Where am I?

Even though I may seem to have dropped off the blogger-sphere, I am still here … and though I could, without lying, say the school summer break well and truly got the better of me, that’s not the whole picture.

The main reason I haven’t posted is the fact of not having anything useful to share. At the moment, encouraged by positive feedback from readers, my focus is well and truly to write Book Two. I am still doing certain things to promote Book One but have a real sense of being distracted and not  on top of the things I could be doing. For once in my life, however, I’m not beating myself up. A couple of future school visits are in the diary, I have decided to, finally, join ALLi (Alliance of Independent Authors) as I way to learn more and become engaged in what is out there, and I will plan a Goodreads giveaway for the upcoming UMA & IMP book birthday in November.

Yes – book birthday! That means it’s been just over a year since I first started the process of producing the physical book-version of UMA & IMP with all the excitement and decisions on illustration, design, paper type, etc. And all of that seems so much longer than a year ago because aside from the awesome-ness of creating the book and hearing from children that have become absorbed in the story, my feelings about the process and about writing have completely changed. More than anything, the benefit of having self-published (and I’m still not recommending it as the best way to go!!) is a sense of perspective and calm that I simply didn’t have before. Self-publishing has allowed me to let go of the angst around finding an agent/publisher, worrying about the success or failure of a book because it will determine my next publishing contract. It’s hard to explain but this experience springs to mind …

… while I was writing draft 486 of UMA & IMP, family-in-law kindly agreed to read the ms with their class of 6th grade kids. The kids loved the story but I was advised not to mention this in submissions to agents because it wasn’t considered to have real value as kids are more likely to say they like a book when they have a connection to the author – even if it is tenuous. I didn’t understand that – not really, because it seemed to me that feedback is feedback, enjoyment is enjoyment. And yet … having published and had “anonymous” feedback from kids unconnected to me in any way, I suddenly “get” the difference. There is a very unique kind of validation that comes from someone you have never met loving your book. And I think that is what has created a real shift in my approach to writing. Well, that and gaining a much deeper understanding of how publishing works and the challenges/realities involved. Finally, my pace has shifted and although before I was saying (and even believing) that I was in it for the long haul, now I really know what that means and also FEEL it in my very being. Not only that but I’m living it too. I have no sense of rush about finishing my next book. I have a goal, of course, that’s sensible, but there is no pressure attached to that goal. Same with sales – I will continue to do what is possible to get UMA & IMP out there and I have lots of goals or ideals on that front too … but, again, no pressure attached to those goals. So really THAT’S where I am …

For now, my commitment to blogging is going to extend only to sharing when I have something of real interest to say. Probably, my next post will be about ALLi and the benefits of joining. So many indie authors rave about the organisation that I’m eager to see what the enthusiasm is about … will get back once I know more!

In the meantime, thanks for reading,



Plodding On

Radio silence the last month here, not on account of falling into a pit of despair or having secretly jacked in the self-pub project but because, er … last month I decided to space out my posts more and forgot to mention!

Lately, the focus of this blog has been author interviews and the London Book Fair so this time I’m playing catch-up by reporting on what has (or hasn’t?) been going on

For the most part, my time has gone to the ‘day job’ and little has gone on marketing/ PR. No surprise then that sales slumped from the March high of 66 to April’s 7 and May’s all-time low of 3. Oops. So the grand total of books sold since launch is 310. Not exactly best-seller levels but four events are coming up in June so that figure is set to improve before, presumably, a major tank over July and August.

As threatened, tinkering has been going on with the book jacket. Pointless effort bearing in mind the (small) number of sales and ‘reach’? Maybe. But I’ve felt seriously bugged by having lost sight of the blurb layout when the very first (aborted) design went off track. Also, at sales, people often seem to look at the back of the book then turn to me and ask what the book is about … hmmm … am hoping the NEW, IMPROVED version does better. This is the back cover (though not for copies sold through Amazon):

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And the slightly altered front, with new tag-line (again, not for the Amazon version):

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Apart from writing to quite a lot of people to get into those school fairs, I also had the very good news that Waterstones Piccadilly are stocking my book, and will “consider” rolling it out depending on how sales go. This is a highlight of the whole journey so far. Waterstones being willing to stock UMA & IMP is the reason why I’ve tried so hard to get the ‘look’ right … The bad news is that they’ve only got ONE copy, so not much shelf space! Hard to see how anyone will notice the poor book! Still, as well as changing the jacket, the new copies are also printed on slightly bulkier paper, which makes for a bigger spine. Maybe those extra two millimetres will help!

