Dear Agent for writers and last free day

The wonderful Nicola Morgan, of the great writing and publishing site Help, I need a publisher! author of 90 books including Write to be Published has just brought out Dear Agent: Write the Letter that Sells your Book. As readers of her blog will know, the advice she gives is always realistic, practical and sprinkled with her wonderful dry wit. Read the full article with her at to get some tips and a flavour of the book.The book is on special offer this weekend and can be downloaded for Kindle or for reading on your laptop (you can download a free Kindle app. Well worth it for every novelist about to submit work!

On a personal note, I know you’re probably tired of hearing about Housewife with a Half-Life and personally I’m uncomfortable with relentless self-promotion. I know that if you’re interested you will read the book at some point and if it’s not your thing then no problem. However the reality for self-publishers is that somehow we need to become visible to the general public and the way of doing that is to gain higher rankings on Amazon in order to be seen.

This August 10th is the last day that the book is on a special free promotion, so if it could get a big push today that would be great. So if you’re interested and haven’t read it, get your free copy today. Thanks a million.

Susan Strong is a suburban housewife who is literally disintegrating. When Fairly Dave, a kilt-sporting spaceman arrives through the shower head to warn her, she knows things are serious. When she and her precocious four year old twins, Pluto and Rufus, get sucked through Chilled Foods into another universe it gets even messier. Where household appliances are more alive and dangerous than they seem, Geezers have Entropy Hoovers and the Spinner’s Cataclysmic convertor could rip reality apart, Susan Strong is all that’s holding the world together.

Through this madcap, feel-good adventure, Susan and Fairly Dave travel alternate universes to find Susan’s many selves, dodge the Geezers and defeat the evil memory bankers. From dystopian landscapes and chicken dinners, to the surreal world of Las Vegas and bubble universes, can Susan Strong reintegrate her bits and will it be enough to save us all?

Amazon UK

Amazon US/Ireland

Free Kindle Apps for laptop, phone etc

Why I used my Kindle free days when I had decided not to

The Background

I originally signed up for the Kindle free days to be part of the promotion for the launch of the wonderful Jawbreakers anthology in May. I had only launched Housewife with a Half-Life a few days before so perhaps it wasn’t the best time to give it away for free but being part of a British nationwide launch perhaps gave me a wider audience/exposure that I would not have had otherwise.

What are Kindle Free Days good for?

Since Housewife was my debut novel as A.B.Wells I was interested to read how Kindle free days had helped some self-publishers gain extra readers and sales subsequent to the promotion. But there seemed to be some caveats. This strategy seemed to have worked best for those who were a) releasing books in the earlier ebook days before the deluge of ebooks and free offerings b) for authors who already had a following from traditional publication or earlier books c) for authors who were trying to promote a series or later books (they would give an earlier one away free.

But that wasn’t me

As the end of my Kindle free period approached, I realised that I did not fit any of these criteria. My comedy in the universe was a new departure, both from my literary work as Alison Wells (published in anthologies and known on the blog) and was the first book I had to offer. So what could possibly be gained by using the FREE DAYS.

All that work for FREE?

Another issue that has been much discussed is the concept of FREE itself. Some self-publishers enjoy the idea of the work being the thing, making it available in a democratic way and being read is the most important thing. FREE is part of the FREEDOM of being Indie. Other self-publishers, while applauding these sentiments are also concerned about whether a constant supply of free books engenders the expectation of never having to pay,  particularly for ebooks. While people would be happy to pay €10 euro (about $11 £8) for a paperback, an electronic version may not seem as valuable (and is easier for both the writer and the reader to discount in both senses of the word).

I’ve sold about 80 books in real world transactions (in bookshops or direct) and made a reasonable return, especially of course on the direct sales. My initial price of $2.99 dollars and its equivalent allowed me to be on the 70% royalty on many sales for the ebook. Again a reasonable amount. As a first time author without a track record, realistically, breaking even might be a goal, much as the accounts of bestsellers are thrilling and are always hoped for. I had costs, for sure, several hundred pounds/euros for a designer and editor, marketing materials for my real world launch and initial outlays on purchasing 160 books to sell to bookshops and direct. I personally don’t have an outside income (at the moment I’m at home with my four children). We live on my husbands wages. I need to cover costs at least. The book took months to write and a year to edit and bring to publication. All writers know how much work goes into producing something of quality. Again, why give it away for free?

