6 Tips On How To Record Your Own Audiobook

I have recently finished recording my first anthology of short stories – Glimmer – for Amazon Audiobooks.

Or ACX as it is known:

 https://www.acx.com/help/about-acx/200484860

It took a while to record, but I think the finished product is professional. It helps that my husband is a musician/composer and knows his way around a recording desk.

But you don’t need to have a studio technician in order to record your audiobook. You can do it yourself, quite cheaply too. Be sure to create your account first and become acquainted with the specifications for recording your book.

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http://books2read.com/u/3LrNd1

So, here are a few tips to get you started:

Firstly – you need to deaden the room you are in, if you don’t have soundproof room. Since I don’t have a soundproof booth I had to improvise by placing a mattress against one wall, putting cushions in the windows and hanging a heavy duvet on the wall I faced. This will muffle outside noises quite effectively. As I live on a road that can be busy, I had to pause on a number of occasions whilst waiting for traffic to die down.

Secondly – you will need a good microphone, preferably one that is specifically designed for voice-over work. I used an Apogee Mic professional microphone that is suitable for Garageband, iPad, iPhone and mac. These can be pricey, but if you go to this link: http://ehomerecordingstudio.com/usb-microphones/ there is an extensive list of affordable microphones that will be more than ideal.

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Thirdly – a computer/laptop to record it on, with suitable recording software. I use an iMac that has Garageband already installed. It is very easy to use and more than adequate for audiobook requirements. If you have a PC then I am reliably told that Audacity, is the software to use. http://www.audacityteam.org/

Fourthly – make sure you are comfortable before you begin. You should place the microphone level with your mouth about 8 inches away from your face, with a pop shield attached to reduce those annoying,  heavy breathing sounds, gulps, ‘P’ pop noises and other tongue, lip sound we can’t help making on occasions.

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Once you’ve created your track and pressed record, try to pace your reading. Don’t go too fast and make sure you pronounce things clearly. The good thing about doing it yourself, is that you can re-record the bits you don’t like. You can also use headphones so that you can hear yourself as you speak.

Fifthly – when you have recorded your book, edit it to make it crisp and clean and professional sounding. This entails fiddling around with levels to make them consistent, taking out long pauses, reducing background noise, and basically making it sound the way you want it to so that it meets  with the requirements of ACX. I highly recommend that you download a sample of an audiobook to get an idea of the quality and ambiance that ACX need.

Lastly – upload to ACX and await for confirmation and acceptance before it goes for sale. It takes around 10-14 days for this this to happen. Be careful to get your details, book description and categories right before publishing as once it is, making changes isn’t easy. You have to email them and ask. Also, you don’t set the price, they do based on the length of your audio reading.

For a more detailed account of how to home record for ACX, I highly recommend Rob Dirks tutorial  – Yes, you can record you own Audiobook. Here’s how.

http://robdircks.com/yes-you-can-record-your-own-audiobook-heres-how/

 I decided  a trailer would be a good idea as a taster for my new publication. My husband very kindly made this video for me. You can view it on YouTube:

https://youtu.be/XsZCYmua4R0

What? They Banned my Book?

At last, I thought, I’m ready to publish Crow Bones.

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At times I didn’t think I would. Already this anthology is causing controversy and a number of outlets have banned it from sale. Why? Because an automated system has decided it has content that would offend. This automated system has not actually read any of the content, so I’m assuming it just made an assumption based on the description where I used the word, ‘incest’. I have taken great care to make sure that any sensitive issues I have tackled in these stories are treated with respect and dignity.

This is the email:

Concerning your book
Crow Bones
BOOK ID: 201746
Our sales channels have asked us not to send certain material to them. Draft2Digital’s automated content review has detected some of this declined material in your book, Crow Bones. As a result, we cannot send this book to the following sales channels:
 24 Symbols
 Kobo
 Apple
 Tolino
 Scribd
The types of material at issue include:
 Incest and Pseudo-Incest: The content portrays characters engaged in sexual
 activity with relatives, blood-related or otherwise. This includes situations
where characters refer to each other using familial terms.
Sales channels not listed above continue to receive this material at this time.
If you believe that your book has none of the content listed above and wish to contest the issue, please reply to this email and we will investigate further.

