Playing with Words

As a writer I love playing with words and I love words themselves. I know – weird aren’t I? Some words I love more than others. With certain words it’s because they have a lovely sound to them. With others it’s because they suit their meaning so well that no other word would quite suffice. There are many words that are so powerful and descriptive that they can transform a whole paragraph. In fact, ‘transform’ is one of the words on my list. Here are some of my favourite words:

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–         Expertise – It’s like experience, knowledge and skills all rolled into one.

–         Transform – it’s more powerful than ‘change’, don’t you think?

–         Incongruous – I love this one, it’s says exactly what it means.

–         Onomatopoeia – This relates to the use of a word that sounds like its meaning. What I love about ‘onomatopoeia’ is the sound of the word, the use of four vowels together and the fact that very few people can spell it. I can’t think of any other word that uses four vowels together – no doubt someone will put me straight on that point. I believe it stems from either Latin or Greek so there could be other four-vowel words that have been adopted by the English language.

–         Detract – I feel that no one word captures the meaning of this word in the same way. Although you’ll find alternatives such as ‘lessen’, Words 2‘diminish’ etc. in a Thesaurus, ‘detract’ means more than that. For me ‘detract’ makes me think of moving away from something or taking away from something, especially when used as ‘detract from’.

–         Encapsulate – I just love the sound of it. Again, no other single word does it justice. ‘Summarise’ is used as a synonym, but ‘encapsulate’ is more than that; it’s the act of taking all the components and bringing them neatly together as though in a capsule.

–         Retrospect – To me this word means more than just ‘reflection’, it’s looking back but also learning from past mistakes. Again, no other word conjures up the precise meaning.

–         Basically – It’s an excellent opener for a sentence and leaves the reader full of expectation of what’s coming next. It can open up an explanation, a conclusion or a summary. ‘Basically’, it’s a really useful word, but unfortunately I realise that I do tend to overuse it.

–         Divisive – Another powerful word, which was overused on the death of Margaret Thatcher – it was definitely the media word of the week. Now, whenever I hear that word my brain automatically connects it with Margaret Thatcher.

–         Replicate – Sounds more sophisticated than duplicate or copy.

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–         Proclivities – Means tendencies or inclinations but it’s often used in a negative way so it’s usually the word of choice if someone has perverse sexual tendencies. This word always makes me smile because of my mucky mind. It reminds me of Les Dawson (one of my all time favourite comedians) who said that some words are just funny because of all the connotations associated with that particular word.

Do you have any favourite words? What are your favourites and why? I bet you can think of some that I love but I’ve forgotten about – alas, the middle-aged memory isn’t what it used to be!

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Fancy Getting Married in a Library?

It’s a book lover’s dream, but hopefully one that is shared by your other half. Even if you’re not both book lovers, Manchester Central Library is still a stunning venue in which to hold a wedding. An extreme enthusiasm for books and libraries will help though when it comes to footing the bill.

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The package costs £15,000 for 50 daytime guests and 50 evening guests, with an additional cost of £125 per daytime guest and £30 per evening guest. The maximum number of guests that can be accommodated is 80 in the daytime and 120 in the evening.

You do get a lot for your money though including exclusive use of the library on a Sunday, five course wedding breakfast, evening reception and a champagne toast. You also get access to the Wolfson Reading Room and other heritage spaces. Judging by the photographs in the brochure I think some of these areas are private rooms that aren’t usually available to the public. There are also lots of other touches, but rather than sounding like an advertising brochure, I’ll just give you the link so you can download the very impressive pdf: Central Library Wedding Brochure.

 

Manchester Central Library

As the name suggests, it is the headquarters of Manchester libraries. Although it doesn’t have the same historic significance of some of Manchester’s older libraries, nevertheless it is a grade II listed building, which was constructed between 1930 and 1934. The design itself is eye-catching and was loosely based on the Pantheon in Rome.

The library was closed from 2000 until March 2014 while extensive renovations took place at a cost of £40 million. As part of the renovations the Library Theatre Company moved out of the library basement and into its new premises at HOME, a centre for international contemporary art, theatre and film at First Street, Manchester. This was following a merger with the Cornerhouse, a centre for cinema and the contemporary visual arts.

 

Manchester Central Library is the second largest public lending library in Britain. It has a host of facilities as well as dramatic design features. Personally, I prefer the original architecture and am not so keen on the glass paneling that has been added following the recent renovation, but I guess I’m an old fashioned (old) girl at heart.

