Posts Tagged Self-Publishing

Books Fit For a King

On this Coronation weekend I am absolutely delighted to welcome children’s author Iona Chisholm to my blog.Children's books about King Charles III Iona’s books about royalty make perfect follow-up presents for youngsters who’ve been watching proceedings on the television or been involved in parties and activities at school. Here’s Iona to tell us about the books, her writing journey plus she offers some useful tips for publishing illustrated books on Amazon KDP:

It was an unexpected opportunity to write that led me to self-publish my first children’s picture book on Amazon. Isolating with Covid in 2022, I wanted to be productive and so I challenged myself to write a rhyming story about The Queen’s forthcoming Platinum Jubilee. ‘Jubilee Bee’ was born!
I experimented with collage illustrations using paper, card and magazines. I inserted photographs of them into my word document. It proved straightforward to publish this as a Kindle edition. However, I encountered teething problems producing a paperback and made several mistakes. Firstly, I selected an 8 by 6-inch book size and, secondly, I had issues because my word document didn’t convert properly into paperback through the Kindle Kid’s Book Creator.

By the time I produced ‘Jubilee Bee and the King’s Christmas Present’, I had learned that an 8.5 inch square book size was best. Further, if I transferred my word document into a PowerPoint presentation with 8.5 inch square slides and saved as a PDF, it converted perfectly into paperback.

I’ve now released my third book, ‘Jubilee Bee and the Coronation’.

Iona Chisholm children's authorEach storybook I’ve written contains suggested questions and associated facts for children, whilst promoting looking after nature, the earth and each other. The positive feedback that I have received always refers to these features.

I learned recently that Amazon picture books must be fewer than 43 pages to be able to retail at an affordable £5.99 and produce a reasonable profit. I’d done so much work for the Coronation that I ended up with an 87-page document! Therefore, I split it in half and published my fourth book, ‘The Coronation of King Charles III and Queen Camilla, The Queen Consort.’ This non-fiction text contains acrostic poems, illustrated anagram puzzles and journal space to make a personal souvenir. Self-publishing allowed me to quickly utilise all my work and ideas.

I am proud of my writing journey and the progress that I am making. I have now produced a second edition of ‘Jubilee Bee’ in an 8.5 inch size. Holding my set of 4 books in my hand was a real high point!

Wanting to make my family proud and improving with every project really motivates me and I am finding it easier to prioritise writing, dip my toe into social media and integrate into the online writing community where I have felt welcomed, supported and nurtured. Everyone has been so keen to share their experiences and I hope to be able to encourage other newcomers to press that ‘publish my book’ button!

As a mum of four, primary school Governor (with a focus on writing) and keen gardener, I strongly believe in the inspiration and well-being that we can all gain from words and the outside world. Therefore, I aim to promote nature, learning and positivity in whatever I write, whether it be an article for Garden News, a poem, a short story for a woman’s magazine or my next book! In the future, I hope to complete and publish a novel, but must remind myself to take things one step at a time….

Find out more about Iona at or follow her on Instagram Ionachisholm01 for gardening and writing posts!
Children's books about royalty

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2016 Self-Publishing Conference

Last Saturday I went the Self-Publishing Conference at the University of Leicester.2016 Self-Publishing Conference

I took two key messages away from the conference (as well as a bag of leaflets and promos!):

  • Self-publishing is no longer an inferior, second best alternative to traditional publishing. Well-written self-published books that are put through similar editorial and design processes to their traditional counterparts are indistinguishable from ‘normal’ books. Readers choosing a book online, in a bookshop or in the library seldom check the publisher before deciding whether or not to have the book.
  • Quality is key when self-publishing. We all know that some get-rich-quick merchants push anything out on Kindle and, unfortunately, give the rest of us a bad name. However the rules are being tightened with Amazon cracking down on books containing errors. The successful self-publisher always puts his book through quality control procedures such as copy-editing and/or proofreading.

Throughout the day I absorbed other information such as:

  • How to get e-books into the digital catalogues of libraries through Overdrive (loans of self-published material are growing). There is no PLR but it is a sale which may get you known more widely.
  • It’s free to generate a QR Code which can be added to bookmarks and other promotional materials. The code will take readers direct to your website via a smartphone.
  • Bookshops and libraries will not readily order/stock Createspace books. If it’s important to you to have copies of your books available in this way then consider a different method of self-publishing, such as through a provider like Matador.
  • How ISBNs and metadata work. This was complex and generated a lot of questions! ISBNs can now be bought singly as well as in blocks of ten.

