Category Archives: Books

Why And How I Chose To Self-Publish by Author Julie Stock

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 …

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“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.

What Next?

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:

DSCN8886Julie 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.

She blogs about her path to publication on her website, ‘My Writing Life’ www.juliestock.wordpress.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter, on Goodreads and via her Facebook Author Page.

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

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Filed under Books, Self-publishing

Special Reads for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! You know, I only really started to appreciate Mother’s Day when I became a mum myself (sorry, Mum!). These days, not only do I look forward to a lie in and breakfast in bed, and lovely cards and surprises from my six-year-old daughter, I also appreciate my own mum a lot more. A mother-daughter relationships is a very special thing, which is probably why I write about it so much!

Take Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap – my Stella Hill series (the third of which is currently in the planning phase). Stella has a complex relationship with her mother, and with her teenage daughter, Lipsy. After my mum read Can’t Live Without I had to reassure her that the character of Maggie wasn’t based on her at all! And it wasn’t, but to some extent every character and relationship is based on parts of myself and my own life. As a writer you mine your fears and your emotions, tapping into universal themes and bringing them to life on the page. As both of these books have been praised for their depiction of three generations of women, I thought a promotion for Mother’s Day would be a nice idea – so today you can buy not just one but both books for only 99p/99c each :)

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers and daughters out there – right now I’m off to enjoy my day of being pampered and adored. Long may that last!

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If you haven’t read either book before, read Can’t Live Without first, and then …

The Family Trap cover

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Filed under Books, Can't Live Without, The Family Trap

Loads of Fantastic Prizes for Fab New Book Launch

On Tuesday I was guest blogging for Pauline Wiles, ahead of the launch of her brilliant new book, Secrets in the Sky. Well, the book is now live, and if you pop over to her blog here, you can win some amazing prizes in her Rafflecopter giveaway. Fancy a $25 Amazon gift voucher, an owl bookend and paperweight or a set of British food goodies? What about a bundle of books, including my very own Cupid’s Way? Help Pauline celebrate her launch today and you could be a lucky winner.

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But don’t go just yet – I want to tell you why I’m supporting Pauline and why I love the book so much. Last year, Pauline asked me if I would be one of the beta readers for her second novel. Now, I don’t often beta read, mainly because of time constraints, and also because I am such a fussy reader I’m not sure my feedback will always be welcome! ;) However, I remembered how much I enjoyed Pauline’s debut novel, so I gladly said yes. I wasn’t sorry I did. This is a romance that takes you way beyond the normal angst – it has a LOT more to the story than your average girl meets boy. Plus, I really loved the cabin crew references because it took me back to my own days working for EasyJet. Pauline works really hard, is super-supportive to her fellow authors, and she deserves to get this book into as many hands as possible. So please download and share with your friends, and don’t forget to leave her a review if you enjoy it.

Good luck, Pauline!

Buy the Book:

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Hey, I’m A Guest On Pauline Wiles’ Lovely Blog!

My friend, Pauline Wiles, is launching her second novel on Thursday – Secrets in the Sky – and in the run up to the launch, Pauline is turning her blog over to a few of her writing friends. My guest post is up today, and you can read it by clicking here.

I was lucky enough to be one of the beta readers for Secrets in the Sky, and I can tell you now this is a brilliant book. Pauline is a fantastic writer, very talented, and I really enjoyed her first novel too. In fact, her first novel Saving Saffron Sweeting is currently on special offer for only 99p!

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I’ll be back on Thursday with more news about Secrets in the Sky and all the links you need to download and share :)

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Filed under Blogging, Books