The Joy of Se…lf Publishing Pt 6

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Today I’m feeling quite pleased with myself. My Amazon exclusive contract has run out and I’ve discovered Smashwords! I can’t believe I’ve been at this game for just about a year and I’ve only just come across Smashwords. To be fair I did read about it a while ago, but I didn’t really understand just how great it is. It is a wonderful platform for people like me who want to self-publish but it does so much more and it’s all free.
It desribes itself as the world’s leading ebook publishing and distribution platform for indie ebook authors and publishers and it is great! Remember me saying that all retailers seem to want their ebooks in different formats? Well, Smashwords will convert your Microsoft Word document into 9 different formats and then distribute your finished product to lots of retailers worldwide. And there are some fabulous downloadable information guides about how to format, how to publish, how to market – in fact everything you want to know. I am so impressed!
I have spent the past few days redesigning my book covers and putting the finishing touches to my manuscripts and this morning I have published five books – three of my Laura Jessop novels and two others written under my pen name Ali Marston. Now I have to wait for them to be reviewed before they can be distributed to other retailers like Kobo, Nook (Barnes & Noble), Apple, Sony and more. But in the meantime they are available for sale on Smashwords website.
And in the meantime I’m back to marketing. There are so many good ideas, some of them have to work. Fingers crossed (and you can’t believe how difficult it is to type with your fingers crossed!).
If you’re thinking of self-publishing, or even if you’re a little way down the road like I was, check out Smashwords. You won’t regret it.

Tanya Carlysle
Creator of Laura Jessop, female sleuth
http://www.tanyacarlysle.com
tweet: @tanyacarlysle
http://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/tanyacarlysle

The Joy of Se…lf-Publishing Pt 5

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It is now several weeks since I announced I would be taking a few weeks off, and I did, …sort of. I’m not very good at doing nothing – unless the weather is warm, the sun is shining, all the chores are done and there’s nothing much going on in my brain.
For those who read my earlier blogs you may recall I had just made an amazing discovery. There are other ebook retailers out there apart from Amazon! Laugh at my naivety if you will, but I had stupidly enrolled my ebooks into Amazon Select which gave Amazon exclusivity. It wasn’t until my readers questioned why my books weren’t available on Nook and Kobo as well as other devices that I started looking into it and I discovered a whole new and exciting world out there. And this was the point at which I decided to take a break. Well, of course, my brain was itching to get going.
I managed a week of catching up on chores, baking cakes, shopping, reading for enjoyment. And it was fun. My main purpose was to recharge my batteries. I had become tired to the point that whatever creative juices I might have had were drying up fast. I had the idea for my fourth novel, but it just wouldn’t develop. Is this what they call writer’s block? I was so busy spinning all the plates of writing, communicating with other authors, reviewing other books, marketing my own books and learning the intricacies of social networking and Twitter that I didn’t know whether I was coming or going.
But by week 2 I was beginning to research other platforms and beginning to understand the complexities of preparing my books for as many retailers as possible in the various formats they demand – all different, of course. I’m fairly competent with a computer, and I self-published without any help (other than my husband opening another bottle of wine when everything went into a black hole! Again!) But the enormity of the task ahead of me was quite daunting. I persevered and I’m almost ready to re-launch my character, Laura Jessop, into new and unexplored territories. Just in the nick of time as my exclusive contract with Amazon runs out in a week’s time. So, it’s full-steam ahead.
And interestingly my brain has benefited from my ‘break’ as I’ve changed direction somewhat for my fourth novel, and the ideas are tumbling into place. I just have to put a brake on them until I complete the re-launch.
And Twitter? Well, that’s a story for another day.

Tanya Carlysle
Creator of Laura Jessop, female sleuth
http://www.tanyacarlysle.com
@tanyacarlysle

The Joy of Se..lf-Publishing Pt 4

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So the week which was to change my life as far as social networking goes came and went! Not a total disaster but not an unqualified success either.

I’ve made a little progress, but I still don’t see the point of Twitter!

