Wednesday, 24 February 2016

Charles Naton: "Being fashionably obscure can actually be an advantage"

Getting a book deal is every new author's dream, right? Why then, are so many traditionally published authors now choosing the independent route? Charles Naton shares his experiences.

Charles Naton is the author of 'Section 12', a war-time psychological horror, telling the story of a traumatised WWII soldier, who ends up in an English psychiatric clinic after D-Day. He experiences headaches, nightmares, and supernatural phenomenon. Charles' dramatic supernatural tale was originally published through the small publisher, Can Write Will Write. He's since self-published the book and has a sequel entitled 'The Cronus Equation' due out in early 2016.

Charles explains, "My first step into publishing was when Can Write Will Write offered me a book deal. It was a new venture and we didn’t know each other, so I only signed a contract for the e-publishing rights initially. The publisher gave me some very useful editorial feedback, which was a great help in the early days. It taught me to look at my own work through the eyes of an editor as opposed to an author. I agreed to do my fair share of marketing, as they're a small publisher, and was committed to the project.

"Then things started to go wrong when I saw the cover design they'd produced. I hated it. This left me stuck in the strange situation of being reluctant to throw my weight behind my own work! I was also bewildered by the publisher's reluctance to make the book available on Amazon. I thought it was a poor business decision not to have any kind of presence on that mega-platform.

"So, keenly aware that one never gets a second chance to make a first impression, I made a conscious decision to draw as little attention to myself and my work as possible, until I got my electronic rights back, and could republish on my own terms. I wrote the sequel while I watched the clock ticking down!

"Following that disappointing experience, I wanted complete control over the publishing process, so I set up my own publishing company, Cordlant Publications. This enabled me to control my own ISBN series, which is important to me.

"When I got my rights back, I relaunched the book with a new cover, making it available in paperback too. The good news is that since striking out on my own, I’ve seen a significant rise in interest and in sales. At the moment I’m focusing more on building my reputation rather than shifting volume. That takes time and a lot of shoe leather if you’re working by yourself.

"Doing it all myself has been a real education. I've learned an awful lot about the subtleties of print layout - a couple of millimetres here and there can really enhance the reading experience. I urge any self-publishers to resist the temptation to cram their work into as few pages as possible to save a little bit on each sale. The thing to remember is that a book is more than just the words it contains. The way it looks and feels is just as important as what’s printed inside.

"I've done all my own techy stuff too. I built my own website, although the artwork was supplied by my long-suffering and extremely talented graphic artist. I’ve learnt how to collaborate with other creative folk, to listen to their specialist insight, and explain important decisions where it’s not possible to please everyone.

"Since deciding to self-publish, I’ve found word of mouth, via the internet, is the most successful way to sell books. Being fashionably obscure can actually be an advantage. Some people like to shop local and support 'independent' artists and content producers. At this early stage in my career, I have the ability to engage with readers and customers at a very personal level, which simply isn’t possible for established household names.

"We are living in fascinating times, where it’s possible to take an idea and reach out to literally millions of potential customers in ways that were never possible before. However, self-publishing still requires a lot of hard work, in addition to actually writing something good in the first place! Self-publishing isn’t for everyone and the results will be hugely disappointing if you’re hoping to be an overnight success, but for the able, the committed and the determined, it really can be a brave new world."

Monday, 8 February 2016

Internet dependency: a modern problem

Is Aghabullogue nearer to Blarney or Cork?
Is Ireland supposed to have pixies as well as leprechauns?
What's the history of Cork Cathedral?
Is it even called Cork Catherdral, or does it have another name?
Does my editor want his reptile article?
How are my book sales doing this weekend?
So many questions. So few answers.

It's one of those frustrating weekends when I'm visiting the mother-in-law, wondering how she can survive without internet access. I already have a list of unanswered questions waiting for my return home, and it's only been 24 hours.

My husband has a smart phone, but the signal's often not very good. Here I am on Sunday morning, itching to make progress on various writing projects, and coming unstuck at every turn, due to lack of internet access. Meanwhile, hubby and mother-in-law are dozing in bed.

While I sometimes think the internet is too much of a distraction from work, it's easy to see how my work also depends on it, and starts to suffer the moment I'm not connected.

Back in the bad old days, I'd have to wait for the reference library to open, then spend hours trawling through books, looking for answers. I love the internet, but it's very frustrating to be offline when our modern lives are so dependent on it.