Just a short post today to mark the rather momentous moment (for me, anyway) of finally seeing my book up for sale on Amazon and Kindle worldwide.
Regular readers of this blog will know that I had planned on releasing the title in September, when people were back from their holidays and the weather was closing in. But the more I thought about it, the more sense it seemed to make to just get it out there. By publishing now I get to have a 'soft opening', if you like. I can still have the big marketing push (such as it will be) in autumn but in the meantime I can gather a few reviews, speak to libraries, deal with any issues which crop up in relation to Amazon. After all, isn't one of the perks of self-publishing that your book is there for as long as you want it to be? As a self-published author, you are not competing for shelf-space in a book store, your title isn't going to be cast aside if it doesn't fly off the shelves in the first few weeks. This way I get a little extra time to get used to how everything works.
I was glad I had chosen to go ahead early within a few hours of publishing the paperback. As part of my thorough preparation I had read that the next step, the incredibly important step that takes me from paperback to e-book, was actually quite easy thanks to a new Amazon/CreateSpace programme which does everything for you. All I had to do was hit the big blue button which said 'I want to publish this title on Kindle'. Hmmm, right. Big blue button hit, heart in mouth, totally wonky document comes out the other side. Cue several days of head scratching and searching through Amazon discussion forums which were waaaaaay over my head in terms of technical speak. In the end I stripped anything vaguely fancy out of the document (bye bye pretty gothic swirl and drop caps) and found a few tips on writing blogs which I will share with you in another post. In the end I came up with a result that works (by the way, did you know that even if you nail the formatting for Kindle, chances are it will show up differently on Apple devices?). In the end I am hoping that it is the stories that count but I am finally satisfied that I have produced something which looks as professional as I could have managed with the skills and facilities that I have.
Now I just need to find some readers.
Spooky, gothic, mysterious tales, anyone?
UK paperback HERE US paperback HERE
UK e-book HERE US e-book HERE
Easily found on all Amazon and Kindle websites globally by searching under 'BM Keeling'.
This is the first of a trilogy relating to the Wars of the Roses. Book 2 (Trinity) was published September 2014 and the final instalment (Bloodline) is scheduled for release in September this year. My version is a beautiful, sturdy hardback. The cover gleams gold and there is a coloured map at the front and a lovely illustrated royal family tree at the back. I acquired it shortly after its release when I attended a talk by the author at Sheffield central library. If you ever get the chance to attend one of Conn Iggulden's talks I would urge you to go. An ex-teacher, he is used to holding the attention of an audience and is funny, engaging and endlessly charming.
I'm not sure why it took me so long to get around to reading it. Whilst it is a lovely book it is rather heavy and, as it is signed, I was probably a little nervous about messing it up by slinging it about in my bag. It is no reflection, though, on how I felt about it and I was excited to finally begin reading.
Most people are familiar with the exploits of Henry V; the great warrior King who conquered much of France. Also many are aware of the bloody English civil war which ripped the country apart as the red rose of Lancaster battled the white rose of York. This book, however, bridges the gap between the two. Henry VI is a frail and weak king and France is growing bold. The inside flap of the jacket reads:
''King Henry V - the great Lion of England - is long dead.
In 1437, after years of regency, the pious and gentle Henry VI, the Lamb, comes of age and accedes to the English throne. His poor health and frailty of mind render him a weakling king - Henry depends on his closest men, Spymaster Derry Brewer and William de la Pole, Duke of Suffolk, to run his kingdom.
Yet there are those, such as the Plantagenet Richard, Duke of York, who believe England must be led by a strong king if she is to survive. With England's territories in France under threat, and rumours of revolt at home, fears grow that Henry and his advisers will see the country slide into ruin. With a secret deal struck for Henry to marry a young French noblewoman, Margaret of Anjou, those fears become all too real.
As storm clouds gather over England, King Henry and his supporters find themselves besieged abroad and at home. Who, or what can save the kingdom before it is too late?''
My view: Conn Iggulden is an expert in writing historical fiction. His writing style is accomplished yet accessible and he manages to bring the past tantalisingly to life. The book balances political intrigue with battlefield action and the pace is good. This is around the sixth book I have read by this author and it seems to me as if he is becoming even more readable. I particularly enjoyed the portrayal of Henry VI's young bride, Margaret of Anjou, as in the other books I have read set in this period she is an older and battle-hardened woman. It was interesting to consider her early vulnerability and dedication to her cause and her king. I did stutter a little when the story lingered on the skirmishes in France. They went on a little too long for my taste as, personally, I prefer the political machinations and I probably would have enjoyed it more had it been 50 pages or so shorter. But I know that these books appeal to a range of people who have different preferences when it comes to reading historical fiction and I think that Conn Iggulden does an excellent job in catering for most tastes. His ratings on Amazon are consistently high and I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series.
