A Beginner’s Guide to Formatting

Formatting Kindle CoverI remember how frustrating it was when I decided to self-publish my first book. So many things I didn’t know. So many things I needed to know. And I had no-one to show me the ropes.

Well, that’s what I thought at first. But then I realised there were many self-published authors wonderful enough to spend the time condensing their knowledge into how-to books. And I devoured those books, soaking up knowledge on designing my own website, social media platforms, writing well, marketing tips and many more subjects.

The one thing I had to work out for myself was how to format my book for print and eBook. I did that the hard way, over a couple of my books – slowly learning and perfecting the process. A course run by the Australian Society of Authors taught me how to use Pressbooks to format my ePub and mobi files. (And if I am totally honest how to produce a PDF file for print. But I don’t like the result so I do it myself.)

The print format for me is the tricky one. Making our books look just like a professionally published one? That takes time and effort. But the end result is well worth all of that.

Anyway, what I am getting to is that after I had finally worked it all out, I wrote myself a manual. It can be a long time between formatting books and my computer skills aren’t so good I could remember all the detail. And then I thought about all those wonderful people whom had helped me on my path, and decided to give a bit back.

I initially put the formatting into my Self-Publish Like a Pro book. But then I thought that perhaps not everybody wants all the extra information contained within its pages. Some people just want to know how to format, damn it, and they want to know now.

So I have made a formatting manual – Self-Publishing: A Beginner’s Guide to Formatting – and put it on Amazon for only $0.99. That’s a bargain compared to what you would have to pay someone to do it for you. It covers formatting to ePub, mobi and PDF files. And I also talk about formatting for the Smashwords’ Meatgrinder.

So I wish you the best on your path to self-publishing and hope that I can help you as others have helped me.

Free Days with Amazon

I’ve been at this self-pubbing gig for a few years now. During this time I’ve tried heaps of different marketing ideas. I’ve tweeted and face-booked and been a part of blog tours. I’ve written guests posts and tried paid ads and more often than not haven’t even seen a blip in my sales. And yes, I know, I could be tweeting harder – but I don’t want to be ‘that’ author.

I’ve read books on SEO, and improving my visibility, and how to use categories to improve my sales ranking, and how to create a world-wide rave, and how to sell 1 million books in 5 months, and Facebook marketing and … well you get the idea. And some of these books, when you check their sales rankings, don’t seem to be doing so well themselves and, well, that always gets me thinking.

As my husband says – Perhaps the way to make the money is to write the book on how to make the money.

But I don’t want to be ‘that’ author either.

All I want is a loyal band of readers gobbling up whatever I put out. And I don’t know if I’m going to find all of them on twitter. Nope, I’m going to find them browsing the Amazon ebook store.

And that brings me to the only kind of marketing that has ever worked for me. Giving my stuff away for free. A lot of you would have tried this already – successfully or unsuccessfully. And a lot of you just recoiled from the computer table in horror.

‘But, it took me years to write my masterpiece. I’ll be damned if I’m going to give it away for free.’

Well for those of you who thought that – this article is for you.

You see I was just like you. When I published my first book I launched it onto Amazon with a bottle of bubbly, and then I sat back and waited for the money to roll in. A week later, when my Amazon sales ranking was in the #500000’s, and I hadn’t even sold one book, I was still thinking that. And a year later, when I had sold a total of 73 books (1 on kobo the rest on amazon) I was still thinking that.

Then I read an article that changed my mind. To be truthful, I can’t remember exactly what it said, but it inspired me to take my book off kobo and sign up for KDP. That first five free days over 42000 copies of The Seven Steps to Closure were downloaded. While that was pretty exciting to watch (I mean people were finally going to read my book!), what was REALLY exciting was when in the hour after it came off free I sold more copies of it than I had in that first year. Over the next few weeks it went to #132 on Amazon overall. Would like to say it stayed there – it didn’t, but it’s sales have always been better since.

STOP – before you rush off  you need to understand why and how that happened.

