Super affordable proofreading

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It is so hard to see the errors in your own writing. You can read something ten times and not see a glaring mistake in the first line.  When I read back over my early drafts, I cringe when I find the mistakes. This is particularly so when I know that I’ve sent that exact draft off to a publisher or agent in the hope of publication.  It makes me feel a bit sick thinking about people that I want to impress reading my work and coming away thinking that I’m a moron (or at the very least a very careless person!) for all of the mistakes it is riddled with. When I was first starting out as a writer, it never occurred to me that it might be a worthwhile investment to get my work proofread before sending it through to an agent or publisher.  I figured that if they were interested in taking on my work, all of the proofreading and editing would be provided.  Why should I bother paying for it? Nowadays, I wouldn’t send anything out without having it thoroughly checked first.  Getting a manuscript proofread by a professional makes sense to me now. I want to send my work through looking as good as it possibly can do and part of that means forking out a little bit for editing up front. The only problem with this is that my budget doesn’t extend very far.  At all. Late in 2013, I used Fiverr to fund the illustrations for Ruby Marvellous. This was easily the most affordable way to get high quality, unique, hand drawn illustrations with a fast turnaround time. It worked so well for me and it has been a site that I have been recommending ever since. Today I put the finishing touches on a short story, which is part of a series I’ve been working on over the summer break.  I think it is ready to show a publisher, but as I only just finished writing it, I know that it will need someone with fresh eyes to look over it before I send it off. Enter Fiverr – again.  For $5, I am getting my early draft of 1500 words edited and proofread by ‘Mr Proofreading’. (I even upgraded to a 24 hour turnaround for $10, bring the total cost of the proofreading to $15 or $1 per 100 words!)  He comes highly recommended by previous clients – 2355 people have reviewed his services and he has maintained a 5 star rating. I’m looking forward to receiving my draft back tomorrow with his feedback/corrections (and, at that price, my bank account is going to be super happy with me too!)

Update (Not even 24 hours later):  I received my draft back and the feedback was accurate and thorough.  I received a ‘Finished Clean’ copy with all of the suggested changes made and a ‘Highlighted’ version that showed what changes had been made. That’s a big thumbs up for Mr Proofreading! So worth it!

If it is broken … fix it!

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In the last few weeks I’ve received a few comments from readers about my website.

1. Almost every link to every different page and categories wasn’t working.

2. My Twitter feed has been acting oddly and tweeting the same link.

Completely weird and highly annoying.  So it has taken me a while but I think I’ve managed to work out the problems.  The first problem is with the theme I was using – ProPhoto 4.  I loved this theme and it served me well, but there was no way I was going to fork out more money to upgrade to ProPhoto 5 (as the original version wasn’t exactly cheap).  Sure, it looked great, but as someone trying to turn a (very small) profit as a writer, every dollar counts.  Wordpress.org and Bluehost kept wanting me to upgrade the theme and I thought I could get away without doing it. However, the most recent WordPress.org upgrade started causing the problems with the pages not linking up and I decided that the easiest (and cheapest) way to fix the problem would be to jump ship back to WordPress.com.  The site you are seeing right now is totally free, cheerfully bright and I’m ok with it all. And it works – win!

As the solution to the second problem, I disconnected my Twitter account, then reconnected it and turned off my ‘Tweet Old Posts’ plugin for a while.  At least until I have some new posts here to tweet about and then I’ll get back onto it.   I haven’t really been engaged with Twitter for the past few months and that is something I’d like to change in 2015.

So, this is the new Frankly Books site and at this stage, it will be looking this way for 2015.  What do you think?  Is there anything you can’t find?  Any problems you can see?  Let me know!

Self-Printed Splash!

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I’ve been a massive fangirl of Catherine Ryan Howard for the past three years.  She is a the reason that I eventually decided to set up Frankly Books and pursue this whole “self-publishing” caper. And, if I’m being really honest, she is the reason that my books have sold so well.  Her book Self-Printed (the original edition) made self-printing seem achievable, made me think about the whole thing in a different light AND took me through the whole process step-by-step.  It was the best money I spent in the whole experience.

In short, when it comes to publishing a book yourself, Catherine’s Self-Printed is the bible and if you think you can self-publish a high quality book that will look just like the ‘real thing’ and that people will actually want to buy without reading Catherine’s book first, then you are kind of like the characters in Jurassic Park who thought that the dinosaurs would never turn against them.  In short: you need this book.

Today I’m super chuffed to be taking part in Catherine’s Self-Printed Splash, to celebrate the release of the third edition of her book.

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To celebrate the release of the third edition of her book Self-Printed, Catherine Ryan Howard opened up her email inbox to eager self-printers to answer their  burning self-publishing questions.

