Thursday, July 30, 2009

...a bit lost...

I wish I had a wisecrack saying to insert here...

so here we are. Thirty-four books on my table and six more in my car boot. Staring at me and asking the "when..." question. Aargh...

A week back it felt as though the wheel was in motion and unstoppable. Now? SIGH...

ISBN numbers being printed on stickers. At R6 per sticker, ih yoy! Next print run they are part of the cover! Next book (the sequel) gets its ISBN before the cover gets designed! Now that I know where to get them...

Still have to mail books to the various official places.

and then the marketing. Organize readings at book clubs, libraries, house concerts, other opportunities. Try to organize book signings at book shops. Try to get into the distribution channels of the big book stores.

But the most important is the mass media. Mags, radio. Especially radio. Wonder what that is going to cost!

The whole thing is a bit daunting. I wish there were someone to tell me the next step here, too...

Well, I gave myself 5 years, 3 years back. We shall see.


Friday, July 24, 2009

Next Step

To-do List

Now that we're "legal" with ISBN and all, the next step is the marketing.

  • Look up book clubs for readings
  • Include others in profit (commission) for selling copies
  • Gift copies to strategic people (bookshop owners, libraries...)
  • Posters and events
  • Find out who the bookshop suppliers are
  • Find special interest groups
Amazingly, while selling copies out-of-hand, there's already one customer who is interested in the sequel. That isn't even printed yet! At this rate I guess I'll have to repeat the small run process for the sequel along with further runs for the first book!

All this is very encouraging. And I have to say, hats off to my professional friend and to the printers. The book is truly beautiful. I love the cover - so does everyone else I show it to!

Signing off for now

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Family Baggage

And then there was my great-uncle.

He was a German in South West Africa, during The War. You see this is why wars are really sick: People are just people, most aren't even interested in politics! Scared of it, sure, but not really interested! But it destroys chances and life dreams, and lives, and life...

So he wrote these really cool adventure stories about gold and South West (Namibia today) with its incredible scenery and harsh semi-arid climate (think the Clint Eastwood style Western movies). I read two of his stories. They are fast-paced and they've basically "got it".

So H.A. writes them, illustrates them, prints them by hand, binds them manually and tries to flog them. Ayayay, in Windhoek of the 40's!

Neesh! There's something to be said for the professional printing process, and making use of professional everythings... cover artist, editor, marketing strategist... money talks, my friends! In my da's words, wish money would shut up!!!


The Mystery of the Solar Wind, and all her sequels and prequels, has NOTHING to do with the hand-printed gem of 4 1/2 generations back at the rear end of Planet Earth!  Except, oh wait... genetics.


My father picks up the copy of the book and grins.
"Oh! You found a publisher?"

Kalinka can't lie. I grin back.
"Yup, daddy... I founded a publisher!"

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scene from "Freedom Fighter"

Twenty km’s outside of Caras the lipstick-red Corsair V came to a noiseless halt. The sun was peeping over the mountain tops. Carlos unpeeled his hands from the handholds. He was looking a bit green in the face. Perdita was a fast driver.

“Stay in the car,” ordered Perdita. She got out and breathed in the fresh air. Carlos needed a bath! It was tiring travelling with him. But she didn’t have the heart to send him back to the old man.

The secret Rebellion air base nestled in the nook of the mountains. It was still in full shade at seven in the morning. She marched in, sought out the office. The man on duty was half-asleep from the graveyard shift; nevertheless her appearance had the effect it always had on strange men, that of surprised admiration and a trace of hopefulness.

Perdita produced her identity override card. The man ran it through the system and registered with shocked eyes who she was.

“I need a jet,” said Perdita.

A jet was provided.

Got It!!!

Today I open my email box and YIPEEEEH! here's my ISBN number!

No charge; the price is a number of "gift" copies archived in various legal deposits, oh well.

Now she's official!

Did you know? ISBN numbers were used in the 60's by only one publishing house, for stock purposes. The system was so useful that by the 70's everyone was using it and now it's universal and bookshops won't sell a book unless it has an ISBN. Imagine a similar stocktaking system for clothes LOL.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The history

First there were the rainbows in the breaking waves at Shelley Beach, at 4pm in the afternoon.

