Dawn Brookes Publishing

Publishing Topics by author Dawn Brookes

Tag: book publishing

Literature Festivals

Literature Festivals

For years people have been saying that we are living in a post-literate society and many people claim that Donald Trump is the first post-literate president. The argument is supported by the amount of television people are reported to watch. A recent article in the Mail Online suggests that the average Brit watches 24 hours television per week which equates to ten years of adult life in front of the box!

Reading Declines during Secondary School

The BBC reported that a recent survey by the National Literacy Trust found that after leaving primary school, enjoyment of reading declines- particularly among boys but also among girls.

Having said that, they also found in a survey conducted in 2016 that reading for pleasure was gradually increasing among 8-16 year olds. Girls read a bit more than boys but, for the first time, reading does not appear to be influenced by social background according the report. White children are less likely to enjoy reading than black or mixed ethnic backgrounds and Asian children are the most likely group to enjoy reading.

Why Literature Festivals

When Derby introduced a literature festival a few years ago, I was excited and it has proved to be a very popular yearly event engaging people from all over Derbyshire and further afield. Literature festivals raise the profile of books and reading and the popularity of the Derby festival can only be seen as positive in that respect.

My only reservation is that it tends to be aimed at main-stream publishing and can work out to be quite expensive. Having said that, I am delighted that it is thriving as it raises the profile of books as well as being good for Derby. The festival is held in June each year and attracts a host of famous authors. Tickets tend to be over £12 each making it difficult for an average family to visit more than one event.

Indie authors, to date, have not been invited to participate in any way. Indie authors who are self-published now form a large part of the marketplace, particularly in relation to ebook sales and have become much more professional in approach over the past ten years thanks to organisations such as the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). Initially there may have been some authors who did not pay due diligence to their text and editing but anyone trying to publish sub-standard books learns a harsh lesson very quickly. Mainstream publishing still turns it’s nose up at Indies’ but readers less so. If I want to read a good book, I don’t look to see if the publisher is mainstream. I read the description on the back or online if I am purchasing an ebook. If the book turns out to be poor quality inside (be it mainstream or indie) I will not read a book by that author again! So indie or non-indie, I want a good book that is well formatted and not littered with mistakes as do the majority so personally, I don’t care whether a book is traditionally published or self published.

Oakwood Literature Festival

At the turn of the year I began thinking about hosting a literature festival in my local area to engage local people with authors and reading. I asked about this on the ALLi forum and discovered that many of my fellow Indies were doing just that. Although the majority were charging and therefore paying authors to attend which is perfectly reasonable, I wanted to provide an event free of charge. One of the leading lights of ALLi, Debbie Young does just this at the Hawkesbury Upton Literature Festival which has been running for five years and has grown exponentially. I have decided to follow this model and the first Oakwood Literature Festival will be held on Saturday 12th May 2018 in the Community Centre in Oakwood!

I am delighted that, although this is on a very small scale for the first event (as the money is initially coming out of my pocket!) I have managed to engage some excellent authors who are all willing to give their time for free!

Activities on the day

As well as four talks by panels of authors and author readings in the main hall, there will be a bookshop cafe, a prize raffle and tombola. The cafe will be a Narnia themed cafe as I feel I am stepping through a wardrobe into an unknown land!

Authors Attending

The authors attending come from a variety of backgrounds and write in various genres including historical fiction, women’s fiction, thrillers, fantasy fiction, non-fiction and children’s fiction so there is something for everyone.

You will be able to find out more about each author attending on the main website but for the first year we have:

Debbie Young who will be launching the first festival and chairing a couple of panels. Debbie writes cosy mysteries, short stories and non-fiction

Myself, Dawn Brookes and I write nurse memoirs, children’s books and will shortly be launching my own murder mystery novel

AA Abbott who writes suspense thrillers and dyslexia friendly books

Celia Boyd who was born in Derby and writes historical fiction

David Ebsworth who writes historical fiction

Kate Frost who writes women’s fiction and YA fiction

Paul Gaskill who is a Derby author and writes YA fantasy fiction

John Lynch who writes historical fiction and is a ghostwriter

David Robertson who writes children’s books

Conclusion

All being well, the Oakwood Literature Festival will become an annual event and will grow. My vision is that it will be able to support itself through sponsorship and the cafe and I would love it to become a yearly, family friendly event held annually in Oakwood across all of the main venues that we have within a half mile radius of each other. For this year though, space is limited but we hope to put on a great day free at the point of entry like the NHS that I loved and worked for for over thirty-nine years!

