Even Non-Fiction Books Have Sequels

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The book launch is over, the books are continuing to sell and although I’m still my own promoter and marketer I’m ready to start writing again.

I knew the right next step would present itself and yesterday, as I was working on an article for the local history journal, I realised what my next project will be. In fact, I’d already started on it without realising.

At the book launch and during the period prior to it many local swimming stories were emerging that were not connected to the baths I wrote about, but were local social history stories that deserve to be told. Just like the driftwood above, stories can find a second life, continuing their journey on a different course.

Consequently, I am about to embark on a continuing story, a sequel to Down at the Baths. The story is not yet named, but will be about children and swimming places in our city prior to about 1970.

Have you ever noticed that once you set your focus things start happening? Within a couple of hours of making the decision to write a sequel to my book I was given two independent stories of an old swimming hole I’d previously known nothing about. That was definitely a sign this next book is meant to be.

So, my way forward is now clear and I’m rather excited. It seems the next couple of years of my life have now been taken care of.

 

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A Successful Book Launch

After three years of researching, writing, networking and self promotion my book, Down at the Baths, has been launched and is now out in the public arena, thus contributing to the local history of not only my city, but of all New Zealanders.

Organising one’s own book launch is an exhausting and time consuming process, but oh so rewarding. You see, being in charge of everything myself I knew the event would run smoothly.

When writing for a niche market as I did, local history and swimming communities, it’s possible to network well ahead and create an interest long before the event happens. Because of this the launch was supported by the local Mayor and Councillors, by families of the baths custodians, local historians and one time swimmers, as well as family and friends.

You see, public swimming pools have always been an important part of the New Zealand lifestyle. And in the years 1917 to 1966 that this book covers, there wasn’t a lot else for young people to do, so we were always down at the baths.

Sales on the night were good and now I move into my next role, of selling the books that remain.

If ever you are faced with having to launch and promote your own book, don’t be afraid. There are plenty of people out there willing to help you. You just need to seek them out. And I’m always willing to answer your questions.

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Preparing for Non-Fiction Print Publication

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When you self-publishthe research and writing are the easy parts. The real work begins after the last full-stop is placed on the page.

First there is the editing. I was fortunate to have funding this time and so for the last year I’ve worked with a wonderful mentor / editor throughout the writing. This had many advantages as I learned how to correct my mistakes as I wrote. The final edit was certainly made easier because of this. Consistency was an early challenge, making sure that things such as dates, numbers, titles and punctuation were treated the same way throughout the book. However, the regular monthly contact with my editor soon helped me iron out all my early irregularities.

Citing references was another challenging process, especially as I wasn’t as thorough as I should have been in the early stages. Then there were the photos, deciding which to use and whether I had permission to do so. Some fell into the too-hard basket and as my self-imposed publishing deadline approached I omitted them.

Eventually I felt my work was done, just days before I was due to deliver the manuscript to the designer at the printery. But that is another story.

New Book, New Writing

Two years can disappear as fast as water rushing down a plug hole when you’re immersed in a writing project. That is an excuse, not an explanation, for my absence here. Now that my writing project is finished and my transition to full-time writer is complete I’m excited about renewing my presence here.

The social history project mentioned in my previous post back in 2015 has come to an end and the book, Down at the Baths is about to be launched next week. I’ll post a sneak preview of the cover here and more details about it will follow shortly.

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New projects are lined up and my writing life is looking exciting – to me anyway. I’m looking forward to sharing it with you

Self Publishing – A Personal Experience

The days of sending out a manuscript hoping an agent or publisher will accept it for publication are over. There just aren’t enough publishing houses to cope with the volumes of material being written. Publishers are in business.  They need to be selective about publishing choices. In other words, the books they select need to sell and make money for them.

