Catherine Ryan Howard's Blog, page 2

January 24, 2015

Hello? *looks around* Is anyone still here?

Apologies for my blog silence this far into the new year, but I am BUSY. Ever since I started university back in September – and realized, belatedly, that I don’t really have time to go to university full-time and do all the stuff I normally do – I feel like I’ve been saying that a lot, to the point where even I’m completely sick of it. The word has lost all its meaning.

But I am very…

Well, let’s just say time-challenged. 

At the moment, before I get more essay assignments (didn’t we just have those? DRAMATIC GROAN) and then, once they’re handed in, we start – GASP! – studying for exams (and also learning how to handwrite something that’s longer than a shopping list for the first time in more than ten years – looking forward to that), I’m all about this: The Rewrite.


My agent (doesn’t that sound nice? My agent…!) has a truly wonderful in-house editor who read my novel – The Serial Killer Thriller – and then sent me several pages of ideas on how to improve it. Luckily there’s no structural changes but there’s still plenty to do, and I’m trying to do it as quickly as possible due to the aforementioned essays and exams. The bottom line is I either get this rewrite done now, or I have to wait until the summer to even start it.

So: no blogging. No binge-watching. (Another reason to move fast – House of Cards Series 3 starts streaming in February!) No reading for pleasure. (What’s that? It’s been so long I can’t remember.) No leaving the house for long periods of time. No fun-having.

Which is why I’m really looking forward to the Irish Writers’ Centre Publishing Day: Focus on Self-Publishing event next Saturday, January 31st. (It’s outside! I get to go to there! Without feeling guilty!) It features Vanessa Fox-O’Loughlin talking all things self-publishing, Robert Doran (who has guest-blogged right here) on all things editing, Anne-Marie Scully on all things Amazon and then Emily Evans and me in conversation about how we did it. The price is €60.00 for non-members and as with all IWC events, you’re bound to go away feeling all motivated and with the knowledge you need to get the job done. To find out more or to book, visit the IWC website.

See you there!

*retreats back into writing cave*

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Published on January 24, 2015 02:52 • 16 views

December 31, 2014

Happy New Year! I wish you everything you wish for in 2015.

Today have posted a blog of mine, Finish Your Damn Book. It’s what I needed to read this time last year, so I’m sharing it with you now.

Screen Shot 2014-12-29 at 13.53.08

Are you writing a book? Been meaning to start? Been “finishing” a novel, whatever that means, for longer that you’re comfortable admitting? Maybe you’re like Badger in Breaking Bad, well able to lead anyone who cares to listen through every plot point of your tale – a Star Trek spec script, in his case – only to end with “I gotta write it down, is all…” If so, then read on.

One afternoon in August 2008 a much anticipated e-mail landed in my inbox. I’d sold my laptop back in Orlando to fund my subsequent adventure in Central America, so I had to check it on the family PC, in full view of half of the family. It was from an assistant at a literary agency in London – let’s call her Helen – who had loved a travel memoir I’d sent her, Mousetrapped, and had pitched it enthusiastically to her boss. I double-clicked. I’m writing with some good and some bad news. Unfortunately we don’t feel there is enough of a market for us to be able to represent Mousetrapped … However we love your writing. What are you working on now? We would be really interested in reading it. Do you write fiction?

Fiction was all I really wanted to write – Mousetrapped has just been an accidental detour – and now here was an agent saying she wanted to read it! Fantastic! Now there was just the little matter of actually writing some…”

Click here to read the full post.

See you next year!


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Published on December 31, 2014 05:10 • 30 views

December 23, 2014

Thank you so much for sticking around these much-neglected parts this year! Write more blog posts and post blogs more frequently is on my list of New Year’s resolutions, I swear. My last post was a bit of a recap of the year and all its university-going and agent-getting excitement, but if you’re looking for something to read while you queue at the tills in the midst of department-store-mania or just need a quiet escape over the holidays with a cup of coffee and your phone, below are a list of quick links to 2014’s most popular posts. I went for quality over quantity this year, so although the list is short, the reading times are generally loooooong…


Catherine’s Caffeinated’s Highlights of 2014:

A New Year, A New Routine (or The Problem with Goals)
To Do: A Social Media Spring Clean
Writer/Blogger? You May Need a Contact Page Intervention
When Story Goes Wrong: My AMBER-Induced Rage
The Infinite Sadness of Unfinished Work [update: FINISHED. Another update: AGENTED!]
Closing the Facebook
Goodreads Giveaways: Don’t Do What You’re Told
Self-Publishing a New Edition? Get Rid of the Old One First!
Inserting Page Numbers and Running Heads [in CreateSpace interiors]
[Insert Annoying Self-Promoting Message Here]
The Surprising Thing About Rejection (or What I Learned in 2014)

Mel Sherratt, Laura Pepper WuC.S. Larkin, Jean Grainger, Dan Holloway and Pat Fitzpatrick were all fantabulous special guest stars and the ever-annoying US tax withholding situation got a complete makeover this year too. You can read about it here.

Finally thanks to the VAT shambles, I will no longer be selling my e-books directly to readers come January 1st. If you want to buy direct from me, you have to do it before December 31st.

Have a very Merry Christmas and a fantastic New Year. See you soon! 

Catherine x

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Published on December 23, 2014 07:46 • 32 views

December 5, 2014

This will likely be my last blog post in 2014 and you might want to make a cup of coffee, because it’s gonna be a long one…

In past Decembers I’ve compiled gift guides, and last year I shared my first Christmas in a place I lived all by myself (and so could decorate as I pleased, safe in the knowledge that no one could touch anything or suddenly appear with a strand of the most offensive substance known to man, tinsel). But this year I’m coming to the end of my first term in Trinity College Dublin, barely three months in to a four-year degree in English Studies that I started at the ripe age of 32, and assignments are due. This necessitated a move to Dublin, one of the most expensive cities in the world; the shoebox I now live in, while comfortable and suitably Catherine-fied, couldn’t fit as much as a bauble. (I have no books here. That’s how small it is.) And once college breaks up at the end of the next week, I have to use my month off to—

Well, let me back up a little.

This has been a very exciting year. There was always something about 2014; I knew it would be a big one. During it I did three things I’ve been dreaming about for ages, for years in some cases: I moved to Dublin, I started studying English at Trinity and I signed with an agent. The agent, rather. The one who is at the very top of your wish list if you’re a woman who writes crime, the one who represents such awe-inspiring writers that you nearly didn’t even bother submitting to her because you assumed there was absolutely no chance, and when—

Well, let me back up a little again.


2014 Highlights: Trinity College Dublin as it looked on my first day as a student. 

I want to tell you about the two very important lessons I’ve learned this year.

