22 Aug

It’s been three months since Just Say It hit the electronic bookshelves. Since then, I may think I’m getting a bit more self-publishing savvy, but I’ve been learning from my mistakes – there are so many things I wished I had known before I hit the publish button.It’s time to move on and stop worrying about how many people may or may not read and focus on finishing my next novel, but this time around, I won’t be making the same mistakes, both with the writing process and being more aware of the pitfalls of self-publishing.Once you hit the self-publishing button, there is no going back. One moment you are in the middle of a lengthy eye-watering proofread; the next, you are drowning in a vast ocean of books, trying everything you can to get recognition for your firstborn novel in the crush of the 45 million wannabe best sellers already out there, and the thousands of new titles published every day. However well you prepared you thought you were, it is while you are floundering around in the wake of other hot of the press novels that all the things you didn’t know about self-publication start rearing their irritating heads. Post-publication, much of what I have learned has been from other Indie authors – notably Dreena Collins, AKA Jane Harvey and Becci Murray of Llama House Children’s Books. I am very grateful to them both.

Next time around, I will be doing things very differently.First up… I’ve stopped being a total pantser!My approach to writing the second novel has changed. I’ve always been a total pantser. I used to find the slapdash approach to writing exhilarating. Freewheeling 100,000 plus words with Just Say It was fun, but it took me twice the amount of time to finish it because I wasn’t happy with the timeline of the story – I still have my doubts. So it took several lengthy rewrites to restructure and fill in multiple plot holes, and it took me five years. Even after all that time, I still needed Deb Sutton’s editorial expertise and tough love to push me over the line.In between writing Just Say It by the seat of my pants, I was writing short stories during downtime, and one of them made the longlist of the 2018/2019 Fiction Factory competition.  An Honest Review was about a writers group somewhere in the Home Counties. I loved all the characters and feeling buoyed by the short story making the longlist; I kept going, and it has evolved into novel number two, The Secret Lives of the Doyenne of Didsbrook, which I am hoping to launch in December 2021.

All the things I didn’t know about when I published Just Say It, that won’t be happening again!The list is endless! I thought I had marketing/promotion plan, but it was lacking in so many respects. I think I was so focused on getting it out there that I didn’t allow any time to concentrate on what I needed to do once it hit the electronic bookshelves.

Pre-publication Check List

Find Beta Readers to read final draftsFind a professional editor. I do know authors who edit their own books – but I am not one of them 

Consider Ingram Spark</a> as an alternative publishing platform

Make the book available for pre-order on Amazon or Ingram SparkLine up ARC readers before publication and encourage them to reviewPost-publication Check ListOrganise virtual book tour – I didn’t have one, how silly was that? Especially when I’ve been involved in book tours on behalf of others in the pastSign up to Neilsen Book as soon as you have an ISBN, send a copy of you book to the Legal Deposit Office of The British Library within one month of publication.  It is a legal requirement I had no idea about.

Organise book signings – COVID-19 has scuppered too many over the last two yearsGet yourself on the local radio and wax lyrical about your book

Give talks to local groups.

Things that I won’t be doing next time around

Signing up to Reedsy Discovery AFTER publishing the book was A Reedsy reviewer picked up Just Say It within days of uploading it there, but they put it back in the pool over a month later because they didn’t have time to review it.

I’m still learning, so if I’ve forgotten anything, please let me know. In the meantime… keep writing.

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