We’re delighted to welcome Scott Bartlett, author of Royal Flush. Scott joins us to share his experience of writing and self-publishing his novel.
Hello, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave readers! I’m Scott Bartlett, an indie author from Newfoundland, Canada.
In this post I’ll discuss my experiences writing and self-publishing my humour novel, Royal Flush. Hopefully this information will be valuable to anyone considering indie authordom.
I wrote the first draft in the 18 days leading up to a competition deadline. It didn’t win—probably because it was a first draft. But I rewrote and revised several times, eventually submitting it to the Atlantic Writing Competition. It received the H. R. (Bill) Percy Prize, which is something I make sure to mention now in promotional material, as well as on the back of the book.
I submitted it to several publishers, and got a couple nibbles (read: full manuscript requests), but no bites.
My decision to self-publish meant I was responsible for virtually everything except the actual printing—including writing, editing, cover art, formatting the book, turning it into a PDF, and promoting it.
To be taken seriously, it’s crucial that a self-published book be professionally produced. And that means thorough editing. I was lucky enough that many people took an interest in reading Royal Flush before it was published—I would estimate that over 100 people read it during its various stages of pre-publication. This includes friends, family, coworkers, and users of Authonomy.com, all who provided valuable feedback. You might say I crowdsourced a significant amount of the editing.
I also went through 10 drafts myself. I didn’t catch all the mistakes—I know of at least one that irks me to no end. But I am proud that distracting grammatical and spelling mistakes have been kept to a minimum.
I approached a local artist I went to high school with, Susan Jarvis, with a concept for the book cover, and she made me something very close to what you see today. I was immediately very happy with the cover, and I requested only minor changes.
Formatting the book was a trial. I spent hours researching how to do it. Hyphenation was especially troublesome. I’m glad I invested the time, though, because I think the finished print book looks very professional. (Formatting for eReaders, of course, wasn’t as big a deal, since it looks different on every device anyway.)
To promote the novel, I’ve turned to Twitter, Facebook, my blog, and local venues such as bookstores, science fiction conventions, festivals, my local farmers’ market. I’ve been interviewed in local newspapers and on the radio. I conducted a blog tour, too, in August.
I also I plan to record the first part of my book as an audiobook, and give that away for free, to try and pique interest in the rest of it.
I have an 8-page marketing plan, which never seems to shrink no matter how many to-do items I delete from it. This is because I’m constantly adding new things—both new ideas and things I’ve realized I need to do. If you’re like me, you’ll underestimate just how much work self-publishing is before you go into it. A lot of it is unglamorous logistics. But based on my personal experience, I consider it well worth it.
One advantage associated with being self-published (and with being published electronically) is that your book is always ‘in print’. There doesn’t necessarily have to be a huge push immediately after the book is released, and then little to no activity afterward. Since my book is available for as long as Lightning Source, the ebook sellers, and I are all solvent, I can promote at my leisure.
Mind you, I don’t feel very leisurely. I am having lots of fun, though, and I consider that extremely important!
In the following scene, the King’s castle is stormed by a group of highly-trained soldiers. They are repelled using unorthodox means.
A trumpet sounded in the distance. The King looked up, unenthused. His interest grew when he discerned a flood of movement on the apex of Shepherd’s Hill. He squinted. A swarm of black-clad figures was cresting the summit, only to rush down the side nearest the King. It seemed to be some sort of a parade, or a marathon, or perhaps a…
(The King’s mouth fell open.)
…a vast host of armed warriors, dressed in the same uniform Private Reginald had worn.
The trumpet blared again, inspiring the King once more to scamper down the hallways. This time, he screamed uncontrollably.
“Your Majesty!” Frederick called as the King ran past the room in which he and Eliza cuddled. “Whatever is the matter?”
The King entered the room and paused to catch his breath, holding up a finger. Finally, he was ready.
“What is it?” Frederick said urgently.
The King’s brow furrowed. “I can’t remember.”
“It can’t have been very important. I’ll let you know if I recall.” The King left the room again.
Frederick and Eliza returned to snuggling.
The King came barrelling back in. “I remember now!” he shrieked. “Invaders! Approaching the castle!”
Frederick jumped up. “Is the drawbridge closed?”
The King thought this over.
“Then let’s go!” They dashed out of the room.
“Bring your fiddle!” said the King. They dashed back. Frederick tore open the case and extracted his instrument.
They dashed out again.
Downstairs, the attackers were already rushing into the entrance foyer.
“Hey!” Frederick shouted from the stairs, his voice cracking. The King cowered behind him. “Get out of here!” Frederick brandished the fiddle.
“Assail them!” ordered the King from over the fiddler’s shoulder.
By now completely pale, Frederick proceeded hesitantly down the staircase. “Hey!” he shouted again. He swung the instrument in a clumsy arc.
The black-uniformed soldiers drew up hastily. “Hold it, boys! He’s got a fiddle.”
“That’s right!” Frederick said.
“Is that a Stradivarius?” asked another soldier, who wielded a broadsword.
“Er, no,” the fiddler said. “It’s a replica.”
“Skilfully crafted, though,” said the swordsman. The invaders all agreed.
Another piped up. “Hey, now, you’re not going to hit us with that, are you?”
“I’ve been thinking about it!”
“But you might damage it,” a thoughtful young corporal observed.
“That’s possible, yes.”
“You shouldn’t jeopardize a decent piece of equipment like that.”
“I’ve taken leave of my senses!” Frederick said, gaining momentum.
“Instruments like that are hard to come by nowadays.”
“I’ll just have to do without!” the fiddler said, a wild gleam in his eyes.
The soldiers muttered among themselves. “Bloody maniacal,” one said. “Not a shred of respect for good craftsmanship,” said another.
The corporal cleared his throat. “If you’re not going to be reasonable, then we’ll have to. Come on, men. We’ll find another way in. On the double, now.”
The soldiers filed out in an orderly fashion. The King rushed up to the winch that controlled the drawbridge and cranked it for all his worth.
King and fiddler leaned panting against the blessedly vertical wooden plane.
“Play me a mournful tune,” the King requested.