Quick post – Lulu.com promotion

The Lulu discount code

I’m feeling very positive towards Lulu at the moment as they printed and delivered my last proof book in less than a week (it arrived only one day after my Mum’s birthday and the book was a last minute gift for her so I was doubly happy.) Therefore I’m willing to give Lulu a glowing recommendation and also to add that they’re currently offering 20% off anything on their site. The offer is valid until 16th November. This is the email I received from them:

For 5 days only, Lulu is offering you a chance to save 20% on your next purchase with coupon code SERENTIS. Visit Lulu to redeem your coupon code today. Offer expires 16 November at 11:59 PM.

How does this promotion work?
This promotion is good for anything on the Lulu.com website. Browse the site for your next remarkable read, use the savings to purchase copies of your own book, or purchase one of our other great products or services.

Create a photo book or calendar to share with family and friends:
It’s fast, easy, and fun to create. You can choose from a range of sizes, cover types and free professionally designed templates. Photo books and/or calendars are a great way to save and share your digital photographs instead of ordering photo prints. Convert your digital photo albums into beautiful, high quality printed works of art to keep, sell and share with friends and loved ones. Try your hand at publishing a photo book or calendar today.

In my opinion the quality of the finished product isn’t quite as good as CreateSpace (sorry Lulu, I still have to be honest, even if you’re in my good books) but, I have to say, on delivery and ease of use they win hands down. It took only hours to prepare and upload a pdf for the interior and exterior. No need to wait for approval. Delivered in less than a week and I think it cost me £16 for two 300-page books and that was without the 20% discount. Not bad!

So why not get your novel off your laptop and into your hands? Makes it easier to proof read and pass to Beta readers, and it’s the best morale-boosting exercise I’ve ever done!

NaNoWriMo irony


The cover I mocked-up for Dragon Wraiths to print a copy via Lulu

The cover I mocked-up for Dragon Wraiths to print a copy via Lulu

I’ve been really struggling this week. Not just with a bad cold, conjunctivitis and a newly-unemployed husband at home scuppering my writing routine. None of those things has helped, of course, any more than the freezing rain, or the end of British Summer Time that has resulted in my kids getting up at 5.30pm every day.

No, what’s really killed my Muse at the worst possible time is the appearance of an unknown character in my head: my Willing Editor.

I’ve met my Inner Editor before – that nasty critic who stops me writing before I’ve even started and tells me everything I write is rubbish. I’m even on nodding acquaintance with my Reluctant Editor. The one who half-edited Pictures of Love before getting bored, and who tortuously ploughed through Dragon Wraiths to meet a deadline.

But to want to edit? To want to edit more than write something new for NaNoWriMo?

Unheard of.

Until now.

I think the change came when my husband commented on how much easier it was to read the second draft of Dragon Wraiths and has told me several times since how impressed he is at how good my editing was.

Praise – it works every time.

Also I’m deliriously happy that I managed to edit Dragon Wraiths enough to make the darn thing actually made sense. For the first time editing has produced tangible results rather than just giving me a headache. Hurrah.

The irony?

Well it’s Nano. I wasn’t going to do it this year, knowing I had too many projects on and am neglecting the family as a result. But I got swept up in the online chat, the excitement, the buzz (although that’s not being helped at present by the fact I’m not receiving the pep-talk emails. I really miss them and hope the guys at Nano fix the problem soon.) I persuaded my husband and my best friend to give NaNoWriMo a try this year. I wrote my top tips which said just get on and do it.

Then I got Writer’s block on a scale I’ve never experienced before. It has taken me five days to even settle on a topic and the one I have chosen is an old novel idea that’s so technical I keep getting dragged off into research. Thus far I’ve managed 1600 words including the synopsis.

Oh, and I’ve edited 30 pages of Pictures of Love. Properly this time. And do you know what? I think I enjoyed that more!

What if anything has derailed your NaNoWriMo this year? Will you get back on track? I now have a dual target of 50k words and 500 pages of editing for November. Apparently I work best under pressure.

p.s. one of my best NaNoWriMo-avoidance activities this week was making a mock front cover for Dragon Wraiths so I could print a copy for my mum for her birthday. It’s not what I’d choose for a final cover but I was pleased I managed to turn a word doc into a printed Lulu book (interior and exterior) in eight hours!

The dangers of self-publishing: Introducing “Them.”

It turns out you can make your work-in-progress look too like a real book too easily. The image of seeing your WIP in kindle format (or even print) is seductive, but probably not a great idea for the proof copy. Aside from the hassle of getting the right format to everyone, when pretty much all e-readers can open the traditional pdf, I’ve discovered the existence of “them”.

