Category : Guest Post

Guest Post

Three major lessons learned in self-publishing: Tellwell author Rachael Bell-Irving shares her insight

By: Rachael Bell-Irving

Rachael Bell-Irving

I have been writing novels since I was young and it has always been a goal of mine to publish. I wanted to tie the bow on my passion project and be able to hold the result in my hands. This is why I chose self-publishing for Demons at the Doorstep, and did not attempt any traditional publishing route. Looking back now, a whole lot has changed, and there is a lot I’ve learned on this publishing journey.

Here are three key lessons I’ve learned through self-publishing, so far…

Be Professionally Edited

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Just do it. It is worth it. When you are publishing on a budget, there are ways you can cut corners to save money. Editing should not be one of them. No matter how many times you have friends, families, even strangers read the book – no one catches errors like a professional editor.

I tried to resist editing at first because of restrictions in my budget. It took my mother’s nagging (thanks mom) to finally get me to cave. When I received the edits back, my eyes went wide and I began to laugh. How could I have possibly missed some of these points? I was surprised by other suggestions, and shocked at how repetitive I had been with my vocabulary. Your book is read from a different perspective than how it is written. An editor is able to objectively critique the manuscript from this external perspective.

If you’re worried about losing your artistic license – don’t be.  You don’t have to agree with all the edits your editor makes. I do strongly recommend you listen to their suggestions. They are a professional for a reason – they have (hopefully) training, experience, and a different perspective. It will improve the quality of your content and add a level of professionalism to your book. Seriously – do it.

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Guest Post Tips & Tricks

Tellwell editor Simon Ogden’s advice to first-time authors

By Simon Ogden, Tellwell Editor

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WELCOME
Welcome to the band, we’re delighted that you’ve decided to join us. We’re a bizarro group and legion; all of us completely, utterly, fantastically, bewilderingly unique, except for one very specific idiosyncrasy—we all have a story screaming and punching and kicking inside of us that we need to yank out and release into the world. There are people out there with the same constipation as us, but they may let it loose through interpretive dance or by singing it out or painting it or by yelling it into the faces of people in line for the bus. But not us. Not we. We’re the scribes, the men and women of letters. We adore specificity and nuance. We love the tranquility of words nestled onto a page, the calm, rational and quiet way they float over to our audience. That alchemic translation of feelings and imagery and diaphanous emotion into the solidity of language. We’re the Hobbits of the storytelling tribe and we don’t give a fig if you haven’t yet been paid for your writing—if you’ve somehow managed to set a word down on a page and followed it like a tentative footstep into the great unknown with another, you’re one of us and are welcome here. Make yourself comfortable and we’ll put the kettle on.

The first thing you should be very clear on as a brand-new author is that all those concerns you have right now about what comes next and exactly how this whole writing puzzle works … samesies! We’re right there with you, in one way or another. This, like all the great and worthy art forms, is a mentorship trade. Like sculpture or carpentry. The longer you do it, the more sense it makes and the more your own lovely, unique, necessary voice rings out clearly and melodically to find its way to those readers who need to read that thing in that way at that exact time, and they will be grateful in ways none of us can hope to fathom. And delightfully, unlike most mentorship trades, our mentors are all around us: our bookshelves groaning under their weight, our end tables apile with them, our bathwater occasionally reshaping them for us

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READ AND FIND INSPIRATION
So, the all-time, number one, pin-it-to-the-top-of-your-list chunk of writing advice from anyone worth listening to will always be to get your nose in as many books as possible. Find the authors that talk in the way you want to be talked to and ingest their work.

WRITE, WRITE, WRITE
The second piece of advice towards becoming a better writer is—no surprises here—to write a whole bunch. It’s a close number two but make no mistake—number two it is. It would be hard to build a nice house if you’ve never been inside of a nice house, no matter how many nails you’ve hammered into a board. However, following these two rather obvious pearls of wisdom the sea of writing advice starts to get a little choppy. What is revelatory for some from here on forward may be pure bilge for others. There is a freakish amount of writing advice out there to shovel up if you choose to go digging for it. Give it all your best consideration but understand as you do that there is no specific method that originates from another artist that is also your method. This is the very essence and provenance of art. If some “genius” advice doesn’t resonate with you, it ain’t your soup—chuck it and move on.

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Design Showcase Guest Post

The behind the scenes creative process to achieve this incredible YA fantasy cover design – Demons at the Doorstep

Guest post by Tellwell designer Tara Price

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Demons at the Doorstep is a young adult urban fantasy. Written by Rachael Bell-Irving, the story follows Jessica, a witch who must team up with her mortal enemy to stop mutated demons from destroying her city. Hard copies and eBooks are now available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Chapters Indigo.

