A Kate of many hats!

I was talking with a friend the other week. She’d seen a couple of posts on social media that I’d made of some Riley Pope cover art and asked me when the books were out (December, if you’re interested). I won’t go into detail, but long story short she was surprised that I had to get involved in the editing, proofreading, cover art creation, etc etc. “I thought all you had to do was write and someone else did all the other stuff.”

I chose to self-publish my Riley Pope series for a number of reasons:

  1. They’re coming in around 9,000 words each and I wouldn’t know where to try and get that length of work published (outside of competitions and magazines where there are no guarantees of publication)
  2. I’ve been messing around with comps and the never-ending novel long enough now and just want to get my work out into the public domain.
  3. I’d quite like to make a little cash, no matter how small an amount, from the hours and the effort I’ve invested.

I don’t think there’s quite as much stigma around self-publishing these days as there used to be. There’s a lot of work out there of equal quality to that of the traditional publishers, and I’m betting that the authors are all the more better off for it. There’s also a large pile of poorly written, unproofed, badly designed dross that’s the fuel for the stigma that I mentioned, and whilst it’s no excuse for publishing substandard products I can sort of understand why there are people that do it.

Hats that I have worn in the last two months:

  1. Author hat
  2. Editor hat
  3. Proofreader hat
  4. Cover art designer hat
  5. Blurb writer hat
  6. KDP manuscript converter hat
  7. Website design hat
  8. Twitter hat
  9. Facebook hat
  10. Curl up in a corner and cry hat

Some of these hats are easy to wear; they fit me and suit me and I’m happy to wear them. Author hat needs no explanation. Editor hat, ditto. I’m a recently qualified proofreader, and whilst it isn’t easy to proof your own work, I’m confident enough in the process to feel like I did a good job. I don’t very much like Twitter hat; probably because I don’t much like Twitter. My Facebook page is brand new and shiny (and just waiting for your shares and likes, hint hint) but I’m on there all the time so it wasn’t so difficult to set up a page. Website design hat? I’ll leave that up to your interpretation (please be nice!).

Cover art design hat was a learning curve. I’m not a designer and I’ve no skill at all in programs like Photoshop. Where, then, could I create my ebook covers? Which option should I choose? What size did it need to be? And graphics. Where did I get those from?

I ended up on Canva, which is free, and found they had a ready made template for Kindle ebook covers. They offer free graphics and images but none were what I wanted so I headed over to Shutterstock and spent whole days browsing graphics for my covers. I eventually settled on a theme for the series and sought out suitable artwork. I then bought a licence that allowed me to download five images. If I use one image per book then I think it works out about £7 a book. It took me some time to get my cover art just how I wanted, especially when I realised how unreadable the font was when shrunk down to icon size.

Blurb writer hat – I imagine its about as painful as wearing synopsis writer hat. I haven’t had to wear that one yet, and I am not looking forwards to it either. Blurb? Bleugh! Enough said.

I’m still getting over my stint wearing KDP manuscript converter hat. If you’ve never had to do it, I envy you. If you have then I sympathise. I’ve gotten used to writing my drafts in 12 pt Calibri, l.5 line spacing, tabbing to indent paragraphs and holding down the enter key to start a new page.

But KDP doesn’t like that. You must entirely strip your poor MS of all formatting and start again from scratch, inserting page breaks, removing any white space longer than three lines, and changing all the thousands of paragraph indents from tabbed to first line indents. There’s probably a simple way to do it, but I was learning, so I did it step-by-step. By step. By torturous step. I now have a Kindle template saved for just such a job, so wearing my KDP hat in the future shouldn’t be such an issue.

I had no intention of wearing my curl up in the corner and cry hat, until I realised just how close I was to having published work available for purchase. Assuming there are people out there good enough to buy my work, then self-assessment tax hat is looming in the distance.

“I thought all you had to do was write,” said my friend.

If only!

Later! xXx

Day 1 of editing – not the best start!

Well it’s Monday, it’s 11.53am and it’s the first day of the two week holiday I booked in order to edit my now-completed novel.

I had intended to be up and at my desk around 9am. Not very early for some, but I’m a night owl and I didn’t want to set myself up for a fall, especially considering I didn’t get to bed until around 2am.

At 5.15am I was rudely awoken by Cat Number 1 who required me to service his food bowl, which was empty. This is nothing out of the ordinary so I got up and fed him and went back to sleep.

At 7.30am I was rudely awoken by Cat Number 1 who required me to service his food bowl – again. I carried out my duties to He Who Must Be Served and shuffled back to bed. This was my error. I should’ve just made myself a cuppa and gone to the study until I was awake enough to work.

