My Independence Day

Being a Scotsman, and not an American, I don’t celebrate 4th July as Independence Day—mine would be Friday, 15th January 2021.

Why?

That was when I first published a book I’d written, edited, formatted, and for which I’d created the paperback cover.

It’s the dream of every writer to hold their work as a physical book in their hands, and for some newbie authors that desire tends to overshadow the need for ensuring a good product. I’m not a big fan of an eBook and a paperback being published at the same time by an indie author. Invariably, there will be minor issues with a book even after reaching publication. I prefer to have the book ‘in my hands’ on my Kindle to read it, yet again, but this time as a reader. When I’m content that I’ve done the job to the best of my ability, I then create the paperback edition.

This might sound simple, however there are some differences that many aspiring authors don’t seem to grasp in their rush to produce both types of book.

What’s the difference with the exterior?

A paperback cover should never simply be an eBook cover ‘stretched’ to fit. The two covers must be treated as different creations. Apart from the front cover and back cover, a paperback has a spine that is measured to take an exact number of physical pages.

There is also a back cover which contains the blurb, and a space must be allocated to allow for the barcode. Options include an author pic (which I don’t use), and excerpts from reviews (which I do use).

What’s the difference with the interior?

In an eBook, the front matter ought to be minimal—title, copyright, dedication, acknowledgments, contents, and prologue. The back matter might have an epilogue, endnotes, author bio, a word from the author, and a list of other titles by the author.

The author must bear in mind that the customer/reader is intent on reading the story as a priority with a Kindle, so anything else is simply supporting material and necessitates flicking through countless screens.

In a paperback, an indie author should think in terms of the industry standard. The front matter will have pages for title, copyright, acknowledgements, dedication, contents, and prologue. I tend to put my author bio and my list of other titles with the front matter, which leaves only any endnotes or ‘a word from the author’ as the back matter.

As with every topic related to indie publishing, it is all by nature a personal choice.

In terms of producing an author’s back catalogue in both eBook and paperback format, I have now (after much effort), produced most of my titles in both formats.

It took me weeks rather than days, but I eventually created a set of four paperback anthologies of my personal short stories. Rather than stay true to single genres, I opted for mixed genre, therefore allowing twenty tales per book.

What are the exceptions to my paperbacks?

I have up until now, not produced my poetry in paperback because they are bespoke collections. I am toying with the idea of creating ‘mixed anthologies’ of poetry, so for example I might end up with a series of books but each will include: Humour, Love and Romance, Natural History, Military Matters, Thrills and Chills, and serial poetry.

I have not, and have no intention of publishing my erotica in paperback. The titles sell well enough but have few public reviews. I believe that this stems from erotica readers enjoying the stories but with the confidence that it is done on an eReader, offering privacy.

We might go public with many things, but there are some aspects of our lives that we all want to keep to ourselves.

Thank you for reading.

My Writing Year – 2020

Intended publications were two novels and an anthology of short stories which were all underway, plus another anthology which was either going to happen or not, depending on submissions from fellow authors.

How did the year work out with my target?

 

Light at The End written during 2019, kicked off my writing year and by the time I’d read a couple of reviews I was glad I’d made plenty of notes. My experimental post-apocalyptic tale spawned a sequel. I had other projects on the go so I continued, as usual, spending a couple of weeks on any one book. The first part of Light at The End was out in January, so it took a few months for the sequel to appear. I was so caught up in that particular ongoing story that I was compelled to make it a trilogy. My post-apocalyptic world deserved my writing time.

I wasn’t too concerned that I might leave other projects behind while I worked on novels. Due to the rest periods that I give my manuscripts between edits, it allows for time to be invested elsewhere.

Top of my pile, of course, was Czech Mate, a standalone espionage thriller which had already been through the wringer with beta readers over a year before. I got as far as ten chapters using first-person POV, but it wasn’t working for me, and neither were some of the scenes. I changed direction with it a few times and then one day it started to gel when I added two new characters. Okay, it still took several full drafts to get it where I wanted it to be, but that’s part of our job as authors.

Time after Time was another new venture, an ‘invitation’ anthology. I had six original stories lined up and I was hoping for at least six from other authors, all on the theme of ‘Time’. I was delighted to publish with submissions from nine other authors—one of which was the foreword. Nineteen stories all told … .

My other collection was my latest individual effort, Shadow: and other stories. Story titles changed, the book title changed and so too did the cover. Twelve original tales for those who like a coffee-time or bedtime read. (No erotica–it’s catered for elsewhere).

Surely I had time to produce more than those?

You’re quite right—I did, and on some of those days when I needed to escape from the intensity of a post-apocalyptic world, a thriller or short stories, I offered my services to Katya–the ‘character’ I created to continue writing erotica in the background. Katya’s latest venture is a two-part novel called Secrets.

You might wonder how the ‘Katya’ stories have been produced so regularly. Many have been in my files for years as failed short stories or as multiple passages which until recent years didn’t inspire me to continue. If truth be told, when I set out into the world of creative writing I never envisaged myself producing erotica.

As usual, I enjoyed plenty of reading. Mainly it was indie books, but I also read a few paperbacks and reviewed those books which warranted good feedback. By the same token, I started but didn’t finish something in the region of ten indie books. There were a variety of reasons but for the main part, it was poor writing, poor formatting and lack of time spent by the author producing the work. I don’t permit time to read shoddy workmanship when I personally put in so much effort to create worthwhile stories.

I performed beta reading for several authors and as always was gratified to be told that I’d helped. I know what it means to be offered ‘guidance’. Feedback is the lifeblood of the author. Negative feedback is as important as positive feedback which I believe all writers must appreciate. Any writer who doesn’t pay attention to negative comments in the process is blind to their own issues.

Apart from reading and writing did I do anything else to improve my catalogue?

Yes, I redesigned several of my covers. I went on to produce my personal design for those which had previously been created by a professional. Those were Ten Days in Panama, Amsterdam Calling, A Taste of Honey, and the BTL trilogy.

Apart from all of the above, in October I cast aside my professionally-designed author website which I’d kept going for about ten years. I built a new website myself from scratch. Ironically, the total cost of my new website equated to about the same as my first one. I kept my domain name www.tombensonauthor.com

My writing was my priority throughout the year, as it should be but I gained a sense of accomplishment having dealt with all my covers and creating a new website.

Next year’s targets will be in my next blog post … in January 2021.

 Thank you.

Tom