Dirty Dozen Author Interview – L L Thomsen #Meetanauthor #Fantasy

Author name: L. L. Thomsen

*Please tell us about your publications.

I write character-led high medieval fantasy with a good slash of epic. I am working on a series titled, The Missing Shield – originally one large book that has been split into 11 episodes in order to make the workload more manageable. The 8th book (titled: All in a Day’s Work) is out now, and I am currently working on book 9. What you get in my books is lots of flawed characters that you may not feel quite sure about in the beginning. There’s magic, mystery, darkness, crime, plots, romance, backstabbing, manoeuvring, different races, and an end-of-the-world kinda deadline & quest.  I enjoy painting an immersive picture of the world I write about, so expect lots of depth and world-building. I try not to hold back and I try to write as close to real life as I can get. I also wanted to write something a little different from the mainstream so the story has quite the lyrical slant, but it is written with an adult/mature market in mind. This is not YA.

What first prompted you to publish your work? To begin with I wasn’t really sure that I would publish. I started writing my high fantasy book as I somehow got inspired – but it was always just something I considered a pastime whilst the kids were babies and I was at home anyway. Then I realised that I was getting more and more passionate about the job and I felt that I ought to publish at the end of the day because I wanted to share my work with an audience and I wanted to award myself by proving that I could complete the process.

What have you found the most challenging part of the process? Going it alone. Everything was a learning curve. Particularly when it came to figuring out the Amazon instructions and uploading my manuscript. Formatting is not as straight forward as I always imagined it to be. Furthermore, once you’re on the other side, and have successfully published your book, I cannot believe how difficult it is to get anyone to even look your way. I guess I never really got the ‘build yourself a social media following’ – I’m a little too private and old school.5 book promo picture.jpg

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey? Be tenacious! I knew it would not be easy, but I gave up on finding myself an agent way too soon and in return, it left me literally on my own with the whole load. Don’t get me wrong, there’s a freedom in being your own boss and maybe that’s partly why I went my own way so soon, but having said that, I think there’s lots to be said for getting yourself aligned with someone who’s on your side, has your best interest at heart and who knows the business: where to go, how to do it, and when.

If you could have dinner with any literary character who would you choose, and what would you eat. I’d love to treat my character Solancei to a meal – she’s in for a bumpy ride and I think she deserves some TLC. I’d also love to quiz her about everything that happens and the world she lives in.  I know a lot (wink – of course) but there are always secrets! I think we’d have pizza and wine, and I’d try and stop her from killing me for writing her such a hard, complicated destiny.

Sort these into order of importance:

Good plot

Great characters

Awesome world-building

Technically perfect

For me there is no question of ranking these in order. They are each an integral part of the book you write and I feel that the author should pay equal attention to each.  Since I write fantasy – and epic at that – I’m very much for world building because that’s a must for the genre, but that in itself is nothing if it’s not backed by the other three.  What’s a good plot with flat/un-inspiring characters and vice versa? A technically perfect book is what we all strive for (as in a professional end-product) but I do believe that the interpretation of ‘perfection’ may vary depending on who you ask. Also, it may be technically perfect, but what good is that if the readers cannot engage with the story or the characters. It’s the snake that bites its own tail. It must come full circle.

How much research do you do for your work? What’s the wildest subject you’ve looked at? I research as and when. It may be just a small thing like the components of a saddle or the belief system of various ethnic groups. I try and keep it factually correct even though I write fantasy – this means that even if the herb is made up, I’ll still look up how to brew tinctures for headaches, for example – or I might watch a YouTube video on sword fights.  The most extreme I’ve looked up will probably be stuff to do with injuries and the effects of various weapons/conditions.

How influential is storytelling to our culture? I think it’s hugely influential but maybe not through the original media anymore. I do feel that we love a good tale, whether it be a story is reported in the papers, or how TV channels adapt historical events to create entertainment.  We are always looking for something to catch and hold our interest – particularly after the rise of social media – and stories speak to us. They help us feel part of society and may sometimes even give us a sense of belonging too.

What’s the best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Keep at it.  Keep growing and developing.