Just some of the facilities include:

  • Free use of computers for up to one hour.
  • Free Wi-Fi connection.
  • A media lounge with creative software and gaming stations.
  • Services for the visually impaired including assisted technology and software.
  • A business centre giving advice to help you start or run your own business.
  • Rare books and special collections.
  • The Henry Watson Music Library where you can play or record your own music.
  • The Ahmad Iqbal Ullah Race Relations library, which specialises in the study of race, ethnicity and migration.
  • A café.

Oh, and did I mention that you can borrow books, DVDs and audio too?

 

In terms of the architecture, the interior is as striking as the exterior. It was difficult to capture the internal dome by camera but each of these marble pillars is about 1.5 to two feet in diameter. The inscription around the inside of the dome is from the Book of Proverbs in the Old Testament and reads:

‘Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom, and with all thy getting get understanding. Exalt her and she shall promote thee; she shall bring thee to honour when thou dost embrace her, she shall give of thine head an ornament of grace, a crown of glory she shall deliver to thee.’ Proverbs 4:7

Shakespeare Hall has stained glass windows including one of Shakespeare and scenes from his plays. The ceiling shows the arms and crests of the Duchy of Lancaster, the See of York, the See of Manchester, the City of Manchester, and Lancashire County Council. As you move out of Shakespeare Hall and up the stairs to the first floor you pass a lovely statue made from white marble, which was presented to the library by the family of the late industrialist and promoter of the Manchester Ship Canal, Daniel Adamson. It is called ‘The Reading Girl’ and is by the Italian sculptor Giovanni Ciniselli.

Manchester Central Library is not the only library that can be hired as a wedding venue. It seems that it has now become a popular trend, and a quick search of Google shows that the Bodleian Library in Oxford, Manchester’s historic Portico Library, The Signet Library in Edinburgh and various other libraries in the UK can be hired. In fact, hitched.co.uk published an article about library wedding venues, which you can read here. It strikes me as a good idea if you’ve got the cash to spare because some of these buildings provide a stunning setting.

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Chetham’s – The Oldest Public Library in the English-Speaking World

In my quest to blog about some of Manchester’s wonderful historic libraries, I thought I would start with Chetham’s in view of its claim to be the oldest public library in the English-speaking world. It’s a fascinating place to look at and I am amazed that I have only recently visited it for the first time considering how long I have lived in Manchester. With my joint loves of books and poking about in old buildings, I was in my element.

Chethams Entrance

Chetham’s entrance

Although visitors are advised to book in advance, I arrived on spec because I was going into Manchester city centre anyway. After a 10 minute wait due to a service taking place in the adjoining school, I was allowed access to the library and entered a beautiful medieval courtyard.

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Visitors have to be accompanied by a guide (I presume it’s because of the value of some of the old books and other relics). I think my guide soon realised that progress around the building would be slow as I continuously stopped to take photographs and admire the paintings, ornate windows, beamed ceilings etc. etc. I suppose there are only so many ‘wows’ you can contend with so she eventually left me to cover the top floor unaccompanied – yippee!

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History

Here’s a little of the history:

The library was established in 1653 under the will of Humphrey Chetham, a wealthy Manchester textile merchant, banker and landowner. It began as a school for the poor, although the building that houses the library dates back to 1421 and was built as a college for priests. Chetham’s is now a music school with the library attached.

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Humphrey Chetham’s portrait above the fireplace in the reading room

The history of the building is very much in evidence as you walk around Chetham’s. The walls are built from sandstone quarried locally in Collyhurst, and I marvelled at the thickness of the doors, and the beautiful oak furniture in the reading room.

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Original doors

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The oak table and leather backed chairs (also oak) in the Reading Room were purchased in the 1650s. Two students were working at the other end of the table during my visit so I wasn’t able to take a picture of the whole table. The chairs are of Cromwellian type, characterised by the square backs, turned legs and scroll work on the leg connectors.

The collection of books in the library dates back to the library’s inception in 1653, and continues to expand. Nowadays the collection focuses on the history and topography of Greater Manchester and Lancashire as well as other topics of local interest. Unfortunately I wasn’t able to examine the books as they’re kept in gated alcoves.

