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The International Writers Magazine: Kindle

From Hard Drive to Kindle:
My Quest into Online Publishing
Frances Lewis
It really isn't that hard. Even for a technologically inept person like me. What was difficult was the decision to self-publish in the first place. There's a massively traditional part of my brain that wants to see my book in hard copy, preferably one of the ones with a little '3 for 2' sticker on it on a table in Waterstones, right at the front of the shop, where passing consumers will spy it and think, 'That looks like an EXCELLENT read' and buy it, thereby increasing my sales and very soon after that, I would quite obviously rule the world.


Then the sensible part of my brain wakes up and smacks the traditional part. These days, the print publishing industry is floundering, and its death throes mean it's increasingly harder for new authors to find an agent willing to take a chance on their novel.  I should know, I've tried – several times, and with considerable gathering of nerve each time – and not succeeded. And yes, I know, you need to KEEP TRYING and YOU NEVER KNOW. All it takes is for the right person to pluck it from the slush pile! Well, excuse me, but I am a bit tired of waiting for an over-worked, underpaid office assistant to cast a weary eye over my hard-won words and realise they've struck gold. I decided to do it myself.

For a long time after I wrote it, my book was my baby. Now I have a real baby and I am supposed to be looking after her pretty much all the time, so my book baby was shelved and gathered dust on my hard drive for a while. Putting all the effort into researching agents and publishers, preparing and sending out manuscripts, paying for postage, and then the interminable WAITING, plus all the other rigmarole associated with selling your product – I don't have time for that now. I barely have time to brush my teeth. For me, the appeal of publishing online is the instant gratification of seeing your book for sale within 24 hours of uploading it to the site, with the minimum amount of faffing beforehand. Sure, I had to change the formatting a bit, but I hadn't used any crazy fonts or complicated diagrams, so the conversion process was relatively simple. I think the most angst-ridden part was finding a cover image. I was actually hoping that a professional publishing-type person would make that decision for me when I daydreamed about my book for sale. Instead, I spent a fairly traumatic hour or so trying to find a suitable image, and, I confess, I still don't feel entirely happy with it – but I can change it later, if I want to.

Other than that, I clicked a few buttons, ticked a few boxes, sped-read through some terms and conditions (I may have signed away a kidney or two) and, hey presto, my book was available to purchase for download. Just amazing. Through my parenting blog and (frequent, pointless, time-consuming) presence on social networking sites, I managed to generate a small flurry of interest and subsequent sales on my first day. Obviously I need to work at the whole marketing thing to keep it going, but there are forums and communities dedicated to helping indie authors do just that, so I can build a profile and, with a bit of luck and elbow grease, keep earning petty cash, and motivate myself to write more. If anyone is considering online publishing, I would definitely recommend it. Even if you upload your book and nothing happens, at least it's OUT THERE, where someone may find it and read it. I only ever wanted an audience for my efforts.

Now the cheeky plug: my book The Dukkering Boy is available to buy on Amazon.

Gypsy boy Daniel Cooper leads a rough-and-ready life in a busy community of Romany travelling folk. It is the year 1949, and as the country adjusts after the upheaval of war, his gypsy family peacefully travel the Welsh country lanes and by-ways, comfortable in their outdoor existence. For Daniel, the lure of a ‘normal’ life becomes very real when he learns that his older brother, who fought in the army, has settled down with a wife and bought a house in a town in Wales. Envious of his brother’s worldly experiences, Daniel longs to free himself of the burden of his family, much to the consternation of his traditionally minded father. Daniel finds comfort and friendship from the gypsy fortune teller, who feeds his curiosity with tales from her life on the road. One night the camp is attacked and Daniel goes to help his friend. She bestows a gift upon him, and then disappears. When Daniel returns to the destroyed campsite, his family have gone. The wagons have been torn apart – what were the attackers searching for?

It's an historical fantasy adventure for children aged 7-12 years old, about a Gypsy boy who has to suddenly deal with the unwelcome ability to see into the future, just as his family are mysteriously attacked and kidnapped. There's villains, orphans, menacing nuns, Romany royalty, pesky children, castles, crows, magic, danger and camaraderie. Honestly, what more could you want? Oh, apart from the prime spot on the '3 for 2' table, of course...

© Frances Lewis September 1st 2011

Editor's Note: I have read an earlier version of this book and it was terrific and it astonishes me that no agent or publisher took it up. Do yourself a favour download The Dukkering Boy and be amazed by the most richely written and exciting tale for kids (of all ages) you will buy this year. Sam North Editor of Hackwriters

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