Helpful hints for self-publishing

I stumbled upon this article on the erotica writers website, original article here. Hopefully this may come in handy. By the way, dreaming about a Nazi parade doesn’t mean anything, does it?:

                   “Kill Electrons, Not Trees, or What To Do With A Self-Published Book

                      Fiction Publishing in the 21st Century by William Gaius

“Okay, the hard work is over. I’ve written my book, had it critiqued and edited, formatted it and put it up as a print or an electronic book. Now I can sit back and wait for the checks; even better, I can go to work on my next project.

At the end of the first month, I check the sales figures. Zero? Well, I guess it takes a little while to catch on. But surely all my hard work won’t go unrecognized for too long. It’s no longer fashionable to an artist to die before his works become famous.

Second month sales report. One copy? Oh, that was the one I ordered myself to give to my uncle, who sort of murmured that he’d really love to read my stuff. So far, though, he says he’s been staying late at work and hasn’t had the time.

Third month. Wait a minute! Something’s wrong here. My printer/publisher must be cheating me.

The truth: Nothing in this entire economy, including sex, drugs, and rock & roll, sells without promotion. Your book is out there, and available to anyone; surely, in this wide world, there’s someone who’d like to read it. The question is, how to make the latter aware of the former? The answer is marketing.

Marketing is ugly. No one likes doing it, really, except a certain sort of person who’s into the thrill of the hunt. Such people do well in any field. In my former profession, I was always envious of colleagues who approached and massaged funding agencies and come away with millions of dollars, using only on their own persuasiveness. The common characteristic of every one of these successful people is that they enjoyed the hunt.

Most of us don’t. But if our books are going to sell, we have to hold our noses and do it. Moreover, it never ends. I once read that marketing is “like a bump-em car; whenever you take your foot off the pedal, it stops.” The number of books we sell is proportional to the time and energy we put into selling them, so it behooves us to use our time as efficiently as possible.

Below is a collection of marketing methods that many people agree are effective:


There’s little doubt that the Internet is the best thing to happen to small entrepreneurs, including authors, in the past fifty years. A one-person operation can have an online presence as prominent as a multinational corporation. (Well, almost.) On a static website, you can list your books and sell direct to the public, or direct them to your publisher’s website. You can put up free stories and excerpts from your novels. You can put your own site together using inexpensive and easy to use tools. You can hire your grandson to do it, or pay a professional web designer.


Blogs are technically easier to do than websites, but they require more discipline. There’s no point in putting up a blog unless you’re sure you can update it regularly, not less than once a week. Blogs that aren’t updated simply drop off people’s radar and they stop coming back. Therefore, before you launch a blog, you should do some serious introspection and decide whether you have the time for regular updates, and the will to stick with it. Blogs should stay on topic, too. People come to hear about your books and commune with you as a writer. If you want to post pictures of your cat, or your recipe for brussels sprouts candy, start another blog.

The quickest way to learn to blog is to scout the blogs of other writers. Harvest the best of their methods, and when yours is up and running, offer to exchange links with them. Links between blogs are the most effective way to bring traffic.


Participate in forums specializing in your genre. This means forums for readers and not only writers. Although writers do buy the books of other writers, the bulk of your sales necessarily come from the nonwriting public. There are more of them.

Most forums permit a personal signature line at the bottom of every post. This is your opportunity to plug your books. Your signature should contain a link to your website or blog, and even a thumbnail of your book cover, if permitted by the forum’s rules.


Review sites are beginning to proliferate, partly in response to the tsunami of good, bad, and ugly material appearing as part of the self-publishing revolution. Many review sites, such as and review self-published as well as traditionally published books. Some will accept unsolicited ebooks to consider for review.

Avoid review sites that charge money. Such review sites make you seem desperate, and your sales may even suffer as a result.

The area of marketing is huge, and worth more study than I can discuss in this one article. For further information, check out the following:

1. John Kremer, 1001 Ways to Market Your Books, Sixth Edition, 2006. A classic. In today’s market, five years old is an eternity, but the ideas in Kremer’s book may serve as seeds for marketing plans.

2. BenBella Books Blog – Marketing Section. Collects marketing ideas, both unusual and obvious.

3. Book Marketing Floozy. Another targeted blog.

4. Book Promotion Ideas and Advice Forum. A subsection of the forum of the large writers’ site Absolute Write. Sign up to post, but not to read.

William Gaius
December 2011 – January 2012″.

Well, there we are. Hop to it, pip pip.

Submission Guidelines for Take a Break and Fiction Feast

Thanks to blog womagwriter for the details.

It’s probably useful to know the guidelines of such magazines as Take a Break and Fiction Feast. I’ll start by mentioning that I’ve never managed to get one published in here. I’ve only tried a couple of times and, in hindsight, the love story between a woman and her stalker was probably not the best choice (they do advise you to read the magazine first).