My question for Catherine was: What is your best suggestion/tool/go to site/wildly outrageous idea for promoting children’s fiction?

And her response?

It’s not even slightly outrageous, but I do think video is the way to go for promoting children’s books. Children love YouTube, and parents love navigating to YouTube on their iPads and then handing them to the children to keep them quiet. There’s lots of cartoons and education videos for them to watch, songs to sing along with, lullabies and, of course, story time! You can easily make your own story time video by setting your webcam to record and then reading aloud from your book in your best storytelling voice. You could even subtitle the video so they can read along. I’ve said before that when you create something that promotes your book, it must stand on its own even when you take away the promotion. A story-telling video would do that – take away the fact that you want people to buy your book, and you still have a story-telling video. You can also share the videos on your website and Twitter. That’s what I’d recommend. 

Love it!  For more excellent nuggets of information just like this, get yourself a copy of Self-Printed 3.0.  Seriously

Ruby Marvellous Book Site

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Did you know that Ruby Marvellous actually has its own book website?  This was something new I tried when I released this book back in November 2013.  The site has recently been updated and includes lots of interesting new information and activities.  There are even some new never-before-seen illustrations of the characters and information about how they got their names!  Check it out at www.rubymarvellous.com

Here is a sneak peek …

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Book Club Event – right here in Camberwell on 6 August 2014

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I’m so excited to be doing an author event for my local bookshop Dymocks next week!  It would be so fantastic if you could make it along to talk all things children’s books.  Here are the details:

Our guest authors for August are: Sally Harris & Hazel Edwards! I am sure most of you have heard of Hazel Edwards, of Hippo picture book fame, & Sally Harris is the author of some younger reader novels that are selling very well!

Dymocks Camberwell celebrated 2012 The National Year of Reading with the inauguration of our very own First Tuesday Book Club, each month. We hold this Book Club at Ebony Quill Cafe, commencing at 6.45pm to 8.15pm (doors open 6.30). This will give participants plenty of time to get home for the Book Club show on the ABC at 10.00pm.

We start the evening by talking about our favourite novels, both new & older ones. We will ask participants to comment about books they have read or are reading, just like a normal book club. We won’t be setting a monthly book, as we want to hear about as many books as possible, including old favourites. You may just want to listen at times and hear about other people’s experiences with their books. It is totally up to you!

We will provide some finger foods and beverages/tea/coffee on the night, as well as some giveaways supplied by publishers.

The cost for each evening will be $10.00 all inclusive.

Bookings are essential for catering purposes.

Please join us by booking on 9882 0032 or at camberwell@dymocks.com.au.  More info at https://www.facebook.com/events/1512104445670349/

Website update (“It’s about time!” I hear you say)

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After things didn’t work out for my plans to release Ruby Marvellous in November, the wheels really fell off my self-publishing bandwagon.  I found that I wasn’t interested in reading the blogs I normally follow, like Catherine, Caffeinated and The Creative Penn. I stepped away from blogging here at Frankly Books.  I stopped replying to emails. I found that if anyone asks me about my writing, my books, my dreams, I wouldn’t really engage in the conversation. I totally lost my writing and publishing mojo.

As part of relaunching Ruby and getting my groove back this March, one of the first things I had to do was to update this website.  There was a lot of old info and a lot of tired looking links. As you take a click around Frankly Books today, here are some of the things that you might notice are new/fixed/infinitely better than they were previously:

1. The ‘My Books’ page now features information about both of my books.  Crazy, but true.  You can download their first chapters free (and Ruby Marvellous is still free to download in return for a review over at StoryCartel.com for a few more days)

2. Both of my paperback books are now available for purchase by Australian readers on the sidebar of my blog.  I’ve also updated the pictures of Penguin-napper to be the most up-to-date, shiny, new edition.  Interestingly, they are both on sale at the moment at 20% off their usual price.  Just saying, if you were thinking of buying one, now might be the time …

3. There is a new ‘sliding drawer’ sidebar.  It’s that pink thing on the left that slides open when you click on it. It will also take you to StoryCartel.com at the moment.

4. I’ve updated my ‘Tweet Old Posts’ widget so that it only share my newest, most up-to-date posts with my friends on Twitter.  No more old, repetitive tweeteroos.

5. A less cluttered sidebar.  The adverts are out, the broken Pinterest link and anything else that seemed a bit unnecessary. Gone.

6. My Author Photo is going to be updated.  My hair is about twice as big as it used to be and the photo will reflect that.  All the important things, clearly.

7. The ‘About Me’ page has been updated to be even more about me as things are now.

7. Many of these same changes have happened to my Author page over at Amazon Author Central too. Cohesion and matching fonts mean that I can now sleep well at night.

It’s a bit fresher, easier to find what you are after, and I love it.