So why did you change your mind?

Ideally I would have used the free days when the sequel The Meaning of Life is Monday was out. But Kindle free days are to be used within three months. It’s now or never. So what made me change my mind?

1: The possibility of widening my reader base

I’m in this for the longer term. I may need to get my skates on and release further material that people can click on when they finish Housewife but I will still reach new people who might visit my blog (there is a hyperlink in the ebook!) and find out what else I write and when it will be out. I might reach a particular person who will enjoy my book, become an advocate, write a review (make the movie – okay one can dream. Matthew McConaghy as Fairly Dave (the kilted spaceman with luminescent emotions would be interesting 🙂 )

As a marketing hotspot

Running Kindle free days gives me an event around which to talk about my book and blog about things like Kindle free days and to link to my new publications of short collections of short stories (under the name Alison Wells) that will be out in the next few days.

I might just go up the Amazon charts

While like Nicola Morgan I’m not a fan of tricks and games used to push books, such as constant self-promotion on Twitter, online, befriending just to sell, garnering reviews that aren’t authentic, the free day option is a legitimate tool to try to make your book stand out from the crowd. I believe in Housewife with a Half-Life. I have other books in drawers that I didn’t believe in so much. I engaged and editor and designer and did everything I could to make the book as good as I could. Other people believe in the book. I think it’s a heartwarming and uplifting read and I want to give it the best chance I can.

Last time Housewife with a Half-Life was free for one day, was downloaded 500 times but I didn’t see many follow on sales. I don’t know what will happen this time. Maybe I’ll come back and tell you later. But despite my reservations, I hope that Housewife with a Half-Life can benefit from this little boost and that if you read it you’ll enjoy and come back and tell me.

Update: August 2012

As a matter of interest, at the end of my 4 kindle free days I had a total of 3000 downloads and have seen consistent sales since then, not in huge numbers (tens) but beyond what was happening before the free days. While on Kindle free Housewife with a Half-Life went to number 3 in sci-fi free and close to (tantalisingly close to) the top 100 kindle reads in .com and .uk. From talking to other authors I can attribute the continuing extra sales to Housewife with a Half-Life having become visible in the “also bought” lists. So in terms of gaining visibility, the Kindle free days were successful.

Let me know what you’ve decided to do with your Kindle free days and how it’s worked out for you or any of your thoughts on the concept of FREE.

A last little marketing plug. Note: Housewife with a Half-Life is no longer free but it’s just 99c/77p until the end of August.

Here are some of the things people have said in the reviews:

“this book was recommended to me and really didn’t know what to expect but wasn’t able to put it down, fantastic, funny and pure comedy from start to finish 10/10”

“A brilliantly humorous book which had me laughing from the start!”

Amazon UK


What a wonderful launch!

The lovely Colette Caddle and myself.

What a fabulous evening we had yesterday (22nd June) at the book launch of Housewife with a Half-Life! With a warm welcome from Don and Chris at Hughes & Hughes, Dundrum, a wonderful turnout, a super speech and reading by lovely author Colette Caddle it was a wonderful occasion. General chit chat and refreshments followed as I took part in my first signing.

I’d like to thank all those who came along and those who weren’t able to make it and sent messages of support. There was a wonderful crowd there and the books were snapped off the shelves. What a wonderful feeling for a writer used to beavering away at home to be recognised as an author. Here are a few more pics of the evening.

Lovely author Louise Phillips

and for those on Facebook, you should be able to access the album here. More pics will be added as I gather them. Thanks once again to everyone who attended, or

Hazel K. Larkin and Maria Duffy joined me.

who has read, reviewed, tweeted, shared, talked about the book and is helping to spread the word of my A.B. Wells endeavour across the universe!

