Sunday, 31 March 2013

Guest Post: Anthologising by Jan Edwards

I have been editing magazines and anthologies for some years now, most recently for the award-winning Alchemy Press. I have also written stories for many other publications so, to paraphrase Joni Mitchell, I’ve looked at slush from both sides now. Okay, not quite the same thing, but you’ll get my drift…

I was a panellist at Writing West Midlands event on ‘Getting Published’ recently, and the panel was asked why editors and anthologists seldom gave feedback on submissions. The cold hard truth is those editors simply do not have the time. If you do get feedback consider it a bonus because generally speaking is does not happen. Novelist Kate Long, whom I shared the panel with, came up with the best answer I have ever heard when she said 'It’s not their (the editor) job'.   

As a writer I’ve had my share of rejection slips, and always taken it as a sign that the editor received stories they preferred over mine. Whenever I receive that ‘red slip’ I suck it up and make sure I am better than that other guy next time around. Growing rhino-hide may be a clich√© but rhino-hide is exactly what we writers need - or we’d never try a second time, or a third.  Rejection slips are a fact of writing. For feedback, I attend an excellent local writing group (Renegade Writers) that offers really solid constructive criticism.

Working as an anthologist has sharpened my mind on the whole story submission process. There are those sins writers commit, those that make editors sigh in exasperation, which, with my author hat on, I’ve no doubt been guilty of at some point. Those things that appear trivial to the writer but when on the receiving end, with submissions numbering in their hundreds to choose from, really start to matter.

For example, the last thing we writers want to do is hack off the editor before they’ve read a single word. So the chap who addressed me and Jenny Barber (my co-editor for both Alchemy Press Book of Ancient Wonders and Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic) as ‘Dear Sirs’, did himself no favours at all.

Then we have the fifty plus files lacking proper ID, in a folder containing well over a hundred emails. We could want to find two specific stories for a second read; one is labelled and the other is not... tough choice.

There is also the case to be made for brevity. One email in just last week was five pages long. I was losing the will to breathe by the bottom of page three, though in his favour he was very polite.

Worst by far, however, was the submission addressed ‘to whom it may concern’,  who then went on to tell us that he realised his story was 2,000 words below our word count, but ‘absolutely knew we could not fail to accept it’ because it was ‘just the thing we were looking for...’ Mistakes over guidelines may occur because the writer did not understand them, or has not read them closely enough, but when a writer obviously has, and then proceeds to explain exactly why they don’t apply to his baby... That is just perverse.

Then we come to guidelines, and here I start to grow hair on my palms and foam at the mouth. As with the Ancient Wonders anthology, Urban Mythic is themed. Jenny and I went to great pains to explain what we are looking for. Yet, at a rough guess, approximately sixty percent of those received will be rejected not for being poorly written but because they are simply not a good fit. For example; they will feature a protagonist ‘in a far-off land and long ago’ when we have asked for ‘Urban’ and ‘Contemporary’, or  else include zombies, sexed-up vampires or some other of our unrequired subjects. I could go on but you probably have the idea by now.

Despite saying all of this, please don’t think I see editing as all pain and depression - far from it. I love the whole process of working with other writers. I love the joy that comes with reading an absolute gem that makes me laugh or cry or shiver, or occasionally all three; those moments more than makes up for the rest. I love searching out another nine or so scintillating tales to match the first and producing that positive treasure trove which is an anthology. Writing fiction will always be my first love, but anthologising is also something of a passion, one that I would hate not being able to indulge.

The deadline for The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic is midnight on 31 March, and I know I will have a lot a fun reading that stack of stories already piling up in the submission folder.

***

Jan Edwards currently edits anthologies for The Alchemy Press.

Guidelines for The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic, can be found at: here

Full details of Jan’s own fiction can be found: here

Jan has also written a novel Sex, Lies and Family Ties under the pen name of Sarah J Graham, available from Amazon.


Saturday, 30 March 2013

Guest Post: Reflections on a new career by Elizabeth Jasper

A fine mess I got myself into – or was it?

I used to work full time.  My life was crammed so full of responsibilities, demands, and the effort of getting everything done to everyone else’s satisfaction that I hardly had time to think, never mind make decisions for myself. From the moment that alarm went off,  I had to get up in time to walk the dog, to get the kids ready for school and then get ready myself and drive a considerable distance to work, where I held down a responsible job. Each weekday evening, the routine was reversed util I fell into bed, usually after half a bottle of wine, and immediately fell into a deep sleep until that damned alarm went off again. Year after year after year, just like everyone else.

