Saturday, 7 December 2013

Jingle all the way . . .

Just a small jingle you understand, but I've ordered 8 copies from Lightning Source yesterday and another 4 to come once the cheque's through! So 12 sales altogether (4 are Xmas pressies from me to my family and one copy's off to the British Library) - which if we're counting the ISBN purchase as £12.60 that means I'm about breaking even already! I've got sales pages on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Book Depository on, so it looks like the distribution's filtering out nicely. Also I've sent off a file to Amazon for putting up the Search Inside the Book info. So it's all set up - working like stink on the eReader from now on until Xmas ;-)

Nerves are also jingling on the business side of things after a cautionary experience between PayPal and the bank on verifications and removing account limits but that's sorted now bar the transactions going through. Website matters are still vexed however, but that may need to wait until the old LOTRDreams domain expires and then I can get the replacement files up and running. Trying not to pull my hair out on that account but I've buggered up the linking trying to change the pointers today, so the site's down until I can make the changes. It's hardly present online anyway so probably not worth worrying about but I'm annoyed with myself and with the control panel for letting me put on changes that couldn't be cancelled. Grist to mill of web management but really frustrating when you know what you want to achieve and can't do it because the menu prompts are dodgy. Grrr.

If that's the only problem I have with this then fine - I can get the pages up for the Publishing site whatever and then switch domains at the end of the month. It'll all come out in the wash anyway.

And I'm officially published!!!! *bounces*

Saturday, 30 November 2013

And we're off!

Actually we were off last Wednesday the 27th as in I hit the submit button for the final e-proof and on Friday Milele Safari hit the Amazon shelves. I've actually published my book! lol

So - still feeling my way along. My next chore is to put up some 'look inside' bits and pieces but I've already starting taking orders from both my fave forums. With Xmas coming as well I've already got 10 'sold', even if I'm buying half of them myself - but then I'd be buying presents  anyway wouldn't I so it all counts? And I get them at cost!!! :P

Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Last gasp . . .

. . . well - the hard copy proof looked great but had a couple of minor tweaks for the cover and dozens of tiny corrections for the content (and one silly boo-boo where I'd deleted half a parag of dialogue when I was putting on the last of the proof-reading alterations). Anyway I spent about 9 days fiddling around with those and revising the layout slightly so it's easier to read and sit in the hand and sent it off again this afternoon.

I've just checked again online and apparently the online proof's prepared but not quite 'live' yet so I expect it was too late for today and I should get it early tomorrow. No hard copy this time as I have to pay for the revision and I just want to sign off now so, barring accidents, I'm hoping that I can get this agreed for distribution this weekend!

Trying to keep nails away from teeth . . .

Monday, 11 November 2013

Hit, Submit, Brick it . . .

. . . well more like gently fret on a proof copy paperback which should be wending its way back to me in the next week or so. I'll certainly be available from your nearest online bookstore before Xmas!

I hit the submit button yesterday evening and am about to start formatting the e-book version later on today. I've committed to Lightning Source on the basis that the contracts with them are simply for 'print' on demand and they also have many more outlets than Lulu, so it'll be easier in the long run, especially if things take off for me or for DreamWorlds Publishing, which is now an 'official' entity with its first batch of 10 ISBNs safely tucked away.

Not sure exactly how long it'll be before Milele will be on a virtual bookshelf as it may need a few more revisions, but it's definitely cleared for landing now. I'll be published! So, yeah. Feeling nervous, chuffed, apprehensive and most of all eager to hold my actual book in my hands finally.

Here's the final, final cover design -

Sunday, 6 October 2013

. . . and it begins!

This past week cash-flow was preventing me applying for the ISBNs I need to get the presses rolling but I have finished the 'final' proof and started to get the final pre-press twizzles under way.

Feeling pretty 'up' about things so far, although I'm still wavering over whether to go with Lulu or Lightning Source as print/distribution partners. The latter is definitely the route for DreamWorlds Publishing I think, but Lulu's model is much more user-friendly so far as contractual factors go so, as this is essentially still an individual concern, I may get my toes wet with Lulu for starters while I get my head around LS's gobbledy gook agreements, which I'm sure are more professionally sourced, although both PoD providers use Ingram/Nielsen international rights and distribution channels.

