My First Radio Interview

I have avoided radio interviews up to now as public speaking isn’t really my thing. However, deep down I realise that, as part of the publicity for my books, it is something that I will have to confront eventually – just not quite yet. Press interviews, on the other hand, I’m quite comfortable with, having done quite a few to publicise both books. I’ve also been on the other side of things, conducting many interviews in order to write case studies and magazine features on behalf of clients.

Although my books have been featured in a number of parenting magazines, websites and blogs, they haven’t been covered by local press until now. When I approached the Tameside Reporter they replied asking if I would also do an interview for the local radio – ‘Oh dear, the day of reckoning has arrived,’ I thought. I was then told that the interview would take place in my home and recorded with snippets of it being used for radio. This put my mind at ease knowing that I wouldn’t have to speak live on the radio.

When the day of the interview arrived I wasn’t particularly nervous, because I knew it wasn’t going out live. However, the minute the microphone was placed inches from my mouth I immediately Microphonebroke out in a sweat. The microphone was so near to me that I felt as though not only my voice would be picked up but also every sharp intake of breath, clearing of the throat, cough, mumble, fidget and maybe even the sound of my thudding heart – or so it seemed. It was a good experience though as it forced me to ‘get over myself’ and concentrate on the matter in hand. So I tried to focus on the interview and forget the presence of the microphone, although it wasn’t easy as the menacing little machine was positioned in the forefront of my field of vision, looming threateningly between me and the reporter.

On the day when the news item went out I cringed as I listened to myself talking about my book (I actually hate the sound of my own voice). As proud as I am of my Manchester roots, I don’t think the Mancunian accent is the most appealing in the world. Anyway, my piece went out at the end of the news every hour from 14:00 till 18:00. They used a couple of quotes from the interview and rotated them in two sets. I have to say that the second set sounded better than the first where I was a little repetitive. All in all though, it wasn’t too bad for a first time. You can catch the item on the Tameside Radio listen again feature by selecting 4/2/14 then listening to the news at any time between 14:00 and 18:00; my piece is at the end of the local news items.

The day after I’d listened to my piece on the radio I dashed out to buy this week’s Tameside Reporter so that I could read the accompanying feature. I quickly flicked through the newspaper twice before concluding that the item wasn’t being featured. ‘Oh no,’ I thought, ‘Was I really that bad?’ Curiously I scanned the front page to see what type of stories make the local press. And there it was, in small letters at the end of the feature headings, ‘Next week – local author’s kids’ party book release.’ So, next week will see me rushing out for my local newspaper once again.

Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK) is available to purchase in both a digital and print version from Amazon.
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Netmums Book Giveaway

My guest blog for Netmums has now been published and, as a bonus, readers have the chance to win one of five copies of my latest book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”. You can find the blog post here. To be in with a chance of winning a signed print copy of my book all you have to do is post a comment in response to my guest blog on Netmums. The article is full of useful tips about taking the stress out of kid’s parties so it’s well worth a read if you have young children.

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There’ll also be a chance for readers of my local newspaper, the Tameside Reporter, to win a copy of my book through a competition which they will be running in conjunction with a feature about me and my books. I’m expecting a call from them any time now to arrange the interview.

If you don’t have any luck with the Netmums competition but would still like a copy of the book, you can purchase it in either Kindle or print format at Amazon. I’m also currently sourcing further stockists for my book so I’ll be adding details to the books page of my main website in the coming weeks.

Let the Book Promo Begin

I was a little late starting the promotion for “Great Places for Kids Parties (UK) for various reasons, which I’ve covered in previous blogs. Thankfully I’ve now made a good start with the promise of a guest blog on the netmums website. This is one of the biggest parenting websites in the UK and the guest post is already written and agreed. Apparently it’s just a matter of scheduling it and then it will be up and running on the site. The topic is all about taking the stress out of children’s parties. An impossible feat you might think but believe it or not it can be done as long as you make sure that you have everything organised well in advance.

I’ve also written two other guest posts, which are currently appearing on the following sites:

Kiddy Cook – This guest blog relates to why kids’ cookery parties are a good idea and you can see it at: http://www.kiddycook.co.uk/blog/.

Tameside Sports Trust – This blog announces the inclusion of Tameside Sports Trust’s swimming parties in my book, and you can read all about it here.

Parenting Magazines

As my name isn’t Jo Frost or Miriam Stoppard I realise that any editorial I receive in parenting magazines is more likely to come through regionals rather than nationals. That won’t stop me trying though so waSpringtch this space. In terms of regional parenting magazines, most of them tend to be quarterly, which means that they will be planning their Spring editions now. I have therefore been sending emails out fast and frantically to try to get some coverage in their Spring issues. I’ve just got my first one agreed which is for a 800-1000 word article in a Southern based magazine, which has a good coverage. I’m pleased with that one but am working on getting into a few more magazines yet.

Print Copies

My print copies have finally arrived so I’ve been busy packaging and sending complementary copies to each of the organisations that were involved in the book. It’s my thank you for their contributions to the book as each one of them provided detailed information that cannot be found on the company websites, and they were willing to answer my probing questions. I’m especially thankful to the 11 organisations that featured exclusive special offers as these will no doubt increase the appeal of this book.

Still to Do

I’ve a few more blogs and parenting magazines to approach yet. With my last book I found that most magazines don’t respond unless you follow up your email so I’ll probably be phoning a few of the larger ones.
In terms of local coverage, I haven’t even started yet so there’s lots still to do. I’ll be updating my blog with news of any articles, reviews, competitions etc. which may be featured in publications over the coming weeks.
You can find details of both my parenting books plus details of my soon to be released novel on the book page of my website at: http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html.