Image at top of page courtesy of Pixabay under Creative Commons License

Happy New Year!

Starting a New Year 2018

It is always exciting to start a New Year and reflect on the one that has passed. Last year was my first full year as an author and I enjoyed every minute of it. The learning curve has been huge and I still have so much to learn, particularly around book marketing which is really not my favourite activity!

2017 was very exciting and I can’t believe that I published eight books including a second in my series of memoirs around my nurse training. Hurry up Nurse 2 is proving popular.

Bestsellers

My first memoir ‘Hurry up Nurse: memoirs of nurse training in the 1970s‘ is my bestselling book and it reached ‘Bestseller’ status on Amazon US last year. I am thrilled today to see that it has now received that all important ‘Bestseller’ ribbon on Amazon UK. What a great start to the New Year! I guess people are enjoying some reading time and spending their book and kindle vouchers that they had for Christmas!

My second bestselling book is the second of the Hurry up Nurse series and I am pleased with reviews for both books.

Plans for this year

I am in the process of writing my first novel which is set on a cruise ship. I have been on a number of cruise holidays and thoroughly enjoyed all of them so I wanted to write novels that are set around cruise ships. I haven’t got a title for this one yet as it is still evolving!

I will be publishing a third in the children’s Ava & Oliver series in the spring. This will be Ava & Oliver’s London Adventure.

My third memoir will be around my midwifery days and I hope to publish this in the late spring or early summer! It will be called Hurry up Midwife.

Ambitious plans then for 2018, I would love to hear what yours are.

Reading Challenge

I want to read a lot more this year too. I used to read a lot but when working in the health service it was hard to fit in leisure reading except during the holidays because I had so many text books and professional journals to read in order to keep up-to-date.

Do you like to review?

I am looking for experienced reviewers, book bloggers and journalists who would be happy to receive Advanced Reader Copies (ARCs) of books in each of my series of books. If you are interested in providing genuine and honest reviews and willing to commit yourself to reading an ARC, please contact me via the Contact Form on this website.

I would also love book bloggers and journalists to review any of my published books. Please let me know which book and format you would like to receive via the contact form.

 

 

Hurry up Nurse 2

Early Readers

Ava & Oliver Series

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Writing: Lessons I Learned from Writing My Memoirs – A Case Study

Writing: Lessons I Learned from Writing My Memoirs – A Case Study

Dawn Brookes, British nurse, shares what she’s learned from writing two memoirs
photo of Dawn Brookes

Thinking of writing and self-publishing a memoir? Get off to a flying start by reading this case study by ALLi author member Dawn Brookes, who shares the benefit of her experience gained from her two self-published memoirs containing stories from her early nursing career.

 

Why I Wrote My Nursing Memoirs

I started the first memoir while working full time as a community matron in Derbyshire. Initially I was writing for myself and for future generations who might want to explore family history. I became determined as I remembered the patients from those early days, I wanted their brave stories to be told, and I was remembering the fun and camaraderie of nursing in the 1970s.

Progress was slow going as I had hardly any spare time.

Set Back by Lost Work

In 2014 my computer crashed, and the hard drive was irreparably damaged. I lost the majority of the memoir. At that point, I gave up. Work was too busy and I began to doubt the value of writing it. I had major things going on in my life, as I was about to semi-retire and work part-time. I forgot about the book.

Broken Bones

As published in Alli blog

Hurry Up Nurse – the first instalment

Fate conspired to remind me about the memoir when, following a fall, I broke my foot in three places and ended up in plaster. I was confined to the house and bored out of my brains – when I remembered!

