[Insert Annoying Self-Promoting Message Here]

4 Nov

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:

  1. Entertain them
  2. Inform them
  3. 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.

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 Godin that essentially means promoting only to people who have opted-in to be promoted to. (Like when you buy something on Gap.com 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:

  1. They don’t know any better OR
  2. 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:

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.

#SelfPrintedSplash: The Qs and As (and the Winners!)

27 Oct

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. [THIS COMPETITION HAS NOW CLOSED]

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? 


Q: Getting your book edited seems to be simultaneously incredibly important and prohibitively expensive. Do you have any tips for either mitigating the cost or bypassing the need for an editor?


Q: Two years ago, when the second edition of Self-Printed came out, Facebook was easily the top social network for authors looking to reach new fans. Does that still hold true today? How about two years from now – do you foresee any other social networks taking Facebook’s place?


Q: For fiction (specifically romance), where do you think you get the most bang for your marketing buck: ads or public relations (e.g., reviews, interviews, etc.)?


Q: Do you address the topic of Advanced Reader Copies and how to use giveaways on Goodreads in Self-Printed 3.0?


Q: What advice do you have for an introvert who has a short story series (six books so far)on KDP and is ready (and scared to death) to do some marketing and get more interest in these stories?


Q: I’m extremely new to Pinterest and mainly use it to search for crafts and recipe ideas, but I’ve heard people say it can be used for pretty much anything. Have you ever used it to promote your books? How might you go about doing so?



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. 

Self-Printed Splash Special Guest Star: Mel Sherratt

25 Oct

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.

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 Amazon.co.uk. 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?

It’s #SelfPrintedSplash Day! (and it comes with PRIZES!)

24 Oct

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.

UPDATE: Congratulations to Barbara Forte Abate who the Random Number Generator deemed the winner! Now, get finishing your book…! :-D

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 Amazon.com 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 Amazon.com here and Amazon.co.uk 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 - www.nicolamorgan.com), 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 Writing.ie

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]catherineryanhoward.com 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?

Inserting Page Numbers and Running Heads

12 Oct

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 Amazon.com and here on Amazon.co.uk). 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.

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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.

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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).

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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″.

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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.

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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.

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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.)

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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.)

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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.

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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.

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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…

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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.

  1. Make a new section
  2. Uncheck the Link to Previous box so we can make changes without bringing about Armageddon
  3. Delete what we need to
  4. Amend what we need to
  5. 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:

  1. Make 2 new sections, one of them consisting of JUST the blank page
  2. Uncheck the Link to Previous box
  3. Delete what we need to
  4. Amend what we need to
  5. 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.

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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.

Self-Publishing a New Edition? Get Rid of the Old One First!

17 Sep

Self-Printed: The Sane Person’s Guide to Self-Publishing, 3rd Edition is almost here, so it’s time to address the woes involved in bringing out a new edition. Don’t forget that in the Self-Printed 3.0 build up we’ve already talked about closing the Facebook and not doing what Goodreads tells us anymore, if you need something to read with your coffee today.

See also the end of this post for Self-Printed 3.0 buying options and a chance to see Self-Printed: LIVE! (AKA, me doing a self-publishing workshop) if you live within driving distance of Dalkey, Co. Dublin and are free on October 19th…


An Update Versus A New Edition

Let’s get one thing clear from the start: I’m not talking about releasing an update. An update is when you take a published book and make a few changes to it, maybe update some hyperlinks, correct a few typos or even spruce up the cover a notch. You don’t change the ISBN (but note that you should change the ISBN if the changes are significant) and all you need do is upload a new interior/e-book file.

A new edition is exactly what it says on the tin: a new edition and so a different edition to the one you released before. It needs a new ISBN, because it’s a different book – and yes, you’re going to have go back to the start and publish it from scratch.

(Does this mean you’re going to lose all your shiny reviews? Unfortunately yes, but more on that in a second.)

What About The Old One?

On September 1st I went to CreateSpace and unselected all my sales channels on Self-Printed 2.0. This means the book still exists – I can still buy copies myself through CreateSpace – but it’s not for sale anywhere else. Then I went to KDP and selected ‘Unpublish’ next to 2.0 on my dashboard, making the e-book unavailable for sale and changing its status to ‘Draft’. Finally I instructed EbookPartnership.com, who distribute the title to all other e-book channels, to withdraw the files from sale.

