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My Self-Publishing Journey (Part 2) by Darragh McManus

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Daragh McManus 2

Darragh McManus

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This piece is a continuation from Part 1 of Darragh McManus’ article on his self-publishing journey.

Now, we get to the process itself. Google “KDP Jumpstart” and you’ll click through to a step-by-step guide on how to format and upload your manuscript. In brief, this was what I did:

Save a new copy of your MS – I labelled mine redravenkindle.doc. Then you format the text, as per the KDP instructions. This mostly involves setting paragraph indents and page-breaks.

Then I used a programme called Kindle Create to make the actual document for uploading. Once I had a skim through the text to make sure there was nothing glitchy in there, I added what Amazon call “front and back material”: contents page, dedication, copyright acknowledgment, a bit about me and my previous work, some press quotes re. those four books and so on. I also put in a “guide to pronunciation of Irish Gaelic words”, to make reading of Red Raven a little smoother for a non-Irish audience. (Gaelic names do not read phonetically!)

After a final, FINAL check through for errors, I uploaded the MS, and the cover. Ah, the cover. Again, I did it myself. I’ve worked design programmes – Photoshop, InDesign – for years, both in my job and as an author. (And as a dad: each year we do up a birthday card for the kids, with a selection of photos from the past twelve months, artfully arrayed across the page.) My skills, while not exactly superhuman, are good enough.

For Red Raven, I commissioned a beautiful piece of artwork from a brilliant Irish illustrator, Eoin Coveney, and placed that on a black background, with the title and my name in a very cool, spooky-looking font called Morpheus. The other covers were a mixture of inspiration and necessity. I couldn’t use copyrighted photos for fear of being sued, so I got inventive: The Driving Force uses a photo taken with my son’s camera of his toy cars; Pretend We’re Dead has a word-cloud in the shape of a skull and crossbones; There is a light… features a drawing I did myself, back in 1997, in an apartment in rural Japan, of Suede lead singer Brett Anderson. I think they’re all fairly good, anyway: they work as striking images in their own right, and are appropriate to the material inside.

So now Red Raven is on Kindle, with more to follow. Which brings us to the second-hardest part of self-publishing: marketing your books.

I’m fortunate to work in media, so have a good number of contacts in print, radio, television and online. All of them were hit with a mail-shot the day after publication – written in an informal, humorous style, as I know them personally and didn’t want it to read too much like promotional boilerplate – and hopefully a few interviews, articles, reviews, extracts or social-media mentions will follow.

I’ve already written a piece for the Irish Independent, our biggest-selling daily paper, on my adventures in self-publishing, which was very decent of my editors – I owe them a pint – and will, fingers crossed, result in some sales.

I also have a website, darraghmcmanus.com, which links to Red Raven’s Amazon location and has dedicated pages for each of my books, with synopses, covers etc. I’ll post up any articles about the books as and when they happen.

As for social media, I don’t do it at all. I was on Twitter from around 2011 to 2015, but found it a depressing place. Bad for the mind and the soul, so I left. And, more pertinently, I found that, for me at least, social media does little to promote your work. If you’re already famous, Twitter is great: millions of people will know that you’ve a new book out. If you have c. 950 followers, as I did, the chances of more than a few dozen people even reading your tweet are slim. (As a further complication, ongoing issues with my eyesight make it difficult to stare at a screen for very long; I need to do that for my paid job, so online activities are kept to a minimum.)

And that’s about all I have to impart. As I mentioned in that Independent article, the odds on making big bucks from self-publishing are slight, mostly because there are just so many books out there now. But that said, it’s a no-risk play. Kindle gives you a free roll of the dice, and it’s easy and uncomplicated – even a tech-meathead like me managed to navigate it.

Now it’s your turn to fly, Red Raven. Happy travels…

(c) Darragh McManus

See Part 1 of this article here.

About Red Raven:

Irish kid Fiach Barden turns 17 in five days, at Hallowe’en – but has no time to party. A powerful warrior has escaped the realm of legend, and threatens to destroy our world completely.

Only Fiach and his friends (the coolest kid in school, a brainy sweetheart and a 3,000-year-old ghost-crow) stand in the way. He must use all his wits and supernatural fighting skills to stop the villain, otherwise the universe as we know it will cease to exist.

How’s that for a happy birthday?

From the author of the critically acclaimed Shiver the Whole Night Through comes a Young Adult urban fantasy which mixes Celtic mythology, superhero comic-books and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This funny, action-packed, exciting story sets three courageous kids on a quest to save the world, escape with their lives (and for Fiach, win the love of beautiful Loss)…and of course, make sure their parents don’t find out.

Get ready to fly like a red raven.

Order your copy online here.

About the author

Darragh McManus is an Irish author and journalist. His most recent novel is Red Raven, a Young Adult urban fantasy which mixes Celtic mythology with a present-day action-adventure. He also wrote two crime novels for adults (Even Flow, 2012, and The Polka Dot Girl, 2013), the Young Adult mystery Shiver the Whole Night Through (2014), comic crime novel Cold! Steel! Justice!!! (2011, as Alexander O’Hara) and humorous non-fiction GAA Confidential (2007), all to excellent reviews. Several of Darragh’s short stories have featured in journals in Ireland, UK and US, and he has written three screenplays, one of which placed in the top 5% of 6,000 contestants in the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences (Oscars) screenwriting competition. A play has had staged readings in Manhattan and Belfast. As a journalist he has written columns, features and critical reviews for 20 years for several national publications in different countries, including the Guardian, Sunday Times and Irish Independent. See darraghmcmanus.com for reviews of Darragh’s books, archived articles and sample work.

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