The first is that when it comes to making big changes, pursuing your dreams or just doing anything that will yank you out of your comfort zone, making the decision to do it is the hardest part.

Honestly, it is. Strolling around Trinity’s historical campus one sunny day in September – having previously only ever strolled around it as a tourist – I couldn’t quite believe that I was there. I go here now, I kept whispering to myself. How had it happened? [For those of you who don’t live in Ireland, Trinity is like Ireland’s Harvard. It’s for the top scorers. Mature students aren’t considered on their years-old exam results – thankfully! – but places are incredibly restricted and competition is fierce. But I filled my application form with all my book and publishing antics over the last five years, and I’m convinced that’s what got me in.] I’d had to apply; interview; come up with the fees; find a place to live in Dublin in what was described as the worst year for rental accommodation in three decades; move out; move up; and show up for the first day of Orientation.

But they were all easy compared to sitting in front of my computer at 11.30pm on January 31st last, half an hour before the CAO [Central Applications Office; how we apply to third-level education in Ireland) deadline closed for the year. I drummed my fingers on the desktop. Was I really going to do this? Could I do this? How could I leave the apartment I loved so much? Could I really move to Dublin in just a few months? Live there by myself? Afford to? Was there any real possibility that I would even get in? I’d been thinking about it for months but when it came to down to it, I wasn’t sure. It would be easier not to do anything. With minutes to spare, I finalized my application.

And that was by far the hardest part. Making the initial decision was the most difficult thing I’d had to do. After that, all I was doing was following through.


Highlights of 2014: Champagne and Starbucks. What more does a girl want? (Thanks for the bubbly, Denise!)

Lesson number two was that rejection doesn’t mean no.

Quick recap, if you’re not familiar: I love self-publishing, and I can’t even imagine where I’d be now without it. (Not here, anyway!) But my goal has always been to get published. I don’t feel the need to justify it but if you’re wondering why, it can be summed up like this: because that’s what I want, okay? This little girl didn’t ask Santa for a typewriter because she was dreaming of seeing her book on the Kindle store after she put it there herself:


Around about the time I self-published Mousetrapped in 2010, I finished a novel, Results Not Typical. Chick-lit meets corporate satire, I called it, or The Devil Wears Prada meets WeightWatchers. It got me a meeting with the editorial director of a major publishing house, who didn’t like that book but liked me and hoped I might write something else. We met every few months for two years, but after various outlines, sample chapters and synopses, I just wasn’t coming up with the goods. With hindsight I can see that my heart just wasn’t in it. I was trying to write a book that I wouldn’t choose to read, which of course is completely and utterly insane, and insulting to books and stories and publication dreams in general.

Meanwhile I’d had an idea for a crime/thriller novel. I am OBSESSED with crime/thriller novels. They are by far and away what I predominantly read. My favorite author of all time is Michael Connelly. If I color-coordinated my bookshelves, half of them would be black. I just love, love, love a good mystery, a chilling serial killer, a twist that comes like a sudden slap in the face. As for writing them, it’s something I thought I would do when I was older, when I had more experience both in life and as a writer. But one day in the summer of 2012, fed up with my failed attempts to write women’s commercial fiction, I caught myself thinking, When this outline is done, I’m going to try and write that thriller just for fun.


Shouldn’t everything I write be for fun? Why was I doing it otherwise? I ditched all notions of writing anything except the book I wanted to read, the book I really wanted to write.

I’d love to tell you now that I banged it out in a caffeine-fueled week or something, but what followed was eighteen months of mostly procrastination. Still, the idea was percolating away in my brain, so all was not lost. By January of this year I had a long synopsis – or, ahem, an outline; tip: if your synopsis is too long, just call it an outline instead! – and the first third of the book, written and re-written to what I thought was a high standard.


Highlights of 2014: At the Bord Gais Energy Irish Book Awards with Hazel and Elizabeth. (Photo credit: Derek Flynn.)

I have a lot of writer friends, many of them published, and two of them in particular (shout out, Sheena and Hazel!) urged me to start submitting to agents. I said no, not yet, I want to wait until I feel like it’s perfect or, at the very least, finished. Don’t be daft, they said. Are you happy with the first third? Yes? Send it out then. You’re not a novice, you have all this self-publishing stuff behind you, great contacts and you do freelance work for one of the world’s biggest publishing houses. No, no, I said. I’m not ready. I can’t do it. But they kept at me, Dr Phil-style, and finally I said, Okay, okay. I’ll start submitting.

And then anxiety started pushing its way out of my skin in the form of sweat. My heart began to race. I was genuinely scared of the idea of submitting to an agent.


Because getting published had been my dream since I realized that people actually wrote the books I loved to read. With 30,000 double-spaced words under my arm and a cover letter I’d been perfecting for months, this dream was still intact. But what if I sent it out and got nothing back but a form rejection letter? That would be devastating, a sharpened scalpel tip right into the balloon of my publication dreams. So of course, it was easier to stay in the limbo in between, where my dreams could still happen.

Making the initial decision to take action was the hardest part.


Highlight of 2014: finalizing the plot of The Novel.

But I did send it out. And it did get rejected. And I was devastated.

It was rejected by three agents. The first gave me detailed feedback, and some of it caught in my gut. I knew she was right so I rewrote it. The second one just said no (or a disinterested “Nah…” in my head). The third one said no too, in the worst possible way: I really enjoyed it, but I just don’t feel passionate enough about it to represent you. As I feel all authors deserve an agent who is passionate about their work… etc

I have a writer friend whose book launches I’ve been going to every summer for the past four years (shout out, Maria!) and who, not that long ago, went to London to meet with two agents, both of whom were desperate to represent her. They both pitched to her and then she got to pick. We first met at a writers’ workshop back in April 2009, when both of us were just dreamers. It had happened for her; I wanted it to happen – and happen that way – for me. But when the rejections started coming in, I stopped believing that it ever would.

I started thinking, Well, the best I can hope for now is an agent who’ll reluctantly take me on because, well, he’ll give it a go, and a deal with a small publisher with no distribution potential and no advance. I was downsizing. Because here’s the thing: if it was a good book, I thought, wouldn’t its goodness be universally recognized?

I finished my book over the summer and decided that my careful, one-agent-at-a-time strategy wasn’t getting me anywhere. I might never get anywhere, so what did I have to lose? I submitted it to two more agents, the agents, the agents I really wanted but had been holding back on submitting to because (a) if the agents on my next-best-thing list all said the book was a stinking pile of crap, it would need a re-write, and I didn’t want to ruin my one chance with my Dream Agents by sending them the first version (although I should say the agents I had sent it to were still brilliant, amazing, well-known agents that I would’ve been delirious to have been represented by) and (b) I thought there was no point, because they got thousands of submissions a year and took on hardly any new clients.

