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How To Write A Book by Martina O’Flaherty

Article by Martina O'Flaherty ©.
Posted in the Magazine (Tell Your Own Story: , ).
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As a first time writer, I knew absolutely nothing about writing or publishing a book. I can safely say that it has been an incredible journey. Sometimes quite stressful and, in my case, over budget – but there was no greater feeling than when I euphorically typed ‘The End’, on my seventh draft.

My journey began after I’d written 80,000 words and I needed someone to take a look at it, so I emailed Writing.ie and to my surprise and delight I received a request from Vanessa, the founder and M.D.,  asking me to forward her the first three chapters – and ‘the rest is history.’

Following numerous correspondences and guidance from Vanessa and her team, I submitted my drafts for editing. I can honestly say that I dealt with a very talented team of editors and proof-readers without whose constructive criticism and positive feedback I would not have a book worth reading.

So when my seventh draft was finished, I breathed a sigh of relief, gave myself a pat on the back and then ventured into a world I knew nothing about – publishing! I spent some time on Google, gathering as much information as possible but, I have to admit, the live feed aired on Writing.ie in November 2016 regarding Amazon and self-publishing was exceptionally helpful.

I then decided to select one platform for marketing my book, be that self-publishing, or traditional publishing. However, as I investigated the pros and cons of each, traditional publishing became less appealing to me, as I learned that the chances of getting a publishing house to print my book were slim to none – after all, if J.K. Rowling was rejected twelve times, what chance did I have?  So I decided to self -publish and hope for the best.

Self-publishing allowed me control over the content, interior design of my book and the royalties were better. Of course, I was armed with the realisation that royalty payments boil down to how many books I can actually sell.  So, driven with another wave of enthusiasm, I delved into numerous tutorials on how to upload my manuscript onto Create Space, the writer’s wonder tool from Amazon.

However, I was soon to discover that it wasn’t as easy as it seemed. I’d only gotten as far as template size and I was already lost on Create Space. The helpful tutorial guide advised me that if I were to select a different template size than the norm, I should get my template formatted accordingly – what?? As for ISBN numbers – the tutorials advise to get one from Amazon – it’s free, but there’s got to be a catch, right? The further I delved into how easy it was to upload my book, the more frustrated I got, and I realised this would never work for me. What I needed was someone who knew their way around Create Space and so back I went to Google to look for a company who could upload my book. As I foraged my way through all the companies who could help me with this venture, my enthusiasm began to wane and I still had my book cover to think about.

What a welcome distraction that was, designing my book cover. In my opinion, it’s the cover that sells a book and if I was going to self-publish, I needed a cover that spoke to my readers. So armed with a renewed vigour of getting my book cover done, I mailed quite a few companies who had experience in this area. I finally opted for Kazoo Independent Publishing Ltd., as they could do my cover, typeset, proof and upload my novel, both the paperback and e-book versions, on Create Space and Kindle KDP Select.

Deciding to get a company to typeset and upload a book costs money, but in my opinion it was worth it. It alleviated a lot of stress and I didn’t have any sleepless nights wondering if I had clicked the wrong button on Create Space. Chenile Keogh at Kazoo Independent Publishing proofed the book for me once it was uploaded on Amazon, before it was released in the public domain. She also uploaded my e-book on Amazon, and took care of formatting my e-file for Kindle – KDP select.

She also managed my contact with Andrew Brown at Design for Writers and within a week I had a wonderful cover for my book.

As you will have a lot of contact with the company, a good rapport is vital. This can be achieved simply by mailing back and forth, develop a good solid basis and feeling comfortable with who you’re dealing with, before agreeing to proceed. I was happy that Chenile understood what I wanted and had the patience to entertain me when I made changes – some made quite frequently at the last minute.

So while Kazoo Independent Publishing were busy typesetting and developing my cover, I turned my attention to developing my website. I was in the advantageous position that my husband could help out and, I have to admit, he has the patience of a saint. We had numerous ‘discussions’ over font sizes, text format and how my home page should appear visually, but in the end we’re both happy with the result.

About three weeks prior to my book being released on Amazon, I publicised – via my website and social media sites (Facebook and Twitter) – that I had written a book. Nothing better than building some audience anticipation.

So here I am. My first novel has been released on Amazon and I’m currently trying to build up my customer base via social media and any other means I can think off.  Still a work in progress. After all, what’s the point in writing a book if no one knows about it?

(c) Martina O’Flaherty

About Living With Brian:

High-flying criminal lawyer Anne Williams decides to put her career on hold when her youngest child, Brian, turns one. But the challenges of full-time motherhood leave her longing to return to work, and when Brian is diagnosed with Asperger’s syndrome, Anne is torn between doing the best for her son and her ambition to become a partner at her law firm. Anne’s obsession with trying to understand Brian’s condition drains her mentally and physically, and soon cracks begin to appear in her marriage. Feeling unsupported by her husband, Peter, Anne struggles to hold her family together. Things go from bad to worse when child services step in and tear Anne’s world asunder. Trying desperately to cope, she turns to drink for comfort and slowly loses sight of the woman who commanded respect and attention in court. Only when a much needed holiday ends unexpectedly does Anne confront the reality of who she has become. But she may have done more harm than good by confiding in her friend Louise. Torn between her friendship with Anne and self-preservation, Louise is protecting a dark secret she hopes will never be discovered.

Order your copy online here.

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Martina O’Flaherty, originally from Galway on the west coast of Ireland, emigrated to The Netherlands in 2002. She lives in the province of Utrecht with her husband and three children. Her novel started as a creative outlet, to vent her frustrations, when she couldn’t figure out why her two year old got so mad all the time. In 2015, Martina set up an Autism Café for parents and guardians of children on the autism spectrum. It’s one of fifteen such cafes in The Netherlands. She’d like to go back to Galway more often than time permits, but is comforted by the fact that even though the city might change, the people never do.

For more information, check out Martina’s website.


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