Now, I looked into this. I went onto these sites and discovered that all of them are selling The Cement Garden by Ian McEwan. If you are not familiar with this work, then I can verify that the book is about incest and has many graphic scenes of sexual activity between a brother and sister. So, why is my book being denied publication when there are no sex scenes? I have taken out the word ‘incest’ in my description, contacted the site explaining that my book has ‘none of the content listed above.’ As this goes to print I have received an email stating that they will publish my book after all. Result!

Strange though, that they objected to incestuous material and didn’t mind the other topics in my anthology, such as cannibalism and alien infanticide.

Crow Bones

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint from a spray can.

To celebrate the launch of my ‘banned’ collection of short stories,  I am pricing both my anthologies – Crow Bones and Glimmer –  at only 99c – or equivalent depending on the country you live in. Links below on Amazon.

crowbonesv-8_front_only

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/dp/B01M6CT8PZ

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B01M6CT8PZ

Glimmer and other stories


US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

For  sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:

Would you buy this book?

I have been working on my second short story collection for over a year now. I was going to publish it last Christmas, but like I said in my previous post, I got cold feet.

I have now finished it and will be publishing it on November 5th – Bonfire Night in the UK. May as well start with a bang!

Anyway, here is the blurb and cover. Would you buy this book?

Crow Bones:

Revenge, desire, elusive muses, incest, cannibalism, alien infanticide and a very angry goat.

Inspired by artists such as Chagall, Munch, and Banksy, these curious, darkly humorous and sometimes surreal stories explore human nature in all its disparate colours. From finding love against the odds on Blackpool Beach to surviving abandonment on a dying planet, each tale takes you to another time and place where reality is blurred and dreams mingle with the paint mist from a spray can.

 If you like authors such as Philip K Dick, Edgar Allen Poe, Ray Bradbury, Annie Proulx and Franz Kafka, then Crow Bones is the anthology for you.

crowbonesv-6cfront

I will also be launching my new venture – Oddly Books  where I will be publishing my own weird novels and stories as well as getting together other like-minded authors to produce quality fiction that strays beyond the edge of reality.

So, if you are an author who writes quality, speculative, strange stories, please do get in touch.

Here is a short extract form one of the stories in the new anthology

 Soft Boiled.

“The hiss and babble of a pot brewing up bones and gristle gave the kitchen a sense of bustle despite the stillness of the sole occupant.

Alice, fixed to her seat, did not waft her flushed cheeks, scratch the itch that made her thigh twitch or wipe off the sticky fluid on her fingers. She just sat, stared at the pan and let the blood drip.”

My first short story anthology – Glimmer and other stories – the ebook is on offer at the moment for only $0.99 £0.99. You can purchase it on Amazon:

US: https://www.amazon.com/Glimmer-other-stories-Unusual-suspense-ebook/dp/B00H89AN1M

Or from a variety of sites such as Kobo, itunes and Barnes and Noble. Just click on the link below:
Any author interested in the Oddly Book anthology, please do get in touch. My email is: nikki@nicolamcdonagh.com. Or leave a comment with a contact for me to get in touch with you.
Thanks for reading!!

Author Spotlight – Roger Ley

Here is another insight into the life and work of a Suffolk writer. I have worked with Roger on his Memoir and am hopefully helping him with writing his first fiction novel – a Sci-fi/time travelling alternative history story.

Take it away Roger Ley!

Roger2

 Who are you and what do you do? 

My name is Roger Ley. As a young man I worked as an engineer in the N Sea and in N Africa before taking the last refuge of a scoundrel and becaming a lecturer in engineering. I retired five years ago. About two years ago I went to Beijing to visit my son. I found China very interesting and exciting and sent long emails back to my wife describing my adventures and developed a taste for writing. I decided to try to place articles in magazines and have had about half a dozen published.

What is your book about?

I wrote more articles than I could get published mostly they are funny stories from my past, technically memoir. In the end I put them all in chronological order, added some photographs and asked Nikki, who I had met when she ran a creative writing course, to edit them and help me to self publish them.

Why did you choose to write A Horse in the Morning?

Funny stories are little entities that exist only as long as somebody remembers them. I like the idea that my stories will live on and that in the future some of my family might find them interesting.

Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

AHITM front only

I believe that since the internet has been invented we will all leave behind a digital legacy and this will be a lot more interesting than just knowing where you were born, what your job was and when you died. This book is part of my digital legacy.

What kind of research did you?

Mainly scanning all the family photographs and putting the into organised folders.

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

I would never publish another book with photos in it because it makes the layout on Kindle and CreateSpace so complicated. Sorry Nikki.

What was the best part of writing your book?

After I had written it I found a particular relief in knowing that the stories were safe and that people I didn’t even know and who have not been born yet might find them funny. I have done my best for them.

What, if anything, have you learned from writing your book?

Since I have started writing my second book, which is a novel, I have realised that writing memoir is much easier than writing fiction. Writing memoir is largely journalistic although you have to be entertaining.

Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

Getting stories and articles placed in magazines is difficult because there is so much competition but when you do place a piece it will be read by an awful lot of people. It is also a validation in that an editor has liked it enough to publish it. I got a travel story published in Reader’s Digest and they claim a readership of 500,000. What a shame they only paid me £50.

Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?

I have just re-read the five cold war spy books written by local author Edward Wilson. I like reading his work because I know him and can ‘see up his trouser leg’. I think that Freddy Forsyth writes a ripping yarn, I also like John Le Carre.

What are your future writing plans?

I am working on an alternative future history of the last part of the 20th century and the first half of this one. It was quite a shock to realise just how much I didn’t know about novel writing considering how many novels I have read.

I will be giving a talk about writing magazine articles and self publishing at the Cut theatre in Halesworth on the 16th of August.

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My Facebook page ‘Roger Ley’ has some of my articles on it.

You can purchase a copy of A Horse in the Morning which is on Offer at only $0.99 £0.99!! 

Amazon UK:  http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B011ZCDU76

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Horse-Morning-Stories-sometimes-unusual-ebook/dp/B011ZCDU76/

AHITM front only

Debut Author Spotlight – Julie Lovett

To continue my series of blogs on new authors living in Suffolk, I am delighted to introduce Julie Lovett and her debut novel The Prophet and the Time Traveller. 

Welcome Julie.

Julie

What is your book about? 

It’s a humorous novel about relationships between siblings, lovers and friends, set against a dystopian backdrop.

The prophet book cover

 Why did you choose to write your book?

I started writing my book as a comment on farming methods, the futility of war and so on. However, it quickly transformed into a more balanced and readable story.

 Who or what was the inspiration behind it?

The main characters are identical twins, as are my brothers. However, my brothers are not failed scientists, they have never time travelled (except slowly forward like the rest of us) and they are usually far more sensible than the characters in my story. However, I think they will appreciate my joke.

 What kind of research did you do?

I didn’t research specifically for this book, but I did bring fifty years of life experience, an enquiring mind and a good imagination to it.

 What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

My biggest challenge came when I finished the main draft and went back through the book looking for areas that I felt could benefit from expansion or clarification.  I discovered that my writing style had developed immensely by then and it was difficult to insert new material into the early chapters in a seamless way.

 What was the best part of writing your book?

I enjoyed letting my imagination go into freefall, indulging in descriptions that would seem superfluous in normal life and having an appropriate outlet for my sense of humour.

 Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?

I would advise other new authors to enjoy the experience and get lots of feedback on your work prior to publishing, if you can.

 What are your future writing plans?

 I am currently writing a children’s story about a young wizard who believes he can only conjure up nettle soup, a bitter sweet story about a ghostly mother who interferes with her daughter’s love life and a collection of short stories and poems.

Thank you Julie for letting us know about your debut novel.

You can learn more about Julie by visiting her website:

https://julielovett.wordpress.com/

You can purchase her book on Amazon.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Prophet-Time-Traveller-Julie-Lovett-ebook/dp/B01IO7F4AG/

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Prophet-Time-Traveller-Julie-Lovett-ebook/dp/B01HDT05ZA

The prophet book cover

 

 

 

Author Spotlight – Peter Scott

I have decided to do a series of blogs promoting new authors that live in East Anglia, in particular, Suffolk. Why? Because I live and work in this beautiful part of the country and have come to know a lot of new and established authors that also live here.

I have recently been hosting a series of workshops designed specifically for authors who are either new to publishing or new to marketing and promoting their author profile online. I have had the pleasure to meet several fabulous people who have self-published their books and are in need of some support.

