Surprising Secrets of Self-Publishing Success

Guest Blog - Terry H. Watson explains her Surprising self-publishing secrets

Surprise, Surprise! No, it’s not Cilla Black, remember her? It’s Terry here, to share my surprising self-publishing secrets.

My life as a writer and author of eight published books since 2014 has been a surprise, well perhaps more of a shock to me. I could never have envisaged such prolific writing or vivid imagination that has stunned, and at times frightened me for its ferocity and savagery of plot. At least the violence took place on paper and not in real life! My first book, CALL MAMA was meant to be a one-off attempt at writing. It was so well received by family, friends, and strangers who encouraged me to continue writing and in some cases demanded that I ‘do something’ about the character, Lucy. And so, SCAMPER’S FIND was born and closely followed by THE LECI LEGACY. I was on a roll.

Through my writing I have met many writers who have become friends; their writing has steered me away from my comfort zone of reading crime thrillers and to my surprise ( here we go again, Cilla) I have actually enjoyed a mixed bag of genre: science fiction, historical fiction, spiritual fantasy, self-help, autobiography, young adult fantasy, biography, sport, and even business books. The list is endless. I firmly believe we authors should support each other by purchasing and reviewing books. To that extent, my bookshelf is bulging with books from authors I have had the good fortune to meet. Attending a monthly meeting at Indie Authors Café has opened up a bond of friendship from the writing community and I always come away inspired and keen to write.

One of the challenges facing me as a writer was the fearful technology, the mystery of which still fills me with dread. Sent me a file. Use jpg format. Link it to your URL, brings me out in a cold sweat. Even taking a few courses in basic technology has little effect. I guess I’m one of those people who are destined to remain techno-phobic and learn as I go along, from past mistakes.

I have found that in the writing community there is always someone out there who will advise and guide on several aspects of writing, every writer has something to offer fellow writers. I’m often asked how I overcome writer’s block. The answer for me is to walk away from the story, take a stroll, go out for lunch or do a bit of gardening, the latter is where I find my mojo. One of the downsides of writing for me is when I try to sleep, the plot takes over and I seem to get more ideas at the wrong time. Now I keep a notebook by my bedside to jot down my nocturnal thoughts from my overactive brain.

When I became serious about writing and understood some of the mysteries of the publication process: beta reading, proofreading, editing, cover, blurb etc,   the next surprise (here we go again Cilla) was to discover that books didn’t sell by themselves. Marketing reared its ugly head. How on earth was I to sell books? With CALL MAMA it seemed easy enough; the novelty among friends and family who suddenly discovered an author in their midst was enough to shift a good number of books. I was fortunate to be featured in the local press which gave me a fan base. How thrilling it is to be asked, When is your next book coming out? Where can I buy your books?

I was advised early on in my writing career to donate books to libraries, this I have done with a vengeance. My books or at least one of them are in libraries, locally and in far-flung places including New Zealand. When I go on holiday I seek out the local library and ask if they would accept a donated book. Most are delighted to do so, and it has led on some occasions to book clubs using them for their sessions. My first paid workshop was library based. Libraries for me have opened doors. It may seem like giving away hard-earned work but for me, it works. I registered my books with PLR (public lending rights) in both UK and Ireland. PLR is a legal right to payment from the government in both countries each time books are borrowed. The current rate for payment is the princely sum of 8.52 pence which won’t make me an overnight millionaire but does provide a trickle of income. I attend local gala days and events where I can for a small fee, set up a book stall, sell some books and make new friends and fans. Taking part in Book Week Scotland can be a source of income and opens doors for writers.

Some fellow writers tell of setting a timetable where they work for perhaps several hours at a time, others like myself write when the notion takes them. I have no set time when I write. My corner of the dining room has become my office, a haven to think and plot and put pen to paper, or mouse to computer. My first book was written in longhand and typed onto a word document. Now I type straight onto a document and seldom make notes. The only thing I try to do is to keep a record of the character’s names and which book they feature in so that I avoid duplicating names. I learned early on to avoid similar sounding names when I myself was confused over who was who: Dave, Donny, Dale or Liz and Lisa and Lily. Now I tend to use names from further on in the alphabet and when stuck for a name, the credits after a TV programme can provide a wealth of names to choose from.

