Posts Tagged Bedsit Three

Publishing on Smashwords

This week I spent a few hours uploading the psychological thriller Bedsit Three to Smashwords.

Smashwords is the world’s largest distributor of independently-published e-books. It also sells directly to the public in a variety of e-book formats. I decided to use Smashwords in order to make Bedsit Three available for libraries to add to their e-book collections. Many libraries worldwide use Overdrive to source their e-books and the only way for an indie author to make a book available on Overdrive is to go through Smashwords (as I mentioned before in my post about the 2016 Self-publishing Conference).

Smashwords accepts a Word document which it then puts through its ‘meatgrinder’ to change into .epub format – so no great technical knowledge is needed on the author’s part. However, I hit a couple of snags during the uploading process.
Firstly I tried uploading a .docx document, this was rejected because Smashwords only accepts .doc documents i.e. those created by older editions of Word. So I had to use the ‘Save As’ function to save my document and change it from .docx to .doc.
Secondly, when I previewed the .epub produced via the ‘meatgrinder’ there was a blank page between every chapter. It took me a bit of fiddling and Googling to solve this one. I had to remove the page breaks between chapters (which Amazon and Kobo had seemed quite happy with) and replace with a few carriage returns. I think this is because Smashwords automatically inserts its own page break when it comes to a chapter heading.

The Overdrive catalogue is updated from Smashwords each Tuesday, so Bedsit Three should appear there by the middle of next week. If you’d like to read Bedsit Three for free please ask your library to add it to their e-book collection.

Incidentally, authors don’t receive PLR on borrowed e-books, they only get the one-off royalty for a single sale.

Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

Click to preview

A girl has been buried in a shallow grave. Rain starts to wash away the earth covering her.
A used pregnancy test and a scrap book about a suicide are abandoned in a bedsit.
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster. 
Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.

Available on Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords.

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Planning a Novel and the First Draft

I’ve been busy with a whiteboard and pretty coloured Post-It Notes trying to plan my second novel. There’s no ‘right’ way of writing a novel but, in my opinion, it helps to have some idea of where the story is heading. So I’ve taken novelist Bella Osborne‘s advice and tried working backwards from a pivotal moment in the plot. For example, if the pivotal moment is X stabbing Y to death in a fit of anger in a remote field, then scenes coming before that must show X procuring a knife, Y doing something to make X angry, X travelling to the remote field etc. etc. novel planning with post-it notes

My plan looks very nice and it’s got my brain into gear but I know I will inevitably veer ‘off-piste’ as I get deeper into the story. That probably won’t matter and will make the writing process more exciting (the book is meant to be grip-lit!). And if I get totally lost then I’ll come back to my plan.

I intend to write the first draft as quickly as possible, NaNoWriMo style. But I can’t wait until November so throughout April I will be doing my own private NaNoWriMo. I want to write as quickly as possible to keep my brain focused and the story continuously moving forward in my head. The resulting manuscript will be for my eyes only and will require a lot of additional work. But I find it less frightening to edit and play around with words I’ve already written, until they’re at a publishable standard, than try to write to that standard in the initial draft.
And I will be repeating the mantra of writing tutor Alison May, “It’s OK to hate your first draft. It’s OK to hate your first draft.”

Finally I leave you with news that Bedsit Three (another grip-lit novel) has been accepted for inclusion into Kobo‘s ‘Deals Page Spotlight – Thrillers’ promotion for the first two weeks in April. Hurray! And, of course, Bedsit Three is also available on Kindle and in paperback.

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Tips for Hand Selling Books

The benefit of making a book available in paperback (instead of e-book only) is the ability to ‘hand sell’ copies i.e. sell direct to the reader.  Since the publication of Bedsit Three I’ve been taking my first steps in this direction. As well as selling to friends, family and acquaintances, I’ve done two small-scale book-signings linked with local charity events and last week I practised my ‘author speech’ for an audience of 6 writers (who all bought a book).

It’s hardly the big time but I can now celebrate emptying my first box of 50 paperbacks and starting on the second. Empty Createspace boxThere are a couple of events lined up for March – and it feels good not to depend on Amazon for all my sales!

I’ve learned a few things along the way too:

  • Get a foot in the door at charity events by offering to make a donation for each sale
  • Don’t be surprised if people proudly proclaim, “I never read books”
  • People will buy books for odd reasons – I made one sale to a lady who wanted it because we share a surname and another to a lady whose daughter’s married name is Sally Jenkins
  • Decide beforehand what dedication you will write in the books – will it just be ‘Best wishes’ or something else?
  • Take a pen that writes smoothly
  • Take a float of change
  • Don’t be disheartened if you only sell a few books. Keep that smile on your face and be pleasant – every event is a networking activity too and you never know where it might lead.

It’s important to make the most of all sales channels but in my opinion selling by hand is far more pleasant than dreaming up clever things to put on social media.

What does anyone else think?

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Ordering CreateSpace Author Copies into the UK – Beware Incorrect VAT

One of the most exciting things about being an author is receiving a box full of brand new, pristine paperbacks. Author copies of Bedsit ThreeThis box of treasure represents the months or years of hard work needed to get from an ethereal idea to actual words down on paper in black and white.

Shortly after publishing the thriller Bedsit Three I ordered fifty author copies direct from CreateSpace in the US. They were delivered by UPS and left at a convenient local pick-up point because I was out at the time of delivery. The parcel arrived much quicker than I expected and I was impressed by the service.

