Silly Saturday – Surviving Self Publishers

Survival guide for friends and relatives of Indie Authors

How many of us recall being waylaid at the school gate by other mothers with Tupperware party invites or the friends for whom Amway cleaning products became a religion? Do Amazon Kindle Self Publishers pose a similar threat?

Spare a thought for friends and relatives of Indie Authors…

You probably were not even aware your friend or aunty was an Indie Author; you weren’t listening when they were telling you about their writing, or when they mentioned modestly that their first novel was available on Amazon Kindle. So here is a survival guide.

  1. Never reveal that you own any electronic device larger than a postage stamp.
  2. Never ask ‘How’s the writing going?’

If it is too late for the above, the following excuses may be helpful.

A. I’ve lost my Kindle charger.

B. I left my Kindle on the train.

C. WiFi not working.

D1. I’m going to buy your book when I go on holiday.

D2. LIE. I have downloaded your book and will read it when I’m on holiday.

E. I like to buy my books at the charity shop.

F. I have to finish reading the book for my book club.

G. I have an iPad, but don’t know how to download books and have to wait till my son/daughter/nephew comes round.

H. My Kindle is full, I already have 5,000 free classic novels by dead authors on there.

I. I’m just waiting till pay day. (This last excuse could be seen as rather feeble, especially if they are selling their book for 99p.)

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Good luck, but don’t think you have escaped. Did you get an invitation to tea and cake round at your friend’s house, wondering what a Pop Up Bookshop is? Your local Indie author has now learnt how to create paperbacks on Kindle Direct Publishing. After eating some delicious cakes they expect you to wipe your sticky fingers and look at the pile of lovely new paperbacks that just arrived on the doorstep. They belong to Amazon Prime and get free deliveries, so they have saved you the trouble of ordering from Amazon yourself and there is the bonus of getting your copy autographed by them. …and if you don’t buy their latest novel you will probably get it for a birthday present.

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How Big is a Book?

When I finished the first draft of my first novel ‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind’ it was 325,000 words long; considering it had started off as a short story you may wonder how that came about. Much editing and removal of sub plots later and it was reduced to the final 225,000 words. As it also adhered to no known genre, the chances of finding an agent were even less than they are for most new and unknown writers. As I sent off chapters, letters and synopses to agents, I started writing ‘Quarter Acre Block’ in which nothing strange happens. This time I planned to stay under 100,000 words and aim for the family drama market. But even as I wrote about 1960s England and Australia, a character who had walked uninvited into Brief Encounters was nagging to have his story told.

Even as ‘Three Ages of Man’ was being born I had decided to try the self publishing route; on Amazon Kindle there is no limit to how many words you can publish, after all a Kindle device can hold thousands of books and trillions of words.

This year, as I have written in previous blogs

https://tidalscribe.wordpress.com/2017/03/10/reinventing-the-printing-press/   

we started turning all my books into paperbacks. With four collections and Quarter Acre Block published and copies handed out as gifts to various friends and relatives, whether they wanted them or not, it was time to start on the Brief Encounters Trilogy.

But would the magic printing press cope? ‘Three Ages of Man’ is 195,000 words long, and the preparallelequel to  Brief Encounters. Don’t look the word up, I made it up and have trouble spelling it myself; Three Ages is second of the trilogy, but is also a stand alone novel. Not a lot shorter than the first novel, but it seemed logical to experiment with it first.

How long is a novel, how big is a book? First time writers are often quoted 80,000 words, certainly not over a hundred or under fifty. But the truth is, a story is as long as it takes to tell; some readers like a quick read while others enjoy something they can get their teeth into.

When Cyberspouse ‘accidentally’ joined Amazon Prime, perhaps a ploy to get the Amazon Firestick, we were happy to enjoy the benefits of free delivery. ‘Three Ages of Man’ arrived and I put it on the kitchen scales, just under three pounds Imperial. It is nine inches by six inches, no thicker than other paperbacks we have in the house, with larger print and a generous margin on the inside edge of the pages so the reader won’t need to prize it open to read. I was happy.

Now to turn our attention back to ‘Brief Encounters of the Third Kind.’