Then things changed. My husband, whom we hardly saw as he had a seriously demanding job as a lawyer in Central London, was offered early retirement.  After a couple of years, our lovely family dog died, our kids had grown up and moved away and we made the decision to move to Spain to live.

Once settled in our new home, I made my first big decision to follow my dream and to try to write a novel.  For years, story ideas had teemed around in my head.  Now it was time to see if I had the determination to make my dream come true.  Like most new writers, I hadn’t a clue what that entailed. I knew I could tell a story but hadn’t the first idea how to write it down in such a fashion that it became something readers could pick up and get stuck into.

That’s when I realised I had to start thinking for myself, not only about the story I was  telling but how I was going to tell it.  Should it be first or third person? How would I describe the characters? How could they develop as people during the course of the story? Could I work two completely different threads about two completely different characters into one story so it had a satisfactory ending. So many choices to make.

It took around three years to finish that first book. Of course, I dreamed about my book being a huge success, about an agent taking me on and getting a big publisher to snap it up, along with my next two or three offerings.  I already had two more books mapped out in my head. I sat back and waited.

That was a few years back. It didn’t happen. I’d made decisions out of ignorance that meant I wasn’t writing for the current market.  Or even for a future market. I had been writing for myself. I was a good writer who had written a great book; some well-known agents said so and a publisher kept it for almost nine months - after the re-write I did along the lines they suggested - before I gave up hoping to hear from them ever again. I even won an award with my first book. None of that made the slightest bit of difference. I’d chosen to write across genres – a big no-no in the publishing world.  Not only had I written across genres, I was unknown. I had never done anything spectacular enough during my life to become ‘noticed’. I hated the cult of ‘celebrity’ with a passion I previously reserved for people who were cruel to children or animals and never, ever wanted to be famous.  The thought of publicising myself filled me with horror (and still does).

My next big decision was to Do It Myself.  Yes, with the dawn of e-publishing through Amazon and Smashwords, anyone could become a writer and sell their books through the internet. I’d finished my first book and was well into books two and three. Encouraged by stories of unknown authors making it big with e-books, I decided to learn all about it and, while finishing my two new books, kept a watching brief.

After the initial frenzy of e-publishing by anyone who had, or even only thought they had a book to publish, the horror stories began to emerge.  In the Amazon Customer Forum, readers who had tried e-books by authors who were doing it for themselves started to complain. Although a few e-books by this new breed of independent authors, by now becoming known as Indies, were as good as those conventionally published, the vast majority most certainly were not.  Poor storytelling, crappy writing, a complete lack of editing skills and bad formatting put so many of these readers off it looked as if all Indie writers would be forever shunned by the people who used the Forum.  Not only that, some Forum users became so vindictive, so absolutely convinced that Indie writers were all rubbish, a groundswell of public opinion began to form denigrating any writer who decided to go it alone.

Amazon introduced Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select, where, if a writer placed their book in the scheme, for an exclusive three month period,  s/he was able (encouraged) to offer their books for free for a few days each month during that period in order, said Amazon, to raise authors’ profiles and encourage sales of e-books. Just about every writer took advantage of this profile enhancing opportunity and the market became glutted with free books, some good, but the majority mediocre or plain bad.  More grist to the mill of those Forum readers, who still complained vociferously about the poor quality of e-books, even while they were stuffing their Kindles with said freebies.

 My new mantra became ‘edit, edit, and edit a few more times’ to eliminate even the tiniest error so readers, especially Amazon Customer Forum readers, would find nothing to complain about in my books.  How could I do that for myself? Conventional publishers had professional editors to take care of details like that, didn’t they?  In a way I was fortunate because during a long career working in prestigious UK universities,  I had typed up and proof-read books for one of my bosses, an eminent archaeologist, so had a fair idea of what to look for in a ‘raw’ manuscript.  In fact, while there was plenty of room for improvement, my editing skills were not too bad compared to many other writers in the same position. 

Having got my head around editing, I learned that was not enough.  I needed to be able to format my books for e-readers.  Another steep learning curve.  Then there was my website to maintain.  I set it up myself – a tedious and time consuming process that didn’t excite me at all – and had to find time for that, as well as starting a blog, reading and reviewing for a couple of Indie websites and writing more books.  

This early retirement lark was no such thing.  My days were filled with reading and writing and if I wasn’t actually doing something directly connected with what had become a second career, my mind constantly whirled with new ideas for stories, with plans to promote my own work so I might, one day, break into the big time, with the problems of creating covers for my books that would catch the eye of a potential reader, and more. 

