100 Followers!

Just a quick post to announce I’ve hit 100 followers! I never thought I’ll reach even 10. Thank you all for your follows and for the support. I appreciate it. Let’s aim for another 100!

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Why I use Beta Readers

I’ve been writing for a very long time, but only recently been introduced to beta readers. When I wrote my first big historical fiction, Darkness before Dawn, I had no idea how much work was needed before publication. I submitted it to an online forum and it got pretty good feedback. This feedback helped improve the book. I, like most writers, are frightened by criticism. What if they don’t like it? Is the book boring? If other authors don’t like it, what would readers think?

These questions circled my mind. I knew the feedback would greatly improve my book but I was scared of what other people thought of the novel, the idea, concept, characters, accuracy. Did Stephanie Myers or Suzanne Collins  rely on beta readers for their novels? Maybe. We might never know.

I incorporated the beta’s ideas and started to submit. Darkness was offered seven contracts in the year of 2012, but I knew it wasn’t ready. I declined all offers and got back to editing. When I did find my current publisher, the book editing process wasn’t as arduous due to the feedback I received previously.

Sadly, I didn’t use this method when I wrote three books after Darkness and they took longer to find a publisher. Was it fear of rejection? Laziness? Lack of time? It was all three.

I just didn’t have the time or passion to seek other’s advice. Looking back, I paid for it greatly. Those three books weren’t the highest quality and the editing process was very difficult and time consuming.

Nowadays, I have learned from past mistakes. As I write my current WIP, Unspoken, I have sought feedback from three beta readers. Each one has provided different feedback. That’s the beauty of beta readers. No two betas are the same. One might pick on a character development, sentence or even dialogue and the other might pick on something else.

I have been a beta reader for two authors now. Not only does it give me the opportunity to make friends, it also allows me to see what other writers are writing, to see their dreams and hopes in their work.

I used to fear beta readers, but now, I rely on them. You only need to know where to look. Sign up to author forums or follow a fellow author on Facebook or Twitter. Make contact. Some people are quite happy to read one’s work for a free read in order to provide feedback, while others are keen to ‘swap’ books. Some are writers, some are hardcore readers. Either way, using a beta reader improves your book tenfold. They might pick on something the publisher might not see.

I have seen great improvement in my WIP by using my betas. I enjoy reading their work and keeping in touch. We are all aiming for the same thing: To be published.

Every author pours their blood, sweat and tears into their work. It takes courage to hand it over to a stranger, an unbiased reader, and allow them to tear your work apart word by word. Honestly, I would rather give my work to someone I didn’t know, compared to my husband, or family. It’s too close for comfort and I don’t like people I know reading my work.

Invest in a beta reader. They are truly an author’s best friend.

Have you had any experiences with beta readers, good or bad? I’d love to hear your stories.

Update October 2014

Hi everyone, its been ages since my last post. Life has been hectic and I’ve had little time to catch up on this blog. The only news I can report on is I’ve finally finished writing my current WIP, a historical fiction based during the Blitz. It was a project I started working on back in January and its been a struggle to finish it. I can always gauge how content I am with life if I write. If I’m happy, I write. If I’m not happy, I don’t write.

The first half of 2014 was hard for me and I put off ‘Unspoken’ for a very long time. I lost my passion for writing because I was miserable in life. Things have gotten better and I’m glad I can now tick this book off my list. It felt like a weight on my shoulders, weighing on me for so long. I thought about shelving it and starting a new project but I was determined to finish it. Honestly, it ended quicker than I thought. I had envisioned a whole ending but as I wrote, I felt the story was over and put my finishing touches on it. It was one of the hardest books to write because I was going through so much at the time personally.

Now, I can edit and get it ready for publication. This book has been a labour of love and I’m proud to say I have now finished it. In 2012, I churned out 3 books and I promised myself to keep up this habit. But alas, life gets in the way and I’ve managed to write only one book per year since. Maybe this will change.

Watch this space for any news on ‘Unspoken.’ I’m really hoping for an agent because I don’t want to settle for second best this time around. Currently, I am researching and slowly starting my first science fiction. I am a little nervous because there are so many sci fi books out there. However I want mine to be original and outstanding.

Thanks again for your follows. I appreciate it.

Kellie xx

Edge of Tomorrow update

After a bit of a hiccup with EoT and my then publisher earlier this year, the novel has found a home with my pub Soul Mate Publishing. That makes four books with SMP. I’m excited and relieved for it to be contracted. I’m not sure of the release date so stay tuned. I envision it to be in 2015.

