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This Week on Writers Abroad
Category: Site News
Tags: site news writers abroad

The start to 2018 has been expectedly quiet as people recover from end of year festivities. My excuse is flu, but on the positive side it has given me the opportunity to read – I'm currently on my fifth book of the year! Hopefully, back to writing soon. I’m assuming others are being more creative.

To liven things up, Jo has posted a January 6-word challenge on the site, which should help everyone get going. Some of us have already posted. It’s fun, so have a go.

She has also started a Writing Goals 2018 forum so it could be the time to have a good think about that. Stating your goals publicly can have a motivating effect.

Alyson has posted a selection of January Challenges. Take a look and add to them if you like.

The Bragging Stool is taking a breather this week. Hardly surprising, as competitions and judging slows down for the festive season. Some competitions have been moved forward in anticipation of this and some results are pending, so fingers crossed for the coming weeks if you’ve entered something. If you have anything else to brag about, publication, sales, and so on, we want to hear!

Lesley has supplied some brilliant prompts for this week’s Monday Muse, along with some inspiring photos. Laura is down for the Blog, but with a new-born baby on her hands I’m not sure how she’ll find the time to get round to this.

Have a productive writing week!


Do You Know Where You Are Going?
Category: Writing
Tags: writing writing goals writing plans smart goals writers abroad

Do You Know Where You Are Going?

(said the Cheshire Cat or in my case, Simba)

'And Do We Need To?' I can hear you all groaning through the Prosecco infused fug of the New Year celebrations. And although I know I enticed you in with a cute kittie picture, it is that time of year and I'm not talking about resolutions, which it seems to me, never get off the starting block. Reading this article seemed to confirm that. It's the way it's packaged.

However, as writers (or indeed in most aspects of our life) we need some kind of plan for the year ahead. If not how do we know if we actually trod the path we visioned, or indeed took a different route? Big, small or indifferent ambitions makes no matter, as long as you have some kind of notion of where you'd like to go. 

Along with the usual rules about setting goals (the old adage of SMART) I also came across lengthening this system to becoming SMARTER. The E stands for Evaluation, so regular maintenance checks on progress or otherwise. The R is for Re-adjustment, which means that plans can and do change.Makes sense to me.

Here is how the conversation really went with Alice and the Cheshire Cat...

“Would you tell me, please, which way I ought to go from here?”

“That depends a good deal on where you want to get to,” said the Cat.

“I don’t much care where–” said Alice.

“Then it doesn’t matter which way you go,” said the Cat.

“–so long as I get SOMEWHERE,” Alice added as an explanation.

“Oh, you’re sure to do that,” said the Cat, “if you only walk long enough.”

So, the forum for our Writing Plans for 2018 has been set up, let us know where you are going... if indeed you are. Happy New Year to a wonderful bunch of writers, but most importantly I raise a glass to our friendship. 



Self-publish and be damned? Tags: writing Writers Abroad self-publishing Kindle Amazon

This year’s NaNoWriMo is approaching the halfway point. Congrats to everyone taking part. Even if you don’t make the 50K words, the commitment is still a great achievement.

Once the month is over, the dust has settled, you’ve added another 30K words, rewritten it, had it beta-read and edited it again for the nth time – what do you do then?

  • Chalk it up to experience and put it in the proverbial drawer?
  • Submit it to agents or to the rare publishers that accept unagented submissions?
  • Self-publish it?

The first option would be a pity after so much effort, but it’s your novel. We all know how difficult the second is. So what about the third option?

Self-publishing became a lot easier after the advent of e-books and print on demand. For some time, though, it was widely regarded as an option for work that wasn’t good enough to be published by traditional means. Fast forward to 2017 and some of the most successful authors are self-publishing their books. It’s not necessarily an either/or: some of those authors, such as our own Nicola (Nina to her fans), continue to be traditionally published as well.

The stigma that once applied to self-publishing has been largely dispelled. There is still a quality issue in some cases, but that also applies to traditional publishing.

I never thought I would self-publish a book, because I was afraid of everything that went with it. You are responsible for the whole thing: writing, quality control, editing, production, cover design and sales and marketing. This is not to say that you do all of these things yourself – in fact, I would always advocate commissioning professional editors and designers – but you are the driving force behind the project.

I dipped a toe in the water when I recently self-published via Amazon a collection of my short stories set in France. Having already been traditionally published, this was an experiment and I started off with something short (it’s 104 printed pages) and uncomplicated.

A great deal of advice exists, but sometimes you don’t find it until it’s too late. I learned many things in a short time, but these are the key ones:

Research as much as you can beforehand. Amazon provides guidance, but it’s always good to talk to other authors who have done it. This can save you from irrevocable mistakes.

Allow enough time to do everything and do it in the right order. I almost came a cropper here. For various reasons, I wanted my own ISBNs. Since I live in France, I had to apply to the French ISBN agency. They said it would take three weeks. This almost scuppered my already-announced publication date. Fortunately, after I pleaded urgency, they emailed them the following day.

Don’t try to do everything yourself. A three year-old has better design skills than I do. Amazon provides its own cover design templates, but it’s difficult to make them look professional. In my view, a professional-looking cover can make a lot of difference to potential buyers, so I commissioned a designer and was delighted with the results. As I said above, a professional editor is also a good idea.

Fortunately, Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and CreateSpace (Amazon’s paperback production arm) allow you to amend and upload your manuscript and cover countless times before you hit publish. It’s still a scary feeling when you do. Then you have the nail-biting wait to see if anyone will buy it, but the marketing side is another story.

Clearly, there’s much more to self-publishing than I can go into here. But if I can do it, anyone can. Here's the result and it looks like a book!





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