Head above Water indeed! An author, a husband, four children and a self-published debut novel.

Hughes & Hughes Launch of Housewife with a Half-Life Fri June 22nd: All welcome!


















Bookshop launch of Housewife with a Half-Life and Mid-Summer Tweetup!

I want to invite you all to the real life bookshop launch, signing & reading of Housewife with a Half-Life taking place in Hughes & Hughes Booksellers, Dundrum, from 7pm onwards on Friday next 22nd June.

Housewife with a Half-Life will be launched by the super bestselling author of twelve books, Colette Caddle! There will also be a wine & nibbles reception and I’ll be reading from the book in a felted dress, created by artistic sister Sharon of Feltcreative.

As it’s my debut launch as A.B. Wells I’d like to (dun)drum up as much of a crowd as possible so it would great if you could come along, bring a friend, a whole book club even! Everyone is welcome and I’d love to meet online friends for real. I also want to support as much as possible Hughes & Hughes and in particular Chris, Don & Vicky who have been terrific. Here’s their official launch writeup. And here’s the display they’ve put up for me in the shop. 

If you can come please RSVP to or comment below.

Looking forward to an evening of fun and chat!

Housewife with a Half-Life Blog Tour

For the next week or so I’ll be travelling round various blogs talking about my self-publishing adventure, finding the time to write when raising a family of four young children, why I’m forging two separate identities as a writer as A.B. Wells for my sci-fi self and Alison Wells for my literary trad publishing side and other topics. Paul Carroll, Louise Phillips, Mariam Kobras, Martha Williams, Rebecca Emin, Vanessa Gebbie and PJ. Kaiser at the Tuesday Serial are hosting my musings and interviews. Here is the full line up.

Housewife with a Half-Life Book Tour

13th June: Paul Carroll Writer

14th June Louise Phillips Writer

15th June The Happy Author on the Porch (Mariam Kobras’ blog)

18th June Writing on a Wet Rock Martha Williams’ blog

19th June Ramblings of a Rusty Writer Rebecca Emin’s blog

20th June Vanessa Gebbie’s Blog  Vanessa Gebbie’s blog

21st June Tuesday Serial Tuesday Serial

I hope my experiences can be of interest and help to you. We start out today on Paul Carroll’s blog. Paul is a up and coming writer from Dublin. My post today on his blog is How to Make Time to write a novel.

Indie Author Giveaway Hop

I am taking part in the Indie Author Giveaway Hop, hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and Krazy Book Lady.

The dates for this hop are June 13th to 19th.

Housewife with a Half-Life paperback

The prize options are a signed paperback copy of Housewife with a Half-Life

Housewife with a Half-Life Kindle Edition.

OR a Kindle edition of Housewife with a Half-Life

You can read more about the book here.
All you have to do to enter is comment below and say if you would like the ebook or paperback. For extra entries you can:
Like my Facebook Page
Follow me on Twitter
Follow this blog by email signup
Add my book to your To Read shelf on Goodreads
Just say in the comment which of these things you have done.

Any comments made before midnight PST on 19 June will count, and a winner will be picked on 20th June.

This is an international giveaway.

Click here for the rest of the blogs on the hop and enjoy!

Official Release of Housewife with a Half-Life Paperback and Comp!

Hooray! It’s paperback day!

When I released the ebook of Housewife with a Half-Life I was delighted with the response but many of you kindly said that you’d like to buy the paperback version. I’m happy to now pronounce Housewife with a Half-Life formally available on paperback.Cheers! Clink Clink!

You can purchase Housewife with a Half-Life on,, Barnes and Noble and the Book Depository among other retailers. On 22nd June Hughes & Hughes will host the real world launch of the book, they did this lovely write up with a downloadable invite if you are in Dublin that day.

Winner of the kilt competition is D.J. Kirkby. Please tweet or email me your contact details!


