I feel like I’ve been a novel-hermit for the past couple of months, so I’m looking forward to publishing it and then, frankly, having lots of fun going out and doing stuff! Luckily, it’s my birthday on 11/11, so I have lots of nice things planned. I’m going to see Skyfall withflyingnorth next week, and she’s coming around on the 10th for a baking session in the new kitchen. I’m going out to the theatre with my family on the 11th, and I’m off to visit bluespirit_star the following weekend.

However, before we get there…I have to actually publish! I’m sort of both looking forward to and dreading this at the same time!

I’ve learned a lot in the past few days. Let me share some of the nitty gritty with you.

Publishing
First off, I’m intending to publish to Smashwords and Amazon. Smashwords make the novel available in lots of different formats, so if you prefer to read on a screen rather than an e-reader (mirroring the experience you get while reading fanfic), then they’re your best option. Smashwords will also distribute to various other outlets, like Barnes and Noble etc. I’m also intending to publish a hard copy using Create Space’s print on demand service which will be available  but that might take a little longer – not much, but maybe a week or so. I’ll let you know all the details when I have them. The novel will be priced at $5.99. As it’s around 172,000 words long I think that’s reasonable, but I’m no expert at pricing so I’m really just making a stab in the dark.

It’s a rather imprecise art to judge when it’ll show up on Smashwords and Amazon for purchase. So, while I’m aiming for November 5th, it might be a day or two late or early, depending on their systems. I will make a post about it when it’s available and I’m satisfied with the quality though.

Non-US Publishing Info Stuff (This is pretty boring stuff that might be helpful to non-US residents intending to self-publish so you can skip it if it doesn’t apply to you!)
Most self-publishing outfits like Amazon and Smashwords are US based and therefore they have to automatically deduct tax from your sales. If you are a non-US resident, and live in a country with a tax treaty with the US then you can apply for an ITIN which means you’ll get the tax returned to you. However, getting an ITIN is horrendous! You are supposed to send off your passport to the US and the whole process could take months. Obviously, I wasn’t happy to send off my passport, so I took advice from my accountant. I’m lucky that I already have a good accountant because of my business, and she suggested that I use an apostille service. I’d never heard of that before, frankly, but basically you send them a copy of your passport and they will verify that it’s you (as far as I can tell). They send you a certificate back (for a fee of £66) which you can then send to the IRS in the USA. However, you also have to send a signed copy of a letter from the relevant withholding agent (e.g. Amazon). This is supposed to be individually signed and not a photocopy, but Amazon have a standard letter on their website for this purpose. One would *presume* this would suffice, or Amazon would get a lot of angry emails, but it doesn’t actually comply with the technicality of the law, so we’ll see.

Smashwords will also provide you with a letter but it takes weeks, and they DO sign it individually. You also have to have sold $10 of books before they’ll let you do it, so you can’t apply for it before you publish. I took the view, rightly or wrongly, that once I have the ITIN I can just apply that to the Smashwords account, so I have sent off the Amazon version, and we’ll see what happens next. It is a huge rigmarole though. If the worst comes to the worst, I’ll go through the whole process again with Smashwords but hopefully that won’t be necessary. As royalties don’t get paid for months anyway, I’m not too concerned at this point.

Then there’s stuff like bank account numbers. You need a swift code and a BAN number to get paid any royalties into your bank account if you’re a non-US resident. I set up a separate business bank account for self publishing to keep it ring fenced. Amazon will pay you by cheque for US sales and into the bank account for sales in various other countries. Smashwords will only pay into a Paypal account for non-US residents so I had to set up a new one of those too.

I’m not really expecting to make a profit from self-publishing. By the time you add up what I’ve paid out on website purchase and design, apostolle service, accountant’s fees, book cover picture purchase, and various other bits and pieces, I’ll be very lucky to break even! I’d have to sell a lot of novels to really make it worthwhile, which I’m not really expecting, but you should know there are lots of little extra start up costs.

Formatting  (also not that interesting so by all means skip it!)
Let’s move on to formatting. I was dreading this but it turned out to be easier than I thought. I spent an intensive two days learning more about Word than I thought possible, but I seem to have emerged out the other side relatively unscathed. I followed Mark Coker’s Smashwords style guide to the letter, which seemed to work. I spent two days formatting and indenting – it’ll be quicker next time as I’ll set it up from the beginning of writing a novel, but I had a lot of things to iron out this first time. I wanted to present it in a traditional novel format, with first line indents, so I spent some time working on that.

The file uploaded to Amazon fine – I have looked at it in their Kindle reader thingummy online and it actually looks really lovely! Which surprised me, because it didn’t look that great as a Word doc. However, there are still a couple of tweaks I want to do.I haven’t uploaded to Smashwords yet because there’s no ‘preview’ facility, and I want to see what it’ll look like in the different formats they offer BEFORE publishing it and not when it’s out there. In order to do this, I have to paste it into Calibre apparently. I’ve got a version of Calibre but it’s another thing I need to sit down and understand. Anyway, if you see it go up for sale on Smashwords I’d advise you not to buy it until I make the official announcement on all my sites, as I won’t make that until I’ve checked that all the versions are okay.