The first 2016 World Book Day school workshop is booked for next year (one of more, hopefully). And another school is due to schedule a visit in the autumn term.

So overall, the theme is very much: Plodding On.

Things I haven’t done:

– Encouraged more people to review UMA & IMP. A couple of kind souls have done it without encouragement (thank you, thank you!) but well … it could do with a push from my part, something that doesn’t seem to come easily. Could be something to get on top of over the quieter summer months.

– Developed my social media strategy. In fact, I’ve well and truly gone the other way and embraced the quiet side. It just isn’t ‘my thing’ or where I want to put my energy.

– A million other things.

I AM still plugging away on book 2. And the most awesome thing is that so many of the kids that have read the first book are keen to read what happens next. Their enthusiasm keeps me going! That and the fact that, although there is slim hope of “success”, I am really enjoying the journey. Not that I would recommend self publishing – no!! Getting traditionally published must be way more fun, but as I’m here …  I’ll just keep on plodding!!

Until next month – thanks for reading,


A Jacqueline Wilson Moment

Well, maybe not EXACTLY Jacqueline Wilson but still … World Book Day saw me running a full day of workshops at a Cambridgeshire school and at the end there was a signing that felt somewhat Jacqueline Wilson-ish. OK, so there were no entertainers on hand to keep the crowds busy by making balloon effigies of my characters, but there was a queue and a huddle, lots of excitement and a definite forward thrust of the table that dug into my waist as the (small?) huddle pressed forward. In fact, the whole day was a blast. The kids were engaged and interested, the staff incredibly friendly (one had even read and enjoyed UMA & IMP!), and my contact person was on hand at every turn when I needed something – IT support, paper, pens, help collecting wads of cash that had me feeling and looking like Fagin on market day … My first World Book Day on the Author side of the table. It involved a ridiculous amount of preparation and a tension headache the day before – but here’s hoping for many more to come!


This week I’m very excited to post an interview with Pat Walsh, much-acclaimed author of THE CROWFIELD MYSTERIES. As you likely know, THE CROWFIELD CURSE, was shorlisted for The Times/ Chicken House Prize, and for the Waterstone’s Children’s Prize. It was longlisted for the Carnegie Medal and was on the shortlist for the Branford Boase award. In 2014, Pat published THE HOB AND THE DEERMAN through the Amazon White Glove Programme and then independently. Clearly she has a lot to share! Here goes:

Could you describe a little about the White Glove Programme and how it works?

The Amazon White Glove Programme is agent-assisted self-publishing, available only to agented writers. It is Amazon’s way of adding a level of ‘quality control’ to self-published books. As part of the package, Amazon uploads the formatted text and creates the cover, either using an image provided by the writer or sourcing an image themselves, but apart from that, the process of creating an ebook or print edition is the same for both WGP and non-WGP self-publishing.

What were the plus points of the programme?

Amazon offers certain marketing and promotional extras for your book: a month’s rotational placement on the relevant genre page, and on the Digital Exclusives page on Amazon.co.uk. These are in addition to the usual benefits of being part of Kindle Direct Publishing; inclusion in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, and access to promotional tools including Kindle Countdown Deals.

Ultimately, what made you decide to go down the self-published route?

It was mostly curiosity, to begin with. I’d read other people’s experiences with self-publishing and I wanted to try it myself. The idea of having control of every aspect of a book appealed to me and The Hob and the Deerman was not something I felt would hold an obvious appeal for a traditional publisher. At that point I had an agent, so we discussed the White Glove Programme. I had reservations from the start about taking this route to self-publishing, but decided in the end that having an agent involved would make the whole process less daunting. I have since moved on from my agent and as a result, the book was removed from the WGP. I then had to start again, opening a new account with Amazon and uploading the book from scratch to Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace – the ebook and print edition platforms. The whole process was straightforward and the Amazon helpline was always there for advice. It was interesting to compare the two routes – the WGP and self-publishing. With the WGP, the agent deals with Amazon and has exclusive access to the account page, and therefore the sales figures, promotions etc. This was something I was not at all happy with. Also, with the WGP, Amazon has six months’ or one year’s exclusivity, during which time your agent cannot sell the English language rights of your book anywhere else. This isn’t the case with self-published books.

