Here's a September landmark for you: publishing a novel.
I've Published My Novel
Things to do in September – get your novel published. Of course, you have to write it first but I'd spent over four years doing that. I found the process fascinating – starting with a little flame of an idea and building it up with the help of planning, research and revision.
The idea had been sparked by an article in The Guardian. An English couple bought a chateau in Brittany and promised to renovate the property to provide holiday cottages and a golf course. But they got into debt, drank too much, fell out with the French authorities and failed to finish anything. In the end, the man murdered his wife. I wondered what would happen if I adapted this story to fit the old house in South West France we own. The story I've written is quite different, though it still asks the same question 'What is the price of your dream?' The title is the same, too – Dreaming in Stone.
Some writers plan everything in detail. I started out with an idea of where I was going and followed this up with a proper plot and character studies. This approach involves masses of revision. I've put characters and scenes in, only to take them out later. My first draft was only 45,000 words, so I went back and added a sub-plot.
I wrote my novel during a series of creative writing courses, which started at the University of Sussex and moved to New Writing South in Brighton. The great advantage of following courses is that you make good writing friends. Mine encouraged me to think Dreaming in Stone was good. I didn't attempt to look for an agent, however, as the competition is too stiff and my age is a disadvantage.
So I looked at self-publishing. It soon became clear there are lots of companies who will help you publish your book at a price. In the end, I decided Amazon offered the best deal. They offer up to 70% royalties, although you do need to buy at least some copies of the book.
I'm useless at anything remotely technical but I managed to use Amazon's CreateSpace. I found out that it's a good idea to proof read your document and get it as near perfect as possible before you load it onto CreateSpace. Then you need to resize it to fit one of CreateSpace's templates and turn it into a pdf. CreateSpace give you a choice of cover designs, although you can also design your own. I found it quite fun playing with cover designs, although I needed my husband's help in finding a photo that fitted the requirement of 300 dots per inch. I'm still working on the Kindle version but, as of 4th September, Dreaming in Stone is published!