So, when was the last time you gave your author website a good clean-up?

Why I decided to give my book away for free

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The reason I’ve decided to give my book away for free is simple:  Great reviews help to sell great books.

Because of this, for the next 19 days, Ruby Marvellous is being featured on StoryCartel.com and it is available for you to download for free.  And if you download it, read it and write a review, you’ll then go into the draw to win one of three Amazon Giftcards.  Amazing, huh? Head to StoryCartel.com to download your free copy and get started.

Rrrrrrewind and rrrrrelaunch!

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Book publishing-wise, the last three months have been a bit of a nightmare.

First of all, there were a zillion stuff ups with uploading Ruby Marvellous and getting it printed here in Melbourne.  I’ve been a big fan of working with Lightning Source to get my books printed locally and delivered within a few days.  The finished products look amazing and are good quality.  With Diary of a Penguin-napper, things were easy – I just uploaded my book PDF and cover, then had it printed.  With Ruby Marvellous, things just didn’t go as smoothly.  There were problems with fonts needing embedding and it took several weeks to get right.  There were miscommunications at both ends.  The November 15 launch date came and went. As did the November 30 back-up.  When I left for a month long holiday in the US on December 13, the books that I’d planned on posting out to people before I left were still being processed.  Come the beginning of February, the books had finally been picked up and posted out, but that was it.  The blog tour hadn’t happened. The launch party hadn’t happened. The promo material hadn’t arrived. It was, for the most part, a non-event.

And that was so dispiriting and so completely disappointing.

It was awful that I’d been working on a new manuscript to get it ready to be a published book for nearly two years and that after all of that effort, all of the blood sweat and tears, only a handful of people (that I’m not related to) have actually read it.

Sure, there have been some positives. 717 people requested Ruby Marvellous through a Goodreads giveaway that I ran.  That was more than Penguin-napper the year before.

I’ve received some amazing feedback from people who have read the book. “I loved it, even more than Penguin-napper,” said one friend on Facebook. Or “I had a day at home time and I read your book. I couldn’t put it down. I love it. You have such an amazing imagination,” texted another.

So, after being glum about how things have gone for Ruby so far, I’ve decided that I need to rewind and relaunch.  March is going to be a marvellous month.  A ruddy marvellous month.  A Ruby Marvellous month.

Over the next 31 days, I’m going to be posting here every day.  I’m going to be trying to get my mojo back.  There will be:
– Plenty of opportunities to get copies of both of my books as ebooks for free
– Limited edition illustration prints from Ruby Marvellous
– Discussions about my various advertising campaigns
– Hopefully some Guest Blogging
– A book site launch
– 3 Amazon Giftcards to be given away
– My top tips for self-publishing in Australia
and lots, lots more!

So, join me and let’s make March a month to remember!

Get your free sample of Ruby Marvellous!

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It’s heeeeeere!  I’m so excited.  Seriously, I can’t even explain it!  This book has been so much harder to write, develop, edit, polish and bring to a finished product than Diary of a Penguin-napper was, and I’m just as nervous about releasing it out there into the wild.  Such a big moment and such hard work to get here. But here I am.

So, enough of the emotional stuff.  Let’s have some fun!  Want to see the cover for Ruby Marvellous?  This is yet another triumph created by Andrew Brown of Design for Writers.

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Beautiful, huh?  This is the third cover that Andrew has designed for me and every time he has shown infinite patience with my dilly-dallying about colours/fonts/images/etc and has done such an amazing job. Love it!

Now, want a taste of what’s inside?  Course you do.  Well pop over here and you can download the opening chapter (and a bit) to get a sneak peek of what’s to come.

Annnnnnd, there’s more!  If you like what you’ve read, Aussie readers can pre-order your copy of Ruby Marvellous for just $12.  Every copy will be signed, specially gift wrapped and posted out to you in time for you put it under your Christmas Tree. (Sorry US and UK readers – you’ll be able to get your copy through Amazon when it is released at the end of November!)

Want a free copy of the first chapter of Ruby Marvellous? Yeah you do!

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So, do you want me to release Chapter One of my new book Ruby Marvellous for you to check out (before you buy 20 copies for every child that you know/are related to/live next door to for Christmas this year)?  Yeah, you do.

Back in November 2012, in the lead up to releasing Diary of a Penguin-napper, I released the first chapter when the Facebook page hit 100 likes.  Currently, the Facebook page is on 199 likes.  Once it clicks over to 200, I’ll release the first chapter of Ruby Marvellous. Fair deal?

Head over to the Facebook page and get your ‘like’ on.  Even better, if you are lucky number 200 and you email me at sally [at] frankly-books.com, I’ll even send you a free copy of the eBook once it has been released in a few weeks time.  Yep, I’m nice like that.