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This is just what happens when a book suddenly becomes unavailable. Imagine the Amazon Algorithm Elves freaking out, looking for some stock to back up the listing they have on the site. Eventually they found some secondhand/Market Place sellers, so the listing changed to this:

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Meanwhile over on Amazon.com, new copies are still available. Why? Well, this ties back to the fact that sometimes a order of your paperback on Amazon doesn’t necessarily add to your unpaid royalty balance – because it’s already been printed and you get paid at the print. I assume this is what’s going on here – Amazon already has a number of physical copies and they’re letting the stock run down. When I first withdrew it, this figure was at six. Why are people still buying the 2nd Edition when on the same list you can see that a newer one is forthcoming? I don’t know but I do know I’m not responsible. I’ve done what I can to withdraw the book from sale.

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I also had to remember to go to Gumroad, which supports my purchase-from-me-direct e-book store here on my blog (currently offline; look for it again in a few weeks), and remove all the files from sale there as well.

The Kindle listings, meanwhile, just completely disappear.

Note: you cannot get rid of an Amazon listing for a paperback. The Kindle edition listing may disappear but the paperback’s will always remain, even when the book is out of print. (This is so if anyone has a copy they want to sell through Marketplace, they have a listing to attach it to.) But you can – and you must – make your earlier edition unavailable. It’s just not fair on your potential readers otherwise.

But What If I Bought 2.0?

Round about the time I released 2.0, I got three increasingly angry e-mails from a man who had purchased 1.0 and now wanted 2.0 for free. I ignored them all, and the end of the third one was a reminder not to get too big for my boots and to remember who my friends are.

Oh for… I mean, really. Give me a BREAK.

If you’re my friend – and I don’t expect you to be, I expect you to be my reader – you would surely not begrudge me 70% of USD $4.99 for 130,000 words that I’ve just spent months updating and revising. Even if you hate e-books and only read in print, the print edition is the same price as 3-4 venti lattes at Starbucks and it can make you money. In fact, you’d only have to sell about 8 e-books priced at $2.99 before you have earned the money back that you paid out for my book.

Moreover just because you bought an earlier edition of something does not mean you’re entitled to newer ones. Do you see Microsoft sending out free Xboxes every time they bring out a new version? Does Apple send me a brand new Macbook every year? Does your car manufacturer show up every January 1st with a new set of keys? OF COURSE THEY BLOODY DON’T. And we’re talking about something that costs a tiny, minute fraction of what those items cost.

If you bought an earlier Kindle edition, you may have a genuine, non-greedy question about whether or not you’ll get an update for free, as Kindle sends out free updates if you’ve purchased an earlier version of the book. But no, you won’t receive Self-Printed 3.0, because it’s an entirely different book. Remember: it’s not a new version (read: update), it’s a new edition (read: new book). It will be in no way connected to 2.0, so Amazon can’t automatically deliver it to you. Sorry!

Where/When/How To Buy Self-Printed 3.0

It’s hard to estimate exactly when all editions will be available when you self-publish, so although some formats may be available before this date, I’m going with October 16th just to be safe.

It will be available in all major e-book formats and paperback, priced at $4.99 for e-book and $18.95 for paperback. This is a price hike on the paperback edition, yes – before it was $14.95. Why am I charging more this time out? Because I woke up. I was always thinking about my book prices in dollars, and $15 for a thick 6×9 paperback sounded like about as much as I’d pay. But actually, here in Ireland, those same size traditionally-published books are €14.99 if you’re lucky and up to €18 if you’re not. (That’s just under $19 and just over $22.) Although I was doing alright profit-wise on Amazon.com purchases, I was merely making slivers of it on all other retailers. Normally I’d say your paperback profit isn’t that important, but Self-Printed generally sells as many or more paperbacks than it does e-books. Plus, it’s worth it. I think so anyway. 130,000 words that are designed to help you make money? I think that’s worth the extra couple of bucks.

I will be selling it directly from My E-book Store too but PLEASE NOTE: if you purchase it from here, you’ll have to manually download the file and then transfer it to your Kindle like you would any other file that you download from the internet and need to, say, transfer to a USB stick. (If you’re wondering why anyone would need this told to them, let me direct you to my Inbox. Let’s just say when you’re used to buying Kindle books by clicking a button and then watching them magically appear, you don’t understand the process when it happens anywhere else. Think of that YouTube clip of a child stabbing a magazine, thinking it works like an iPad…)

Sometimes I’m asked where I’d prefer you to buy my books from. Um, hello? Are you kidding? I’m doing cartwheels that you’re buying it at all. Buy it from wherever is most convenient for you!