The marketing side of things is also proving a challenge but actually more enjoyable than I expected, mainly because of the communities I'm reaching on LinkedIn. I think I'm meeting some very supportive and knowledgeable people on there who'll be figuring strongly as my little enterprise starts to gather strength. From a self esteem PoV this has all been worth it now - no matter what success I meet from herein.

Wednesday, 25 September 2013

Fine Tuning . . .

Back to 'identity' and the covers. I've been lucky enough to meet a very savvy design and self-publishing guru on LinkedIn who's been giving me some constructive crit of what I've done so far. Not going to go for any big departures from what I've done, but he's made some very salient suggestions to make it look 'cleaner' and less pedestrian on the font front.

In other news I'm hoping to receive the last of the proof-reading this weekend - then we get into sweating the ISBN and PoD route and the real fun!

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Tempus Fudgit

Blimey! It really does fly by when you're busy . . .

Well of course I've not been busy in here but elsewhere I've been positively athletic by my standards - in fact I've been . . . networking! On Twitter!! I even joined LinkedIn properly!!!

Now those who know me will be aware that I had a Facebook aversion of almost gargantuan proportions, and, indeed I still have, but one of the (few?) advantages of social networking is that it can be joined up. For example I 'tweeted' today for the first time in what must be months if not a year, and all of a sudden I get people talking to me on Facebook - extraordinary! Only four people you must understand, but by my meagre standards that's a positive avalanche of response.

It's LinkedIn that's 'to blame' because I've found that it's actually both useful and interesting to be on it, especially to meet like-minded individuals and talk about stuff like - self-publishing! Couple of people on there have a wealth of experience of doing just that AND like to help newbies like moi out. Some of them are also designers and some are even authorities on blogging. So I've gotten around to having my social networking 'Damascus' moment finally!

Anyway - Safari news is that I reckon I'm about a fortnight off getting the pre-press proofing done and then it's full out for the PoD uploads . . . off to Twitter now to tell everyone about this blog! ;-)

Sunday, 18 August 2013

Polepole - slow and steady...

... or polepole na kasi if you want the literal Swahili (a la Google lol).

My sister is proving an excellent editor in that she's being very thorough, for which I'm very grateful. I'm of the school of thought that favours 'how you get there' over achieving that in as fast a time as possible. So if the publication date's slipping into September/October then c'est la guerre - my safari's worth the wait if it's getting a really professional showroom polish!

Tuesday, 23 July 2013

Friday, 19 July 2013

Every picture tells a story...

OK - finally got the new front cover sorted to my satisfaction, especially for Teresa and her burn scars...

I like the 'antiquing' as well 

Friday, 12 July 2013

Production lines

Well - it's off for proof-reading and final review (by Tina, my sister) tomorrow, courtesy of courier service (husband).

In the meantime I've been merrily playing around on Lulu with their templates and cover wizards and got myself a free ISBN package sorted, so hopefully, once Tina's finished with it, it'll be a fairly quick and simple job to get it out in paperback at least. I'm using these last few weeks to sign off on some of the nigglier things such as removing all song lyrics (Perfect Day and Hard Rain's Gonna Fall) that I'd quoted from since even mentioning a title will set me back an arm and a leg for permissions. Pity that as some of the words did fit the stories very well but it's just not worth the hassle... Luckily the Bible (KJV) and the Ancient Mariner are well and truly in the public domain and so will cost nada!

Ditto the covers which were worrying me a little with the change of title, but I've rooted out our old photos of good ole Mosi-oa-Tunya and 'antiqued' them a bit and found some photos of Nigerian girls and Somali boy soldiers which I'm going to sketch out some 'generic' portraits to put with the falls and make a photo-montage - oh! I forgot I've posted them didn't I! lol  OK - so they'll look something like that but the people will look 'ghostlier'.

