2017… That’s a Wrap!

Picture by Sebastien Wiertz.

Picture by Sebastien Wiertz

Hello Readers,

Well it looks like every man and his dog are doing a wrap up of 2017, so I thought I would jump on the band-wagon. This is the bit where I have to reflect on what I have achieved over the last 12 months. With a memory like mine that is a tough call, but thankfully I have the help of social media to fall back on. So, this is what 2017 looked like for me:

  1. I just scraped in on my Goodreads reading challenge of 26 books for the year, and when I say I just scraped in… I mean I finished book 26 on New Years Eve. Phew! I admit, I took a few shortcuts when I fell behind, reading a few volumes of Tite Kubo’s manga sensation “Bleach”. I even re-read a couple of my own short stories, which was a good exercise, because I still enjoyed the read and can see that I have improved my writing (at least in my opinion). If I did audiobooks, I would have ‘read’ some of these too, But I don’t do audio books, they just don’t work for me.
  2. I published 5 books in 2017. My Blood Rage series in the fantasy genre, which consists of a short story, a novella and a novel. The others 2  were short stories – Easy Prey and Making Magic, one of which I would classify as horror, the other is more fantasy with horror elements and a little humour.
  3. I managed to get some of my books into bookshops and work out that this isn’t very economically viable when you they take 35 to 40% of the RRP (that’s the RRP, not the profit) to put them on the shelf. So I won’t be actively pursuing this as a sales channel until I can get a reasonable print cost (noting price generally comes down the more units you buy, but until I know I can sell the units, I’m not keen on large orders).
  4. I also got ‘The Crimson Guild’ and ‘Blood Rage’ into some libraries, so if you are in the Logan city area and want to try them out, visit your local library and you can loan them.
  5. I have written a book on how to self-publish, but I’m not sure if I will release it or not. I finished it a few months ago now, but the playing field is constantly changing and it may need to tweaked if I decide to release it.
  6. I have spent hour after hour researching writing and marketing techniques.
  7. I put some of these new skills into practice and commenced running a few ads on FB and Amazon.
  8. I have tried to maintain a constant blog across the year, but did slack off a little at times to focus on writing/editing so I could get some more work out.

I’m sure there is more I could add to this list, but I can’t think of it right now and I have covered the main items from my FB timeline now. Looking back, I am quite happy with what I have achieved over the year.

On a personal level, I have been very lucky to have an amazing woman who not only supports me with my writing, but spoils me on special occasions. I’m not easy to buy presents for, so she tends to get me ‘experiences’. This year I have learnt how to drift a Lotus Elise around a skid pan, which was an awesome and exhilarating activity. I have flown a light aircraft over Brisbane, yes… I actually piloted the plane for a 30 minute flight. Now that was quite scary for me. I’ve been fortunate enough to holiday in Japan during the Cherry Blossom season and I’ve managed to get back to the UK and catch up with family and friends (only my 2nd time back in 20 years). As this only happens once in a blue moon, we made the most of it. We took the train through the Channel tunnel to Paris (crossed that one off my bucket list) and drank Belgium beer in Belgium. I really don’t think I would have half of these things without my great woman’s drive and motivation.

What’s lined up for 2018?

Well, on a personal note, I already have a ride in a Centurion tank and a “learn-to-fly-a-helicopter” flight lined up. We won’t be doing much travelling this year though. We’ll need to knuckle down and save for the next trip.

Writing wise I plan to continue to learn as much as possible about writing. I am starting to plot a bit more these days, so I’ll see if that makes much difference with my writing this year. I have a few unfinished titles I’ve been working on over the last year or so and I’d really like to finalise some of these for publishing them this year. I tend to jump between projects while I work though, which slows the progress on individual stories, but sees me finish a few closely together. I’d love to get a few more short stories and another novella or novel out this year, so I look forward to looking back at the end of 2018 and seeing if I met this goal.

