Self-Printed Splash!


I’ve been a massive fangirl of Catherine Ryan Howard for the past three years.  She is a the reason that I eventually decided to set up Frankly Books and pursue this whole “self-publishing” caper. And, if I’m being really honest, she is the reason that my books have sold so well.  Her book Self-Printed (the original edition) made self-printing seem achievable, made me think about the whole thing in a different light AND took me through the whole process step-by-step.  It was the best money I spent in the whole experience.

In short, when it comes to publishing a book yourself, Catherine’s Self-Printed is the bible and if you think you can self-publish a high quality book that will look just like the ‘real thing’ and that people will actually want to buy without reading Catherine’s book first, then you are kind of like the characters in Jurassic Park who thought that the dinosaurs would never turn against them.  In short: you need this book.

Today I’m super chuffed to be taking part in Catherine’s Self-Printed Splash, to celebrate the release of the third edition of her book.


To celebrate the release of the third edition of her book Self-Printed, Catherine Ryan Howard opened up her email inbox to eager self-printers to answer their  burning self-publishing questions.

My question for Catherine was: What is your best suggestion/tool/go to site/wildly outrageous idea for promoting children’s fiction?

And her response?

It’s not even slightly outrageous, but I do think video is the way to go for promoting children’s books. Children love YouTube, and parents love navigating to YouTube on their iPads and then handing them to the children to keep them quiet. There’s lots of cartoons and education videos for them to watch, songs to sing along with, lullabies and, of course, story time! You can easily make your own story time video by setting your webcam to record and then reading aloud from your book in your best storytelling voice. You could even subtitle the video so they can read along. I’ve said before that when you create something that promotes your book, it must stand on its own even when you take away the promotion. A story-telling video would do that – take away the fact that you want people to buy your book, and you still have a story-telling video. You can also share the videos on your website and Twitter. That’s what I’d recommend. 

Love it!  For more excellent nuggets of information just like this, get yourself a copy of Self-Printed 3.0.  Seriously


Proofreader Julia explains why you need a proofreader like her!



I am such a creature of habit.  When I find something I like, I always go back to it.  At the time when I first published Diary of a Penguin-napper, I was happy with every aspect of it apart from one: the proofreading.  There were three different people who did the proofreading for me – the first was the brother of my illustrator who was training to become a proofreader, the second was a paid professional proofreader and the third was a friend of mine who works in the media.

Of those three, the first did a reasonable job, considering that he was still learning the ropes and he did it for nothing.  In those circumstances, I was impressed with what he did.  I figured that he had picked up quite a few of the errors, so hopefully there wouldn’t be much for the professional proofreader to pick up.  I was right.  The proofread that came back from the professionals had only fairly minimal errors to be seen. Then, I gave it to my friend.  The idea was that he would just check for any final details that needed to be corrected.  The ideal was that he would find no errors, the reality was the maybe he would find three or four.

I was pretty shocked when the proof copy of the book came back filled with post it notes of typos and missing word errors that needed to be corrected.  Sorry, what?  Let’s just say that I was unimpressed that I’d just spent $7 per 1000 for professional proofreading for 25,000 words to come back with some glaring mistakes.  Normally, I’m more than happy to promote the freelance services that I use to get my manuscript into shape as a book, but not in this instance.  There is no way I could recommend them.  Needless to say, I was on the hunt for a new proofreader for my second book.

Enter Julia.  I came across her on Twitter back in March and favourited her tweet, knowing that in the future I’d be in the market for a new proofreader.


I didn’t even look back on that Tweet until about June, when my manuscript was finished and had been sent off to the manuscript assessor.  Then, I started hunting for quotes. There were two things that impressed me about her:

1. She offered to do a sample proof of the first chapter of Ruby Marvellous to be sure we were both happy with what we would be signing up for and

2. She is seriously reasonably priced!

Anyway, she’s my new favourite person and I could go on about how happy I am to have come across her on Twitter.  But, I figure I’ve gone on enough, so why not let Julia write a guest post and explain to you all why you need someone like her as a proofreader.  Here she is:


Why does an author need a proofreader? The answer becomes all too obvious to some writers, alas! The one thing that no author needs is bad reviews that focus on grammar and spelling, and once these reviews are out there, they don’t go away.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, can proofread their own work! No matter how educated or intelligent a writer is, the fact is that the author is too close to their work and can’t see the wood for the trees. When you read your own work, you see what you expect to see, not what’s actually there! I’ve been given novels to work on that the author has gone through multiple times – and I’ve still found scores of mistakes! Everyone makes typos, there’s not a writer alive who doesn’t.

I would say, by all means ask a friend or two to look through your work for typos. They will probably spot quite a few. But your friend has a different mind-set to me; I don’t know you, I don’t know anything about your work, it’s all completely new to me. I don’t know what to expect – but I will find those pesky typos, it’s a whole different ball game when proofreading is your job! I always offer to proofread up to 5 pages for any author, free of charge and without obligation, so that they can see if what I do is what they are looking for.

It’s hard to say when I became a proofreader, because I sort of grew into it. From almost as early as I can remember, I have loved reading. I am in awe of anyone who can write a book or a story. I used to walk to school with a book in front of my face (dangerous!) I was very good at grammar and spelling at school, and learned foreign languages easily. When I started work as a secretary, I used to automatically correct all documents, in fact my boss used to insist that nothing left the office without my checking it. Then one day I thought – I can do this full time!

I think you have to love proofreading in order to do it properly. And you don’t have to go to college to learn how to do it, though of course some do choose to. The most important thing is, you have to have a real passion for correcting text, this passion cannot be taught, it has to come naturally.

