Wow, where did the time go? It’s three days to release day and then my latest book baby, The Buddha’s Bone, will spread its wings and fly out into the great, wide world.
Ha ha, indulge me a bit with the cheesiness there. In all honesty, this is a milestone for me. It isn’t my first novel, as my debut came out in 2019. it isn’t even my first book, as I’ve had poetry collections published too. But this book marks the first baby step as my own publisher. Much went into setting up my own business behind the scenes, aside from simply the writing side. The Buddha’s Bone is the finished product of a whole year of rewriting, editing, cutting scenes, learning to typeset, designing a cover, getting registered as a sole trader – and the list goes on. Anyway, soon it’ll be over to you as a reader. I do hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed making it!
Guess what arrived in the post yesterday? The author copies of my soon to be published novel, The Buddha’s Bone. This is the deluxe hardcover version and (even if I say so myself) they’re really gorgeous! I can’t believe my second novel is going to be released in another week.
I can’t really describe the excitement at holding your own book. It’s a feeling that will never get old. More so because I knew that with this book, I had designed everything myself, from the dust jacket to the colour of the digital cloth hardcover itself.
My little helper here couldn’t quite believe it either and asked me, “Why is your picture inside the book?” I think that was enough to convince a young enquiring mind that Mummy is an author!
Twelve days until release day for The Buddha’s Bone, so here’s another excerpt for you to peruse. With the Ebook, Paperback and Hardcover all available on pre-order, all there is left to do is countdown the days to publication. Woohoo!
The Buddha’s Bone is my second novel. I was inspired to write it after living in Japan for four years while working as an English teacher. Although the story and people are fictional, some of the places the characters visit are real. The main setting is beautiful Tottori, which is where I lived, though sees the protagonist Kimberly and her friends visit other locations on their travels in Nippon. With a time difference of eight hours between the UK and Japan and a thirteen hour direct flight, the jetlag is real too!
This weekend I’ve been taking a moment to reflect on how many drafts my forthcoming novel, The Buddha’s Bone, has been through. It will soon be published on 25th October, and I suppose I’m already feeling sentimental about the journey.
I was doing some bookshelf reorganisation while trying to find a spooky Halloween read yesterday and came across my old printed drafts wedged in there. I originally started draft 1 of The Buddha’s Bone back in 2013, but put it on the back-shelf to work on Gods of Avalon Road instead – which ended up being my debut novel, released in 2019 by Blossom Spring Publishing.
I tinkered with The Buddha’s Bone on and off around 2017, but I only properly came back to this project in 2020 and completed it over Easter break in April last year, during lockdown. After sending it to a fabulous editor friend for a final polish, off it went to publishers in November 2020. It had a full manuscript request in December 2020, then detailed editorial feedback from the same publisher to start getting it prepped for publication in January 2021. However, due to impending lockdown and poor communication on the part of the publisher, this sadly didn’t go any further. Instead I was left with a finished, professionally edited book and a frustrated feeling towards traditional publishing.
This is what finalised my decision to go into business for myself. It’s now exactly fourteen days until The Buddha’s Bone is released under my own imprint. To say I’m excited is an understatement.
If you are a writer, I’d be curious to know how many drafts your work in progress goes through before becoming a fully fledged novel, ready to fly out into the wide world. 😊
To celebrate National Poetry Day this Thursday 7th October 2021, you can listen to a reading of some poems from my recently published collection, The Redundancy of Tautology, from Cyberwit Publishing in April this year.
I thought it was a good opportunity to focus on my poetry for a moment, as since July I’ve been concentrating all my efforts on my forthcoming novel, The Buddha’s Bone.
Hope you enjoy listening. Feel free to leave a comment or follow my YouTube channel if you want to hear more samples of my writing. 😊
October has arrived, which means it’s publication month for The Buddha’s Bone. The twenty-one day countdown to my book launch on 25th October is underway. I’ve been busy this week getting everything finalised for pre-order, so all the links are now updated, which you can view by clicking on the book title above. To say I’m excited is an understatement! In the meantime, here’s another excerpt from my forthcoming novel, which I hope you enjoy.
I mentioned in my last post that I wanted to write about my experience using various self-publishing distributors as an Indie author. My intention with this post is to share my experience – and hopefully give good advice – to other authors starting out. This information is relevant to UK authors as it applies to distributors that have printers and warehouses in the UK and Europe.
Before I started out on my Indie author journey with The Buddha’s Bone a few months ago in June, I felt confused and overwhelmed by the amount of options available for self-publishing, and I wanted the most user-friendly option to begin with: my goal was getting a professionally designed book to a worldwide audience at as low a cost as possible. I had previously used Lulu publishing to print and distribute my novella Zombie Reflux and issues of the literary ezine I run, Bindweed Magazine so I was familiar with this, though found it hard to use and wanted to look at different options.