I eventually crawled out of bed around 10.15. I made myself a cuppa and put the TV on, just to check the news. I did check the news, but I also caught the end of Jeremy Kyle, and the start of the cricket. I did the washing up and then decided that the lounge required hoovering. Then I moved my car, which was parked quite a way from the house, to a spot a little closer. Then I had another cup of tea. The hubby went to work and I thought, Right! This is it! I am going to start editing that novel if it kills me! Then I got ambushed by He Who Must Be Served, whose food bowl was empty – again.

11.45am – I made it to my desk. But did I open Word up? Nope. I went on Facebook, just to check what the world was up to, and then I decided I’d write a new blog post. It’s now 12.07pm and I haven’t done a single bit of editing.

I think I know the problem. But more on that tomorrow when I’ve actually done some work.

But just before I start I think I’ll have another cuppa…

welford and mummy
He Who Must Be Served and his ever-faithful servant

A bit about me

Hello again, Treasured Visitor!

So who is Kate Lowe and what is she about?

I completed my first novel at the age of 24. I didn’t set out to write it with any commercial success in mind, which is good because the bloody thing is awful. 160,000 words of awful. One day, when I’m feeling particularly masochistic, I may share an excerpt for you all to point and laugh at. When it was finished I got all excited, bought myself a copy of the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook, and started submitting my novel to agents without a single clue what I was doing. I received two generic rejections, and a whole lot of nothing from everybody else. I hadn’t even formatted the manuscript correctly. My query letter said very little about the novel, but a lot about how much I believed in it.

Ha. Hahahaha.

At some point I came to my senses. Realised I knew squat about writing a novel, so sat down and wrote myself another one. That was also very bad, but not quite as bad as the previous attempt. That one came in at over 100,000 words. I rewrote it twice. Then I enrolled on a distance learning course with Writer’s News and began a new novel.

Meanwhile I devoured all the books on writing I could lay my sticky mitts on. Absorbed the advice in Writing Magazine and began to submit short stories. The first one I ever wrote, Lucinda, made the shortlist. I kept on writing novels, learning as I went. Rewrote, rehashed, discarded whole chapters.

I read somewhere once that a writer has to write for at least ten years, or above a million words, before they really know their craft. Well I’ve certainly smashed through the word count and I turned 34 back in April, so I qualify for both. Whether I became any good at what I do is up to you to decide.

I completed (what I call) my first novel in May. Technically it’s probably my eighth, or, if you consider that I used the same characters, the fifth rehashing of my second. (I also wrote another novel, apparently. I found it on a thumb drive a couple of months ago and don’t remember very much about it. It’s 80,000 words though, and with a little polishing I think it’s a keeper).

I’ve blocked out the next two weeks for solid editing, so maybe this year will be the year I get an agent and a deal. Or maybe it won’t be. Most likely it won’t be. I’m under no illusions about how tough this writing lark is to make it BIG. And if I can’t catch an agent’s eye then there’s always self-publishing. Either way, my novel will be out there eventually.

And then there’s Riley Pope, of course. Riley is the lead in an urban fantasy series I began a few years ago, but then put on hold so I could concentrate solely on my novel. Now that its finished I’ve had the time to revisit The Case of Walutahanga, complete it, and write the second story in the series, The Case of Ahuizotl. As soon as I finish the third I intend to self-publish all three, with the aim of completing a Riley Pope story every couple of months.

I’m probably biased, but I think you might like her.

So that’s a little bit about me. A couple of other things you might like to know: my favourite authors are Jim Butcher, Kelley Armstrong, Mike Carey and Stephen King. I’ve recently tried to broaden my genres and very much enjoy Gillian Flynn and Lee Child. Bill Bryson is another of my favourites. I like genre fiction, and humour. If a book can make me laugh out loud, great! We all need a lot more laughter in our lives. Dara O’Briain’s Tickling the English is highly recommended if laughter of the side-splitting, tears-rolling-down-your-face variety is sought.

So that’s a little bit about me. Thanks for reading, and I hope you come back soon, Treasured Visitor.

black cats

 

About Kate

Kate Lowe is the author of the urban fantasy series The Riley Pope Case Files20181224_1237121589252742.jpgA member of the British Fantasy Society, her short fiction has appeared in various zines, magazines and anthologies. Her story ‘The Wolf Runs In The Barley’ received an Honourable Mention in The Best Horror of the Year Volume 4, edited by Ellen Datlow. She lives in Leicestershire, England with her husband, two demanding cats and an army of bears that have far too much to say for themselves. You can find her online at www.kateloweauthor.co.uk

Kate is also a qualified proofreader actively seeking commissions. You can find her website at http://adeptproofreading.wixsite.com/…