Thank you for enquiring about submitting stories to us. We are happy to receive unsolicited manuscripts from authors, but for the present, request that these be no longer than 2,000 words. Should you wish to submit longer stories for consideration, I’ll drop you a line or telephone you. Please don’t be discouraged, as we are always on the lookout for new talent.

I enclose the Take a Break guidelines for your general assistance with presentation and plots to avoid. The basic requirements of a strong plot and a twist in the tail also hold good for Fiction Feast’s 1 page (700 words) and 2 page (1,200 words) stories. Stories of between 1200+ and 2000 max words needn’t be twist in the tail, but must have a compelling plot. Because Fiction Feast has so many stories, we’re looking for more variety in the type we publish; so, whatever the length, mystery, romance, crime, offbeat, macabre, science fiction, spooky tales – just about anything really – are welcome.

We can be flexible about story length, but as a guide our wordcounts and payment rates are:
1 Page (700 words) £200
2 Page (1200 words) £250
3-4 Pages (2,000 words) £325 to £400

All stories must be from an original idea, all your own work, not previously published in the UK and not currently on offer to any other magazine or publisher. We pay on publication.

Basic Requirements:

We are looking for contemporary stories aimed at women from their mid-twenties upwards. We require 1100 – 1200 words with a strong plot and a good twist in the tail. The twist should arise out of the story, rather than from a detail kept from the reader. To check your twist is a genuine twist – not simply a deception -imagine your story were being made into a film and ask yourself – would the surprise still work? If it wouldn’t, I’m afraid it’s not for us.

We do not have a monthly serial, so stories must be complete.

Subject Matter: We particularly like settings and situations which readers can recognise and relate to, rather than say, country house murders or stories about drugs rings or jewel thieves. It’s essential to read several issues of the magazine to get the flavour of the type of fiction we publish before writing a story aimed at Take a Break/Fiction Feast. Many writers waste a lot of time and effort because they haven’t done this. Please avoid straightforward romance i.e. boy meets girl and they live happily ever after. Also avoid historical backgrounds, science fiction and stories narrated by animals or small children. Take a Break is a family magazine so graphic murders or sex crimes are never acceptable.

Common plots to avoid:

* the heroine/narrator is revealed to be a cat, dog, fox, car (or tree…or whatever).
* the policeman/woman is really a strippogram/singing telegram
*a character’s mysterious arrangements turn out to be for a surprise party – not an aff
* a shifty antiques dealer dupes an old lady out of what he thinks is a priceless antique and it turns out she is making them by the dozen
* the woman discovers her husband’s secret lover is a man, or vice versa
* the murder victim ends up on a compost heap
* anything to do with poisonous mushrooms or tampering with car brakes
* anything to do with twins or nosy neighbours
* someone nervous about a first day at school turns out to be the teacher; or about a wedding, the vicar; or an interview, the interviewer
* anything to do with bumping off elderly elatives for the inheritance, in fact wills in general are best avoided
Because our stories are so short, a maximum of four characters is usually best with the main character – a woman.

Stories must be your own idea and original work, previously unpublished and not on offer to any other magazine or publisher at the time sent to us. Should your story be accepted we will probably have to edit it.

Presentation: Typed manuscripts are preferred, but if you can’t get your story typed, write clearly in double line spacing. Please ensure your name, address, e-mail address (if you have one) and telephone number are on the title page together with an accurate wordcount. Y our name and story title should also appear on all subsequent pages.

Please, please include a stamped addressed envelope large enough to hold your story. Self-seal envelopes are especially appreciated. It’s advisable to keep a copy your story to guard against the remote chance of loss. Features and articles should be sent directly to the Features Department with a covering letter. It can take 10-12 weeks before a decision is made concerning your manuscript, so please be patient. If your story has not been returned after ten weeks, please drop me a line giving me the story title, a brief synopsis of the plot and the date sent. I will get back to you ASAP. Should your story be rejected it may be we have already published or have in stock a similar story. More likely though, I feel it will not appeal to our readers. This does not necessarily mean I will not like another of your stories, so, don’t lose heart.

Seasonal Stories sent for specific issues, such as Christmas, Easter, Hallowe’en etc., must be sent at least four months in advance of the issue date.

It can take 10-12 weeks for a decision to be made on Fiction Feast stories, so please be patient. If you haven’t had a story returned after 12 weeks, please drop a line outlining the plot and I’ll get back to you ASAP.

Please send stories to me, Norah McGrath (Fiction Editor), at the address below:

I look forward to reading your work.

Norah McGrath
Fiction Editor
Fiction Feast
4th Floor
Academic House
24-28 Oval Road