How do you go about marketing and promoting your book?

This has been the hardest part. I write mid-grade fiction and children in that age range (8-12) still tend to read print books, bought from book shops and borrowed from the school or local library. With self-publishing, distribution to the library and school market is a huge stumbling block. The Hob and the Deerman is only available through one distribution channel – online, via Amazon. Older readers, from YA upwards, are more used to browsing for books online and tend to buy their own books and ebooks, but mid-grade readers often have books bought for them and are guided in their book choices by parents and school librarians, who source books from a variety of distribution channels. Bookshops stock very few self-published books. You might get your local branch to take a few copies of your book but that’s about all. If you did manage to persuade independent bookshops to take your book, the discounts they would want would most probably wipe out any profit you might make.

Promoting the book has been very hit and miss; I contacted a number of reviewers and bloggers to ask if they would be willing to review the book, and several agreed to do so, which was very generous of them, but quite a few blog and review sites have submission guidelines which clearly state that they don’t accept self-published books for review. I think there is still a perception that self-published books can be very poorly written and edited, and unfortunately this can be the case. Several reviewers found my book by themselves and wrote very positive reviews, for which I’ll be eternally grateful! But the hard truth is, whether you are traditionally or self-published, you have to be prepared to get yourself out there, make sure you have a website, be on Facebook and Twitter, maybe have a blog – do whatever you can to raise your profile. It’s hard work and time consuming, and not everyone enjoys or feels comfortable putting themselves in the limelight. The harsh reality of self-publishing is that you are just one tiny figure waving from the middle of a vast crowd and it’s hard to get noticed. And nobody is going to buy and read your book if they don’t know it’s out there.

Has this changed much from when you were exclusively published by Chicken House?

Yes indeed. It’s easy to undervalue just how much a good publisher does for a book. My first book, The Crowfield Curse, was put forward and shortlisted for various awards, including the Waterstones Children’s Book Prize and the Branford Boase Award, and was chosen for the Booked Up scheme. Chicken House worked hard to get the book out there and they sold the foreign rights to a number of countries. They understood the market and made the whole business of selling the book look effortless. I still had to do a certain amount of promotion, interviews and talks, which I found very daunting at first. As I said earlier, it doesn’t come naturally to everyone, and I had my share of nerve-shredding moments.

And from when you were published through the WGP?

The Hob and the Deerman was part of the WGP for just four months, during which time I found it hard to gauge how the well Amazon’s promotions were working. As I mentioned, I didn’t have access to my account page and had limited feedback on what was happening. Since going it alone, I have a much clearer idea of how the book is selling. I suspect my biggest marketing tool has been the fact that the book appears on the Amazon pages for The Crowfield Curse and The Crowfield Demon, and is set in roughly the same world. In that respect, the new book already had a readership.

Can you say, on average, how much time you spend on marketing/promotion?

It varies. It might be a few hours a week, or it might be a couple of days. I’m busy writing the next book, so I’m not spending as much time on promotion and marketing as I should. There are writers out there who work tirelessly to market their work and it really pays off for them.

In terms of sales, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

Goodreads is a great site to have your book listed and reviewed on. There is an option to have an author page and a blog, which allows you to reach out to potential readers. Goodreads also gives you the option to have a giveaway – people can enter a draw to win free copies of recently published books, and the Goodreads team pick the winners after a set period of time. I found this brought in a lot of potential readers and I saw a big spike in book sales. I also approached several book bloggers to ask if they would host a stop on a blog tour and that resulted in a rise in sales.

In terms of exposure, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

My website has been useful, mainly because it gives readers a way to get in touch, and that’s when you find out what they really think of your stories and characters! You’ll also receive invitations to do talks or appear at book festivals, all great ways to meet your readers. I have Facebook pages for each of the books but for me, these have been of very limited use.

What advice on marketing and promotion would you give to someone starting out?

I would strongly urge anyone starting out as a writer to have a website. Keep it up to date, keep the content interesting and consider starting a blog. Make sure you use your Author Profile page on Amazon and on Goodreads. Make it as easy as possible for people to find you and get to know a little bit about you and your book. Approach reviewers and bloggers – they are enthusiastic and knowledgeable, and will give you a fair and honest review. If you’re lucky they might even offer to interview you or host a stop on your blog tour. It all helps to get your name and your book out there. There are plenty of people who have gone down the self-publishing route and many of them have written about their experiences on their websites or blogs, so read and learn as much as you can before you start out.