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.

Publishing Kindle EBooks with Complex Layouts

There’s no doubt that being able to publish and sell your own books online is a great experience and one that many Independent authors are taking advantage of. When it comes to publishing eBooks with complex layouts though, things can get a little tricky. I encountered a few problems whilst publishing my second book so I’ve described these below together with details of how I tackled them.

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When I published my first parenting book some of the feedback suggested that it would have benefited from colour images. Therefore, as Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK) is a similar type of book, I decided to include colour images throughout. As I wrote each chapter I collected photographs from the organisations featured in the chapters. I didn’t bother about the image format at that point as I decided to tackle that matter as and when I needed to. I only had a vague idea at the time of how many images I would include, and thought that perhaps I wouldn’t use them all, especially if some didn’t fit the required format.
In the end I decided to include a picture for each chapter as the photographs I received were so lovely. When I started to format the book for publication to the Kindle I found that the Amazon specifications were that no image should exceed 127KB. A quick check revealed that most of my picture files were several megabytes so I knew that I had a bit of a problem on my hands.
I set about converting the images on my software but it wasn’t sophisticated enough to change the picture quality as well as the picture size. Therefore, in order to reduce the file size sufficiently it resulted in images that were only about an inch in width. Fortunately, the wonderful Alice Huskisson stepped in and offered to convert the images using her Adobe Photoshop package. Alice managed to convert the images to as near to 127KB as possible without exceeding that file size. At the same time, the quality was still really good, so big, big thanks to Alice.

Bullets and Numbered Lists
Gymnastics picI knew from my previous publication that there would be a problem converting bullets for the Kindle. However, last time it was a bit hit and miss and I couldn’t really determine why it worked on some occasions but not others. As bullets and numbered lists form such an integral part of this book I decided to run with it and tackle whatever problems presented themselves once I had attempted the upload to Amazon.
This time, fortunately, I discovered the crux of the problem. Providing the text in your bullet points does not extend for more than one line on the Kindle, the bullets convert fine. However, if the text runs onto the following line the bullets will appear skew wift. This meant that I had to go through the entire book and reduce the bullet points to no more than four or five words. Where this wasn’t possible I got round the problem by putting N.B. at the end of the set of bullet points and adding any extra points that were necessary. With numbered lists I sometimes had to treat each numbered point as a separate paragraph without a number. Fortunately, it worked out well and hasn’t had a negative impact on the layout.

Hyperlinks
This is a problem that I didn’t encounter the first time round and one for which I had to involve my resident IT expert. This book actually has a lot less hyperlinks than the first book. Although I have tried to include references to further information I deliberately reduced the number of hyperlinks as these don’t work so well in a print version (which will follow soon). Despite this, I still encountered a problem when I converted the document from Word to HTML ready to upload into Amazon. Here’s what happened:
In Word, and in the converted HTML document, hyperlinks show as coloured and underlined. They are very useful because the Kindle allows the reader to follow the hyperlink in order to access further information. Unfortunately, when I converted to HTML there were a few areas of the document where the colour and underlined text extended beyond the hyperlink. In a couple of instances this meant that there were several paragraphs of text that were coloured and underlined. I played around with the document in Word but couldn’t find a solution.

Over to my resident IT expert.

The only way in which we could solve the problem was for my hubby to actually alter the HTML code. The book looks fine now but unfortunately it means that my Word document doesn’t reflect these amendments. So, if I want to make any Kids at Chester Zoochanges in the future I can’t do them myself as they will have to be carried out using the amended HTML document. Needless to say, I’ve given my hubby advance warning that I will be needing his help again when the special offers in the book expire. He’s asked me to point out that he isn’t taking on any assignments from other authors – ha ha! How lucky am I?

I’m pleased to say that despite these little niggles I got there in the end (with a little help from my friends/husband) and the pictures look great. I couldn’t resist including a few images from the book again with this blog – I’m so proud of them! You can have a look inside the book with Amazon’s ‘Look Inside’ feature at: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00GXHQ02G. I also have to add that after experiencing all the intricacies of publishing this type of book, publishing a novel should be an absolute doddle.

No doubt these words will come back to haunt me. 

If you want to find out about my other books including future publications you can check out the book page of my website at: http://www.dianemannion.co.uk/books.html.

Cover Reveal – “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”

Here it is at last – the cover for my new book “Great Places for Kids’ Parties (UK)”. I’ve finally reached the formatting and proofreading stage so I should be publishing the Kindle version soon. Following that, I’ll be making arrangements to have a print version published. If you want to be informed of the launch dates you can subscribe to my mailing list. I promise not to divulge your details to any third parties and will only use your email address to send you updates regarding my books.
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You may have noticed the starburst so I’ll tell you a little more:
There are 13 special offers in the back of the book from 11 organisations and they’re all exclusive to people buying the book. Some of the organisations are big, well-known companies so it’s well worth buying the book to save money on your children’s birthday parties. In my next blog post I’ll be listing the organisations that are featuring offers in the book. I’m looking forward to sharing them with you.
The book has a similar cover to my first book, “Kids’ Clubs and Organisations” because they are part of a series of parenting books that I will be writing. However, each of these books can be read separately as well. There are 23 organisations featured in the book altogether. The three photographs shown on the cover were supplied by three of the organisations featured in the book: Wacky Warehouse, My Pamper Parties and Tameside Sports Trust. You’ll also find lots of lovely colour photographs throughout the book, which most of the organisations have kindly supplied. Co-ordinating all the information, photographs etc. was a challenge so it’s good to have reached this stage and I can’t wait to finally complete and publish the book.