The crew of the Solar Wind invaded my home not much later. They hung about my lounge, completely disorganized, insubordinate. The main character was sidelined by the comic relief character; several serious sailors turned into comic relief; the tragic heroine became a magic heroine. And then there was chemistry!!! I never gave them permission for that! Aargh! (anna bottle!)

A year and 13 draft sequels later I got the internet. Yes that is a bit like getting a disease. And it's contagious too, my soulmate got the internet worse than I did.

So we scoured - literally scoured for agents, and publishers. Stepped into every conceivable doodle. There are more voices advising on how to write a submissions letter than should be listened to! I tried it all (and probably stuffed up any chances with several honourable agents)! After following every eejit's headvice, I came to a conclusion of my own (finally). It's this:

Valuable lili insight

They probably don't give a rip about who this new vamped up writer dude thinks she is! Pertinent CV background (such as, having been a scientist) only matters in factual publications (which for some obscure reason seem to be favoured higher than fiction by the Big Boys). Previous writing background is an iffy thing unless you have a previously published book. If you're a newby... it's about the book and all about the book, who cares about the author? It's only when they LIKE it that they want to know more.

Anyone care to correct me on this?

So the next step was online, self-publishing.

My books are available on Click the rainbow mast on the left to take you there.
The first one is also available on Amazon.
Surprise number next: Neither of these deliver to South Africa.

So here I sat with my draft of a marketing plan, and a whole lot of friends and fam clamouring for a paperback copy, and no way of getting my hands on the book.

A friend believed in me and helped me get the small print run together.

I learnt:

Quality of printers varies. It took 2 tries to find a professional printer capable of producing a book-shaped book.


I followed a bit of advice from someone and brought a friendly bookshop owner a gift copy for him to evaluate if he wants to sell the book, and guess what:

You can sell on without an ISBN. But not in real shops.

And: ISBN are available at the National Library, comparatively well-priced. I'm organizing mine now. (I thought one had to pay Amazon hundreds of dollars...)

I'll update this periodically, keep you guys current... hopefully someone will one day find this useful.

Hello and welcome

New Novel hits the market

LOL I'm probably writing this first post all for me lonesome. Because I came over from While I still have a profile and blog there I'm really disappointed - just as it started cooking, some eejit changed everything about the site and nothing works anymore. I hope nobody is going to tamper with this 'ere place like that.

While I'm still watching for any improvements, let me get on with blogging here.

To summarize, we (myself and a few friends) are un- and self-published authors. I've just started out on the interesting road of doing a really small print run and learning about marketing; this is after discovering that doesn't ship to SA, and after realizing that most agents and publishers seem to be chronically out of office. I also realized that there are a lot more authors out there than I ever dared to hope. Some of my unpublished friends write absolutely brilliant stuff. Someone thought mine was brilliant, too, so she (a graphic designer) decided to make a professional cover image for my book and help me with that first print run. Here is the result (camera shake and all).

The idea of this blog is to keep others updated about my progress as a self-publishing die-hard. I'm told that Amazon and (my book is on both) don't deliver to South Africa. I'm told South Africa has no reader's market for English general fiction (unless it features South Africa). I'm told that there is no money in publishing; that there are more writers than readers; that one has to write in a very specific way to stand a "chance".

I don't buy any of that. It reminds me of how they used to spread myths such as, if you're over a certain age you're too old to learn violin. (Busted that one personally! I'm a teacher and I have LOTS of "too old" students!) It also reminds me of science: How progress is sometimes blocked by our "best" theories that have become accepted dogma. Example: E=mc2. Some renegade scientists are actually questioning this piece of celestial truth these days, and guess what: They are making new discoveries that were being blocked by that theory!

So I choose to believe instead that:

  1. I'm a reader too, I like adventure and fast-paced stuff, I like it funny, witty and romantic. I can't be that unique, therefore there are others like me out there.
  2. More South Africans are reading than ever before, thank you MWAAZ!! to J. K. Rowling and her Harry Potter! Ergo, there's a market.
  3. South Africans buy a LOT of imported books dealing with Scifi and Fantasy - ergo, there's a market!
  4. If I managed to learn to play the violin, which is fairly complex... if I understood molecular genetics, I can learn marketing, too. It can't be all that difficult if that many are doing it!
  5. If my book can sell, so can others. That, my friends, is the next step. Hang close and watch this space....