Is there anything you have learned that would make you do things differently when it comes to promoting your next book?

Self-publishing The Hob and the Deerman has been a steep learning curve. I wasn’t prepared for how much work was involved or how hard it would be. If I self-publish in the future, I will spend more time on marketing and promotion in the early stages of the book’s life. There are always new marketing avenues to explore and I suspect there are quite a few I haven’t tried yet. But I think the best advice I can give to anyone considering going it alone is, write the best book you can and have it edited professionally. All the marketing and promotion in the world will be for nothing if your book is not the very best it can be. And good luck!

Thank you, what a great set of answers. And not only is all this going on but Pat is steaming ahead with completing the next book in THE CROWFIELD MYSTERIES, which is due for publication later this year. Way to go! (says the person only four chapters into her next book. Sigh.)

This post was a little late going up because of World Book Day shenanigans, so see you again in a little less than two weeks.

Thanks for reading!


Going Nowhere Slowly

Everyone knows that self-publishing is a long haul. Of course. As a self-published author you’re ‘nobody’ and there’s no handy track record to fall back on (not your own, or a publisher’s). Except, as it happens, knowing self-publishing is a long haul is a bit like knowing what people mean when they say having a child “will change your life”. Fact is, we’re all clueless until the first flying diaper launches across the room.

Publishing of any kind is a tortoise’ game. Writing is a slow craft. Yet on a cellular level I’ve always been a hare … manically emptying my email inbox, whizzing through items on my to-do list. My piano teacher called me a speed merchant. But hang on a minute … it took seven years to write UMA & IMP. Maybe not such a hare after all?

In case anyone thinks I’m building up to an insight here – be warned: I’m actually building up to a cliché. Thing is, my hare nature WAS frustrated by how long it took to properly finish UMA & IMP. And since the beginning of the year I HAVE been frustrated by the prospect of a grindingly slow eking out of book sales. But what I’ve realised is that the reason I was a speed merchant at piano is because I hated lessons and just wanted to get it over with as soon as possible. Similarly, when I get frustrated about writing or self publishing it’s because I’m not enjoying the process and am getting hung up on outcomes.

Contacting schools and not hearing anything back has been a real challenge to the ‘outcomes focus’. For a while there, I was judging my productivity not on what I was doing but on whether there was a result. But down that road insanity lies – and I’m starting to give myself a pat on the back for getting things done – regardless of the outcome. This proved particularly important after I’d trundled into a library about doing another Chatterbooks event. The librarian was very positive but the phone call that followed with a (very polite) more senior person was spoken in a tone of astonished ‘why would we want you to come in? why?’. Ouch.

Fortunately, there has been movement on the Skype in the Classroom front. Lots of enquiries and so far, I’ve signed up three schools for sessions.

Could be winter, could be age, could be settling into a groove, either way over the last few weeks I’ve happily adopted a tortoise’ pace. So far this month, I’ve sold 8 copies. Who knows where the self-publishing malarkey will go, whichever way, I’m chewing on a flower, plodding along, one foot in front of the other because, after all, it’s not a race … **cliché fanfare** … it’s a journey!

tortoise_and_hareNext blog, I have another interview coming up. This time with Pat Walsh, awesome author of the CROWFIELD MYSTERIES, and THE HOB AND THE DEERMAN. Pat is in the singular position of having been published traditionally, through the Amazon White Glove Programme and self-published. I’m looking forward to sharing her incredible insights.

Thanks for reading!



A Voice of Experience

As promised, I’m posting an interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager this week.

For those who don’t know, Krysten is the author of TRUE COLORS published as an e-book by small independent Astraea Publishing. The idea for an interview followed on from a conversation about guest-blogging … it didn’t take me long to figure out that what readers of this blog would really want to know is – WHAT is involved in getting sales when post publication? No doubt there are as many answers to the question as there are authors but here is an insight into Krysten’s experience!

How did you get your publisher?

I was in a freelance writing group while I lived overseas and two of the women in the group had mentioned they also wrote books and named their publisher. I guess I sort of filed the name away and years later when I moved back to the United States, I decided to send my manuscript to that publisher.

How have you gone about marketing and promoting your book?

