Monday, March 14, 2011

Guest Blogger: Allan Russell, author of Veiled in Shadows

The Hone Your Skills Blogfest is this WEDNESDAY! Woot! I'm so excited. I can't wait to read your flash fiction pieces. In fact, I've cleared my week so I can really pay attention and hopefully  make some meaningful comments. :)

Today I'm excited to have Allan Russell as my guest blogger. He blogs over at Publish or Perish, where you can get to know him better and follow links to blogs about his book Veiled in Shadows. Without further ado, here is Al's story.

First of all I would like to say thank you very much to Rosie and Charity for hosting this post.

In support of their Hone Your Skills Blogfest they are asking published authors to talk about their road to publication.

I guess in some ways my path to publishing my novel Veiled in Shadows is quite atypical and some (if not many) would say not at all the best way to go.

Absolutely ages ago (in fact it would be close to twenty years ago) I did what many young people do and sat down to write a novel. Unlike most I finished a first draft, in fact that was my first draft of Veiled in Shadows.

But life got in the way and my writing went on a shelf stored on a floppy disk.

Over the following decade or so I wrote hundreds of thousands of words. None of them fiction.
The writing I did was in the form: of a couple of bachelor’s degrees; an academic thesis; and hundreds of reports and press releases in various work places. I didn’t really think about it but all this writing was having a positive effect on my writing ability.

A few years ago I had a bit of time on my hands and thought I would like to ‘write a book’. Then of course I remembered that I had in fact already ‘written one’ and hunted down that lost floppy. I was quite excited at the prospect of looking at it again, but I was bitterly disappointed. It was awful! The writing was really poor, the characters were cardboard 2D cut-outs, in short it was almost fit for nothing.

But, I still liked plot. I thought the themes could be developed into something meaningful and the characters could grow into credible beings. I began re-drafting from there. Most of Veiled has been redrafted three times since then with a few sections probably changing eight or ten times.

Following that I paid for a professional manuscript assessment. The report was good and indicated with some changes (including pruning sub-plots) I would have a marketable manuscript. I pretty much adopted all the recommended changes and did another redraft.

I then employed another editor to do a copy edit. She wasn’t paid for advice as such but essentially said wow! So by then I was pretty sure I had something worth querying.

I hated the query process (who doesn’t). I took every rejection very personally (which you shouldn’t). This led me to consider self publication.

I did a lot of research and decided to give it a go. Almost still playing with the idea I began designing covers and formatting the text. I’m lucky in that I have some skills with design, I produced a cover that I think not only looks good, but more importantly professional.

In terms of formatting, again I’ve had some experience with desktop publishing and the like for work and I did more research and looked at what works in published books. Where I lacked is in basic editing so I both paid for edits and had the luck to recruit a couple of friends/acquaintances to check the work over.

The bottom line is if you want to have professional looking work pay professionals for anything where you don’t have the skills.

In terms of printing I’ve gone for POD and am using LightingSource. They are a printing company, they just print. You have to look after everything else. But as a subsidiary of Ingram you will get listed with Amazon and the Book Depository automatically and any retailer who wishes can order your book direct from Ingram.

What did it cost?
My biggest single cost component has been editing, around $1500 in total. The cover cost me about $100 (mostly the licence for a photo I used as a basis of my cover). LightningSource charged about $80 to set up my print ready files and list internationally.

The up side - this is pretty much all my work and that gives me a lot of pride.

The down side any problems are my fault I can’t blame any one else.

I’ve had some brilliant reviews, for example by British biographer Kathleen Jones.

How is it going?
Well sales are slow but essentially that is because I have not had time to put some marketing ideas into action.

Although as I said it’s already on Amazon (including Kindle)and when I checked the other night they were discounting the paperback at $8.05.

Anyone want to buy a book? ;-)


  1. Hi Charity,
    Thank you so much for hosting my post. It's been fun!

  2. Interesting interview. I'll have to click on the link and see what the book is all about. Thanks!

  3. I always love hearing about outer authors' journeys. Thanks for sharing, Charity and Al! The book cover is fabulous.

  4. Thanks again Al for playing with us over here. It's always great to hear the different ways that people approach publishing.

    Diane and KM, thanks for stopping by! I agree that his cover is awesome.


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