Although we often visit family in West Suffolk, this is the first time we have made it as far as the coast. With luck and the weather on our side we had a great day in Southwold. August? Busy? Obviously, but in a good way. Lots of smiling faces as children frolicked in the waves or laboured over elaborate sandcastles. Pubs and (absolutely obligatory) tea-shops were lively but not packed out. Our day at the seaside, finished with a stroll along the beach and back to town via Walberswick. Classic.
All of this has distracted me from my blog schedule but while I’m here I thought I would expand a little on last week’s self-publishing theme, which was also taken up in yesterday’s Jeremy Vine show on Radio 2. (If you want to investigate via i-player, it’s just over an hour in). In fact I felt that the discusssion, although lively at times, failed to clearly distinguish the various elements of self-publishing and its relation to Print on Demand, and was if anything made more confusing by callers who rang to champion a particular company or method without explaining the ramifications. I’m sure, though, that it was excellent publicity for Grosvenor House whose director Kim Cross got the most air-time of the studio guests. (And look I’ve given him a bit more!)
To redress the balance, I’m also going to mention Completely Novel, a site I investigated a while ago and which combines (I think!) the Authonomy model of a writing community with a Lulu-like POD arm. I don’t know anyone who has used Completely Novel for publishing, but its director Anna Lewis gives some excellent advice on how to make life easier for self-publishing, including, as I’m always telling people, how much some knowledge of Word can help.
More recently Anna has also blogged about possible developments in e-publishing based on the ‘cloud’ concept. Defintiely worth a read.
And finally, while I was gone, WordPress decided to make changes to this site. I’m sure thay had thier reasons, but apologies to anyone who came along before I had put things back in place!
When writer friend Nicola Bennetts took a trip to Peru two years ago, it wasn’t just to see the sights but to find out about the work done there by Christian Aid and other charities. Her account of the expedition made fascinating listening for our writers’ group through most of last winter, but when she decided to publish the story on Lulu, it was the start of a whole new journey.
It’s widely believed Lulu and other P.O.D. sites are easy peasy and require no special IT skills. Well, that’s true to a certain extent, but if you took twenty of your friends at random, I think you ‘d be pushed to find many over 40 (and quite a few under) including those who regularly word-process, email, store photos and surf the net, who have ever had any introduction to file management – until they use something like Lulu. Add to this the prospect of setting up templates and genereating contents pages in Word, grappling with image files and enduring the idiosynchasies of any web-based application, and Lulu becomes not to much an easy option as a bit of a nightmare. For Nicola, who showed great perseverance in her determination to get a decent product, the final straw was when her book was finally ‘published’ but because of a technical ’glitch’ remained invisible to the public.
But by then the end really was in sight and in just a bit longer than it took to cross Peru, Beyond the Inca Trail was finally launched. My copy arrived yesterday, hot off the Lulu press and looking very good indeed. Don’t be deceived by the cover photo. This was no ordinary tourist trip, but if you’re interested in the plight of asparagus farmers or would like to know what guinea pig really tastes like, this is well worth reading.
I can also guarantee there will be no split infinitives.
Profits to Christian Aid
Say the word ‘self-publishing’ in a room of writers and it’s a fair bet a lively skirmish will break out, if not an all-out war. Since I’m just giving technical help to a friend, I don’t have to make a decision on the pros, cons rights and wrongs, but Nathan Bransford’s post on questions to ask ourselves before we opt to self-publish was still timely and well worth a read.
I also took a trip over to Jane Smith’s Self-Publishing Review, a blog where she regularly tears to shreds the efforts of any soul willing to send in their brave new babies. Jane is so hard to please (and rightly so as she judges all books against the criteria of commercial publication) I was delighted to find not only a book that had won her approval but also an author who is a bit of an expert in the field of self-publishing.
What Art Edwards reminded me (hope he doesn’t mind a quick paraphrase) is that a lot of terms are confused these days. Self-publishing – through any medium – requires the author to take control of the whole publishing process. POD, while a hugely popular tool for getting books printed, is just that, a printing service. The author still has to do all the editing, make all the design decisions and find a way to market the finished product. In other words, chucking something up on Lulu may be easy, but there’s a lot more to do if you want to produce something that will sell.
Meanwhile I am just looking at the simplicity or otherwise of formatting and up loading a manuscript on Lulu, which, especially taking into account that many writers were brought up pre-PC and are only just getting to grips with formatting and file types, looks to me rather less fool-proof than many would have us believe. Anticipating a need for support, I have joined Absolute Write (interesting forums) and Completely Novel (an alternative to Lulu?)
With other writing on the back burner, I may be revisiting this and letting you all know how it goes.
Meanwhile writer friend Nina Milton is , I suppose, pre-publishing, by posting the first draft of her new novel here. Nina is already a published author and her first Sabbie novel has been accepted by an agent. Her new books have a strong sense of place, so if you like Somerset spookiness, get along there for a sneak preview.