You see selling books is all about being visible. And for one, brief, glorious month in time my baby was visible! But we’ll get to that in a moment.

So what are the advantages of a successful free run? Well obviously the after-party sales and the reviews. (I have guestimated that approximately 0.5% of people who read your book will review it. In the week after my last free run, when I had about 65000 downloads I received approximately 320 reviews.) And the reviews help with future sales – as long as they are good. But the important question is why do people start buying your book AFTER it comes off free?

I didn’t quite understand what I had done by pure luck (I’ll explain that luck in a minute) until I read David Gaughran’s book ‘Let’s Get Visible.’ Amazon considers 10 free book downloads to be the equivalent of 1 sale. Which meant that Amazon treated that 42000 free downloads as if I had SOLD 4200 books in 5 days. (I wish!) This then skyrocketed my book up the popularity listing and that was what made the difference. All of a sudden my book could be seen by people browsing on Amazon. All of a sudden it was being offered up to them on a platter. All of a sudden my book started to sell. And because the popularity listing is done by analysing the average of your books sales over a 30 day period it meant that my book was visible for thirty days before it started to drop back off the chart.

I put my books up for free regularly over the next couple of years to varied success, and this has enabled me to come up with a few theories on what makes a successful free promotion. I am going to go through them now.

1. As I stated above, you need to get enough free books downloaded to get visible on the popularity chart. It wasn’t until about 6 months after that first free run that I realised how damned lucky I had been the first time. You see Pixel of Ink had showcased my book without me knowing it. Hell, at that time I had never even heard of Pixel of Ink. (Pixel of Ink sends out emails to their subscribers, listing free and bargain books. You can’t pay for this advertising – they choose whom they are showcasing. You can, however, fill out a FORM to let them know that your book is going to be cheap or free. I have never been showcased by them when I have done this, and from what I understand they are not currently accepting submissions. )

With my second book Cocoa and Chanel I was able to track my downloads with and without Pixel of Ink. (Yep, been lucky a few times!) I estimate that without Pixel of Ink I would only get 10% of the number of free downloads as with them. Once again, it’s all about visibility. Just because your book is free it doesn’t mean people will be able to find it.

I know what you are thinking – it’s a bit hit or miss isn’t it? And yes, I must say that if I am only relying on being picked up by Pixel of Ink  that I have all my fingers and toes crossed. There are, however, paid sites that will promote your free days to their subscribers.

Over the last few promotions I have tried a lot of them (haven’t tried Ereader News Today yet). I have also tried tweet services, but the only thing I have found that has really worked is BookBub. Unlike Pixel of Ink, you have to pay to market with Bookbub. But also unlike Pixel of Ink, Bookbub have subscriber lists for different genres. Clever! So now we are marketing our free book to people actually interested in reading that genre.

This also means less chance of bad reviews from people who downloaded your book on a whim and would not normally read that genre. (I mean really, if you are happy to admit in your one star review of my chicklit book that chicklit is not your normal genre of choice, and in fact you really only enjoy reading historical, literary masterpieces – then don’t review my book! Oops – do I sound bitter and twisted?) Sorry – I digress.

One of the other good thing about Bookbub from a subscribers point of you is that Bookbub are very selective about which books they market. You have to apply to them (Here’s the link) and they will look at how many reviews you have and what your star-rating is. If you are lucky enough to be accepted (*happy dance*) they will tell you when they want you to have your book free.  I don’t want to piss off the Gods of Bookbub so I always meekly accept whatever days they offer me.

The first time I used them I was lucky enough to also be picked up by Pixel of Ink. My book had over 65000 downloads and the resulting effect on its visibility gave me three months of great sales before I slid down the charts. In fact, if you want rough figures (and I know you do) for my initial investment of $190 I made about $10000 over the next 3 months. That’s a 5263% return on investment.

Okay so I said I was going to run through a few theories of what makes a successful promotion. Well obviously visibilty is number one – in everything we do. But what also will influence the downloads.