What’s the worst piece best advice you’ve received about writing/publishing? Don’t write your story like that – write it like this.

If you could be any fantasy/mythical or legendary person/creature what would you be and why? Maybe a phoenix. I like the idea that you can rise from the ashes and be reborn.  That you can try again.

Tell us about your latest piece? Around 6 weeks ago I released my 8th book in The Missing Shield series. It carries on from number 7, where one of my main characters – the rather naive and slightly annoying Princess Iambre – has decided to try and locate her missing friend and bodyguard despite her security chief and beau having told her that she must take heed and leave it to them.  In book 8 she finds herself alone and lost after a string of unfortunate events almost killed her and worse – but as luck would have it, she finds the very place she’d been looking for.  She wants to attend a clandestine meeting that might shed light upon her missing friend and now follows a series on incidents that has the Princess quaking in her boots.  Nevertheless she is reunited with certain other characters only to learn some devastating news.  However, before she can process this, she and her group are betrayed and they must flee or fall into the very hands of the enemy they are investigating and fear.

Are indie/self-published authors viewed with scepticism or wariness by readers? Why is this?

I’ve found that indies are very much considered ‘the second-hand citizen’ of the author world. It’s unfair but I guess that the indie route has given rise to many poorly executed books – and unfortunately people remember the bad ones far longer than the good ones. I’ve talked to readers who do not consider indie books ‘real’ works of writing. Fortunately, there are also those who have delved into the fray and have found gold, so swings and roundabouts. The common reason that readers list for not wanting indie works are: poorly formatted, bad grammar, no edits or badly edited, homemade, cheap covers, poor storylines, rip off storylines, over-priced, they should be free…

I think it worth mentioning that it’s not always because the indie books are not worthy that they have not been traditionally published. Agents are very fickle with what they are looking for (and rightly so).  In 9:10 times you need an agent to approach a publishing house, so it does mean that some decent manuscripts may be overlooked because the agent may feel that they are in the market for ‘something else’. It cannot be helped, but readers rarely see that side of the industry.

Links

llthomsen@themissingshield.com

https://www.amazon.com/L.-L.-f/e/B07B8K4J6S

https://books2read.com/u/47xdvR

https://www.facebook.com/linda.thomsen.12979

https://www.facebook.com/themissingshield/

https://twitter.com/LLThomsen1

https://www.instagram.com/llthomsen/?hl=en

https://www.pinterest.co.uk/llthomsen7589/

https://www.goodreads.com/LLThomsen

 

Bio

Armed with a love of fantasy, a slightly geeky mindset, and an unleashed wild muse, L. L. began the new journey into writing relatively late in life but was inspired by her long-repressed urges to write ‘something’ – and once she began, she never looked back.

“I regret I took so long to find my ‘calling’. The truth is that when you have an idea it just has to be set free,” she says, adding, “My somewhat unorthodox approach to style and flow has been a way for me to test my personal, individual voice. It’s a fluid thing, however. In the future, it might alter to match the shape of new projects.”

Linda currently lives in the UK, Nottinghamshire, with her husband, two kids, a cats and one dog. As with her writing, she approaches life with a nod to the saying: ‘fear nothing, respect everything’. She enjoys horse riding, sci-fi movies, travelling, reading fantasy (but not exclusively), Pilates, and has a strange fascination with swords.

Her first published fantasy novel, ‘A Change of Rules’, kick-starts the 11 ‘episodes’ of The Missing Shield – a new adult high fantasy series, with a touch of mystery, intrigue, romance and darkness. ‘The Missing Shield’ is the forerunner to ‘The Veil Keepers Quest’ series.

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Snuggle Up With These Books – November #Books #Prizes #Indiepromo

Calling all readers! Fill your library with N. N. Light’s Book Heaven Snuggle Up With These Books Readathon picks. 56 books from multiple genres featured plus a chance to win one of the following:

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $50 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $25 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $15 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

Enter to win a $10 Amazon (US) or Barnes and Noble Gift Card

 

I’m thrilled to be a part of this event. My book, The Shining Citadel, will be featured on 14th November. I even talk about what I’m thankful for this year. You won’t want to miss it.