A final thought. Concentrate on the plot, the characters and leave prose to be sorted out later, rather than let it interrupt the flow.

Learn More about Terry H. Watson or some of her surprising self-publishing secret’s or follow her here:

Terry H. Watson Website

@TerryHWatson1 Twitter

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Write my book - Life doesn't wait for our dreams!

Write my book - Life doesn't wait for our dreams!

How many times have you said this will be the year that I write my book?

Have you done it yet?  If not, it’s likely that normal life took over.

How many hours have you spent at work, doing house stuff, watching TV or in the pub?

Everyone has the same amount of time in a day so if you haven’t had the time to write your book then it’s really because you haven’t made it a priority.

I get it, life happens, and we often think that I’ll get around to it.  I’ll do it next week, next month, next year.  But none of us are guaranteed tomorrow so it really is today that counts.

I don’t want to be morbid, but life is short.  Sadly, I have been reminded of this again as my mum passed away recently.  She was 74 years young and full of life and laughter until cancer struck for a second time.  Her illness was short lived and the hole that she has left is hard to fill.  Mum’s death is a bit of a wakeup call, it’s got me thinking – how many things have I put off? How many dreams are languishing in the to do list?

I met an amazing writer this week – Luke Winter told me how he had changed his life after his friend passed away. Luke writes stories for strangers on a typewriter in the street.  He creates smiles as well as stories for people.

But he was telling me that he had let his own novel writing slip.  He acknowledged he needed a date to work towards, so I asked about his friend – was there a date that was important? He smiled and said his birthday was approaching.  He’s now committing to finishing his novel as a tribute to his friend.  We shared a hug and understanding of the impact that loss can have.

So, what about you?  Are you going to let another year go by?

2020 is fast approaching so choose a date that is meaningful for you.  When would you want to have your book in your hand?

If you need help to commit to your book, please get in touch.

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Independence Day

Happy Independence Day

Happy Independence Day
In our continuing series looking at some of the best writers from a selection of countries, today I turn our attention to the other side of the Atlantic.
The USA has produced more great writers than I could cover in 10 blog posts, therefore, this is a short list of some of my personal favourites.
Mark Twain
Born Samuel Clemens, Mark Twain is regarded by many as the ‘father of American Literature’. Like Charles Dickens on this side of the Atlantic, Twain was popular across the social divide. His stories were rooted in the ordinary life of 19th Century America and his adventures on paper were almost exciting as his own real-life travels. As a young man, he sought his fortune as a gold prospector but it was his gift as a storyteller and wit that he became famous. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and its sequel The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn are among the most beloved books ever to be written by an America, with the latter regarded as the Great American Novel.
Edgar Allan Poe
Poet, novelist, editor and acerbic critic, Edgar Allan Poe’s life was rooted in the world of literature. He was born in Boston in 1809 but he is mostly connected with Baltimore. He is regarded as the first great exponent of the short story that America produced, peppering his work with the macabre and the mysterious. He is also regarded as the man who created the detective novel. Even his death was a mystery. At just 40 years of age, he was found delirious, wandering the streets of Baltimore wearing someone else’s clothes. He was incapable of telling anyone what had happened and the cause of his demise remains an intriguing end to a prolific and brilliant life.
Raymond Chandler
Those of you who know me well will know that there was no way that Raymond Chandler was not going to appear in this list. Born in Chicago, Chandler was educated at Dulwich College private school in England. He was a naturalised British citizen and worked briefly in the civil service. He borrowed money to return to the States where he worked as a bookkeeper and auditor until 1931 when he was dismissed for a series of disciplinary problems. Flat broke in the middle of depression riddled America, he decided to try writing. He taught himself how to write ‘pulp fiction’ and his first story was published in ‘Black Mask’ magazine in 1933. Six years later The Big Sleep was published and the legend of Philip Marlowe was born.
Without Chandler and Marlowe I may never have written a single book, so thank you, Raymond, from the bottom of my heart.
Ernest Hemingway
Hemingway was one of the most influential writers of the early twentieth century. Like Chandler, Hemingway was born in Illinois. He was both a journalist and a fiction writer. His time as a journalist took him to Spain to cover the civil war, he spent time in Paris, Toronto, and Florida, each destination would have an influence on his fiction. His iconic fiction includes For Whom the Bell Tolls. The Old Man and the Sea and A Farewell to Arms. He won the Pulitzer in 1952 and the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1954. A genetic condition that causes mental and physical deterioration led to his suicide in 1961.
Stephen King
Stephen King is one of the most successful writers of all time. He has sold more than 350 million books worldwide. He is a master of the horror genre but he is also an excellent writer of science fiction and fantasy. There are some within the literary world who look down on King’s work – probably partly motivated by his success – but his popularity can’t rely on storytelling alone. Anyone reading Stephen King’s work should acknowledge his ability to create vibrant dialogue and incredibly complex three-dimensional characters. I’m sure that you will have your favourite King novel. Let me know in the comments.
This is only touching the edge of the vast array of talented writers who call America home. I would love to hear from you who are your favourites that I’ve missed. I would particularly like to hear from our friends in the U.S. of some of the hidden gems of American literature.