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A Quick Update for Horror Fans

Image by Jcrakow

Image by Jcrakow

Hello Readers,

I have some exciting news for you, I have recently finished reviewing my editor’s comments on a new short horror story I’ve written. I have amended the story based on the edits and I am very pleased with the final polish of this piece. I think it has buffed off the tarnishes and made it shine. I have also secured a cover for the story and plan to do a cover reveal in the near future, I just need to sort out if I am keeping the working title or amending it and if I’m going to apply a tag line (I will if I can think of something suitable).

My plan is to release this in KDP Select to see how it goes. Once the Amazon exclusive period is up, I will look at going out on a wider distribution. I will let you know if and when this happens.

In the mean time, I wish you some scary reading.

Looking for something to read? Why not check out my books here

Supporting Indie Authors

I had a great night at Little Gnome book shop last weekend where I attended their ‘Indie Author Day’. It was a great event showcasing work from a number of independent authors. There were guest speakers, free nibbles, free beer, free wine and free pizza, all laid on by the wonderful Bel. There were a number of budding authors in the crowd, gleaning inspiration and advice. I also found a new fan – big shout out to Paul, thanks for supporting me by buying my book. I also have to give a massive shout out to Bel for her support and efforts in putting this event together.

Why not show your support by reading a book from an independent author.

Allan Walsh writes Fantasy and Horror. If you’re looking for something new to read in these genres, why not check out his books here.

 

When Opportunity Knocks.

Hello Readers and Carpe Diem!

That’s right, I’m using that term most often associated with the Dead Poets’ society – “Seize the day”. When opportunity knocks, sometimes you’ve just got to jump on board and ride it through the field of hopes and dreams. Which brings me to my point… I will be making an appearance at Little Gnome Bookshop in Wynnum tomorrow for their Indie Author Day. I know it is short notice, but originally, I wanted to attend this event and I wasn’t able to make it. Now the stars aligned and I have the opportunity to be there. So, I’m going to take advantage of it. If you are in the neighbourhood, why not drop in… and, if your there to purchase a copy of one of my books, I’ll be happy to sign it for you. For those that can’t make it along, I hope you have a great weekend. And remember, don’t let those opportunities pass you by!

You can find more details on the Indie Author Day here.

Allan Walsh writes Fantasy and Horror. If you’re looking for something new to read in these genres, why not check out his books here.

Woohoo, I’m on a roll. Here’s another interview.

Hello Readers,

It looks like I’m on a bit of a roll here, having obtained another interview this week (I’m doing a little happy dance right now to celebrate). This one was with the awesome crew at awesomegang.com and has similar questions, but still some new info in here. If you want to take a look, click here.

Happy Reading!

Check it out! I got an Author Interview :)

PaperArtist_2015-03-30_22-38-24

Surprise! I managed to score myself an author interview over at Book Reader Magazine. If you want to check it out, you can find it here: http://bookreadermagazine.com/featured-author-allan-walsh/

 

Another Milestone Reached – Getting my Book into a Store.

Hello Readers,

I have some exciting news to share. I have reached another milestone on my writing journey. I now have a book on the shelves of a real life, bricks and mortar, bookstore. Yay! The Crimson Guild is now available in Little Gnome Book Shop, Wynnum. Here is a picture of me showing Little Gnome one of my books before it goes onto the shelf.

cof

So, for all you readers that savour the smell of a new book and the feel of those pages on your fingers as you flick to the next page. If you want a nice new print copy of The Crimson Guild, head down to Little Gnome.

And for those authors out there wanting to know how I went about achieving this milestone, well it was surprisingly easy. These are the steps I took:

  1. Little Gnome was referred to me by a friend (but you could easily search for independent book stores).
  2. I checked out the website, where there were contact details and an enquiry form.
  3. I went down to Wynnum to grab a coffee and check out the store.
  4. I liked what I saw, so I emailed Bel, the owner of the store and sent her a PDF copy of my book.
  5. Bel responded to say Little Gnome would be interested in stocking my book, providing/advising of the forms I needed to complete.
  6. I completed the forms and e-mailed back to ask when she would like me to deliver the books.
  7. I visited the store, dropped off my books and the paperwork and grabbed a photo with Little Gnome. Easy!

