I’ll just go ahead and admit it – I have a bit of a soft spot for Julie Stock. When she came running up to me at the RNA conference last year, genuinely excited to meet me, she guaranteed herself a place in my list of favourite people! Since then Julie has completed her novel, edited it to a high shine, and self-published a book that looks so professional it rivals any traditionally published title. I asked Julie to come on the blog today not just to promote her new book but also to tell us about her journey in self-publishing. Her guest blog is so interesting I’m thinking of starting a series of similar posts – I don’t know about you but I am really nosey and love hearing all about other people’s journey to publication. So, over to you, Julie …
“I started writing my debut contemporary romance, From Here to Nashville, in April 2013. Somewhere along the way, I decided, madly or otherwise, that I would self-publish that novel. I finally published it as an ebook on 16th February, 2015 and I have just published the paperback version this month.
Why I Chose to Self-Publish
It has been quite a long road to get to this point and the steepest learning curve I have ever encountered but I’m there at last. Part of my motivation for self-publishing was that I’m not getting any younger and I didn’t want to wait for agents and publishing companies to make their decisions, especially if they were going to be rejections anyway, which was likely. I also liked the idea that I would be in complete control of my book’s destiny.
Getting Feedback on Your Book
So I set out to write the best book I could and to go from there. Part of the problem for new writers is how do you know whether it is the best book you could write? I sought lots of chapter critiques in the early days and I was also lucky enough to find a great beta reader through my participation in NaNoWriMo. I also joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (RNA NWS), which allowed me to submit my book to be read by a professional author and to receive feedback on it. This feedback was very helpful.
Learning How to Self-Publish
I had been toying with the idea of joining the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) when I attended the RNA’s annual conference last July. Luckily, Debbie Young from ALLi was giving a talk and that persuaded me to join. Their help with the nuts and bolts of self-publishing, along with the supportive nature shown by all members has been invaluable.
Making Your Book Professional
The next step was to make sure it was professionally edited and proofread, and that I organised a professional cover for it too. I managed to get a special offer from an editor who was a member of the RNA for the professional edit. However, I was not prepared for what came back. There were a number of things she didn’t like about it and there was one big thing that if I changed it, was going to mean a complete rewrite of the whole book. At this point, I was ready to give up!
The big thing she didn’t like was my narrative structure. The book is told in 1st person by my main female character, Rachel in the first part of the book. Then it switches to 1st person from the main male character, Jackson when the story moves to Nashville. In the final part, it alternates between the two. The editor suggested I change it all to 3rd person. I agonised over this for a really long time and sought other people’s views, including my beta readers. In the end, the feedback was that my unusual narrative structure was actually my unique selling point or USP and that I should stick with it. This was the first of many difficult decisions, leading me to decision fatigue further down the line!
The proofreading was painless, except that I had to delay it because the editing took so long. The cover design had a few hairy moments too, mainly because it is difficult to convey to someone by email exactly what your vision is, especially when you’ve never had to design anything yourself.
Formatting Your Book
The final hurdles to overcome have been to do with formatting the book, firstly as an ebook for Kindle and then as a paperback. I write using a software programme called Scrivener, which pretty much did the ebook formatting for me, although not without a few tears along the way! I then used Jo’s excellent guide to formatting the paperback version using Word and found that quite straightforward. I decided to go for the ebook first and the paperback afterwards but I would hope to do them both at the same time next time.
Sales and Marketing
And so to sales. Well, it got off to a good start and I’ve had great reviews but making the book visible to all the potential readers out there is very hard. This is where having the might of a publisher behind you really comes into its own, I think. I’m keeping at it though and trying lots of new things, which I hope will build my readership bit by bit over time. Of course, I have a strong author platform behind me, Twitter, Facebook and my blog but I believe in building relationships, not blasting people with messages to buy my book and that takes time.
I set up my own blog tour and took out an ad. I have provided some copies free of charge to blog reviewers I have come to know. I have taken part in an online Romance Festival and I’ve just set up a Goodreads giveaway. I am always on the look out for opportunities to promote without getting in people’s faces too much! Other writers are incredibly supportive too and that helps such a lot.
I am still on the RNA’s NWS and trying to finish my first draft of my second book to submit to them before the end of August. That seems like loads of time but believe me, it isn’t. As I also work part-time, I’m now becoming more and more conscious of the need to manage my time better and to think I thought I was organised before I started all this! I’m hoping that things will be easier second time round but for that, only time will tell.”
Bio and Buying Links:
Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance novels, novellas and short stories. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and is a Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors.
When she is not writing, she works part-time as a teacher. She is married with two teenage daughters and lives with her family in Bedfordshire.
Buy From Here To Nashville
Amazon – http://bit.ly/FromHeretoNashville