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The gated alcoves and beamed ceilings with a view through to the Reading Room

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Some of the wonderful old book collection under lock and key

Lastly, I’ll finish by adding a few images of the Baronial Hall although it was difficult to capture in all its glory.

In future blog posts I’ll be visiting some of Manchester’s other historic libraries.

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Without Reading, Would our World End?

Certainly the world as we know it. And I’m not just talking about reading books, newspapers and magazines, but reading in the wider sense.

Think about it. If none of us could read – what impact would it have on our world?World

Well, you wouldn’t be reading this article for a start as there would be no Internet. All those stunning Internet images would be meaningless without the words to accompany them. So, there wouldn’t be any emails. Perhaps it’s not all bad; at least you wouldn’t be receiving junk. There’d be no junk mail through your letterbox either, or text messages. Just imagine, a world without the Internet. How would we cope?

Oh, but we’d still have televisions and phones, I hear you say. Ah, but how functional would television be with any written scripts to work from? Media – it’s all words in one form or another, often accompanied by eye-catching images, but words are still a fundamental part of it.

Telephones. How would the telecommunications companies operate with limited means of contact? Communication isn’t all carried out by phone. For example, how would they keep financial records if nobody could read the words and figures on the screen or on paper?

CoinsThat brings me on to the financial world. Money would no longer be represented as figures on a screen or in a ledger. Instead it would take on a more tangible form. People would be weighed down by coins as they would be the only representation of money. Notes would be useless if they bore figures as nobody could read them. Perhaps we could develop a method of colour-coded notes. And we wouldn’t be withdrawing money from the cash machine because we wouldn’t understand any of the bright green gobbledegook on the screen.

Supermarkets wouldn’t have names; they’d probably have a logo instead. They’d have to have more staff so they could tell you how many small coins you needed to buy an apple and how many large coins to treat yourself to a bottle of wine. How would they deal with special offers? Two for ones? Three for twos? At least we’d (hopefully) see an end to black Friday.

Travel. How do you know which bus to catch to work when you can’t read the numbers on the front? How do you know which junction to come off at the motorway? How do you find your way to somewhere new if you can’t read a map? There’s always Sat Nav but you have to type in your selections before it will direct you to your destination. You need to be able to read and write to do that.

Work. How many office jobs involve working with words and figures on the screen or stacks of letters and forms? Which industries would survive? Probably the more tangible ones but even they would have to adapt totally to a world without reading.

Books with question mark

Just thinking of a life without reading makes me realise how difficult it must be for those who cannot read. I’m sure there are other ways in which it must impact on their lives. Maybe there are a few things I haven’t thought about. I would love to get your comments on this.

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Interview with North Manchester Radio

On Saturday 17th October I took part in a radio interview with Hannah Kate from North Manchester Radio: http://northmanchester.fm/. Hannah hosts a regular show at 2pm on Saturday afternoons called ‘Hannah’s Bookshelf’. During the show she discusses books, creative writing and publishing. Her guests include local authors as well as others involved in the book world such as publishers and librarians. Hannah has had some interesting and esteemed guests so I was honoured to take part in the show.

The show lasted two hours and you can listen to the recording or perhaps just catch snippets by following the link: Hannah’s Bookshelf.

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Hannah (left) and me (right)

We met an hour before the show was scheduled to start so that Hannah could set everything up and find out a bit of background information about me. This was in addition to the information that she had already gleaned from my website. Hannah was very professional in her approach, which helped to put me at ease.

Initially I was nervous at the prospect of talking about my work for two hours but it’s amazing how the time flies when you find someone else who shares your passion for books. The format of the show is an informal chat in ten minute segments with one or two tracks played in between each segment. For the first ten to fifteen minutes of the show Hannah talks about a book she has recently read and announces any literary events that are taking place locally. Then, after a track it’s time to introduce her guest.

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Sharing a joke

It was daunting at first knowing that thousands of people were listening to my every word, cough and splutter but Hannah is an experienced interviewer and she soon helped to settle me down. One of the things I tend to do when I am nervous is waffle, go off at a tangent and completely forget the question that was asked in the first place but Hannah skilfully kept me on track.

During the course of the two hours we covered the background to my writing career from the time that I decided to swap credit control for writing right through to the publication of my novels and short story book. We also discussed my writing influences, my reasons for writing the type of material I write and my typical writing day.

