Monthly Archives: April 2014

Adventures in Independent Publishing – Part 2

Up to Scratch

Once your book is written, it’s up to you to make sure the finished product is up to a high standard. It has your name on it, after all. The average buyer probably won’t be expecting the next Pulitzer Prize winner, but they will be expecting a professional job, and rightly so. Especially if they paid good money for it. Wouldn’t you? So make sure there are no gaping plot holes, silly typos, spelling mistakes, or continuity errors in your manuscript. This is where a good editor comes in. The spelling and grammar check on your word processing software alone just won’t cut it, I’m afraid.

Believe it or not, it’s quite difficult to edit your own work. You are just too close to it. Professional editors are not cheap, but there are numerous copyediting and formatting companies out there who will do different aspects of the job to for a fraction of the cost. Alternatively, you could send the rough draft out to one or more beta readers who will be able to offer a different perspective on things, or at least a fresh pair of eyes.

Cover Story

While it’s probably true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the reality is that people do. By nature, humans are very visual creatures. We are attracted to things that we think look nice. Fact. Getting the cover right is probably the single most important aspect of the whole independent publishing process. If you have any existing knowledge of Photoshop, or the time to learn, try doing your own. Especially if you are on a limited budget. There are some good tutorials available online, and some decent websites dedicated to book design. Otherwise, KDP has a ‘Create a book cover’ function but be warned, this is very basic. If at all possible, pay a pro and get the job done properly.

Having very limited capabilities I enrolled the help of one of my friends, Greg Chapman, who designed one for me.

http://darkscrybe.com/

He did a pretty fucking awesome job, too.

Click for more info

Click for more info

Be warned, some designers, high on their sense of self-importance, price themselves out of the market. I was quoted $500 by one graphics artist for a job that would take anyone worth his or her salt no more than an hour. Probably a lot less. No thanks.

Priming the Market

So now your book is written, formatted, and proofread so it reads smoothly and is completely free of errors. You have a cover and a KDP account all set up, so you are ready to go! Or are you?

Well, not quite. There are a number of things you could and should do before you put out your book. Firstly, tell all your family and friends. They will be your biggest supporters, your inner circle. You don’t have to tell them all directly and individually, just post a Facebook status update or two. If you have a blog, write a post about the imminent release and upload your book cover to your social networking sites before it goes live. People are visual creatures, remember? Try to draw comments by captioning it with something like, “this is the cover of my book. What do you guys think?”

It’s becoming increasingly popular amongst writers to make video trailers advertising their book, which is then posted on their website and uploaded to video-sharing sites like YouTube. To me, this seems like a lot of trouble. I’ve never done it. Possibly because I wouldn’t know where to start. If you have a big enough budget, you could pay a production company to do one for you. From what I hear the costs aren’t too prohibitive. You could also use a bit of initiative. One of my writer friends has a brother who is a musician, so she uses his tunes as background music in her book trailers. That’s a good bit of promotion for them both.

Another way to help prime the market for your book is to send out a press release, which automatically goes out to various media outlets and industry-connected individuals. Most outlets charge for the privilege, but there are some free services around. I used this one:

http://www.free-press-release.com/

Party on, dude!

It’s also worth thinking about holding a launch party. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, you could just invite a few friends over to your house, get them drunk and persuade them to buy your book. This is a great way to start a bit of word-of-mouth, the best kind of marketing there is. If throwing parties isn’t your thing, an increasingly popular alternative is to get involved in online chats and hang-outs. The wonders of modern technology means you can hold a party on your computer and invite anyone with an internet connection.

My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:

http://www.amazon.co.uk/X-Collection-Horror-Christian-Saunders-ebook/dp/B00IGHTFC8

Part 1 of Adventures in Indie Publishing, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing can be found here:

https://cmsaunders.wordpress.com/2014/03/22/adventures-in-independent-publishing-part-1/

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The Snake Shop

garter-snake

Between 2007 and 2013 I was an English teacher in China. Now, I still receive lots of bizarre messages and have some quite random conversations with ex-students. This one, with a girl called Sarah from Changsha, Hunan Province, is of the most entertaining I’ve had in a long time. Not only is it a perfect example of a classic communication breakdown, but it highlights a few endlessly fascinating cultural nuances. If I sat down and tried, I couldn’t make this exchange up.

S: Hello Christ, long time no see!
M: Yes, long time. How are you?
S: I fine. And you?
M: Fine, thanks. What do you do now?
S: I have own business in Shenzhen.
M: Great! What kind of business is it?
S: Snakes. Sell snakes. Snake shop.
M: Cool! Do you have any photos?
S: Yes photos. But why?
M: It’s interesting.
S: Snakes interesting?
M: Yes!
S: So strange. Just snakes.
M: You sell them for food?
S: Of course food. What’s wrong?
M: Nothing. It’s just a little strange for us.
S: Sell snakes?
M: Yes, and eating them.
S: You don’t have snakes in you country?
M: I think we have snakes in the UK. We just don’t eat them.
S: Why?
M: I don’t know. Call it a cultural difference.
S: So what do you eat?
M: Not snakes.
S: Just you dinner?
M: What? Er, I guess so. And breakfast and lunch.
S: So strange. Why have snakes but not eat them?
M: I don’t know. We don’t have many snakes, and I guess people would rather eat other things.
S: Oh. Wait. I make big mistake.
M: What?
S: I mean snacks. Not snakes. I sell snacks in snack shop. No snake.