I was able to concentrate on one thing, in one place and I completed the work in seven weeks.

The most challenging part for me was developing patients’ stories without identifying them due to confidentiality.

I had to change things around a bit and mix up details while remaining true to the facts.

Mistakes Made & Lessons Learned

cover of book 2

And the first sequel (More are in the pipeline)

I made a whole load of mistakes in August 2016.

The biggest mistake was not having the manuscript proofread, although I had read it numerous times and   asked a few friends to read it, we were all too wrapped up in the story and missed the numerous grammatical errors.

The next mistake I made was joining the Amazon Advantage programme. I ordered 200 books. The pricing of memoirs is relatively low at £7.99. I had sensibly had the book cover designed by a graphic designer, and the Kindle book formatted and converted by a professional. I published the book on Kindle.

The orders were coming in from Amazon Advantage, but I was posting books to their warehouses all around the UK, wasting time at the post office.

It was costing more money than I was making!

The next major faux pas was when I read the book and noticed an error on the second page. I was learning a harsh lesson. In spite of this, complete strangers were reviewing the book favourably – even on Goodreads it was getting three stars! This encouraged me that the content was at least readable. I found ALLi’s Debbie Young via a blog post, and she kindly agreed to read the book. Debbie was encouraging about the content and gentle with her advice.

I bit the bullet and hired a proofreader which was the best thing I could have done.

Corrections

I was able to correct the mistakes for the Kindle version, but the print book was more difficult. I had sold about 90 books when I decided it was time to cut my losses and do a reprint.

I realised that the Advantage programme was not right, and I moved the book to Createspace after a few emails to Amazon Advantage.

Change, Change, Change

The beauty of spending decades working in the NHS is that constant change requires flexibility which is vital, and I applied those skills to publishing.

The second memoir flowed better because my writing had improved.

Also,

  • I found it easier to mix up events and personalities to protect confidentiality.
  • The whole publishing process was much simpler.
  • I learned how to format books for kindle and epub and for print too, which saved me money.
  • This money was spent on proofing and editing the second memoir.
  • I saved a fortune by using print on demand.

More Memoirs to Follow

With lessons learned and readers requesting more, there is likely to be another memoir or two in the future. I still have around eighty print copies of my first book if anyone wants one – as long as they don’t mention the grammar!

Newspaper cutting

Celebrated as a success story in Derby local paper.

OVER TO YOU If you’ve learned lessons from writing a memoir, do you have top tips to add to Dawn’s list? We’d love to hear them!

As published on Alliance of Independent Authors blog   26/10/2017

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How to Publish on Amazon’s KDP Platform

How to Publish on Amazon’s KDP Platform

Are you publishing your own ebooks on Amazon’s Kindle platform?

how to publish on Amazon's kdp platformIf so, then I am sure you are excited about the simplicity of publishing a book in this way but that is only the beginning. The ebook market is huge and is only getting bigger. In some ways these days, it is a little harder to break through int this rapidly growing market, but at the same time, there are all kinds of tools and resources available to you. The industry has changed but we need to remember that we are now building the world’s online library.
You wouldn’t be alone if you do not fully understand what is going on. It is kind of obvious with digital books being published that we have a digital library building up. How to Publish on Amazon’s KDP platform is a simple yet complex process. To put this in perspective, the process is quite easy but there are quite a few things to be taken into account. In the coming years, there will be fewer printed books and more and more digital books so not publishing on the platform could be writer suicide.

eBook Growth

The above should tell you as an aspiring author that you are taking part in the beginning of something, and so, whilst it comes with some caveats, growth in the eBook market represents a bigger opportunity than most people think. I am not one of those people who thinks that print books are dead because for many of us die hard reading fans, we still like the look, feel and smell of physical books. If you look around though at how the next generation are reading you will se that it is usually via a screen or with earphones (audio-books is a new growth area I believe).

How to Publish on Amazon’s KDP Platform

Account Set up

Like with everything in life it is easy to publish an ebook once you know how. You first need an Amazon Kindle Self Publishing account before you can start uploading your first title. The account can be opened using your current Amazon buyer’s email and password and takes a few minutes to set up. The longest bit of the account set-up is completing the online tax form but the instructions are clear enough, even for someone like me.

