I’d like to introduce a prolific and successful writer, Alison Wells, to my Blog. I first came across her work when we published one of her short stories in the Bridge House Voices of Angels collection. So over to Alison …
Who are you?
I’m a psychology and communications studies graduate and worked in HR and as a technical writer but gave up work to look after my four children who range in age from eleven to four. Writing is a huge part of my life and I commit as much time as possible to it. Housewife with a Half-Life is my first novel and I’ve released it both on ebook and in paperback under a pen name A.B. Wells.
Your writing background?
I wrote a couple of novels when my first two boys were tiny. Then I moved to short stories. I’ve been published in many anthologies including Voices of Angels with your own Bridge House, Irish literary Magazine Crannóg and the UK National Flash Fiction Day’s Jawbreakers. I’ve been shortlisted in prizes such as the Bridport and the Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing and just won a fiction prize in The New Big Book of Hope (for Kolcatha Street children). I began Housewife with a Half-Life during the NaNoWriMo 50,000 word writing challenge. I’ve also completed a literary novel and a short story collection.
Why did you opt for self-publishing?
While I’m submitting my literary work traditionally and looking for an agent, I’ve also been very inspired by many indie writers I got to know online. I did submit Housewife with a Half-Life traditionally at first. It had good feedback but publishers weren’t sure where it would fit with their lists. Speaking to an editor and other writing professionals we decided that it might be a good contender for self-publishing as it’s more a genre work than my other writing.Publishing is in a huge state of flux right now and I was interested to learn about self-publishing, to try to connect directly with my readers (I already have a very established blog) and I liked the freedom of being able to get my work out there. The skills and attention to detail I’m learning through self-publishing can be applied to traditional publishing as well.
I had plenty of contacts who had self-published so I didn’t even consider going to a self-publishing company. I was able to get all the advice I needed from writer friends online.
Was it costly?
I wanted to make my product just as good as a traditionally published book. I engaged both a professional editor, Sarah Franklin and a professional designer (Andrew Brown of Design4Writers). I also had writing friends to help proof and proof and proof again! The editing was essential but the cover has also attracted a lot of positive attention. I would never have been able to design it myself. I also engaged the services of a book tweeting service for marketing. Other costs included ordering proof copies of the paperback. I also ordered a large consignment of physical copies of the book with which I have stocked my local bookshops and sold direct, this was a large outlay which I need to recoup.
How did you find the process?
I followed Catherine Ryan Howard’s book Self-Printed as a step by step guide and I went with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing for the ebook and CreateSpace for the print on demand paperback. (And my husband helped with any formatting glitches!) However both KDP and CreateSpace are extremely user-friendly. I also published on Smashwords, following their formatting style guide. The formatting itself did not take too long (a few hours for the initial uploads) although the proofing of those uploads took some time and in the case of the paperback I had to wait 2 weeks for the proof copy to arrive (from US.)
On deciding the price of my book I compared to what was there already and making the book good value while being cognizant of having to cover my costs & make something of a profit. The paperback retails at £8.21 on Amazon but I’ve played around with the ebook price. The ideal price is $2.99 (to qualify for Amazon’s higher royalties) but I’ve put my book on sale for 99c (77p) now to generate interest, particularly since it’s my first book.
Marketing wise I was lucky that a local bookshop offered to host a launch & stock the book so I sold about 40 books on the night. I’ve also been featured in the beach reads in the Irish Independent. Online I’ve been experimenting with Kindle free days. I had many hundreds of downloads but I still have lots of work to do in making my book visible among the many available. One method is to release more than one book so there will a sequel to Housewife with a Half-Life as well as some other offerings.
So tell us about your book?
Housewife with a Half-Life by A.B. Wells has been described as “charming and enchanting with a dash of science” as well as ‘fantastic, funny and pure comedy.” It tells the story of housewife and mother of twin boys Susan Strong who has to travel parallel universes to retrieve aspects of herself, and save people’s memories from the evil memory bankers. Assisted by her endearing spaceman guide Fairly Dave & she dodges dangerous hoovers & fridges and defeats adversaries to save the universe. Part Eat, Pray, Love, part Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, it’s an original, heartwarming, lively read that should appeal widely.
You can pick up Housewife with a Half-Life for Kindle/Kindle App for the summer sale price of
77p on Amazon UK LINK
or 99c on Amazon.com LINK
or on paperback LINK
Order a signed copy or read about writing and self-publishing as a busy mother on www.alisonwells.com. Or you can visit www.abwells.com or like A.B. Wells on Facebook www.facebook.com/abwellswriter . I would also love to connect with readers and writers on twitter http://www.twitter.com/alisonwells
What are your long-term hopes?
I’m doing a final revision of my literary book The Book of Remembered Possibilities before sending it to agents and am on the look out for a publisher for my short story collection. I’m on a first draft of another book The Exhibit of Held Breaths and when that draft is done I’ll think about my next self-published project the sequel to Housewife which is The Meaning of Life is Monday. In the meantime I hope in the near future to self-publish some short stories. So in short I’m able at this stage of my career to explore both publishing avenues and I’m hoping they can feed into each other.
Overall I would say to others that the self-publishing route is not an easy one. More than anything you have to really believe in your book because you’ll have to read it over and over to get it right and you’ll have to stand by it once it’s available for purchase. Having read Housewife with a Half-life over and over it still moves me. There is a lot of support that a publisher can give to establish an author, provide editing services etc. Self-publishing offers freedom but everything is down to you, the quality, the marketing, technical issues – all time-consuming if it’s to be done right. Be very wary of self-publishing outfits who will claim to do the work for you for a price, many overcharge for what can be done at little cost. The publishing industry is changing fast and there are new challenges both in self-publishing & trying to get published traditionally. The main advice whatever route you take is to make sure to keep producing material and to the highest standard. Work hard and whether self-publishing or not, do whatever possible to build up a relationship with your audience.
Thanks so much Alison for some great information and I wish you all the very best with all your books. I have ordered my copy and I hope some of my followers will do the same!
Happy Wednesday all! And thanks Alison 🙂