To celebrate today’s launch you can be in with a chance to win the following:


Fairly Dave has a Temporal Toolbelt with mysterious dimensions! His toolbelt carries many devices as well as an inflatable mattress for sleepovers across the galaxy. Every man fighting adversity and evil Geezer creatures should have one!
A hug for every occasion when you’re saving the universe. Our loveable character Fairly Dave (who has luminescent emotions) carries The Book of Hugs with him in his Temporal Toolbelt and refers to it in sticky situations. A hug can salve most the effects of housewife disintegration and even sort some temporal anomalies.
Scales fit for a Housewife with attitude! Susan Strong is the perfect mother or at least she tries to be. These scales can help you bake life saving apple pie or (moon) rock buns.
Make eggs in the shape of stars! Susan Strong has four year old twin boys Pluto and Rufus whose temporal hopping bunk bed causes chaos. These fried egg moulds are desirable for any space travelling family.
To possibly win the prizes you can do any or several of the following:
1: Comment here, saying which number of prize you’d prefer
2: On Facebook. Go to my Facebook page and like A.B. Wells and share the book release posts. I will make a note of Facebook folk.
3: On Twitter. Tweet or Retweet (from @alisonwells) book tweets or links to this blogpost and comp. Use the hashtag #HWHL. I will make a note of tweeters.
4: Hire a rocket and scratch my book news on the surface of the moon.
This competition is open until Friday evening. Winners will be announced Sunday 16th. So keep posting and tweeting!
Sincere Thanks
I’d like to thank many people, my husband and my children who are interested and supportive of my writing (most of the time!). I’d like to thank Andrew Brown of Designs for Writers, who’s cover has been a big hit and very eye-catching. I’d like to thank Sarah Franklin for editing, for the writers who beta read and proof read and provided expertise, talent that inspired me from my early days online and to all the people who helped with spreading the word with the blog splash last time round to those who are going to do a book tour this time. (Details in the sidebar). A special mention to Rebecca Emin, Vanessa O’ Loughlin, Marc Nash, Claire King, Martha Williams, Rachel Carter, Catherine Ryan Howard, Calum Kerr, DJ Young, Penny Goring, Dan Holloway, Louise Phillips, Paul Carroll, Mariam Kobras and Vanessa Gebbie. There are many other super people who have shared kind words on blog and twitter and you are not forgotten either. I simply don’t have the space to list you all.
As opposed to the mania of the ebook launch and subsequent race up the charts, I wanted the paperback launch to be more of a slow, sustainable thing. I want to reach out to anyone who has enjoyed my posts or writing and thank you for helping me to develop as a writer by your comments, feedback, links to interesting posts. I want to connect also readers who simply buy the book and curl up somewhere to read it and enter it’s world. Housewife with a Half-Life has been described thusly “This is a laugh out loud funny but also touchingly heartwarming read from an author whose lightness of touch has defined her as ‘something of an alchemist’ in literary circles.” As well as a book about the juggles of life, trying to do the right thing, hanging on to your identity while saving the universe, I tried to bring across in Housewife with a Half-Life some of the wonder of the being a part of this astounding universe.
Cheers! And Thanks!

Who would you like to see in a kilt competition and paperback launch!

It’s my blog, so let’s have a pic of Euan McGregor in a kilt.

Join me tomorrow Tuesday 12th June for the online paperback launch of Housewife with a Half-Life. Stop by to find out who has won the signed paperback and to enter the other competitions for book and other domestic fun prizes. Thanks so much for your good wishes and support! If you’re on Facebook like A.B. Wells to find out about other comps, posts and giveaways and the real-life 3d launch in Dublin.

Housewife with a Half-Life is available on ebook  Amazon US and Amazon UK.

Who (or what) would you like to see in a kilt competition to win signed book prize.

Fairly Dave is the very loveable spaceman character in Housewife with a Half-Life. Here is when Susan Strong first sees him:

“He was wearing a random outfit that consisted of a biker jacket, a t-shirt with the logo “42 – not as bad as you think” and a kilt. His legs, of which there were definitely just two, were truncated by a pair of purple iridescent Doc Martens. His hair was, well, the stuff of nightmares. I don’t want to name names, but let’s just say that the lead singer of Status Quo would have been the ideal poster boy for this gentleman. There was a ponytail, a receding hair line and a shiny pate that Susan had a compulsion to draw a question mark on.”

