Sunday, 22 January 2012

Guest Post - Nicola Morgan - and competition

I’m delighted today to welcome Nicola Morgan to my blog, as part of her blog tour to promote her new ebook – Write A Great Synopsis. I’ve read the book – it does what it says on the tin and should be part of every novelist’s e-bookshelf. Wish I’d read it before submitting my lousy attempt at a synopsis to an appraisal agency! Ah well, at least I know where I went wrong now.

As more and more writers seem to be self-publishing ebooks these days, I thought I’d ask Nicola a few questions about this.

WW: You’ve self-published a couple of books on Kindle – what kind of book do you think does well published by this route?
NM: Short books are perfect. Non-fiction where the author has direct contact with the target market is ideal and it’s hard to see why you’d want to use a publisher to do this for you, unless there are lots of pictures or something technical like that. Novellas and short story collections are very hard to place with trade publishers (though I think more publishers will tap into this market when they get their act together) but can do well as ebooks. But fiction of any length is hard to sell and writers should not think of publishing it themselves without understanding why it’s hard to sell and without being prepared to do some pretty full-on (and often unattractive, in my opinion) self-promotion or accept modest sales.

WW: Many short story writers have a back catalogue of published stories and might like the idea of self-publishing a collection as an ebook. Do you think there’s an appetite for short story collections as ebooks? What are the pitfalls to beware of when self-publishing ebooks?
NM: See above! I’d add that the temptation is for unpublished writers to self-publish just because they can. And before they are ready. However, in self-publishing as in publishing, mediocre or even dud writing can also sell well (and great writing can sell badly) though I hate the thought of that. Therefore I think the pitfalls are in some ways the same for publishing: underestimating the problems and fortunes of what makes a commercial success. If you believe your writing sings and you are as convinced as possible that it’s as good as it can be, do it. But if you feel you are still practising, my recommendation is to carry on practising for longer. You will get better and I’d hate for you to publish too early and then wince when you read it two years later. And don’t let the few(ish) major success stories in self-publishing give you a false impression of how easy it is. It is not easy. That’s why it’s satisfying.

WW: Agreed, anything worth having is worth working for. Do you have any advice on how to publicise self-published ebooks? (Or how to publicise anything!) Your blog has a huge following. What advice would you give to writers who are trying to build up their own following on blogs or twitter or other networks?
NM: Be active, be nice, be online, be generous, be patient and be yourself. Don’t prostitute yourself or cross the lines you don’t like others to cross. For non-fiction, “platform” is essential. So, for me with Write a Great Synopsis, my blog and Twitter will be crucial and have already paid dividends. For fiction, I’m afraid you need to be active on the forums where readers recommend books. I don’t have time and generally don’t enjoy these forums so I don’t frequent them and my fiction ebook sales therefore won’t fly. Mondays are Red (novel) sells about a quarter the number that Tweet Right (non-fic) sells, even though Mondays are Red has so many original print reviews to support it. But I’m happier with a modest number of genuinely interested readers than I would be with lots more that I might get if I spent a lot more time on marketing and chatting on forums. I suppose it boils down to this: know how it all works and work out what is right for you. And have appropriate expectations. It is very hard work – but then it’s very hard work being published anyway. There is also luck involved, in both models. Sorry, that wasn’t very helpful advice, was it?!

WW: It was honest at least! In the couple of years since I’ve been following your blog, you’ve written a highly acclaimed YA novel, a How to Write book, a guide to Twitter, Write a Great Synopsis book and republished your first YA novel. Wow, respect for all that! What’s coming next?
NM: Thank you! Well, I’ve written another YA novel which may or may not find a publisher (It takes a few risks. And, although you’ll hear that the YA market is vibrant, it’s really only vibrant for paranormal romance and I can’t tell you how this is NOT paranormal or romance…) I’m planning two more Crabbit Publishing non-fiction titles, first the provisionally-titled Dear Agent. And I’m writing a novel for 9-11s (I love that age group) which I’ve started but which I’m finding incredibly hard. So I want to devote some time to that.

WW: Tell us about the competition you’re running to promote Write A Great Synopsis?
NM: Sure! Would you like the chance of winning a critique of your synopsis from me? All commenters below (by Feb 15th) will be entered into the Big WAGS Competition, with chances to win a critique of your synopsis by the Crabbit Old Bat herself! One comment per person on each blog – though you can add to your chances by commenting on the other posts on the tour. Details of all stops on the tour will appear on my blog (Help! I Need a Publisher!) as they go out.

Thanks for having me, and good luck to all your readers. Happy synopsis-writing!

For details about the book, including buying options, go here.
The link direct to Amazon UK is here.