But I have realised I made a big mistake by putting my books into Amazon Select which ties me into an exclusive publishing deal with Amazon. For anyone who doesn’t know, Amazon Select is their lending library and when books are ‘borrowed’ the author gets a payment, and I have received some payments but not enough I think to compensate for the fact that I could be enjoying other markets. I’m not unhappy with Amazon – overall they are the ones who have made it possible for me to get into the business of self-publishing and they do have a major share of the market. And the reaction I’ve had from my sales so far has led me to believe I can write, and more to the point I can write what people want to read. Without Amazon I would never have reached this point, so I have a lot to thank them for.

But some of my readers have asked me why I’m not available on Nook and Kobo and lots of other devices, and I realise I have been extremely short-sighted. Because I have a Kindle (and I love it) it was natural for me to produce an ebook for Kindle. And to be perfectly honest I didn’t think about other e-readers. I didn’t understand how fast the world is moving in this area of technology and I was naive to say the least.

As soon as my Select ‘contract’ runs out in a few weeks time I shall re-launch my books (although they will, of course, still be available on Amazon as well) and in the meantime I shall continue to research the mysterious world of Twitter and other such delights.

But for the moment, I’m awarding myself a few weeks’ holiday. I shall make sure my books are ready to re-launch in August, but I’m having a rest from writing and recharging my batteries. I shall continue to engage with people on various websites, to read and review other books and to benefit from other people’s wisdom. There is so much sage advice out there – thank you all. We live in a remarkable world.

Tanya Carlysle
Creator of Laura Jessop, female sleuth
http://www.tanyacarlysle.com
@tanyacarlysle

The Joy of Se…lf Publishing Part 3.

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Well, Twitter is still a mystery! I’ve read a few blogs and various articles about how to tweet. It seems as though the consensus is that a tweet is a mini-blog; so, just choose something to say and say it!

The general advice is that getting involved in conversations is better than simply marketing and I do feel more comfortable with that idea. But it’s a bit like being at a party and standing on the edge of a group of people all engaged in earnest debate. Choosing the right moment to jump in and dazzle them with clever repartee is not easy. In fact choosing the right group in the first place is a challenge all of its own.

‘Choose a group that really interests you.’ How do I find the group in the first place? If I enter self=publishing as a search criterion I get a list of businesses all undoubtedly interested in selling me something. If I enter writer or author I get lots of fellow authors promoting their own work. I tried entering readers and got some very strange contacts!

I understand the principle of building contacts gradually and I will try this over the next few days. Once I’ve worked out which contacts I want.

So, another potentially frustrating day! But with some brighter moments!!

I discovered Jetpack and this could be very exciting. I watched a video link from one of my new followers – thanks Jordan! and it all became clearer. I can use the setting button on wordpress to share my blog with social media sites – you can see how much of a clueless idiot I am! Anyway I’ve rectified that now. Let’s see what tomorrow brings!

Tanya Carlysle

Creator of female sleuth, Laura Jessop
http://www.tanyacarlysle.com
@tanyacarlysle

The Joy of Se….lf Publishing part 2!

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Forgot I was meeting a friend for lunch yesterday so my good intentions of concentrating solely on marketing went out of the window straight away. But I had a fabulous lunch and a glass of wine (or two) and all was well with the world. And it was the weekend after all.

I’ve almost forgotten what weekends are for. When I was gainfully employed I would work Monday to Friday, often late into the evening. Saturday was for catching up on chores and Sunday was for chilling out. My husband and I finally got to speak to each other after a week of being like ships that pass in the night. Now I’m self-employed and trying to make my mark as a writer I feel guilty if I’m not doing something useful, so I often work seven days a week. The problem is I have too many hats to wear! and too many plates to spin!

I know I should be better organised, but I’m not. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Maybe when I make my first million I’ll have a week (or three) off!!

So was my day entirely wasted as regards making progress on my marketing plans? Well, no it wasn’t. Because by some miracle I managed to write a blog that people wanted to read and not only that, I have new followers. I must have finally made some sort of sense of categorising and tagging, because how else do you get new readers? How do they know I’m busy sitting at my keyboard tapping away? How do they find my blog? These are questions I’ve asked myself many times knowing that there are tens of hundreds of thousands of bloggers out there. Well, it seems as though I might have had a bit of a breakthrough.

So thank you if you’re one of my new followers. I hope you stay with me, at least throughout this week. You helped me to put aside my guilt and to feel I actually achieved something yesterday.