Bookmark this bookish party and tell your friends:

Snuggle Up Graphic 3.jpg

https://www.nnlightsbookheaven.com/snuggle-up-readathon

 

We are the #Uniqueauthors

I got chatting via a blog post to a lovely author (who will be featured soon) about the extra challenges disabled authors and artists have. Publishing and producing work is a steep learning curve – it’s not just the actual story-telling – and many writers have physical or social difficulties which make the world, and the craft of creation even more tricky. To an extent, writing is a great equaliser. If I read a story I know little about that particular author – except what I can find out from the internet or publicity. I would probably not be aware that an author was, for example, blind, or suffered from disabling social anxiety. Writing is freedom. Writing is a veil and a fort. Reading and writing give one the chance to experience – at least in the imagination – the most amazing experiences.

There are some of us – the creators of worlds and magic who fight that little bit harder and make that magic with a little bit more of our souls. We are #UniqueAuthors.

Read our stories, and take a thought that what might be relatively simple for you can be a mountain to someone else – attending an event when you are blind or in a wheelchair – parking, access to the venue, is it guide-dog friendly and the idiocy of some folks who are just thoughtless or wicked. Can you get your wheelchair into the venue? Will people come and talk to you when they see your wheelchair? Or BECAUSE of it? How much courage has it taken you to fight that anxiety to come here and speak to strangers?

Imagine giving a book signing when you suffer social anxiety, navigating the bewildering terms of service of sites like KDP – which are NOT user-friendly for those who have sight loss. Networking – many disabled people find it hard to network, and networking is key to selling the books you’ve written. 

I have, as some of you may know, anxiety and fibromyalgia. I work and I write – some days, most days I can’t do both as I am physically and mentally drained, fatigued, in pain or anxious. I tend to be a bit of a recluse. But writing, when I can, gives me power, that freedom to be who I damn well please, and do what I want.

My father is partially sighted and has struggled to read ‘regular’ books all his life, and his disability limited his life choices. Many people have no idea what it’s like to live with someone with a disability or to live with something that limits life choices, and one’s abilities to live everyday life. Yet we have our own power, our own fire. And by god do we use it. Even if sometimes it seems we are powerless.

“Words are containers for power, you choose what kind of power they carry.” Joyce Meyer.

We do not look for pity – many of us have had our fill. We look for our words and our crafts to soar with the rest, and then rise above. For we are the #Uniqueauthors and we will be heard, and our words will change your world.

#Uniqueauthors #Wordsarepower

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Emma Thorpe

*Name: Emma Thorpe

*Tell us a bit about yourself:

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production?  I was listening to an audiobook one day on my commute to work and I found myself wondering how you became an audiobook narrator, so I decided to search on the internet and find out for myself. I have always enjoyed reading (I read a lot to my two children) and I’ve been involved in amateur dramatics from a very young age (I was 8 when I first went on stage). Audiobook narration seemed to be a perfect way to combine my love of reading and performing. I took a free course with Krystal Wascher to learn about the process and just went for it. Within 5 minutes of submitting my first audition, I had an offer.

Is this your day job? I also run my own handmade jewellery business (Atlantic Rose), designing and making sterling silver jewellery.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? I’m still very new to the audiobook world (I only started back in March 2019), but I now have produced 10 titles. I have enjoyed narrating each one of them so it’s hard to pick a favourite, as I have a few. I loved narrating Ann Carroll’s adaptation of “The Children of Lir” as this is a story I would listen to my grandfather tell when I was little and coming from Northern Ireland, it is a story that is very close to my heart. I recently finished narrating a childrens’ trilogy- “Magical Chapters Trilogy” by Victoria Zigler, which I really loved. The characters were such a joy to read (Daisy the Dragon being my favourite) and Victoria was kind enough to allow me to determine the accents for each of the characters.

Do you have a preferred genre? I love narrating children’s books

Do you have a genre you do not produce? I tend to narrate books that I myself would be interested in reading

What are you working on at present/Just finished? I recently just finished narrating my first novel for adults – “December Girl” by Nicola Cassidy.

Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.) I always start by reading the book cover to cover. If it’s a book with multiple characters, I’ll make notes on each, to help me ‘find their voice’. If no directive has been given by the author regarding a character’s accent, I’ll use this process to determine what their accent may be. Depending on how the book is written, I’ll either record the book, in sequence, chapter by chapter, or, as in the case of “December Girl” were each chapter focused on a different character, I’ll record all the chapters featuring one character first, then all the chapters featuring another character next and so on, until the book is recorded. I find narrating this way really helps me maintain a character’s ‘voice’.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Interpreting the characters and bringing them to life is my favourite part of narrating.

What do you find least enjoyable? Submitting the finished files. But only because it makes me feel as though I’m back at school and waiting for exam results 🙂

Have you ever found an author you couldn’t continue to work with? This hasn’t happened to me yet.

Do you consider royalty share when looking for books to narrate? I tend to look at the book and decide if it’s something I want to narrate, irrespective of whether its Royalty Share or not.

Do you listen to audiobooks? Yes I do. I usually listen to them when I’m in my workshop working on a piece, or if I’m travelling on my own.

With many people owning MP3 players do you think this is the future of storytelling? I think that audiobooks will play a big part in how people enjoy books and storytelling, especially adults, who don’t tend to have books read to them by others.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? I think that in a world where everything is becoming faster and faster, where many people have very little time to just sit down, relax and read, audiobooks are a wonderful way to keep enjoying books. As I mentioned earlier, I often listen to audiobooks while I work.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Stephen Fry’s “Mythos”

Has ACX/Audible fulfilled your expectations? (such as earnings, ease of use, workload etc.?) So far, yes it has. I love that I’m not obliged to produce X number of books in X number of months, so it’s really up to me how much work I take on.

Have you ever had a negative experience producing a book?  Not so far

What is the best piece of advice you’ve had? She who risks nothing, has nothing. I’m planning on making that the family motto 😀

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? I would love to narrate any of Enid Blyton’s “The Faraway Tree” books. I loved reading these books as a child and I loved reading them to my own children and bringing the characters to life or them.

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I talk to myself…. a lot. Even when there are other people in the room with me.

Check out Emma’s narration of Victoria Zigler’s books on the links below:

 

Witchlet Audiobook Cover.jpg

Book 1 – Witchlet
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Witchlet-Audiobook/B07SW9RGYY
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/167766
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/witchlet-victoria-zigler/1111650082
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/witchlet
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/witchlet/id540402721
iTunes: https://books.apple.com/gb/audiobook/witchlet-magical-chapters-trilogy-book-1-unabridged/id1468691085
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Witchlet-1-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy/dp/1512358533/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Witchlet-1-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy/dp/1512358533/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Witchlet-1-Magical-Chapters-Trilogy/dp/1512358533/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Witchlet-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358537

The Pineapple Loving Dragon Audiobook Cover.jpg

Book 2 – The Pineapple Loving Dragon
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/The-Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Audiobook/B07T14QJW3
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260695
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-pineapple-loving-dragon-victoria-zigler/1114043058
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/the-pineapple-loving-dragon
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/the-pineapple-loving-dragon/id585949046
iTunes: https://books.apple.com/gb/audiobook/pineapple-loving-dragon-magical-chapters-trilogy-volume/id1468684612
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Magical-Chapters/dp/1512358622/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Magical-Chapters/dp/1512358622/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Magical-Chapters/dp/1512358622/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Pineapple-Loving-Dragon-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358629
A Magical Storm Audiobook Cover.jpg
Book 3 – A Magical Storm
Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/A-Magical-Storm-Audiobook/B07SZ3FVQH
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/303746
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-magical-storm-victoria-zigler/1115113126
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/a-magical-storm
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/a-magical-storm/id634577504
iTunes: https://books.apple.com/gb/audiobook/magical-storm-magical-chapters-trilogy-volume-3-unabridged/id1468692149
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Magical-Storm-Chapters-Trilogy-x/dp/1512358681/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Magical-Storm-Chapters-Trilogy-x/dp/1512358681/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/Magical-Storm-Chapters-Trilogy-x/dp/1512358681/
Book Depository:
https://www.bookdepository.com/Magical-Storm-Victoria-Zigler/9781512358681

You can also find the books on Goodreads.