Amazon KDP – Ebook: As a starting point for both the ebook and paperback versions of my book, I chose to use KDP as it is straightforward to use. For the Ebook, you can download Kindle Creates to format your doc or doc X file; however, I chose to directly upload my doc X file and then check through it with the previewer. What’s helpful about the previewer is that you can check how it would look on a phone, tablet and Kindle reader via a drop-down menu. It was also simple to upload my book cover as a JPEG and to enter the book metadata (title, blurb, contributor details, etc). The only downside to be wary of is that you can’t use unusual fonts, as they will not show as intended; I had tried to use a simple curly graphic in Wingdings font, appearing under each chapter number and it showed up as a plain box. But a great benefit is that the Ebook version also allows you to set a date for publication; I chose to set mine for pre-order on 25th October, to give me time to start sending out ARC copies. Another plus for using Kindle for your Ebook is that it’s free and you can do multiple revisions before your publication date. If you want you can check out the Kindle version of The Buddha’s Bone to see what it’s like. Overall user level: easy.
With only four weeks until The Buddha’s Bone is released into the great wide world, it’s time to start the celebration countdown. Here’s an excerpt from the first page as a sneak preview. I’m very excited for release day. This isn’t my debut novel, but it’s my first book that will be published under my own imprint – my author name, Leilanie Stewart – as I’m now officially a sole trader, registered with Nielsen. Woohoo!
To say that I’ve learned a lot on my journey as an Indie author is an understatement. In three months, I’ve learned how to design my own cover on Canva. I’ve taught myself how to typeset my manuscript to make paperback print copies using the template on KDP. I’ve figured out how to format my word document into an ebook using Draft2Digital and KDP. Words from the world of publishing such as bleed and trim, as well as widows and orphans have expanded my vocabulary. I understand how to use Calibre to convert Word doc files into Mobi, ePub or PDF for use as ARC copies. I know how to enter my book’s metadata into the Nielsen Title Editor, so that it will be available to retailers and wholesalers in the UK and worldwide. I still scratch my head at the notion of wholesale discounts, but I’m willing to have a go at it in order to get my book listed as available for order by online retailers. Admittedly I know next to nothing about marketing – especially on a budget – though I’m an eager student, and I’m doing my homework on this one.
I’ll be writing a separate post about how I’ve found using the various print on demand self-publishing services and ebook distributors that I’ve tried: Lulu, KDP, Draft2Digital, Ingramspark and Barnes and Noble Press. This is mainly because I have so much to say and I don’t want to ramble off on a tangent. For now, all I’ll say is this. If you’re an Indie Author who is feeling daunted by the prospect of self-publishing, don’t be put off. As recently as June, I was feeling overwhelmed by my lack of knowledge alongside the wealth of information thrown at me as a writer going it alone. I found that by jumping right in at the deep end and using KDP to design my paperback print book and Draft2Digital to format my ebook copies, I gained a solid starting point to build my skills. My advice is to make the leap; I got there and I’m sure you will too.
Now that my Indie author journey of making writing into my own business is underway, it’s time to think about a few things to do with the reality of publishing: what constitutes success?
Finding success as a writer depends entirely on your outlook. The reality of my own writing career is this: for my books that were traditionally published in the past decade, I receive a royalty statement bi-annually, and I’m thankful that my books are still selling all these years later. But are the royalties enough to make a living from? Well, I work a day-job to pay the bills – so that says it all. Does that mean I’m successful as a writer – because small, but regular, amounts of money keep trickling in? Or am I unsuccessful as a writer because it isn’t my living and I do other work to keep a roof over my head?
Do I want to make writing my full-time job? Of course I do; what author doesn’t want to write as their day-job. But this is where the definition of success starts to get tricky to define. Suppose an author is able to write full-time because they have income from another source to pay for their living costs. Technically, they’re at home writing for their nine to five, regardless of how well their books sell. Is that success as a writer; writing as a full-time occupation, regardless of how the bills are paid?
Then we have to factor in the costs spent versus the royalties reaped in publishing as a business. How about the costs involved in starting up the business of writing? For example, I pay annually for my author website – this blog you’re reading right now. I paid £84 for a premium account to own my own domain. Then, I paid £164 to Nielsen to buy my own ISBNs for my forthcoming books, which I’ll be self-publishing hence forwards. That makes me at a net loss of £248 before I’ve even published my first books as a sole trader – The Buddha’s Bone is due to be released on 25th October this year, still five weeks away. Because I am at a net loss, does this mean I’m unsuccessful as a writer? Or maybe your position is that the saying is true: you have to spend money to make money.
I know many authors who consider success as a writer to equate to making a living from their writing. Personally for me, I consider success to mean your work is being read by as many people as possible in your target audience. That may, or may not, translate into money. But building a following is important too, and who knows? For some lucky folks (hopefully me as well) that may lead to a bigger paycheck in the process!
With six weeks left until publication day for my literary fiction book and second novel, The Buddha’s Bone, I’ve been busy sending ARC copies to book reviewers, book bloggers and readers who have expressed interest after reading the blurb. I’m delighted to say that this week I’ve had my first positive reviews posted on Goodreads.
As any reader knows, sending out your book is a nerve-wracking experience – more so if it is still on pre-order and not yet published. I’m relieved that there has been a fair amount of interest in my novel so far, and that it has been well received to date. I hope of course that continues to be the case as launch day draws ever closer!