I was a journalist and essay, short story, and humor writer before I got my book published, so I had begun to make connections with people and gain an audience. I think it’s key to start that before you get a contract.

Can you say, on average, how much time you spend on marketing/promotion?

No clue! I’m not a structured type person, so you’ll never see me with a schedule that says this time is devoted to xy or z. I’m sure people who do live their lives that way get way more accomplished in a day than I do, but I don’t do well that way. I’m too much of a free spirit to say, “Okay, ten a.m. it’s yoga class, then I’ll deal with emails, then lunch.” Nope, that’s not me at all. I try to get my emails out of the way before I write, but that’s about it.

In terms of sales, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

Writers always say you never know what it was that you did that made a sale. I always thought, oh they must have a clue, but nope, you really don’t. I try to stay away from focusing on sales and that side of it because it really zaps the creative energy.

In terms of exposure, what has been your most effective marketing tool or initiative?

Making connections with people well before you ever get a book contract. Going to conferences and workshops beforehand is crucial. Learning as much as you can about the business is so important. And you have to start before the book comes out.

What advice on marketing and promotion would you give to someone starting out?

Make sure you get other work out there well before you sign a book contract so you already have people aware of what you do. People need to see what you can do before they’ll consider investing in your work. If people hadn’t read my articles and essays before the book came out they wouldn’t have known what my writing style was like. It’s kind of like how you wouldn’t buy a car without a test drive first.

If you wanted to become a doctor, you’d go to med school. The same is true of writing and publishing. If you want to be successful then you’ve got to learn how to do it—take classes, go to conferences, workshops, read, read, read. There are no shortcuts.

Is there anything you have learned that would make you do things differently when it comes to promoting your next book?

I was so busy the day the book released that I didn’t have time to enjoy the “book birthday.” People kept asking how I celebrated and I didn’t celebrate at all—I was busy ALL day. I wish I could go back and just appreciate that moment and not get caught up with all the rest. You only get one big debut birthday and really, I missed it. I had one moment at about one in the morning where somebody said it had become an Amazon bestseller and it was the first time all day that I just stopped for a minute (basically because I was falling asleep) and I thought, oh wow, but by then the exhaustion had kicked in because I had been awake over 22 hours! Oh yeah, there’s another tip for ya—get some rest the night before!

Thank you Krysten!

Though … nothing at all what I’ve done. Ah well.

Back on the coal face, in the last couple of weeks my main focus has been reaching out to schools ahead of World Book Day because I realised that, surprisingly, not all schools had yet got themselves sorted with author visits. So far I’ve sent out something like 20 emails … but I’ve not heard a sausage back, even though much effort went into honing my pitch. Anyhoo – there’s still time to hear, so fingers crossed! Other random progress has been:

– Contacting Dulwich Books. Although the person on the phone was very nice and gave me an email address, my impression is that I will have to write a really good letter if I want to get anywhere. As if by magic, someone very handily posted this on the SCBWI FB page: http://dulwichbooks.co.uk/independent-authors-tops-tips-from-a-bookshop/ Couldn’t be more useful … but I haven’t quite got round to putting fingers to keyboard.

– Being contacted by the Agency for Legal Deposit Libraries for 5 copies of UMA & IMP to be kept by such illustrious bodies as the Bodleian Library. It cost me postage and the price of 5 books and yet … I was chuffed. It is standard for publishers (reminder to me: yes, I am one) to send a copy of every publication to the British Library, which I did but had half been expecting them to send it back so being asked for more seems positive … very illogical, I know.

– Completing the registration for Skype in the Classroom. And already receiving one enquiry from a school in Virginia.

– Registering with PLR (Public Lending Rights) because, after all, there are now a grand 5 copies of UMA & IMPh in the Chelsea Library. Small acorns and all …

– Writing two chapters to the next book (woohoo).

– Receiving a glorious bunch of Thank You cards from the class I visited early in January. Really touching and made my day.

And that’s it – doesn’t feel like the most productive fortnight but hopefully some of this will bear fruit in the weeks to come!

In terms of sales, through the whole of Jan, 12 books sold plus 14 going through Amazon, though that’s a bit of a puzzle, more about which at another time …

Thank you for reading!


Houston, We are ‘Go’

What a difference a week makes. Once again in life, I’m shown the difference between knowledge and experience.