Well I am back from my holiday and preparing for the run in to book launch day! I still haven't quite decided on a date; it will be dictated to some extent by how the next stage in the process goes. At the moment, though, I am still aiming for mid/end September.
You will see from the above screen shot that I have taken the big step of submitting my files (interior manuscript and cover) to CreateSpace for review. (For anyone who needs reminding, this is the branch of Amazon which produces the physical books rather than the e-books.) This is hugely exciting. The process takes about 24 hours, I believe, during which time they check for glaring errors in presentation. Then I can review it as a whole on screen (up to now I have only been able to review the interior and the cover separately) and I get to see whether the tricky issue of getting the spine in the right place has been successfully managed. Here's what has been happening recently to get me to this position:
The manuscript came back from my proofreader while I was away. There weren't too many changes, although it seems that I have a problem determining when to use one word, a hyphen, or two words. His eagle eyes also saved me from at least two errors which would have been embarrassing. The lesson here - get your manuscript edited, even if it is only at the very basic proofing level. Another blogger, the very lovely Astrid Arditi, has written an excellent piece on the different levels and types of editing available and I would recommend it to anyone thinking of self-publishing, It can be found here. Even my own proofreader didn't think I needed his services after looking over two of the stories but I insisted and I am glad that I did. The person I used is a long-standing friend and I suspect I was given 'mates rates' but it was still a significant investment for me in the context of publishing a book which I hope, one day, will at least pay for itself. It will take around 130 sales to pay for the edit alone and this will be no mean achievement. I will need around 250 sales to roughly break-even (cost of edit + cost of stock images for cover + sundries). Still, in terms of the edit, my reputation is at stake and it was the right thing to do.
Anyway, making money is not the main reason for doing this at the moment (right?!). The intention is to publish a number of titles which will hopefully then gather some momentum. In the meantime, the experience I am having is exciting and educational and is already beginning to open doors for me.
So - onwards.
I will now have to be patient and wait for CreateSpace to work it's magic and tell me whether my book is ready for review. I will then scrutinize it on-screen and then I have a decision to make. This decision is whether or not to order a physical proof copy of my book before it goes live. Given how much trouble I have gone to to get this far, then the obvious answer is to purchase one. The problem is that CreateSpace only prints them in the US (even though the books will be printed locally once published). There are therefore delays and shipping costs to consider. Fortunately I have given myself plenty of time and it should only cost about £8 (hang on, that's another 12.6 books I'll have to sell!) so my thinking at the moment is that I will do it. (Pricing is interesting. I have just discovered that for each £4.99 book I sell I will get 68p. What do you think of the price? It will be 166 pages long. The Kindle version will probably be priced at £1.99.)
Timing is still an issue, though. I have spoken with a few libraries who have informed me that they need a number of weeks (6-8) to approve a book and I really would love it to be part of the Halloween display at my local branch. Also, a few advance readers would be useful so that I can get some reviews ready to go (although some reviewers seem to accept e-files so that might be less of a problem). As an author I can order up to five proof copies of my book so perhaps I will order one, see if I am happy with it and then order a few more to go to the libraries but it might be that I have to put the book live earlier than I would like just so I can get it reviewed by libraries in time. If anyone out there has any experience with this do let me know. I suppose in most situations it is not a problem - an author would simply publish and then ask the libraries to review after that date. It is only because I am trying to tie everything in with Halloween that it is becoming complicated.
One thing that I should mention is that CreateSpace offers a free service to automatically publish the book to KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) once it has been approved. That means, I hope, that it will take minimal work to put the book live on the Kindle Store.
One final point - I have finally entered the world of Facebook. I am finding it difficult but can already see the benefits as I am reaching an audience who just don't participate on Twitter. My page can be found here and I would be extremely grateful for any likes or shares you can send my way - I have a feeling that selling those, er... 262.6 books is going to be tough work!
I love most types of fiction - crime, mystery, fantasy. Oh, and historical fiction of course and middle-grade books and, well, you get the picture.
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