To all our friends in the USA, have a very Happy Independence Day.

online profile

Indie Authors Café Review

Thanks to our great author speakers Seoras Wallace, Terry H Watson and Gordon Cassells – Business Consultant our Indie Author Café was an entertaining, educational and fun day in Waterstones, Sauchiehall St Glasgow on Sunday 26thMay 2019.

The session was filled with Scottish history lessons on Wallace the Legend Of Braveheart; crime fiction from Terry; and help for writers with their online profile. If you missed it, you can watch the video on our events page.

It was also a day of synchronicity. One family group of writers stumbled upon our event “by accident” and now see the possibilities for publishing.

Two young fantasy writers got introduced to author Claire Hastie who has published her first book in same genre. One of the young writers has now applied to Calum’s Legacy opportunity for 16-25 year olds.

How is this for synchronicity though – two ladies had been trying to meet each other for months discovered they were sitting next to each other! One is writing a book about bras (yes you read that right) and the other is the most qualified bra fitter in Scotland as well as an editor and writer.  Sometimes the universe conspires to bring people together and Indie Author Café seems to have fabulous energy that draws creatives in to start the seed of ideas growing into books. We love it.

Come and check us out next month Sunday 30thJune 2019 from 1pm.

Tips for working with bloggers

This ‘Tips for Working with Bloggers’ post was written by Sharon Bairden, our guest at Waterstones in April.

  1. We are people too! Most of us work and juggle life around blogging, it is our hobby and while it might feel like we are online 24/7 – we cannot always immediately respond to requests.
  2. Check out our blogs – don’t just send mass emails out with a generic “Dear Blogger…” heading, what does our review policy say? Make the email personal
  3. Check what genre we accept for review, if we don’t review dinosaur sci-fi then an email from an author telling us we will change our mind after seeing their book isn’t going to sway us!
  4. It’s ok to maybe follow up an email a couple of weeks later but don’t hound the blogger
  5. If you are arranging a blog tour – what’s your motivation? If it is to increase sales to the JK Rowling level then you are likely to be disappointed. It is impossible to tell how many sales are a result of a tour; but what a tour does for you is raise the profile of you and your work. The review is always there and bloggers have followers who dip in and out of their blog, so they might click on buy at a later stage.
  6. You can arrange blog tours yourself, but they are a lot of work, use a tour organiser who has access to bloggers who are likely to enjoy your genre; they take all of the work out of it for you.
  7. Social media – it might be your idea of hell but it needs to be done! Engage with your readers and reviewers – if they tweet you, tweet back; if they write on your Facebook page respond – you have no idea the buzz that readers get when a real live author responds to them!
  8. Don’t take “negative” reviews personally. Most of the bloggers I know don’t post reviews about books they didn’t enjoy, they want to talk about books they love. However, some bloggers do post about all the books they read. The majority of them are highly professional in their approach and give a fair critique and will point out what worked for them. We all know that one man’s meat is another man’s poison. They are being fair, remember that. If you are unlucky enough to come across a blogger who makes a personal attack on your book then ignore them, step away from them – they are not worth your time! Most bloggers despise this type of behaviour too, it says more about them than about your book.
  9. NEVER pay for a review from a blogger – if someone contacts you and gives you a price list for reviews – walk away – this is a huge NO for the book blogging community (this is not the same as BT organisers – you are paying for their organisation and admin)
  10. If you want a blogger to review their book and they have agreed it is courtesy to send them a review copy
  11. Never send out copies of your book in an initial email, there are a lot of unscrupulous people out there and plenty of pirate sites just waiting for this!
  12. Always check the blog – is it a good fit for you? What are the quality of reviews like, do you like the style of review?