One of the agents was so selective that she only accepted the first ten pages of your book. Fifty is the norm. I’d no chance. I actually remember being on her website and thinking, There’s no point. It was a repeat of January 31st, drumming my fingers on the desk, thinking there was no point in applying to Trinity.


Not a highlight, but what I’m stuck with reading as my essay deadline looms. Ugh!

But I’d got into Trinity, and now I was living and studying in Dublin. Making the decision was the hardest part, remember? So I took a deep breath, submitted my ten pages and hoped for the best.

Actually, I just hoped for a response.

Both agents requested the full manuscript. And then they both offered representation, one of them even before she’d finished reading the book. I shook and squealed as I read their e-mails. And just like my friend Maria, I had a day (during my first Reading Week!) where I flew to London and met with two amazing agents and listened, slightly dumbfounded, while they pitched for me and my work.

The day before I’d got an invite to the Irish Book Awards and the day after the new Michael Connelly book came out, so that was quite the giddy week, let me tell you.

A few weeks before my London trip I was watching an episode of ITV’s Crime Thriller Club where crime writing queen Lynda La Plante was being interviewed. She said if she could give advice to aspiring writers it would be that “rejection doesn’t mean no.”

I rolled my eyes. Um, that’s EXACTLY what it means? Come on, Lynda. Aren’t you supposed to be a writer? But after my London day, I realized what she meant.

Publishing is an incredibly subjective operation. Whether or not someone likes your book depends on their personal tastes, their professional experience and even what mood they’re in when they sit down to read it. Whether or not an agent will take you on depends on all this and the level of belief they have in you, what they see in the possibility of what the book can become. Timing factors in too, of course. Maybe they just took on a similar author, or they know that a publishing house just paid five-figures for a similar book. That’s why we have these stories of Ms Author getting rejected all over town for years, and then getting an agent and going on to hit the bestseller lists.

Just because your book got rejected doesn’t mean that your publishing dreams are dead. It doesn’t even mean that you have to modify them. Rejection, as Lynda said, doesn’t mean no.

Last week I signed with Jane Gregory of Gregory & Company. Next week I’ve to hand in my first lot of university assignments. Then I start on a re-write of my novel and after that, who knows what the new year will bring? It might bring everything I want, or it might bring disappointment. I’m ready either way. I’ll keep you updated.

In the meantime, remember that making the decision to take action is by far the hardest part and that rejection doesn’t mean no. Consider this when you sit down to think about your writing goals in 2015.

In the meantime, thanks for reading in 2014, especially as life has got in the way and I’ve become so sporadic with my blogging. I hope to improve a bit in the New Year!

Wishing you and yours a fabulous Christmas and a New Year that brings everything you want.

Catherine x

(Fun fact: this blog post is the exact length each of my four essays has to be. Procrastinating much?)

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Published on December 05, 2014 06:32 • 25 views

November 14, 2014

Well, not just for you, but for all my blog readers.


Until midnight GMT Monday 17th November, you can get enjoy 25% off an ePub or Kindle edition of Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing (3rd edition) if you purchase it directly from me at one of the links below.

Just enter the code blogreader to avail of your discount.

Click here for Kindle
Click here for ePub

A PDF is also available at a permanent price of $2.49. (There’s no discount on that. Sorry!)

Please note that this process will result in a file being downloaded to your computer. You’ll then have to transfer it manually to your e-reader, if applicable. And sometimes I get complaints from people that they click the “I want it!” button and nothing happens; if this happens to you, try accessing Gumroad in another browser. It doesn’t like Safari, I’ve found, but it loves Google Chrome.

While we’re on the subject, Gumroad is GREAT for selling files online if you think you might want to do that sort of thing.

Newsletter subscribers, keep an eye on your inbox. In the next 24 hours I’ll send you a discount code for a whopping 50% off the same thing. (And guess what? YOU can become a newsletter subscriber. Just sign up here – QUICK!)

Should you miss it, you’ll still be able to purchase these via my E-book Store.

In other news I have my first four assignments due for university in a mere four weeks’ time, so you probably won’t see too much of me around these parts until they’re handed in and I’ve caught up on the sleep I had to skip in order to get them finished. But then, I’ll probably be desperately searching for procrastination activities so you never know. You might want to stick around…

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Published on November 14, 2014 06:26 • 18 views

November 4, 2014

I’ve decided to change the way I blog.

From now on, day in and day out, all I’m going to post are blogs that consist of an image of my book’s cover, a link to where it’s for sale online and an excerpt from “another 5* review!” (the word another and the exclamation mark being the most important elements of that phrase).

Will you stick around?

I’m guessing not, and I wouldn’t expect you to. Were you to change your blog to consist exclusively of such blatant, repetitive, smug and utterly pointless – more on the pointless bit in a minute – content, I’m sure you wouldn’t expect anyone to hang around either.

And yet this is exactly how an alarming number of writers are treating Twitter every minute of every day.

I thought we all understood. I thought we had this thing down. I thought we’d all realized that people follow us on Twitter, read our blogs and “like” our Facebook pages not to be sold something but to find things that either:

Entertain them
Inform them
Make them feel like they connect with someone else, i.e. like they can relate to you because you have a shared problem/experience

or a combination of the above. I thought incessantly tweeting updates about how many five star reviews your book has now, or asking us to vote for you in some internet-votes-decided competition, or posting nothing but advertisements for your book that promise us “fans of Dan Brown will think this is even better!” had all gone the way of thinking Cover Creator can create professional-looking covers or that editing is optional.

But it’s getting worse. Actually, I think it got much better and then got worse than ever before. I’ve noticed it myself lately and then today my Twitter friend Mariam tweeted this (see below), and I realized the increase in this activity wasn’t in my imagination, and I decided to blog about it.

In the last five seconds I’ve seen about TEN promotional tweets. What happened to actually COMMUNICATING on #twitter ? Sad.

— Mariam Kobras (@Mariam_Kobras) November 4, 2014

So, here goes:

What is “it”?

It’s silly to say that any kind of activity should be subject to a blanket ban. We’re all trying to sell books, engage with new readers and increase our Twitter following, so of course there will always be an element of self-promotion to our online presence. Please feel free to tell us about five star reviews, and encourage us to vote for you in some competition or other, or let us know when your book is free or you have a little launch party going on (as I did recently).

But FOR THE LOVE OF FUDGE people: stop doing it all the damn time.

