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Self Publishing vs Traditional Publishing

January 2017

Most budding writers wish to be the next J K Rowling, Stephen King, Harper Lee or even A A Milne, but how easy is it to get your work published in the 21st century?

The leading publishers such as Penguin, HarperCollins, Bloomsbury won’t accept any manuscripts as they simply don’t have the staff or time to go through them all. As a result, more and more authors are turning to self-publishing.


Self-publishing is just as it sounds, authors now have resources available to them to publish their own books without having to approach major publishers.

The advantages of self-publishing are many. The author will have bigger profits. Whenever a ‘middleman’ such as a literary agent or publisher is involved, the profits will automatically be reduced to pay for their work. Of course, unless the author buys the book direct from the printers (and even then, there’ll be costs involved!) and intends to sell to the public directly, there will always be some sort of costs such as retailers.

There’s no risk of being rejected. What if a person’s life’s work isn’t good enough? That can be heart-wrenching! With self-publishing you can just go for it, publish what you like. Sure, nobody could buy it, but that’s just because they don’t understand or haven’t heard about the, book. A self-publisher has the control for this, and also to oversee the whole process of the book from beginning to end. There’s no pressure to stick to a particular topic, or write more books.

However, self-publishing can be very time consuming, as the document must be formatted to the correct sizes and have perfect punctuation and grammar. No matter how good a writer’s spelling is, you can get blind to the mistakes you may make. Spellcheck can be a godsend, but what if you words r spelt write but r still un correct? Or imagine if autocorrect misunderstands what your soy is. Ideally, the least a writer should do is hire a good editor.

If the book is only for friends and family, then self – publishing is great as you can find companies that print on demand, but if an author wishes to make a living out of it then the book needs to SELL! There are self-publishing companies out there that can help, but fees can be high, around £2,000 per book, just for the printing. If an author is lucky enough to find anywhere cheaper, they should go for it, if they can afford it.

Traditional Publishing

With traditional publishing houses, there are expectations of a certain amount of books that authors must write, and deadlines to keep to. These deadlines may be to their advantage, to give them time to write their book, or may not be long enough, or not soon enough.

Some may give an advance on royalty payments, but these are usually small and take a while to recover. Your content may not be deemed good enough for them to publish, their time spent on the book may not justify what sales they believe it will achieve.

On the plus side, they deal with everything involved with the publishing, which means the writer simply has to write. They have the resources to market and promote your book, through digital and social media, book stores etc. As they work on a commission only basis (usually around 15% of the gross sales) it is in their best interests to ensure that their clients achieve as many sales as possible, so will work harder. A self-publishing author may move in the same circles and potential readers could become stale quite early on. There’s only so many times a person can promote their own book to the same people. Traditional book publishers will have a fresh outlook, new circles, new potential readers.

Once an author chooses the self-publishing route it can be very difficult to approach traditional publishers, so they must think carefully when choosing how to publish their work. They must consider:

• Control

o Can they let control enough to allow the publishing company to make major decisions?

• Longevity

o Do they have enough books ‘in them’ to write to the demands of a traditional publisher?

o Can they complete works within set deadlines?

o Do they want to publish more frequently?

• Target Audience?

o Are they writing just to be a published author or do they want to earn a living from it?

• Royalties

o How much do they want to earn?

• Marketing

o How much time can they spend promoting their book?

o How much money can they spend advertising?

o Do they have enough people to market to? OR are they relying on word of mouth?

Each style of publishing is down to the individual writer, and only they can decide, but hopefully this helps to make that decision. Whatever the decision, please don’t leave those magnificent works of art in your head, in a file or boxed away in a dusty attic.

How to Write a Best Seller

June 2017

What makes a book a best seller?

Firstly, content, of course. You may think that your life is worth telling the world about, but that doesn’t mean that its worth reading. If you really want to write an autobiography, pick out sections of your life that will be interesting, and make sure that it makes sense to others. “And then..” can mean the following minute, hour, day, week, month or a completely different period of your life, but to the reader they may not have a clue. Change names to protect the innocent (and guilty); you don’t want a lawsuit! When writing about a particular time in your life, back it up with events or other stories based around that time period. Maybe you are writing about when your Aunt Maud was in the WRENS, so include more details about the war time, as this will entice fans of that era to read your book. Remember, your life is known by you but not by others, so make sure you explain anything necessary.

