A Humble Request


Please take a moment to read this blog post from the creator of I Wrote This For You, Iain S. Thomas on why he needs your help…


Originally posted on Here at last, we shall be free.:

‘I need you to understand something. I wrote this for you. I wrote this for you and only you. Everyone else who reads it, doesn’t get it. They may think they get it, but they don’t. This is the sign you’ve been looking for. You were meant to read these words.’
I wrote those words in a journal in 2006 with absolutely no idea that millions of people would read them over the years. For nearly a decade, I have combined my prose with Jon Ellis’ pictures, and given away the best parts of ourselves on www.iwrotethisforyou.me, for free. Our books are just collections of what we’ve already given people and we’re incredibly grateful when people buy them.
So it is with great pride that I share the news that we’re a finalist for Poetry Book Of The Year on Goodreads. Again.
I told people…

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How to Write a Book – Top Tips for National Novel Writing Month

This article is reposted from The Guardian. Happy #NaNoWriMo!

Original Article

How to write a book – top tips for National Novel Writing Month

Welcome to NaNoWriMo! MG Leonard (who wrote her first book Beetle Boy in six months, one hour a day) has tips on how to do it. And it starts with writing EVERY SINGLE DAY

MG Leonard
 MG Leonard: The longer I didn’t write my book the more miserable and frustrated I became. Photograph: David Myers

NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and takes place every November. It’s for anyone thinking about writing a novel. To take part all you need to do is commit to writing 50,000 words of your novel in the 30 days of November. There’s a website where you set up a profile, with incentives in the form of badges, and a supportive social media community to cheer you on as you strive to meet your daily word targets. And some great novels have started as NaNoWriMo projects, Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus, and Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl, to name but two.

For the past two years I’ve taken part in NaNoWriMo, although I cannot claim to have ever “won”: that is, achieve the full 50,000 words. I think it’s great. If only for the fact that if you write every single day you’ll develop a positive habit and your writing will improve. I wish I’d known about it when I was writing my first book, because developing the habit of writing every day didn’t come easily.

This is pretty much how every conversation went in the period between me having the idea for my book, Beetle Boy, and me actually sitting down to write it.

“How’s the book coming along?”

“Um, you know… work’s full-on right now, and I seem to spend my weekends standing by the side of a football pitch. We’re doing the secondary school choosing thing at the minute; it’s stressful. Oh, and don’t get me started on the stuff we need to do to the house.’

I – like everybody else – have a truck-load of distractions that makes it impossible to find the time to write a book. Nevertheless, I had a burning desire to tell a story I had growing in my head, about a thoughtful boy called Darkus Cuttle and the staggering array of beetles we share the planet with.

Maya Angelou once said: “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” And I came to know this to be true. The longer I didn’t write my book the more miserable and frustrated I became. I wrote Maya Angelou’s words on the inside of my notebook. I had to write my story, but when?

I looked for the spare moments in the day in which I could write. I would get up, get myself, and my son, dressed, we’d wolf down breakfast, I’d rush him to school, then commute to work. I’d do my days work, dash back to the school, bring him home, make dinner, put him to bed, and right at the end of the day, once the house was quiet, I’d sit down and try to write. But I was knackered, my brain was fatigued and my body exhausted. All I really wanted was a large glass of red wine and to watch some crap tele. I rarely got down more than a sentence or two.

Writing felt like the hardest thing in the world.

Then it occurred to me; I was trying to write when I was tired. In fact “I’m tired” is the most common thing I say. I had never considered how sharp your mental faculties needed to be to write well. I decided that I would try and write at the beginning of the day, before my son woke up. So I set my alarm for five o’clock in the morning.

At five, I’d get up, make a cup of tea and a hot water bottle, – it’s cold at that time of day – and sit down in front of my laptop, and, finally, I began to write my book.

I only had one hour to write, so I set myself some rules:

  1. Write every day

If you can write 1000 words a day, that’s 5000 words in a week. The average children’s book is 55,000 words long; that’s 11 weeks of writing.

2. Carve out a time and place for writing.

You need to develop writing as a habit that fits into your daily routine. I wrote at 5am in a freezing lean-to conservatory, but it was my special time of the day where I did something truly for myself, and I loved it.