Files (formatting & conversion)

Once the account is set up, it is not quite as simple as uploading your book as a file, because you do need to ensure that the ebook is adequately formatted or it can look terrible on the screen. If you look at what most other authors do, you will realise that the formatting is not that difficult once you have learned the skill. I don’t have the time here to go through formatting in detail but may do so in the future as I format my own. If you don’t want to do it yourself then you can outsource the task through an outsourcing platform such as Fiverr.
For Amazon the file (once formatted) needs to be converted Mobi format and for other platforms it needs to be in ePub. There is free software that will do the conversion for you from a word document. Once you have converted the file to Mobi you need to save it to your computer and it can then be uploaded to the KDP platform through your account.

Tables & Photos

Tables do not convert well to eBook and so they have to be saved as JPEG images and then re-inserted into the word document before converting the file.
If you include images in your book, make sure that you reduce the size before publishing or you will lose out on royalties due to the costs of the download. 72 dpi is adequate for eBooks but not for print books which need to be minimum of 300 dpi, so you will need different image files for both if going to print. All of this is best done in photoshop and you can buy photoshop elements for reasonable costs if it is something you will be doing a lot of.
As a general rule of thumb, don’t use the handles in word to resize images.

Don’t skip editing & proofreading

You will also need to ensure that your book is professionally proofread and has a professional cover design. These are all things worth paying for and most of these services can be outsourced. I made a big mistake with my first book and had loads printed, thinking the book was good to go. I immediately noticed grammatical errors and then paid for a proof reader who was worth every penny I spent. I had to discard more books than I care to remember! Don’t make the same mistake.

Book description

The one thing that people read in detail is the book description and I have learned many lessons over the past year about writing a good sales copy. The description needs to be captivating and it needs to stand out. The problem with the KDP platform is that if you just enter the text straight into the description box it looks quite boring and doesn’t stand out. Spaces and headers are not taken into account unless you use HTML which is allowed. I have learned some basic HTML for writing better book descriptions and a sheet is available here.

Keywords

The most important part of the process when uploading a book is choosing the right keywords. Keywords are everything in terms of getting the book to show up on the right page and to improve your ranking. You will need to research keywords for your book that are high traffic generating but low competition which is not always easy. There is not enough time to go into this here but I will produce an article or video in the near future.

Publish

Once you get your book and cover uploaded, it is time to hit publish and start the marketing. Many people say you should get your family and friends to buy as many books as possible so that the market pays attention. However, do not focus on this too much as it can actually skew your books ranking. For instance, if your friends and family do not normally buy in that genre then the books that come up in the ‘also read’ or ‘also bought’ sections of Amazon will list books that are totally different to yours and yours will be listed alongside these which makes it hard for Amazon to categorise it properly. You do need as many reviews as possible though so you will need to weigh up the pros & cons.

Marketing

What you need to do is market your book in a variety of ways. Promotion on social media is a must. Do you have your accounts grown yet? If not, it’s okay because you can grow them at the same time you are publishing. Make sure that you have an Amazon author page set up and a separate Facebook page for your writing. You need to set up separate author pages on UK and USA Amazon.
You also might want to pay attention to Amazon Marketing Services. They let you run two different types of ads:
  • Sponsored Product
  • Product Display
They are cost per click ads. You set up your own ad and once it is setup it is submitted it for approval. It will then show up on your ad campaign dashboard as part of your KDP account, which is below your sales dashboard. You can see how many impressions your ads get and how many clicks. Currently this is mainly for the US market although there is a UK platform but this is not linked to KDP at present and therefore you can only promote paperbacks limiting the ads to Headline Search and Product Display ads which most people say are not as effective as Sponsored Product ads.
You do only pay for the clicks, and you set beforehand how much you pay per click and how much you wish to spend each day. The dashboard also shows you your sales based on clicks. There are also free book promotions and a ton of advertising sites you can use after launching your book.

