Category Archives: publishing

An audiobook and a new edition of an old book.

I’ve been busy since I stopped being a web designer so I have two bits of exciting news to give you. The first is that the audiobook of There Must Be Horses is now available on Amazon, Audible and other outlets.

I originally thought I might read the book myself but, when I experimented, I found that it was time-consuming and technically beyond me. Then a friend introduced me to her daughter, Becky King, who is a professional voice-over artist with her own studio.  She agreed to record the book for me and she  has done it brilliantly.  She’s even given each character their own distinctive voice. I’m delighted with the result and hope lots of other people will to.

I had to slightly redesign the original cover to make it square.

The second piece of news is that I’ve finally published a new print edition of A Special Child in the Family – the very first book I ever wrote. It’s for parents of sick and disabled children and it’s been available for a long time as a free or low cost ebook and online. But I knew a few people might prefer to read the book on paper so I’ve created this edition for them.

The cover took a lot of thought because I needed an image that fitted all ages, all races and all sorts of disability — just like the book does. I also wanted something fairly light-hearted because it’s a friendly, accessible book.  I spent hours looking at suitable pictures and eventually settled for this one of a polar bear and a penguin. I hope you like it.

book cover

 

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Title Trouble

The Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul taught me the power of a good title. As soon as I saw it, I was so intrigued that I decided to read Douglas Adam’s novel before I even knew what it was about.

cover of bookAs a result, I took care when choosing the title of my first young adult book. Throughout the months it took to write, I’d called the book Sasha’s Story. However, a quick search of Amazon showed this style of title usually belongs to “misery memoirs” – books about people who have overcome horrendous childhoods.

Although Sasha is in foster care and her childhood has been pretty miserable so far, this book wasn’t about her past. It was about her future and, in particular, about her love of horses. As my target readers were horse lovers, I realised that I needed to change the title to one that would appeal to them and show up on relevant searches they made on Amazon.  I decided to concentrate on the keyword “horse” and, after a lot of trial and error, I settled on There Must Be Horses – a title that’s worked well and proved as effective as I’d hoped.

Unfortunately, in my case, a lesson learned isn’t necessarily a lesson remembered.  When I published my children’s novel about an alien who comes to earth disguised as a green sheep, I forgot about the importance of finding the right title. I’d called the book The Green Sheep while I was writing it so, without thinking hard enough, that was the title I used when I published the book towards the end of 2014,

I soon realised my mistake. My book didn’t show up at the top of Amazon searches for “green sheep” because there’s a picture book called Where is the Green Sheep? and there’s The Little Green Sheep range of organic baby bedding. Worse still, it didn’t show well on searches about aliens, and there was nothing about the title to suggest the book was funny science fiction.

cover of Alien SheepThe obvious solution was to change the title to Alien Sheep,  and I found a useful article by Joanna Penn describing how easy it is to do. I was encouraged by her success and thankful that I’d used print-on-demand for the paperback so I didn’t have a pile of unsold books with the old title. However, just as I’d decided to go ahead with the change, the  book was shortlisted for and eventually won the children’s category of the Rubery Book Award. As that was under its original title, I decided to delay the change until 2016, just to be sure.

I finally started the change this month, and it took far less time than I’d expected. Changing the title of the ebook was ridiculously easy. I just had to replace the original cover and content for The Green Sheep with the new ones for Alien Sheep, complete with updated copyright info, and change the title and publication details in my KDP account. I also updated the book description to make it clear that Alien Sheep was originally published as The Green Sheep to avoid anyone accidentally buying it twice.

The print book was slightly trickier as it’s not possible to change the title of a book once it’s been allocated an ISBN. I had to write to Createspace and Ingram Spark to ask them to turn off the original book and then upload a new edition on both systems with a new ISBN. (For this book, I’m using Createspace to supply Amazon, and Ingram Spark to supply wholesalers and other bookshops.)

Time alone will tell whether the change was worthwhile, but I’ve enjoyed doing it. I like the new title and the new cover. I also like the fact that, as an independent author, I can take my time, fix my mistakes and experiment to see what works.

Hopefully, with the next book, I’ll get the title right first time!

Choosing a publishing name

When I first decided to self-publish, I was faced with a dilemma. Should I create a publishing imprint or publish under my own name? Much of the advice on the internet suggested I should create an imprint, but mostly that was to set myself up as a business and I’ve already done that. (I’ve been registered as a sole trader for tax purposes since I first started earning money as a writer.)