Book 1: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/14743914-witchlet
Book 2: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16192834-the-pineapple-loving-dragon
Book 3: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/17736387-a-magical-storm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

New Release – The Last Forest – Short Story

I am pleased to announce the release of my latest short story:

The Last Forest

#Darkfantasy #shortstory #nature

When humans come to fell the last forest, they are in for a surprise.
A short dark fantasy tale of the wrath of nature.
Approx 2500 words.

Universal Link

Available as an e-book in all the major e-book stores.

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Adventures in Self-Publishing – Why Write for Anthologies – Part 1

 

Why write for anthologies? Part 1

The first anthology I became involved with was A Splendid Salmagundi – put together from the UK based Goodreads group. They’d done one the year before and had some success with it. The royalties were fed back into the group for various uses – promotion and get-togethers for example. That wasn’t the point, however – it was a good way to get an author’s work in front of a new set of readers. Salmagundi was a mixed genre book – with everything from fantasy, to romance, to sci-fi, to mystery and beyond. I remember reading a heartbreaking story about a woman who was suffering from an incurable illness, and the tenderness her husband showed. That story touched me profoundly, as it wasn’t long after my own mother passed away. I cried. Some of the stories made me laugh, some I wasn’t as bothered with, but all were well crafted, and gave a good insight into the author’s style.

Not all the stories were for everyone – it depends on the reader’s tastes but there was bound to be something enjoyable, and that’s the point. A reader may take a chance of a short story from an author they aren’t familiar with – and enjoy their work.

Several groups write anthologies for charity – A Fifth of Boo! for example. I became involved with this one, and it’s predecessor through a writers’ Facebook Group. I usually see at least one anthology asking for submissions every couple of months. Now it’s not guaranteed your story would be accepted – some of the anthos have strict guidelines – but it’s worth a try.

For Boo! I wrote a ghost story based around the mysterious bunker at the site where I work.  It was a story wanting to be written every time I walked past that damn building. It is good fun to get involved with a genre outside my normal fantasy writing. It’s also great writing practice. Anthologies are a great way to find a home for those stories which pop up at 3am and don’t have a place in the main body of your work.

Single shorts are a hard sell – especially very short ones – after all, are you, a reader, going to pay 99p or 99c for a 500-word story? Probably not. You might pay for a collection of stories, however. And thus find a new author.

There is definitely a knack to writing shorts – after all the author has to introduce the characters and the world, get the action going and then conclude within a relatively short space. No flowery descriptions there, or protracted scenes.  I’ve read some super shorts and some crap ones, but that’s the same for novels. That said, I’m far more likely to persevere with a short than a novel I am not enjoying. There will be a post of writing short stories at a later date.

Anthologies are a great lunchtime read, or on the bus, or the half hour before sleep, or even on the toilet! All those times when a reader has a few minutes but not enough to get really involved.

Finding Anthologies

The places I’ve found anthologies:

Goodreads author groups, Facebook Groups (either via links or directly through the groups), word of mouth. Networking is a must for indie authors, and once you build these relationships it’s far easier to find this information. Indies tend to be supportive, but also needy (in the nicest way – it goes with the territory) and are often looking for people to join anthologies. Ask in groups, check online.

https://www.authorspublish.com

https://thejohnfox.com/publishers-of-short-story-collections/

https://www.mywordpublishing.com/2017/08/first-time-writers-self-publish-anthology/

https://www.janefriedman.com/getting-an-anthology-published/

 

 

 

 

 

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Review – Green Men and White Swans – The Folklore of British Pub Names

3.5 Stars.

This book is a potted history and folklore of some of the names of British Pubs, past and present. Not every pub name is included – it depends on the origin of the name (and the ability to find out what it means).

Some of the names are odd, not obvious and many are reminiscent of attitudes long gone (Such as Quiet Woman – depicting a woman with no head, or wearing a scold’s bridle; or Nags Head – could also be sexist; Saracen’s Head or Black Boy – now viewed as racist.) In many cases the signs or names have been altered in our more enlightened times. Some of the pubs are old – they show which side a local landholder was on in the English Civil War, or whether they supported the Catholics or Protestants during the Reformation.

There are many mythical references – Unicorn, Green Man, Dragon, George and Dragon, Phoenix, etc. Not all in a locale directly related to that creature or hero – and some are named after ships, for example.

The snippets of local history and pride in that history are the most interesting aspect – and some of the references would be largely unknown outside a particular area.

A lot of research has been done for this book, and that shows.

The cons – there were a lot of formatting/typo errors, including a duplicate paragraph and the way certain aspects were laid out with specific topics interspersed did not work well as an ebook, as the formatting was all over the place.

Subject – 4 stars

Technical side – 3 stars.

 

Adventures in Self-Publishing – Part 1.1 – The Basics

I have been trying to think of useful and interesting posts to share in 2019. I love the interviews, and these will continue, but I’m going to try the ‘Adventures in Self-Publishing’ series of posts – detailing advice, pitfalls, highs and lows and upskilling.

When I read the KDP forums (that’s Kindle Direct Publishing – Amazon’s publishing system), it never ceases to amaze me the newbies who write a book (or occasionally scrape content from the internet, or upload a public domain book with barely any new changes) and then wonder why they aren’t the next Stephen King or JK Rowling.

I’ve posted up KDP advice before:

KDP: A Noob’s Guide

KDP: A Noob’s Guide Part 2

KDP: a Noob’s Guide Part 3

However there is a lot more on offer than just KDP, and a lot more to do that writing.

Most indie authors have little or no money to spend buying services or advertising – so the easiest way to get around this is to learn how to do these things yourself, network (really important), or trade skills.

I published my first book in 2012 (yep that long ago), and since then I have learned about many, many things.

Depending on your genre you may do research (I love research but I am easily distracted), but there is more to it. Unless you’re a wiz at everything (If so I hate you) then you’ll probably need to be proficient in the following:

Marketing, cover design, editing, networking, formatting. And that’s just the start. If you can write, then you can learn these things. It takes time, and patience.

Let me see in the 6 and  half years since Light Beyond the Storm Chronicles was published I have learned:

Networking (this is really important); editing (currently editing for Perseid Press so I can’t be that bad); cover design (I’m learning Photoshop); marketing; formatting; how to convert to Epub/Mobi etc; how to produce audiobooks; how to format for paperbacks; MSWord; Calibre, Book bundles. Not to mention courses on creative writing, grammar, historical fiction writing, copyrighting and lots of other fascinating (mostly) stuff.

If you are on a low budget then check around. Sites like the ones below are useful.

  • Living Social – offers bargain prices on courses. I got the Diploma in social media marketing and the Creative Writing Certificate for less than 20 GBP each, instead of several hundred pounds.
  • Udemy  – discounted online courses – currently using for Photoshop, and they have lots of writing/marketing based courses. You can pay full price but usually if you wait then a course will appear in the sale – for as little as $10 or $20. You can do them in your own time.
  • Coursera – mostly free but you can pay for the more advanced ones.

And there is You-tube of course.

Much of it comes with practice, but it’s not a simple case of writing a couple of hundred thousand words down and whacking it onto KDP (not that writing is simple – I’m not belittling the craft). None of the publishing sites which let authors publish for free will edit/format or promote the book. That’s the author’s job. It’s a steep learning curve.

Look out for more posts on Adventures in Self Publishing.

 

 

Guest Post – Self Publishing Platforms and Accessibility – by Victoria Zigler

Victoria Zigler is a prolific author, mostly of books for children and poetry. She has an impressive catalogue. She is also blind – and has visited the Library Of Erana in the past to discuss the accessibility (or otherwise) of publishing, reading and enjoying books. I’m pleased to welcome Tori back, where she discusses the issues of self-publishing on Amazon vs Smashwords.

Tori – over to you

“Which platform is best for self-publishing?”

It’s a question you’ve likely heard many, many times – one especially popular with people comparing Smashwords to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) – and one that will have a different answer, depending on who you ask, and what experiences they’ve had using one platform or the other.