Why did you choose this cover as a monthly focus?

This was a book that I started working on at the end of last year that wrapped up mid-April. It was a little out of our normal process because it required a custom illustration. A lot of the time, the cover is either done first or designed in tandem with the interior. For this one the interior was formatted well before the illustration was done. I had an initial idea of what I wanted for the title, but I knew that it may change drastically when the cover was on my plate. However, once I saw this amazing image, I was able to work in the title surprisingly well, with only minor re-working on spacing.

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Guest Post

Conversations from a Coffee Shop: Transforming my Personal Struggles into Success through Writing by Jason Lee

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“Why don’t you write a book about your life?” asked my ex-wife as she poured herself a cup of earl grey tea one summer afternoon.

We were sitting on the empty patio at Gallagher’s coffee shop in Port Moody, listening to the sounds of birds chirping in the background of our conversation.

“Nobody would want to read about my story,” I chuckled shaking my head. “No one cares about my childhood abuse, or how my anger destroyed so many relationships.”

She grimaced and coyly nodded in agreement about how my anger ripped apart our marriage over 15 years ago. She took a sip of her tea and smacked her lips. “You never know. I think you’re not the only person who’s struggled. And how you’ve turned things around for yourself can be uplifting to so many people and can bring hope.”

I looked up and stared into the bright blue sky. A gentle breeze brushed against my face as I paused for a moment in deep thought.

Later that evening in my apartment, I continued thinking about our conversation. Was she right? Do other people also struggle managing their emotions, namely anger? Does depression and anxiety affect others making them feel helpless and lost, just like how I felt? I picked up a pad and pen and began jotting down notes. Somewhere in there, I scribbled the words, “recovery…anger…abuse…mental health and living with the dragon.”

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Guest Post

Romance Writing 101 – Tips from Tellwell Author Victoria Grant

February.  Valentine’s Day.  Romance.  What images do these words conjure up for you?  If you’re like most of us, you’ll probably imagine a scene with two frosty champagne glasses sitting on a table in front of a roaring fire. Maybe a small silver tray of chocolate covered strawberries beside them. And a couple kissing on the bear skin rug in front of that blazing fire while the snow softly falls outside the panoramic window. (“Oh, Pamela, my darling, what did I ever do without you?”)  Ah, can’t you just feel the love?

image-for-back-coverBrutal snowstorm. Freezing cold. Romance author. What images do these phrases conjure up for you? Yeah, if you’re being honest, you haven’t bothered to give the lowly romance author a second thought, have you? Right now, as you read this, some of them are shivering to death wrapped tightly in a ratty old crocheted afghan, drinking a steaming mug of (insert favourite beverage here), huddled over a laptop, cursing the characters they’ve created because they just won’t cooperate. (Stop talking, get in that cab right now and follow her, you idiot!) Well, that’s me, anyway.

My vision of a romance novel, long before I took the plunge into writing one, was pretty much the scenario with the champagne, chocolates and lovers. And as I adore champagne and chocolates, I thought writing one would be such fun!  And what could be easier? All I had to do was create main characters who are forced to be together and hate each other on sight (or another well-loved trope that romance readers never seem to tire of), and then put them into unusual or unexpected situations where they have no choice but to work together. (“I will be yours for eternity, Humphrey, just as soon as we scale this jagged cliff and free dearest Aunt Letitia from the impenetrable fortress.”). They realize during their thrilling adventures that they’ve fallen totally in love with each other, the end. Simple, right?

Not quite. Just for a minute, think about all the major elements the romance author must include. The heroine must be flawed and vulnerable yet plucky and gorgeous and worthy of her hero, who is tenacious and virile, but ready to change his ways to have this amazing woman in his arms (“I shall give up my life as a frozen pea inspector to be with you, Edwina.”).  The story should be either adventurous or exotic or bodice-ripping or crazy fun, and include a considerable quantity of red hot, searing kisses that instantly liquify the main characters. (“Oh, Bernard, I’m all aflutter!”) And as the story unfolds, it has to sparkle with sensitivity, sizzle with steamy love scenes, and be witty and playful in all the right spots. And let’s not forget the must-have happily ever after ending (“As we all knew this would happen back on page three, we’re gathered here today to celebrate the union of Beauregard and Tamsin…”), or at the very least, a happy-for-now ending (“I love you, Gretchen, so I’ll overlook the fact that you just asked me to sign a pre-nuptial agreement.”).