3. Treat writing your book as work

This is not a hobby, or an indulgence, but a serious piece of work that you expect to be paid for one day. If you don’t treat your writing as work, then the people around you won’t take it seriously either. You need them to respect your writing time.

4. Write as many words as possible

The first draft is all about getting it written. The second draft is about getting it right.

5. Do not read back anything you’ve written

You must not look back. You must only progress forward. You are Orpheus in the underworld, and your novel Eurydice. If you look back you will never drag your novel out of hell and into the land of the living.

6. You are not allowed to edit your first draft

Resist all urges to tinker, improve or amend your first draft. If you start meddling you will never get to the end.

7. Give yourself a break

Remember, writing is a job, do it Monday to Friday. Give yourself weekends off. Weekends are for lie-ins, family and having fun. You brain will use the down time to process problems and brew-up ideas.

8. Don’t talk about or let anyone read your book, until its finished 

If you can’t talk about what you are writing, or let anyone read it, then you eliminate doubt and insecurity from the process of writing. Other people’s reactions to your work can make you question everything, including why you’re doing it in the first place. Writing a book can be as intoxicating as having an affair, all day your head will be full of your story, the characters, things they say to one another, and if you keep it secret, you’ll be desperate to get to your keyboard, because secrets want to be shared. It may sound crazy but keeping it a secret creates momentum and helps keep you going through the tough times.

It took me just over five months to write all the way to the end of my story. I had written 120,000 words of messy prose, but my story was out of my head and on the page. I felt elated. I had something to work with, to improve upon. I had written a book.

That first book eventually became Beetle Boy, and was snapped up by Barry Cunningham, the man who believed in JK Rowling’s Harry Potter, and it will be published by Chicken House in March 2016. I still have to pinch myself when I think about it.

The best advice I can give anyone wanting to write a book, is to write every day. With your first book, this is an act of blind faith. But I promise, if you write every day eventually you will have written a book.

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Central Avenue Publishing Welcomes Noah Milligan

NoahMilliganIt is with great pleasure that I introduce Noah Milligan, the newest author in the Central Avenue Publishing cache of talented writers.

Noah splits his time between words and numbers and is a longtime student of physics, prompting him to write his debut novel, An Elegant Theory, which was shortlisted for the 2015 Horatio Nelson Fiction Prize. His short fiction has appeared in numerous literary magazines, including MAKE, Storyscape Literary Journal, Empty Sink Publishing, and Santa Clara Review. He is a graduate of the MFA program at the University of Central Oklahoma, where he studied under Rilla Askew and Constance Squires. He lives in Edmond, OK, with his wife and two children.

An Elegant Theory will be out in October 2016 and is an existential psychological thriller that explores how the construction of memory and consciousness can shape motive, guilt, and identity through the lens of a modern-day mad-scientist motif.

Coulter Zahn is a promising PhD candidate at MIT, completing his dissertation on string theory, while his young wife is expecting their first child. Coulter’s already delicate mental state becomes irreparably fragmented, however, when his dissertation is strongly discouraged by his mentor, his estranged mother returns, and his wife informs him that she wants to leave him.

His life and mental health unraveling, Coulter unwittingly commits a heinous crime, but before he can summon the courage to turn himself in, he catches a break in his research. Influenced by those surrounding him and his own untrustworthy psyche, Coulter must decide whether to face the consequences of his crime or finish his research, perhaps making the greatest contribution to science since Einstein’s theory of relativity.

You can follow Noah on Twitter, Facebook or visit him at his website. His posts are insightful, interesting and follow a wide variety of topics. Welcome, Noah!

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Central Avenue Publishing to be Distributed by IPG

IPG logoIt is with great pleasure that I announce that as of November 1, 2015, Central Avenue Publishing books will be sold and distributed to the trade by Independent Publishers Group. IPG is the original and second largest distributor of independently published books and I consider ourselves honoured to be counted among the fine publishers that work with IPG.

You might have noticed that it’s been a while since I’ve posted anything on this blog. It’s because there has been so much going on behind the scenes, that I’ve hardly been able to think, let alone write any updates. But now it’s time, and if you have some time, read on. If you don’t, then check out the press release.