If you’re serious about your self-publishing activities and ambitions, this is a conference well worth attending. I’ll be looking out for the announcement of next year’s date.

P.S. There was also a very good lunch plus chocolate brownies in the afternoon!

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Self-Publishing Tips from Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green is the author of Border Line, recently published in both paperback and e-book format.Border Line by Hilary Custance Green

I was lucky enough to read the opening chapters of the novel last year when Hilary was still working on it. The idea behind the book is intriguing:

‘Grace, racked with guilt, is searching online for ways to die and she finds Daniel. Like a pied piper he leads her and nine other people on a trek across Slovenia. For twenty-one days they share stories and secrets, play games, surprise themselves with laughter… and make their final decision.’

I will definitely be downloading Border Line to my Kindle because I want to know what that final decision is.

Hilary self-published the paperback version of Border Line, doing all the work herself and not using CreateSpace. She’s very kindly put together some pointers to help anyone else thinking of doing the same:

Last December (2013), I found myself at a Christmas party explaining that yes, I had written a third novel and also a non-fiction book on POWs in the Far East, and no, neither had been published yet. The truth is I had been looking for an agent for both the novel and the non-fiction book for several years. I had had nibbles, but no bites. I resolved that no further Christmases would pass without a publication.

There are multiple self-publishing routes, mine was total DIY. This is a possible, but not necessarily a wise thing to do. I took the name Threadgold Press in 2008, for my second novel, and floated, rather liked flotsam, through the self-publishing process. Things have changed since then. Today, unless you are writing about food outlets in a three mile radius, or walking on your local hills, you are going to need both print and eBook. The simplified basics for print are:

• Give yourself a name and apply to Nielsen books to buy ISBNs.

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green

• Allocate one ISBN to your print book and another to your eBook.
• Choose a printer and get estimates. A litho print run (min 300) is expensive up front, but cheaper per copy then Print on Demand (POD).
• Think of a publication date (ideally 9 months plus ahead), subtract the months that are bad for publishing books, add 2 months for things to go wrong (they will), and register with Nielsen book data. You will need blurb, price (when dreaming up the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) don’t forget the cost of postage), BIC code (category of book) etc ready.
• Set the text. I bought a soft version of Adobe InDesign and taught myself.
• Create cover – actually don’t – spend the money on professional design.
• Edit. Once again, professional is best. Failing that, find your most educated friends and bribe them to read with a red pen in their hands. Anything they have to read twice, or makes them gag, yawn or feel uncomfortable, needs your attention – listen and believe.
• Proof read. That means read it yourself and correct, print out a copy, hand it to a friend, make corrections, print again and find a new victim, and so on many times. Again, better still, pay someone.
• Send MS to printers, renegotiate number of pages, correct e-proofs etc
• Join Amazon Advantage – a nightmare and they take 60% discount, so you sell at a loss, but if you don’t join them, Amazon take many weeks to deliver your books.
• Create an Advance Information Sheet (AIS), with all the basic book data.
• Create a Press Release, an up-to-date website, cook up a launch party, find somewhere to sign copies on the publication date.

Finally, you are legally obliged to deposit a copy of any new publication with the British Library within one month of the publication day.

Remember, if you choose this route, writing will stall for some months. Almost every action, depends on information that is not yet ready. You become a designer, proofreader, editor, marketing manager, salesperson, IT consultant, office girl, driver… BUT you end up with a physical copy of your book for minimum outlay.

Hilary – I’m in awe of what you’ve achieved! It sounds like a phenomenal learning curve but what a feeling of achievement when you hold that physical book in your hand and then people start buying it!

Visit Hilary’s website to read about how she’s promoting Border Line.

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GeoRiot is a free tool that may be useful to those of you who are marketing Amazon Kindle e-books.

I’m going to explain it simply because not everyone will be familiar with the basic concepts.

Amazon stores are country specific i.e. those of us living in Britain shop through, those in the US buy through and there are also geographic specific sites for France, India, Germany and many more.

Most e-book marketing is global via the internet, using blog posts, Facebook, newsletters, paid-for adverts etc. Authors using these methods will endeavour to provide readers with a direct link to the Amazon page for the e-book being promoted.

However, unless the author provides the individual link for each geographical Amazon site, there will be users somewhere in the world who don’t reach their ‘home’ Amazon site and, if they want to buy the book, will have to navigate there by themselves. Many of them won’t bother. When the link provided doesn’t take them where they want to go, they’ll click on to something else instead.