2. Cover7 Steps new kindle cover

Most of my free promotions have featured The Seven Steps to Closure and Cocoa and Chanel. Without a doubt, 7 Steps outperforms C and C hands down every time. But why?? I would say perhaps the number of reviews – I mean 7 Steps is getting up near 600 while C and C has about half that. But my first successful free promotion 7 Steps hardly had any reviews at all.

So that brings me back to my cover. 7 Steps cover was much more engaging that C and C’s. (I say was because after I analysed my last promo I went ahead and had the C and C cover redesigned.) I think it embodies the character of the story better – the slightly scatty woman with a pretty dysfunctional life is depicted well by the picture I bought. With the C and C cover I was so focused trying to get Cocoa, the black schnauzer, onto the cover that the result, while pretty, didn’t really engage the reader. There is no eye contact between the lead on the C and C cover while there is on 7 Steps, and perhaps I’m a little crazy but I think that makes a difference.

I will be tCocoa and Chanel Kindle Coveresting the new cover in about 3 months when I do another promo on C and C, but also I will be looking for higher follow on sales from my next free promo of 7 Steps which is happening in about a week.

 

3. Bookbub Category

With this next free promo I will be testing a new genre on Bookbub – chicklit. I have always been in Women’s Fiction before which has over 650000 subscribers. The chicklit only has about 250000 subscribers, so I am a bit concerned I won’t get the number of downloads I need to make a real difference. Last time in Women’s Fiction, 7 Steps go about a 10% download rate while C and C only 6.5% (This led me to redesign the cover.)

To get the same sort of result I am going to need 26% of all people on the chicklit subscriber email list to download my book. To be quite frank I don’t think it will happen. I’m hoping on two factors. Firstly, because the subscriber list is new that the subscribers will be more active, and secondly that because my book is actually chicklit that I will get a higher click through rate than when it was featured in women’s fiction. (*fingers crossed*)

4. What day your promo starts.

Some people would look at every Bookbub email they get, others would be more likely to look on a Sunday when they’re relaxing, or a Friday night if they don’t have anything on. Of course holidays and long weekends and all sorts of other factors would influence whether or not somebody chooses to download a book that day. Then take into consideration the global influence of national holidays, weather patterns and God-know-what-else and you can choose which is the best day to start your promo. I admit it would take a smarted person than me to work it out, so as I said before, I let it lie in the hands of the BookBub Gods and accept whatever they give me.

All right so that’s it from me at the moment. My next free promo for The Seven Steps to Closurestarts on the 3rd of Feb and for any of you that are interested, I will be blogging the results.

CreativeINDIE – Helping Indies Succeed.

Last December, Derek Murphy from Creativindie launched DIY Book Covers, a whole pile of customisable easy-to-use book cover templates for indie authors. All these covers are based on the design principles of bestselling books.

Derek is constantly adding new FREE stuff to his site for budding authors. With that in mind, he has just added resources to help us make business cards and bookmarks. He also has a template for a full print cover for CreateSpace and has added useful marketing graphics.

Now if that weren’t enough, he  thought we may need help formatting the interior of our books for print and ebook, so he has put together over a dozen high quality templates (in MS Word & Adobe InDesign) along with lengthy guides to DIY book formatting and ebook conversion.

To check all this out, and to download the templates for free, visit HERE.

91NQ0YdG3HL._SL1500_To help navigate all the free tools, Derek has published a book called “How to Write, Format, Publish and Promote your Book without Spending any Money.”

Mostly it’s a companion to his free formats, and a lot of the material he’s already put online for free, but there’s a lot of extra content as well. The focus is on DIY and saving as much money as possible, while still putting out a top quality, very polished product.

Derek’s looking for reviews for his new book and has offered up a full, life-time membership to his DIY book covers (valued at $87) if you buy his book ($4.99) and publish a review by the 7th May. Email him the link to your review at derekmurphy@creativindie.com.

If you are too silly to spend the $4.99 and get the $87 membership in return (really??) he will have his book FREE on Amazon for five days from the 7th May.

