Tuesday, January 22, 2013

New Life For Old Words by Nerine Dorman

We've had so many great topics at All Things Writing the last few weeks from our guest bloggers! Nerine Dorman's post today is no exception. I found it to be really useful and hope to apply her techniques soon! Welcome Nerine!

At some point, when you’ve been published among the small presses long enough, you’ll get to the stage where the rights of your older works revert to you. By then, they might still be selling a few copies every month, but it’s not really worth your while (as an author) to still give up a percentage of the royalties to the publisher. I mean, come on, we’re talking a paltry few dollars a quarter here, if you so lucky.

I finally reached that point with my two Books of Khepera novels. They’d been available for a long while already, but sales were slow, and the publisher’s main efforts were going toward romance (so the stories really didn’t fit there anymore). I decided to ask for my rights back, the publisher agreed, and both books became unavailable by the end of September 2012.

Luckily for me, I’ve a background in publishing (editing and layout), so while I was perfectly capable of doing the necessary rebooting myself, I elected to outsource some of the work, namely the cover art (by South African illustrator Daniël Hugo) and design and layout by Donnie Light (who has vast experience in indie publishing when it comes to layout and formatting). Which left editing and project management to me.

The first thing I did was run a line edit on the first edition of book one, Khepera Rising. While I wouldn’t engage in any developmental edits, I did feel that I needed to tighten some of the grammar. Consider it a little pruning, if you will. Some advice, before you send your final text file to your layout artist, *do* print out the entire document yourself and read it through with a red pen in hand. You’d be surprised what sorts of gremlins jump out at you.

Once I’d signed off on the illustration, for which I wish to hugglez Daniël, because I think he’s also totally on my wave length, I handed the corrected text file and artwork through to Donnie, who then did the necessary with the layout and cover treatment. I’ve worked with Donnie before (he did the layout work on one of my other novels, Inkarna). Once again, I had to check proofs so that no unforeseen gremlins crept in.

I decided to go with Smashwords for my ebook offering, mainly because they offer a variety of ebook formats, and also distribute via vendors such as Kobo, Diesel and Sony, to name a few, yet readers can also purchase and download directly from Smashwords in a variety of formats, including .mobi, .epub and .pdf. At this point I’m still of two minds as to whether I’ll set up a separate deal with Amazon for my ebook, because I’m also a firm believer in keeping things simple, and I’ve heard plenty of horror stories that I’d like to keep contact minimal. As for print, I took the CreateSpace route which, thanks to Donnie, was reasonably painless. Yes, yes, I know it’s part of Amazon, but as I said, I prefer keeping my association to an absolute minimum.

Will I self-publish subsequent works? Oh yes. Definitely. I like the idea of maintaining control over my backlist. As you can see, there’s quite a lot of behind-the-scenes effort that goes into setting files up. While it’s perfectly possible for me to have handled everything, I’ve also got a day job to contend with, so for ease of mind I was overjoyed that I could work with professionals. The couple of hundred dollars I spent was well worth it to get a product that’s eye-catching and aesthetically pleasing, and is something I’m proud of having my name on.

As for Khepera Rising, I thought it best to share what some of my readers have had to say about the story:

“This isn’t a Hollywood story where wizards duel on highways by flinging fireballs and invoking ghosts. The magic is more subtle, and that makes it easier to imagine that the story is taking place in your own backyard.” – Zane Marc Gentis, The Chemical Dream blog

“This is not my usual genre, urban fantasy/horror, but I was caught up in this gritty, brutal, graphic story from the very beginning pages. Strong, evocative writing. Compelling, dark tale. Highly recommended if you're into the dark side.” – Patricia Burroughs, Goodreads

“First novel? Come off it, Dorman is no apprentice. She’s pulled something out of the hat with this one, but then she’s a practicing magician and no, it’s not a white bunny she’s holding in her hand. Then again, if being scared wasn’t irresistible, you wouldn’t be reaching out to take it.” – Greg Hamerton, author

Curious? The first 30% is available as a free download off Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/260385 or you can lay your grubby mitts on the dead tree version here: http://www.amazon.com/Khepera-Rising-Volume-Nerine-Dorman/dp/1481141228/

You’re welcome to stalk me on Twitter @nerinedorman or swing past my Amazon Author Page and see whether anything catches your fancy http://www.amazon.com/Nerine-Dorman/e/B004QXPOFS/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1357555440&sr=8-1

I’m always happy to answer questions with regard to editing, so feel free to mail me at nerinedorman@gmail.com. From time to time I do take on clients, and offer assessments, developmental editing, content editing and proofing for assorted genre fiction.

Check out Donnie Light here: http://donnielight.wordpress.com/ and Daniël Hugo here: http://oneironaut.co.za/


  1. Thanks for having me over, Mary Ann!

  2. It was great having you, Nerine! This is a great blog post!

  3. Wow. You have given me a lot to think about. I am still in the editing process for my first novel, so i have not started on the path yet. It is interesting to think about what could come in the future. Thank you for revealing this to me.

    1. Michael, the best you can do is to continue writing, and every time you've polished a MS, try reach just that little bit further.

  4. Great post Nerine. I do some publishing myself and have discovered... it isn't that hard. For someone who understands their limitations and isn't afraid to outsource those tasks, the rest of the process is relatively painless. And for those who keep errata lists, you can always update content at a later date.