Hannah also includes a fun session in the latter half of her show where she asks her guests which three books they would choose to save in the event of an apocalypse. I won’t include my selections here but they’re all included in the audio recording if you would like to check them out.

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Chatting about books

It was interesting to see how a radio show works. The host has to be careful to get the timings right and I followed Hannah’s lead to make sure I didn’t get too carried away with my responses and muck up the schedule. It was a fun afternoon and a real pleasure to meet the lovely Hannah Kate.

As well as hosting ‘Hannah’s Bookshelf’ Hannah wears many other hats. She is a published author and editor whose work has appeared in anthologies and national magazines, and she runs a small press and events company. Hannah is also an academic lecturer, researcher and writer. You can find out more about this talented lady by visiting her website at: http://hannahkate.net/.

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Mind your Language

On a couple of occasions when I have been looking at books on either Amazon or Goodreads, I have noticed bad reviews based on the fact that the books contained a lot of swearing. One of the  Star-12920-medium reviews was for a book that had received predominantly good reviews, and this particular one star review was based solely on the fact that the book contained bad language. There was no mention of the rest of the content.

As an author, it irks me when people leave a one or two star review based solely on the bad language in the book, which, let’s face it, probably makes up no more than 5% of the content. What about the rest of the book? Does it not matter that the author has toiled for months, or even years, to produce that book? And if the book is otherwise excellent, is that overlooked in that puritanical reader’s quest to banish all bad language from books?

The type of approach described above causes me a little concern because my own books contain more bad language than most. Although I haven’t yet had a bad review because of the swearing in my books, I expect that it is likely to happen sooner or later. The use of bad language in my books isn’t because I am being gratuitous in an attempt to shock readers. It is simply because I want my books to be authentic and to reflect the way the characters would have spoken.

SwearingEven if books are fictional, they are often a reflection of real life, and in real life people swear. Anyone who thinks they can eliminate the use of those words from the English language is on a pointless mission. Swearing is used as a form of expression, to convey anger or humour, or perhaps because the character being described in a novel would typically speak that way. This can reveal a lot about the character’s personality or environment. In fact, in my forthcoming novel, the bad language (and violence) are a fundamental part of who my characters are and, to remove it, would be taking something away from the characters.

So, what can authors do about these negative reviews from people offended by bad language?

I have included an introduction in each of my novels explaining why I have chosen to include swear words and slang, and apologising to those readersNo-Entry-12083-medium who may be offended. I did toy with the idea of putting a warning on the Amazon description page, but would this be taking it too far? After all, the books are crime thrillers, targeted at the over 18s, and the book blurbs give a good indication as to the content, with words such as ‘murder’, ‘killer’, ‘spliff smoking’, ‘thug’ and ‘shady dealing’. Surely, the readers of such books would expect some bad language as well as violence?

I would love to know your thoughts regarding this. Is it a good idea to put a warning on the product page, or not? Do you find the use of bad language in books offensive or off-putting? Do you agree with people giving bad reviews because of the swearing in a book?

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A Change of Plan

Now that I’ve published my debut novel, ‘Slur’ and my short story book, ‘Crime, Conflict and Consequences’ I’m pressing ahead with my second novel. I originally intended the second novel to be a disturbing psychological thriller called ‘Bad Brother and I’. Having already written about 10,000 words of this book, mostly in outline form but with the opening and concluding chapters drafted, it seemed the logical next step. In fact, I had also published the blurb for ‘Bad Brother and I’ in the back of ‘Slur’.

Then something happened.

As I was writing ‘Slur’ I thought of a great idea for a sequel. I had grown attached to one of my main characters in ‘Slur’, called Rita, and through my debut novel I had alluded to the fact that she hadClipartsalbum_31410 Child a rather colourful home life with a father who was a petty criminal and a sister who hung about with some dubious characters. Rita is feisty, foul mouthed and brash but she’s also loyal and has a strong sense of right and wrong as a result of her grandparents’ influence when she was a child. Therefore I thought it would be interesting to explore her character further and place her in an extremely challenging situation.

I decided that I would push on with ‘Bad Brother and I’ once I had published my short story book, and then write the sequel to ‘Slur’. My reasoning behind this was that I was much further forward with ‘Bad Brother and I’ than with any of the other novels I had planned. However, whilst I was getting ‘Slur’ ready for publication, additional ideas for the sequel were forming in my mind. I already had the plot roughly sketched and I was adding notes to it daily.