So, to celebrate the varied talent from Suffolk and East Anglia I am proud to present debut Indie author Peter Scott and his novel Pimple.

PETER2

 

Tell us a little bit about yourself Peter:

I have lived through a period of considerable change, particularly social and demographic change. Joining RAF probably saved me from the local borstal, and set me up for a career in aircraft maintenance. This would have been about the time that ‘Bill Hailey and ‘The Comets’ came over to stir up our youth – including me. A first posting to Kenya jump started me into an awareness of a wider world and fascination for wild places which I was able to satisfy via various overseas contracts.  Later, following a period of self study and in a completely different role as a careers advisor it was rewarding to help young people come to rational decisions in a complex educational and working environment.

I suppose my de-fault position is that of a lucky so and so enjoying happy personal circumstances, but with a deep underlying foreboding about the massively growing numbers of our own species, many of which are programmed to inflict horror on each other and the natural world.

ABOUT PIMPLE – THE BOOK

PETER1

Pimple is about a very ordinary lad with limited self expression but great sensitivity. Quite unknowingly he is recruited into a hopelessly optimistic scheme to make the world a happier place. The scheme was devised years before his birth, and an extraordinary tune was created to act as a ‘recruiting agent’ tailored to select just the right band capable of creating music so inspirational it would create a global climate of love and co-operation.

As the story unravels Pimple encounters some bizarre situations and characters who are not quite as they first seem. It is of course a ‘tall story’ but during a trip to the USA they make an astounding discovery which could indeed change the world.

WHAT WAS THE BACKGROUND AND INSPIRATION BEHIND THE BOOK?

I used to play traditional jazz in a Lincolnshire pub and on one occasion a lad came up with a trumpet during the first interval and asked if he could ‘sit in’ with the band. Young ‘sitters in’ usually come with loud warning signs, noisy coteries or doting mums, but this one was different. For a start he was alone and wanted to play ‘Poor Mans Blues’ – a slow tune which should really be sung, but he just liked the tune and asked for it to be in Bb because it was his ‘easy key’ and he didn’t want to make too many mistakes. There was something genuine about his approach and something very genuine about his playing. He exactly captured the feel and sadness of the tune without any attempt to show off and I sensed it had been a consoling experience for him. Thanking us for letting him sit in he wandered off some time later and we never saw him again.

He made quite an impression, but no-one asked his name so we remembered him only as ‘Pimple’ because of a prominent pimple on one of his cheeks.

Some time later a particularly nasty incident in war – torn South Sudan started me wondering if a melody could be sufficiently powerful in its emotional impact to modify general nastiness and unkindness. I doubt it, but it developed it a ‘what if?’ fictional possibility, with Pimple as a central character. His limited verbal self-expression coupled with his sensitivity made him an ideal ’sounding board’ for the various characters and happenings around him.

WHAT WERE YOUR LIKES AND DIFFICULTIES WHEN WRITING YOUR BOOK?

Perhaps the most satisfying part of writing was creating believable characters. It was also satisfying to succeed in making commonplace events seem interesting or enhancing a character by describing a simple action.  The most difficult part was producing the manuscript and cover suitable for an ‘e’ book .  Right now it’s marketing it on the web, however, Nikki McDonagh: http://wwwnicolamcdonagh.com  has been really helpful in her training sessions, so hopefully I’ll get there soon.

WHAT HAVE YOU LEARNED?

Much of Pimple was written during overseas contracts, and only recently did I think it  ‘had legs’. I didn’t change it much except to make it more succinct and more ‘grown up’. So perhaps writing a book is a maturing process – or I’m just old.

DO YOU HAVE ANY FUTURE WRITING PLANS?

I have a few short pieces and rants which I hope to compile.  I also have a monster of a concept which I cannot yet resolve, but which also refuses to go away – hopefully something will go ‘click’ and I’ll move forward soon.

Thank you, Peter for a very interesting insight into your life and your writing process.

Pimple is on offer right now for only $0.99 £0.99.

So grab your copy NOW!