But it looks clumsy and messy to list around a dozen Amazon links every time you mention your book on the web.

GeoRiot creates a single web address for an Amazon product. This address will always take the user directly to his ‘home’ Amazon site. If the link is clicked in the UK then it will route the user to, if the link is clicked in the US then it will route the user to and so on.

Here’s an example. When advertising Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners I could list each geographical link:

For buyers in the UK:

For buyers in the US:

For buyers in Australia:

etc. etc.

Or I can use just one global link provided by GeoRiot:

I think it looks much more professional to provide a single link.

GeoRiot provide this service for free unless you are an Amazon affiliate and then they take a small percentage of your affiliate earnings. For more details on how this payment system works see the GeoRiot website and Nick Daws’ comprehensive blog post where he goes into this and the mechanics of GeoRiot in much more detail than I have.

That’s it – I hope I haven’t blinded any of you with science!

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Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

As most of you will be aware by now, I am very interested in e-publishing and have been building my own Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginnerse-publishing empire(!) for the last twelve months. I’ve picked up a lot of knowledge along the way and have also had many people say to me that they wished they were ‘technical’ enough to do the same.

A couple of months ago Helen Yendall asked if I would talk about e-books and e-publishing to the writing class that she tutors at Moreton-in-Marsh. Whilst sorting out what I might say, quaking in my boots and being glad that I made the effort to join Sutton Coldfield Speakers’ Club, I realised that I had enough material to write a short e-book for beginners who want to publish their first e-book via Amazon KDP.

And so Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners was born.

It starts with the definition of an e-book and moves on through topics such as choosing what to write (if you don’t have a manuscript ‘ready to go’), how to get your book cover, basic marketing and much much more.

Once I’d finished, I followed my own advice and found a beta reader who matched my target audience i.e. a writer who is contemplating e-publishing for the first time. Peter Hinchliffe is an ex-journalist and news editor who has also completed a novel. He gave my manuscript a big thumbs up and said in his review, “This book shares the skills needed in a detailed, easy-to-follow way. It could be the most rewarding book you ever buy.”

The launch of Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners took place yesterday, following my talk to the lovely writers of Moreton-in-Marsh. There was Bucks Fizz, chocolate cake, coffee and one of the writers celebrated her new grandchild by providing cream cakes for the class – so no one went home hungry! It was really nice to be able to involve other people in the launch instead of doing everything virtually.

So, if you’ve ever fancied seeing your work for sale on Amazon, go and take a look at Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners – it might help you on your way!

KDP for Absolute Beginners Book Launch

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Reviewing ‘Indie’ E-books and Goodreads

Since starting my own adventures in e-publishing I’ve started reading more self-published e-books. I’ve been doing this for two reasons:

  • I want to see what types of thing people are publishing
  • I want to support other writers in the same way that I’ve been supported

Taking the second point – the best way to support self-published authors is to give them a review. It doesn’t have to be a full-on 5 star rave about the book – just a few words to show that the book has been read and enjoyed (if you have enjoyed it, obviously).

A while ago I read and reviewed something which I enjoyed. The book had held my attention from beginning to end and I looked forward to picking up again each night (I generally only read at bedtime). There were some formatting errors in the text but they didn’t spoil my enjoyment of the narrative. So, when I left my review I didn’t mention these errors, I concentrated on the book’s literary content.

Now a comment has been added to my review, indicating that I should have pointed out the formatting problems and downgraded my star rating accordingly.

My first reaction to this was anger that someone had dared to criticise my opinion and I had to restrain myself from commenting back and thus getting into a public argument.

Now that I’ve had chance to calm down and think about it, I realise that I was probably wrong not to mention the formatting issues. However, my review was the first one for that book and I didn’t want to give it the kiss of death – but I did want to leave a comment to say that I’d enjoyed it.

What would you have done?

I’ve recently tried another book and found it contains several punctuation mistakes. So, I’m not going to leave a review at all, regardless of the quality of the story, because I don’t want to get a reputation for dishonest reviews.

I’ve learned a lesson from all this – ‘Look Inside’ or download a sample of the book before buying to ensure that formatting, punctuation etc. is up to scratch.

Talking of books and reviews, My two short story anthologies and I are now enrolled in Goodreads. You can see us here.

Any tips on getting the most out of Goodreads, either as an author or a reader, would be gratefully received.

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Publishing an E-Anthology – Is It Worth It?

