How did I get here?

Welcome to Week 2!

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No-one said it was going to be easy!

To re-cap and explain the title,  last week I began this blog to help keep me motivated on my self-publishing journey.

In it, I  referred to some tiny steps I realised I’d already taken and so this week’s post is all about bringing you up to speed and getting us on the same page.

Next week we can then, all go forward together!

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I shan’t go into the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing here, needless to say, been there, done that and presumably you have too, otherwise you’d be reading a different blog!

So, having made the decision to self-publish, the first impact of my decision was the realisation I was going to have to become more than ‘just’ a writer.

My future CV was going to include job titles such as entrepreneur and project manager.

Warning! Self-publishing is not for the faint-hearted!

But it is for the passionate.

It is therefore a really good idea to be passionate about your subject matter. If you love it, there’s a pretty good chance your target audience will love it too.

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A familiar scene?

In front of you sits a story you’ve written, you’re passionate about the subject matter and (in my case) it also contains a strong message that you desperately want to share.

So, what next?

How do those words on your laptop transform into a physical book that someone picks up off a shelf, likes the look of and decides to buy? Or clicks on Amazon and excitedly awaits a brown package dropping through their letterbox?

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There are a number of stages to go through and different people to gather around you. From my  experience, so far (apart from the editing process) I don’t think the order in which you go about this matters too much.

They include the following:-

  1. Editing
  2. Illustrations
  3. Typesetter
  4. Print on demand
  5. ISBN
  6. Website

(Marketing & self-promotion to be tackled as I get further into that side of things, myself) 

EDITING

It is vitally important to have your work professionally edited. This will of course, incur a cost. But to skip this stage would be a false economy – theirs notthing wurse than reeding a boook thut asn’t bin prropurly edditted!

It may be a brilliant story but if it’s annoying or hard work to read, it will never venture far from the shelf. Don’t make life difficult for the reader!

I can personally recommend Claire Wingfield  ( although I must point out that she only edits my books, not my blog posts lol)

When you feel ready and brave enough to have your work edited, always go by personal recommendations or try sites like  fiverr for reasonably priced and rated editors. I know people who’ve used this site and are happy to recommend it.

ILLUSTRATIONS

Consider whether or not you want illustrations. Even if you decide you don’t want them, consider again as perhaps your book might need them. As the age group I’m writing for is 7-11 years,  I decided early on that I wanted illustrations to help my stories jump out of  the page more. As an NLP practitioner I know that most of us think in pictures, anyway, so to expand any story with pictures is a good thing in my book! (Literally)

Adults like pictures too, remember.

I was given excellent advice to firstly research children’s books and see what type of illustrations I liked, felt would work well with my stories and then research illustrators via social media, forums etc. I was also advised to go with an experienced illustrator who understood the self-publishing process. This would then speed the whole process up for me as opposed to liking an artist’s work and the two of us ending up as the blind leading the blind.

Yeh, I didn’t listen!

I found an artist I liked and it has slowed the process down for me.

But I have no regrets and am championing Andy Templar, my wonderful illustrator – who needs to get a  portfolio together to leave his day job and realise his dream of becoming a full-time illustrator.

I chose Andy because I’m a firm believer in going for and achieving your dreams. He’s helping me achieve mine and I’m (hopefully) helping him achieve his, in return.

Plus his work’s amazing! Don’t you agree?

(First draft)

Front cover 1

TYPESETTER

What’s one of those & what do they do?

Yeh, I had no idea either.

However, I soon found out that if you want the pages of your book to look professional you’re going to need one.

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( First draft)

As the job-title suggests a typesetter, sets the type on the page and designs (or implements an illustrator’s designs) front and back covers, discusses how many pages you’d like in the book (which obviously affects the sizing of the font used), discusses what font you’d like the words to be typed in, where you’d like the page numbers to appear, suggests ideas for designs around the beginning of chapters, last pages etc and most importantly can format absolutely everything that needs to be included in your book,  ready to send off as a file to a print-on-demand company who  will then  publish your book!

(My next blog post will go into further detail regarding  the ‘everything that needs to be included’ bit, with examples)

I was lucky that Claire recommended a typesetter to me that she’d often used herself, recommended to others and had good feedback about.

Typesetter’s fees can vary and so I did some research myself before making a final decision. Be aware that typesetters will either charge per page, or per completed job and as a guide their rates are between £4-£9 a page – and this may or may not include formatting files to send to your chosen print on demand company.

My final edited anthology of my first three books in the ‘Kids of Kernow’ series comes to just under 28,300 words.

That equates to a lot of pages! (Which peculiarly runs in multiples of 4 in the self-publishing world)

Therefore I urge you to do the maths at this early stage to make sure your budget will stretch far enough, bearing in mind that other costs will be involved too.

