take a little cut of sales.

Write your blurb aka the absolute worst part of the novel creation process. The best advice I’ve seen for this is to look around at blurbs in your genre, which sound interesting. Work out what it is about the blurb which sounds interesting and then do your own version. No copy pasting here, that’s gross and bad manners. Instead, look at what’s grabbing you. Look at what makes you interested, and then draw out the most interesting, hooky things about your book’s plot. I absolutely hate blurbs, but they do get easier with time.

Write your endmatter. It’s up to you what to put in the back of the book. Links to your author social media, links to other books or media you’ve got online, a hook for your next book. A preorder link for your next book, if you’re really onto it. A dedication and a little bio of yourself is nice, too.

Copyright page! Something I didn’t even think of until I was getting my manuscript formatted. You need to make a copyright page to go in the front. There are standard ones you can copy paste online and enter in your own information, dates and ISBN. Just google it!

Register with Payoneer or a similar third party banking/payment service. I like Payoneer because it’s super simple to use, they don’t take much of a fee, and they give you a US and a UK bank account number (among others!) This is great, because if you register on Amazon with a New Zealand bank account number, they won’t wire you any money until you’ve earned past a certain threshold. (I think $100USD). Giving them a US bank account cuts that threshold out, and you’ll get paid a lot faster. They also convert the currency for you when you get paid out.

Register on KDP – assuming you’re going with Amazon, Kindle Direct Publishing requires a separate registration/activation from your regular Amazon account. They’ll ask you some tax questions, and you can register your shiny new US bank account number from payoneer with them. Then once they’ve processed your account you’ll get a shiny ‘add your book’ page:

If you’re relatively sure of how long it’ll take you to get everything ready, you could set up a preorder and share the link around. Preorders are great because they give your book a boost on release day. However, don’t set one if there’s any uncertainty about how long it’ll take you to do. You don’t need to upload a manuscript to do a preorder, just a blurb and ideally a cover image. Amazon will give you a countdown for when to upload your manuscript so it’s processed in time.

Okay, I think that’s enough steps for one blog post. Join me again soon for part two: the actual uploading of the thing, and what to do afterwards.

Previously in this series:
Part One – Starting out
Part Two – Characters
Part Three – Actually writing
Part Four – Sticking to it
Part Five – Editing and redrafting

Marketing, writing

Social Media for authors part one: Your voice, your brand

This is the first in my advice series for building customer engagement with readers as an author.

Disclaimer: I’m still very new at this business in particular so I expect this advice will date quickly. That said, I have been doing professional social media for various companies for almost a decade on and off and I know a bit about engagement.

Before you do anything else, you need to think a bit about how you want to come across to a total stranger. You need to plan your brand.

I’ll admit, if someone asks me what my brand is, my mind blanks out. I don’t like the idea of reducing my entire self to a few words, and I hate the idea of selling myself as an idea. But when it came to a pen name it became easier for me to get my head around it.

When I came up with Jaxon Knight for the Fairyland romances, I knew I could leverage off my love for theme parks, fluffy happy stories, romance and food, as those are all things which feature in those books.

For a more hypothetical example, if I have a pen name to write science fiction stories about spaceship battles in space, then that pen name should have a brand concerned with military tactics, spaceships, physics and all things space. If I was to be posting on social media for that pen name, I could do things like retweet NASA and share photos from the International Space Station. Basically you want to connect to your readers on the things that they’re into and you are too.

In terms of politics, it’s important to decide early on what you’re willing to get into. A lot of authors will recommend not being political at all, just stick to the books and the fun stuff. I think this is impossible, frankly. Nothing you write or release exists outside of politics. The choices you make around what to write and what not to, is political. But that doesn’t mean you want to go on twitter and start fights with politicians as your author persona. Just be mindful of what you choose to share.

I, personally, am okay with complaining about transphobia as my author persona, because I write trans and gender diverse characters, and if people are following me for my books then they’ll know that. If someone who disagrees with me unfollows me as a result, that’s okay because they probably wouldn’t like my books anyway. The upside is that if there’s someone, somewhere who looks up to me as an author and identifies as trans or gender diverse, then they’ll know I’ve got their back. Trust is super important.

Keep your voice authentic to you. Don’t make up a bunch of lies that you have to keep track of, because people will catch on, catch you out and assume you have something to hide. Trust lost! You don’t have to be posting photos of yourself and sharing details of your life, but share enough to show you’re a real person. For example, my Jaxon Knight instagram features a lot of food I’ve made, because I put a lot of food and cooking scenes in my Jaxon Knight books.

So what I’m saying, basically, is that you should think a little about how you want to come across before you get stuck into social media as an author. Think about the kinds of things you can share on your social media, decide how much of your true self you’ll share and what you’ll omit from your real life, and have a think about politics as well.

Take a look at what some of your favourite authors are doing, on their facebook pages and twitters you’ll notice it’s not just ads for their books. They’ll be sharing articles and retweeting people etc.

Take a look at what other authors in your genre are doing as well. Obviously, don’t just copy them, but the more you immerse yourself in the community the more you’ll get an instinctive feel for how to interact in a way that works. Watch and learn, and then do your own version of it.

Don’t fake it, if you don’t actually care about the stuff you share, it will read as dull and flat. Be yourself, but be a refined, targeted version of yourself.