From what I hear, there are a number of stores out there that support indie authors, all you have to do is approach them and find out if they are interested in stocking your book. If they are, they will let you know their requirements.

Happy reading.

New Release – Blood Rage, a Fantasy Novel by Allan Walsh.

blood-rage-ebook-cover

Hello Readers,

It’s finally here! Blood Rage has been in development for a long time. The writing process is not a quick one, with the first draft being written a few years ago now. Then came the feedback, the editing, the re-writing. What we call polishing in the writing world; polishing the story to make it shine. Well, I hope it is sparkling for you all, because I have buffed it over and over to get it gleaming.

Blood Rage is now available from Amazon and soon to be released on many other platforms. Though if you are purchasing a copy, I would recommend you take a look at the boxed set first, it is a great value deal containing:

Trio Mockup*
*Please note the 3D render image does not represent the actual dimensions of the books

Blood and Fear – a short story that is exclusive to the boxed set,
The Crimson Guild – a novella,
Blood Rage – a novel,

Happy reading.

Time For Another Update? I Think So.

Image by Jcrakow

Image by Jcrakow

Hello Readers,

Alright, what can I say? The Crimson Guild was released in March has been out for around 4 weeks now. I did have a little hiccup with the print copy though. When I received the proof, the margins were a little out, so the words fell too close to the spine and needed to be adjusted slightly. That has all been fixed up now and the new proof looks fantastic! So I have approved it and the print copy is now available. I have also been doing a little promo work on Facebook to let people know about. If any of you have read it and enjoyed it, it would be awesome if you’d leave a review, rate it or let people know about on social media.

The month of April seems to have jumped out of the shadows, shouting boo at me. And it’s taken me by surprise! It seems like only last week we were celebrating Christmas, where does the time go? I plan to release Blood Rage this month, so I better get a move on. Luckily, the e-copy is all ready to go and I’ll probably get it out in the next couple of days, as I’m off to Japan this month for a short break (I will try and get some interesting photos to share with you all when I get back). Once Blood Rage is released, I also intend to release a boxed set which will contain The Crimson Guild, Blood Rage, and a little bonus – Blood and Fear. Blood and Fear is a short story that preludes the other two books and will be exclusive to the boxed set. Unfortunately, I cannot easily create a print copy in a boxed set, so it will only be available on e-copy at this time. If you are planning on purchasing The Crimson Guild and Blood Rage on e-copy, I would wait for the boxed set, as it is going to be great value. It will be cheaper than buying both books separately and you will get the exclusive bonus of Blood and Fear.

In between the promo work I’m doing, my day job,  and time spent critiquing at my writers’ groups, I have also been trying to read and write. I’m currently reading Brandon Sanderson’s – Mistborn and I am really enjoying it. I’ve also started a short fantasy story and I’m about 1500 words in. I’m enjoying that too, it is a little different from the Blood Rage Series as this one has elves in. In addition to this I have a few other unfinished projects, mostly short stories, and when I have finished them I think I will wrap them all up in a collection.

Anyway, that’s it from me. I hope you are all well and enjoying what you’re reading.

Take care.

A Writer’s Journey – How I Self-Published a Book (Part 2).

Google and I became even closer pals over the next weeks. Once again I searched the depths of its archives, reading up on how to create a print copy. And once again, I cut through all the guff, the filler, the extra wordage that filled out the articles and stripped them down to a bullet point set of instructions that I would understand. I formatted ‘Low Life’ for print and sourced a pre-made cover for cost efficiency. The site I got this from provided an e-book cover only. I needed a print cover too. Fortunately I had come across instructions on how to do this when I was searching for how to format a print copy. I created a print cover with the same artwork, and released it on CreateSpace as a short story in its own right. Now I was prepared for the new anthology.