Permission marketing is a term coined by Seth Godwin that essentially means promoting only to people who have opted-in to be promoted to. (Like when you buy something on in September, check the box marked “Subscribe to newsletter” and then get at least two e-mails about layers every day for three months.) But I like to use the term and the idea to convey a simple instruction about your promotional activity: you must earn the right to sell me something.

If 99% of the time – or even, say, 75% of the time – you tweet hilarious observations, share links to fascinating blog posts and stroke my ego by retweeting my hilarious observations and links to fascinating blog posts, how am I going to feel when you tweet “ANOTHER 5* review for The Best Novel Ever!”?

Not that bothered. I might even go check it out. But if every other tweet before it has said the same thing, and all your tweets yesterday said the same thing, and all the tweets the day before said the same thing and so on, how am I going to feel?

It’d be more like this:


Or on a good day:


We’re not talking about occasional self-promotion here. We’re talking about a tweet stream infested with it. I think if it’s taking up more than 3 out of every 10 tweets – and that’s not including stuff you retweet; I mean your original tweets – then you’re in trouble, and all your followers are already pissed off.

Perfectly Pointless

The thing that really gets my goat about this kind of promotion is that it is COMPLETELY AND UTTERLY POINTLESS. It doesn’t work. It never has. It can’t work, because you can’t sell to people who are annoyed with you. So it’s not going to win you any sales and it’s going to cost you (virtual) friends. Why do it then?

I think people do it for two reasons:

They don’t know any better OR
They think they’re getting away with it.

What I mean by “they don’t know any better” is this: maybe Twitter doesn’t look to them the way it looks to you and me. Remember that Twitter is what you make of it. It’s an entirely different kettle of fish to each and every user. For example to me, it’s a fantastically interesting and friendly place packed full of people with a deep love of books, with some Irish and celebrity news thrown in. (Don’t judge me…) But for the person who just signed up yesterday, it may just be a place to keep up with traffic alerts and giveaways by their favorite brands. Twitter may look to them like a billboard, just because of who they’ve chosen to follow. Therefore, they may not know that it’s wrong – or pointless – to treat it as such. There’s not much we can do about them.

However if you’re in the second group, brace yourself: you’re not getting away with it. You may have a healthy follower count, but what’s your engagement level like? When you tweet “ANOTHER 5* review!” do you instantly get a string of retweets and a stream of congratulatory messages? I very much doubt it. And just because your follower count doesn’t go down doesn’t mean you’re not losing followers. You know we can “mute” you now, right? Unfollow you, for all intents and purposes, except you won’t know it. We’ll never see you in our stream and yet if you check, we’ll still be in your follower list. Except we won’t be really, because you’ve annoyed us so much we’ve put you on mute.

Check Your Content’s Value

I outlined above the three reasons people are spending their time online. I’ve blogged about it before and I cover it at length in Self-Printed, but here’s a quick recap again:

When you put something promotional online, be it a blog post, tweet or Facebook update, your goal should be to improve the internet above all else. Make it a better place – or a more interesting place, or a funnier place, or a more helpful place – than it was five minutes ago. Don’t just add to the white noise, because your content will disappear like a fleck of white in a screen full of static. (So it will be, say it with me: POINTLESS!)

Make sure your promotional content is doing one or more of the following things: entertaining (e.g. a funny book trailer), informing (e.g. sharing details of a writing competition on Facebook) or connecting (e.g. writing a blog post about how you’re feeling about NaNoWriMo this year or your struggle to get an agent).

Then, here’s the kicker: does it still do one or more of those three things when you take the advertising bit out of it?

Take these examples:

Maria Semple’s book trailer for Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (above)
My recent blog post about inserting page numbers and headers in your CreateSpace interior
This tweeted image from the Transworld Books Twitter account (below)

Happy Friday! There’s a chance you might be a bookworm when…

— Transworld Books (@TransworldBooks) October 24, 2014

They are advertising:

Where’d You Go, Bernadette? (a novel)
Self-Printed 3.0 (my book)
Transworld titles (i.e. corporate account)

But pretending for a second that none of the things in that list really exist, that none of those products are really available to buy, would the items above still have a value? Yes, they would: the video is entertaining, my blog post is helpful and when we see the picture Transworld shared, I’m sure most of us think, I love that – that’s so me!

Looking at your promotional content, if your book didn’t exist, could the content still stand alone? Does it have a value of its own?

What if we took away the advertising from a tweet that read:


What would we be left with? Could it stand by itself if the book didn’t exist? If the answer is no, then forget it.

The Real Life Test

Here’s another, even easier test you can do: would you say this to me in real life? Is your tweet (or blog post or Facebook update) a reflection of how you behave in the real, 3-D world?

Last week I launched the third edition of Self-Printed, and I had a fantastic prize from eBookPartnership to give away. I confined the whole thing to two days and have not mentioned it since, as you may have noticed. And this is what I did in real life too – I e-mailed my writer friends, just the once, to say the new edition was out now and that I had a fab prize going on my blog if they knew any self-publishers who might be interested. But when I meet them for coffee, do we all sit at the table saying “I just got ANOTHER 5* star review for my book!”? I can assure you we don’t, because we wouldn’t be invited back again. But because I almost never promote my stuff to my friends, they weren’t annoyed when I did it the once – in fact, they were all congratulatory  and were happy to pass the message on. I’d earned it.

So try the Real Life test before you tweet your next “Fabulous stuff ANOTHER person said about my book!” tweet.

Twitter isn’t a billboard. Stop treating it like one . It doesn’t work and we’re all going to end up muting you.

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Published on November 04, 2014 08:09 • 32 views

October 27, 2014

Thank you to everyone who participated in the #selfprintedsplash on Friday! Below are links to all the questions asked and the answers I supplied (some of them very late Thursday night/early Friday morning…)

I promised there’d be prizes for the Random Participant Wins This and Best Question Asked awards, and here’s what those prizes are going to be: you can either have a paperback copy of Self-Printed 3.0 OR any book that appears in Self-Printed’s Further Reading section. (And if you can’t pick one, I’ll decide for you and you can wait to find out when the postman arrives with it. Oooh, the suspense!) So, drum roll please..

Best Question Asked goes to…

Jaime Adams! (If you lose your enthusiasm for self-publishing, how do you get it back?)

Random Participant Wins This goes to…

Caoimhe McCabe!

Jaime and Caoimhe, please e-mail me re: your prize choice. Congratulations!


If you’re upset you didn’t win a prize, remember you have until midnight GMT tonight (27th October) to win this amazing one: an e-book conversion and distribution package from eBookPartnership valued at $299/£225. It’ll take all the stress out of publishing an e-book, leave you all the profits and it’s valid until December 2016. Click here to enter.