Latest News from Pressbooks

Those of you that have read my self-publishing book will know that I love using Pressbooks for my eBook formatting. They are extremely helpful and are always updating and improving their site. So here is the latest from the Pressbooks crew:

There are another nine themes to choose from when designing your print or eBooks. These new themes include one designed to suit horror novels (Lovecraft), one for sci-fi (LeGuin), another two that would suit memoir, literary fiction or romance (Angelou and Angelou Color) and the rest for fiction or non-fiction. The best thing about these themes is that you can easily swap from one to the next to see which one you prefer for your masterpiece.

Now this next bit is pretty exciting. Pressbooks has set up on Transifex, a system for translating web software. They currently have, in various levels of completion: Italian, Portugese (Brazil), Estonian, Spanish, German, French, Chinese (Taiwan), Japanese, Khmer (Cambodia), Basque, Korean and Romanian.

They are asking for help and input into this process. So if you would like to see Pressbooks translated into your language or help improve the translation please visit: https://www.transifex.com/projects/p/pressbooks/

Hugh has a guest post up on Emily Craven’s E-Book Revolution Website in which he talks about eBooks, print-on-demand and the context of sales numbers they’re seeing in the marketplace. Read it HERE. While you’re there have a look around Emily’s site. It has an enormous amount of information for self-publishing (AKA independently publishing) authors.

To check out the Pressbooks new updated site click HERE.

Get it While it’s Hot!

News flash. My self-publishing book – Self-Publishing: How to Publish like a Pro for a Fraction of the Cost – will be available FREE from Amazon from the 9th April till the 13th. Designed to help all self-publishers, there is sure to be something within its electronic pages you’ll find interesting.

I love helping writers achieve the dream of holding their book in their hands and I hope you find my guide helpful. All I ask in return is an honest review on Amazon. Good luck and happy publishing.

Nook Press Opens Up to International Publishers

Good news for all Indie Publishers. It seems that Barnes and Noble are finally catching up with the rest of the eBook publishing community and has started opening its doors to non-US based publishers.

Yesterday they announced that publishers from UK, France, Italy, Germany, Spain, the Netherlands, and Belgium could now upload content for publication. Not so good for us Aussies but I’m sure they will get there eventually.

You can also view Nook Press (nookpress.com) in 7 languages (you guessed it – the languages for those newly included countries) by choosing the language you require from the drop down box on any page of the Nook site. This also means that eBooks sold through Nook will soon be available for sale in these countries.

It’s a good start and here’s hoping they eventually get to the rest of us.

How to Add Internal Links to Your Book on Pressbooks.

I’m writing this just in case there is someone else out there like me, who uses Pressbooks to format their book, and is having trouble adding internal links. I initially used the link to existing content in the link box but it didn’t work for me. A few emails to Pressbooks and Hugh finally had me sorted. (In all fairness to him, with anyone else it probably would have been sorted after the first email!)

This is what he told me to do:

Choose to go into the Text version not the Visual one. Go down to where you want to add the internal link. We are going to add in a relative link. For this example let’s say you were using the word HERE for people to click onto activate the link. Where you want the link, add this text coding:

<a href=”/chapter/add-in-the-name-of-the-chapter-you-want-to-link-to/”>HERE</a>

The HERE will show up highlighted in your book and be clickable.

So if the name of the chapter you want to link to is – How on Earth did I get Myself into this Mess? You would put:

how-on-earth-did-i-get-myself-into-this-mess

So no question mark. Also no extra dashes or apostrophes or any characters. Just the letters in the chapter name.

For more information on relative links check out the following:

http://www.motive.co.nz/glossary/linking.php#relative

Dragon NaturallySpeaking – How to set up your iPhone as a Remote Microphone and Recorder

I recently finished reading Jim Denney’s book, Writing in Overdrive. As a consequence, today I found myself loading the Dragon NaturallySpeaking software he recommends onto my computer. As per normal, I struggled with things that most people would probably find easy. However, in case there are some of you out there like me, who find relatively easy technological things challenging, I have decided to compose a blog about what troubled me the most – setting my iPhone up as a Remote Microphone and also as a Recorder.

