Here’s my latest publication. It started as a patreon project, and now it’s a book!
It’s a little bit spooky It’s a little bit odd It’s a little bit silly Even when it’s not
I’ve found it very hard to articulate exactly what this book is – it’s a short story collection, but it’s in the format of a collection of clippings from a gossip magazine from another universe.
It includes gossip about the Royals, who are a family of homicidal fey. Personality quizzes, Horoscopes and letters to the psychic Agony Aunt Cressida Flittersocks. Plus special interest pieces about tweens manifesting superpowers and an expose about family portrait attacks as well as lots more.
In short, it’s what happens when I let my imagine run wild. There’s some horror, some comedy, some pure nonsense and something to make you think. I love it, personally, and I’m sure people who share my love for silliness will enjoy it as well.
Some of the questions to the agony aunts were submitted my users and friends and my dear friend Ellen was an invaluable sounding board throughout the project.
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.
In all my research about how to make money from writing, I’ve learned the term ‘rapid release‘. This term just means, don’t make readers wait an age for your next book. Put them out regularly so people can get momentum from reading one, then the next, then the next.
I figured I could do that, since I had three manuscripts already drafted* which are all in the same series and are interconnected. I had the start of the fourth book started and ideas percolating for more.
(*Careful readers will notice I said drafted and not ‘ready’)
Here’s where I risked failing: too short a time between books.
Or rather, too short a time to edit. I’m a fast editor when I have the time and the right frame of mind. And giving myself just three and a half weeks would have been fine if that had been the only thing going on in my life. As it was I went to Rarotonga for eleven days in that time, and in Rarotonga wifi is rare and expensive. We had enough to be online maybe five minutes a day, and downloading large files of edits on Google docs wasn’t an option.
Obviously it wasn’t all just on me either, my editor has a life and other demands on her which means she can’t just hand over pages when I want them – and I wouldn’t expect her to! She’s a great communicator, and we managed time frames just fine. It was just tight.
What it meant was, as soon as I got back from Rarotonga (July 17th) I treated editing as my full time job. I’d already done 50ish pages of the manuscript, so it was 130ish pages I had to get through, and my deadline was July 23rd, which was the last possible day I can upload to Amazon and not mess up the pre-order.
A tight time frame to be sure, but doable. Just not without stress. But I love my editor, she makes her corrections and notes clear and easy to understand, she gets what I’m going for, she cares about my characters and she inserts teaching moments in her comments. Seriously, it’s brilliant.
So sitting down and committing myself to editing full time was easy enough for two days until…
I got a cold.
Let me tell you the last time I had a cold… it was probably this time last year. I have largely been outside office spaces, and resting well and avoiding sickness making places, and this means I just haven’t caught colds. When you haven’t had a cold for a while, getting a cold makes you extra pathetic. Well, maybe it just does that to me.
So I was in that weird space where making myself a hot drink seems too hard, and I’m crying so hard over the new Queer Eye episodes that I can’t breathe through my nose, and my eyes hurt from behind and I’m still focusing everything I have on editing.
Oh, also I had to do a full day shift at zinefest… where I needed to be bubbly and interact with people and hold my own head up.
The good news is I got the editing done, and I’m confident that the story of Cody, the sarcastic and mischievious security guard, and Dean, the manic pixie dream boy who runs a roller coaster, is a good one. They’re sweet and funny and there’s some darkness and some triumph, and there’s two recipes in back in case anyone was curious…
and Monday was entirely spent on formatting and checking ISBNs and Anna going through and re-formatting all the text conversations by hand because you have to have those in san serif but Vellum the formatting software doesn’t handle that automatically…
But it’s all done. It’s uploaded, and as soon as I get the paperback cover from my cover artist, the paperback will be available as well and I can’t wait for people to read it!
So my lesson is that rapid release is all well and good, but maybe be further along in the process than I was before you set up your pre-orders. Life gets in the way, and bodies are fragile. But having a good system of people around you is absolutely invaluable.
So, in conclusion, I’ve set the release date for book three to 21st of September, so instead of one month I have two months to edit and update and format and do all the things to get it ready to launch.