Available on:

Amazon.US: https://www.amazon.com/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

Amazon.UK:  https://www.amazon.co.uk/Pimple-Peter-Scott-ebook/dp/B008CFHDPA

PETER1

 

Spotlighting new authors in Suffolk

Over the next couple of weeks I am going to be featuring some authors that live in Suffolk, UK. Since I moved to this lovely part of the world over ten years ago I have met and taught a number of writers and have been impressed with the quality of their work.

So, I think it would be a good idea to give them a large shout-out and hopefully get some interest in their work.

From true crime to philosophical humour, there should be a genre to suit the taste of most readers.

Starting tomorrow!

Watch out for Peter Scott and his first novel – Pimple 

PETER1

I’ll also be re-blogging an earlier post about another East Anglian non-fiction author Kim Forester and her true crime book – Inside Broadmoor.

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

Plus, an extra big plug for BigSky Writers, a group of local scribblers I belong to. We are due to publish our third anthology of short stories and poems in October. (Hopefully!)

BIG SKY FINAL COVER VERSION JPEG

You can purchase the first anthology – Beneath a Big Sky on Amazon.

Amazon US: https://www.amazon.com/Beneath-Big-Sky-supernatural-suspense-ebook/dp/B00UC9W3JA?

Amazon UK: https://www.amazon.co.uk/Beneath-Big-Sky-supernatural-suspense-ebook/dp/B00UC9W3JA

Author Spotlight – Kim Forester

In this two-part author spotlight, I would like to introduce Kim Forester who has just independently published her non-fiction book Inside Broadmoor (Secrets of the Criminally Insane – Revealed by the Chief Attendant) based on the journals kept by her Great Great Grandfather Charles Bishop Coleman who worked at Broadmoor Prison for the criminally insane in the last half of the nineteenth century and the first part of the twentieth century.

I have read it and it is a very interesting read indeed!

 

Kim harket

Who are you and what do you do? (Tell us a little bit about yourself)

My name is Kim Forester and I was born in the South East of England, although I now live in East Anglia.  My early years were spent in Berkshire and my teens in the West Country.  As an adult I moved back to Berkshire and amongst other jobs, worked and travelled for an American company in the Netherlands, Belgium, Spain and the USA.  A further move, to West Wales, saw a challenging change of direction for me, working for the Crown Prosecution Service with Dyfed Powys Police in a joint unit assisting victims and witnesses of crime.  For family reasons I recently moved to East Anglia, and continue to work full time at a power station in the renewable energy industry – for me, writing has to fit around the day job!

What is your book about?

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

A work of non-fiction, my book ‘Inside Broadmoor (Secrets of the Criminally Insane – Revealed by the Chief Attendant)’ is about the staff, patients and their crimes at the most famous hospital for the criminally insane in the world, between the years of 1873 and 1912.  It has at its core, the starting point of my Great Great Grandfather Charles Bishop Coleman’s notebooks and diaries.  He began as an Assistant Attendant and worked his way up to the top job of Chief Attendant during his 38 years service, during which he wrote about and recorded his time at the Hospital between those years.  Each of the 180 entries I have included in the book is a ‘jumping off point’ for the sad, grisly, and sometimes redemptive tales of individuals who served time at Broadmoor during those years.

Why did you choose to write your book and who or what was the inspiration behind it?

The work did not begin as a book.  I started researching on behalf of my Mother, purely from a shared interest in our family history.  We knew very little about Charles before finding his papers and photographs following the loss of my Grandmother.  We knew that several people in our family had worked at Broadmoor of course, but not what that really entailed.  There is another book on the subject written by Berkshire Records Office Archivist, Mark Stevens, but his book finishes around the time my book begins.   My family and I felt that by publishing, we would be able to open up this shadowy world further for others to explore should they wish.  Sometimes, in genealogical research a small clue can take you in a whole new direction and Broadmoor continues to fascinate today.  My Great Great Grandfather worked there during the crimes of ‘Jack the Ripper’ and today the Hospital holds the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’.  We are endlessly intrigued by the darker side of human nature, probably because it is so alien to the vast majority of us.

What kind of research did you do?

