I began writing years ago, as a hobby, after telling a group of young children my ‘Toby & Friends’ stories. After completing writing for children courses, with the London School of Journalism and The Academy of Children’s writers, I began my first young adult novel.
If you are interested in writing I would recommend courses for your particular genre. They are focussed and therefore much more helpful in your specific area rather than a general creative writing course which covers all genres.
While working on my first novel, ‘Family Secrets’, I posted my first three chapters on, British Art Council sponsored, www.youwriteon.com. This proved to be an excellent move. Other writers review your work and you review theirs. If you give this a try please bear in mind you may need thick skin. Some comments can be pretty brutal and not very accurate, however, when you weigh them up against the constructive reviewers you mainly find them extremely helpful and encouraging. Along with their comments you receive ratings on your plot, pace, characterisation, dialogue, settings, use of language, theme and narrative voice. Overall it can be extremely encouraging and fantastic for developing your own writing technique. I learned just as much from editing others as them editing mine.
Once my book was complete, I debated whether to approach main stream publishers or self-publish. In the midst of this I received an email from YouWriteOn. They were introducing a publishing arm and asked whether I would like to apply. I did and was thrilled when they accepted my book. Although it is still technically self-publishing my book was published free and available to be ordered from the site on a print-on-demand basis. I chose the additional option of making my book available to order through major bookstores and Amazon and paid £40. Five years later it is now £88 which is still a very reasonable price. Royalties are paid twice yearly but publicity is down to me, the author.
Since then I have published the rest of my trilogy with them: ‘Family Fear’ and ‘Family Missing’.
The venture has been so successful that the publishing arm is now based on its own website www.FeadARead.com and authors no longer have to apply they can just upload their books. I have my own covers designed but there is a selection on the site for anyone who can’t. It is still British Art Council sponsored and the paperbacks are great quality and reasonably priced for my readers. I can also buy copies myself, if I like, at reduced prices but I don’t tend to do that much. I find it’s much better for readers to order through bookstores.
I intend to publish my new young adult book, ‘Witness’, later this year through FeedARead and already have the cover.
I’ve also uploaded my books onto Amazon for kindle. This is totally free and, depending on the price of the book, I get either 35% or 75% of the sale price.
Over the last twelve months I have released three picture books. These take me right back to my work with the children as they are the original stories which starting me writing. ‘Toby is Lost’, ‘Thief’ and ‘Beaut’ are only in kindle format at the moment, I am hoping to release them in paperback when there are a few more of them and worth producing the book. This last year, writing has become an official part-time job alongside my other part-time job in I.T. I’ve therefore been able to spend more time on my writing and do an art course. ‘Beaut’, about an unfriendly peacock, is the first one fully illustrated by me and I can tell you, painting a peacock is not easy!
Advertising is a whole other issue and I’m sure others will blog about that at some point. I hope my experience can help someone else along the road to being a successfully published author.
About Gail Jones
Part-time author and I.T. Officer
Gail has worked with children since her late teens and began her career as an author by inventing stories for the children in her care.
After undertaking two writing for children courses, Gail’s first book ‘Family Secrets’ was published by YouWriteOn.com in 2008, ‘Family Fear’ followed in 2010 and Family Missing in 2012. Since then Gail has published three picture books, ‘Toby is Lost’, ‘Thief’ and ‘Beaut’, illustrating the latter herself.
Gail lives in South Yorkshire, England and loves to walk, takes photographs of the countryside and write outside whenever the weather permits. She loves children, games and fun and visits local schools in her capacity as an author.
A Writer's Tale
Scarlett Van Dijk
Writer of young adult, fantasy series, the Sky Stone series, poetry and short stories.
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