Also have other publishing projects in the pipeline for DreamWorlds especially, but first I'll see about getting an e-Book version of Milele out with Lulu - if their template's are easier to handle than Amazon's (CreateSpace) I might as well stay with Lulu since I can sell in more places online. It's quite exciting to be getting this close to a launch, but of course I've also got to think of promoting it too. Some of that's doable even on my sociophobic scale, as I can at least tell my forum mates about it and steel myself to beef up my FB and Twitter presence a little bit and maybe this'll help a little bit once I open it up...

For now though I'm quite enjoying blogging just for me!

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Getting there...

Here's the latest cover design using our own photostock of Vic Falls and a 'retro' antiqued look - VF is chocka with late Victorian lithoprints that I wanted to reflect the colonial past that haunts most of the book.

Saturday, 8 June 2013

Safari, so far...

Found quite a nice snappy title in Swahili - Milele Safari, which translates as 'eternal journey'.

Quite like that one, although it's a little zen perhaps? I think it's important that I keep it as 'African' and focussed on the Journey aspect as poss... Here's two cover ideas I'm currently playing around with using that combination and the other contender Smoke & Thunder - The Safari Tales

Sian Glirdan may be a pen name I'll use - that's Welsh for Jane(tte) and Glirdan literally translates as 'wordsmith' from Sindarin, but perhaps that's a better one for my fantasy writing?

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

A Rose by any other Name

Names are important. Very important. Safari Tales was a working title really and it fitted the original concept of travellers' tales, in that the stories I was going write about did 'belong' to different people, some of them real ones.

But books evolve and writing (for me anyway) tends get these funny holistic branch offs and so, what could have been a collection of stand alone stories, suddenly had themes and backstories of their own, with flashbacks and serendipity thrown into the pot almost by osmosis. And here I am, coming to terms with one of my spiffy reviewers pointing out what I'd already been worrying at for some time - Safari Tales as a main title is really pedestrian and, yes, I'm afraid - unoriginal.

Smoke and Thunder might be a better, more dynamic one, but it's not too African sounding and that's important to me, so it's back to the drawing board for now for a snazzier title. What I'm currently trawling through is Google Translate's 'Swahili-English' option along the lines of 'Human Herd' style of things but nothing's really striking me yet.

Safari Tales may replace An African Journey as the strapline perhaps - any views, suggestions or 'thought showering' will be gratefully received...

Sunday, 19 May 2013

The jury's in

Well, yup - after a little playing about with 'African' backgrounds over the past few days, the elephant won, even though you maybe can't see it too well. And yeah - dark and mysterious just like the subject matter. Really it's down to the detail of that hoary old hide with lichen-like pores, dusty and dry. I've been that close to a live and very much kicking elephant many a time from the back of a land rover and it never fails to thrill.

Gotta love 'em!

Monday, 13 May 2013

And they all lived happily ever after?

In fairy tales they can, but what about 'grown up' fiction?

As you've probably gathered I've finished writing the first draft of this book. And it's been edited and had a degree of 'as you go' proofing courtesy of spell or grammar checks which are, of course, not entirely reliable, whether or not you're sticking to English English or American English. I'm lucky in that my professional background was in print and web publishing for the public sector and so I use all the fancy desktop publishing software necessary to get this novel looking like a 'proper' book. So I'm now in a fairly enviable position as to being able to pick and choose how to get Safari Tales 'out there', once it's been given a really thorough final dusting down edit and review - which is where you, dear reader, may already be involved...

With the core writing work completed, I'm currently off on a traditional publishing route hunt to see if I can get some savvy and perceptive professional support, so it's submission or query letters time (are they the same thing? They seem to be more concise in the US ><) and I've currently been to 3 literary agents to get a definite 

'no thanks, not with us - but good luck anyway!' 
and have emailed 2 more who're are considering my 130K+  package and ought to get back to me sometime towards the end of June. 