You can pre-order the Kindle edition of Self-Printed 3.0 from Amazon now here and all other Amazons too if you go look. 

(I hope it goes without saying that you can’t pre-order the paperback.)

A Plea for Reviews

Because Self-Printed 3.0 is an entirely new book, it means I’m starting off from scratch again with Amazon reviews. Yes, I have to say goodbye to 35 5* reviews on Amazon.com and 39 5* star reviews on Amazon.co.uk (yes, I’ve counted) but I’ve no choice because Amazon will not connect them if they’re significantly different books, which they are. So please, if you do read Self-Printed 3.0, please leave a review too!


Dalkey Creates

I’m running a self-publishing workshop at Dalkey Creates in Dalkey, Co. Dublin on October 19th. You can find out more and book tickets here.

Have you released a new edition? Did you update the existing one or start afresh? How did it go? Let us all know in the comments below… 

The SELF-PRINTED 3.0 Splash Needs YOU!

25 Aug

Self-Printed 3.0 is almost here EXCLAMATION MARK.

Well, it’ll be here soon. It’s hard to estimate exactly when all editions will be up and running, but I think it’s safe to say we’ll be good to go by October 16th. Some editions may be available long before that but usually I watch all self-imposed deadlines pass on by, so I’m way overestimating here just to be safe.

I’ll also be availing of Amazon KDP’s new pre-ordering function, so stay tuned for that.

Since it’s been 2 years since the last one and this new edition is almost entirely revamped, I want to send it out into the world with a bang rather than a whimper. Enter The Self-Printed Splash.


My first idea for this was that I’d guest post on as many blogs as would have me on the same day, Friday 24th October. Then I was like, um, hello? You’re starting an English degree. You’ll be, like, three weeks in at that stage and probably still wandering around Dublin wide-eyed and confused. Not the ideal time to be writing extra blog posts, realistically.

So instead, here’s my Self-Printed Splash Plan:

  1. You – blog-owner, tweeter or Facebook-page-adminstrator – present me with your burning question about self-publishing.
  2. I answer said question, and send you the answer along with a discount code that enables you to download a digital copy of Self-Printed 3.0 for FREESIES.
  3. You post your answer somewhere online on Friday 24th October.
  4. I gather all the questions and links to the answers here on Catherine, Caffeinated on Monday 27th October…
  5. … and celebrate the fact that anyone at all has participated* by giving away some copies of the book
  6. One Splash-host will also win a very special thank-you prize, subject to a names-in-a-hat type drawing.

Now before people start e-mailing me questions like ‘How do I sell copies of my book?’ let’s make a SCREECHING BRAKES SOUND and think about this for a second or six.

I’m hoping for questions that I can answer in around 300 words or less, so please: make them fairly specific. This will be going on your blog/Facebook page/Twitter stream, so feel free to make them personal, i.e. specific to your situation. Because these will NOT be posted on my blog (apart from through links) I’m going to make a one-time exception and say don’t worry about whether or not I’ve posted or written about the answer before. Just ask whatever you like. The worst that can happen is that I’ll say I can’t answer it because I don’t have a day to research the answer and then 10,000 words to answer it in. Obviously I’ll only be able to answer what I can. Opinion questions are good too, e.g. Do you think the gold rush is over, are Amazon the big bad wolves, will we ever know what happened at the end of the LOST? etc. etc.

Use this handy graphic to ascertain whether or not your question fits the bill:

PicMonkey Collage

I’m also prepared to do this in tweets, but really, 2-3 tweets would be the limit. We’ll see how that goes.

You don’t have to review your free copy of Self-Printed 3.0. You’re not even under obligation to read it. But you must agree to post the answer I send you publicly and to do it on Friday October 24th ’cause otherwise – well, that’s kind of unfair and mean of you and other nasty stuff.

What’s that? You want to participate? Well then, just fill out this little form and I’ll be in touch shortly…

*Please don’t let this be a Joanna-NoMates situation. Come on, get involved! You’ll get FREE STUFF! I am prepared to BRIBE you! MORE EXCLAMATION MARKS.

UPDATE 11th September: A big THANK YOU to everyone who submitted a question for the #SelfPrintedSplash! Fortunately/unfortunately I’m now up to around 100 participants and if I take any more on, publicizing Self-Printed 3.0 will require more words than writing the damn thing, so I have to stop. Thanks for your interest and stick around – there’s been some GREAT questions asked!

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