PRINT ON DEMAND

I’ve opened an account with Ingram Spark– and with that, you pretty much know as much as me! It is a website/company I need to study more as my first reaction, after joining, (which is free to do by the way) was a serious allergic reaction to information overload. All I know is that these people have a very good reputation in the self-publishing community, especially with the Alliance of Independent Authors.

The Alliance of Independent Authors- they seem a good bunch too! Join them if you can, as an Associate member. It costs about £60 a year from memory but they do also offer a free Self-publishing advice center that’s definitely worth taking a look at.

I’ve been an Associate member since June this year, but haven’t had time to take full  advantage of my membership. Too busy actually writing the books!

Chicken and egg.

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However, I’m looking forward to gleaming lots of good stuff from them from now on and I promise to share any nuggets of wisdom with you all, too.

ISBN 

This stands for International Standard Book Number and all books need one.

If, like me, you intend to write more than one book and want them stocked in shops as well as online, you will need to buy a block of at least 10 ISBNs. You can only buy 1, or 10 or blocks of larger amounts.

This is because every version of your book will need a separate ISBN ie an e-book, paperback, hard copy etc, so you can see how the numbers add up quite quickly.

10 ISBNs cost £159.00 from Nielsen Book ISBN agency.

You can purchase these anytime ( although I’ve tried already and got into a right muddle, am awaiting help from a friend who found the process easy -so it’s obviously just me!).

However, they MUST be purchased before the back cover is uploaded to your print on demand company as this is where the ISBN will go, along with a bar code if you want your books to be sold in shops.

More expense? NO- not if you open an account with Ingram Spark because they give you (& by that I mean whoever’s uploading your file!) a free cover template generator that’ll include bar codes for free too.

Lovely! One less thing to concern myself with!

I’ll let you all know when I’ve finally bought my ISBNs and will then write a simple guide for you all . I wish one already existed!!

WEBSITE

If you’re doing anything for your ‘self’, are self-employed in any way, shape or form then branding is EVERYTHING and therefore it applies to you if you’re going to be a self-published author.

A word of warning here and please learn from my mistake. It’s important to decide what name you’d like to be known by on your books.

Before I’d finished my mentorship with Claire, I (with the help of my wonderful hubby- who fortunately for me, knows how to create websites) got a basic website up and running. However, by the time I’d finished the mentorship I’d changed my mind as to what name I wanted to be known by on my books.

Meaning it now all needs to be re-done.

Was I running before I’d learned to walk?

NO!

From my research you can’t have a website, too soon!

Your website is your very own, Author’s platform – where you can advertise your soon to be published books, take pre-orders, gather interested parties email addresses and list stockists etc

How’s mine coming along? Ummm, not there yet, but I intend it to be by the end of the year, along with an increased presence on social media to promote both myself and my books. Quite a daunting but necessary task.

Even if you go down the traditional publishing route, from what I’ve learned, you have to do most of your own publicity yourself, anyway- so I might as well do it my way!

The old ego will hopefully show itself enough to give me the confidence to speak my truth coupled with the book’s messages speaking for themselves! Parents and children alike will then be interested enough to buy and read what I’ve written.

Well, I can but try!

I shall leave you with something I read on a post from the Alliance of Independent Authors site this morning.

“Know That Self-Publishing is Challenging

You wonder why publishers take nine months to produce a book? You’re about to find out. Creating a book that looks as good as, or better, than one published by the trade is not easy. It requires investment of time and money and a willingness to learn by doing. “
Possible investment 
Approximately $5 per 500 words for an editor from fiverr
Approximately £40.00 an hour for an editor elsewhere.
Not sure re an illustrator as I haven’t gone the suggested route, but once again you could search on fiverr.
Between £4- £9 a page for a typesetter or ask for a one-off price for the whole project.
Approximately £60 for a year‘s membership with the Alliance of Independent Authors
( You can’t be more than an Associate member until you’re a published Author)
£159.00 for 10 ISBNs
Lots of cups of tea and a cuddle for my web-designer but yours might prefer hard cash!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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How to get from L A story to L A self published?

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Welcome to the trials and tribulations of one writer’s quest to influence the world of children’s mental health and well-being, for the better!

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How?

By writing and attempting to self publish self-help story books aimed at 7-11 year olds.

I have over 20 years experience of working with children aged 4-16 in educational settings. I began as a Learning Support Assistant (LSA) in an all girls secondary school, became a Teaching Assistant (TA) both 1 to 1 and class-room based, changed job to a mixed secondary school and became a Lead Teaching Assistant, (with a merry band of 14 TAs to utilise as best I could, to accommodate the 200 pupils who were on the Special Needs register), became a Special Educational Needs Co-ordinator (SENCO). This lead me to become one of the first ever Behaviour Improvement Programme (BIP) mentors in the country!