I was so excited about the idea for the sequel that I also typed up the opening chapter in draft form. Then, one morning I woke up at 5 am after a dream and I had the whole of the ending in my head. I couldn’t wait to get it down on paper. Fortunately, I have a notepad at my bedside because of my overactive imagination (these ideas always seem to come to me in the middle of the night – sod’s law!)

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The following day I typed up the ending in draft from my handwritten notes and I could see the novel starting to take shape. I knew then that I didn’t want to put it off until I had written ‘Bad Brother and I’. After all, I was still immersed in the world that I had created and the characters were fresh in my mind so I decided to go for it. I changed the blurb in the back of ‘Slur’ and started work on the sequel as soon as I had launched the short story book.

I am now four chapters and 10,000 words in and I’m so glad I made this decision. There is no way I could have focused on ‘Bad Brother and I’ when all my enthusiasm was for the sequel. I’m really enjoying working on this book although it may have to take a back seat for a couple of weeks as I’m currently organising a couple of client jobs.

Although I was further forward with ‘Bad Brother and I’ than with the sequel to ‘Slur’, I actually think that this book will flow more quickly because I’m full of enthusiasm for it. There’s another advantage in writing this book next, and that is the fact that it is similar in type to ‘Slur’. Therefore, I can target them to the same readership.

Clipartsalbum_16620 BooksMy husband actually came up with an idea for a third book in the series. At first I wasn’t sure if it could be developed into a full-length novel as it was just the bare bones of an idea. However, the more I thought about it, the more it appealed to me and I began fleshing out the plot and adding detail. It is now definitely workable as a novel and, as a result, ‘Slur’ has become the first part in a trilogy.

So I think my Bad Brother will have to wait a while longer before he gets his turn in the limelight. Sorry Bad Brother but my female characters are just too dominant. I will get back to it one day though and I think that once I’ve taken the characters from ‘Slur’ as far as I can, I’ll be ready to work with a new set of characters and give them my undivided attention.

Authors, have you ever had a writing dilemma that has caused you to make a complete change in your writing plans? Or, perhaps you’ve had a character who has taken on a life of his or her own. I’d love to hear your comments on this.

 

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What’s on your Kindle?

I have had my Kindle for about a year now and I am amazed at how much content I’ve managed to accumulate. I can’t resist all those free or bargain books that I see advertised on Twitter, or books that I see recommended on various blogs. There are so many great independent authors out there as well as authors that are published through traditional channels. I thought it would be fun to give a quick rundown of what is on my Kindle then invite readers to share what sort of books they have on their Kindles (or other digital readers). Here goes:

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Books by Indie Authors
I have tried a variety of genres including chic lit, romance, crime thrillers, humour, historical, westerners, true life stories and parenting books. Some of the authors whose books I have enjoyed include: Geoffrey West, Joanne Phillips, Terry Tyler, Georgia Rose, Guy Portman, Rose Edmunds, Anne Renshaw, Romy Gemmell, Clare Davidson, Lizzie Lamb, Anne Coates, Taylor Fulks, Peggy Bechko, D J Kirkby, Mark Richards, Yasmin Selena Butt, Jess Sturman-Coombs, Charlie Plunkett and Alice Huskisson. There are some great authors there and I’ve also made some lovely online friends along the way.

Apart from novels I have found a couple of Indie books about independent publishing, which have proved useful. They are “Let’s Get Visible” and “Let’s Get Digital” by David Gaughran and “My Way” by David Perlmutter. “Let’s Get Digital” by David Gaughran is great for new independent authors as it teaches them the basics of how to get published. The follow up book “Let’s Get Visible” then focuses on promotional methods that authors can employ to help ensure that their books get noticed by readers once they have published, and it gives many details of how Amazon’s system works. David Perlmutter’s book also focuses on promotional methods but he takes a different approach, concentrating instead on social media, blogging etc. This is another handy book for newly published independent authors.

Other Authors
I mainly buy the print versions of books by authors who are traditionally published for a couple of reasons. The first reason is because I still like the look and feel of a printed book from time to time. The second reason is because I cannot resist grabbing a book bargain either when I am in the supermarket or from the second hand book stalls when I am on holiday. However, I do sometimes buy books by mainstream authors for my Kindle if they have been recommended to me, especially as I am now becoming more active on Goodreads. This means that I now have even more books on my Kindle that I’ll probably never get round to reading.