Before you do anything else, you need to download the appropriate Apps to your iPhone. (I’m sure the following applies to any smart phone, but as I only have an iPhone I will be talking exclusively about them.) In your Apple App Store search for the Dragon Recorder and Dragon Microphone Apps. These are both free to download, so do this before you do anything else.

You will also need both your computer and iPhone to be operating on the same wireless Internet connection for this to work, and you will want to remove any time lock you have on your phone. Otherwise the microphone/recorder becomes disabled when the lock is activated.

Setting your iPhone up as a Remote Microphone

The iPhone, and indeed any smart phone, makes an ideal microphone. It is far more comfortable to use than wearing a headset as it is hands free. I had a headache within 10 minutes of the headset and was relieved when I was finally able to use my phone.

When you initially set up your software you will set up your User Profile and will most probably choose the microphone jack-in as your primary dictation source. To add extra sources click on Profile at the top right hand side of the page. A drop down box will present, in this box select Add dictation source to current User Profile. From here choose to add the Remote Microphone. (If you have selected it as your primary dictation source the following will also be true.)

A Preparing for Communication box will open with a box-like bar code. Apparently the Dragon Remote Microphone Application supports Bonjour – which was active on my computer – but I’ll be buggered if I could work out how to use it to link my iPhone to my laptop. Instead I am going to discuss the bar code method.

Open up your Dragon Microphone App and choose the Bar Code method. The camera on your phone will activate. Aim it at the bar code but don’t take a photo. It will read the bar code and get information about your PC from this.

I was pretty excited when I got this far, having spent the previous thirty minutes trying to get the Dragon Recorder App to do this very thing (I know, I know, sometimes I’m not the sharpest pencil in the pack), but of course, even after this it didn’t work correctly. If you tap the record button in the middle of the phone screen and it comes up saying it can’t connect to your computer go back to the App settings. Tap on the PC information and you will find there is another option  – your IP address. Scroll onto this and your problem should be solved.

Now it will want you to read text so that it can improve its accuracy by working out how you speak. Once you have done this, you will be able to use the iPhone as a microphone by selecting Profile – Open User Profile – and selecting the correct Source – Remote Microphone.

Setting your iPhone up as a Recorder

You add this into your profile in the same way you did the remote microphone. Profile – Add dictation source to current User Profile. This time choose Handheld or Smartphone with Recording Application. It will take you through four steps, the first of which – adding the app to your phone – you have already done. Click next and it will take you to the text it wants you to read. Choose one of them and read for at least five minutes into your phone while recording; longer is better. Tap once if you need to pause the recording, again to restart it, and double tap when you want to end it.

Once you have finished the recording, click on Next. It will ask you to transfer the recording to your computer. You will need to save it to your PC so that you can browse for the file it is in. I set up a file on my desktop – Dragon Recording – to move mine into.

In the phone app click on Options. On the next screen move the Wi-Fi sharing to On. If you know how to work Bonjour go for it, but I had to open up the http:// file it lists on my laptop. This took me to a page which showed all my recordings. Right click on the audio file you want to move and choose Save Link As. Then select the file you set up on the desktop as its destination.

I initially drag-and-dropped the audio file onto my desktop and browsed for that file to transcribe but it didn’t work. When I put it into the folder and browsed for that, it opened up the folder, allowing me to choose the audio file I wanted Dragon to evaluate. (Not sure why that worked when the other method didn’t, and I’m not ever likely to know. Where computers are involved I just go with the flow.) If you have a lot of audio files saved, you can change the name of them by clicking on the blue arrow next to them in the iPhone app, making it easier to identify them later.

When the file has uploaded, Dragon will evaluate your reading style to improve its accuracy on translation.

Once it is working, you can ask Dragon to transcribe an audio file in two ways. Firstly, click on the two downward facing arrows at the far right of the Dragon top bar. A second bar will open underneath it and you will see the option to Transcribe. The other method is to click on Transcribe Recording under Tools at the top right. You upload your file in the same manner as previously described. It will transcribe into a DragonPad document from which you can cut-and-paste your words.

I’ve only been using the Dragon NaturallySpeaking for a day, but it is already becoming more natural for me than it was in the beginning. I can see that over the coming weeks this will become a truly enjoyable and extremely fast way to write.

Please Note – if you are looking at purchasing the software and want to use your phone wirelessly as I have just described, make sure you purchase the correct version.

 

Confessions of a Serial Self-Publisher

Way back in 2011 I did an online writing course through the Queensland Writer’s Centre called ‘The Year of the Novel.’ The aim of this was to write a novel from start to finish during the duration of the course (Eight months. I guess ‘The Year of the Novel’ sounds catchier than ‘The Eight Months of the Novel’). We started with a hearty troupe of 28, but within the first month the number of consistent attenders decreased dramatically. Only three of us finished the course and our novels.

Flash forward to a year later. I am despondent. I have a novel, and I know it’s good, but I don’t know what to do with it. I have started the traditional publishing merry-go-round and I am not having fun.

Picture me browsing the Queensland Writer’s Centre website during my lunch break (once a nerd, always a nerd). What do I see but an article on Rachel Amphlett’s new book, White Gold. The cover is shiny and professional. Why does the storyline seem familiar to me?

It took me about five minutes to realise that Rachel was one of the three who had finished the course with me. Here she was with a published book – a self-published book. What did I have? A lot of excuses, that’s what.

I contacted Rachel and talked to her about her publishing, and the rest, as they say, is history. Within a couple of months I also was the proud owner of a published novel.

Rachel Amphlett has been my inspiration and my role-model and I am also proud to say she has become one of my best friends. This writing gig can be rapturous one day and demoralising the next. You need good writing buddies to support you when the times are tough and cheer you when they are good. For me, Rachel is one of those people.

I am lucky enough to have an interview with Rachel for you today in which she discusses her path in self-publishing her books and offers up some tips.

Hi Rachel. Thanks so much for your time today. What inspired you to self-publish your novels?

When I finished my first thriller, “White Gold”, I approached 5-6 literary agents who represented thriller authors I admired. Although a couple of them came back with a template rejection letter, the rest took the time to explain that they liked my writing but their publishing clients weren’t looking for the sort of thing I was writing about.

It seemed a shame to be getting such good feedback and letting the story go untold, so I got in touch with an Australian mystery/suspense writer, Vicki Tyley, who has self-published all of her thrillers as eBooks through Smashwords. Vicky was tremendous – she provided me with all the advice I needed to bite the bullet and publish “White Gold” myself.

Of course, I’ve learned a lot since I first published it back in July 2011, and continue to do so, but it helped having a mentor who said “it’s possible – get on with it!”

What’s the hardest, the easiest and the most rewarding things about self-publishing?

The hardest thing is making the time to do the marketing, and then not let the marketing take over the writing itself!

The easiest? Making changes if you do spot a typo (or one of your readers kindly lets you know without putting it in a review!). On that note, if any readers do spot a typo in one of my novels – let me know. I’ll stick you down for a free copy of the next one.

The most rewarding thing about self-publishing is that it’s so easy to do and there’s a real community spirit amongst other self-published authors.

You’re novels are in both eBook and print formats. Did you do all the formatting for these yourself? And if so are there any tips you have to share?

I formatted the paperback versions of “White Gold” and “Under Fire” myself but I think in future I’m going to use BookBaby – it’s one less thing for me to have to do when I could be using that time more lucratively.

You, Ms U, got me onto PressBooks and now I’m hooked on that and will be using it in future after seeing how easy it was to set up “Under Fire” and then download the .epub version onto my Kindle for a read-through.

Which publishing platforms have you found to be the most lucrative?

I use a combination of Amazon, Kobo, Gardners, and Smashwords for my eBooks. For my paperbacks I use Lightning Source.  Smashwords gives me access to iTunes and at the moment, that’s matching Amazon for eBook sales. With Lightning Source, I use their print on demand option and this gives me international exposure through Ingrams. My paperbacks are selling well in the UK, US and here in Australia.

I did try Amazon KDP only for the eBooks but lost sales, so I’m using a combination of four distributors now.

There are some self-published authors that mock Smashwords but they’re getting eBooks into places that are going to take off over the coming years. Supermarkets have an enormous market share in the UK, and both Tescos and Sainsburys are going to be selling eBooks online in coming years and my books are already available through outlets such as Foyles and WHSmith.

Through Gardners, I’m getting into the South African eBook marketplace and some other UK eBook sites I wasn’t even aware of.

I counted up the number of outlets for my books the other day and it’s currently sitting at 30. Yes, some are slow compared to iTunes and Amazon, but a sale is a sale and unlike Amazon, all the other distributors I use either don’t have a minimum royalty payment, or it’s lower so if you’re starting out, you can earn monthly royalties straight away.

How do you market your books?

I typically send out a press release to a list of about 30 publications which I’ve had some involvement with in the past – that includes local newspapers.

I contact book reviewers and bloggers who I follow and find out if they’d be interested in doing interviews – I often tie these in with a giveaway of a paperback or eBook to drum up a bit more interest.

When I released “Under Fire” I did a Goodreads giveaway which helped as I got two reviews out of three of the winners, but posting paperbacks from Australia is expensive so I’m debating whether or not to do that again.

I’ve had a good response from local bookstores that have been very enthusiastic about supporting my writing and stock my books and organise book signings from time to time for me.

This year I’ve started drawing up a marketing plan for the whole of 2014 to keep me on track and be a bit more organised – I’m learning all the time how to get better at this marketing malarky so it’s good to have it set out so I can see what I’m supposed to be doing and when!

Who are your role models in the self-publishing world and why?

I think an obvious choice is Hugh Howey, but also James Oswald. They had both started out as self-published authors, but morphed into hybrids having secured traditional publishing contracts.

It ought to be remembered that Matthew Reilly was one of the first to do this though, before eBooks were around. I was lucky enough to meet him on the publicity tour for “The Tournament” in November and thank him for inspiring me to have a shot at it. It didn’t hurt that he walked off with a copy of “Under Fire” in his backpack either…

What’s the best thing about being an author?

There’s a few things: that moment when you’ve finished a novel – the point where you know it’s ready to go out into the big wide world. At the same time, there’s the excitement of starting a new story which has probably been tapping its foot impatiently in your brain waiting to get out for a good six months before you start it.

Then there’s the chance to meet some of my own writing heroes and peers and just soak up their advice and enthusiasm.

Finally, there’s the camaraderie amongst other authors – it doesn’t matter whether they’re starting out, already selling shedloads or somewhere in the middle. For me, having that connection with a few kindred spirits is essential to keep the enthusiasm going. Likewise, I’m always happy to pass on any advice I can to people – there shouldn’t be any secrets in this game.

What are your goals for 2014?

I’d like to think I can get two quality standalone suspense/thriller novels out this year while I’m continuing the research for the third in the “Dan Taylor” series of thrillers and holding down a full-time job.

We’re currently renovating a house we bought in April 2013 so I’d like to see a chunk of work done there by the end of the year, if only to stop the neighbours having to view such an eyesore out of their windows!

Finally, I’ve got a pile of about 50 books on my “To be Read” pile which I’m determined to get through this year – that’s not including the 20 or so I’ve downloaded onto my Kindle over the past few months.

Maybe I should add a holiday as one of my goals so I can catch up on those…

 

imagesAbout Rachel

Rachel Amphlett previously worked in the UK publishing industry, played lead guitar in rock bands, and worked with BBC radio before relocating from England to Australia in 2005.

After returning to writing, Rachel enjoyed publication success both in Australia and the United Kingdom with her short stories.

In August 2011, Rachel published her first thriller, ‘White Gold’, as an eBook with a paperback version being released in 2012.

A further Dan Taylor thriller, ‘Under Fire’, was released in August 2013.

A standalone suspense novel is scheduled for release in 2014, while two more projects are currently being researched, including the third instalment in the Dan Taylor series.

Connect with Rachel through her blogsite – HERE.

 

You can find Rachel’s books here:

810-svVcKYL._SL1500_White Gold

A conspiracy that will end alternative energy research; an organisation killing to protect its interests – and a bomb that will change the face of terrorism…

When Sarah Edgewater’s ex-husband is murdered by a radical organisation hell-bent on protecting their assets, she turns to Dan Taylor – geologist, ex-soldier, and lost cause. Together, they must unravel the research notes that Sarah’s ex-husband left behind to locate an explosive device that is circumnavigating the globe towards the London 2012 Olympics – and time is running out. In an fast-paced ecological thriller that spans the globe, from London to Brisbane and back via the Arctic Circle, Dan and Sarah aren’t just chasing the truth – they’re chasing a bomb that, if detonated, will change the future of alternative energy research and the centre of England’s capital forever.

8310789Under Fire

An explosion rocks a Qatari natural gas facility…a luxury cruise liner capsizes in the Mediterranean…and someone has stolen a submarine…

Are the events connected?

Dan Taylor doesn’t believe in coincidences – all he has to do is convince his superiors they are the next in the terrorists’ line of fire.

As Britain enters its worst winter on record, Dan must elude capture to ensure the country’s energy resources are protected. At all costs.

In an action-packed adventure, from the Middle East through the Mediterranean to London, Dan and his team are on a quest which will test every choice he makes. Assisted by the exotic Antonia Almasi, Dan realises he faces an adversary far greater than he ever imagined.

And not everyone is going to survive.

UNDER FIRE will be available on Amazon for the bargain price of $0.99 from January 9th – 13th only.

 

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Thinking of Self-Publishing?

Are you a first time author looking to self-publish your book? Or perhaps you are a traditionally published author thinking about dipping a toe into the self-publishing sea?
Well I’m happy to let you know that anyone can self-publish. It’s just that not everybody does it well. Poorly formatted books, riddled with errors are, unfortunately, on the rise with the self-published author.

But it doesn’t have to be like that.

All of the traditional publishing experts are available for utilisation during the self-publishing process – editors, cover designers, formatters, distributors – the world is your oyster. But at what cost? Every dollar you spend eats into your profit, and believe me, you can spend a lot.

But what if I told you that after you have edited and designed your cover you only had to spend a measly $35 to have your eBook for sale on Amazon, Kobo, Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Sony, Nook and Apple iBookstore amongst others, and your printed book available for sale on Amazon and any other internet distributor?

Sounds too good to be true? Well it’s not. And to prove it I’ve written a book about it.

To be totally honest though, that’s not really what my book is about. Over the last few years I have spent hundreds of hours researching, learning and trial and error-ring formatting to allow my books to look as professional as possible. And after all that hard work, I realised I had an incredible ability to help other authors through the same minefields I had navigated.

Self-Publishing Cover I know there are a lot of books on self-publishing already available, but from my experience I’ve found most of them tell you what to do not how to do it. So a couple of months ago I started writing and this was the result – a nuts-and-bolts, hold-your-hand manual on formatting.

I also discuss different self-publishing options available, looking at their pros, cons and costings, as well as everything you need to do before you self-publish your book. It should be available on Amazon in eBook form within the next month.

Sound like something you might benefit from? Well, you’re in luck. In the lead up to my book launch, I’m searching for authors willing to do an honest review on Amazon in exchange for a free copy of my book. If you’re interested, send me an email through my contact page, or contact me on twitter (@DonnaJoyUsher) and when it’s ready I’ll send you a copy.