My three top blog tour organisers to work with:

Anne Cater

Sarah Hardy

Rachel Gibley

St. George's Day flag.

Happy St. George's Day

On St. George’s Day we celebrate some of England’s finest and most renowned writers.

William Shakespeare

No list of English writers would be complete without one of the greatest playwrights and poets of all time. It would be insulting your intelligence to list the best of his works, everyone knows his genius. His writing has found its way into our everyday speech, his characters unforgettable templates for many writers who have followed and his works still provide inspiration for modern day adaptations and interpretations.
To quote the great man himself, “Be not afraid of greatness. Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and others have greatness thrust upon them.” For Shakespeare, all three apply equally.

The Brontë Sisters

I know this is a bit of a cheat but to pick one of these remarkable women would be very difficult. Anne, Emily and Charlotte were the daughters of an Anglican vicar who lived in the village of Haworth in Yorkshire. In Victorian England being a writer was regarded as an unworthy pursuit for young women. The three sisters published their works under the pseudonyms Acton, Ellis and Currer respectively. Anne’s ‘Agnes Grey’; Charlotte’s ‘Jane Eyre’ and Emily’s ‘Wuthering Heights’ were hugely successful and showed the incredible writing skills of each woman.
I was introduced to ‘Wuthering Heights’ in school but the forensic analysis of every chapter spoiled the experience. It wasn’t until I left school that I read the book again and realised what a fantastic novel it is.

Charles Dickens

Like Shakespeare, Dickens has taken on a deserved legendary status in the literary world. His novels are regarded by many as the best of the Victorian era and they have stood the test of time well into the 21st Century. From my perspective, his greatest strength was the ability to create incredible characters. Fagin, Miss Haversham, Ebeneezer Scrooge, Mr Micawber, and many more are some of the most memorable fictional people ever to be committed to paper. ‘Great Expectations’ is my personal favourite and I’m sure that many of you will have your own.

Agatha Christie

As a crime writer, I had to add Agatha Christie to this list. Although as a young man I didn’t appreciate just how brilliant she was, I discovered that in terms of plotting a crime novel she has never been beaten and there are very few who can match her. Her ability to create layers of motives with shoals of red herrings meant that trying to guess the murderer before the final reveal is virtually impossible. In Poirot and Miss Marple, she created detectives who are instantly recognisable and perfect for film and TV producers to adapt. I think as long as people love crime novels they will be reading Agatha Christie.

John Le Carré

Like Ms Christie in her genre, John Le Carré stands head and shoulders above anyone else writing in his. Since ‘The Spy Who Came in From the Cold’ in 1963 he has produced a series of spy thrillers that not only tell authentic stories but capture beautifully the human frailties of ordinary people doing a job that requires lies and deception. If you haven’t read the George Smiley novels you should. They are the finest example of Cold War spy novels that have ever been written.

Of course there are many more writers that we could mention. Let me know in the comments who are your favourite writers from England.

To all our English friends, have a happy St. George’s Day.

Think of the poor editor

Here is a short selection of tips to help your writing and save your editor some strokes of the virtual red pen. They are some of the more common things that writers misunderstand.


An ellipsis is a series of three full stops separated by spaces. It is used when there is a break in the narrative. For example, when a character is talking and is interrupted, or when they lose the thread of what they are saying, or when they are hesitant.
It is not used for any other reason.

Capitalisation (Names)

If a character is known by a descriptive nickname, it should always be capitalised. For example, in Robin Hood, despite it not being his given name, the little in Little John is always capitalised because that’s what the merry men call him.

