Tuesday, 28 June 2011

First small self-publishing steps

This Gipsy Moth sketch is an attempt to design a cover for my novel, called - wait for it! - Gipsy Moth. I might need some professional help!
I've been thinking over the questions that I asked last week:
I've decided to look for a package that produces the book in paperback, because I really want to have something to hold and say it's mine, and in ebook format so I can sell it on Amazon.
(Love Always by Harriet Evans arrived on Friday, and my daughter asked why I didn't have a Kindle. I showed her the lovely pink and blue flowery cover as it came out of the cardboard wrapper, flicked through the pages and smelt them. Umm, that's why I like paper books! But I don't mind selling e-ones to those who can't live without their Kindles!)
I think that 100 to 200 is a good number to have printed. Not too many to store, but still reducing the cost per book compared to having just a few done. I will have a go at marketing it myself. I don't know whether I can be as successful as Catherine Ryan Howard who, when I last looked, had sold thousands of copies of Mousetrapped since March 2010! But I'm certainly buying her book on self-publishing called Self-Printed.
One important thing I need is an ISBN number so my book can be ordered by bookshops and online - if I'm so lucky (!).
I still hope that I'm doing the right thing!

Monday, 27 June 2011

I loved 'Mousetrapped' by Catherine Ryan Howard!

I really loved Mousetrapped by Catherine Ryan Howard.
Last Wednesday, when I decided to self-publish my novel, I found Catherine Ryan Howard as a guest blogger on Talli Roland's blog. She was actually promoting Self-Printed, a guide to self-publishing, so I was very interested. But she also mentioned Mousestrapped, a non-fiction book describing her experiences working in Disney World, Florida, for eighteen months. I couldn't resist it, ordered it from Amazon, began it on Saturday and finished it in 30 degree Florida-like weather on Sunday afternoon.
I adore Disney World, and it was great to have a free visit, courtesy of Catherine's book. It was great to revisit the Kennedy Space Center too! I managed to see a Shuttle lift off several years ago. We left Orlando very early in the morning and arrived to park by Indian River just as it took off. We were so lucky, as other people had camped there all night. What a shame there is only one Shuttle flight left. Back in the time of the Apollo missions, we thought that by 2011, which was a long way in the future, we'd all be travelling to Mars!
Christine has a great style that just sails along through all the reasons why she decide to try her luck in Disney World, and the problems she had living in Florida - without a car!- and how she solved them. I would certainly recommend it. I've ordered her self-publishing book too, and I'll let you know how I get on with that.

Wednesday, 22 June 2011

I've decided to self-publish my novel!

Yes, I woke up this morning, and in that sleepy quiet time my thoughts turned my novel. I have been writing it over many years and I've had it assessed by Cornerstones, and the Romantic Novelists' Association New Writers' Scheme, I've sent it out to thirty agents and it's come straight back again, I even got my hopes up when Robert Hale asked for the complete manuscript and opened a 125ml bottle of Champagne, but as yet, no success.
I've decided, therefore, that because I've spent a great deal of time on writing and research, (the old cliche is that it's my baby and it's true), I can't let it rot away in the old computer paper box under my desk. I should at least let my family and friends have a chance of reading it. I don't think my dream of being a Sunday Times Best Seller or having a poster on the curved tunnel walls of the Underground will come true with this book, (but maybe the next which I've already started).
So I grabbed some of my writing magazines and sat up in bed with a cup of strawberry and mango tea, and began to do some research.
There are many questions to be answered:
Do I want to do it all myself or buy a package?
Do I want to print enough for my friends and family, or print more to sell?
Am I ready to take on the marketing?
Do I want paper books or ebooks?
How do I get an ISBN number?
How am I going to choose between the providers?
Which self help book should I buy?
Am I doing the right thing?
I'll let you know.

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

I've been reading The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly this week.