There is a difference between proofreading and editing fiction. Editors will perform services such as: suggesting cutting out characters; changing or omitting dialogue; changing the narrative arc of the novel; moving chapters around; various other suggestions that will in their opinion improve the book. I don’t alter the writer’s work apart from correcting it; I don’t consider it my role to interfere with the writer’s ‘voice’.

Proofreading should take place after the novel has been edited, and been through however many re-writes the author wishes to do. If you use an editor, your proofreader should receive the manuscript after the edit has been done, because after the edit there may be more corrections to be made. To summarise, the proofreading should be done as the last stage before formatting and cover design.

I love getting lost in a book, and feeling I’ve really helped to make it ready for publication. I get a great sense of pride when I see the book for sale on Amazon, and I think, ‘I worked on that one!’ I repeat, I am completely in awe of writers, I can’t do what you do! I am always happy to hear from any authors, whether experienced or just starting out. At heart, I am a reader and a fan, and I never know what wonderful new books are out there waiting for me to discover them!

JULIATo get in touch with Julia, follow her on Twitter @proofreadjulia
or drop her an email juliaproofreader at

Oh and while you’re there, don’t forget to follow @franklybooks too!

She’s seriously fantastic – your readers will thank you for it!


10 steps for editing your writing


When I’m not playing at being a writer, I actually work as a primary teacher and part of teaching writing to children is to teach them how to edit their work to make it even better.   I spend a lot of time at work going over editing checklists and different activities with the students to guide them through the process of being a writer.  As a teacher, I’m really particular about editing and really make it a big focus in my English lessons.  Yet, as a writer, I’m never quite sure about the editing process.  Sure, I know the process that I should probably go through, but editing is one of those tricky things that doesn’t really have an end point.  There always seems like something new to be fixed or improved!

Today I’m lucky enough to be joined by the lovely Sandra Miller,  a freelance edtech writer from Brooklyn.  A few weeks ago, Sandra pitched me her idea for a guest post about editing and I thought it would be fantastic to get another perspective on the process.  Here are her suggestions to guide you through your next edit!

10 steps for editing your writing

Editing work is much more laborious than writing itself for most writers. Much time is spent during editing whether the article or essay is fiction, nonfiction or poetry writers should evaluate their own writing and transform it from something that is complete but nothing more to something that is completely compelling. The following tips will give you a head start in professional editing:

1. Take a break

One should step away from the computer and relax fully for a few hours or day’s .instead writer can pursue another writing project, perhaps, or catch with family and friends before circling back and manipulating his/her manuscript. After the break the mind is able to capture everything and editing is done very fast. Writing of a synopsis or an abstract is also good before revision.

2. Hands Off

This is reading the entire manuscript without changing anything or making notes about major fixes or other key corrections for later attention. The writer shifts to a reader setting. Read from cover page to conclusion. Some people print the piece out in hard copy as it’s easier for them to notice the details more when in print.

3. Parts of Speech

Focus, one type at a time, on the parts of speech: Notice nouns, and choose more precise terms and employ elegant variation. Use of a dictionary with synonyms listed, or a thesaurus or a synonym finder is better. Writers should not go overboard especially with variations and sentences should be constructed in active form.

Adjectives and adverbs should not be omitted without justification. Lastly use of terms is also very important be sure of the precise meaning of the words used in writing, newly acquired or long since adopted terms.

4. Sentence Structure

Simple sentences and understandable are the best. The person reading the article will save much time as he/she will easily understand its meaning. Long Sentences that last an entire paragraph need to be snipped into palatable pieces.

Sentences come out best in an active form as more passive sentences structure produce an enervating effect. Insertion of parenthetical phrases is better inserted mid-sentence as they save the last position for the impact. And unless you’re consciously incorporating iambic pentameter, beware of sentence rhythms that may subconsciously sap readers’ energy. Too much alliteration or assonance can weary the most dedicated reader.

5. Deemphasize Emphasis

Writers should reduce much emphasis of something and reduce the use of italics, scare quotes and exclamation points as they weaken the cumulative impact.

6. Tone and Voice

During writing maintain authority and austerity and appraise your writing for its personality. When writing a how-to, be conversational. If writing a period fiction, be alert for anachronisms.

Word check is required to notice the words used too often, search the words and get to know how to use them and make them appear more reasonable frequent.

7. Reconstruction

Reconstruction of sentences during revision is frequent as one may develop new details and decide to discard a statement. Revisions are so much significant it does not matter how much tie you will take getting your manuscript right.

8. Keywords

Grammatical mistakes are checked in the manuscript by the writer to make sure the audiences that will read the article don’t find grammatical errors.

9. Recite Makes Right

Read the manuscript one more time and aloud. A recitation lets you listen to the rhythm of the writing and catch any clunky or laboriously long sentences missed out or   words omitted.

10. Editor’s Notes

An editor will give a guide and directions during publishing and may request for another revision of the writing .after that your work is ready to be published and go online.

Sandra Miller is  a freelance edtech writer from Brooklyn and uses professional editing regularly.  She has PhD in English literature. You can reach her at Google+

If you’ve got a great idea for a guest post, I’d love to hear from you.  Visit the Collaborate section of Frankly Books to find out more!

Creating your Author Brand


Today I’ve got a goest blog post appearing over on Ben Galley’s website ‘Shelf Help’, which is a great source of information for writers and self-publishers.

My post is about choosing and building a brand as a writer and you can check it out here.  Feel free to leave me comments as I’d love to hear your ideas or experiences in creating your own ‘brand’.