Later we go on to learn that he is extremely tall and that he has luminescent emotions. Parts of his body (ahem!) light up in different colours when he feels, angry, scared, loving or guilty.

It seems that Men in kilts are very popular. When googling, I found this interesting and amusing site for window cleaners in kilts. I love their 100% clean guarantee! and their No Peeking! sign. (Giggling women alert).

There are many films with Men in Kilts (hopefully Housewife with a Half-Life will be too :-)). Braveheart and Four Weddings and a funeral are some of the most well known. For my part So I Married an Axemurderer with Mike Myers and A Life Less Ordinary (EUAN MCGREGOR!!!) are among my favourites.

Win a paperback by commenting here on your fav person in a kilt.

So, to be in with a chance of winning a signed paperback of Housewife with a Half-Life, just say in the comments below who you would like to see in a kilt (doesn’t necessarily have to be male) or who’s your favourite movie person in a kilt. Keep the comments funny and clean!

The competition is open until midday GMT on June 12th, the day of the paperback launch of Housewife with a Half-Life. I will draw a winner at random and announce soon after.

And just to let you know, if you’re on Goodreads, enter the draw for a free copy of Housewife with a Half-Life (ends June 11th).

There will be another super competition on the day of the launch when you can win some of the following prizes related to items and episodes in the book! Don’t forget to visit the blog and share the competitions with your friends. Thanks!

Fairly Dave has a Temporal Toolbelt with mysterious dimensions!
A hug for every occasion when you’re saving the universe
Scales fit for a Housewife with attitude!
Make eggs in the shape of stars!

Video readings from Housewife with a Half-Life!

I’ve recorded some excerpts from ‘Housewife with a Half-Life’. Can you spot the housewifely item in the background?

Ahead of the paperback launch next Tuesday 12 June I’ve recorded some extracts from Housewife with a Half-Life!

What it means for Susan to be a Housewife with a Half-Life

Fairly Dave meets Susan’s mother


If you prefer, here is the text of my readings…

How Susan is a Housewife with a Half-Life

‘You said you’re here to look after me?’ Susan said as he lowered his tea cup. ‘But that’s my job, looking after everyone else. Why do I need looking after?’

‘There’s been some trouble, an anomaly, you might not even be aware of it,’ said the Fairly God Father. ‘You’re stuck in a relativity and you can’t get out of it.’

Susan nodded, she’d always had an inkling and now that he’d put his finger on it, it kind of made sense.

‘You’ve noticed then?’ he paused, ‘You’ve heard of the Schrödinger’s Cat experiment?’

‘Of course, experimental physics is my hobby. It’s an idea used to explain quantum mechanics. A cat is closed into a box with a radioactive element. At the moment a particle decays, some poison is released and kills the cat. But it’s impossible to predict when it will happen so no-one can be sure if the cat is alive or dead without looking.’

‘That’s as close to clear as you are going to get,’ said the Fairly God Father. ‘What we needed to do was look into your box so to speak.’

‘You just thought you’d pop in and check? Well you can see I’m perfectly fine. Things couldn’t be better. I have 2.5 children,’ she said, patting her belly, ‘well two children and half a mind to have another, a four bedroomed semi-detached home in a lovely well-manicured estate. I even have a washer dryer.’

‘Yes,’ he said gloomily. ‘I was going to warn you about that.’

Susan smiled. ‘I’m beginning to get the idea that you worry a little bit too much. Perhaps you’d like to read one of the self-help books I have on thought stopping, they’re ever so good. You can’t let your life be stymied by fear, you know. And by the way you have a little bit of jam on the end of your nose.’

‘The trouble is,’ said the Fairly God Father, wiping his nose, ‘that while you are caught in this relativity, we think that you are breaking down.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘We’re not sure exactly how it’s happened but we think that throughout your life time as you’re travelled through time and space, you’ve left elements of yourself behind in other dimensions. Your physical substance is disintegrating in sympathy. You are a Housewife with a Half-Life. The half-life is how long it’s going to take you to disintegrate by half. I’m sure you’ve heard it said before. “I’m not half the man I used to be.”’