My decision to Do It Myself led to a myriad of new skills to learn, new problems to overcome and new ideas for books I must find time to write.  It all looks rather daunting on paper but I have a huge pile of silver linings to comfort me while I continue with my self-imposed tasks.  First, along the way I joined a couple of writing websites, YouWriteOn and Authonomy, where I met like-minded writers willing to share their experiences, expertise and views. Many have become valued friends who support one another with beta reading, editing, covers, reviews and promoting.  As someone who lives just about as far away as you could  get from an actual writing group, my virtual writing friends have become a comfort and a joy.

Next, through my network of writer friends and colleagues, I have discovered some of the most wonderful books written by Indie writers that are far superior to the vast majority churned out by  the ‘usual suspects’ seen week after month after year in The Sunday Times Bestseller Lists. You can find some of the very best Indie books on the Awesome Indies website, where I am proud to say two of my books were accepted for inclusion, and the B.R.A.G.Medallion website, where more Indie books of a very high standard are accepted.

Now, I write books I want to write, usually across genres,  and from the reviews I’ve received so far on Amazon and elsewhere, other people are enjoying reading them almost as much as I did in creating them.

Since taking that big decision a few years back, I have written and published four e-books without the benefit of an agent or a publisher. My covers have been produced for me by the very talented Jane Dixon Smith of JD Smith, Design.  I’m half way through two more books and have another couple in outline.  All of my published books will be available in paperback by the end of this year, along with those two currently in progress.

I have now sold enough books to convince myself that when my passport comes up for renewal in a couple of years’ time, instead of putting ‘retired’ under ‘occupation’, I can put ‘writer’.  For me, that’s something very special indeed. 

Currently available as e-books:

Lying in Wait

A Bed of Knives

Meggie Blackthorn

The Golden Cuckoo

Find out more about me and my books at http://www.elizabethjasper.com

Friday, 29 March 2013

Do readers dream of electric autographs - by Hywela Lyn


Some readers are just happy to read a book. Then there are others who want more - some contact with the author. In the old days it was simple enough. An author would hold an actual booksigning in a bookstore or library and sign a real, live book.
These days it is not quite so easy. When more and more, books are becoming available on-line, rather than, or as well as in print, how does an author enable a reader to  get a coveted autographed copy?

Well the solution is simple really - get an 'authorgraph'.  If you haven't come across this neat little idea, go along to http://www.authorgraph.com and sign up. It was developed by Evan Jacob, a Seattle software developer.  It's free and you just need the ASIN of your book (which is right after 'dp' in the URL of your book on Amazon) Then, when a reader requests an autographed copy, you can send them either an actual electronic signature, using your mouse, or stylus/finger if using an IPad, or select a preformatted font version, if your on-line writing is a little shaky..  Either way you can include a personal message. You also have the option of advertising your 'autograph',displaying a copy of your book cover, like this: 
Hywelalynauthor
click the picture to go to my Kindlegraph page

Your 'autograph' requests are sent to you by Email and delivered as a separate document to the recipient's Kindle, together with a copy of your bookcover. Alternatively, if they don't have a Kindle they can request a download of a PDF copy which can be read on a variety of platforms. In these days of 'virtual' book tours, this is a little more than a 'virtual' signature and a reader can build up a nice collection of electronic 'authorgraphs'.

Seems like a great idea for both electronic authors and their readers. While there is something very satisfying and personal about a signature on a book page, this seems to be a  perfectly good solution for Ebooks. What do you think? 

You can find out more about Lyn and her books on her  WEBSITE
She also blogs at her own BLOG, and THE AUTHOR ROAST AND TOAST

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Top Writing Tips - Joint Post


          With such a wealth of expertise on Authors Electric we felt it was about time some of us shared our top tips. So here they are:  
Bill Kirton