You can also check out Mel Sherratt’s fantabulous guest post from Saturday.

A reminder: Self-Printed (3rd edition) is now available in paperback and e-book on all the Amazons, with additional e-book formats coming on stream soon.

Self-Printed Splash participants: if you e-mailed me your link, you should have your free copy of Self-Printed by now. If you haven’t e-mailed me, do it now. If you e-mailed me but didn’t get your book, let me know and remind me what you want (Kindle, ePub or PDF) – and, since I sent blank e-mails with large attachments, maybe check your spam folder for it first.

Now, after all that rabid self-promotion, I shall leave you in peace for a while. Tootles!


The #SelfPrintedSplash Questions and Answers

Q: Should I put my new release through KDP Select?

Q: What’s a good freebie for a history blog?

Q: What do you think is a reasonable length for a £2.99 novel? And at what point do you think it becomes a rip off?

Q: Is it best to put all my energy into self-publishing, or continue to fantasise about following the traditional route of finding a mainstream publisher/agent as well?

Q: How should I go about selling the book to the local market (Singapore)?

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 10.15.21

Q: Contests for fiction authors. Worthwhile or a waste of time?

Q: I’ve been invited to an author event – you know where they stick a bunch of writer folk in a room and fans come flocking to have their paperbacks signed? TBH, I’m mostly going for vanity reasons, but are you aware of these being actually good for marketing/sales/promotion?

As Caroline said on her blog, that was actually the second question she’d asked me…

Screen Shot 2014-10-25 at 10.21.05


Q: What are the essential WordPress plug-ins for self-published authors?

Q: What are the top 3 things you would do to boost a book suffering a lull in sales?

Q: What’s your number one tip for a new author?

Q: Do you think book trailers are worth it?

Q: What’s the advantage for a self-published author to work with an Amazon imprint like Montlake?

Q: What are your thoughts and recommendations on managing time as a new author dealing with revising, editing and formatting your self-published book while trying to spend some creative time composing your current or next work?

Q: If you wrote a trilogy, would you release all three parts on the same day or spread them out?

Q: What is the biggest benefit of having your book edited by a professional?

Q: Kindle pre-ordering. Yay or nay?

Q: If you lose your enthusiasm for self-publishing, do you have any tips on how to get it back?

Q: What can we expect to read re: social media (e.g. the value of Facebook) in the new edition?

Q: As a new author who is completely inept with social networking, and didn’t think about how to market myself until AFTER my book came out, what is the ONE thing you think I could do that would help people find my book?

Q: As a self-published author, what do you consider the most important measure of success?

Q: Is there any specific data on the return on investment for freebies? I’m curious about data like “100 copies given away results in 13 reviews and 3 copies sold” or some such nonsense. Separated by fiction and nonfiction. Also, what’s your opinion on whether such data would have any practical value?

Q: Should I be sending out press releases to promote my book?

Q: What is your advice for making a mainstream self-published novel visible (as opposed to romance, science-fiction, etc.)?

Q: How do you do all the formatting required for all the different distributors without wanting to smash your head off a wall?

Q: You’ve said that you’ve changed your mind about some things since writing Self-Printed 2. Pick one and say what it is and what made you take a different view of it.

Q: How do I choose a font for my author brand?

Q: What’s your (self) editing process?

Participated in the #selfprintedsplash but don’t see your question? You have to e-mail it to me, folks – Twitter ain’t enough; I can’t keep track. 

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Published on October 27, 2014 02:00 • 23 views

October 25, 2014

The #selfprintedsplash weekend* continues with a very special guest appearance today by self-publishing superstar Mel Sherratt who after a truly stellar rise through the Amazon bestseller ranks – well, really it wasn’t exactly a rise, more like she burst onto them at the top and then stayed there! – secured a deal with Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, and was one of the first Amazon Publishing authors to see her paperback books not just for sale online but in brick-and-mortar bookstores too. I’ve “known” Mel now for a few years (we’ve never met in real life but I feel like I know her!) and have watched in awe as she grabbed her self-publishing opportunity with both hands and went for success – and [whispers] seeing as she’s a one-woman Self-Printed sales team, you could infer that Self-Printed helped her along the way. *smug*

So, over to you, Mel!

“Back in the good old days, I tried twelve years to get a traditional publishing deal before I took the plunge and self-published through Kindle Direct Publishing. During that time I must have written off well over a million words. I went through two agents (and have now found a fabulous third one.) I was constantly being told that my books in The Estate Series were cross genre – a mix of women’s fiction and crime thriller. They were, I agree, but there was no market for these kinds of books so no publisher could ‘slot’ me into a niche anywhere.

1diary photo

I changed tack and wrote a police procedural called TAUNTING THE DEAD. It’s actually part psychological thriller too as I like to get inside the head of good and bad characters. This was turned down too – mostly then for being too much like Martina Cole and Lynda la Plante. Granted I’m a gritty writer and not everyone likes my style but I had some ‘positive’ rejections, a lot of near misses and even one or two books going to acquisition meetings but falling at the final hurdle.

Had I not become friends with author Talli Roland, who told me in the summer of 2011 to try self-publishing on Kindle, I might not be working for myself as a full time author. It was meeting people like Talli who helped me to get where I am today.

It’s also thanks to Catherine that I am able to do this too – because she gave me a virtual helping hand, firstly in the shape of this fantastic blog and then with her book, Self-Printed. By sharing her journey, offering hints and tips along the way, telling us of her ups and downs, very honestly, she gave hope to lots of other writers as well as guidance, all in a quirky style that I loved reading. Without realising, she gave her time generously to help other authors.

I self-published TAUNTING THE DEAD in late December 2011 and it has since sold over 100,000 copies.


Now I have five books out in my own name, plus a box set and a diary on The Estate. For my publisher, I have one ready for publication in February 2015, and am writing the next for publication in summer 2015. These two books follow on from TAUNTING THE DEAD as I am making that into a series now too. Plus I will be self-publishing book four and five of THE ESTATE Series next year.

My writing journey was very much a labour of love. After writing five books during those twelve years of heartache, near misses, rejection, giving up and starting again, people often think I was an overnight success, for want of a better phrase. I admit my journey to publication was a long one but I just felt compelled to write. I still do and until I don’t, I am grateful to anyone who has read and enjoyed a book of mine, or indeed anyone who has helped me along the way.