I HOPE the book will look okay when it’s out there but I DID think I’d be able to download it onto my Kindle just to check first. However, that doesn’t seem possible, so I’m not going to be able to give it AS good a check as I’d wanted.

Unfortunately, although the formatting went well, when I sent the file through to my home computer it said it was corrupted and wouldn’t open :-(. I will try more gizmos to get it to open, but if not then I’ll have to stay late at the office for the next few nights and maybe go in this weekend as well in order to publish it.

Ricochet (hopefully more interesting!)
My aim this year was simply to write an original novel to see if I COULD. I have written them before, but that was years ago, before I found fanfic. I’ve got lots of ideas for original novels, but I wasn’t writing any of them, so I began to wonder whether I could. I think people imagine that because you write a lot of novel-length fanfic then writing original novels should be a doddle, but it’s actually pretty daunting!

I’ve gained a lot of confidence from the writing process and from the fact that I achieved what I set out to do. I learned a lot too. The final draft is much more polished and the characters far more rounded than in the earlier drafts, and I think I’ll start off with a firmer foundation when I do my next novel. There were many new things to learn and be aware of in the writing process. It was a different process to writing fanfic, and after years of writing fanfic I have a lot of ingrained fanfic habits. There’s nothing wrong with that necessarily, but I’m aware of a whole bunch of different things now from having completed an original novel – and a long one at that – and, hopefully, making it work. I am very much aware that it IS a first original novel though. There are some things I would do differently next time, as with all writing experiences, but that’s part of the learning process. One thing I found, for example, was that I wasn’t giving enough physical descriptions of the characters. This isn’t so much of an issue in fanfic when everyone knows what they look like, but it is important in original fic where they don’t. So I tried to really beef those up throughout. I didn’t have an avatar from any actual actors in mind for them though. I can think of actors who could play them, but the characters all seemed like their own people in my head.

I am extremely proud of Ricochet. It’s a glorious romp to start with that then turns into something a little darker. I don’t think anyone who enjoys my BDSM universe stories will be disappointed by it. I’ve tried to write something new that I haven’t covered before in my fanfic, while at the same time placing it in a familar and accessible setting to readers of my fanfic – actors on a TV show. I put a lot of thought into all this – LOL! But whether the thought process was right or not remains to be seen. Next time, I intend to write something rather different in both genre and style – I haven’t decided what yet though. I’ve always written in a lot of different genres and styles in my fanfic, and I want to do the same with original fic too. So, if the BDSM stuff isn’t for you, then don’t worry – the next novel I write might be more your thing.

I would say that Ricochet is probably on the mild end of the BDSM spectrum. It’s not a very hardcore BDSM fic, but there is a lot of exploration of the BDSM universe in it – probably more than in any of my other BDSM universe stories. For spankaholics, I can promise plenty of spanking of very different kinds *g* and the invention of a whole new and very bonkers spanking concept! There’s a lot of humour, drama and angst – it’s a typical Xanthe fic in that respect. It’s written in the ‘big’ style of the BDSM universe, and is full of rather insane goings on that nobody bats an eyelid about. I hope it’s an engaging story with fun characters you’ll enjoy meeting. All of them are very flawed in their own way, but what you feel about them at the beginning might have changed radically by the end. Ask Jacci! She hated Rick at the beginning, but I promised her she’d love him by the end, and she did *g*. Plus, there are two very different villains to throw various spanners in the works. I always enjoy writing antagonists, and there’s one in this story who I’m particularly fond of!

As I’ve said many times, this is a learning curve. So, if when you read it you think there are things I can improve on in respect of the formatting and presentation then DO tell me. I am very eager to learn. I might not be able to change it for this one but I CAN incorporate your suggestions next time around. Also, while I’ve gone through it a gazilion times, I know how typos still creep in anyway. So if you find any typos, or Briticisms, or formatting errors, please do let me know. I’d far rather know and correct them than let the book sit out there with them in it.

Bears! (definitely more interesting!)
Finally, as a bit of light relief after all that technical stuff above, I thought I’d share these pics with you (below). There’s a story attached… McShepletgirl’s mum makes gorgeous little woollen bears, and when McShepletgirl was visiting her recently, she thought that one of the bears looked like Rick (darker skin, nose and eyes!) and one more like Matt. So she asked her mum if she could have them… and if her mum could embroider a spanked bottom to the Matt bear! Now, Mcshepletgirl’s mum is 80, but apparently she didn’t bat an eyelid, and was all about the technicality of how the spanked bottom should look! She’s a lady after my own heart!

Mcshepletgirl sent me the bears as a Ricochet present – she explained to me that the Rick bear isn’t wearing a shirt because the Matt bear borrowed it, and, of course, the Matt bear is wearing a collar and is on a leash! LOL! This gave me a real laugh when I got them through the post, so thanks so much to her.

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