 Researching for this book was time consuming, detailed and required a lot of checking and double checking as you can imagine.  When you are writing about the real lives of people (even those who passed away many years ago), it is important to do your best to try to get the facts as accurately recorded as possible.  Where Charles’ notes helped me in this was because he listed dates, crimes and names.  Once you have this information, you can work backwards and forwards through archives, court proceedings, contemporary newspaper reports, gaol records and any other ‘titbit’ of information you can find before bringing it all together to give a more rounded picture of an individual and their crime whilst not forgetting their victim(s).  This has to be done for each individual and with 180 in the book you can see why it was such a big project and took several years.

What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?

 The biggest challenge was probably to avoid temptation and also to know when to stop.  One of my many research trips was to the Berkshire Records Office in Reading, but not to look at patients records.  I used their files to double check what Charles Bishop Coleman recorded relating to his own service.  I had contemplated asking to see certain individual’s records but ultimately decided that this would move me too far away from the core idea of the book, which was the viewpoint of Charles himself.  The Medical Superintendant and his team of doctors of course recorded their opinions of patients at Broadmoor, but whilst fascinating, it seemed too much of an intrusion for me as a non-medical individual to expand upon this avenue of research.

Thank you Kim for a truly interesting insight into your book and your life.

Watch out for Part two of Kim’s Spotlight where she reveals some exciting news about her Great Great Grandfather’s journals. 

Inside Broadmoor Book Cover

You can purchase this fascinating book and find out more about Kim at the links below:

Amazon:

UK:   http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/1530786428

USA:   https://amzn.com/B01F0AY97O

AU:   http://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B01F0AY97O

 Website:   http://www.insidebroadmoor.com

Facebook:    https://www.facebook.com/Kim-Forester-246195889102951/

 

How should I publish my middle-grade novel?

I finished writing my middle-grade action adventure novel set in London and Duat – the land of the dead in ancient Egyptian religion. The title so far is Cleo Dalby and the curse of the Chaos Mummies. It had several other titles, but this one seems to suit the tone and genre of the book.

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It has been beta tested, edited quite a bit. Beta read again, edited again and again and again… I think it is ready to be let out into the big, wide world.

So, what do I next?

Should I try traditional publishing, agent etc? Or, should I self-publish?

I know the pros and cons of both kinds of publishing having been published by a small publishing house and self-published. Both have their good points and bad. I have heard that it is very difficult to sell children’s or middle-grade books if you self-publish. I don’t know how true that is, but I have heard it said by quite a few authors.

Now that I am a self-published author, I like it. I have control over all aspects of marketing and editorial decisions. A thing I did not have when under contract. I am inclined towards self-publishing this book for those reasons.

However, I may just send it out to a few well-chosen agents that have enough authority and respect within the publishing world, to possibly get me signed to a major publishing house. Why? Because I am unsure of how my book will sell. Most books written for children under the age of fourteen are bought by parents for their children. After speaking to a lot of parents, they said they hardly ever, if ever, bought a book by a self-published author. This may not be true of every adult who buys books for young people.

Am I talking myself into traditional publishing here?

I’m somewhat confused.

Photo on 20-08-2013 at 14.54 2

Any thoughts, comments, suggestions, and advice would be gratefully received.

I have posted an extract from the book.

No cover as yet. This will have to do.

2012-09-18 at 10-05-20 (1)

 

Cleo Dalby and the Curse of the Chaos Mummies

 If you were twelve-years-old and possessed by evil, what would you do?

Curses, chaos, mummies, gods and the fight to save mankind.

Chapter 1

We Are Not Alone

Darkness pushed against Cleo Dalby’s arms and legs as she struggled to make her way through the narrow chamber. Hands outstretched before her, she slid her feet forward, straining to hear something, anything. But every sound, even the skid-slap of her sandals on the stone floor, became lost in the gloom. On Cleo walked slow and tentative, deeper into the world of corpses.

A sigh, long and weary-filled drifted towards her. It seemed to gather friends as it neared, and soon the sad laments of dozens of disembodied voices surrounded her. The moans continued, drifting in and out of her ears like tired moths trapped inside a lampshade. She tried to struggle on, but the wails tugged at her ankles, forcing her to stop and listen to the muffled chatter that swirled and scuttled inside her head.

“We, the dead, abide here. Quietly resting, hands on chest, faces tilted up to catch a ray of sunlight.”

“A futile gesture. For this far below the ground, there is only blackness and the weight of stone.”

“We, the dead, lie still, poised in readiness for our resurrection.”