So both times I have published a book I’ve had some Pretty Big Feels over it . I’m a big believer in emotional honesty – every time I’ve shared things which make me sound weak, or an ass or are embarrassing I get really good feedback. The more people understand that they’re not alone with feeling weak, like an ass or embarrassed or anxious the better, I think.
Mostly at the point my book goes live, or the night before, I get a wave of anxiety.
Where are these feelings coming from?
A lot of places.
I start feeling like I’m not good enough – that despite positive feedback from multiple beta readers and my editor – what if this book sucks and I actually can’t write?
What if despite my writing being okay, no one buys it ever? (This is regardless of any preorders )
What if people do buy it, and all rate it very low because I have inadvertantly written something super offensive/racist/terrible?
I’ve forgotten some vital step of the publishing process, what is it?
Some of this stems from a doubt that I should have good things, or that I should get what I want. I have a lot of trouble believing I should be ‘allowed’ to have what I want, due to various things in my past.
Any big anxiety is bound to bring up other emotions as well. I might start feeling lonely because I haven’t seen X friend for a while, or that people don’t like me and are actively avoiding me. I might start thinking about shitty times in my past and revisit all those old hurts and emotions because y’know, why not?
This all manifests in stress, tension in my body, snappishness, feeling physically ill, heart racing, feeling miserable and a horrible temptation to pull the plug on the project before anyone can read it. (Again, this is regardless of however many beta-readers and ARC-readers I have already given it to).
So what do I do about it?
First, realising what’s going on helps. I don’t always connect the feeling with the cause right away, but if I sit and think about the emotions usually I can get there. Or I talk it through with my wife and she helps me find the connection.
Then it’s self care time. I make sure I’ve had something to drink (milo is good and comforting), something to eat, that my body is warm. Then I take a step back from the laptop and the process. Most likely I have done all the things I absolutely have to do and I’m just fussing. I can put the whole thing down and go off line.
Ideally I’d have a long hot bath, but I’m not currently living in a house with a bath so long hot shower is an okay substitute.
Early to bed. Or, if it’s really too early for bed, go get comfortable on top of bed with something to read. Catch up on comics, or whatever novel I’m reading at the time. Take my head somewhere else.
Going for a walk in the park usually makes me feel better but if I really need to get out of my head, I’ll do it with an audiobook or a walking meditation on headphones. Otherwise my brain might just keep on spiralling.
Reassurance is important as well. It’s hard to ask for – I don’t want to feel like a whiny needy annoyance – but looking back over past reviews or nice comments people have made can help. I even have a couple of pages in my bullet journal for nice things people have said that I want to remember.
My hope is that the more I do this self-publishing lark the easier it will get both in the actual process and emotionally.
Time will tell, but in the mean time, I remind myself that this is a great achievement. Part of me really tries not to believe this, because my Impostor Syndrome will fade if I believe it. I have to reassure myself and remind myself that I have come far.
My child self would be immensely proud to see the paperbacks of my books and hey, even if no one buys it, I got over that impostor syndrome wall and did it all the same.
Holy crap! I published another book! The eBook and paperback on Amazon
My first ever romance is live, and the second one’s on pre-order for the end of July, and the fourth is scheduled for the end of August… phew.
There are three golden rules for new recruits at Fairyland Theme Park:
1. No breaking character, even if you’re dying of heat exhaustion 2. Always give guests the most magical time 3. No falling in love.
Nate’s only been at work one day, and he’s already broken all three.
Fast-tracked into a Prince role, Nate’s at odds with Dash, the handsome not-so-charming prince who is supposed to be training him. Nate doesn’t know how he ended up on Dash’s bad side, but the broody prince sure is hot when he gets mad.
Dash has worked long and hard to play Prince Justice at Fairyland. Now, instead of focusing on his own performance, he is forced to train newbie Nate to be the perfect prince. Nate’s annoying ease with the guests coupled with his charm and good looks could dethrone Dash from his number one spot … so why does he secretly want to kiss him?
Fairyland heats up as sparks fly between the two rival princes. Will they get their fairytale romance before they’re kicked out of Fairyland for good?
Find out in this standalone MM contemporary romance by Jaxon Knight, set in an amusement park where fairytales can come true.