Sunday, 11 April 2010


Now here is someone speaking sense. It's allied to the post I did recently on the dangers of being "published badly".

It's a tough message but in these days of easy self-publishing, it's really important for serious writers to look after their work properly.

Here's what I take from Joe Konrath's post and what I'd like you to copy out and place under your pillow, literally if necessary:
1. Just because you can easily self-publish an ebook (or physical book) doesn't mean it's always a good idea. In fact, it could well be a very bad idea. The dangers of self-pubbing an ebook are much worse than for a physical book: chances are that few people will see your physical book but your ebook will be much easier to sell and spread - which is GOOD, but only if it's good...

2. If your self-published ebook is crap, it will be ripped to shreds and your reputation will be materially damaged, ruining your chances of successful publication of any sort later. Unless you grow a literary beard of such proportions that no one will will ever recognise you.

3. Your self-published ebook almost certainly is not good enough if you have not had quality feedback on it. That goes for me, after many books published, just as much as it goes for someone completely unpublished. 
I am not against self-publishing, honestly. What I'm against is writers thinking they're ready when they're not, and thereby storing up huge disappointment and wreckage for later.

But Joe has much more to say and many more sensible, practical and honest tips, including how to get that feedback and make sure your writing is good enough. Go read - and let me go and unpack some more boxes.

PS - edited to add: this post was originally written before I moved house, when I thought it was just going to be a matter of unpacking boxes and then filing my nails. OH GOD HOW WRONG I WAS! As many of you will know from my anguish on Twitter, I find myself broadbandless and therefore unable to edit posts and comment etc. So, how come I am editing this post?? Because, sound the trumpets, I AM IN STARBUCKS. 

Anyway, I'm very stressed and overwhelmed. I have massive deadlines and tasks to do, and I can now only do them in a café, which is better than nothing but not ideal. On the other hand, maybe I could be the new JK Rowling? That would be nice.

Meanwhile, I haven't been able to use the lovely fact of being shortlisted for the Author Blog Awards, or do anything to promote Wasted. I haven't been able to use the fabulous comments I've had about it so far. And this coming week is the week of phoning plumbers, electricians, joiners, floorers, not to mention my agent and publishers to ask for help. To yell for HELP, to be precise. Meanwhile, thank you to the wonderful Catherine Hughes, who has been a voice of calm and efficiency. I would be nowhere without her. (She's being my assistant for the blog-tour for Wasted.)

Apparently, AOL are deigning to re-connect my broadband account (which I am still paying for) on Weds. After that, and when everything I fully sorted, I plan to dump them, as they have been massively less than helpful. Any suggestions as to who is best to sign up with? 

When I am "in a better place", I will reward you all for your lovely support, but meanwhile I need some more time before I can be back to full blog-power. I will be back. Actually, I will be back tomorrow to announce the winner of yesterday's free prize draw for Wasted. Meanwhile, don't forget to become a follower on the Wasted blog if you want a weekly chance of a free book.

Off to drink some more coffee - thank you, St Starbuck.


Glynis said...

Happy unpacking.

I would only self publish my novel as a last resort. I s/p my poetry books, but they were only intended as a gift to me, inorder to fulfull my dream.
Interesting post topic, I agree it could ruin future chances if it is a poor S/P.

Anonymous said...

good luck unpacking and settling in as well as getting the broadband sorted! ive found bt to be helpful on the most part and good at fixing connection problems, even when it smy computers fault.

fairyhedgehog said...

The move sounds like such a nightmare and AOL are clearly making it worse for no good reason.

I hope you find yourself "in a better place" soon.

Book Maven said...

Poor Nicola! I think one should always expect moving (and computer related stuff - connection, repairs etc)to take FAR LONGER THAN IS REASONABLE.

Don't worry - I think people through Twitter and so on do know about the blog awards and I certainly voted for you.

I've had wasted but won't be able to read it for a while, so the PR dept is doing its stuff.

Try to be nice to yourself and not get over-stressed, though I am a very bad example to you.

It WILL all get better. Lots of sympathy and hugs.


Glynis said...

Just read your edited version. Good luck with everything.

Deep breath, calm...oh go on then, scream. *grin*

Pen said...

Sounds like you're in desperate need of some TLC yourself - never mind the house!



Anonymous said...

We used to be with AOL (when we were on dial up) and we weren't that impressed with them then.

On Virgin Media Broadband now and in my experience they have always been helpful and quick to trouble shoot when we've had problems.

Not sure how far their coverage goes though!

I really hope things get better (move & broadband wise) for you soon!

HelenMHunt said...

I think you should just stay in Starbucks until Wednesday. Drink lots of coffee and eats lots of cake - then send the bill to AOL.

I also have a copy of Wasted and looking forward to reading, reviewing and generally plugging it.

steeleweed said...

Added Joe's informative blog to the list I will follow, thanks.

Don't know who your ISP options are, but anybody is better than AOL.

I will be moving in a few months - hope it's less painful. :-)

Verity said...

Oh Nicola :(
*telekinetically helps you unpack*

Spider Griffin said...

Wise words for those self-publishing, I think. (I've backed away from that route at the moment, trying to gain some success via the "professional" routes).

