Tag Archives: beta readers

Quick Guide to eBook Publishing with Amazon KDP – Part 1

Standard

One of my local writers’ groups asked if I’d give them a quick run through of the process of publishing an eBook using Amazon KDP, and I thought it made sense to share this on the blog too for anyone who has never tried publishing an eBook before, but would like to give it a go. I’ve broken down the whole process into five stages, so I’ll publish each as a separate part in a short series. Part 1 is a biggie:

Write Your eBook!

The beauty of eBooks is that they don’t have to be a specific length. A standard traditionally published novel might be around 80,000-120,000 words, a romance novel might tend to sit around the 50,000-55,000 word mark. These are accepted norms for physical books where publishers need to consider costs of paper and printing, how the book will look on the shelf, the thickness of the spine for printing the title and author name, and so forth. With an eBook, you are not bound by the constraints of traditional publishing, so if your magnum opus turns out to be 300,000 words long, that’s absolutely fine – in fact, there is some evidence to suggest readers prefer longer eBooks. Conversely, you can publish a stand-alone short story as an eBook if you so desire (and many people do) – though you’d be advised to make it clear in your blurb and in your pricing strategy that it’s a short story so readers don’t feel short-changed and leave you poor reviews.

Whatever the length of your book, the most important thing is to do your very best to make your manuscript error-free. This is incredibly difficult. It’s not unheard of to spot typos in traditionally published books produced by publishing companies with professional editors and proofreaders, so as a lone self-publisher you need to pay particular attention to this aspect of the publication process. You can pay for professional help with your edits and proofing, but this can be very expensive (you need to consider if this is justifiable – how many copies of your eBook will you have to sell to cover the cost? Is this realistic?). If you decide not to go down the professional route, you need an alternative strategy.

To start with, you need to check and re-check your manuscript yourself. This is usually most effective if you leave a period of time between the end of the writing process and your read through. It also helps to read aloud (amazing what you notice when you do this). And you may find it helpful to read the text in different formats – if you usually read on your laptop screen, try printing out a hard copy, or emailing the manuscript to your e-reader and checking through it in different fonts. Next, if you have access to a writing group, or some like-minded friends, you can ask them if they will act as beta readers for you. Ask them to read through the manuscript, looking out for typos, as well as clunky sentence structure and anything else which seems odd, doesn’t follow, or is inconsistent. Once you get their feedback, make all the final amendments, then leave it for a while before your final read through.

Then stop. It’s incredibly nerve-wracking self-publishing an eBook, but you have to let your book-baby go sometime. We writers are terrible for tinkering, and there will never be a time when you are completely happy with your manuscript. But you have to draw the line somewhere otherwise the project will never be finished. In any case, another great thing about the eBook is that even if you spot an error after you’ve published it (or more likely, one of your readers does), you can always correct and re-upload the text at any time.

So, I hope that was a helpful start in the self-publishing process – catch up with Part 2 of the series next week.

Advertisements

Support Networks for Writers

Standard

For those of us in the Midlands, it’s been a week of proper winter weather – snow and freezing temperatures has made those everyday journeys suddenly ridiculously difficult. One evening in particular, we had a sudden heavy snowfall and, in the space of a few minutes, the roads went from perfectly passable to treacherous.

We happened to be out in the weather at the time, driving back home through the neighbouring village. Our old Volvo (with almost a quarter of a million miles on the clock!) is four wheel drive and did us proud, but we came across several stranded cars and others wheel-spinning on the ice. We ended up pulling over and helping push several vehicles to get them on their way. There was a real feeling of camaraderie as we, and other passers-by, joined in. It seemed particularly appropriate given the time of year – it being almost the season of goodwill!

It also made me think about support networks and goodwill in general. Us writers can be a little insular at times, but that’s not to say we don’t need (and value) the network of people around us who help us do what we do. Our families, who accept that often we will be busy scribbling alone, and who take an interest in what we do without perhaps really understanding why we bother doing it! Our friends, who take the time to read those dodgy first drafts and make useful comments, or who are quick to provide a hug when things are not going so well. And the wider writing community who are so ready to offer support and encouragement.

Put a post on Facebook about a problem you’re having with your writing and in no time there’ll be a string of comments from other writers telling you they’ve experienced something similar, or offering advice. If you post about a rejection, you’ll get commiserations. If you post about a writing success (however modest) you’ll soon be inundated with generous and humbling congratulatory messages.

So if you find yourself wheel-spinning on your writing journey, don’t worry – just shout, and someone will soon be along to give you a push. And if your writing road is looking pretty clear, don’t forget to pay it forward – in lots of little ways:

  1. tell someone if you like their novel/story/blog (it might be just the lift they need)
  2. tell lots of other people too!
  3. remember to leave a review (for all those people you can’t tell personally)
  4. retweet their tweets
  5. comment on or share their posts
  6. follow their blog or their author page

And most importantly, say thank you to all those who’ve done the same for you:

So, thank you, folks! I appreciate every little push! 🙂