This whole story started back in May, when one of our books, Heart of a Dove, won a gold medal at the Independent Publishers Awards. This prompted a trip to Book Expo America in New York and displaying our books at a cooperative booth. I knew our books would be a needle in a haystack so I looked at this trip as a chance to listen and learn.

After the first few hours of walking the floor, I realized I was among everyone who lives books – just like me. There were publishers, printers, distributors, publicists, reviewers, offshore agents of all sizes and shapes. I realized that while my original intent was to simply listen and learn, I could also take this opportunity to meet people who might be able to advance my publishing program. The one thing that I have been missing over the past six years is a traditional sales force and distributor. You see, I could do almost everything myself – by adopting print on demand and digital publishing a long time ago, I was at the forefront of a lot of trends in publishing and that brought me to where I am today. But it was this model of non-traditional publishing which excluded me from a lot of opportunities. I’ve known this for a long time, and over the years, I had submitted time and again to many distributors, but with the industry changing so much, many distributors didn’t want to gamble on a new publisher.

For those of you who are not familiar with what the traditional publishing supply chain might mean (since I wasn’t when I first started down this publishing path), let me explain as best I can. Authors write books. Publishers make books. Distributors warehouse and sell those books to the trade. The book trade, which includes chain & indie bookstores, libraries, gift shops, schools and online bookstores, sells books to customers. The trade has pretty specific launch seasons and ways of doing things, and it is an old but evolving industry. Of course, there are new and changing ways of publishing books, but the vast majority of successful publishers adhere to this more traditional method.

Previous to now, my model of getting digital books to customers involved making the book and then sending the book directly to the stores that I could get direct agreements with. While that included many of the major ones, there were also lots missing. At the online store, it competed with a million other books and hopefully gained some traction through whatever marketing we could do to get the algorithms that drive online bookstores so as to perhaps get noticed by more customers. My model of getting print books to customers involved using print on demand with Lightning Source who then had their parent company, Ingram, list the book in their catalog. So the book showed up in the databases that exist, and that’s about it. However, the trade didn’t really know about our books, there was no-one introducing them and showing them off because the trade simply can’t support thousands of publishers coming into meet with them in buying meetings. Furthermore, the major review organizations tend to eschew POD books since for the most part (and we know this isn’t true of all books), POD tends to represent titles that are of a lesser quality and published by houses not willing to make the investment in print runs.

So, back to BEA. I walked the floor again. I looked for distributors that looked friendly, professional, busy and a good fit for me. Among the many were four of them. I went up to each of their booths and looked around until I could find someone that was free. I then went right up to them and asked if I could talk to them about my little publishing house. I had my opening line which was short: “My name is Michelle Halket and I run a small publishing house out of Vancouver. I sell X copies of books a month and I’m looking for a partner who can help advance my program.” (Yes, I felt a little like Inigo Montoya from The Princess Bride). I then whipped out my bestselling backlist book (I Wrote This For You) and a few of my front list. Luckily all four of them were very interested in talking to me and they all invited me to submit. But it was Jeff Palicki at IPG who interested me the most. To tell you the truth, their booth also intimidated me the most since it was so big and had people sitting at tables talking amongst stacks of papers and books. But he said, “Let’s sit down.” and we chatted for a long while. He was blunt, interested, truthful and knew his stuff. I walked away from that conversation feeling really good.

What followed was the sending of submission packages to these distributors and the negotiation and discovery that ensues with any new partnership. After a lot of spreadsheets and scanning of contracts, I decided on IPG and I couldn’t feel better about my decision.

Having IPG on my side means I now get to play with the big kids in traditional publishing. In working with them, I will now have the missing element: a major distribution and sales force on the ground actively selling our books to the trade. They have very strong relationships with Barnes & Noble and Amazon and teams of sales people in the US, Canada, UK & Australia. They’ll guide us on marketing, sales, production, pricing, cover design, and can secure promotional opportunities at major online and bricks and mortar accounts I could only dream of.

In short, this is a very exciting time for Central Avenue Publishing. But it’s also a scary one, because none of this comes without significant investment. I’ve spent the last few months researching costs, talking to other publishers and devising and revising pricing models, trying to make the numbers work. It’s fortunate that I’m good at that kind of thing, since I plan on being around for the long term and I won’t let what happens to a lot of small publishers happen to me. In doing all this work, I found myself laughing at the many articles I came across by self publishing advocates who warn writers about the huge margins that publishers make on the backs of their authors. At least for independent presses, it’s so far from the truth that I can barely hold myself back from commenting on their posts. Trust me, the margins are truly razor thin for everyone involved, returns average 25% and in many cases it is the author who makes more money than their publisher.

All of this has meant a huge change to the way I do business. I’ve pushed back the release of our fall titles to Spring 2016 so that IPG can sell them into the trade during the accepted time frames and hopefully get them noticed enough to get picked up. This gives me the time to send out copies to all the major review organizations, (many who wouldn’t have even bothered once they discovered the book was POD), and to organize offset printing for my bestselling books and the front list titles for 2016 and onwards. I’ve been up to my eyeballs in paper stock, print samples, all while learning new forms, reading contracts and marketing calendars and preparing presentations for an upcoming sales conference in November. I’ve even opened up submissions and for the first time in a long time, I can say I’ll be working with a new author, (more on that later).

I consider myself very lucky to be working with the amazingly helpful and knowledgeable team at IPG. So far I’ve had the pleasure of working with some of the Chicago team, including Mary, Lauren, Anna, Jeff, Salma, Berianne, Mallori, Nicole, Mark, Cynthia, Dana and Caitlin who’ve all been very patient, responsive and helpful and I haven’t even met the sales teams yet! For someone who works by herself in a tiny office in the ‘burbs of Vancouver, this is pretty mind-blowing. They’ve been a boatload of resources so far, and I can’t wait to see how things will move forward. No matter what, it’ll be an amazing ride.

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How to be Happy: Not a Self-Help Book. Seriously

July 26 marks the official release date of the new book by Iain S. Thomas, the poet behind the blog and book: I Wrote This For You. How to be Happy is a combination of Iain’s many creative talents wrapped up in a story of one man’s journey to publication.

The story opens with an email from Iain’s publisher who is over the moon that Iain would like to publish a book on how to be happy since the self-help market is quite lucrative. What follows is a multi-platform struggle between publisher and author on creative differences and Iain’s internal struggle with what happiness really is, how to convey that to his readers and whether or not he really knows it.

It’s an interesting journey into self-discovery and publishing told via short stories, poetry, emails, tweets, blog posts, magazine articles and sketches brought together with drafts of the book that our protagonist is attempting to write.

Ebook Preorder Now: Kindle, Nook, Apple, Kobo

Print available July 26 2015

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Cover Reveal: Soul of a Crow by Abbie Williams

We have a few new releases coming up this year, and we’re excited to show off the cover for Soul of a Crow by Abbie Williams. Coming on August 31, this second book in the award-winning Dove Series follows Southern orphan, Lorie Blake and her companions as they travel northward to forge new lives for themselves after the Civil War.

The first book, Heart of a Dove, recently won an Independent Publishers Gold Medal and  Publishers Weekly called it a “passionate opening volume.”

Stay tuned for giveaways and more news about this wrenching yet romantic saga.

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Getting Ready for Book Expo America

IMG_0715The past few weeks have been a whirlwind of activity. When we learned about Abbie Williams’ win of a Gold Medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards, I made the quick decision to attend the gala in New York and also display our 2015 books at Book Expo America. This meant making sure I had samples of books to display, as well as postcards and other materials that people can take away with them.

For the most part, it was easy, but one of the books wasn’t that close to getting a proof done – but I really wanted to show it off. Luckily, my wonderful colleague Meghan Tobin-O’Drowsky did a great job on proofreading and Dean Mayes did his part on making sure everything got back to me in time so that we could unveil The Recipient at BEA. But it’s my one and only copy – so while copies of the other books have been shipped directly to the booth organizers in New York, this one I’ll be keeping close to me so I can pop it on the shelf when I get there.

I leave in less than a week and it’s looking like things are coming together: meetings are arranged, seminars have been added to my calendar, hotel and flights are booked, marketing materials are ready and I’ve laid out my plans for the booths I want to visit. And, since I’ve never been to NYC before, I’ve even figured out which sights I want to see. Now all I need is an outfit for the awards gala. Oh, and I might get my nails done too.

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