Where does that leave the writer producing a smaller, more specialised volume, one not intended for a huge commercial distribution, but deserving of the audience its written for? Many options are now available to writers of quality material wishing to write the stories of ordinary lives. One popular option is publishing as an e-book. Another option, the one I chose for my recent school memoir, is to enter the world of self-publishing.

This thought would have frightened me once, but I decided my story, or that of my school in the 1950s, deserved to be told. Several people have asked me about my self-publishing journey since the launch and successful sales of my book, so I want to share a few of brief thoughts here. My experience has been positive through every step of the way.

A writer choosing self-publishing needs to be confident in themselves and their work. The journey requires more than writing. A self-published author needs to be writer, editor, events organiser, marketer and promoter, accountant and business manager all rolled into one. But approached correctly these tasks are achievable. I admit now, although hesitant at first, I enjoyed the entire process.

You need to identify your market before you start writing. Who will your readers be? This gives a clear approach to writing and helps you stay focussed.

I chose the self-publishing business I’d work with early in the process. I wanted someone who would print a small book – mine turned out to be 80 pages. They needed to be prepared to print a limited first run of 100 copies. I knew the book could sell well at the School Centenary, therefore the company I chose needed to be able to print further small numbers of the book. The first 100 sold and I had a second order of 50 produced. I’ve just ordered another 25. When approaching self-publishing companies ask questions about initial cost, cost of re-printing, time frames from order to delivery.

Ask what help you can expect from them along the way. I chose to pay a little extra for my cover and inside of the book to be designed. This resulted in a book I’m proud of. I had an account manager who handled all my questions efficiently by e-mail. She had to be very patient with this first time author, but guided me through the process giving me confidence all the way.

I initially approached more than one printing / publishing firm, but eventually chose one I considered best suited my needs. It’s easy to find people who will produce your book for you by looking online, but don’t rush in. Do your homework first and make sure the people you choose will listen to you. After all, it’s your book and you want the best for it.

When you receive your precious box of books, the next marketing and promoting stage of your self-publishing journey starts. I’ll talk about my experience with this in a future post, but you may like to read my piece, ‘Promoting Your Self-Published Book,’ published elsewhere. I can say with pride, two copies of my book are now in the local library and when I last looked, both were out on loan.

Hopefully these thoughts will give readers considering self-publishing a starting point. If you have any questions, please do ask. If I can self-publish my first book and enjoy the experience, anyone can.

Marketing a Self Published Book – Tips for Beginner Writers

First of all, let me make this clear, I am not an expert when it comes to self publishing a book. In fact I’m a mere beginner.  My journey to publish my first book, ‘West End the Best End – School Memories from the 1950s continues to be  an incredible learning curve. I’m now beginning to reap the rewards. Therefore I’m sharing my story with others who may also be starting out on this journey.

Writing the book seemed relatively easy compared to what I’m now trying to achieve. But, like many other writers, I thrive on challenges and am determined  this will work for me. A good dose of self belief and an awareness of my target audience should go a long way in my book’s self promotion.

Every book, self published or not, deserves a party and so the book launch is a vital part of the marketing plan. This requires effort from the self published author, but, in my case, it is definitely worth the preparation. Invite those people most likely to support you and buy your book on the night. After all, you’re looking for sales and happy readers will spread the news of your work word of mouth.

Social media should be a strong point in any marketing plan. Decide on your target audience and go after them. Regular postings on both Facebook and Twitter have attracted  book sales since my book launch and hopefully will continue to do so. Personal e-mails sent to a target audience of organisations and individuals are the next step of my marketing strategy. The first handful of these e-mails sent out resulted in two firm sales.

If you’ve written a book worth reading, target your potential audience and use every promotional tool you can think of. This is no time to be shy and modest about your publication. Your book deserves as wide a readership as you can get for it. Decide to enjoy the marketing process and you should be rewarded by the success you deserve.

Launch for West End the best End

Promoting Your Self Published Book

10 Easy Tips for Sharing Your First Article on Twitter

The World of Self Publishing