I was also keen not to hide the fact that I was self-publishing and I couldn’t see another reason to have an imprint name. So I self-published There Must Be Horses under my own name and don’t regret doing so. However, I have found that it looks odd in reviews, especially the ones in magazines where they just the title, the author and the publisher so my name shows up twice in swift succession. It also looks slight odd on the title page if I follow the traditional system of putting the author’s name under the name of the book and the publisher’s name at the bottom of the page in smaller type. That’s why all my future books will be published under the name of my own imprint: Kubby Bridge Books. In case you’re wondering, I don’t live near Kubby Bridge and don’t think such a place exists. The name came from playing around with my horse’s name and the name I use for larping (live action roleplay). I originally used it as a username in an online game and liked it so much that I decided to use it for my books.

I’m delighted that this change hasn’t cost me anything. Nielsen were happy to add the imprint to my account so I can still use the ISBNs I originally bought under my own name. It will deal with the problems I’ve discovered, but I’m still being upfront about self-publishing – the copyright page will make it clear that the imprint belongs to me.

 

For more information on writing, publishing and marketing books, visit my other site at helpwithpublishing.com.

Discovering my author brand

group picture

Authors and teachers enjoying a group picture

Last week I spent an enjoyable day on a course in London organised by Usborne, who publish my Pony-Mad Princess books. There were only four authors (including me) working with Justin Somper and Phil Norman from AuthorProfile so we all got plenty of individual attention. And I needed that when it came to deciding on my author brand.

The other three authors were all on their first book so the themes of that story helped decide their brand. But I had a trickier task because the range of books I’ve published is so wide. There are more than forty so far including picture books, early readers, chapter books and a novel for older readers plus non-fiction books on subjects ranging from rainbows to special effects.

Justin encouraged me to focus in on the core of collage of book coversmy writing to see if I could find a common theme in my fiction and, to my surprise, I did. I now realise that all my stories are about  family, friendship and the power of love. So that was the first part of my brand sorted out.

The other part involved thinking about me rather than my writing. As soon as I started focusing in on myself, I immediately came up with the animals I love most – horses. But Justin encouraged me to think more deeply, asking lots of searching questions about my relationship with my favourite animals and how that relates to my writing. By the end of the session, he’d picked out three important phrases for me to remember. So I am:

  • the little girl who never got a pony
  • the author who bought a horse to help research her novel
  • the author who deliberately chose an imperfect horse

So I was able to come home confident that I now I know who I am. Thanks Justin and Phil for a great course. I loved every minute.

 

 

Exciting news for Pony-Mad Princess fans

book coverI love getting letters and emails from fans of my Pony-Mad Princess series, and many of them ask when I’m going to write another book. Until recently, I’ve said that the series was finished. I’d run out of ideas so there weren’t going to be any more Princess Ellie stories. But I was wrong. There’s now another book on the way – Princess Ellie’s Perfect Plan comes out in the UK in July.

The first Pony-Mad Princess books were published in 2004 so 2014 is a very special year for Princess Ellie. To mark her 10th Anniversary, Usborne are re-issuing all twelve books in the series with new covers and extra pages at the end that we’ve filled with quiz questions and pony facts. They also persuaded me to write a brand new story – a special Anniversary book will be published in the UK in July.

As soon as they explained what they were doing, I was keen to write the book. The only problem was deciding what it should be about. I’d used so many ideas that it was difficult to think of something completely fresh and different. I had long conversations on the phone with my collaborator, Anne Finnis, who came up with the original idea for the series. We thought about having an anniversary celebration in the book, but I’d already done that in A Surprise for Princess Ellie. Then we thought about having a royal baby, but it was difficult to work the ponies into the story and Will and Kate got in first by producing their own royal baby.

Finally, we decided to give Ellie a real problem to solve. The first book in the series brought Ellie and Kate together. Maybe this one should threaten to pull them apart. Desperate not to lose her best friend, Ellie would need to find a perfect plan to stop that happening.

You can tell from the title that this is the storyline we chose to develop. But I’m not going to tell you what happens. You’ll have to wait until the book comes out. If you want to be one of the first people to read Princess Ellie’s Perfect Plan, you can pre-order it from Amazon now.

 

 

Google v Authors Guild – a decision at last

It’s eight years since the Authors Guild first sued Google about scanning books and displaying snippets. During that time, the Guild claimed to be representing all authors, not just their authors, and attempted to sell us all down the river by entering into a deal with Google that would have given them permission to produce and sell our books without the copyright holders permission and would also have prevented us suing Google ourselves. The Google Book Settlement was over 200 pages long, hard to understand, very one-sided in Google’s favour and a nightmare for authors. It took a  great deal of effort and hours of time to fight but fortunately we won.

The judge who threw out the dreadful Google Book Settlement was Denny Chin – the same judge who has ruled that Google’s scanning and display of snippets is “fair use” under US copyright law. Judge Chin listened carefully to authors comments on the Google Book Settlement, even those like me who wrote him ordinary letters because we couldn’t afford to pay lawyers.

I’m sure Judge Chin was right in his decision over the Google Book Settlement so I’m happy to accept that his decision on the “fair use” issue is equally right.