Hello again. As I’m writing this, it’s the most gorgeous sunny day outside my window and I’m sitting in my office, staring at a computer screen! Such is life at the moment. I’m very lucky that I have a garden – not a huge garden, but big enough to sit out in, certainly. I really, really wish I’d got my garden done last summer, when I intended to. I put it off, as I tend to do, so now my rather boring, patchy lawn is annoying me. Obviously, there’s no way I can get it done right now, but as soon as we’re out the other side … another lesson learned. I hope you’re all managing to get some fresh air every day, while staying within the rules, of course. These are such strange times, aren’t they? Anyway, let’s get back to the point of the blog post, which is the letter J.
Jutoh is an ebook editor for authors, which allows you to produce an Epub file (for Apple, Kobo, etc) and/or Mobi (for Kindle), and even produce a pdf so you can export it to print-on-demand services, such as KDP Print or IngramSpark. You can also produce an MP3 file, if you wish.
It can be a steep learning process, discovering how to format your books for Kindle. Even worse, I should imagine, if you plan to “go wide”, because that means you need to format twice over. Confused? I don’t blame you.
Basically, you have to format your document the appropriate way for each device, so that readers of that device will be able to make sense of your book. That means getting the margins and indents, line spacing, scene dividers, chapter headings, page breaks, and all that malarkey, just so, which can take time and, if you’re not particularly technical, can seem daunting. These days, I find formatting ebooks relatively straightforward – certainly a lot easier than paperbacks anyway – but I know some writers never get the hang of it. Many would far rather outsource the formatting, which is fine. However, it’s all extra expense. If you’d rather do it yourself but have your hand held throughout the process, Jutoh could be worth it in the long run. The basic Jutoh package is around £30, though you can buy a plus version which is £70. However, the standard package is easily adequate for formatting an ebook. That price is a one-off charge, and you can use your copy of Jutoh, thereafter, to format every book you write at no further cost. If it’s something you think you might be interested in, you can find out more here.
I’ll be honest, I struggled to find many words beginning with J that were appropriate for this post. Jealousy probably wouldn’t have made it onto the list if I hadn’t been desperate (there’s honesty for you!) because, let’s face it, no one wants to admit to feeling jealous, do they? It’s not a “nice” trait to have, is it? But, you know, my argument is that it would be a rare human being indeed who didn’t feel jealous of another at some point. I’m jealous, right now, looking out of the window at a neighbour’s garden! I don’t think that makes me a bad person. Just normal.
For writers, most of us are such an insecure bunch anyway, and there’s always that dreaded Comparisonitis looming. So when we look around and see one of our friends or colleagues doing so much better than we are, it’s hard not to feel a twinge of envy.
When you’re on social media it can be soul-destroying at times. Supposing your own sales are barely registering, your pages read are in single figures, and you’ve got a severe case of writer’s block. You decide to go on Facebook to take your mind off your troubles, and what do you see?
“I’m delighted to announce that I’ve signed a three-book deal with MegaFantastic Publishers”. (There’s no such company, so don’t bother trying to sub. At least, I don’t think there is …) “Ooh, look, woke up this morning to find I have ten bestseller flags on Amazon!” “I have wonderful news but I can’t tell you about it yet …” (Annoying.)
What happens? Go on, be honest. A little spark of jealousy, right? Or a great big explosion of the stuff, more like. And that’s okay. It really is. You’re human.
What isn’t okay is if you let it fester, become bitter and angry, or decide you hate said author and anyone who’s pleased for them. You should be pleased for them, too. You know why? Because every author’s success is your success. It proves that people are still buying books and loving books, and that, one day, it might be you getting all that success. Plus, most authors are nice. They really are. And they work hard to bring us those lovely novels.
So be pleased for them, and remember, they are not your competition! It’s okay to feel a bit of jealousy, but once you’ve acknowledged that, put it behind you, congratulate them and get on with working towards your own three-book deal, or your ten bestseller flags, or some other wonderful news that you’re dying to tell people about but you just can’t yet. It’s a big world out there with lots of readers, and other authors are your comrades, not your enemies, so celebrate with them and rejoice that success is still possible!
Joanna Penn is well-known among indie authors. She is, not to put too fine a point on it, inspirational. Through her website, The Creative Penn, her podcasts and courses, and her books, she helps authors make a living from their own writing. She’s an award-winning entrepreneur, a professional speaker and, according to her website, her blog is regularly voted one of the Top 100 blogs for writers by Writers Digest. On top of all that, she’s also an author of fiction, writing thrillers and dark fantasy novels as JF Penn.
If you want to know anything about being an indie author, you should definitely look her up. I’ve read lots of Joanna’s non-fiction books for authors and they’re so useful. With titles like Audio for Authors, How to Market a Book and Business for Authors (among many) you can see that she has plenty of advice on offer. Check out her books via her website or here.
This is a biggie in many writers’ lives. How to justify time (and money) spent writing, especially when your writing may not, at this stage, be bringing in an income. If it’s any consolation (and it probably isn’t, to be fair) even authors who are writing full-time, and making a living from their work, find that they’re not always taken seriously. I think part of it is the whole “you’re at home so you can’t really be working” mentality.
I know many authors who complain that their own families and friends don’t seem to recognise that, during working hours, they’re as unavailable as anyone who works in a shop or an office or a hospital or whatever. When I worked at a medical centre, people wouldn’t dream of following me there and asking if I’d take a break as they fancied a chat, or could I pop home and wait for a parcel as they had to be somewhere. But because I work from home there’s an assumption that I’m always free and can work around everyone else’s hours.
Some people I know are brilliant at being very firm and saying, “No way. I’m working!” But I’m a bit of a wuss, and I know plenty of authors who struggle to say no.
And it’s not just time, of course. It’s money, too. If you’re ploughing cash into editing and proofreading and having a professional cover done for your book, it can be hard to justify that when you’re making next to nothing from your work.
I remember when I just had my first two books out. I’d paid for professional edits and proofreading for both, and had just done the same for my third novel, which was due to come out in a couple of weeks. I got my royalty statement from KDP and I sat and cried. It was for around £20 for the entire month, and I just didn’t see how I could carry on. I remember saying to my husband that I’d have to give it all up, because how could I justify taking money from our household income (which was pretty low anyway) to spend on something that just wasn’t paying off? He was brilliant. He gave me a hug and told me I most definitely wasn’t going to give it up, and that things would turn around. I just had to be patient. The next month, with three books now on sale and new covers for them all, my royalties leapt from £20 to £600.
I have never forgotten that moment and I don’t think I ever will. It was truly a miracle. Yes, the royalties dipped a bit after that initial release month, but they never again returned to double figures. So, when you’re trying to justify time and money spent, remember that you never know when things will turn around for you. Writing is your work, whether you’re making a living from it or not, because it matters to you. And if matters to you, it’s important. And if it’s important, you never have to justify it to yourself or anyone else. So, put it firmly up there at the top of your priorities and get on with it. And when someone wants to pop round for a chat because, after all, you’re only writing, just say NO!
Right, I’m off to get my dose of Vitamin D for the day. Hope you all have a lovely weekend. Wishing you a very happy Easter, and I’ll see you on Monday for the letter K.