This question appears in Della Galton’s column in the current Writers’ Forum magazine. I thought I’d try to answer it using my own experience, with two anthologies published over the last six weeks or so.

I published One Day For Me on 23rd January and, as of 6th March, I have sold 63 copies, 3 on and the rest in the UK. Of the UK sales, 58 were at 77p each (giving me a 26p royalty each) and 2 were at £1.53 (giving me £1.03 royalty each). This has given me total UK royalties of £17.14.

I published Old Friends on 22nd February and, as of 6th March, I have sold 20 copies, all in the UK at 77p each. This has given me total UK royalties of £5.20.

So, financially, I say it has not been worthwhile. BUT I still have a lot to learn about e-book marketing and the inner workings of the great Amazon machine. So I’m hoping that once I get my head around that and also publish a couple more books that I have ideas for, sales will improve. In the meantime, if anyone knows how to get a foothold in the US market – please let me know!

Forgetting the financial side of it, there have been many other benefits from dipping my toe into e-publishing.

I’ve had lots of positive feedback from people who’ve read the books, particularly One Day For Me, in the form of Amazon reviews, emails and face to face. Also, I’ve learnt that those outside the ‘writing industry’ often don’t appreciate the importance of leaving reviews for books they’ve enjoyed – and many simply don’t know how to do it.

But the best thing to come out of this experience is the new respect that family, friends and work colleagues have for my writing. It is no longer just ‘a little hobby’. Instead it is something that has a tangible product which is on sale worldwide and which they can buy. This has made me feel more professional and less guilty about claiming to be a writer.

So, in summary – YES, the anthologies have definitely been worthwhile.

And if you buy one, I think you’ll find they’re a worthwhile read as well!

One Day For Me: 8 Award-Winning Stories – these stories have all either won or been shortlisted in UK national writing competitions.

Old Friends: 13 Coffee Break Stories – these stories have all previously appeared in UK magazines

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The Practical Guide to Self-Publishing by Paul Chiswick

I think all writers agree that getting published can be next to impossible for the novice writer (unless you’re aPaul Chiswick celebrity!). This means that more and more of us are turning to self-publishing as a way of getting our books out there.  Paul Chiswick has experience of several self-published projects and has now written a book on the subject. Here he is with some advice for anyone thinking of going down the self-publishing route:

Everyone’s reason for producing his or her ‘book’ will be different. You may want it purely for posterity, a record of your own life. How many of us would love to know more about our grandparents and great-grandparents? Or you may be convinced you are the next JK Rowling, destined for fame and fortune. If only!

First things first: there’s a hurdle called publishing planted between you and your dream. Once upon a time, publishers were far more willing to publish an unknown author. They trusted their judgement, and knowledge of their readers. However, consolidation and an emphasis on profitability have changed the publishing world, perhaps forever. Look around you on the shelves of bookshops and supermarkets. Nowadays, a very large proportion of books published each year are by ‘celebrities’, who may or may not have written, or indeed have had much input into, the book that appears under their name. Either that or they are by well-established and successful authors. Naturally, these books are easier to sell. As a result, the highly competitive market for unknown authors has shrunk dramatically over the last few years.

Is there an alternative? You bet! Publish it yourself.

How do you do it? Here are four of the most common ways:

  • The publisher takes your manuscript and carries out the complete publishing process. He charges you a fee, which covers the entire costs of production and distribution. This is exactly what a traditional publisher does, except in traditional publishing the publisher bears all the cost and assumes the risks. This is a growing area of self-publishing, and new entrants are coming into the market all the time. Expect pricing to become more aggressive and competitive.
  • The services of the publisher are dispensed with altogether. You carry out all the stages of production and distribution. The only part of the physical process you won’t be able to undertake is the actual printing and binding of the books. A printer specializing in book production would undertake this for you. If this is an option that interests you, I suggest you acquire a copy of my eBook, The Practical Guide to Self-Publishing, a snip at only £3.99! Available from Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo, Amazon, Apple and Diesel.
  • You produce everything in digital format on your PC and then employ Print On Demand technology. Print On Demand (sometimes termed Publish On Demand) arrived with the advent of digital printing when the printing of single copies of a document became economically viable. Using this technology, copies of the book are not printed until an order has been received.
  • You produce everything in digital format on your PC, then produce, market and sell it as an eBook, often on your own website or through an online retailer such as Amazon.

What are you waiting for? Get publishing!

the practical guide to self-publishing cover (eBook) Paul Chiswick



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