“The more that …

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.”
― Dr. Seuss, I Can Read With My Eyes Shut!

Ever been in the right place at the right time?

Image courtesy of r.nial Bradshaw / The Commons

Image courtesy of r.nial Bradshaw / The Commons

Do you ever have those moments when you feel you have made decisions that put you in the right place at the right time? I had one about nine months ago. I was on my monthly excursion into Brisbane City for my writers group. I had been up half the night reading submissions and making my critique notes and was ready for action. The session went well, everyone was in good spirits and the critiques were accepted for the constructive criticisms they were. Then someone asked the question, Why don’t we do an anthology? There was a bit of chit chat about it, then things died down and off we went.

A month or two later and the topic was raised again. This time the suggestion received more interest and the decision was made. We were going to produce an anthology. We were like a bunch of kids who could hear the ice cream truck coming down the road.

The beauty of groups is that they hold people with a variety of skills and expertise. In our group we not only have writers, we have published authors, book reviewers, a publisher, editors, a book shop employee, uni students, ex military, a school teacher and the list goes on. If I had been on my own that ice cream truck may have kept on driving, leaving me to run after it, but as a group it pulled up right outside my door. And what’s more, I was confident that together we had the ability to achieve our goal.

We set up a private group on a social media site for communication on the project, and before I knew it the machine was in motion. The information came flooding through: typesets, margins, fonts, topic, word count, deadlines, etc… We didn’t let that perturb us, we took out the grease gun and oiled the cogs. Each of us writing a short story to be included. Needless to say we have all been busy over the preceding months (some more-so than others, thanks guys, you know who you are).

The process has been a real eye-opener into what actually goes into creating a book. Not only have I learned a few things along the way to achieving one of my own goals, but I have forged stronger friendships through the experience. As a group we have decided to make the anthology available for free as an e-book and we will make it available for purchase via POD for anyone who wants a hardcopy. The good news is that we are only about a month away from publishing. Who knows, I might get to taste that ice cream very soon.

Wondering how to Self Publish? It’s not as hard as you might think.

Image courtesy of Waferboard / Flickr

Image courtesy of Waferboard / Flickr

I had been editing my novel, preparing it for the day I was finally happy and ready to publish, but I didn’t have any idea how I was actually going to do it. So I researched publishing through the traditional method – a publishing house. My investigations informed me about query letters, agents, rejection letters, probability, etc… they also told me to prepare for failure. It was all quite disheartening.

I persevered with my search and stumbled onto several articles that talked about self-publishing and print on demand (POD). Some of these articles were written by published authors that have already experienced the age old method of being contracted through a publishing house. They talked about expectations and disappointments, success and failure, lack of help or direction from the publisher, marketing, contracts that take away your rights, and lots more.

Being a writer is obviously a personal journey. Each of us make our own choices based on what we want to achieve. Some of us grab random opportunities that arise in the hope that they will propel us forward on that journey, others let them pass by, waiting for the right one to come along. The more I read about how to get published, the more convinced I am that self publishing is the way for me to move forward on my journey. And I don’t have to wait for the right opportunity, I can do it when I am ready.

Bearing this in mind, I spoke to a friend – Kenneth Mugi. Kenneth is a self published author with his own printing company and I hoped that he would teach me the secrets of how to self publish. I am very thankful for Kenneth’s experience and his willingness to share his knowledge with me. In my coming blogs, I hope to impart some of that knowledge onto you as a writer, so that you too can see just how easy it is to achieve your goals when you know how.

All you really need are 2 programs – Word and Calibre. Most of you will already have word, but if you don’t, I don’t see why another word processor won’t work just as well.

Calibre is a free program available online and can be found at http://calibre-ebook.com/

TIP 1: When using Word, set up your styles before you start to write something new (I’m sure other word processors will have a similar feature).  I set up ‘Heading 1 style’ for my Chapter headings using a large font aligned to the left with a spacing above and below. ‘Heading 2 style’ I use for my paragraph formatting with around a 1/2 cm indent and a single spacing between lines. Please note that it is important not to use more than 3 heading styles as Calibre will only support 3. If you are not sure how to set up your styles, I’m sure the ‘help’ function in word can guide you through it.

Once you have set them up, you need to select the appropriate style when you start writing, ie. click on heading style 1 and type your chapter heading, hit enter, click on heading style 2 and start typing your paragraph. This will make it easy to change all your headings or paragraph formatting’s in one go should the need arise. If you don’t like the heading font, just change it in the heading style and it will amend all your headings in one hit. It will save you having to go through the whole document to amend them individually if you decide to change them later. And while you may like the font or formatting you have chosen, it may not work when you load it onto a reader, and it will be a lot easier to change if you have set up your heading styles.

To be continued…

Not sure how to build your blog? Maybe this will help.

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

A short time ago I decided to tinker with setting up an author platform. I have been messing around with my blog site for a few weeks now, trying to get to grips with WordPress and its features, design a page, come up with some articles, etc… I have been pleasantly surprised to have gained a few followers already. So I started to think – you know what? I can do this. But if I actually knew what I was doing I might do it a whole heap easier and maybe even better.

It is fortunate for me that one of my followers, Joe Warnimont, has a blog on building blogs. While I have no affiliation to Joe or his blog, I am not one to hog good information, so I am sharing this in the interest of helping others to succeed.  I hope you find it as useful as I did.

http://www.writewithwarnimont.com/

http://joewarnimont.org/rise-of-the-writer-book/

Useful Info?

"Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of Stuart Miles / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

After taking some time out to read, I got back onto the search for information, trying to find out about author platforms, self publishing, editing and all the things that encompass being an author. I spent time trawling the net, finding little snippets here and there, then one day a fellow writer recommended an author and her website to me. The author in question was Joanna Penn and her blog site is http://www.thecreativepenn.com/

I have no affiliation with Joanna Penn and have no personal interest in promoting her site. I am however sharing this information for the benefit of those that find themselves in the same situation as I did, searching for helpful information. Joanna’s site has been a great help to me and with the allure of a free e-book, I have done the only thing any self-respecting author/writer on the hunt for information would do. I signed up! A confirmation e-mail later and I received my copy of the e-book, and what a great deal. The book is full of information and helpful links that cover off on a large variety of things – things I wanted to know about. And what’s more, it is still available. I would suggest that if anyone out there is interested in learning more about being a writer, go and check out Joanna’s Website.

Critiques

"Image courtesy of Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net".

“Image courtesy of Keattikorn / FreeDigitalPhotos.net”.

Six months into my writers’ group and I was becoming a dab hand at receiving critiques –  giving them however was not so easy. My main task back then was, and still is, to provide some useful feedback that is of benefit to the writer, while encouraging them to remain on the path of writing. One of the worst things I could do is comment so harshly that the writer gives up on their dream. While I have always tried to make my comments constructive (and have been told they are helpful), when I listen to my fellow writers they seem to have a far superior input. They comment on things I have not even considered, they look at the story from different angles. Some of them have technical knowledge and life skills that I can only dream about.

This is one of the great things about a writers’ group. I have not written every submission that goes under the lens for scrutiny, I have not submitted at every gathering. But there is a lesson for me to learn in every critique, all I need to do is listen.