As I wrote my first romance novel, I realized there was a whole heck of a lot more to it than just dropping the two main characters into a situation and hoping they’ll do all the work. (“Um, how do we get out of this hot air balloon, Mortimer?”) I discovered that while I have to include some level of action and/or adventure in my novels, to make them work my main focus must be on the feelings and thoughts of the main characters. This makes it easy for the readers to dive into the book and become that character. Even if the reader has been happily married for a decade or three, I want them to experience the excitement of that first look (“Dexter, who is that stunning, misty-eyed, raven-haired temptress with the heaving bosom staring at me from across this crowded room?”), the goose bumps from their first meeting, and all the blistering and passionate sensations from their first kiss. (“I’ll never wash these lips again.”)

And those five senses we take for granted are paramount when writing a romance novel. The touches, tastes, sounds, sights and scents (“What was that rumble?” Desmond asked, frowning. Yvette turned a sickly shade of chartreuse. “Forgive me, I had beans for lunch.”) – yes, all of them, granted some more than others, play a huge role in falling in love. Without them, a romance novel is just a travel brochure or a ladies shoe catalogue. The first love scene I ever wrote read like a WWE wrestling match. So not good! Why? Because I was focused more on body parts than on the main character’s feelings and sensations. (“That is your arm, isn’t it, Prudence?” “I thought it was your foot, Monty.”)  Yikes!

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Author of the Month Guest Post

“The passion for wanting to make a difference is stronger than my desire to stay comfortable” – Kimberley Parkinson shares her publishing journey

Like many Tellwell authors, Kimberley Parkinson took a huge step outside of her comfort zone when she decided to publish her first book. When her children’s book What Can You Do? was publishedParkinson realized it was time to get the word out about her book, and that she was going to be the driving force behind that. While marketing seemed daunting initially, her efforts were greeted with success and gratification. Now, she shares some of her early marketing experiences to encourage other authors to push themselves when they take the leap, and publish their writing.

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Kimberley Parkinson’s take on book marketing:

A smile appears upon your face. There it is, nestled proudly within your hands, the first copy of your published book. You take a moment to reflect on all the hours spent from the initial thought to the finished product. You have worked so hard and deserve to relish in satisfaction.

Then the next part of your journey beckons…marketing! A mix of excitement and nervousness takes over. What is the best route to take first? Who should I contact, what should I do, where should I go? This is when you take the time to address your strengths and weaknesses. I know with myself, I would rather sit back quietly and let the book sell itself as I am quite shy with this sort of thing. I am not a fan of social media outlets and the thought of trying to sell my book in person to stores or reading my book in front of others at events made me want to throw up! My comfort zone was very comfy, and it didn’t like to feel threatened. However, I knew that for my own growth I had to push myself beyond those comfortable limitations.

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I appreciated the knowledgeable advice and strategic outline that was given to me through Tellwell and needed to implement some of their suggestions. I had to at least try because I have always believed that there is no failure if I try. I wasn’t ready to do the social media thing yet, so I decided to go the good old-fashioned way. I travelled to locations that were within a reasonable distance and made sure to have copies of my book with me, along with props such as bookmarks, posters, etc. It was also important to have all my contact and book details ready as you don’t want to be fumbling around when asked.

Do your homework. Find out who the manager is, contact them directly, and most importantly, mind your manners. Be polite, be gracious for any opportunities that present themselves and be respectful to the ones that don’t. Unknown self-published authors tend to make some store owners apprehensive to take a chance on you and that is okay. Thank them for their time and walk out with your head held high. There will inevitably be some doors that close but if you believe in your book and most importantly yourself, you will start to see doors open. Patience and persistence is key.

Get your feet wet with smaller events at first if needed. I started with an intimate book signing/reading at my local library. It was a comfortable setting that helped me get over my nervousness. Have friends and family there for support. I felt much more at ease with their smiling faces around me.  Advertise your book in local papers, make calls, get your name out there. After you have experienced one event, the next ones won’t seem so daunting. This is all still very new to me too, and I am learning as I go.

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Guest Post

Getting your novel on Amazon is just the beginning by Philip Wilson

Guest post – by Tellwell author Philip Wilson

I had The Librarian on my hard drive for many years, and never got around to doing anything with it. Although I learned you can self-publish directly on Amazon, it seemed to require a fair amount of effort – special formatting, cover design, etc., that I wasn’t inclined to do. Then I discovered Tellwell. Their website said they’d handle all of the detail required to make The Librarian available on Amazon, Chapters and Barnes & Noble – both in hardcopy and e-book version for a set fee – and I’d keep 100% of the royalties. (I didn’t expect the royalties to amount to much – but I liked the gesture.)

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The fact that Tellwell was a small start-up company based in Victoria, BC, caused me some concern, but I decided to give them a shot; and they’ve been absolutely fantastic. The Librarian is now available on Amazon, Chapters and Barnes & Noble. Not only did Tellwell make the process easy, they actually made it fun. They’ve got great people and really took an interest. Like all first time self-publishing authors I’m sure, I had a lot of questions, but they patiently walked me through the process.