New review for Earthwalker

Thanks to Beth who left a lovely review for Earthwalker on Amazon! I’m glad you enjoyed it! You can find the review here.

If you would like to review Earthwalker or any other of my books, please feel free to contact me

Blog tour update

My blog tour starts in 3 days and as part of my promotion, I’m giving away a copy of EarthWalker. I want to reiterate that it’s an ARC, a PDF copy of the novel. Please note, it’s an epub version. I don’t want to upset anyone if they were expecting a e book version. You can enter the giveaway here.

Looking forward to meeting my readers.

Publishing advice

When I tell people I’m a published author I usually get the typical ‘oohs’ and ‘ahhs’, but to me, writing a book is normal. It’s been such a massive part of my life that I see it as the norm. So when new writers ask for publishing advice I try to give them the best I can. Recently my grandfather asked me to contact a friend of his who was looking at publishing a non-fiction book. I was flattered that someone of his age was seeking advice from a twenty something.

Here is what I told him:

Note: Before you read this, the text is of my own opinion and experience and representing no one’s views but my own.

I’ve had three fiction books (soon to be more) published traditionally over the years. I’m not an expert at it but I hope I can provide you with some good advice. Ian informed me it was a non-fiction book you were looking at getting published. Have you written it? If you have and you’re content it’s completed, I suggest having someone who’s not affiliated with it, such as a friend or work colleague, read over it. Beta readers are great because they can offer fresh ideas and suggestions you normally wouldn’t think of yourself.
I haven’t written non-fiction, and the submission process is a little different but I hope I can help either way. There are two routes you can take: self-publishing or traditional publishing. I’m not sure if you have looked at either, but self-publishing has become quite popular, but it is pricey. You do have to pay to have your book published. I used Zeus Publishing in QLD. I paid at the time $2200 to have my book published, and it didn’t sell. That’s a risk you take, but I also didn’t do any marketing. Traditional publishing is free (you never have to pay a cent to have a book published). Be aware of vanity publishers. These companies pose as traditional publishers, but have secret fees that catch you. Always read the site carefully. They provide false hope because they pretty much take anything – bad or not, so beware. If it sounds too good to be true, it generally is.
There are many non-fiction publishers in Australia, but they are generally hard to get in to, unless you have an agent. I suggest you look at an agent if you wish to publish traditionally. Visit http://pred-ed.com. This site has a network of global publishers (non-fiction and fiction) and agents as well. The site also warns writers of bad apple pubs and agents. I’m afraid people learn the hard way and get burned. It’s a good site to have bookmarked.
There are some good Aussie publishers who don’t need an agent, such as Pantera Press, and I believe New Holland. I went overseas for my books. My publishers (I have 3) are based in USA. If you do chose an overseas publisher, particularly in the US, please be aware of their tax laws. You will have to go to the IRS and get certain forms. I got an ITIN (which is hard to get) but its like a tax file number for overseas writers. Don’t let this dishearten you. For your first book, I do suggest looking at an Aussie publisher to minimize this hassle. Google ‘Australian non-fiction publishers’ and it will come up with a good selection.
When you do come to selecting a publisher, I suggest to keep note of all the ones you submit to. It’s not uncommon for some publishers to take weeks or months to get back to you (I’ve waited 6 months before). Writing a book, non-fiction or fiction is a long process, and sometimes it can take up to a year from the moment you submit it for it to be released. Another piece of advice I’ll give you is to read the submission guides carefully. These always take authors by surprise. They weed out people who don’t take direction. Some publishing submissions guidelines can be long and arduous, while others are short. For non-fiction, I’m not too familiar with submission guidelines but you generally need to submit the first 3 chapters, contents, why you wrote the book, what makes you qualified to write it etc.
Most publishers that aren’t Harper Collins, expect their authors to do their own marketing. Look into getting a website built, do blog tours and delve into social media. I have a little network that I use to promote, such as Twitter and Facebook. Also take the time to join a writer’s site such as authonomy.com and Absolute Write. I am on both and have met other authors and publishers. Its an excellent way to promote your book, but also be around like-minded people. Sites like Authonomy is run by Harper Collins, but they mainly do fiction novels. Absolute Write features both. Scribophile is a good one too where you can feature and provide feedback to other writer’s works.
If you have any questions about this post, please contact me. I am not an expert in book publishing and the above text is only from what I experienced.