Here’s another question for you though:

“Which platform is more accessible for visually impaired authors who rely on screen readers?”

This one may also come with different answers, depending on who you ask, and their personal experiences.  The screen reader and browser you use may make a difference too.  In fact, I’m pretty sure it does.

I’ve only ever used JAWS (Java Access With Speach) so can’t compare screen readers for you.  But I’m going to give you my opinion on which platform is more accessible if you use JAWS and Firefox, which is what I use.

Although, I can only answer it using a comparison of Smashwords and KDP, because I actually haven’t dealt directly with the other platforms.  My books may be on other retailers, such as Barnes & Noble and Kobo, but it’s because of distribution.  Something I’m very grateful exists, since it makes my life easier.  Actually, it makes things easier for a lot of people, and not just screen reader users.  But this post isn’t about distribution.  This post is about which publishing platform is more accessible for screen reader users using JAWS and Firefox.

So, what’s the answer?

The short answer is Smashwords.  They’re easier to navigate, having a less cluttered page.

Although, in all fairness to them, KDP do appear to have improved their accessibility a little.  So at least they aren’t as much of a headache to use as they were when I first started publishing, which was almost seven years ago now.  Navigation is still a little more difficult on KDP than it is on Smashwords though.  Still, any improvement helps.

Of course, there’s room for improvement on both.  There’s always room for improvement, no matter what we’re talking about.  Especially since whoever invented drop-down menus obviously hasn’t had to use a screen reader.  Then there’s how graphics happy everyone is these days…

You know, I think we should make it essential for every company’s technical department to have a team of visually impaired people whose jobs are just to check the accessibility of websites using different screen readers and browsers.  It would create more jobs, and improve accessibility for screen reader users at the same time.  It’s a win- win situation!

But, in the meantime, if I had to recommend either Smashwords or Amazon to someone, based on accessibility alone, I’d recommend Smashwords.

Unfortunately, a lot of people still prefer to go directly to Amazon for their eBooks, and you have to sell a lot of books to have your Smashwords books distributed to Amazon.  Something very few authors actually achieve.  That means your best chance of having your books listed on Amazon is to put them on there yourself.  So, as I’ve recently realized and accepted, you’re going to want to deal with both platforms.  At least, you are if you want all those people with Kindles to buy copies of your books.

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About the author:

Victoria Zigler is a blind poet and children’s author who was born and raised in the Black Mountains of Wales, UK, and is now living on the South-East coast of England, UK, with her hubby and furkids.  Victoria – or Tori, if you prefer – has been writing since she knew how, and describes herself as a combination of Hermione Granger and Luna Lovegood from the Harry Potter books: Hermione’s thirst for knowledge and love of books, combined with Luna’s wandering mind and alternative way of looking at the world.  She has a wide variety of interests, designed to exercise both the creative and logical sides of her brain, and dabbles in them at random depending on what she feels like doing at any given time.

To date, Tori has published nine poetry books and more than 40 children’s books, with more planned for the future.  She makes her books available in multiple eBook formats, as well as in both paperback and audio.  She’s also contributed a story to the sci-fi and fantasy anthology Wyrd Worlds II, which is available in eBook only.

Links:

Website: http://www.zigler.co.uk

Blog: https://ziglernews.blogspot.co.uk

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/toriz

Facebook author page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Victoria-Zigler/424999294215717

Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/victoriazigler

Google+: https://plus.google.com/106139346484856942827

 

Find Tori’s books on…

Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/toriz

Amazon: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Victoria-Zigler/e/B00BHS9DQ6/

…Along with a variety of other online retailers.

 

Audiobook Narrator Interview – Judith Bareham

*Name:   Judith Bareham

*Tell us a bit about yourself: I am  British born,  married to Jonathan (a Brit also) and mom of three children –( a daughter 23, and two boys 20 and 15) who moved to the USA in 2000.  Now I live in Charlotte NC and until recently was a stay at home mom, who home-schooled my sons for three and 8 years respectively.   Until now,  I didn’t have the capacity to pursue being a voice actress but the time was right this year to step into it fully and embrace it!