"Trust your own voice. You don’t necessarily need big, fancy or poetic words, or a huge vocabulary. Your way of putting things is unique so trust it."
Bill Kirton: click here to discover more about Bill  and his work.
______________________________________
Karen Bush
"You might think you've spotted all the typos, but really, you haven't. Trust me on this. Try reading it in different fonts: print off hard copies to read as well as on screen as it can help you to catch them. And ask someone to read through it too - doesn't need to be an expert or expensive proofreader, just someone with a reasonable grasp of spelling. And use a highlighter to mark up the errors on paper copies, as when you come back to them to make corrections, it's easy to miss ones made with pen or pencil! Yes, it is time consuming, but makes all the difference between looking like a professional bit of writing or not ..."
Karen Bush: click here to discover more about Karen and her work.
______________________________________________________
Catherine Czerkawska
"This is from the best agent I ever had (sadly she died) and it's a bit harsh but pretty much true. 'Only write something/anything for publication if you absolutely can't bear NOT to write it. You have to be obsessed to write."
Catherine Czerkawska: click here to discover more about Catherine and her work.
____________________________________
"If you can't force yourself to write, but want to write, then use the timer trick. Make a bargain with yourself that you will write for a certain time - it can be as little as 5 minutes. Arrange everything so that you don't need to get up and leave fetch anything. Set the timer for the time you've decided on (you can find on-line timers.) Then WRITE until the alarm sounds. This trick almost always gets you started. The words start to flow - and usually when the alarm sounds, you carry on."
Susan Price: click here to discover more about Susan and her work, click here to visit her blog.
_____________________________________________________
Stephanie Zia
"Get characters talking as soon as possible."
Stephanie Zia: click here to discover more about Stephanie and her work. 

____________________________________________
"Ask yourself: what is my reader curious about?"
Roz Morris
Roz Morris: click here to discover more about Roz and her work.
____________________________________
Lynne Garner
"Keep a diary and enter something you've noticed, seen, read, overheard etc. that day. It can be anything from a brilliant quote to how the daffodils look just before they bloom. You never know just one of those entries may inspire you or you can use them to add depth to your writing." 
Lynne Garner: click here to discover more about Lynne and her work, click here to visit her blog. 
___________________________________________________
 
          We hope some of these tips help you with your writing. We were also hoping you may have your own tips you can share with us.  

Wednesday, 27 March 2013

The Further Electrification of Steffi McBride




The electrification of “The Overnight Fame of Steffi McBride” continues apace as the first mini-episodes of the television adaptation go up on YouTube drama channel, http://www.ThisisDRAMA.com  

There is also a trailer and a “behind the scenes” film up there, (each of them just a few minutes long and highly digestible). I will attempt to put the trailer up here.

So, Steffi is now traditionally published, e-published by her legacy publisher, (Blake), heavily featured on Wattpad and dramatised on YouTube – you have to give the girl credit for perseverance!



Tuesday, 26 March 2013

Chloe, Clapton and Those Little Green Unmentionables... by Rosalie Warren

How to make a coherent blog post out of my diverse writing-related experiences of the last few weeks - without resorting to a worn-out cliché of the kind favoured by politicians?

Well, I'll try.

I've just finished draft three (or is it four?) of my sci-fi novel for adults and it's 'resting' (and improving, I hope, in the process...). I found it challenging to write, involving as it did an exploration of the nature of consciousness, self, identity, cognition, coma, dreams... and the attempt to create a credible world of suitably advanced technologies for 2104. All that, plus a woman juggling children, separation, divorce and an academic career. Oh, and I should mention the ethics of artificial intelligence and robotics thrown in. Fun, but not particularly easy to write. Quite a relief to be able to lay it all aside for a few weeks and have a well-earned rest...

Except that things never turn out that way. From nowhere, it seems, a new book has popped up, or at least the beginnings of an idea. It's comparatively straightforward - light-hearted, even - and the characters are making me laugh already so I hope they'll do the same for my readers. I won't say any more about it here, as I'm scared of jinxing it.

Another positive development. I was at a low ebb, some of you may remember, in last month's post.  A trip down to London on a school visit was the last thing I felt like doing. But taking Chloe to Clapton proved to be a wonderful experience in all sorts of ways. Having got off the train from Liverpool Street and struggled for 15 minutes in teeming rain, carrying all my stuff, I discovered that the helpful staff at the station had sent me the wrong way and I now had to walk another 30 minutes in the opposite direction to reach my destination. (I should say that the school had kindly provided me with a map but it quickly became too sodden to be much use.)

Anyway, I got there - and when I met Class 7C at Clapton Girls' Academy I had no regrets at all. As part of the Pop-Up Booklinks Project, the class had each received a copy of my YA novel Coping with Chloe and had spent several lessons under the guidance of their wonderful teacher Miss Feltham, reading and discussing it, writing reviews, designing new covers, making models, creating plays, drawing posters and even, in two cases, writing alternative endings for the book. It was amazing to be confronted with all that thoughtful and detailed work - and the class had even bound their reviews into a book with a beautiful cover for me to take away. I read them the first chapter of the (possible) sequel to Chloe and asked for comments and reaction. They had lots of brilliant questions for me and I felt like a minor celebrity for an afternoon. Huge thanks to all involved, especially the girls of 7C. The Booklinks project is marvellous and I hope it goes from strength to strength.

