1st May marks the end of this year’s Camp NaNoWriMo. Between the Lines blogger Eleanor and guest contributor Jess both take part in Camp NaNo, which is almost identical to November’s National Novel Writing Month: participants aim to write 50,000 words in a month, or 1,666 per day. At Camp, you share a virtual ‘cabin’ with 11 other randomly assigned writers- instead of swapping gossip and midnight snacks, campers help each other to reach their daily word count and overcome burnout or writer’s block. We’ve already shared some resources for aspiring NaNo novelists, so this month we’re turning our attention to those of you who might have 50,000 words (or more) on file, but no idea what to do next!
Self-publishing has been around since the 1400s, when Johannes Gutenberg’s printing press made it cheaper to spread the written word. This timeline lists notable self-publishers like William Blake, who etched his illustrations into reusable copper plates, and Virginia Woolf, who installed a press in her dining room. These days you don’t have to do all the work by hand- we take a look at some of the services available below.
Beatrix Potter is one of the most successful self-published authors in history- her books continue to sell millions of copies every year
Unbound is a crowd-funding website similar to Indiegogo or Kickstarter. An author pitches an idea and members of the public pledge their support- when enough people have shown a real interest in the project, the project is authorised and the book goes into print. You might receive a PDF copy, a paperback or hardback depending on how much money you pledge- many authors will include extras like signed copies, or even visit your college or library. Many established writers and creators use Unbound to maintain individual control over their work. Monty Python actor Terry Jones, children’s author Raymond Briggs and broadcaster and actor Stephen Fry have all used Unbound for their latest books. Unbound also caters to fans’ requests for spin-offs from their favourite cult series: Warhorse of Letters was originally performed as a play on BBC Radio 4 and Lists of Note compiles content from the Letters of Note blog. Organisations like the Craftivist Collective have used Unbound to promote their causes; The Good Immigrant, an anthology of stories by BAME authors, was backed by JK Rowling on Twitter and picked up by papers like The Guardian. The Unbound website has a comprehensive list of FAQs for aspiring authors here.
The authors of The Good Immigrant received a £5000 donation from Harry Potter author JK Rowling. Donations flooded in after Rowling tweeted her support for their project, which celebrates BAME authors working in the UK.
Kindle Direct Publishing offers authors even more control- though you may find yourself up against some stiff competition. There are thousands of self-published novels available on the Kindle store and fewer than 50 have sold more than one million copies since the service began. Romance and sci-fi novels are usually scorned by traditional publishers, but authors like EL James, Hugh Howey and Andy Weir have found a huge audience online. The important question may be “what came first?”- 50 Shades of Grey notoriously began as a Twilight fanfic and Wool and The Martian were both available to read for free on blogs before they moved to Amazon. How can you build a fanbase and ensure your book won’t be lost amongst the thousands that are free to read online? Social media is an incredible tool for engaging readers worldwide- you probably already know how to use Twitter and Instagram but the list of writing prompts here can help refine your image as a professional writer. Rather than just posting updates, make the effort to engage other authors in conversation. The Indie Author Alliance hosts regular Q&A sessions with authors over on Google+ and @BlackComicsChat use hashtags to facilitate weekly discussions. If you join the Goodreads author program, visitors who rate your book will be able to ask you questions- take a look at the profiles of YA authors like Malorie Blackman, Gail Carriger and Maggie Stiefvater to find out what to expect! Extend your brand across multiple platforms- John Green, author of The Fault in Our Stars, is a Youtuber with over 2 million subscribers and graphic novelist Noelle Stevenson has thoroughly conquered Tumblr.
The Craftivist Collective protest against disposable fashion and the exploitation of garment workers overseas. Readers who pledged their support on Unbound received craft kits and resources to stage their own crafty protests!
The Information Store has lots of books on how to use social media to connect with a global audience, including This is Social Media (Norfolk House 658.804 CLA), Understanding Digital Marketing (Norfolk House 658.800285 RYA) and The Social Media Bible (eBook available here) Staff in the Information Store are always on hand to help you navigate the library catalogue or access eBooks. As well as the resources listed above, The Writers and Artists Yearbook (Book Zone 808.0205) is an invaluable tool for anyone looking to work as a writer. A special edition is available for children’s authors and their website lists events and features articles from publishing insiders.
Self-published novel The Martian features an astronaut stranded on Mars and the international team who set out to rescue him. In 2015 it was made into a successful movie starring Matt Damon and directed by Ridley Scott.
Still don’t think you can do it? Read about Lesley Smith, a former student at City College who crowd-funded her first novel, and Jackie Orbell, City College’s Child Protection Officer, whose debut novel is available from Amazon. If you’re a writer, we’d love to hear from you- connect with us via Twitter or Facebook.
craftivist collective 1 mask on mannequin PaperDress Boutique accessed at https://flic.kr/p/e8XPS9 on 24/03/2016
NASA HQ PHOTO NASA Journey to Mars and “The Martian” (201508180001HQ) accessed at https://flic.kr/p/xerbS3 on 24/03/2016
Smith, A 09 Nikesh Shukla accessed at https://flic.kr/p/7fUfv2 on 24/03/2016
Uribe, L Beatrix Potter accessed at https://flic.kr/p/dxJMTb on 24/03/2016