Yay, The Proof Copies I Wasted €30 On Are Here!


Previously on self-printing I (i) moved to Florida for a while, (ii) wrote a book about it, (iii) failed to find an agent/publisher/desk drawer for it, (iv) swallowed my disdain for self-publishing, (v) decided to self-publish but (vi) decided to refer to it, realistically, as self-printing and (vii) determined that Print on Demand (POD) publishing/printing relies on the pixie dust of magical fairies. Got all that? Right. Let’s go.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve started this post.

(Yes I can. Eleven.)

I foolishly believed I could somehow reach into the murky quagmire that is information on POD and withdraw a concise but comprehensive comparison between two of its major players – Lulu and Createspace (CS) – that clearly showed the benefits of going with one over the other. Four days, eleven starts, a migraine and hissy fit later, I’ve decided it can’t be done.

It can’t be done because you simply can’t say definitively that one is better than the other, only which one is better for you.

(If you missed my POD 101 post, you might want to read it before continuing. It’s here.) Continue reading

Laziness: A Love Story

I have a confession to make: for the last three or four days I have done absolutely nothing.

Nothing. Nada. Not a thing.

And I don’t just mean I haven’t accomplished anything of greatness or that I’ve failed to tick any items off my To Do List – I mean I’ve done absolutely nothing. I don’t have a job, I live with my parents and I rented an entire season’s worth of Lost DVDs, so this wasn’t hard to do.

Yesterday I didn’t even get dressed.

Is it that I’ve nothing to do? Hardly. I have a non-fiction book I’m supposed to planning, another I’m supposed to be writing, a second novel to start, two blogs to maintain and a third to contribute to and I’m supposed to be visualizing the success of the novel I did manage to write on a full-time basis complete with meditation, incense sticks, vision boards, copies of The Secret and whatever the hell else I think might help a publisher to say ‘yes.’ I also have to drink obscene amounts of coffee, tweet excessively, write a few letters (yes, I am one of the few who still writes letters but probably only because I love getting them), read a stack of books so high they’re becoming a health and safety issue and attempt to shrink my rear end by doing miles on the treadmill whenever possible. I also occasionally like to get out and see the world, or at least pretend that I do; I have no objections to socializing when it involves caffeinated beverages and I always make sure that it does.

Really when you think about it, it’s just as well I don’t have a job. Continue reading

We Can’t All Be Astronauts: An Interview with Tim Clare

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Lots of us, I’m sure, can say that. But I have always been utterly convinced that one day I will be a writer. And not just any writer – oh, no – but a very successful novelist. I’ll be able to make a living from my books, which is to say I’ll do an Iain Banks on it and write for 3 months of the year and spend the rest of it sunbathing or shopping or sleeping or whatever. Do I have any evidence at all that this is going to happen to me? No, not a shred. Do I have a gigantic pile of evidence so big and tall I can hardly contain it that suggests in all likelihood this is not going to happen for me? Indeed I do. Does that matter to me? Not even a little bit.

Last summer I was doing my weekly walk through Waterstones looking for the 3 in my 3 for 2 when I spotted a book entitled We Can’t All Be Astronauts. Being space-mad, I picked it up, only to discover that it was about a subject even closer to my heart: harboring an unwavering yet possibly deluded dream of being a published writer. Continue reading

The Perfect Pancakes

I saw Jamie Oliver make these pancakes on his most recent Christmas special and for about five days afterwards had them every single morning and subsequently put on about four pounds. (If you follow me on Twitter you may recall some talk of them.) I love them because they’re so simple to make, they’re super-fluffy (that’s a technical cooking term, FYI) and taste amazing.

For measurements you can either use a cup, i.e. an American measurement, or an actual cup. I use a coffee mug (of course!) I don’t know exactly how many this recipe makes, only that if you eat them all yourself you’ll feel really, really sick. Sadly, I can tell you this from experience.


  • 1 cup of self-raising flour
  • 1 cup of milk
  • 1 large egg
  • Pinch of salt.