Phew, okay. Apparently I have quite a lot to say about brand and voice, despite finding those terms a little cringey. Please comment if you have any insights or extra stuff to add! In this series I’m going to do some specific Twitter, Facebook and Instagram advice and whatever else occurs to me. If you’d like to see me tackle something in particular please let me know!

Writers, writing

Guest post: Mariëlle S. Smith on her new release

Thanks to Mariëlle for coming onto my blog to talk about her new release. I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader’s copy and it’s amazing, a great book – lots of interesting prompts and self-reflection. Highly recommend this one!

What is the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner about? 

52 Weeks of Writing is a journal and planner for writers that will help you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and the goals you’ve set for yourself. Every week, it offers questions, writing prompts, and exercises that are designed to help you dig deep and find out the truths about why you aren’t the writer you want to be yet. 

How is the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner different from everything else out there? 

What’s different is that it doesn’t focus on a specific goal, such as becoming better at marketing your books, or planning your social media channels for the year ahead. 52 Weeks of Writing is all about your personal wishes, needs, and goals. It provides a safe space where you can figure out what it is you truly want (once you stop looking at what everyone else is doing), and how to get there considering the realities of your day-to-day life. We all have different aims and desires and none of us carry exactly the same responsibilities. This author journal and planner will help you focus on your situation and on what you want to achieve in this lifetime. 

Why did you create the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner

52 Weeks of Writing reflects everything I’ve learned over the past several years as a writing coach, editor, and writer. As a writing coach, I know that coaches don’t come cheap and that not everyone has the means to hire one. Of course, no book can stand-in for a human coach, but this author journal and planner is my attempt to bridge the gap between hiring a writing coach and trying to figure it out all on your own the best I can. 

Who will benefit from the 52 Weeks of Writing Author Journal and Planner?

Writers who are fed up with themselves and are ready to figure out once and for all why they keep getting in their own way. 

Get the ebook

Get the paperback

Are you ready to become the writer you were always meant to be? 
52 Weeks of Writing will get you cracking by making you plan, track, reflect on, and check in with your progress and goals an entire year long. 
52 Weeks of Writing will help you dig deep by offering questions and writing prompts designed to unravel whatever truths about your writing you’re ready for. 
52 Weeks of Writing will keep you inspired by delivering a thought-provoking writing quote every week. 

  • Do you struggle with setting goals that reflect your daily reality? 
  • Do you want to practise breaking goals down into manageable chunks? 
  • Would you like more insight into your writing habit(s) and figure out why you keep getting in your own way? 
  • And do you want to create a sustainable writing practise that honours your needs and desires as a writer? 

Then the 52 Weeks of Writing: Author Journal and Planner is for you. 

52 Weeks of Writing brings together every lesson Mariëlle S. Smith has learned as a writing coach and writer. Wary as she is of comparisonitis and unhealthy competition, this author journal and planner was designed to help writers develop and fine-tune a practice that works for them. 

If you’re ready to get out of your own way and become the writer you’re meant to be, pick up your copy of 52 Weeks of Writing today. 

About

Mariëlle S. Smith is a coach for writers and other creatives, an editor, (ghost) writer, and custom retreat organiser. Born in the Netherlands and raised by her Dutch mother and Scottish dad, she moved to the island of Cyprus in February 2019 to focus on her coaching, editing, and writing practice. 

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fiction, writing

SpecFicNZ podcast interviewed me!

I was recently interviewed by the SpecFicNZ podcast crew about writing, inspiration, RPGs and romance. This was a really fun interview to do, and I highly recommend you follow this podcast to learn more about New Zealand authors and what’s happening with speculative fiction.

https://specfic.nz/2019/10/20/episode-15-of-the-podcast-featuring-jamie-sands-is-now-live/

If you’re a fan or author of speculative fiction and based in New Zealand, go join in specficnz

Suburban Book of the Dead is available here and go here for my Jaxon Knight theme park romances.

writing

Recipe for Chaos now live!

Recipe for Chaos book cover

Recipe for Chaos

I’ve published another book! This is the third in my gay contemporary romance series, and it’s about Charlie, who has been in both previous books, and Max Jones – heir to the Fairyland theme park.

Writing this book, it was the first time that I had a character just take hold of the story and run off in his own direction. Max totally ignored my plans for the story beats and did his own thing, and consequences be damned! It was a lot of fun, if frustrating. I’ve had characters talk to me before, but I’ve never had any rebel quite so hard as Max did.

I’m very fond of both of these boys, and I got to introduce some fun new side characters as well. Plus we see a cameo of a fan favourite little girl from Rival Princes

Here’s the blurb:

The recipe is simple:
Charlie cooks an amazing meal
Charlie impresses heir to the theme park Max Jones
Charlie gets a promotion and a dash of control over his kitchen

But the perfect recipe becomes unpalatable with one wrong ingredient and Max Jones is not behaving how Charlie expected…

Max is meant to inherit the entire Fairyland theme park but he just wants to party, have fun and bed as many people as possible. That is, until he meets Charlie and falls for him so hard he can’t even finish the delicious meal.

Charlie doesn’t have time for clubs or helicopter flights over the city, but Max is accustomed to getting what he wants, and he wants Charlie.

Featuring one part Billionaire, one part sensible chef, six cups of attraction, a generous dose of snark and a freshly prepared Happy Ever After.

Buy it now!
Or buy book number one: Rival Princes
Book number two: Mischief and Mayhem