Thanks Nicola, and good luck with this book and all your other writing ventures.


Laura Mary said...

With more and more writers self publishing I can see a need for some guidlines on polite self-promoting!
Thanks for the pearls of wisdom Nicola!

Patsy said...

Interesting interview. There's so much publicity about epublishing at the moment that I imagine anyone who has ever written anything has at least considered making it available in this way.

I have and ... I'm still considering.

Old Kitty said...

Hi womagwriter, hello lovely Nicola Morgan!! As usual you dispense such realistic and very wise words of wisdom with regards to all things publishing!

Take care

Diane Fordham said...

Interesting post containing useful information. Thank you :-)

Cameron Writes said...

*Stands up* My name is Cameron and I'm a self-published writer.

That was fascinating and touched on a lot of subjects that fascinate me - I too loathe people using Twitter ONLY to promote their book (or any other product) and I totally agree that quality rather than quantity sales are what matter to me. This isn't my 9 - 5 job (yet?).

Being nice to people is very important - Nicola is unfailingly polite and replies to Tweets, not merely RTing praise.

More useful advice and a visit to someone else's blog - isn't this fun? Thank you womagwriter.

JO said...

A great interview. Would love to know if Nicola ever has any spare time at all, to just read or walk or flop about (or eat chocolate). How does she fit all this writing and being nice to people into a day lasting only 24hrs?

M Louise Kelly said...

Thanks once again for sharing your experience of self-publishing. I don't know how many people have sent me a link to the Amanda Hocking "Million Seller Self Published Writer" articles and told me i should give it a whirl! So great to have words of wisdom from one who knows.

And as for synopsis advice: my critique group are all buying it and we're having a synopsis-fest soon based on your advice, so THANKS.

Joy said...

Hello womagwriter, enjoying your blog ... and hello Nicola - great interview, very interesting with useful nuggets of wisdom.

Finished WAGSynopsis, such an easy read ... now just need to rediscover my 'mojo' and get back to writing, and wrestling with that synopsis!

Anonymous said...

Hi Womagwriter & Nicola Morgan - thanks for another great post. Having recently written a two page synopsis for the novel I'm just in the process of finishing before I move on to the edits I wondered if any other writers have experienced the problem I'm facing. My two page synopsis is such an exciting read I'm wondering if the novel itself will be a disappointment to any publisher who then goes on to read the book! I loved writing it as putting all the action and journey together over two pages gives an idea of real pace but surely the novel itself can't match that. Any thoughts? Thanks

womagwriter said...

Anon - I would think an exciting synopsis will encourage an agent or publisher to want to read the whole book. And getting them to ask for the full MS is half the job of the synopsis.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Womag. Maybe I'll try and ramp up the excitement volume in the novel when doing the edits! I know you mentioned some time ago regarding your own novel that it wasn't possible to keep high pitch intensity as is possible in a short story - being very auditore here aren't I? . Still maybe it's more of a film outline than a synopsis and I need to get Nicola's book asap! Thanks again

Anonymous said...

Ha! I meant auditory not auditore.

Dream it, then do it said...

Good interview. As always, this blog shares essential information. I don't know what I would do if it didn't exist.

Anonymous said...

Hi - Great post can't wait to have a read but as a bit of a technophobe I'd love some advice. If I buy Nicola Morgan's book am I right in thinking I can read it from my Mac if I haven't got a kindle? Has anybody tried doing that and does it work?? Thanks

Suzanne Jones said...

Great interview womagwriter and Nicola. Thank you.

A synopsis should really be scary. But it is. So I've downloaded the book onto my Kindle and look forward to reading it.


Kirsty said...

I think I'm going to need the guidance of the polite self-promoting book, not because I think I'll be a shameless self promoter (I hope not) but because there are some hideous examples of over promoting that I'd probably be too scared to send more than one tweet. Look forward to hearing about where the balance lies.

Nicola Morgan said...

Hello all - I am *so* sorry I didn't post a comment here earlier. I was on trains/away for a few days surrounding the post coming out and commenting is nigh-on impossible on a phone but I should have come back later. I forgot. Very sorry.

I love all your comments and wish you luck in the comp! Womagwriter - a huuuge thank you to you for hosting me here.

Anonymous (1) - womag's answer is good!

Anonymous (2) - you are correct: you don't need a Kindle. You just download the free Kindle software from Amazon onto your Mac and then you can buy any Kindle book.

Jo - not really, no! I don't need *time* to eat chocolate though - I am very good at eating it while doing other things! Sadly, I do far less reading than i use to, and no flopping about at all. :(

Lovely to see familiar and new faces here. Happy writing, everyone!