Conclusion

Are you ready to start your publishing career? If you are, then you need to start getting that book ready. This article on how to publish on Amazon’s KDP platform should help you get started. As you do, plan out all of your first steps for advertising at the same time so that you are ready to make the right moves.
Dawn Brookes is author of:
Hurry up Nurse
Hurry up Nurse 2
Buy to let: 7 steps to successful investing
Property Investment: how to fund your retirement with a buy to let property pension.
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Marketing Books & Good News re. Local Library

Marketing Books

Great News – I will be library stock!

Not me exactly, but my work. I was delighted to hear from my local library this week that they were happy to purchase stock of my memoir Hurry up Nurse. I have to say that since publishing the kindle version last August, followed by the paperback in September I have been on a very steep learning curve. I don’t know quite what I imagined would happen when I published the book – immediate best seller……………? I soon learned I knew nothing about marketing books.

Marketing – a new lesson

Suffice it to say that I hadn’t anticipated the amount of work that goes into marketing a book once it’s published. It is definitely like learning to drive – it all starts after you pass your test! Many reading this I am sure will relate to this, particularly if you have begun a self publishing journey. After the initial flurry of sales from friends and family died down, it was learn, learn, learn. I think my poor Facebook friends must have got sick to death of the sight of my book cover and I hope that they have forgiven me for going into overdrive! I know this article is about being stocked in a library but I just wanted to write down all of the ploys for marketing books I have had to learn along the way.

Social Media – What’s that?

First of all there was social media! What? I need to create a separate Facebook page, twitter account, Pinterest, Google +, YouTube, blog, website! Are you kidding me? The reality is – yes to most of these but it doesn’t have to happen all in one day. I think the first priority for me was to create a separate FB page and then to resist the temptation and stop bombarding my normal account friends with posts about my books! I am almost there, I promise. Twitter I just cannot fall in love with so have not gone there – never say never though! YouTube has been an easier journey for me because I love teaching and training, I did always want to be an actress! Blogging is relatively new but again, because I like sharing knowledge I am starting to enjoy it!. Building a website – not an easy task but I have managed to build one for publishing and one for property investment. Having a website and getting traffic to it are two different things but that is a blog post for another day. As you can see marketing books is not easy.

Anyway, back to the main theme, this has been a good week for me, as I said, Derby Libraries have agreed to stock my book and I did have an order yesterday from Gardners for normal and large print versions so they have been true to their word. They have also kindly arranged a ‘meet the author’ session in one of my local libraries for later this month.

Contacting a Library

I started by going into my local library, I initially gave one of the staff a copy which they said would be sent to acquisitions – I think that is short for charity bag or bin as it disappeared! Next, I went into the library on a quiet day and asked for the name of the librarian who was responsible for purchasing books and she kindly gave me a contact email address. I wasn’t sure I would get very far, as, like many libraries around the country the county libraries are strapped for cash and some have been facing closures. I sent off a nice email introducing myself and my books and asked for a meeting. I explained that although self-published, the books were of a high standard (following a correction to a faux pas made early on) and would be happy to show examples. I heard nothing for a month and so decided to try again and I resent the message but added a little bit of personal understanding about the difficulties libraries were undergoing – I meant every word because I love libraries. I even offered to donate my books for free as stock. I am not sure whether it was this email or the start of the new tax year that brought a response but I am delighted that it did! They have ordered 6 normal print and 3 large print books and I couldn’t be more pleased about the extra exposure this will bring to my work.

A Great Week

I have had a really good week which makes up for all the plodding I have been doing over the past six months. I had a lovely email from an American reviewer today encouraging me in my work and saying that she had no doubt I could be a Best Seller! Wow, what a confidence booster that was. Whilst this article is about marketing books and being stocked in local libraries, I am still not totally comfortable with marketing but this week has been good. I am also learning more about outsourcing but again, that is a subject for another day.

I couldn’t end without a bit of marketing could I so the book can be purchased on my website or on Amazon.

To buy on Amazon click on the images:

Kindle Version

Paperback Version 

Nursing biography

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