Not only that, I sold a few more books and I had another couple of reviews so, all in all, a good day. Tomorrow I’m going to tackle Twitter! There has to be more to it that I’ve found so far. Everyone says it’s one of the most powerful forms of networking. We shall see!

Tanya Carlysle – creator of female sleuth,Laura Jessop.
http://www.tanyacarlysle.com
@tanyacarlysle

The Joy of Se…lf-Publishing!

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So, here I am. It’s a grey, miserable Friday morning and my mood matches the weather. Even though it’s the longest day in this hemisphere the clouds will surely suggest otherwise.
I’ve written three books, and self-published them as ebooks. I have the idea for the fourth, but haven’t really done much more than think about it. And yes, I feel a real sense of achievement.
I’ve read lots of advice about how to promote my books.
I have a Facebook account- tick. And I feel too embarrassed to keep mentioning my books. There’s only so much you can say, isn’t there?
I have a Twitter account- tick. And I have followers! But I seem to be missing something vital. I don’t know what to tweet. I see other authors trotting out marketing messages all the time, but there has to be more to it than that.
I have a small but enthusiastic group of fans- tick. They help me to stay focused and to keep writing, and I am so grateful to them.
I have a blog- tick. I realise I have to do better at this, as I am an infrequent blogger to say the least. But when I get involved in writing a novel, everything else goes out of my mind.
I have my own website- tick, with links to Amazon so people can buy my books instantly- tick.
I have more than one book available so that people can instantly access more of my great writing (!)- tick.
I have some great reviews- and they’re not all written by family and friends (honestly) – tick.
I’ve joined author forums to engage with other writers and to share experiences and expertise – tick.

And now what do I do? How do I persuade more people to buy my books, to post reviews and to tell all their friends?

It seems I’m not alone in this. The ease of self-publishing ebooks has encouraged many would-be authors to release their scribblings to the world. That’s the easy bit. It’s the marketing that is much harder.

So my plan for the next week is to really concentrate on this; to understand the mysteries of Twitter; to engage more with fellow authors and to learn from them; to overcome the embarrassment I feel when I mention my books. And I’ll keep you posted via this blog.

Tanya Carlysle
http://www.tanyacarlysle.com
Creator of female sleuth, Laura Jessop.

Hurray!!

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Just finished my latest novel!  Hurray!

Except it isn’t quite hurray.  I feel almost bereft.  It’s been such a large part of my life for several months now.  When I woke in the mornings I knew what I had to do.  I had a purpose.  I felt a real sense of achievement when I finished another chapter; when I developed a character in a different way; when I changed ‘whodunnit’ half way through. And now it’s over.

Becoming an author has been quite a surprise for me. I trained as a scientist, and spent all of my working life in education. It has been a huge privilege working with children, not only teaching them that science can be fun(!) but helping to form their lives; sharing their joy and anguish. I count myself very lucky.

But suddenly I have a new and quite unexpected career. I had the idea for a novel bubbling away for the final few years of my working life. (Although I’m still working I find it hard to believe because I don’t have to get up at some unearthly hour, drive for an hour in murderous motorway traffic and work to a rigid timetable controlled by bells!) The novel remained in my head because I didn’t have the time to do anything about it, and the ideas never quite developed. It was a bit like having a recurring dream and always waking up before the ending.

And when I finally retired I didn’t have the courage to do anything about it.  It was all very well telling myself that when I had the time I would write that novel.  Actually putting pen to paper (or fingers to keyboard) meant I was baring my soul. But gradually I did it, and I got such a buzz! But then came the dilemma of what to do with it. The easy answer was ‘nothing’. It stayed locked in my computer for a while.

Friends who knew I had been writing asked about it and I gave evasive replies. It wasn’t quite finished; I still had to proof-read it; I hadn’t managed to print any copies. Because writing for one’s own satisfaction is very different from letting other people read it. But eventually my husband persuaded me to let him read it, and he liked it!  Well, I reasoned, he would, wouldn’t he? Unbeknownst to me he lent it to others, and they liked it as well. And so here I am.