I heard from my publisher a couple of days ago that Chloe is going on another trip. From September onwards, it will be distributed in the USA - and is also going to be available from my publishers, Phoenix Yard Books, as an electronic book.

So as well as a few little green things poking through the snow in my garden, there are one or two of the metaphorical variety popping up in my brain.

I remember now that readers are what matter - whether there are millions of them or thirty enthusiastic 12-year-olds in a class. Connecting with those readers is what it's all about, and that's what I will continue to try my best to do.

Happy Spring, everyone - when it eventually comes. Wishing you lots of those little green unmentionables...

Best wishes,
Ros

My blog
My website
My Facebook author page
My alter ego, Dr Sheila Glasbey 
Follow me on Twitter @Ros_Warren  















Monday, 25 March 2013

Electrical and Scattered by Susan Price

Sue Price
          I am a member of the Scattered Authors' Society. I have been for about 27 years. Way back then, the internet was only just staggering to its feet, and I worked on an Amstrad, with a printer that used tractor-feed paper, and connected with the world via a dial-up modem.
          A letter arrived from the author Malcolm Rose. He said that he and a couple of author friends had decided that being a children's writer was too lonely a business, and they wanted us to connect up via e-mail. There was a paper newsletter for those who hadn't yet made the leap to computers.
          I'm a grumpy so-and-so, not a willing joiner, but for some reason, I did join. And eventually I was persuaded - by Celia Rees - to show my face at some of the local lunches where SAS members met.
          Linda Newbery suggested that we hold a 'Conference' (code for 'shindig') at Charney Manor. I signed up for one of the first, and I cannot tell you how exhilarating it was to spend four days with a crowd of writers, talking about anything and everything, but especially writing. It's been a highlight of the year ever since.
          Another member, Cindy Jefferies (who used to keep sheep who wore welly-boots) set up the SAS posting board, Balaclava. This was an instant success, and proved to be a constant, never-sleeping source of support, advice, jokes, wisdom, practical help and new directions.
          Many good things have sprouted from the SAS. Anne Cassidy, the mover behind the SAS most of the time, suggested we set up a multi-blog, the Awfully Big Blog Adventure, or ABBA, which has gone from strength to strength.
          The excellent History Girls blog is organised by SAS member Mary Hoffman - and, of course, this very blog that you read now, the Authors Electric's blog, was founded by Katherine Roberts and myself, who met and became friends through the SAS. Several other SAS members are also Authors Electric. We are, in many ways, the self-publishing arm of the SAS.
         But why am I blogging about the SAS in Author Electric's time and space?
          Well, because an A-E - possibly because of my enthusiasm for the SAS - thought she would like to join them. So she went over to knock on their on-line door - and saw this notice:  
We welcome new members as long as they have a contract in place with a traditional publisher.