Write out a plan before you start writing. Just a basic one may do, planning out each chapter and the contents within it. It doesn’t have to be set in stone, but can be a good starting block and point of reference. If you need particular facts in it, such as location details, knowledge of a career that your characters are working as, research it, ideally before you start. You may be able to stop at the end of each chapter and research the next one, or you may prefer to plough through the whole thing in a matter of days. Some find the planning stage tedious, but it really does help you keep on track. Of course, you can go off track too, as the story develops, but my need to refer to the plot to get to the end result.

If you are writing other fiction, such as sci-fi, it’s not so difficult to focus on facts as they can be as made up as you want them to be. Make sure that the details you add are consistent. Having the planet Xorb next to the moon of Xantol is very exciting, until you forget that the moon is not called Xantol, but the planet that it orbits is called that instead. Don’t confuse your readers. Readers can create their own misconceptions by themselves. For example, Frankenstein is the creator of the monster, not the monster itself. You would hate to read about Frankenstein creating a monster, who is suddenly referred to as Frankenstein itself, unless the writer has explained that it is named after its creator.

If you wish to delve into historical fiction, please research fully. This, along with any non-fiction work can be picked apart by anyone. Unless you have been sat next to someone watching a film, saying “this is wrong, a plane can’t actually invert at such and such angle and blah blah blah” you may not understand the importance of accuracy. The slightest detail, such as the fabric of an item of clothing not being invented or the mis-spelling of the name of a dinosaur, or indeed getting the wrong time period of said dinosaur, can get the backs up of any keen enthusiast. Know your facts, as much as any expert would do. Your editor can only do so much to check your work, and you can’t expect them to do the research for you (unless you are prepared to pay out a lot!).

Make sure there is a beginning, middle and end. This is primary school teachings! I was once given a book that a friend of my Dad’s had written and self-published. He signed it and I gave it to my son, who was around 4 at the time. The illustrations were fantastic, very appealing to a young child, but there was no storyline. It basically consisted of a farmer (or similar) who had a tractor. The farmer went onto his farm in the tractor every day. On the farm he saw X, Y and Z. At the end of each day he went home. Maybe if the book had included pop up pictures or had a hide and seek style it would have been better, but it was in the style of a story book. You don’t want your readers thinking “why?” “and” or “so?”.

The cover needs to scream READ ME! Make sure that it appeals to the potential reader. Bright and cheerful for children and young adults, for example, and relevant to the book, obviously. You can find standard book cover designs or your publisher may help with this, and sometimes they can be jazzed up to be more appealing, but be prepared to pay out a little extra for that cover that will attract your readers.

The technical aspect of your writing is also very important. I mentioned earlier about consistency, and now I will elaborate more. The consistency of events happening is essential to not confuse your readers, but also with your style of writing. For example, are you writing in first person, where your main character is the protagonist, or third person? Whichever you choose, keep it that way throughout the book. Keep your tenses consistent. Don’t state “I went to the shop” and then say “while I am at the shop I am getting the newspaper”. It would be “I went to the shop, and whilst I was there I bought a newspaper.”

Editing and proof-reading your document is essential. Spellcheck and grammar functions are a great asset, but they aren’t fool proof. They won’t find such mistakes as gender errors, and there will be times when you write He and the S doesn’t come through. He is a valid word, so there won’t be a red squiggly line under that!

Once in bed I felt a sense of satisfaction. I had managed to but both feet in a bath which had water in it. It may not sound a lot if you aren’t sacred of eater, but I was a step in the right direction.

How many mistakes did you spot there? Without even looking at grammar and punctuation there are already 3 obvious mistakes that should jump out at you.

Once in bed I felt a sense of satisfaction. I had managed to but both feet in a bath which had water in it. It may not sound a lot if you aren’t sacred of eater, but I was a step in the right direction.

These are all valid words in the English dictionary, so spell check wouldn’t find them.

and couldn’t sit still for long periods of time as my boy would seize up.

How about this one? Would your BOY seize up?

and couldn’t sit still for long periods of time as my boy would seize up.

These are all mistakes that I made in my book, and this is another issue I need to raise with you. If you wish to edit your book yourself, which I strongly recommend that you don’t, do it chapter by chapter, or sooner if you can. As a writer, you can become word blind, and not notice these simple mistakes. If you really don’t want to pay out for a professional editor, get a friend or family member to look it over. Trust me though, if you do this, be prepared for the “Erm.. did you mean to put this?” smug comments throughout, and be prepared to check it over again after them. You may disagree with mistakes that they have pointed out. If there is a difference of opinion, check it out.

If all this hasn’t put you off writing your dream book, great! We’ll discuss publishing, promoting, marketing and distribution next time!

5 secrets to greatness - Guest blog by Gabriel Eziorobo 

5 secrets to greatness

It is a fact that wishing without working is a waste of time.