“What a wait we’ve had. So many years spent lying in a state of half-remembered promises and expectations, grown dull with the passing of each century.”

“We, the dead, no longer know who we are. Memories fade and melt into our hollow skulls.”

“We, the dead, sometimes whisper to each other.”

“Husks of words from dried up lips that stick to the cold walls, waiting for the living to listen.”

Cleo touched the limestone with her fingertips and thought she heard a murmuring of souls.

“We, the dead, can feel a presence.”

A breath of ancient brushed past her cheek. She shivered and rubbed her naked arms. The chill slapped onto her legs and spread upwards leaving pimples of stiff-haired unease on her sunburnt flesh. She gulped and said into the blackness, “Hello? Is anyone there? My name is Cleo.”

“Found out!”

“Not Yet.”

“No.”

The voices ceased.

She called again, but no answer came. There was a smell of rot so strong that Cleo nearly vomited. It disappeared and she felt as if a heavy weight had been lifted from her shoulders. She stood tall, shrugged, and said, “The dark is just an absence of light,” then shook the torch that was gripped in her hand. “Stupid, froggin’ thing. Work.” She patted it against her palm. “Work.” Something touched her shoulder and Cleo jumped.

You can read a longer extract on my website under the heading Cleo Dalby:

http://www.nicolamcdonagh.com

 

 

 

 

Does changing your book cover help sales?

I have heard many authors say that your book cover is what sells your book. True, to a certain extent. The cover has to reflect the content in some way and be the branding image for your books, especially if they are a series.

These were my book covers after I changed them when my publisher closed down. I was in  a rush to get them out so as to keep my reviews. The one that really stood out for me was A Silence Heard.

my book banner

Now, I really don’t like most of the book covers I see. However, I do realise why in some genres, the images are the way they are, to attract a specific fan base. That would mean for example, that these days a YA Dystopian covers will almost always look something like this.

510FKrsZfwL._SX329_BO1,204,203,200_ Yeuk, as far as I’m concerned, but I am not the target reader.

Dystopian with a strong female protagonist, such as Divergent by Veronica Roth, and The hunger Games Suzanne Collins, also my genre for The song of Forgetfulness series, take a more abstract approach to their cover design. They sell a lot of books.

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After delving into the some of these books, the content is pretty much the same, so yeah, the covers reflect that.

I have noticed recently in the Dystopian genre a huge trend  in favour of the fantasy style covers with images of pretty girls on them. They all look like romance books to me.Yet they are listed as Dystopian.

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My problem is that my story is different, my narrative style is very different. If I were to choose a cover similar to the ones above, then the reader would be disappointed with the content, perhaps. At least, it would not be what they expected. That is if they bought the book solely on the merit of the cover.

With that in mind I decided to choose  covers that were very different in style from those in the same genre, yet reflected the content in some way. I want to attract readers who will like my quirky style of writing by using a cover design that would stand out from the others.

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In the words of the late, great Umberto Eco. “Eco discussed his approach to writing in an interview at a Guardian Live event in London in 2015. “I don’t know what the reader expects,” he said.

“I think that Barbara Cartland writes what the readers expect. I think an author should write what the reader does not expect. The problem is not to ask what they need, but to change them … to produce the kind of reader you want for each story.”

I have been told by a few authors that I am wrong to do this and that I should get a cover like one of  these.

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Will I sell more books if I use a design like the ones above?

I’ll never know because I will never have a cover like that.

I want to stand out.

Have I ruined my chance at selling my books because I dare to be different?

I took a chance with the narrative style of my book and it worked, so why not the covers?

To my delight, I have gotten some excellent reviews often praising my slang-based language. Echoes from the Lost Ones was even used as the basis for a graduate thesis by Mattia D’agostina. You can read the blog post here: https://nicolajmcdonagh.wordpress.com/2016/02/05/translation-can-it-work-for-every-book/

So, I think I’ll see how these new covers work when I start to re-market my books.

What do you think?

Am I right?

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You can purchase any of the books from The Song of Forgetfulness series on Amazon:

US: http://amzn.to/1TlwaBP

UK: http://amzn.to/1O01bZ1

For more information about The Song of Forgetfulness series, please go to the website: http://www.thesongofforgetfulness.com/