Darkness in Shadows 3D render

My contribution towards the new anthology was ‘Darkness in Shadows’. The story was edited through the group which applied a polish and made it shine. I referred back to my bullet point instructions and sharpened my skills by formatting the short story for e-book and Print. With the formatting complete, I sourced a pre-made cover and released it as a stand alone short story just as I had with ‘Low Life’. Once again, everything worked.

I had started to think that releasing short stories and purchasing covers for each, is not a cost effective idea. I could write a heap of short stories and put them into my own anthology with 1 cover. But when I thought about it more, I came up with a marketing plan. I don’t know if it is a good plan or not, I’m still in the process of trying it. I decided I would release each short as a stand alone, I would not market them until I had enough to complete a boxed set (I’m still working on this too). Each time I release one, I do a cover reveal. I will do a quick post about the release and I will try to get my name out there on numerous books. Then I turned my attentions back to the anthology – ‘Darkest Depths’.

While formatting ‘Darkest Depths’, I found oDarkest Depths 3D Coverut that there are some differences between the formatting of a short story and an anthology, but the fundamentals are the same. I adapted, made a few small changes and completed the formatting. The book was then released through Vision Writers’.

With my projects behind me, I turned back to my Novel ‘Blood Rage’. I was now ready to publish and I wanted to do it right. After my anthology experience, I decided to get an editor. Fortunately, I had one of the editors in the writers’ group lined up and negotiated a deal. I circulated ‘Blood Rage’ for beta reading and the feedback that came back suggested there was enough content for 3 books. By now it had been years since I first started my book. At some point you have to move it on or you will be working on it forever. But I took the feedback on board and split the story into 3. However, to minimize the prospect of waiting another year or two turning the book into 3 novels, I split it into a short story, a novella and a novel and sent them to my editor.

Trio Mockup.pngWhen ‘Blood and Fear’, ‘The Crimson Guild’ and ‘Blood Rage’ came back from my editor, there was a heap of editing for me to do. But it was worth it. I got stuck in and after about a month of going through the edits, I had a polished story. Honestly, if you decide to self-publish, at a bare minimum, spend the money getting your work edited, it makes a huge difference. With the editing done, I had to source covers. I had been looking for months, since before I had sent the work for the editing process and I had come up empty handed. I had a budget I was trying to stick to, and it wasn’t cutting the mustard. So I pushed my budget upwards, searched even more sites for pre-mades, and found an artist that had just what I wanted. And not only would I get an ebook cover, but I would also get a print cover and 3D renders for each book. One problem with 3D renders, is that they can be deceptive. Take a look at mine for the ‘Blood Rage’ series above. It looks like all 3 books are novels roughly the same size, but they are not. ‘Blood and Fear’ is a short story less than 30 pages long, but the render uses a template that makes it appear like it is more. You can get different sized templates, but this is the one that came with my purchased covers – this one looks great, but it does not accurately represent my book. This shouldn’t be a problem for most readers as the description on Amazon tells them what they are getting, but I try to make it clear when I have a short story to avoid confusion.

I claimed the covers with a deposit and went to work formatting for print. I chose to format the print copies first because the cover artist needs to know how many pages in a book in order to create the correct spine width. The page number in the original document will rarely correlate to the page number in your formatted book. This is because it depends on the size of book you produce and what font type/size you choose, etc… After I knocked up the print copies, I completed my electronic copies and have now published ‘The Crimson Guild’ in ebook. I have ordered a proof copy of the print version to ensure the formatting and cover print colours are okay, before I give the go ahead to release.