So if you had told me three years ago that I would get to do all this:

Be working on my tenth book
Land myself not one but two two-book deals with a publisher
Appear on panels at London Book Fair, Crimefest, Stoke Hot Air Literary Festival and Theakstons Old Peculiar Crime Writing Festival (the largest crime festival in the world)
Be quoted by the Mail on Sunday – ‘Sherratt is a unique voice in detective fiction.’
Appear in numerous newspapers, radio shows and magazines
Have more than 1500 4 & 5 star reviews across my books (that’s 84% of my reviews)
Have book sales totalling nearly 300,000 and have even met a few authors who have self-published MILLIONS of books
Recently be long listed for The Crime Writer’s Association Dagger in the Library Award!

Well, you know what I would say?

Poppy cock.

There was a LOT of hard work to get to where I am but it’s mostly been enjoyable. There are days when my messages through social media go mental when I get some good news to share. There are days when I could literally pinch myself. There are days when I think ‘did I really do all that?’


Like any job, it has its ups and downs. There are days when I am in tears when someone rips in to me with a one star review. There are days that I have so much self-doubt that I can’t write at all. But I keep at it because I know I can get through it.

I’ve appeared on Catherine’s blog a few times during these three years but we have never met in person. Every time she has been coming over to London, I would be there the day before or the day after. One time we were even there on the same day but didn’t know until afterwards – the person I was meeting was the one she had just left! I recommend her book everywhere I go, not because I know her, but because it’s really good. So I’m not writing this post because she is someone I know. She is a friend, so be it a virtual one, but I read her blog first and then from this found the book.

Have guest post from @writermels going live soon – she spreads the Self-Printed word so much she’s due commission!

— CatherineRyanHoward (@cathryanhoward) October 25, 2014

Now I’m proud to endorse Self-Printed for her.


About Mel

Mel Sherratt self-published her first novel, a crime thriller called TAUNTING THE DEAD, in December 2011. It went on to be a Kindle #1 bestseller and a 2012 top ten bestselling KDP ebook on She has since released three psychological thrillers in a series, THE ESTATE, with WRITTEN IN THE SCARS coming soon – also with Thomas & Mercer, an imprint of Amazon Publishing, WATCHING OVER YOU, a dark psychological thriller. FOLLOW THE LEADER, the follow-on from TAUNTING THE DEAD will be published in February, 2015. Find Mel’s books on Amazon here.


Don’t forget that there’s an eBookPartnership conversion and distribution package worth $299/£225 up for grabs that’ll take all the headaches out of self-publishing your e-book while keeping all the profits intact. Find out how to enter for your chance to win here. (Closes midnight GMT on Monday 27th October.)

*Technically it’s a Friday, a Saturday and a Monday but let’s just go with it, okay?

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Published on October 25, 2014 01:35 • 23 views

October 24, 2014

Happy #SelfPrintedSplash Day!

The Self-Printed Splash, if you’re not familiar, is a stupid idea I had [I'm typing these words at 2.36am on the morning of said splash, when I have something like 20 responses left to go and Gmail has decided to stop letting me in and there's only so much coffee a person can drink - hence the stupid bit] to launch the third edition of Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing.


I invited people to ask me their burning self-publishing question and I answered it under the condition that they’d post it to their blog, Twitter feed or Facebook page today, and in exchange they would get a digital copy of Self-Printed. Come Monday I will be posting links to all the participants’ published questions and answers right here and I’ll be revealing the winners of the Random Participant Wins This and Best Question Asked awards, for which there will be small but fun prizes.

Today however, you can do these things:

1. Follow the #selfprintedsplash on Twitter

I’ve asked all the participants to tweet links to the Q&As if they can, so do follow the #selfprintedsplash hash-tag on Twitter if you’re in need of a procrastination activity today.

2. Win an aMAHzing prize!

The fantastically lovely (and patient!) people at eBookPartnership have given me an aMAHzing prize: a conversion and distribution package worth LOTS that’s valid until December 2016!


For your chance to win, leave a comment on this blog before midnight GMT on Monday 27th October.

The winner will be picked at random and everyone will be VERY jealous of you. You can find out more about eBookPartnership on their website.

3. Buy Self-Printed 3.0 (if, you know, you want to)

Self-Printed 3.0 is out now! It’s available in paperback and Kindle editions on and the other ones, and other e-book formats will be available soon.

Don’t forget that you don’t need a Kindle to read Kindle books. If you have a PC, Mac, tablet or smartphone you can download the free Kindle Reading App.


It’s on here and here.

Here are some nice things some people have said about it:

Self-Printed is my self-publishing bible. It taught me how to format, create and upload my e-books and print-on-demand paperbacks. It showed me practical things such as how to build a website/blog and how to promote my books. More importantly, it taught me how to compete with the professionals. Just look at the results – The Estate Series has sold nearly 100,000 copies and following that I got a traditional book deal with Thomas & Mercer too, so I’m now a hybrid author. Jam-packed full of hints and tips all in one place, I’m always referring back to it. In a word, it’s priceless.” – Mel Sherratt, author of The Estate Series and DS Allie Shenton Series  [and we'll have a blog post from Mel to entertain us this weekend - stay tuned!]
“An exceptional breath of realism, real knowledge and hard experience – don’t dream of self-publishing your book without it. This is the self-publishing guide to read if you actually care about the quality of your writing and your readers.” – Nicola Morgan, author of around 100 books – including Write to be Published (and other writing advice on her website - ), award-winning YA novels such as Wastedand books on the teenage brain and stress.
“[Self-Printed has] been my bible! Whenever anyone asks me for a tip on self-publishing, I tell them to go buy it. I had it in digital version first and then in paperback so I could have it open next to the laptop.” – Kitty French, USA Today bestselling author of The Knight Series
“The BEST book on self-publishing … Seriously, GET THIS NOW!” – David Wright, co-author of the bestselling Yesterday’s Gone series
“It’s authoritative, engaging, and, like [Catherine’s] blog, caffeinated. If you’re thinking of self-publishing and you want to give your book a great start in life, get Self-Printed.” – Roz Morris, author of Nail Your Novel: Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish With Confidence
“When I decided to self-publish my work, I didn’t have the faintest idea how to do it. Fortunately, I came across Catherine Ryan Howard’s guide to encourage, push, and prod me through the process. I doubt I would have achieved the success I’ve experienced without her down-to-earth, practical, meanwhile-here-in-the-real-world advice. I recommend Self-Printed to every writer I meet.” – Martin Turnbull, author of the Garden of Allah novels, recently optioned by the producer of Disney’s Million Dollar Arm
“The best thing about Catherine is that she not only lives the dream, but offers you a stepladder up to join her. The advice she gives is utterly practical – because she’s done what she describes – and the whole [book] is suffused with humour. I am a fan.” – Associate Professor Alison Baverstock, author of Is There a Book in You…? and Course Leader, MA Publishing, Kingston University (UK)
 “Catherine explains clearly and concisely how to make self-publishing work for you. Laugh-out-loud funny in places, this book covers everything you need to know to make your book a success.”– Vanessa O’Loughlin, founder of

Did you pre-order Self-Printed?

