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Self-Publishing: A learning curve (by Louise Lake)

6 April 2016

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We've been on a quest to find out what drives Indie Authors, what makes them tick, what challenges they face and you haven't disappointed us! So far, we've had over 150 submissions from Authors all over the world. Unfortunately we're unable to share them all, so apologies if yours hasn't been featured - keep trying! So far, we've shared with you the perils of self-promotion, the barriers you have to kick down to let someone edit your beloved words and some of the processes used to ensure chapters stay balanced and interesting.

We catch up with UK author Louise Lake this week, who shares her journey from writing at school to published author. Skip to Louise's advice

Self-Publishing: A Learning Curve

I began writing at around the age of ten or eleven. Starting with horror stories and poems based on my favourite fictional monsters, which I kept in a pirate tin barrel. 
Later, my mother bought me my first computer. I immediately typed all of my stories and poems up, disposing of the pirate tin barrel and all of its contents. I relied solely on the computer to store my work safely, until it broke and I lost everything. Lesson one: always back up your work.

I stopped writing as I moved into my early teen years, spending my time hanging out with my friends instead, as writing was pushed aside for five or six years. 
Then at nineteen the writing bug bit me again, and I started to write and haven’t stopped since, beginning with many poems and a novella. As time went by, the more I wrote, the more my craft and writing style developed. I don’t particularly believe that an Author should be restricted to one genre. I like to write in a number of different genres, which has helped me learn more about writing on my journey, uncovering my strengths and weaknesses along the way. 

resizedimage770145 louise lake

Is writing an easy job?

No, writing requires hard work, dedication, determination and perseverance, in order to succeed in creating your novel. 

How do I get rid of the dreaded writers block?

The best advice I can give if you find yourself mentally blocked is to sit down, take a deep breath and just write. It may sound simple and you may have heard it before, but it is the truth as I well know. Try to clear all of those cluttered thoughts from your mind- those thoughts that are not required while you write, push aside the editor within, stop telling yourself you can’t do it, as you can, and you will. Sit down, make yourself comfortable, get yourself a tea, coffee, bottle of wine or whatever relaxes you and write. Whether you find yourself sitting there staring at a blank screen or pad of paper for hours before writing a single word, you have already taken the first step and proven your determination. Try and try again until your trying pays off and the words begin to pour out of you like an untamed waterfall. Then, I suggest you get yourself a pen and paper, voice recorder or a writing app on your phone. I use my writing spot on a regular basis for note taking, which I find perfect for the job. 

The moment you realise that what was blocking you, was you all along, your fears of failure will wash away all of your self-doubt and you will discover that nothing is impossible- not even writing. 

When are the best times and where are the best places to write?

The times and places you write are not important. I moved into a house with an extra bedroom so that I could have an office- but I never use it. I actually find myself more productive and comfortable writing in the living room on my sofa, with a bit of noise in the background. You might find you are similar, or that you work best in silent solitude. Either way do whatever is best for you, and by all means exhaust every possible option until you find a way to write that’s right for you.

What is the best way to plan your novel?

When I began writing again I used the method of free writing, simply writing whatever came to mind with no noted plans, with no idea where the story would take me. Although this was a fun, free approach to take, I have now adopted a different process to planning each novel. I started this process with a few notes: ideas for characters, background information, and the general storyline. These were typed in the my writing spot app on my phone or jotted down on a post it note. Then I developed the notes further, until I had the outline for the whole book. Which was then broken down into chapters and written on a chapter timeline, which looks something like this:

Timeline picture2

Alternatively, you could try the popular method of creating a story arc, to show where the main high points: the bones fit in amongst the skeleton of your story. 
I personally find a timeline much easier to work with. 
As soon as I’ve created my timeline, I begin writing each chapter based on the notes for each point on the timeline.  Writing is a long haul process, and it helps you learn the importance of patience. Before I started writing again I was not a very patient person. But after learning the importance that patience teaches through writing, I have learned to be patient in all other aspects of daily life. 

"I learned everything I needed to know through trial and error"

When I began self-publishing I found myself lost and alone, having no one to teach me everything I needed to know about how to self-publish your book. But, I have always been a fast learner and over time I learned everything I needed to know through trial and error experiences. I would advise joining a local or online writing group if you can, to help prepare you for your journey. There are also a fair few books that go over the basics of self-publishing that are easily found online, which could help you on your way to begin. 
An online presence and marketing are also both important aspects of an Authors role. A blog and social media platforms are great for building a presence online, to find new readers and share your progress. I currently use blogger for my blog with my own domain name, a Facebook page, Goodreads, Instagram, YouTube and Wattpad. But be sure to use the platforms that work best for you.

When you have completed your book and find yourself ready to self-publish, ensure a second pair of eyes goes through your work to proofread and edit. As no matter how fantastic your grammar and spelling may be, you may not see the errors that others do. 
I have in the past created my own book covers before I started buying them from designers, but I do advise that you find a designer/artist to create one for you, and the same can also be said for book trailers. Being the Author you will already have enough to do in preparation for publication, and using the services of other professionals will not only help you gain relationships with other creatives, but will also help your book stand out with a professional appearance. A useful website I have used in the past is The prices are not only reasonable, but each premade book covers is only sold once for originality, and there is a great variety of covers in different genre categories from different designers. 

"..fifty thousand words in thirty days"

My latest novel, ‘Arabella,’ published at the beginning of March, is my debut historical romance novel. I have always found myself drawn to history, romance stories, period dramas by the BBC and writers such as the Bronte’s and Jane Austen. For many years I have wished to create a storyline for my own period drama story, when all of a sudden last year a story came to mind. I planned the chapter outline in October, and wrote ‘Arabella,’ during national novel writing month in November. If you have never discovered Nanowrimo then please look it up, as it is a great way to inspire writers to get on with writing their novel, it is also fun and makes you feel like part of something big, with a large community of writers and advice along the way to help you reach your goal of writing fifty thousand words in thirty days. Writing ‘Arabella,’ helped me learn more about research and my readers demographics, which I found to be the majority of females. 

I learned about the importance of your reader’s demographics and other useful information from three different online marketing courses with Shaw Academy. Although the courses are generic, as they are created to tailor to all businesses, I did pick up a lot of useful information to implement into my own marketing strategy for my books. 

As a self-published author you will require an understanding and frequently use different marketing techniques. Overall self-publishing is a long time consuming and tiring journey, but as long as you stay focused on the end goal- your book, all of your hard work is worth every minute when the product of your very own creation, is sitting in your hands for the first, second, third and every time you decide to self-publish. 


NGP Says

Looks like you're doing alright Louise! Great to see you've persevered and are starting to reap the rewards. Social media and an online presence is essential for authors these days. Finding out which one works best will take time. You're bang on the money when you talk about demographics too. Certain types of people will read certain types of books, and often share a common denominator when it comes to social networking too. It's important not to get too disheartened when the facebook likes don't come rolling in, or the twitter follows slump - there are currently over 350 social media sites out there according to Wikipedia, it's a case of finding out where your future followers hang out, and focusing your supporting content - whether it's videos, photos, interviews, audio into that single channel. Some great resources in there too, if anyone wants to find out more about Nanowrimo - here's the website.

Follow Louise



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