Instead it keeps you on a particular spot while others are creating

ways to greatness. This is the right time to make your dream a

reality. I want to you among those that talk about it, imagine it and

bring it to limelight.

1. Change some behaviour: You need to change some behaviour that will

not attract greatness to you. Your behaviour tells the way you are.

People will not come to you if they know you an angry man with no

patient. It is your behaviour that speaks for you before other things

added. Take a look at yourself and examine yourself if you are doing

the right thing or not.

2. Picture your dream: Have a mental picture in your head about dream.

What you want to become in life, how do you want to go about it and

what do you to achieve if you become that person you dream about. Be

creative and imagine something reasonable and positive. You will only

make it when you imagine. Your family will not be the one to do it for

you but you are the one that owns your life and know what is best for

you. And you need know being a man with no vision is the worst thing

that could happen to anybody.

3. Get the right people: The right people are those that matter in

your life, those that will you the truth when you do something

wrong, those that will encourage you to pursue your dream, those that

will not limit your ability of what you can do, because they believe

you and know there is nothing impossible if you can make up to the

top. These are people you should be mingling with not those that will

waste their time and yours. Always get yourself with the right

people, people that talk about greatness. Greatness is the sweetest

thing I have ever known and that is what I want for you.

4. Think big: Do not limit yourself to little things that will not

bring joy to you, think big. There is nothing wrong with aiming high.

If others are becoming successful everyday, why are you still limiting

yourself to your situation? Are you different from them? No man is

born poor but the way you think will tell if you want to be rich or to

be poor. Do not stop where your father and mother stopped. Their lives

are different from yours. If they are poor, do you want to remain there

eating the food of a poor man or you to rely their properties they

have work for? If you have that mindset you better erase it out of

your mind and think like a man who desire to be great.

5. Work it out: Your dream will not be a thing people will talk about

if you don't work it out. Wake up from your slumber. The time has no

friend but you can be its friend if can use your time well. You admire

other people who have become successful and you are there busy

thinking when you should work. They are successful because they think

about it and they make it a dream come through by working it out.

Something will not happen in your life if you don't do something. You

will just be a dreamer no one knows. What will be the need of dreaming

when the people in the world have no knowledge of it? It is now and

not later. You are not born to delay your destiny so work it out now!

writing is an art, not a tradition - Guest blog by Gabriel Eziorobo 

Three things you should know is that writing is an art and not a tradition

I started writing when I read a love poem"so I thought". It was the

poem that inspired me to start writing. I was meant to understand that

writing is an art that needs to be done in your own way. You don't

have to write like other writers before you can call yourself a

writer, you don't have to do the things writers have been doing before

you can call yourself a writer or get a degree in English before you

can call yourself a writer. This doesn't make you a writer but a copy

writer. This is funny though but that is it. You just have to be

yourself and not someone else.

Let me show you three things you should know that writing is an art

and not a tradition that needs to be followed and you become the

writer you want to be.

1. Uniqueness: People won't know for something if you don't do

something different. Just imagine how many writers we have in the

world of today and how many are yet to be born. Too many to count but

few are noticed. Those are people who have done it their own way. You

can know them by the things they have done in the writing industry

because they are unique in writing any piece. You can be among these

writers by doing something unique for everyone to follow. People won't

say anything about your writing if you are doing the things they have

already know. You just have to make a change and not to be in the

midst of writers,you just have to do it the way you can and not the

way you will be stuck,you just have to say this is your style of

writing and not the other way round for the world to know who you are

and the things you are made of.

Creativity: Writing is an art that involves you to imagine wide. This

means creating your own world through your imagination, taking it

beyond the earth surface and making something extraordinary out of it.

The secret behind creativity is imagination. You can go far as a

writer If you can take your time to imagine vividly and come up with a

new idea in the writing industry. There are no two ways about

it,imagine it,take a step and it will work for you.

3. How you interact with your readers: Not every readers love reading

books that end with unhappy moments or a scary book. You have to

understand who your readers are,what are those topics they love to

read and how you can get their attention to the end of your story.

These are the list of things you should put into consideration

before writing on any topic;

I) Theme: Your theme should relate with your readers. You should tell

them everything they need to know about the theme and how it can be of

help to them.

ii) Suspense: This is a way you can get the attention of your readers

to read your story to the end. Let there be a suspense in your

writing for people to read because if there is no suspense readers may

lost interest and may call that piece of writing a boring one.

iii) Rhetorical questions: You should involve your readers in your

writing by asking questions that are meant for them to answer. This

can also get their attention in answering those questions and keep

reading to know the answers behind those questions you have asked