P.S. Did you pre-order the Kindle edition? It was in lock out for the 10 days prior to publication and in that 10 day period I discovered a change with the tax situation that I was then able to update in the post-publication Kindle and paperback editions. The newest version says “Version 3.1″ in the copyright notice. If you bought a Kindle edition and it does not say that, please e-mail me at info[at] with proof of purchase and I will hopefully be able to send you a free Kindle edition of the newest update. (Amazon basically demands a blood sample before they push a new version out to customers, and who has the time?)

Don’t forget to leave a comment for your chance to win the aMAHzing eBookPartnership prize! If you can’t think of anything, tell me: what’s your coffee order?
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Published on October 24, 2014 02:14 • 13 views

October 12, 2014

Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing, 3rd Edition is almost here!

The Kindle edition goes live this Thursday, October 16th (you can pre-order it here on and here on Other e-book formats and the paperback will – avoiding any major disasters – be available by the day of the Self-Printed Splash, Friday October 24th. If you want a little e-mail reminder that it’s out, sign up to my laughably sporadic newsletter.

It’s been nearly two years since I brought out version 2.0 and a lot has changed. I’ve been addressing some of this new stuff in recent posts like Closing the Facebook, Goodreads Giveaways: Don’t Do What You’re Told and Self-Publishing a New Edition? Get Rid of the Old One First.

Today we’re going to do something that I know a lot of you have been asking for: we’re going to put page numbers and running heads into our CreateSpace paperback interior using MS Word’s “Sections” feature, and we’re going to do it step-by-step.


The What Now?

I sincerely hope it goes without saying that the interior of your CreateSpace paperback needs to have page numbers, and if you want it to look a bit fancy you might consider adding running heads to it as well. These are just headers – usually a combination of either the title of the book and the author’s name or the title of the book and the section of it you’re in – that run throughout the book. The Book Designer has an excellent explainer on running heads here.

If you have even a mild grasp of MS Word, you’ll already know how to use headers and footers. That bit’s easy. Where this gets tricky is on the pages of our book where we don’t want page numbers or headers to appear.

For example, you shouldn’t have page numbers until the actual text of your book begins. In Self-Printed 2.0, there’s something like 11 or 12 pages where you have things like reviews, the table of contents, about the author, title page, half-title page, etc. None of them should have page numbers. The page numbers only start on page 13, which is the first page of the introduction. Trickier again is the rule that if a page is blank – like the even page at the end of the chapter that we have to leave blank so the next chapter can start on an odd page, as it should – it should be completely blank, with no page number or running head. Then you might have no running head on the first page of a chapter, but you still want a page number.

(If any of that sounds confusing, follow my simple rule for getting things right in self-publishing: find a traditionally published book that’s similar to yours and note its layout. Then model yours on it.)

How can you achieve this? The answer is to use MS Word to divide your book up into sections, and then make each section look the way you want it. Sounds simple, right? Well…

Link to Previous Lucifer

I’ve talked before about how much I loathe MS Word. Yes, it’s a workhorse and I use it for all my writing, formatting, layout, etc. but at the same time it acts like an evil AI who throws things into my documents while I sleep. I’m not sure counter-intuitive is the right term, but while my Mac applications help me work, I only seem to get work done on MS Word in spite of it.

(One of the best examples of Microsoft’s inherent idiocy I’ve come across is Protected View. It’s a feature that stops you from printing an item you’ve opened as an e-mail attachment. It’ll tell you it’s in protected view so you can’t print. But all you have to do to get past it is click a button that says something like Enable Printing. But you’re already trying to print, so why wouldn’t you click that button? WHAT IS THE BUTTON FOR?!?!?!??!? And don’t get me started on a shut down procedure that includes a drop-down menu AND an Okay button AFTER you’ve selected the option to Shut Down…)

When it comes to using sections, both our patience and our intellect will be challenged by a little check box labelled Link to Previous. It will cause untold problems if you don’t keep your eyes peeled for its insidious ways. You have to watch this a-hole at all times because if you don’t, it WILL destroy you.


NB: I use Word on a Mac. You might not. If you don’t, the screenshots will look different to what you see on your screen but the general principles will be the same. No freak outs allowed. Click images for larger versions. 

Sections Step-by-Step

So let’s begin. We’re going to work with the MS Word document that is destined to become our CreateSpace interior, i.e. the template you downloaded from CS and then filled in with all your lovely words and stuff. This document should be (a) absolutely the final, final, FINAL version of your text, (b) already laid out as you want it to print, i.e. blank pages left blank already and (c) clean – get rid of any existing sections or headers/footers.

Then, as is always the case with my instructions, the coffee-making comes next. Once you have a steaming mug of caffeine within reach, we’re good to go.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 14.56.10

1. Insert page numbers (whole document)

Click in the space at the bottom of your virtual pages or use the Insert -> Page Numbers in the File Menu to add page numbers to your document. I like to keep things simple, inserting centre-aligned numbers in my footers, but if you’re feeling brave you could do left-aligned on even pages and right-aligned on odd, or combine your running heads and page numbers into one line at the top of the page.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 14.51.50

2. Insert running heads (whole document)

Click in the space at the top of your virtual pages or use the View -> Header/Footer option in the File Menu to add text to your headers. If you’ve written a novel, you’ll have the same running heads the whole way through. (Refer to The Book Designer’s post, linked above, for more information.) As I have a non-fiction book, I’m going with the title of the book on the even/lefthand page and the title of the section or part on the odd/righthand page.

Now we should have different odd/even page running heads throughout our document and a page number on every page.

3. Create a new section

Now that we’ve put all this lovely stuff in, we have to take some of it back out, starting with all the pages before the first page of our actual book, i.e. the first page of the book’s text, like Chapter One page 1 or the introduction. I can only do this by dividing my document up into two sections: everything up until page one of the main text (the blank bit) and everything that comes after that (where I want header/footer stuff).

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.10.50

To create a section I simply “break” the document by inserting a section break – Insert -> Break -> Section Page (Next Page) – at the end of the page before the first page of my new section. (Yeah, simply might not belong in that sentence…) You’ll know you’ve done it when (i) you hit the Show Non-Printing Characters button and a double blue line appears and/or (ii) click into your header or footer and now see it named “Section 2″.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.13.00

Now this is where things get tricky

4. Break all links

You now have two sections that have the same page numbers, running heads, etc. If MS Word wasn’t the devil, you would just be able to delete everything in Section 1’s headers and footers – thus making them blank – and everything in Section 2 would be unaffected.