After my mother gave her damning verdict on Pictures of Love, “I preferred your first book,” (the one I wrote in a few weeks, barely edited at all, and had rejected by Mills and Boon,) she said something that dumfounded me:

“Did they not edit or proof-read your book before formatting it for kindle?”

My response, when I stopped laughing, was to say, “Mum, there’s no They. I wrote it, revised it, edited it, proof-read it, designed the cover, wrestled with kindle formatting, added the copyright, the dedication, the publisher’s logo. All of it. You’re my beta reader, so in fact you’re They. You’re meant to help me find the typos.”

“Oh,” she said, “I wondered why there were so many. They do come a bit thick and fast at the end.” Not what I wanted to hear but unsurprising as every time I started proof-reading I began at the beginning but didn’t always make it to the end.  I get distracted so easily.

As a result I have a thudding fear that the second half of the novel, the half only my mother has read apart from me, is a bit rubbish. Seems I’m probably right, at least as far as editing goes. And if I missed a heap of typos, I probably didn’t spend enough time revising the latter half of the book in terms of language, character, plot.

And yet there it is, my Lulu print version, sitting in paperback glory on my kitchen table, looking for all the world like a ‘proper’ book.

So I think when the naysayers who don’t like self-publishing bemoan the fact that something can look like a traditionally published book and still be awful, they may occasionally have a point.

Another scary thought is how easily the formatted-for-kindle version is being passed around without my knowledge. I used to password protect my pdfs. I don’t even know if you can do that for kindle. What if my proof makes it into the outside world? (My sister-in-law has already sent it to my father-in-law, and another beta reader has given a copy to his parents.)

What if everyone thinks like my mother and wonders why They haven’t done a better job finding errors? Or me for that matter. I don’t mind if the book is deemed a failure because the characters are underdeveloped or the plot is thin, but being damned for typos when it isn’t even the final edit gives me the shivers.  In future I think I’ll splash Beta Reader Copy or Proof over every page and be less vain about trying to make it look like a proper novel.

Or maybe it is time to go back to that Agent list after all.

Marketing Time-line for Self-Publishing

Image representing Lulu as depicted in CrunchBaseWhile I wait (im)patiently for feedback from my beta readers I have been worrying about Marketing.

[As an aside, I have had one comment so far, from my mum, and her feedback was – it’s not as good as your last book (the one that was rejected from Mills & Boon). That’s filled me with confidence.]

I find the marketing of my book far more daunting than anything else I’ve done so far. I’ve talked before about how rubbish I am at selling myself and this includes trying to engage on social media. I am self-conscious even writing on other people’s blogs or twitter feeds (twitter still baffles me) and when I browse around people’s sites, whether on Facebook or Pinterest, I get distracted and forget why I am there.

I have searched around on the internet for advice, but it has been difficult to find a cohesive plan for things you can and should do to help market your book. Until I recently found this great post on the Lulu blog, with a timeline of things to do before you publish.

It starts 12 weeks before launch, so I’m way behind if I want to do all these things before publishing Pictures of Love in August. That said, as I haven’t had any beta reader feedback yet, I don’t know if August is still feasible. If I have a complete re-write to do, on top of finishing Dragon Wraiths by September, it is likely I will have to push back the release date.

I was going to summarise the Lulu post and include the best bits here, but as it is all very useful, I have posted the complete text below. I’m off to work out what I can do in the couple of hours a week I find time to do marketing!

Please let me know how you get on and any other ideas you have to get your book noticed.

The Post:

On Lulu’s blog there’s been a lot of talk about the “how” of marketing (Pinterest, Blogging, Twitter, writing a press release, video chat, etc.) but little focus on the “when,” which is an equally important component of a successful book marketing campaign.

Here are some general guidelines you can follow compiled in a simple marketing timeline to help you plan:

10–12 weeks out: Do your research. Find appropriate blogs and media outlets that might want to review your book and compile a list of media contacts. Come up with a list of friends who can help spread the announcement of your publication and ask each one personally for support. When you reach out to contacts, offer them a free copy of your book and ask for pre-publication quotes to be used in your book’s detail page at various online retailers.

*Expert tip: Make the first chapter of your book available for free for anyone who might want to review your book or include it in a news article. You can do this by creating a free eBook on Lulu.com that includes just the first chapter of your book as well as contact details for press inquiries.

8–10 weeks out: Draft your press release and any announcement emails you’re planning on sending out. Make sure to re-read them numerous times and get friends or family to proof them for you. Ensure that if you’ve not already done so, your Facebook page, Twitter and Pinterest account, and blog include up-to-date info on your upcoming book. Be sure that every update, post, announcement and release includes a direct link to where readers can pre-order your book. (You can use a URL shortener like bit.ly if you like). Now’s a great time to do a cover reveal on social media — unless, that is, you’re planning to work with a blogger for an exclusive reveal on someone else’s site.

6–8 weeks out: Send your press release and start pitching bloggers. This is also a good time to formally announce the release of your book online. When doing so, consider including a question on Twitter and Facebook to encourage engagement and make sure to provide a link where readers can pre-order your book. We know you already know, but double-check that landing page to make sure that your cover image, title, description and reviews are all up-to-date and grammatically correct.

4–6 weeks out: Start thinking about adding “flair” to your social media. Launch week-by-week book giveaways and poll your fans or create extra content (a book playlist, an author interview, etc.) to generate excitement. If you’ve created a video trailer, announce its premiere date on your blog and then post it about four weeks out. As the one-month mark approaches, follow-up with bloggers and other media outlets if you’ve not yet heard back from them.

2–4 weeks out: Post a teaser chapter to your blog — either all at once or split it up to tease out future buyers even longer. Announce winners of any giveaways or contests you’ve run and launch a final giveaway extravaganza (a book plus swag that relates to your book) to coincide with your book’s release date. Continue to make sure that that any good reviews and/or awards you receive are featured on your Lulu, Amazon, BN.com, etc. pages.

0–2 weeks out: You’re in the homestretch! Be prepared, if you’ve done your research right, to be doing blog interviews, updating social media frequently about not only the book, but your excitement, and featuring content and giveaways to celebrate! However, on the day your book goes on sale, give yourself a break. Leave the computer behind and enjoy a breakfast/lunch/dinner out. You deserve it.

Remember, just because your book is out doesn’t mean your marketing efforts end. Continue to look for larger news opportunities to tie your book to, update your social media outlets and blog on a regular basis so your community grows, and keep on top of awards you can submit your book for. More than anything, be creative, take risks, and, later on, hopefully reap the rewards.

Waiting, Dragons, Tennis and Sleep

Wimbledon 2007 – photo by Kol Tregaskes on Flickr

Pictures of Love, my WIP, is out with beta readers. I’ve never had anyone but family or agents read my work before. The former have always loved it, the latter rejected it. So I wait with more than a small amount of trepidation.

To use the time well (hopefully) I have gone back to my Young Adult book, Dragon Wraiths, which I hope to enter in the Mslexia Children’s Novel competition in September. I had put the idea on hold, because the rules state: Women who have had a novel published commercially, for any age group, in any country, are not eligible.

As I hope to self-publish Pictures of Love in August, I figured that meant I couldn’t enter. But I read the rules again, more closely, and it says Self-published manuscripts are eligible, so it’s game on.

Only now I’ve read the rules again I’ve spotted that the entry is 3000 words with no synopsis.


The dragons don’t come in until Part Two, a third of the way through the book, and the weighty stuff about global warming etc comes in Part Three, (assuming I can research enough by the September deadline; it’s a new addition to the story).

How can I get enough plot into 3000 words to hook a reader, and still have character development, voice, YA themes and all that jazz, without a synopsis? I guess I have to finish the first draft and see how much time I have left before I worry about it.

That’s if I can stay awake.

Youngest child has had an ear infection, together with a lovely temperature of 39.2 for days, so sleep has been a rare commodity all round. Husband and I have been staggering about sighing I’m so tired; so much so that it’s my eldest child’s favourite excuse every time she has the screaming heebie-jeebies (by the way, I love that Word has that in its dictionary!).

“But mummy I’m just so tired, that’s why I lashed out and threw something at you.”

I have to bite my tongue on snapping back, “You slept for ten hours last night, I’ve barely had that this whole week!”

One of the by-products of sleep deprivation is that I, too, become a tiresome three-year-old.

As a result, my return to writing today, after two weeks without penning a word, as I wrestled with Lulu printing and e-book formatting (posts to come), only lasted until lunchtime. Then I had to admit defeat, close the laptop and turn on the tennis. I saw about three shots before I fell asleep.

Now I’m walking the dog, hoping the rain and soggy trousers will wake me up enough to finish my chapter before I collect the kids.

Or I might go nap in front of Murray.

This is WriterMummy saying night night.


P.S. Can’t sleep. Murray is making me too nervous. Come on Murray, hold your serve!