September 3, 2013
I have good news this week too. I compiled a book of all of the articles I have written and published it. It is called Articles for the Mind. It consists of 58 short articles that are informative and sometimes advising, on the subjects of beauty, health, careers, education, family, pets, financial planning, frugal living, money, food, holidays, home, psychology, self-help, values, and writing. The book is grouped into chapters with those subjects as the chapter titles, so the book is easy to navigate and easy to find what you need. There is also a foreword, an afterword, and an about the author page. The cover is below:
It is published on Amazon (Kindle) and Smashwords. Eventually it will be available at Barnes & Noble (Nook), iBookstore, Sony, and Kobo. It will also eventually be published in print and available as a paperback at Amazon. I’m really happy that all of the valuable information in this book is available to the public. I hope the advice and information helps people.
Thank you for your support. It is because of you that I enjoy publishing books.
October 9, 2012
I first met J M Leitch when I reviewed her book, The Zul Enigma. She contacted me on Goodreads and asked if I would review her book. After checking out her book, I was thrilled and said yes. I reviewed her book in August, and you can read the review here. We have stayed in touch since through email. Here is a little about her:
When Mum picked me up after my first day of primary school I was in tears. ‘Whatever’s the matter?’ she asked. I spat out my words between heaving staccato sobs. They were an accusing finger. ‘YOU said they’d teach me to read!’ It took much longer than I expected… but they did teach me and I’ve not stopped since. They also taught me to write and I published my first novel in 2011, The Zul Enigma (www.thezulenigma.com). As to my background? Well, I was born just outside London, England, and moved to Asia where I’ve lived half my life. I now spend my time between Singapore, Assam in North East India, Bali in Indonesia and the UK.
Now, let’s start the interview.
Christine: How, and when, did you decide to become a novelist?
J M: I have enjoyed writing for as long as I can remember. I used to love writing essays at school and when I was 17, in my GCSE ‘O’ Level exam for Greek Literature in Translation, I wrote about Orpheus visiting the Underworld when he tried to bring his beloved wife, Eurydice, back from the dead. I described how Orpheus, after using his beautiful music to soften the heart of Hades, King of the Underworld, persuaded him to agree to let Eurydice leave, and how Hades insisted on one condition: that Orpheus must walk in front of her and not look back until they both had re-entered the world of the living. But Orpheus, scared that Hades would break the agreement, on reaching the upper world turned to check that Eurydice was still behind him. She was, but because she hadn’t yet entered the world of the living Orpheus was the one who broke the agreement. Anyhow, by the time I got to describing the agony Orpheus experienced at loosing his wife a second time… this time forever… I was crying and my tears dropped onto the paper splodging the ink. Fortunately, they didn’t make the paper illegible and I ended up getting an ‘A’!
So I always thought I’d end up writing. In fact, I’ve started three books over the years, the first in my mid twenties, but I never got any further than the first few chapters because I either ran out of steam or I let other things get in the way.
Christine: What types of writing do you do?
J M: Throughout my working life I’ve done many different types of writing including reports, technical manuals, training proposals, training courses, business profiles, resumes, articles for magazines, content for websites – all kinds of things. But until The Zul Enigma, I’d never before written anything creative. Now I also write a blog, which I enjoy.
Christine: What is a typical day like for you as a writer?
J M: When I wrote my novel I spent every free moment sitting at my computer writing – usually eating breakfast and lunch there, too. For a while I used a laptop, which was good, because it meant I could move around the house and garden as I fancied.
I don’t have a set routine like some people, to write for so many hours, to finish so many words in a day, or to work from this time to that time. I just stick at it for as long as I’ve got. I don’t need a special place or surroundings or music. My special place is in my head and I can get there anywhere, any time.
J M: I was in Bali lying on a deckchair watching my daughter swim while thinking about a recent BBC documentary a friend had told me about. It was about several reports from different scientific disciplines – ice core samples, marine temperature studies, marine life studies, climate change studies – to name a few – and how the data quoted in all of them showed our planet’s oceans were cooling. The result of this phenomenon is the slowing down or, in the future, the possible stopping of the conveyor or North Atlantic Drift that traditionally brings warm water from the south to the north Atlantic, keeping the east coast of North America and the west coast of Europe warm. In other words it’s feasible that North America and Europe are heading for a mini Ice Age.
Oh no! I thought. My poor Mum… she lives in England.
Then I started fantasising how wonderful it would be if a bunch of friendly aliens appeared and relocated us onto an identical planet with a stable climate! And that’s where the original idea came from, although it’s now changed beyond recognition.
Christine: Why did you choose to self-publish and not go down the conventional publishing track?