Research Books
I do most of my research online these days although I have a selection of trusty old printed books that I still use. Nevertheless, I have recently purchased two research books for my Kindle. One is “On Writing” by Stephen King as it was recommended on a writer’s blog. The other is a book about the gangs of Manchester because I intend to use it when I carry out my research for a future novel.

Reading Holiday

Apart from the content that I have personally loaded onto my Kindle, my husband also loaded a lot of content onto it when he first bought it me as a present. Much of the content relates to books by popular authors and classics. So, I now have a total of 194 items on my Kindle as well as a double cupboard full of books. I think I need a reading holiday. Over to you; what type of content do you fill your digital reader with?

New Year Writing Plans 2014

What an exciting year lies ahead! As well as doing the promotion for my second parenting book I hope to publish my debut novel at last. In fact, in some ways this year may see the culmination of many years of writing effort for me. Read on to find out what I have planned.

Book Promotion 

My second parenting book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” was published to the Kindle at the end of November. Since then I have been absorbed by a mixture of working on client projects and arranging to have the book printed cost-effectively. The latter has proved more challenging than I anticipated as the book is in colour, which is expensive to print. Thankfully I got there in the end; my book is now with the printer and I hope to release the print version very soon. However, time spent searching for the right printing arrangement together with my client workload have meant that my promotional efforts have been virtually nil.Emails

As we go into the New Year I intend to remedy this situation. My first port of call will be with the parenting magazines and fortunately I have a list of contact details that I used when I marketed my first parenting book. Because many of the regional parenting magazines are issued quarterly, they have quite lengthy lead-in times. This means I need to approach them now if I want to secure any editorial in their Easter editions. If I manage to achieve this it should coincide quite nicely with the special offers featured in the book as they start to become effective from April onwards.

As well as approaching parenting magazines I will be contacting various parenting blogs and others involved with childcare, children’s parties, family days out and additional related topics. Hopefully they will be interested in guest blog posts, interviews or features related to the book. Once I receive my shiny new copies of the book I will also be hauling it around various book shops and gift shops. So, it looks as though the promotion will be keeping me busy for a few weeks yet.

Debut Novel

I know I’ve been promising this for some time, but I will definitely be publishing my debut novel this year. It has already been written – it just needs, fact-checking, editing and proof-reading and then I’m ready to run with it. In fact, it was written many years ago. At the moment though, I want to concentrate on promoting “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)” as much as possible. I’ve put a lot of time and effort into ensuring that it is a quality product that will appeal to book shops and others. I therefore owe it to myself to continue my efforts now that I have reached the promotion stage.

Schedule NovelOnce I feel that I’ve given it my all I will start to shift my focus onto the novel. One thing I will say though is that novel writing requires a different writing approach to non-fiction writing. I therefore intend to brush up on some of the techniques that I learnt on my writing course as I’ve become a little rusty. If I come across any valuable writing tips I’ll share them via the blog. It will be interesting to view my own work from yesteryear and see what I think of it now that I have the benefit of a few years commercial writing experience.

Website

As well as doing a bit of snagging and general tidying up of my main website (http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/), I also have other plans for the website in the long-term. These plans will involve an extension of the book page (http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html) by adding book excerpts and other book related information and functionality. I’m also planning to host interviews of fellow authors on the blog. (N.B. My WordPress blog is imbedded into the blog page of my main website so you can also access it from there.) These plans are all for the long-term though. I figure I’ve got enough to concentrate on for now.

I have to say that the Christmas break has enabled me to relax and refocus. Prior to Christmas I was becoming totally encumbered with work and more than a little frustrated as I seemed to be ‘chasing my tail’ and not getting very far. Thankfully I am now feeling more refreshed and ready to face the challenges and hopefully the joys that 2014 will bring. How about you? What are your plans for the coming year – writing or otherwise? Please feel free to share them using the comments box below.

Colour Printing Options for Books

When I decided to publish my second parenting book in colour I knew that the colour printing costs with CreateSpace were extortionate. The same applies to Lulu. This basically relates to the fact that they charge for full colour even if only a small proportion of the book is in colour. So, that was the easy alternatives out of my reach. I therefore started to do some digging around in order to find more cost-effective solutions. I knew from reading Joanne Phillip’s marvellously informative blog (http://joannegphillips.wordpress.com/) that she had used various printing options so I asked her for some advice which she was more than happy to give – thanks again Joanne.

