Tag Archives: progress-update

Who would like an Advance Review Copy of The Big Smoke?

Exciting times! I’ve now gone through all of the line edits from my copy editor for The Big Smoke, and I’m thrilled with his recommendations. I feel like he really ‘gets’ the novel and its characters, and his feedback has helped to iron out any minor issues and given me ideas where I can take scenes that little bit further. The writing is also more concise now, with almost 10,000 words culled from the total word count.

Thankfully, it seems he’s enjoyed the process as well, judging by the feedback I received from him:

I’ve edited and reviewed writing by many well-known Australian authors, and have also mentored a large number of emerging writers as they’ve worked toward publication. Working with you on The Big Smoke has certainly been among the most enjoyable of all these experiences.

What you achieve in this novel is significant. With authentic characters you take the reader through those momentous transitions young people make, from school to tertiary study and from country to city. Ceara and Seb are truly brought to life, each at the centre of a network of friends and family – and there’s just enough overlap in those networks to ensure that readers can keep their bearings with ease.

It’s a rare first novel that runs beyond 100,000 words and sustains interest throughout. That this is achieved reflects the strength of the central characters, and the immediacy they are given in your first person narrative strands. Capturing the ebb and flow of relationships is no easy thing, and you do this very well indeed through the skilful depiction of a whole spectrum of friends and acquaintances. You have a great ear for dialogue, and your evocation of an emotional landscape will resonate with many readers.  The Big Smoke is a polished and memorable piece of writing.

Isn’t that awesome? Warm fuzzies!

By the end of this weekend, the content of The Big Smoke will be finished. Done. Like I said, exciting times!! This means that I’ll soon be able to give people Advanced Review Copies in e-book format. So, who’s keen to read a contemporary realistic novel of the new adult variety? You’re under no obligation to give the book a positive review (or any review at all) if you don’t enjoy it. If you do enjoy it, feel free to post a review on your blog, on Amazon, on Good Reads, on a billboard… 😉

In case you’ve forgotten/don’t know what the book’s about, here’s the blurb:

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

The book will be available as an ARC in MOBI, Kindle and PDF formats, which means it will be readable on all e-reader devices (I think. Correct me if I’m wrong!).

So, what do you reckon? 

Fancy giving The Big Smoke a bash? You can read the first two chapters if you’d like to get a taste of the book before deciding. If you’d like an ARC, leave a comment or drop me an email at callyjackson at gmail dot com. Feel free to spread the word…

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Filed under Editing, New Adult fiction, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

Indie publishing update – and the seven p’s of marketing

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated you on how I’m progressing with my plans to independently publish The Big Smoke, so I thought I’d remedy that today! Things are slowly moving forward and although I’d like everything to be progressing more swiftly (because I’m impatient), I’m really happy with how it’s all coming together. Here’s a snapshot of where everything’s at right now, based on the seven p’s of marketing I learnt at uni (a number of years ago now!).

Product (the novel itself)
I’m investing in my book AKA the ‘product’  by paying for professional copy editing. I’ve found a fantastic editor (called Ken Spillman) who seems to ‘get’ my voice and characters. So far, he’s provided line-by-line edits for almost half of the book, and I’m expecting another installment later this week. The edits are definitely helping to tighten the prose and make sure everything is as realistic and plausible as possible at the micro level. We’re aiming for the copy editing process to be completed by early September so fingers crossed that’s achievable.

Package (cover)
The front cover is done and looks totally awesome, in my humble opinion. My cover designer, J Matthew McKern, is putting the final touches on the back cover (for the hard copy) and then it’ll be ready to rock and roll!

Placement (publishing)
I’ve been doing a lot of research about the best way to actually publish said book, including who to use to produce it and where to sell it. I’ve looked into a number of ‘self publishing service providers’ but for the amount they charge and the services they offer, I’ve decided I’m better off DIY-ing it. If you’d like to know the companies I researched, email me and I’ll let you know.

For my e-book version, I’m going to publish through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, which will make it available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony.

For my paper book (p-book), I’m going to publish through Createspace’s print-on-demand service, which allows me to order small quantities (e.g. 25) for reasonable prices. Although it would be a lot cheaper per unit to print with an offset printer, their minimum quantity is in the thousands and I don’t want to outlay that much initially nor take on that much risk (or garage space). I weighed up the benefits and drawbacks of Createspace versus Lightning Source, who offer a similar print-on-demand service, but I decided the ‘hand holding’ (and free ISBN) that Createspace offers is something that I appreciate at this stage in the game.

I’ve also investigated some local print-on-demand companies, but unfortunately they don’t seem able to match Createspace’s cost and quality offering (yet. Hopefully this will change in the future).

The p-book will be available to buy through Amazon. Due to the high cost of shipping books to Australia (where I live) and New Zealand, I’m also planning to set up a page on this site where Aussies/Kiwis can order a copy of the book directly from me. This will save in shipping because I will buy in bulk (25) from Createspace (which lowers the shipping cost per unit) and then on-sell the book, so readers will only have to fork out for domestic mail charges.

I’m also hoping to make the novel available in a few local stores around Australia, which I will do by contacting them individually, providing them a free copy of the book to read and seeing if they would be willing to stock it. Can’t hurt to try!

Price
The price between my e-book and my paper book will vary quite a bit, mainly due to the differences in production costs, publisher margin thresholds and customer expectations. Obviously, all of this is subject to change depending on further research, but at the moment I’m planning to price the e-book at $2.95 and the p-book at $16.95 + postage. My profit margin will be quite slim at each of these price points, but I’d rather sell more (and have more people reading my work) than make more for each individual sale.