Nothing is ever that simple in a Micro “We Think You’re Dumb and So Will Second-Guess Everything You Do” Soft program. If you try to delete something from a Section 1 header/footer now, it will disappear from Section 2 as well, because MS Word assumes that even though you went to the trouble of splitting them up, you still want them both to be the same. (I mean… REALLY.)

So before you do anything – BEFORE YOU DO ANYTHING – to either section’s header/footer text, you must break all links between them.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.18.10

In the new section you’ve just created (Section 2 here), click into each header and footer that’s labelled “Same as previous” and, in the Header/Footer toolbox, uncheck the box “Link With Previous.” Do this even if the header/footer is blank. 

Now – sigh of relief – you can make the changes you want, which in this case is to delete everything in headers and footers in all of Section 1. Hooray!

5. First page of chapter/section

The first page of a chapter or a section needs a page number but NOT a running head, usually, and the first page of my newly created Section 2 is also the first page of my Introduction. So now I’m going to click into its header and make sure the Different First Page box is checked in the Header/Footer toolbox. This will allow me to – yes, you’ve guessed it – make a different first page in terms of headers/footers without upsetting the rest of the headers/footers in the section. I want to keep the page number but delete the running head, so that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.23.27

WARNING: Guess what happened when I checked the Different First Page box? The Link to Previous box checked itself as well! The MS Devil lurks AT EVERY TURN. Needless to say, uncheck that thing.

6. Odd/Even Page Running Heads

If you looked at two pages at a time, you were just working in a screen that looked like this (below): first page of your section/chapter on the left of the screen, the even page on the right. (Please note: in the real book, the first/odd page will be on the RIGHT side of the book as you hold it, and the even page will be on the LEFT. The easy way to remember this is to think of page 1 of a book. What side is that always on? As it’s the very first, it’s always on on the right. The inside of the cover is to its left.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.27.16

Now we want to scroll down until we’re looking at the next pair of pages (below). These should be labeled Odd Page Header and Even Page Header. For my non-fiction book, every Even Page Header is going to say the same thing: Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing. But the Odd Page Headers will bear the name of whatever section of the book they happen to be in. So here, I have to go to the Odd Page Header and enter the name of the first section or part. (FYI: this running head should actually say Introduction. It does now.)

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.31.45

Because I unchecked all the “Link to Previous” boxes before I even started thinking about amending, deleting, etc. I can do this without there being an unwelcome ripple effect on the rest of my book.

7. The blank page problem (a one-page section)

So far, so good. But – nooooooooooo! – when I reach the other end of my introduction, I see that it ends on an odd page. Disaster! All new sections/chapters have to start on odd pages, which means I need to leave a blank (even) page after the introduction. That’s all well and good, but as blank pages need to be completely blank, this means I have to remove the header/footer text on it – while keeping the header/footer text on either side. Ugh.

How will I do this? I’ll create a new, one-page section.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.40.19

I go to the last line of text at the end of my introduction (or the line underneath it) and Insert -> Break -> Section Break (Next Page). Then I go towards the end of the blank page and insert another Section Break (Next Page). I now find myself working with four sections:

Section 1: Front matter, all the pages we made blank headers/footers for
Section 2: The introduction
Section 3: The blank page
Section 4: The first page of chapter one, the next “it needs stuff in its headers/footers” section

***Before I do anything else now, I must go through the all the new sections I’ve just created and UNCHECK Link to Previous.***

(Yes: bold, underlined and italics. UNCHECK IT!)

Section 3 is my blank page, and since we’re using Different First Page as a default setting here, it is also a different first page. So all you should need to delete here is the page number in the footer.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.53.36

I break the rules a little with my chapters, in that I put their title page on an odd page but I start the text of the chapter on the back of that, i.e. on an even page. I’ve seen this done in other non-fiction books and I like it, because I think otherwise there’d be too many blank pages and so too much flicking to get to the text. So now I delete the page number on the first page of Section 4/first page of my new part/chapter, making that page’s headers/footers completely blank. You may have to do something different here depending on how you’ve laid out your book.

Now I repeat Step 6, changing the Odd Page Header to the specific title of this chapter…

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 15.51.45

From here on in, all we do is repeat these steps whenever we need there to be a change in the appearance of our headers/footers.

Make a new section
Uncheck the Link to Previous box so we can make changes without bringing about Armageddon
Delete what we need to
Amend what we need to
Save changes and move on

When we encounter a blank page between the section we’re working in and the next section we’re going to create, we simply:

Make 2 new sections, one of them consisting of JUST the blank page
Uncheck the Link to Previous box
Delete what we need to
Amend what we need to
Save changes and move on

Whenever this goes wrong, I find it’s down to one of two common mistakes:

Not unchecking enough Link to Previous. When you create a new section, you’ll be unchecking ***SIX*** Link to Previous boxes, one for each of the following: first page header, first page footer, even page header, even page footer, odd page header, odd page footer. You must do all of these before you even THINK about deleting/changing something. When you are working with a blank page section, don’t forget to uncheck the LTP box for both it and all the aforementioned ones in the next section too . Uncheck the box even if the header/footer is blank.
Not working in a logical order. Start at the beginning and work your way through. Do this only with the final version of your book because can you imagine how complicated it gets if, in the middle of all this, you need to go back and insert a new blank page/section? Yeah, good luck with that.

Checking Your Book

To make absolutely sure that you’ve done this correctly, I’d recommend saving your interior as a PDF and then selecting the View -> Two Pages option in your PDF viewer. This should show you the pairs of pages as they will appear in the finished product, i.e. with the even numbered page to the left of your screen and the odd numbered page to the right.

Screen Shot 2014-10-12 at 17.07.41

This will help you determine if you have blank headers/footers where you should, if page numbers are inserted correctly, if your chapters start on odd pages throughout, etc. etc.

So that’s it! Any questions?

(Reading over this post, I realize it’s not very clear or at least as clear as I’d like it to be. I’m hoping that’d down to the fact that we’re talking about it in the abstract and then when you come to actually do it, you’ll be able to make sense of my instructions. Fingers crossed.)

Taking part in the Self-Printed Splash? THANK YOU to everyone who e-mailed their questions. You will be hearing from me within the next 7-10 days re: taking part in the splash and getting your free digital copy of Self-Printed 3.0…

Thinking about self-publishing? Free next Sunday morning? In the Dublin area or able to get to it? I’m doing a three-hour self-publishing workshop next Sunday, October 19th, in the beautiful Co. Dublin village of Dalkey as part of the Dalkey Creates festival. Tickets are just €20 and you can buy them and find out more here.

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Published on October 12, 2014 09:54 • 16 views