Laura Jessop is a character based on several strong women I have come across in my working life.  Headmistress of a large girls’ day school in Newcastle, Laura enjoyed her work. When a body is found in the school grounds she meets the local police in the guise of DI Dave Jenkins and is less than impressed. Visually she is reminded of Columbo, the bumbling American detective who never seems quite on top of things until the end when he always caught his man (or woman!). As a woman used to getting her own way, and doing things in her own fashion, Laura decides to get involved.

I suppose it was natural for me to base my novels in a setting I knew.  The advice given to would-be authors is to write about what you know.  Well, I don’t have firsthand experience of murder(!) but I have read crime novels from an early age.  My father’s bookshelves were filled with Raymond Chandler, Dorothy Sayers and Agatha Christie.  I especially liked Miss Jane Marple and that has surely influenced my character, Laura.

So, the second novel in the series is finished, and what shall I do now?

Well, two further plots are starting to develop. But more surprisingly, there are other ideas as well, in different genres.  It is a great surprise to me that my imagination is so active! All of this creativity has lain dormant for so many years and I can see that I have more than enough to keep me occupied for a few years yet.  Maybe I’ll think about retirement sometime!!

If you would like to hear more about Laura you can visit my website www.tanyacarlysle.com.  My books are available on Amazon.  Please let me know what you think of them.

Continue reading

Tanni Grey-Thompson

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I have been so fortunate to grow up in an age and a country where women have been encouraged  to develop so much.  I was a post-war baby, born the only child of a father who certainly wanted a boy.  That was lucky for me, because I was encouraged to believe anything was possible.  I was not held back just because I was a girl. My early toys were train sets and farms as well as dolls, and my sixth birthday present was a small hacksaw so I could join my father in his workshop.

I was taught never to expect other people to help me if I wasn’t prepared to help myself and that philosophy has brought me nothing but good.  Now that I am retired I can look back on a successful career and  look forward to a more relaxing life with my wonderful husband.

It’s been a great year for the British!  The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee celebrations were magnificent, and she is such a wonderful role model for us all.  Even non-royalists cannot fail to be impressed by her stamina and fortitude.  And a few short weeks later we hosted the Olympics and it was a triumph, in spite of the doom and gloom proclaimed by the Cassandras of this world.

My thoughts however turned to Tanni Grey-Thompson.  I recall being so thrilled when I first saw her wheelchair racing and winning her gold medals. In her Paralympic career she won 16 medals  (11 gold, four silver and a bronze).  How many of us would have had the courage to overcome so many of the challenges presented to her?

Now retired from racing she focuses on championing the cause of other worthy Paralympians.  The Paralympics is now almost as familiar as the Olympics themselves, and yet it is only in the last thirty years that they have really been taken seriously.  And this year will see the biggest Paralympic Games ever.  Over 4,000 athletes representing 165 countries will take part. Tanni Grey-Thompson should be rightly proud that without men and women like her we would not be in this position.

And so, what about my relaxing life?  Well, I set my own agenda, but I can’t sit still and do nothing.  So I’m embarking on my next career – as a novelist.  I was inspired by the American author John Locke to self-publish e-books and have two available through Kindle, with the third on the way.  Not surprisingly the main characters are strong and determined women.  Check out my website for more information  at http://www.tanyacarlysle.com

Who is Tanya Carlysle?

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Tanya Carlysle is nobody special.  Like millions of other women she has worked hard, and is now looking forward to a long and happy retirement.

When she was younger, retired people behaved sensibly.  They put on their slippers, read a good book, and slept a lot.  Sometimes a cat kept them company, grateful for a comfortable knee and a saucer of milk.  Those who were energetic had dogs and walked slowly across the park passing the time of day with like-minded souls.

For many retirement was short.  It was as if they needed work to have a reason for living. Once the daily routine of getting up and joining the throng of commuters going to work was removed, life was meaningless.  How depressing is that?

Now retirement opens up a million possibilities. No longer the beginning of the end it is the beginning of the next stage of life – a stage not constrained by work, but defined by enjoyment and fulfilment.

And Tanya means to take every opportunity.  Living in the north of England she is surrounded by wonderful countryside, and easy access to some of the most beautiful beaches. (A pity about the weather, but you can’t have it all!)

Her creative side has been held in check for a long time. Every now and then a fleeting opportunity presented itself in her working life, but all too soon it was gone and the boring predictability of that routine took over.  Now she is free to follow her dreams.