I then changed job to a primary school, became a specialised 1 to 1 TA and when the child left for secondary school, the SENDCO created a new post for me as the school’s only Learning Mentor. In fact I am still referred to on their website:-

“We also recognise the importance of emotional health and well-being; we employed a learning mentor, Mrs Turner, whose key role was to offer support, advice and strategies to our emotionally vulnerable learners and develop their self-esteem, confidence and self-belief. Mrs Turner relocated to Cornwall at the end of 2016.” St. Sebastian’s Primary School, Great Gonerby, Grantham, Lincs. 

Mrs Turner did indeed relocate to Cornwall (a little village just outside Bude to be precise) realising a very long-held dream.

As far as having a perfect life was concerned I felt I was doing rather well:-

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  • Lovely husband ☑️
  • Happy marriage ☑️
  • Wonderful son ☑️
  • Good friends ☑️
  • Cats-☑️
  • Enough money coming in to pay the bills ☑️
  • Living in Cornwall☑️

Once settled, it was only then I realised that my previous jobs hadn’t just been jobs but  ‘callings’.

I still needed to help children, somehow.

With that realisation, I started to write.

Not having put pen to paper previously, other  than to write child observations and Numerology charts ( a fascinating hobby of mine). I naively wasn’t too worried about the quality of my writing and  bravely shared my first attempt with Claire Wingfield, a visiting Literary consultant and Editor holding a local workshop.

One workshop and meeting later, I realised that what was in my head and what had appeared on the page bore completely no resemblance to each other!

Claire, teased out of me what I’d been trying to say and suggested I played around with ideas for a few months and then maybe contact her again. A polite, ‘Go away & never darken my doorstep again?’ or so I thought.

That was my first chance to give up on this ‘writing and publishing a book’ lark, a ‘wobble’ that shall, no-doubt, be re-visited through-out these blogs.

Three months later I dared put pen to paper again and three months after that I had a draft which I nervously emailed to Claire.

This time apparently, my head and hand were working in unison and I’d written….. well, over to Claire-

“I think you’ve done really well with this. I love the way you handle setting and these 2 magical characters are wonderful. I can see them working well through a series.”

Oh, yes by now I felt the world was ready for a series of books, why not? It even had a title ‘ Kids of Kernow’

I continued to hone my writing skills by embarking on a 3 month Mentorship with Claire  and by attending a fabulous local writing group in Bude run by the multi- talented Dawn Robinson

To cut what could be a VERY long blog post short, I only needed an ounce of encouragement and 6 months later I’d written 3 books incorporating Neuro-linguistic programming (NLP) techniques disguised as magic, into stories set in my beloved North Cornwall, got an illustrator, typesetter and designer on board and produced a final edited version of all 4 books including all front and end matter ( 4 books? Because I decided all 3 could also be collated into an omnibus edition too – why not?).

I was now ready to self publish and self-promote.

Or was I?

Somewhere over the last year I’m sure I’d discussed exactly how to go about this with Claire- I had indeed somehow got a typesetter and designer on board, opened an account with Ingram Spark, whisked up a make-shift website and nodded in passing with the initials ISBN.

However, now that the writing of my first ( oh yes, I’m nothing if not ambitious) three books is all done, the horror has struck me that I now actually have to make this happen myself. That’s what the SELF bit in self publishing apparently means!  HELP!

Resistance and procrastination are wrestling on a daily basis with my ‘calling’ and ambition and to be honest the result is this blog to help keep me motivated and focused.

Why is it entitled L A Story then?

Well, apart from it being a brilliant film that reflects my own sense of humour perfectly it also contains my initials which are L  A for Laraine ( Lally for short) and  Angela. I have had three different surnames over the years, but my life’s always read like a complex story and by reading this, you’re picking it up during its most recent chapter!

I’ve read plenty about Self publishing but often felt intimidated by the author’s credentials, experience and connections in the literary world.

Sure, I have all of that too in my own field of expertise but, as far as self publishing goes I am beyond a newbie, I am an embryo looking for a safe place to be implanted so that I can grow and come out the other side with all my book’s spines intact.

My series of book’s mission statement is ‘ Join the enchanted Kids of Kernow on empowering journeys. Using only your thoughts, you’ll be amazed what you can do with your magical mind.’

(And there’ll probably be more shameless advertising to come over the year ahead too).

But firstly, I need to get these books out there, make sure the right people know they’re out there and for the books to be bought and read by and to children!

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Therefore my blog’s mission statement is:-

‘Join me on what could very possibly be an empowering self publishing journey. Learn along beside me, embark on the road ahead and follow my ups and downs so that you can then map out a smoother path for your own adventure.’

I intend to post at least once a week  and as I’ve already blindly and mechanically taken a few steps along my journey ( ie got a typesetter etc) my next post will be about how and what I’ve already learned at this early stage.

There’s no turning back now………

I’ll just (self) publish this  ☑️

Hey, how’s that for a good start!

Thanks for reading.