> "Any suggestions as to who is best to sign up with?"

I can recommend TalkTalk (used to be Tiscali). Haven't had much trouble at all in the eight or nine years I've been with them.


Anna Bowles said...

Honestly? If you change your broadband provider you will have to mount another four-week-minimum jihad as prior provider disconnects you but new provider cannot be bothered to start your supply. Worse still, prior provider may not bother to do the technical things necessary to enable your new provider to give you broadband, since you have dared to stop sending them money. This sort of thing is pretty common, particularly if a point-and-laugh provider like AOL are involved. If you do manage to get a functioning connection next week, I would cling to it fiercely.

Dan Holloway said...

Nicola, we've had very good experiences of Plusnet, as have several of our friends. Good luck, and happy Starbucking in the interim :)

This is a timely post - I was reading an excellent piece earlier today on Digitalbookworld about the problem of getting your ebook seen ( - for e-self-publishers like me that is still the big obstacle.

The point you are making here is one we could all do with taking to heart - getting our book read by that special person who's in a position to shout it from the hilltops to anyone and everyone likely to love it SHOULD be our biggest concern. Most fo us will never have that moment.

BUT some of us will. The followng is a really useful thought experiment. Imagine, for one moment, that Oprah (or Neil Gaiman or whoever it is in your field) says "OK, I'll look at your self-pubbed ebook - I've just downloaded it now". What's your reaction? "Oh, bugger, I wish I'd had time to check it first"? "I'd better e-mail her adn see if I can send an updated version"?

he fact is, that unless your reaction is a YES YES YES of When Harry Met Sally proportions, your book isn't ready. I have a feeling Oprah wouldn't like my latest. But if Thom Yorke or Noel Fielding clapped their eyes on it - well, I'd think all my christamses had come at once - they might not like it still, but if they said "do you want to send me an updated version?" I'd happily say "Nah, you're fine with that one." And that has to be the test.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Thanks for that link. It was really informative- I didn't know that much about self epublishing (I live in france and we don't hear much about it). I hope unpacking goes smoothly and you get internet access soon!

Sally Zigmond said...

Broadband? I use Eclipse which is a very small UK company. You can phone them quickly and easily (UK call centre) and when things go wrong--which rarely happens, they'll help you fix things. Someone will take you through the stages in standard--not geeky English--patiently and sympathetically and are really friendly.

womagwriter said...

We're with Virgin, who've been pretty reliable. I also have a second phone line for my work, paid for by my company, and that is BT. Also reliable. Both were connected within a couple of days of us moving in so service was quick.

I wouldn't touch AOL with a bargepole after my early experiences with them.

As for the boxes, once you've unpakced the stuff you actually need for everyday life, put the other boxes in the loft/garage/spare room. In three years time, anything still in the boxes can be just chucked out.

adele said...

All shall be well and all manner of thing will be well including broadband. Meanwhile I hope your ears were burning as I sang your praises to my workshop attendees at the Festival of Writing at York thisw weekend and handed out lots of your cards.
Your move will be worth it in the end, you'll see. Good for Starbucks, I say!

adele said...

PS...I too have Wasted by my bed and will read it as soon as poss.
Thanks! Looks terrific.

catdownunder said...

Moving is like writing a thesis. It always takes longer than you think it will. Something always goes wrong with the research. The writing does not go where it should. The references do not stay where you know you put them. You wonder why you ever started and think you will never get finished.
(Mmm these days you probably lose your entire thesis to a virus after you failed to make back up.)
In the end however - it-gets-finished.
You will be fine. Trust me - we cats know about these things - after all you were in something called Starbucks drinking coffee?

Theresa Milstein said...

I follow the Newbie blog and read that post. Recently I read a self-published book and now I know I'll never do it. It's not a bad book - but I can see right away that an editor would've improved it. We all want to be published, but for me, I just have to keep writing, editing, submitting, and repeating the process until I get it done the traditional way. Someone else need to have faith in my story for me to be comfortable with the rest of the world having the opportunity to read it.

Ebony McKenna. said...

Hello Nicola,
I'm still jetlagged so I hope this makes sense - well done on the house move as well. You must be exhausted.
Where was I?
Oh yes, exhausted.
Great point about bad self publishing. The truth is, publishing takes a long time. You must be patient. At the recent book events I did, I was often asked how long it took to write my book - nine months for the first draft, then about two years all up with revisions etc to make the book good enough. From the beginning of writing to seeing it in the shops took four years.

Which is probably quite fast, all things considered. But it's actually in the shops, on the tables at Waterstone's, which is a huge boost (and massive relief!)

And I would have posted this earlier but I too have been out of internet range. Bwaaaah! Boooo! Honestly, is it too much to fix relay stations to deer antlers in the New Forest?

Ebony McKenna. said...

PS, just ordered my copy of Wasted. Yay!

Elizabeth West said...

I have no interest in self-publishing. The only thing I ever did that was even close was a fanfiction I shared with family and friends. There is no way it would ever be published, and all I did was have it printed so I could give them a copy.

Good luck with your new place and your Internet connection. And thank you, Nicola, for still posting even while you are ripping your hair out!