How did you become involved with audiobook narration and production? Well last year I began training with a voice acting coach and decided this was now or never to pursue

That dream.  I want to pursue other voice acting realms too, but I think narration will always be the solid foundation of what I do.

I have always narrated for as long as I can recall, from High school back in the day to amateur dramatics in plays, and I was asked to narrate because I was a good storyteller.

I have always loved acting but love being behind the mic as well as on stage.

Way back, I read newspapers for the Blind, near where I lived in the UK as I believe it’s vitally important that there are great resources available. And of course, audiobooks fit that brilliantly.

I began with Audible this year and auditioned for titles which interested me and were a good fit and here I am.

Tell us about some of the titles you’ve narrated. Do you have a favourite amongst these? Well, as I have just started out I don’t have a long list to my name yet, but I completed Mathamagical in the spring which was a brilliant rendering of a teenage boy who is struggling with math and generally down on his luck. Until he discovers a magical world of math and is able to succeed in solving problems along the way.

I am working on a “how to book for teachers”  which although is not a story, is motivational in style and I am finding I really enjoy this style of book too – I like to solve problems and help people so I feel a passion for what I am reading.

I volunteer for the Library for the Blind in Washington DC too, when they have titles for me and as time allows.

*Tell us about your process for narrating?  (Be as elaborate as you like.)

A book with multiple characters like Mathamgical (there were 19) I have to think about how they would sound of course, but I begin to imagine how they would move, what they would wear, their characteristics – are they snippy or patient, do they zip through life or are they moody or grumpy about life?

This helps me tap into the voices better and help them become believable.

In the case of Lilie, she just fit a Scottish voice because of her breed but I have a dog Nelson, who I believe is very human in his responses so I took facets of him too and applied that to her voice.

Prior to the recording I spend time editing and looking for any misprints or issues which might cause me a problem as the narrator, so I try to fix those before recording.

That’s harder for a long book but it saves headaches down the road!

Then I begin recording and that’s the fun part.

What aspects do you find most enjoyable? Definitely doing accents and dialects and acting in my booth.

I love it when I can really get into a part

What do you find least enjoyable? Editing – it’s a beast.

Why do you think audiobooks are becoming so popular? I think they always have been popular but increasingly so in the age of people being more mobile and able to access great content more easily.

It used to be incredibly expensive to buy a hard copy of an audiobook on CDS and you were limited to what your library had perhaps.

But now there are hundreds of titles made accessible – we can listen anywhere, anytime.

Can you remember the first audiobook you owned? Black Beauty and I wore it out

If you could narrate any book you wanted which would it be and why? Oooh that’s tough.  Specific titles are hard ………

I love Maeve Binchy novels because the Irish accent is one of my favorites to do

And I love the lilt and pace of it.

But equally children’s’ stories with trolls, knights, pirates, or woodland creatures – I love mice, rabbits, badgers and live in a world in my head where animals talk – a combination of any of those would be fun to do!

Please tell us a silly fact about yourself. I am pretty competitive and so I have this hang up from childhood,  where my brother and I used to outwit each other by being the last person to have sweets or chocolate left from Easter or Christmas.  He beat me every time. So to this day,  I still have little stashes of chocolate and sweets I haven’t eaten yet,  in the house – it drives my family insane! They’re just jealous they don’t have the same will power…….

Where can we learn more about you? My website – Judith Bareham tells a little more about me.

I have a blog which I write approximately every other week and you can access on my site.

Social Media links:

Instagram

Facebook – Judith Bareham

Twitter

Linkedin

Pinterest

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Judith is narrating Where’s Noodles? by Victoria Zigler. Check out the links here:

Audible: https://www.audible.co.uk/pd/Wheres-Noodles-Audiobook/B07JKBT76W
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/880958
Barnes & Noble:
https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wheres-noodles-victoria-zigler/1129141679
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/where-s-noodles
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/wheres-noodles/id1415553711
iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/gb/audiobook/wheres-noodles-unabridged/id1439954293
Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1724843222/
Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/1724843222/
Amazon Canada: https://www.amazon.ca/dp/1724843222/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40890298-where-s-noodles

Where's Noodles Audiobook Cover.jpg