J M: When I first started writing I planned that the main action would take place in 2020. Then I began reading about the end of the Mayan calendar on 21 December 2012 and how different groups of people believed this would be a special time for many different reasons – the occurrence of cataclysmic events perhaps, or a time of spiritual enlightenment. It piqued my interest and I thought it would be fun to build my book’s plot around that date.
The problem was I hadn’t taken into consideration how long it would take me to finish the book. I thought a couple of years, tops… then 3… then 4… until last year I realised that if I didn’t publish it soon I’d miss the boat completely! I knew it could take years to find a traditional publisher, so I decided, oh well… I’ll have to go ahead and do it myself.
Christine: What marketing techniques do you use to promote yourself as a novelist and your novels?
J M: The most effective marketing tool for me has been the KDP Select programme that allows authors to offer their eBooks free on Amazon for 5 days every 3 months as long as the title is exclusively available there. In addition, I have a website for the book, book and author Facebook pages, I write a blog once every couple of weeks or so, and I also Tweet. I am learning that successful marketing is the combination of many different initiatives and I would love more exposure in the way of interviews on the Internet or in print and press. The key is to get your name and the name of your books out there. It sounds so easy, but the reality is that it takes a huge amount of work.
Christine: If people want to purchase your book, how do they go about it?
J M: It’s probably easiest to buy the paperback from Amazon or The Book Depository. It costs a couple of US Dollars more at The Book Depository but they will ship it anywhere in the world for free.
Amazon UK Paperback Edition – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/9810703252
Amazon UK Kindle Edition – www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B0073M876M
Amazon US Paperback Edition – www.amazon.com/dp/9810703252
Amazon US Kindle Edition – www.amazon.com/dp/B0073M876M
Waterstones UK – http://bit.ly/WcJOIM
August 17, 2012
I’ve been so busy with the publishing and release of Freelance Writing Guide that I haven’t had the chance to blog! Let me backtrack to the last few days, so that I can share with you my publishing experiences. Late at night on August 13th, I finished the final edits on my book. I planned on taking the next day off to relax and enjoy the fact that I had finished my book. During the night of the 14th, however, I got bored. So I started reading up in the Lulu community about how to format for self-publishing with Lulu (i.e. cover image size, interior pages, etc.). Then I decided I would make the adjustments on my documents as I read about them so that I wouldn’t forget the next day what I had learned that night. I ended up publishing an ebook with Lulu, and after that I was driven to continue publishing in the different book formats with the different companies I publish with. I stayed up all night and the next day publishing my book everywhere!
The only significant problem I had was trying to increase the resolution of my front and back cover images to be compatible with CreateSpace’s requirements. I almost couldn’t figure it out and almost gave up, but then I had an idea to try opening the images in the Paint.net program (I had recently downloaded it but had trouble with it, so I had forgotten about it), which was referred to me from a cover designer, so I thought that maybe I’d be able to adjust the resolution with that program. Success! I felt so relieved. If I couldn’t get the resolution right, I wouldn’t have been able to use the cover I created; I would have had to use one of CreateSpace’s cover designs, which I didn’t want to do, because I thought an original cover would be better. So now I have the cover and back cover exactly how I want it. Yay!
The interior pages were pretty easy to do; I just had to follow the publishers’ manuals. It was time-consuming and a bit repetitive, because I had to take my standard book interior and format it each time for each book type and company. Since I published three different book types with Lulu, one with Kindle Direct Publishing, and one with Smashwords, I ended up with five different versions of my book! It was strenuous at the end, because I did everything all at once and was tired from being overworked.
I am happy with how the interior came out, and the process went smoother than in January when I published second editions of my other books. Ebooks are especially difficult, because the companies have different formats for what will upload correctly. For example, some require an active table of contents (there are two different versions), some say no table of contents at all, some allow hyperlinks (must include the http:// to work), some don’t have the capability of functioning hyperlinks, some want page breaks and some do not, they all want the title and copyright page formatted differently, and so on. The interior is what I always say takes a long time, because all the companies want it differently, and I want my book to come out right for my readers. And as far as I know it has :)
Okay, so here is my book information. Freelance Writing Guide: What to Expect in Your First Year as a Freelance Writer is available in paperback (Lulu), ebook format (Lulu epub, Lulu pdf, and Smashwords ebook), and kindle format (Amazon). Have a look! Soon it will be available in paperback on CreateSpace and Amazon, as well as epub at Barnes & Noble, iBookstore, and more! There is now a page for Freelance Writing Guide on the right side of this blog. I hope you will check out my book and let me know what you think.
Have a great weekend!