           Our A-E hastily left, feeling hurt and angry. When she reported back to the other Electrics, they were angry and hurt for her - as was I. The A-E in question is a hugely talented writer, who's produced well loved and classic books. She just doesn't happen to have a contract in place with a traditional publisher at the present moment. Or perhaps, like many, has given up on traditional publishing.
          But I was also hurt for my friends in the SAS when they were called hide-bound and snobbish, and accused of looking down their noses at self-publishing writers, and thinking that the only proof of good writing is possession of a publishing contract. I've known many of these people for more than 20 years. I know they don't think like that. I know they are, possibly, the warmest, most sympathetic, encouraging group of people I've been lucky to fall in with.
          So what's their excuse?
          Simply, that things were very different way back then, when the SAS began. There was no such thing as indie-publishing. Brace yourselves now, but there was no such thing as Amazon.com. There were Vanity Presses, but they were a very different thing from indie publishing.
          The SAS started as a social club - which it still still is. Its members were very clear that this was what they wanted - a meeting place for writers, where they could talk frankly about agents and publishers, and about their struggles and failures and successes. So, no agents or publishers could join. Only writers.
          The question came up: what about unpublished writers? And, again, the members were very clear. No unpublished writers - which didn't, then, mean talented mid-list writers who couldn't get a contract for love nor money.
          The reason for this apparently heartless rule was that nearly every member had, at some time, been pestered by people who wanted them to read and comment on their manuscripts and help them to get published. Many had been members of writing circles where, unfortunately, a certain amount of jealousy had been generated by other members' success in finding a publisher. They wanted to escape from this in the SAS - they wanted to enter a club where all were equal, where there was no fear that someone would ask you to 'just have a quick look through' a 300,000 word manuscript, or badger you for an introduction to your agent.
          The simplest and fairest way of preventing this was the rule against writers without contracts. Even then, members were aware that it was clumsy, and that some of those excluded would be writers every bit as good as those clutching a contract. But as a rough rule of thumb, it worked. And, at the time, there was more reason to think that a good writer would, in a year or two, find a publisher.
          That's why those words were there, on the SAS website. They just hadn't been rewritten in 20-odd years - because the SAS is run by volunteers, and everyone was too busy with other things to remember this unfortunate wording.
          After our A-E member was rebuffed, I went over to the SAS gaff and had words. (I know which flowerpot they hide the key under, so I got in the back way and was amongst them before they knew it.) The members were shocked that someone had been hurt. It hadn't been their intention.
         However, changing the offending wording was difficult. The members still want a quiet life, and though the SAS posting board buzzed with discussion of this matter for some while, no one could come up with a real solution. They know very well that there are excellent writers among indies - many of them are SAS members already.
           They would welcome indies - but they also know that some indies are, well, let's be honest here, not so good. The only way to tell the difference would be to vet potential members in some way - to download and read free samples, for example. But no one has the time to commit to doing that.
          So, in the end, the page on the website was altered to read:
We welcome new members as long as they have a contract in place with a traditional publisher or have been traditionally published in the past.
          I'm not too happy about this solution either. Despite having been a published writer since my teens, I've never actually thought traditional publication equalled excellence. After all, I was just as good a writer the day before I got my first contract as I was the day after. Also, I think I'm a better writer now than I was then - but if I was starting today, I don't think I would get a contract.
          And, (if I needed convincing), no one could be a member of Authors Electric without quickly realising that a good writer is a good writer is a good writer, publishing contract (past or present) or not.
          This divide between the good writer, old-style published and the good writer, indie is a sad thing, I think, but I don't know how to end it.
          Does it matter? What do people think?
 

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Bookmaking - The Old & The New by Stephanie Zia



          I am in the process making a paperback version of the Authors Electric 2011-2012 Anthology SPARKS. I find the most convenient method is US Amazon's POD (Print On Demand) arm, Createspace. I also have some books published with Lulu but since Createspace started printing in Europe, I now tend to use just Createspace. The books go up via Amazon's main retail systems (as opposed to Marketplace) and are offered to readers with free postage in the UK and Supersaver delivery in the US. Following a tip from another Author Electric [Chris Longmuir on her experience with Createspace; Mark Chisnell on his), I buy my proofs & reader copies from Amazon.co.uk rather than order from the US which takes forever. Factoring the free postage it only costs a few pennies more.  Lightning Source is recommended by many. It gives a better royalty and has  the option for matt covers (as opposed to Lulu/CS shiny). You need your own ISBNs (which you can only purchase in groups of 10 in the UK) and there are initial set-up costs.

Now I have the templates of my older books that have gone through the system, I make a copy of the Master formatted to the size I require (sometimes the 6" x 9" US Trade size but more frequently these days 8.5" x 5.5"), I delete the text and cut and paste the text of my new book into that. For anybody starting out, this isn't possible of course. I got into a terrible tangle with the Createspace templates when I began so I thought I'd post a couple of tips I've learnt through trial and error.

1. I found the Lulu templates much more user-friendly than the Createspace ones, which tended to whizz the text into unexpected areas all of a sudden and without warning at the hit of a key. I ended up making my Createspace masters on Lulu templates. The only thing to check before embarking on this is that the sizes are compatible and exist on both platforms (I use the two above).

2. With a paperback there'll always be pages at the front that don't need numbering. I couldn't for the life of me find a simple way to do this in Word. The OpenOffice method took some finding but is so straightforward:

Count how many non-numbered pages there are until your Page 1.

Place cursor where you want you first page no. to appear.

Go to: INSERT > Field > Other

A window opens

Highlight PAGE halfway down lefthand side

Another window opens

At the bottom right is a window marked Offset.

In the window write the number of blank pages with a minus sign

So, - 7, -8 or whatever.

Click Insert.

Done.

At the other end of the scale, I'm just back from a visit to the newly refurbished Charles Dickens Museum. Here's the Dickensian version of cut & paste: