Welcome to my self-indulgent location for the stories (good and bad) that I can't prevent myself from writing. All comments and criticisms welcome. I post on Tuesdays and Saturdays.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Post: Allan Russell

Hey everyone! The HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest is only days away now. Want to sign up? There's still time. Just click the link, put up a short story of 750 words (no more than 1000) on Wednesday, and then welcome the feedback from your fellow bloggers.

To celebrate, I'd like to welcome our last guest, Allan Russell, author of Veiled in Shadows. Al took a slightly different route to publication than our proposed short story route, but he has great suggestions on how to hone your work. And, so, without any further ado....

First of all I would like to say thank you very much to Rosie and Charity for hosting this post.

In support of their Hone Your Skills Blogfest they are asking published authors to talk about their road to publication.

I guess in some ways my path to publishing my novel Veiled in Shadows is quite atypical and some (if not many) would say not at all the best way to go.

Absolutely ages ago (in fact it would be close to twenty years ago) I did what many young people do and sat down to write a novel. Unlike most I finished a first draft, in fact that was my first draft of Veiled in Shadows.

But life got in the way and my writing went on a shelf stored on a floppy disk.

Over the following decade or so I wrote hundreds of thousands of words. None of them fiction. The writing I did was in the form: of a couple of bachelor’s degrees; an academic thesis; and hundreds of reports and press releases in various work places. I didn’t really think about it but all this writing was having a positive effect on my writing ability.

A few years ago I had a bit of time on my hands and thought I would like to ‘write a book’. Then of course I remembered that I had in fact already ‘written one’ and hunted down that lost floppy. I was quite excited at the prospect of looking at it again, but I was bitterly disappointed. It was awful! The writing was really poor, the characters were cardboard 2D cut-outs, in short it was almost fit for nothing.

But, I still liked plot. I thought the themes could be developed into something meaningful and the characters could grow into credible beings. I began re-drafting from there. Most of Veiled has been redrafted three times since then with a few sections probably changing eight or ten times.

Following that I paid for a professional manuscript assessment. The report was good and indicated with some changes (including pruning sub-plots) I would have a marketable manuscript. I pretty much adopted all the recommended changes and did another redraft.

I then employed another editor to do a copy edit. She wasn’t paid for advice as such but essentially said wow! So by then I was pretty sure I had something worth querying.

I hated the query process (who doesn’t?). I took every rejection very personally (which you shouldn’t). This led me to consider self publication.

I did a lot of research and decided to give it a go. Almost still playing with the idea I began designing covers and formatting the text.

I’m lucky in that I have some skills with design, I produced a cover that I think not only looks good, but more importantly professional.

In terms of formatting, again I’ve had some experience with desktop publishing and the like for work and I did more research and looked at what works in published books. Where I lacked is in basic editing so I both paid for edits and had the luck to recruit a couple of friends/acquaintances to check the work over.

The bottom line is if you want to have professional looking work pay professionals for anything where you don’t have the skills.

In terms of printing I’ve gone for POD and am using LightingSource. They are a printing company, they just print. You have to look after everything else. But as a subsidiary of Ingram you will get listed with Amazon and the Book Depository automatically and any retailer who wishes can order your book direct from Ingram.

What did it cost? My biggest single cost component has been editing, around $1500 in total. The cover cost me about $100 (mostly the licence for a photo I used as a basis of my cover). LightningSource charged about $80 to set up my print ready files and list internationally.

The up side - this is pretty much all my work and that gives me a lot of pride.

The down side any problems are my fault I can’t blame any one else.

I’ve had some brilliant reviews, for example by British biographer Kathleen Jones.

How is it going?
Well sales are slow but essentially that is because I have not had time to put some marketing ideas into action.

Although as I said it’s already on Amazon (including Kindle)and when I checked the other night they were discounting the paperback at $8.05.

Anyone want to buy a book? ;-)


Thanks again, Al, for coming to share your story.

I got Al's book for Christmas, and once I can actually GET to it, I'll be posting a review (though, unfortunately, it might be May at the rate I'm going).

Be sure to stop by over the next couple of days for my several blogfest posts, including my entry for the HONE YOUR SKILLS Blogfest. Come join in the fun :)


Al said...

Hi Rosie,
Thanks for the opportunity to guest post over here!
For some reason the Amazon link I gave you doesn't seem to be working. It was OK the other night so it beats me.
If anyone wants to check it out head to Amazon and type in the title, mine is the only book called "Veiled in Shadows" on Amazon.
Thanks again Rosie!

RosieC said...

Whoops! Wonder what happened.

I've fixed the link, so it should be working now.

And we're more than glad to have you, Al. Thank YOU! :)

Jules said...

It is always nice read of an authors road to publication, gives the rest of us hope. :)

Thanks Al for the story and Rosie...good read my friend.
Jules @ Trying To Get Over The Rainbow

Carol Riggs said...

Thanks to you both for sharing this story! I always find other writers' paths to publication interesting. I had to laugh at the query hating--yeah, no kidding. But I don't like the marketing either. Can't we just write? LOL Anyway, nice cover!--I thought it was a traditionally published book. :)

Al said...

Thanks Rosie, you are awesome!

Lynda R Young said...

It's so great to read Al's road to publication. It's good to hear you paid for professionals to polish your work too. (Oh, and my first novel was stored on a floppy disc too hahahaaha)

LTM said...

great interview! Thanks, guys! And yes, most important = if you want to be considered professional, look/act professional. Great advice~


Anonymous said...

Great post. I love reading about people's publishing journeys. And I remember those floppy disks.

Theres just life said...

Rosie, You are going to love the book. I have read it and now my fiancé is reading it as well.

Pamela Jo

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