Capitalisation (Job title)

When referring to someone by their job title, that title should always be capitalised. For example in my books when Tom Russell introduces himself it is written as “Detective Superintendent Tom Russell”. If a witness is speaking to him it is written as “Detective Superintendent.” However, if someone is talking about him without using his name it is written without capitals. For example, “The detective superintendent is the briefing room.”


A combination of three letters and a punctuation mark that causes every writer heartache from time to time. The rule is really simple, ‘it’s’ is a contraction of ‘it is’. Any other time those three letters stand alone without their punctuation pal.

The Oxford comma

This is one of the most debated rules of punctuation.
“What the blazes is an Oxford comma?” you might be wondering. It is the comma that comes before ‘and’ at the end of a list. (For example, Jeff filled the windscreen wiper bottle, checked the oil, and replaced the headlight bulb.)
The debate is that many people believe that the final comma isn’t necessary. The style guide for most newspapers will say that it should not be used. It is more commonly used in non-fiction writing. If you do decide to use it, make sure you do so consistently and you’ll make the life of your editor so much easier.


This can be very difficult as we try to track what we’ve written but it is important. If you have referred to a character as James for three-quarters of the book, don’t start calling him Jimmy for the last quarter. Try to be consistent in the language your character uses, it helps the reader to better understand who that character is and makes those characters more believable.

That’s it for this blog, I hope these tips help your writing. If you have any questions or observations please leave a comment below.

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Lá fhéile Pádraig sona dhuit!
(Happy St. Patrick’s Day)

For a relatively small country Ireland has produced more than its fair share of renowned writers. To celebrate St. Patrick’s Day I thought I would highlight a few of them.

Oscar Wilde

Outside of Shakespeare there can’t be too many writers who are quoted (and misquoted) as often as Oscar Wilde. He was born in Dublin, but it was in London that he would achieve fame. As an author, poet and playwright he was regarded as one of the Victorian literary giants. The Importance of Being Earnest and A Picture of Dorian Gray are among his most famous works. He fell afoul of the laws of the time when he was convicted of gross indecency and as a result spent time in Reading jail. On his release he moved to France where he died in poverty aged just 46.

James Joyce

Joyce was another Dubliner and was born in 1882. In the 1920s and 30s he became one of the most prominent novelists in the modernist avant-garde movement with titles such as Finnegan’s WakeA Portrait of the Artist as a Young Manand Ulysses. They were books that pushed the boundaries of what a novel was, and he inspired people like Samuel Beckett (a fellow Irishman) and Salman Rushdie to continue pushing those boundaries.

George Bernard Shaw

The author of more than sixty plays, Shaw stands as one of the greatest playwrights of all time. His plays were part of a wave of realism that was sweeping through theatre in the wake of the work of Henrik Ibsen. He used works such as Pygmalion, Arms and Men and Man and Superman as social and political commentary on Edwardian society. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1925.

CS Lewis

Clive Staples Lewis was born in Belfast in 1898. He was an academic who worked in the English faculty of Oxford University. Like his fellow Oxford English don and friend JRR Tolkien he served in the first World War where he was injured in 1918. His most famous works are The Chronicles of Narnia, a series of fantasy novels aimed at children and young adults. They were allegories of his Christian faith, something that was extremely important to him. Those books have delighted generations of children and influenced everyone from Tolkien right through to Philip Pullman and JK Rowling.

Roddy Doyle

Not all Ireland’s great writers are long gone. Another citizen of Dublin’s fair city, Roddy Doyle’s novels of contemporary Irish life are some of the best of the last thirty years. Novels like The Commitments, The Snapper and The Van are filled with both humour and the truth of life for working class Irish people. The films made from those books were hugely successful and helped to re-establish Dublin as a relevant cultural city once more.

There are many more Irish writers who could have appeared on this blog. If you have a particular favourite writer or work by an Irish writer please let us know in the comments.

I hope there are some Irish writers out there who would like to join us at IAW.

To all our Irish friends wherever you may be in the world, Happy St. Patrick’s Day.

Scríbhneoireacht sona
(Happy writing)