Becoming your own Publisher

Book PublishingBasically, because I had applied for my own ISBN numbers the first time round I was effectively acting as my own publisher. This meant that there were less restrictions and I could go direct to a printer. Lightning Source (LSI) are a good option in the UK because they will list your book with Amazon, Gardners wholesalers etc. for a fee of just £8.40 a year. However, it is possible to get your book listed yourself. To do so you have to register as the publisher with Nielsen’s PubWeb service.

I had listed my previous book on Nielsen’s BookNet so that I could receive any orders that came from wholesalers but I didn’t realise that I needed to register with PubWeb too. The link to PubWeb is http://www.nielsenbookdata.com/pubweb. If you click the ‘Not a registered user?’ link you will go through to a screen where there is a further link to a downloadable registration form. Once you have registered you can add your books and make updates to them such as adding the cover images etc. For BookNet the link is http://www.nielsenbooknet.co.uk. Select the Publishers & Distributors option from the menu and there are links further down the page for smaller self-distributing publishers. Self-distributing basically means that you hold your own stocks.

Once you have listed your book with PubWeb there is a good chance that booksellers will pick up your book details from the PubWeb records and list them on their own records. The PubWeb website warns you that it can take up to twenty weeks for this to happen but I found that the print version of my book was listed in the Amazon store within a week and with Waterstones online shortly after. One of my next tasks is to register as an Amazon seller so that I can receive orders directly from Amazon once the print version is available.

Staying Local

Joanne also kindly recommended a UK-based printer that would print in colour at reasonable cost. However, I also decided to shop around for others. There are now many printers offering a print on demand service for books and some will allow you to obtain an on-screen estimate. Just try entering ‘Book Printers UK’ into Google to see a good selection. I’m not sure what the position is in other countries but I have a feeling it will be similar because printers will want to cater to the demand prompted by the ‘Indie revolution’. As with CreateSpace, the charges per book usually become lower as the size of your order increases. Additionally, because I could obtain online quotes this enabled me to narrow down my options for orders of different sizes before making further enquiries.

Buying Local

One of the advantages of having a printer in your country of residence is that the staff are more accessible. That makes it easy to pick up the phone and address any concerns and get answers to your questions. I find that by speaking to the staff you can often get a feel for how efficient they are. The other advantage is in terms of postage and packing. Not only are the costs much cheaper but I’m not expecting the inevitable delays that I get with CreateSpace orders that are shipped from America.

I didn’t go for the lowest priced printer in the end. I chose Biddles because they were reasonably priced and Nigel Mitchell has been very efficient up to now as well as really helpful.

Typesetting

Joanne Phillips has previously written a blog about doing your own typesetting (gosh that lady should be wearing a halo by now). Seriously though, if you aren’t already reading Joanne’s blog, I can’t recommend it enough. I wasn’t brave enough to attempt the typesetting myself. As I want to place this book with book shops and gift shops it’s very important to me that it looks as professional as possible and I was frightened of making a complete hash of it. Nevertheless Joanne’s blog did come in extremely handy.

PrintingThe one drawback I found with a lot of printers was that they charge a lot for typesetting and as colour printing is still expensive (even if it’s only part colour), these additional costs would reduce my profit margins considerably. I therefore decided on a cheaper alternative by advertising the job on People per Hour and specifying my own budget. The guy I chose seemed to have good credentials, 30+ years’ experience in the printing industry etc. etc. However, it soon became evident that his experience was more with posters, brochures etc. rather than books. Some of his design features were great but he placed less emphasis on paragraph alignment, spacing, margin sizes etc.

I think I would go for a low cost option again but I would be sure to check that the person I employed had specific experience with typesetting books as this would have saved me a lot of time. Thankfully, I knew enough to point him in the right direction and my printer was very helpful and supportive. Eventually we got there and the finished document is now with the printer. It looks stunning, especially the images, and I can’t wait to see the book in print. The Kindle version also has colour pics and you can see an interior view at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXHQ02G.

It’s on with the promotion now while I wait for the print copies to arrive. I hope these tips have helped others. If you have any questions or any tips of your own to share, please feel free to comment in the box below.