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Wednesday, 29 August 2012

New Books Online Soon!

A few weeks ago, I posted a couple of blogs here about ebooks and epublishing. At the time I wasn't sure I liked the way technology was galloping ahead, leaving book-lovers like me worried that the feel, smell and experience of "real" books would soon be lost forever. The debate has had such a lot of interest, both here and through my mailbox at christinahollis@hotmail.co.uk that I felt I had to do a bit more research. There are so many writers hovering on the brink of self-publishing that I thought I'd take the plunge, on the basis that "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em".  The catalyst for this was getting back all the rights to some historical novels I wrote for Harlequin Mills and Boon's Masquerade line a while ago. I've chosen one of these to test the epublishing waters, so I can report back to you all on how the system works, and how easy it is to launch a book into the flotilla of writing already available on the net. 

I chose Lady Rascal for my foray into epublishing. It's a lighthearted romp set at a deadly serious time - the summer of 1789. France is in turmoil, and an English aristocrat puts his life on the line for a beautiful woman. Philip Adamson thinks he's saving Madeleine from the mob, but she is hiding a guilty secret. Beneath her borrowed clothes, Madeleine isn't a lady, she's laundry maid! She was finding herself some nice new clothes in the looted streets when Philip swept her away to safety. Quick-thinking Madeleine sees his innocent mistake as her chance to get the job of her dreams. As a lady's companion, she looks forward to doing nothing all day - but  soon finds herself joining forces with Philip to fight for his family's home and fortune.

Over the next few weeks I'll be tracing Lady Rascal's route from "real" paperback to brand new ebook let loose on the international stage. I think Madeleine will approve, and I look forward to hearing what you think!

Sunday, 26 August 2012

What's Your Opinion?

My new ebook, Lady Rascal, comes out  in a few weeks' time and I've taken this opportunity to redesign my bookmarks. When my first Harlequin Presents, One Night In His Bed, was released I followed the example of lots of other authors and had thin, glossy bookmarks printed advertising simply that book. They were lovely but of course their life was only as long as the book! Learning from that experience, I had a local printer produce some longer lasting thick card bookmarks, which I tuck inside the books I send out as competition prizes. As they aren't advertising one particular book, I like to think they're more of a keepsake. 
I like this new gold leaf design so much, I may make it the background for my blog as well. What do you think?

Monday, 13 August 2012

3 Top Tips For Success


1. TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR OWN ACTIONS - How often have you heard someone say “I could have anything I wanted if only I had more money/more time/a better looking partner...or any one of a hundred other excuses. We all like to indulge in a bit of wishful thinking, but dreaming doesn’t change anything.  Appreciating what we’re blessed with already and building on it is the only way to get results. For instance, if (like me) you can’t understand why it’s impossible to lose weight, get checked out by a doctor to rule out any underlying medical condition, then try keeping a food and exercise diary for a few days.  It really helps, and I speak from experience!
2. BELIEVE  - it doesn’t matter what your goal is, the important thing is that you set one. Then buckle down and channel everything you’ve got toward achieving it. “Begin with the end in mind”, Steven Covey says in the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People We’ve just seen the proof of that in the hundreds of athletes who have fought for years to reach the London 2012 Olympics. Make sure your mind is trained on your ultimate prize, whatever that might be. Wanting to write a book isn’t enough. You must believe with all your heart that you can do it. A solid core belief is the only thing that will get you through the hours and hours of writing, re-writing, rejection and editing it needs to reach a goal like that. Half-hearted procrastinators need not apply! 
3. DO IT NOW - whatever "it" is. By the law of unintended consequence, it’ll take twice as long tomorrow, and three times longer next month. When you keep putting off the evil moment when you must balance your budget, send that email, or break off a relationship, the harder it becomes - and all the time the dread of doing it casts a deepening shadow over your every waking minute. When you’ve got a lot of frogs to eat, the saying goes, eat the ugly frog first. Making the initial effort is always the worst part of any task. 

Whatever you want to achieve in life, you are the only one who can really make it happen. Identify what you want, go for it, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing that whatever you achieve, you’ll have given it your very best shot.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Epublishing - Fix or Flash?

My blog on Smashword founder Mark Coker's speech at RWA2012 got a lot of interest. Thanks to everyone who commented, both here on the blog and direct to me by email. There's obviously such a lot of interest in ebooks, I'm running another link. This piece by Elise Sax in the Huffington Post gives a view from the floor, rather than the podium: http://huff.to/OLZ4Yw
There are millions of people who love to write. It used to be said that if you had a story to tell and the skill to tell it well, you would find a publisher. Only the best and brightest (and luckiest?) got through their rigorous weeding-out process. The hope of becoming one of the chosen few kept writers sending typed manuscripts to  publishing houses by the thousand.  As the death toll of office juniors killed by collapsing towers of accumulated scripts rose,  many of the big firms closed their lists to unsolicited work. Literary agents then became the gatekeepers. To get a shot a publication, books no longer had to be merely well-written and entertaining. They had to  promise huge sales, as well. Did this extra hurdle put authors off? No. The manuscripts carried on accumulating to the point where agents, too, could pick and choose which writers they took on. Employing an editor before approaching an agent became the way to progress - another step in the ziggurat between writing a book and seeing it appear in print. Is it any wonder that faced with this increasingly long drawn out route to publication, vanity publishers made a fortune from the unwary?

Then came the Internet revolution. Now anyone who wants to put their work out into the public domain can do so, by blogging or publishing an ebook. The author's plaintiff cry of  "Who will buy my story?" has now become "Here's my work - pass it on."

As Elise Sax's article says, being published by a big, respectable firm still has a lot of cachet. Representation by an agent means you've got a knowledgeable person on your side to help you fight your way through contracts, clauses and obligations -  but do readers care how a book gets into their hands, as long as the story is good? Is this the best way to bring more books to more people, or will the explosion in ebooks be just that - up like a rocket, down like a stick? 

Saturday, 4 August 2012

Smashwords: The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012

Here's a fascinating insight into the present and future of publishing by Mark Coker of Smashwords: Smashwords: The Future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012
At first glance, there's no limit to how much the self-published ebook author gains from this bright new dawn. The route to conventional publication is tough, and prone to detours and roadblocks. Cut out the middle men (and women), publish your own work and you'll bypass a lot of heartbreak.

On the other hand there is an unpleasant truth that must be faced. Conventional publishers have many reasons for turning down books, and one of them is quality control. Russell Lynes, one time editor of Harper's Magazine said: "Every journalist has a novel inside him, which is an excellent place for it." The rush to publish isn't necessarily good, or advisable. Victoria Beckham or Prince William could easily become million sellers overnight with self pubbed editions of "What I Did On My Holidays", but it would be an awful lot harder to shift many copies with that title if the author didn't have either a glamourous media image, a title, or both.

And another thing. Despite the explosion in titles on the market surely the number of readers worldwide must remain pretty constant. Once the initial thrill of the new technology has worn off and everyone who's likely to buy an ereader has one, maybe the market will settle down - and that's before we get around to pricing. There's an old saying: "Why buy the cow when you can get the milk for free?" There are thousands of books on the internet downloadable for free, whether legally or illegally. The relentless driving down of prices is good for the reader, but not so good for the author and disastrous for small independent booksellers.

It's good to see authors taking the initiative, but how long can these trends continue?