d9b26b64_snacks1-600x450


BAMMA 15 Review

BAMMA_151

It seems that with every BAMMA event I attend, the bar is raised ever higher. The promotion is now arguably head and shoulders above the competition on these shores. Strangely, tonight the entire card was broadcast from start to finish on Facebook, which may well explain a few empty seats in the arena. It could turn out to be a stroke of marketing genius in showcasing BAMMA to a whole new audience, but could well come at the cost of some existing fans. Who in their right mind is going to travel miles and pay hard cash for something they can watch at home for free? Of course, the same can be said for any Premier league fixture, and it never did the profile of those guys any harm. Anyway, moving on, MMA has been exploding in popularity here over the past few years, like it has been almost everywhere else in the world, and now UK crowds are finally reaping the benefits of all that training and dedication. BAMMA now attracts some of the most gifted and highly rated in Europe, if not the world.

At BAMMA 15, the main card kicked off with a flyweight contest between German Rany Saadeh and the undefeated Mahmood ‘Persian Pride’ Besharate. Saadeh has been described in the fight press as a ‘top European flyweight,’ but was up against some stiff competition in the shape of undefeated prospect Besharate, who went in with a perfect 5-0-0 record. As it happened, Saadeh kept his cool to pull off an uneventful majority victory. Next up was Ali ‘The Terminator’ Arish versus the highly-rated Sunderland prospect Ryan ‘Big Baby’ Scope who won a close decision to stretch his record to 8-0-0, despite carrying a potentially serious foot injury.

A late addition to the card was a BAMMA Lonsdale British Middleweight Title Bout between Andy ‘Lion Paw’ De Vent, making his first appearance for the promotion, and Harry ‘Mad Mac’ McLeman, who went in to the fight fresh from his decision victory over Matt Howard at BAMMA 14. And it was Mad Mac who somehow pulled off a victory from the jaws of defeat by majority decision, despite spending much of the fight turtled up and taking some vicious knees to the body. 20-year old BAMMA World Featherweight Champion Tom ‘Fire Kid’ Duquesnoy looked to build on his impressive knockout of James Saville in his last outing when he came up against undefeated fellow Frenchman Teddy Violet. This was obviously a big step up for Violet, who until tonight had a record of 8-0-0, all by knockout, despite only turning pro in June 2012. After seeing this performance, one has to wonder what kind of opposition he was knocking out because for the short time this bout lasted he looked completely outclassed, eventually succumbing to a triangle choke in the second round.

Despite losing his last fight, a tilt at Mansour Barnaoui’s lightweight title, and boasting an overall record of 9-4-0, ex-UFC fighter Colin ‘Freakshow’ Fletcher remains one of BAMMA’s biggest draws. Seven of his nine wins have come by submission and he has never knocked anyone out, but long before the fight there was a feeling he could pick up his first against the USA’s Tony ‘Lionheart’ Hervey, who went into the fight with a decidedly average career record of 16-15-0. Saying that, who could forget ‘Fast’ Eddy Ellis who went into his fight with ‘Judo’ Jimmy Wallhead at BAMMA 13 with a similar record, yet ended up winning a split decision and taking the welterweight championship.

bamma-15-fletcher-vs-hervey-poster

Contrary to most people’s expectations, however, this was no quick finish, and no easy ride. Over three rounds Hervey rocked the favourite more than once, notably in the second round, and the fight remained standing, which didn’t suit Freakshow’s gameplan at all. In the end he managed to grind out a split decision victory, but not many would have argued the point if the decision had gone the other way. Freakshow’s problem is that despite his scary persona, he is a fucking nice guy. So nice, in fact, that during in his post-fight interview, he even said that he wouldn’t have complained if he had lost the fight. When asked why he didn’t go for more takedown’s, he admitted that he ‘Just couldn’t do it.’ Bless.

An all-English clash between defending champ Wayne ‘Caveman’ Murrie and challenger Leon ‘Rocky’ Edwards for the BAMMA Lonsdale British Welterweight Championship followed. Murrie has built something of a reputation as a submission artist, with 10 of his 17 wins coming on the ground. This is in contrast to relative newcomer Edwards, who went into the fight with a 5-1-0 record. However, Edwards was the one who left with the honours, getting his opponent in a deep rear naked choke and forcing a tap in the very first round.

At long last, the main event rolls in, a titanic Heavyweight clash between Oli Thompson and Gzim ‘The Albanian Psycho’ Selmani. 34-year old Thompson has been around the fight game for a while, even enjoying a brief ultimately unsuccessful spell in the UFC in 2012, while his opponent, with a pro record of 3-1-0, is relatively unproven. However, he is taller and heavier, and how can anyone doubt the skills someone with a nickname like the Albanian Psycho? Whilst roaming the cage waiting for his opponent to appear he looked the part, and wasted no time getting to grips with Thompson, knocking the champion to the floor before choking him out via guillotine after just 18 seconds of the fight. Job done. On this evidence, the Albanian Psycho looks a fearsome prospect.

The original version of this review appeared on the Huff Post UK:

http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/chris-saunders/


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