Two months down the line I had sold over 2/3 of that original delivery and, with a book-signing event arranged with a local community group for the end of January, I decided to order more copies. This time things didn’t go so smoothly. Again I was out when UPS called but this time they left a note indicating that when they attempted a future second delivery I would have to pay £36.89 in taxes to the driver. Apparently this was the VAT charged on the parcel by HM Customs & Excise. I wasn’t expecting this and panicked, calculating it would mean increasing my prices by around 75p per book – thus making it harder to sell.

I phoned UPS and they said the charge couldn’t be avoided. I contacted CreateSpace and they said customs charges were up to each individual country.  Then I searched the internet and found this useful and reassuring CreateSpace forum post. It says that import VAT should not be charged on books coming into the UK and advises phoning the UPS Brokerage team on 01332 815514. I did this and was given a reference number to give to the driver when he attempted to deliver the parcel a second time. This reference number tells him not to impose the charge.

If this charge had been imposed on my first consignment I may well have paid it out of ignorance. So beware when ordering/receiving CreateSpace author copies into the UK!

Bedsit Three is “a psychological why dunnit reminiscent of Barbara Vine/ Ruth Rendell” – Amazon reviewer.

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Generating Publicity

It’s a universal truth that marketing and publicity are difficult skills to master. If an author constantly shouts ‘Buy my book! Buy my book!’ then people get irritated and start pressing ‘unfollow’ or ‘unsubscribe’ (No! Don’t all rush to do that now!). But if the same author says virtually nothing at all then very few people know that he has a book available or how good that book is.

The key is subtlety. And in my own subtle fashion I have been popping up in different places this week.

Gadgette.com is the smart woman’s guide to tech, style and life.  Because I am a smart woman, I was invited to give them 6 Easy (and free!) Steps to Publishing Your First Ebook. It’s only a two-minute read and worth it if you want to find out what this e-publishing lark is all about.

Kobo Writing Life is the self-publishing arm of Kobo (similar to Kindle Direct Publishing) and has a very useful blog. As many of you know, Bedsit Three was shortlisted for a competition partly organised by Kobo, so when the novel was published they invited me to do a blog post for them. Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins
Birth of a Novel explains how Bedsit Three emerged from NaNoWriMo 2013. If you’re struggling with last few days of this year’s NaNo, you might find some encouragement in this post.

Readers’ Favorite is a US book review website. It’s readers review books for free (sometimes there is a long wait). The review isn’t posted on Amazon but it can be quoted from in book descriptions and it appears on the Readers’ Favorite website. Here’s the Readers’ Favorite verdict on Bedsit Three.

I hope I haven’t irritated you too much – and keep your finger OFF that unsubscribe button!

 

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Birth of a Novel

My first novel has just been launched into the big, bad world and I’m sitting here fretting. Perhaps it will sink without trace or people might hate it … Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins

So, to stop me brooding, I’m going to tell you about how it came to be.

Let’s go back two years to October 2013. I went on a weekend writing course organised by Lois Maddox of Relax and Write. The title of the course was ‘How to Write the Mystery Novel’ and it was led by Eileen Robertson. At the same time I spotted a free-to-enter novel writing competition organised by WordPlay Publishing, there was no theme or genre specified but the hero had to be named ‘Ian’ (incidentally, that competition is on-going annually until 2017 if you want to have a go). I combined these two things together for NaNoWriMo 2013 and drafted the first 50,000 words of Bedsit Three.

I spent December 2013 writing a synopsis and polishing the first three chapters. I submitted to the competition just before the 31st December deadline. Then I gave up being a novelist and went back to short stories.

In May 2014 I received a phone call out of the blue. It was Michael Barton of WordPlay Publishing to tell me I had won the competition! The prize was formatting for Createspace and Kindle plus 250 Euros marketing budget and a financial contribution towards a cover design.

After my elation subsided, I realised that I had to knuckle down, finish the manuscript and get it ready for publication. When I thought it was done, Anne Harvey acted as a beta reader and I also had a critique from Patricia Fawcett. Lots of changes followed, including getting rid of a superfluous character, an unlikely coincidence and a lottery win. The ending of the novel also changed.

Then I decided that if Bedsit Three had won one competition, perhaps it could win another. So I entered a few more and was shortlisted in the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition. This gave me confidence and I had the manuscript professionally edited by Mark Henderson. Then off it went for formatting and I looked for cover designers. I chose John Amy. He gave me five initial designs which I showed to a handful of people and their verdict was unanimous.

The back cover blurb was put to the vote in this blog post and I am most grateful to all of you who took the time to comment.

My first novel looks and feels very professional. Here’s the Amazon blurb that goes with it:

“A word of warning to anyone who picks this book up: be prepared for a sleepless night, because you won’t want to put it down until you get to the end,” Michael Barton, WordPlay Publishing.
A stupid mistake ended Ian’s marriage. Now he’s trying to put it right.
Sandra was a teenage mum. Now she’s fighting to make a good life for her daughter.
Maxine made an important decision behind her boyfriend’s back. His reaction devastates all their lives…
Every mother tries to do her best for her child. But sometimes that ‘best’ creates a monster.

Bedsit Three is a tale of murder, mystery and love. It won the inaugural Wordplay Publishing/Ian Govan Award and was shortlisted for both the Silverwood-Kobo-Berforts Open Day Competition and the Writing Magazine/McCrit Competition.
Michael Barton, Founder and Managing Director of WordPlay Publishing said of Bedsit Three, “This novel is well-constructed and well-written. But it’s also far more than that. It’s a book that elicits emotional reaction, drawing the reader into the story and placing him or her in the middle of the action page after page.”

‘Bedsit Three’ is available in paperback and Kindle format on Amazon and also as an e-book for Kobo.

 

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