I have 3 more literary agents shortlisted to approach through snail mail, but am now seriously considering not bothering with that at all, not just because it's probably a waste of postage, but because there is a much less fraught and controllable trail to follow in this, not necessarily enlightened, digital age. Self publishing sounds really scary until you start looking into it and have some minimal expertise in how to use Word and export in PDF format. There are outfits out there, including the esteemed, who'll happily take your opus, along with an ISBN and help you turn it into an ebook or even a proper hard or paperback book. 

There's also the warm and comforting thought that once all writers were self-published and even after commercially mass-produced publishing was possible some of our greatest classic and contemporary authors, among them Mark Twain, Ernest Hemingway and even Stephen King, all toiled alone at some stage of their respective careers to get themselves 'out there'. Without a kindly literary agent or adventurous publishing house giving them editorial support while they made their names. Or taking their cut - although of course you do need to add your local tax collecting body to that list, even if you're doing it all yourself. The latter is certainly enough to send most people screaming to the professionals, so they don't have to worry about the financial vagaries of being able to successfully string some words together creatively. So all they need to do is concentrate on the writing for hopefully the next book, and the next.

But that's in fairy tale land again isn't it? They say everyone has a novel in them, but of course when it comes to getting that novel out and available for reading by the general public for £10 or thereabouts, not everyone is going to do it. Or even be able to do it.

So, having made it this far I'm not about to give up within sight of the 'kill'. By the end of 2013 Milele Safari will be well on the way to being 'out there', in production, or, hopefully, for sale. Watch this space for more happy ever afters!

Sunday, 12 May 2013

An African Journey

My own 'proper' African Journeys started in September 1987 and the last time I went there was near the end of 1997. I'm talking sub-Saharan Africa by the way - the classic photographic safari that began in Kenya and then took in Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Namibia and, finally, Zambia. Those ten years did not change my life immediately, but they left an indelible mark on me on all kinds of levels, however the abiding one was wonder and respect for this capricious, beautiful planet we're privileged to live on.

The idea of writing about Africa actually started in earnest for me on that last holiday in Zambia, as I was sitting in a rustic gazebo overlooking the Lufupa river trying to sketch some hippos. Yes, a gazebo - it had a thatched roof and no walls and some garden-style chairs. The hippos weren't co-operating so I got myself another mug of coffee from the thermos, turned the page and started to write a true story from a leopard's point of view. That was the first shaky outline of the Watching chapter in Milele Safari inspired by a mother leopard and her two cubs that we'd seen tucking into a bushbuck in the middle of a thornbush on our very first safari in Samburu, Kenya.

Then real life kicked in and I didn't do very much with those few hundred words for a long time, just adding a bit here and there, or changing something or, more often, losing it altogether whenever the 'mood' took me, which was not very often. Things changed in 2005 though, as I fell ill and embarked on what turned out to be a permanent break with the world of gainful employment. A lot of the problem was in my head and writing again started to be something I had a lot of time for, because it was a therapeutic refuge for me. I finished Watching and began to think about other strange and wonderful experiences, or 'magic' moments I'd had, not necessarily on safari; but it turned out a lot of them were in fact centred on different parts of the Dark Continent and an idea for a series of themed short stories along the lines of The Canterbury Tales began to form. And inspired the highly original working title for the book of course (Safari Tales), although I knew from the outset that I was going to explore the true meaning of the word safari through the various stories. OK - I admit I was also tempted to spell Tales as Tails, but that was too stupid right? Better than Safari Bums though - a throwback to our first safari where a lot of the time our photos as an album collection could have been entitled Bums of Africa because that's what we saw most of some days...

And here we are in 2013 and I've finally got the first draft and edit done and dusted and so I've progressed to getting in feedback and reviews from literary friends scattered across the globe and starting to get serious about pushing my baby out there. Hello blogdom! I use various writing styles in the Tales, but the main warp holding the weaving together is a diary/journal style for 2 of my central viewpoint characters, so this is as good a place as any to use a sorting centre for various things among which will hopefully be a dialogue with the readers that I'm hoping Milele Safari (An Eternal Journey) will attract. 

We'll see anyway - enough for a first post. I'll try and get something more fascinating added soon. This year, I promise!