Tag Archives: self-publishing

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…

11 Comments

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

Bumpdate, book blurb and others bits and bobs

Given your wonderful comments when I announced my pregnancy recently, I thought some of you may be interested in a little bumpdate (bump update). Today, I’m 15 ½ weeks pregnant and I’m not ‘showing’ too much yet. According to my husband, my bump isn’t even big enough to warrant a photo on the blog yet (bah!).

I seem to look more pregnant in the afternoons and evenings than in the mornings (I’ll let you figure that one out), and I’m still waiting for the first trimester fatigue to wain (which is very irritating but at least I don’t feel nauseous any more!). I’ll keep you posted as things progress.

Next topic – that blasted book blurb. I’ve made some more changes based on your feedback, and feel like I’m much closer to nailing it. Who knows, maybe this is the final version. As always, keen to hear your feedback!

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?

Let me know your thoughts!

Write Club

Have you heard about Write Club? The first rule of Write Club is to talk about Write Club. So that’s what I’m doing!

Essentially Write Club involves sending in 500 words of your writing anonymously and going into the ring against another writer. Fellow bloggers vote on their faves and the rounds keep going until there’s a final winner.

The writing can be any genre, any style (even poetry) with the word count being the only restriction. There’s an amazing line-up of agents who’ll decide the final winner so I’d definitely consider having a crack. First round kicks off 30 July.

Your turn

What do you think of the blurb? Are you thinking of participating in Write Club? Anything else exciting going on in your world? 🙂

14 Comments

Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke

The latest version of that blasted book blurb!

Again, thank you so much to everyone who commented on previous versions of my blurb. You’ve helped me focus on The Big Smoke‘s key selling points and ‘hook’.

I’m quite happy with my latest attempt, but I’m keen to hear what you think. Here it is!

Revised 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 to the same Brisbane suburb for uni. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem destined to cross. But they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When university starts, things get complicated. Both their best friends start acting weird, and the relentless demands of uni 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 will they finally meet, or remain strangers forever?

Your turn

Looking forward to hearing your thoughts! I promise I’ll stop bugging you about this very soon… maybe. 😉

12 Comments

Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke

Revised book blurb

Thanks so much to everyone who commented on my draft blurbs yesterday. I considered the feedback and wrote a new version on the train this morning (and then revised it in my lunch break, so I could post it immediately – there’s that impatience again!). Obviously I couldn’t take everyone’s individual suggestions on board, but I’m keen to hear whether you think the version below is an improvement and what more could potentially be done to really hook the reader.

Revised blurb

Although Ceara Wilson and Seb Barkley are strangers, they have a few things in common. They’re both seventeen, due to move from their tiny hometowns to Brisbane for uni and both totally unhappy with the people they’ll be moving in with. For Ceara, it’s two people from high school who hate her. For Seb, it’s a weirdo cousin he hasn’t spoken to for years.

Ceara’s desperate for love, Seb’s desperate to get laid. As they move in a street away from each other and prepare to attend the same university, both think they know the challenges that lie ahead. But when Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a wanker and the relentless demands of uni increase their stress levels to the max, they realise that life in the big smoke will test them in ways they’d never imagined.

Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they really want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure?

Your turn

Let the comments rip! 😀

*Edit: do you think I should tone down the wording (e.g. ‘get laid’ and ‘wanker’) considering it will appear on the back of the book, on Amazon, and on other people’s blogs?*

7 Comments

Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke

Writing my book blurb… let me know what you think!

As you all know, the front cover of my book is complete. The designer is now ready to start work on the back cover. He just needs one minor thing from me first… a blurb.

EEK!

I don’t know about you, but I find blurbs notoriously difficult to write. What can I say about The Big Smoke in less than 200 words that will convince people that they not only want to read the book, but that it should go to the very top of their to-read piles?

I’m sure most authors probably feel the same way, but 150-200 words doesn’t seem enough to convey all The Big Smoke has to offer. The fact that the story has two equally important protagonists also makes things that little bit trickier to summarise.

So, once again, I’m asking for your help. I’ve written two versions of a blurb (which have some similarities), and I’d love to get your thoughts on what you like and what you don’t. Feel free to pull them apart entirely!

Blurb 1

For Ceara Wilson, tomorrow is the biggest day of her life – the day she moves from her tiny hometown to Brisbane for uni. But thanks to her clueless mother, tomorrow will be a nightmare, because she’ll be moving in with two people from high school who think she’s completely worthless.

On the same day Ceara is due to move to Brisbane, so is Seb Barkley. Unlike Ceara, Seb’s psyched about escaping his hometown. As far as he’s concerned, 17 years is long enough in a town as small as Mildah. He can’t wait to meet a city chick and finally have some ‘success’.

As Ceara and Seb move in a street away from each other, both think they know what to expect from their first uni semester. But they couldn’t be more wrong. The next six months will challenge them in ways they’ve never imagined. Their closest friendships will be put to the test, long-buried secrets will be uncovered and they’ll be forced to question what they really want from their lives – a question that, at times, seems almost impossible to answer.

(182 words)

Blurb 2

Ceara Wilson and Seb Barkley may be strangers, but they have a few things in common. They’re both seventeen, they’re both due to move from their tiny hometowns to Brisbane for uni, and they’re both totally unhappy with the people they’ll be moving in with. For Ceara, it’s two people from high school who think she’s completely worthless. For Seb, it’s a weirdo cousin he hasn’t spoken to for years.

As Ceara and Seb move in a street away from each other, both think they know the challenges that lay ahead in their first semester at uni. But they couldn’t be more wrong. The next six months will test them in ways they’ve never imagined. Their closest friendships will be put to the test, long-buried secrets will be uncovered and they’ll be forced to question what they really want from their lives.

Will they have the courage to find the answers?

(151 words)

Your turn

Fire away! Do you like one better than the other? Hate them both? If so, why? What are they missing? If you love one of them, why? What’s working for you? Or maybe there are parts you like in one and other parts you like in the other. If so, what are they? Looking forward to hearing your thoughts!

11 Comments

Filed under Self publishing, The Big Smoke