I feel like someone who – having struggled up a rocky mountainside towards a distant, cloud-shrouded peak – suddenly breaks through the mist expecting to find the summit … only to discover that the peak still towers miles out of reach. Exhausted, I’m struck by the dawning realisation that I might not have the equipment needed to reach the top.

I’ve always known that self-publishing is a long road and have always seen book launch as the first, baby step towards selling but, wow, having got through the (pretty fun) part of getting UMA & IMP to print and now being faced with the task of getting the book into kids’ hands … it’s very daunting. I feel like one in a million – actually, a billion – self-published authors swimming frantically like a mass of tadpoles in a spring pond. I suspect traditionally published authors may go through a similar experience. Getting published may have been the ‘easy’ bit.

Book launch was surreal. Cycles of euphoria, excitement, dread and a definite sense of ‘OMG, what have I done??’ – as though it was all a sudden, freak accident. Financial limitations (to put it mildly) meant I opted for a ‘virtual’ book launch (http://larisavillarhauser.wix.com/umaimpbooklaunch) rather than a canapés and champagne version. It was very much about announcing that UMA & IMP is finally out there and available. Most of my friends, and even acquaintances, have had years’ worth of listening to me talking about how badly/well the writing is going. Some of the most important people in my life live overseas in the US, Brazil, Australia and Mexico. Budget aside, a time-and-place book launch was never going to work from that point of view, so going virtual meant I could reach everyone regardless of location and time-zone.

Of course, one of the major points of a book launch is to make a splash in the media. My ‘splash’ has been purely in social media – getting mainstream press interest is a self-publisher’s Holy Grail. Without a certain (large) number of sales in the bag – or excellent contacts – that isn’t on the cards.

So here I am – the morning after …

Looking back, book launch was amazing. Full of enthusiasm and good wishes from people, some of whom I don’t even know, who are now going to be reading UMA & IMP or passing it on to a child. That feels amazing. So far I’ve sold 2 kindle books and something like 54 hard copies. People have pledged to buy more, some by order through bookshops – it’ll be interesting to hear how easy that is!

Looking forward, well, I go back to the word ‘daunting’ … I’ve been saying to people that it’s ‘going to be a long haul’, but that doesn’t really describe how I feel. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to sell even a small amount of books and, like with everything else in life, it’s also going to take some luck. For this to work, somewhere along the line, magic has to step in – someone talking to someone who knows someone … or maybe (hopefully!) one small person talking to another small person who talks to another small person …

In the meantime, I’ve been lucky enough to catch the pre-Christmas wave and have arranged a few book signings in local schools. My first is on Sunday and will include a reading. I don’t know what to expect but am super excited to get out there, eye to eye with kids, sharing my story … which is, after all, what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading!


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Do My Margins Look Big In This?

If there is one thing that encouraged me to take the plunge into self-publishing then it is POD (print-on-demand). The no (or little) risk involved seemed to make the whole thing a no-brainer … and yet the further I travel down this jolly-old road, the further POD seems to recede into the distance. What happened?

If you read last week’s post (Is There Life Without Amazon), you’ll know that a gloss cover put me off createspace – but I still have IngramSpark, right? Well, yes.

But I’ve also ordered 200 copies through a printer.

From the start I’ve always had the idea of going down the offset digital printing route, but didn’t think it would be this soon. It was more of an ‘if things go well’ kind of option, but there are two things that have encouraged me to pull the plug now. Except it’s only one reason really … just bear with me.

Reason 1: although I have yet to receive a matte cover proof from IngramSpark (don’t ask!) I feel that no matter how much better it looks, a POD book is never going to look like a regular paperback. Maybe the whole point of POD is exactly that – it’s an alternative to traditional publishing rather than a substitute. People who do well through POD not only print in a non-trad way, they also sell through non-trad routes. And yet, here I am, matchstick girl-like gazing through the high street (book)shop window and hoping to get in. I do know getting stocked by Waterstones is a slim hope but (as with the rest) I want to give it my best shot. I could be wrong here but, in my mind, that means having a book that stands out in positive ways (hopefully), rather than in ways that define it as being self-published (size, paper type). Partly it’s a confidence thing. Probably big-partly.