Sieve the flour and salt into a large mixing bowl before adding the milk and the egg. Blend together using a whisk (small movements at first) until batter is completely smooth. At this point Jamie grates a pear into it but that’s way too healthy-sounding for me. Spoon a big glob of it into your butter-creased frying pan and a couple of minutes later you’ll have a yummy fluffy pancake! Continue reading

The Science Bit: How Does POD Actually Work?


If you’ve just joined us, let me try and catch you up.

[Takes deep breath]

I’m self-publishing a travel mem-wah using a popular Print On Demand (POD) service which I don’t think is going to make me rich, famous or suddenly eligible for the US Green Card that will permit me to live happily ever after in the United States (or even live there miserably; I wouldn’t mind either way) and in fact am so aware of the realities of this game – I know the most likely outcome is a sales figure of 7, all bought by my Mum – that I am referring to it not as self-publishing but self-printing, because that’s all POD really is – printing copies of something you wrote in a form that looks suspiciously like but clearly is not a proper book.

Phew. That was a long sentence.

Oh, and there’s also been some talk of Rafellius the Great.

Today we’re going to talk about how POD actually works. I’m focusing on two of the major players, Lulu and Createspace (CS for the rest of this post; I’m lazy), both of whom offer similar services but with maddeningly slight differences that one only discovers by either (a) using them or (b) trawling through their forums which as I’ve already demonstrated, is only a good idea if you happen to like the smell of bonkers in the morning.

Both services basically boil down to the following process:

  1. You write something on a Word document
  2. You upload it to the POD website
  3. You ‘design’ a ‘cover’ using their software*
  4. Magical fairies descend
  5. A book is created
  6. You are around €10 worse off
  7. If other people want to be €15 worse off, they order your book
  8. Magical fairies descend again
  9. Another book is created
  10. You are paid the difference between the cost and the sale price
  11. Repeat as required. Continue reading

Getting Published: Platform 9¾


A writer I know – well enough to chat to occasionally; not well enough to put on my Christmas e-card list – recently had her non-fiction book rejected by a top publisher. It was a particularly bitter blow because although her book glided past the editor, it came screeching to a halt at the door of the Sales and Marketing department.

Their complaint was that she didn’t have a platform.

NYC Train Station

Not this kind of platform, but isn’t this picture beautiful?

Her reaction was disappointment, of course, but also bitterness and indignation. She said it wasn’t her fault that she didn’t used to be on Eastenders, that she wasn’t also a singer/former prostitute/footballer’s ex-wife/product of a miserable childhood, or that she wasn’t a motivational speaker regularly touring the country promoting her brainwashing CD program Unleash the Magnificent Power Within You Now Today Immediately! to thousands of gullible muppets.

She blamed the publishing house.

After all, what did they expect her to do? Continue reading

My #1 How To Write Books Book: Wannabe a Writer? by Jane Wenham-Jones

So all week I’ve been counting down my personal Top 5 How To Write Books Books, picked from a sea of such titles (also known as the Reference section of Waterstones Patrick Street) and combed for clues. Ultimately, I want a book that tells me exactly how to go from daydreaming about being a published novelist to actually seeing my book on a shelf, but not one that prescribes such silliness as stream-of-consciousness writing exercises at the crack of dawn.

I loathe those, by the way. I don’t see the point, especially since mine would look something like this:

But anyway, I digress. Back to the Top 5. So far this week we’ve had How To Write Books books that were either funny and practical, or reassuring and practical, or comforting and funny. My No. 1 pick is all of those things and more. But before I tell you what it is, we need a radio-DJ style countdown. (I’m assuming you haven’t ruined the surprise by reading this post’s title.)

“At number 5 we had How Not To Write a Novel: 200 Mistakes to Avoid At All Costs Should You Ever Want To Get Published…”

“In at number 4, Save the Cat! The Last Book on Screenwriting You’ll Ever Need…”

“Number 3: The Maeve Binchy Writers’ Club…”

“Just missing out on the top spot at Number 2, The Forest for the Trees: An Editor’s Advice to Writers. And now, Catherine’s Number 1 How To Write a Book Book-“

[Drum roll, please…] Continue reading