When I started out, I assumed that once the novel was available on Amazon, I was finished. With the millions of people on the site everyday, I assumed at least a small percentage would see it, like the plot and decide to spend at least a buck for the e-version. All wrong. Initial sales were negligible. I’ve now learned that if you really want people to buy your book, getting it on Amazon is just the first step. You have to market it, which means getting reviews, doing giveaways, getting into bookstores and so on. I’ve now been working with Tellwell on marketing for eight months since my novel was first on Amazon. Sales figures are starting to show some growth, but more importantly the entire process has been fun, educational and rewarding.

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I don’t look at marketing as an investment for a single book but rather an investment in writing. Writing is completely different than the career I had (finance and math) but I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’d like to sell more books, but as long as I’m enjoying it – both the writing itself and the marketing process – I intend to keep at it.  I’ve now written a second novel, Songs for Lucy, and I believe that the more sales momentum and recognition I can win for The Librarian, the easier it will be to launch Songs for Lucy.

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Guest Post Meet the Team

Guest Post: Publishing Consultant Mitchel Anderson celebrates two years at Tellwell

img-20171024-wa0006What brought me to Tellwell at first was my determination to have a career in books and literature. As soon as I could reliably make my way through a novel at a young age, I would be asking for a new book every week until I had amassed what is a small library. The value of a good book was never lost on me which can be heard in stories my family would tell about how particular I was about the condition of my books. This carried me through my English Literature degree from York University in Toronto where I had the pleasure of arguing about the meaning of books with people much smarter than myself.

What drew me to Tellwell specifically was the different perspective we take to publishing in general. While authors I have known would lament about the difficulties of finding a publisher I would always ask why they didn’t self-publish, but the logistics never seemed to make sense for them. When I first arrived here at Tellwell and spoke to our founder Tim Lindsay, I realized the rare opportunity we had to put the freedom and control back in an author’s hands and help contribute to the global body of literature.

Coming in at the ground floor I had rare opportunities to be heard in the development of our company and I have always made it my responsibility to listen to the feedback we receive from our authors about their experiences here and elsewhere and use that to help shape our direction going forward. My favourite parts of my job are listening to our authors discuss their projects and being able to step in with my expertise to show them that what was previously an intimidating venture is actually very approachable as long as you have clear information and the right team.

At the end of the day, I firmly believe that creator-owned fiction and nonfiction is the only way to guarantee a diverse and lively discussion in literature. If every author listened to rejection and never took a chance on their vision, we would never have seen the likes of Dr. Seuss nor would we have the influential The Joy of Cooking, which was originally self-published during the Depression and used as a proof of concept for further consideration with traditional publishers. This is a route many of our authors take here at Tellwell and we do everything in our power to make sure they are situated in the best possible way to do so.

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Guest Post Meet the Team

Guest Post: Stefanie shares what motivated her to illustrate for Tellwell’s authors

stef-photoI’ve always loved art, in all forms; whether it’s sketching, colouring, singing, baking, dancing or playing an instrument…I love it all.

I come from an artistic family with an entrepreneurial spirit.  My older sister, sitting at the top of our talent pool, creates made-to-order portraits and awe-inspiring fine pencil sketches comparable to the likes of Robert Bateman.

My Dad is a very talented sketch artist as well, (though very few people know that about him).  Seeking a channel to exhaust some of my own creative energy as a young teen, I started a small business making custom designed chocolates. I was creating colourful candies and suckers in any style or character you can think of. As the client base grew, I realized that the business needed a brand presence – a challenge I gladly accepted.  Putting forth my very first branding effort, I developed a logo and fell in love with the idea of graphic design; it was an idea that launched my career.

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Guest Post

Help Us Help You by Tellwell editor Rachel Peterson

Whenever I receive a submission to edit, I can say with some aplomb that no two are alike. While each manuscript varies in its editing needs, the editing approach hardly deviates. There is but one goal in the mind of every editor: make the book better. As an editor at Tellwell, I’d like to provide some insight regarding the role of the editor, what editors look for from authors, and how you can prepare your submission. If you’ve completed your book or haven’t yet started, read on. Tellwell editors are ready to help you when you are, akin to that quotable from the Jerry McGuire movie, “Help me help you.” To know that, you need to know what we do.

 

What is the role of the editor at Tellwell?

Generally, Tellwell editors look for the same things that other editors do, but it’s probably easier to start with what Tellwell editors are not. We are not acquisitions editors and we don’t hear from literary agents. So, what do Tellwell editors do exactly?

We make mark-ups and comments: suggestions to reach clarity and total readability of a book, so the book does its job of reaching its readership.

That’s editing in short, and we do that in four ways.

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