Reason 2: Margins. Waterstones state they are keen to support small, independent publishers and stock through Gardners (the UK’s biggest book distributor). In fact, they have a special ‘programme’ for indie publishers. The process is that you fill out a handy little form to sign up with Gardners, which takes about three weeks, and once that is done you can send your book to Waterstones who will consider stocking it in (probably only some) bookshops. The thing is, your best chance of having your book accepted is to match industry standard retail discounts. That means giving Gardners/Waterstones a 60% discount off the retail price. Six-ty per-cent!!! So, here is the maths: my book retails at £6.99. 60% of 6.99 is (a stonking) £4.19. My POD print costs are around £3, which means … oops! That would put me £0.20 in the red per sale. And that’s not taking into account any delivery costs, which little problem I haven’t even factored in yet. By having 200 copies offset printed, my per book print costs go down to around £2.30, which means a net per book revenue of a stellar £0.50 per (hypothetical!) book sold via Waterstones (not taking into account delivery). Now I haven’t lost sight of the fact that getting into Waterstones is not that likely but, let’s face it, even if that never happens I’m still increasing my per book revenue by £0.70. So long as I sell those 200 copies! And one way or another I always wanted a stash at home to take round to independent bookshops and sell through schools (if possible).

So my two reasons are really only one: getting into high street bookshops. It’s a long shot, but I seem to be giving everything a go …

For anyone interested in the nuts and bolts I found the printer while snooping typesetting info on the back of books’ title pages. Not all, but some will state the printer used. I went with Clays because they are huge and print all my favourite books. They have a dedicated department for independent publishers (doesn’t everyone?) and have proved to be very helpful.

The lead-time for offset printing is something like three weeks … so now I’m waiting for my (200!!) books to arrive. As soon as they are here, I will go for ‘launch’, which should be sometime next week. Finally.

In my next post I will report back on how ‘launch’ went and then will change gear to look at marketing and whatever happens once the book is ‘out there’. By now I’m really looking forward to this next bit!

If you want to be amongst the first to hear about launch then either Friend me on Facebook (Larisa Villar Hauser), like the FB book page (Uma & Imp) or follow Uma & Imp on twitter (Uma_Imp).

Thanks for reading!


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Social Media Muppet WLTM

A year ago I filled out a customer survey and when it came to ticking details about social media membership, I totally flunked out. Although this blog was already up and running I wasn’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anything else. All part of a pattern when you consider that I was one of the very last people in the world to get a mobile phone (no kidding).

But lately I filled out the same survey – and ticked every social media box going. Have I finally joined the modern world? The jury’s still out, methinks. I’m just not a natural social media type, mostly because I have a very low stimulation threshold. Crowds, lots of noise, too much input make me hyper-ventilate and run for my duvet.

First off, I dipped my toe into social media by joining Twitter, gaily following friends and contacts, scrolling through new tweets in the evenings. But it didn’t take long for my head to explode. I literally couldn’t cope. The only way I managed to stop the very strong urge to shut down the account was by un-following almost everyone. The tally almost a year on? 28 following, 23 followers, 22 tweets. Oh dear.

Facebook works better. It’s gentler. But I’m still rubbish and go days without properly checking the feed. At least when I don’t check in I feel I’m missing something though, which gives me hope that I may, after all, have a social media pulse.

LinkedIn is good too – but I never do anything there, especially not (god forbid) add my latest translation projects or anything sensible.

So where does this leave me when it comes to marketing my book? Well, clueless is the first word that springs to mind …

In a moment of compassion a PR friend of mine put me in touch with his company’s enthusiastic and bright social media guru. We met for coffee and – yes – my head did explode. In principle I was all up for having a Facebook Book page, and getting a Book twitter account. And the idea of writing a book blog was something I’d thought up all by myself and was finding quite appealing. But when I heard that to do it properly I should have started months ago, and that I would have to FB every day and tweet a few times a day, it all got TOO MUCH. So I had another twitter-flip and seriously thought about giving up on social media and just sticking to a nice, safe blog. But that really would be lame – so I’ve decided to just do what I can and take it at my own, somewhat Victorian, pace. If that means my book Twitter account only has 12 followers who hardly ever hear from me, and my Facebook page is mostly about letting people know a new blog is up or I’ve managed to get a book event, then so be it … Apparently you can take a horse to social media but you can’t make it drink.

Still, with book launch only two weeks away, I’ve taken the first, baby, steps and set up a Facebook Book page (Uma & Imp) and a Twitter account (@Uma_Imp). If you are social media literate, please follow! I’ll get onto ‘building my audience’ after I’ve had a lie down …

Thanks for reading,