I've been enjoying The Little Women Letters by Gabrielle Donnelly, after seeing it reviewed in Woman's Weekly. It's set in modern London, about a family of girls who are the descendants of Jo March. (You've really got to have read and loved Little Women by Louisa M Alcott to appreciate it though!) This family of girls mirror the characteristics of their ancestors: soon-to-be-married Emma is Meg, clever Lulu is Jo, who I think may marry her professor(!), and actress Sophie is the vain Amy. Lulu finds Great-great-grandma Jo's letters to her own sisters in the attic, and finds parallels in their twenty-first century lives. On the cover, Penny Vincenzi calls it 'a personal treasure trove', and I know what she means. It's like finding letters written by your own great-great-grandma or aunt.
I've always preferred American nineteenth century novels to the English ones which means that I've never been a fan of Jane Austen. (There, it's out - I've said it!) I think it all stems from the introduction I had at school to Jane Eyre. Yes, I know it was written by Charlotte Bronte, but I connected the terrible treatment that Jane had at Lowood School with all the other English novels of that time. Little Women was much more my cup of tea, and although the family lived in hardship whilst their dear papa was off ministering in the Civil War, the book came over as far more cheerful and fun. The other book I loved was What Katy Did by Susan Coolidge. Of course, she had to cope with becoming an invalid, but still I loved this story and read them both again and again.
Anyway, back to Little Women. There have been many films and TV series, and whilst Katherine Hepburn will always be the definitive Jo, I remember the BBC version in 1970 with Angela Down as Jo, Martin Jarvis as John Brooke, and Patrick Troughton as Mr March. One scene that sticks in my mind is a shot through the window of the girls and Marmee sitting together sewing on Christmas Eve and singing The First Noel .
A few years ago, I visited Boston, and was able to take a 'side trip', as they say over there, to Concord, Massachusetts and visit Louisa M Alcott's family home which inspired her to write her novel about a family of sisters. Like the March girls, they used to put on the plays that Louisa wrote, and you can see the recess and curtains that acted as a stage for their productions, and if I remember correctly, the wonderful pair of long leather boots that Louisa used to stride about in!

Thursday, 9 June 2011

Agatha Christie and Greenway

Tucked away, like one of her mysteries, in the woods high above the River Dart in Devon, you can just make out 'Greenway', Agatha Christie's summer home until 1959. A Devon girl, born in Torquay in 1890, Agatha Christie bought this holiday paradise with her second husband, Max Mallowan. It is now a National Trust property, and is open from March to October and you can even arrive up the river by boat!
Following in the tradition of writing about what you know, this famous author used her house, which dates back to 1700, as a setting for some of her novels. For example, Deadman's Folly (1956), Five Little Pigs (1943) and Ordeal by Innocence (1958).
She also set many of her other stories in the surrounding area, one of which is The Regatta Mystery (1939). This is set in Dartmouth at Regatta time, and it is thought that The Royal George Hotel is based on The Royal Castle Hotel, a popular inn for seamen in the seventeenth century and later a coaching inn, now a well renowned hotel on The Quay. And, coincidentally, it was used as part of the set for the shooting of Ordeal by Innocence in 1985!
So grab your pile of Agatha Christie novels or your Kindle(!), and head down to the River Dart for a summer of mystery!

Thursday, 2 June 2011

My Writing Spot

This is actually a photo of a very small corner of my writing spot!
Of course I have a computer, that's how I can do this blog, but I find it easier to get my thoughts down with good old pencil and paper first, without technology getting in the way.
Despite the secretarial course that my mother insisted upon (thanks Mum), I can use all the right fingers in all the right places, but not all of the time!
So, I scribble down my story, then type it up at leisure, editing it as I go. Funnily, placing a ruler (mine's pink) under the written lines helps me to type more accurately!
I have a nice set of Penguin pencils too, printed to look like the spines of paperback books. The one I'm using at the moment is inscribed Laurens Van Der Post - Venture To the Interior
I don't know if it helps my writing, but it looks impressive, and it's a cheerful pink as well.