Positioning 

How do I want The Big Smoke to be positioned in the market place? My blurb and cover are probably the biggest tools I have at my disposal in this respect. Other ‘positioning tools’ include the categories I choose to list it in on Amazon etc, and the way I present the book and its characters in interviews, guest posts etc. Perhaps I also need to work on a very short description of the novel too…

Promotion

The fun part! In order to promote The Big Smoke, I’m planning to do the following about six weeks before the launch date:

  • reveal the book cover on this blog and others
  • send out Advanced Review Copies to people interested in reading and reviewing the book
  • set up an author page on Good Reads so eager beavers can add The Big Smoke to their ‘To read’ lists
  • set up a pre-order page for hard copies for Aussies on this-here blog.

And I’m planning to do these activities once the book is released (which will hopefully be end of October):

  • hound random people in the street to buy a copy
  • tweet incessantly that people MUST buy my book
  • tour the blogosphere, guest posting and/or being interviewed on a number of different writing or reading-related blogs
  • host a blogfest where people share memories about the year they turned eighteen
  • continue to send out review copies to interested peeps
  • contact local media in the vain hope that some of them might be interested in interviewing me
  • have a MASSIVE book launch party with all of the family and friends who have supported me during the writing process.

People

In traditional marketing speak, ‘people’ are all of those “inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales and marketing strategy and activities.” So, I guess that’s… me! But I’m hoping it might be you too (see how I sneakily worked that in!). Yes, this is the part where I recruit you see who might be interested in helping me spread the word. Feel free to choose as many or as few options below as you like.

Obviously, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to indicate that you’d like to be involved but it would be great to get some early interest!

Your turn

I’m planning to post in more detail about each topic that I’ve covered in this update at some point in time, but is there anything you’d like to hear more about sooner rather than later? Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Anything I’ve said that you think is a bad idea? Let me know!

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Filed under Editing, Marketing, Progress update, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

First major edit: complete!

Yes, you read correctly. I have edited the final word on the final page of The Big Smoke.

HOORAY!!!!

I am very excited, and I wish I could write a full blog post in honour of this momentous occasion, which occurred less than a minute ago. But it’s 11pm and I have to work tomorrow. So I shall tuck myself into bed and dream about celebrating instead. Good night! 🙂

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Filed under Progress update, Tangled

Location: truth or fiction?

It’s been another hard week of editing Part Three of The Big Smoke, but I’ve managed to get through another 25% (or 13,600 words) and I’m feeling quietly confident I’ll have Part Three ready for my beta readers by my revised deadline of 12 December (fingers crossed!).

While reading Part Two, one of my beta readers asked me about my choice to have my two main characters, Seb and Ceara, come from fictional country towns in rural Queensland. My answer: I didn’t want to say they were from real country towns and then have people from those towns identify things that clearly didn’t fit with their town (from scenery to slang words).  The only country town I know intimately enough to write about is Gatton, my home town. But I didn’t want either of my characters to come from there because I didn’t want readers (particularly readers who know me) to think the story was auto-biographical (because it isn’t).

That was my original rationale. But after my beta reader asked the question, I’ve been revisiting the decision in my mind. I know that I really enjoy books that have real settings, particularly if I’m familiar with those settings. But do I enjoy them more than books with imaginary settings? I’m not 100% decided, but the more I think about it, the more I don’t think it’s a huge factor for me. I mean, I love reading books set in Brisbane, my current home (like Nick Earls’ The Fix and Ian Wynne’s Gavel), but I also enjoy reading books with fictional-but-still-realistic settings (like Christopher Currie’s The Ottoman Motel).

I’m keen to hear your thoughts. Does it make a difference to your enjoyment of a book if the settings are real or imaginary? The Big Smoke is realistic fiction – does this make a difference? Meaning, are you happy to read about imaginary settings in fantasy but not realistic fiction? Or does genre not change your opinion?

Also, many of my settings are real (like the city of Brisbane, where most of the book takes place). Would you prefer settings to be consistently real or imaginary, or does that not matter to you? And finally, do you think it would be worth the extra research involved to have my main characters come from real country towns or do you think fictional-but-still-realistic settings are good enough?

I love hearing other readers’ and writers’ opinions on things like this, so please let me know what you think!  🙂

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Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled

Past the halfway mark

Finally! I’ve passed the halfway mark in my edit of Part Three of The Big Smoke. It’s been a real slog, this last part. Much harder than the first two.

Yuck!

I should’ve expected it, really. When I was writing parts one and two, I went back and edited frequently. But with Part Three, I ploughed ahead regardless of the rubbish that came out. So, naturally, the standard of writing isn’t quite the same. Thankfully, amongst the rubbish, there are some gems. It’s just a matter of putting a peg on my nose and sorting through the awful stuff to find them.

I’m pretty happy with the passages that are emerging, but the editing process is taking much longer than I’d anticipated. At this stage, I’m thinking my goal of having Part Three ready for my beta readers by 5 December is a little ambitious. After all, that’s only two weeks away and I’ll definitely need to do another proofread before I send it off. With all of the changes I’ve been making, I’m sure the writing is littered with typos. And nobody wants to read that!

I’m hoping that another week will be enough and I’ll be able to distribute Part Three by 12 December, but time will tell whether that’s achievable. To give myself the best shot, I think I need to stick to one blog post a week until Part Three is complete. But don’t be glum, I have another crazy awesome picture to make up for my lack of posts…

80s bogans!

Yep, we get invited to a lot of fancy dress parties… heaps of fun! 🙂

How about you? How are you going against your goals and deadlines?

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Filed under Beta readers, Progress update, Tangled