So, lets take a look at the tools I used along the way and how I use them. The tools are:-

Y-Writer (Free Software)
MS Word (Purchased Software)
JEdit (Free Software)
Scribus (Free Software)
MS Paint (Was installed on my laptop when I purchased it)
Gimp (Free Software)
Calibre (Free Software)
Excel (Purchased Software)

I did not want to spend a lot of money initially, so I tried to keep everything as cheap as possible. I started off by purchasing the student version of Microsoft Office which came with Word and Excel. I soon found that Word was not really designed for writing books. Through extensive searching with my old mate Google, I found free programs that would do what I wanted, and I switched to Y-Writer, a free writing tool specifically built for writing books. For those of you that have heard the hype about Scrivener, Y-Writer is basically a no frills version of Scrivener, and having compared the 2, I personally prefer Y-Writer.

My method is to write in Y-Writer, where I can create chapters and scenes, character profiles and notes, move them around, etc… and then when I have finished, I save the document as an RTF file and open it in word. This is where I begin my formatting. I use words find and replace feature to ensure all my quotation marks, en dashes, em dashes, etc… are standardised. After completing as much of the formatting in word as I can, I copy and paste into JEdit and save as a HTML file. This is a program editor that I use to format for e-books and it is too detailed a process to go into in this blog post. It is important to note that how I create my books, is not the only way to do it. There are many ways to format an e-book, and with software these days, there may be easier and quicker ways to format a book that may be just as effective, or even better. I am no expert on the matter. It is up to you to find what works best for you.

When I have done my thing in JEdit, I need a cover before I can publish. I have created my own covers in using Paint and Gimp, and I have purchased e-book pre-mades (The front cover only) and created a wrap around print cover using Paint and Gimp. As mentioned above, I have also purchased a full set of e-covers, wrap around print, and 3D renders. Once I have my cover sorted it’s time to go to Calibre. In Calibre I ‘add book’ and load up my HTML file. Then I go and update the metadata, ensuring I add as much detail as I can, including the book cover, title, author name, star rating, ID’s tags, description, etc… and move on to convert book. Here I select the output file type, ie. EPUB or Mobi (I do not use AMW3 for Kindle because from what I have read, older readers do not work reliably with this file type). I complete a few other details and Bobs your uncle… I have an ebook file ready to load up to Amazon via my Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. I also load my up to Draft to Digital for a wider level of distribution. When I started out, I found this post on e-book formatting very useful. When you get to the bottom of the post there are links to the subsequent posts that complete the series on this topic.

Next a create the Print version. The Print file is a little more complex initially, because you need to set up the parameters for your book and ensure you follow the guidelines of publisher. The main publishers are CreateSpace and Ingram Spark, but KDP have recently provided a service to create print books too.  I use Scribus to create my Print file. I set the size to 5″x8″ as this is my preferred book size and is one of the more common ones used. I will set it to double page and set up a series of master pages. Generally I will use 5. A right and left normal, right and left with header and footer and a right chapter start page. I add page numbers where required. Then I will generally add twice as many pages as my word document and set up my text styles, one for ‘Italic’ font, ‘Bold’ font, an ‘Indent’, a ‘Title’ style with a larger font, etc… I copy and paste my formatted word file into Scribus and then use the edit text option to format the print copy using the freshly created styles.

When the formatting is complete I convert the file to a PDF. I now know how many pages my book is and I pass this info onto my cover designer so they can get the spine width right, or I will create a wrap around cover myself in Scribus and convert it to a PDF when done (this is a bit tricky, but with a little patience it can be done). All that’s left now is to load it up into my CreateSpace account (or whichever service I choose to publish through).

The last piece of my puzzle is Excel – I use this to record my book details. The title, the edition, the formatting I have used (ie book size, etc…), where it is published, the ISBN/ASIN, price, tag line, description, call to action, author bio, any cover restrictions on use, etc… and any other details I need to capture for whatever purpose. I also use it to keep a record of my expenses and any income I generate for tax time.

And that is how I self-published my books.