‘Yes, but I’ve never heard it in relation to a woman.’

‘That’s the problem. It’s very rare. It’s not commonly known, but women are what’s keeping the universal fabric intact. All that multitasking and intuition, they are constantly weaving threads. We think that you’re the knot that’s keeping everything together but now the knot is fraying and,’ he swept his hand across his brow melodramatically, ‘and if we don’t sort you out…’

‘What?’ she said, putting her cup back into the saucer, ‘universal devastation?’

The Fairly God Father frowned. ‘Have you noticed anything unusual yourself?’

‘Well yes,’ she said, ‘I do seem to be stuck in a rut. Sometimes I wonder if there is really anything outside the four walls of this house. I seem to be doing the same thing over and over again and all the days blend into one another.’

The Fairly entity had taken out a notebook and was writing in it with a stubby pencil. He nodded for her to continue. ‘It looks like we’re right then. You are stuck in a temporal prison. That’s the way it is for a Housewife with a Half-Life. Everything is the same. You are stuck in groundhog.’

‘It can’t be all that bad!’ Susan said smiling. ‘I mean there are small changes. For instance yesterday I made roast chicken, today we’re having lasagne.’

‘People always make that mistake. They think that a temporal loop means everything stays identical. But there’s the question of entropy, chaos within a stable system. Just the mere fact that you are disintegrating will distort the timeline. These tiny differences give the impression of change but nothing really changes, does it? Can you even distinguish one day from the next?’

Susan put down the teacup. There was a milky rim around the edge. She put her hand on the tea cosy to feel the pot. ‘No, you’re right. Sometimes I don’t even know what month it is. You wake up in the morning and Christmas ads are playing on the radio. And you think “No! That can’t be.”’

The Fairly God Father nodded.

‘But, hang on,’ Susan added, ‘you said time isn’t moving. But the year is moving on, Winter follows Autumn.’

‘Yes I know. Time isn’t moving for YOU,’ he answered.

Susan shook her head, blinking. ‘Now you’ve said it there are all these things that have hit me. Why I miss people’s birthdays. Why I get ready to go out with the girls and then find out the night out was arranged for two weeks ago. Why Nigel and I schedule conversations and they never happen.’

‘Ah yes, well Nigel, that’s a different matter.’

‘How do you mean?’

‘He actually exists most of the time in a parallel dimension to yours. He can only get back over at certain intervals. It’s that ships that pass in the night phenomenon.’

‘Oh yes. Sometimes we feel that we never really see each other.’

‘That’s because you never really do. And sometimes when he’s here, do you feel that he may as well not be because he’s not really responding, not really on your wavelength? That’s because he’s just bleeding through from the other dimension. He can only half hear you. He’s trying his best but there is so much interference that he can only pick up a fraction of the decibels and about half the meaning. Sometimes he says something back to you that makes no sense, as if he hasn’t really been listening.’

‘Yes!’ said Susan. 

‘Now you know why. His energy is able to physically manifest in this dimension but his full mental and emotional faculties cannot bridge the divide. He leaves some of them behind.’

She thought of Nigel, her husband, pale pallor, thin, in his business suit, staring into space. Sometimes she waved a hand in front of his face and he didn’t see it.

‘Gosh,’ she said, aligning the butter knife with the side plate.

‘You know Susan. This might be a lot for you to take in all at once. But if you have another cup of tea, you might be okay. Most things around here are not what they seem.

Fairly Dave meets Susan’s mother

Susan’s mother was super, super just like Susan. Her name was Geraldine and she had the same coiffeured gentility as her daughter. Her face, for some reason, reminded you of pancakes and honey and her smile was like blueberry pie. Her hair was chestnut brown and her eyes a bright emerald. She was also an eyebrow raiser. And the eyebrow was raised.

Geraldine considered herself an enlightened kind of person. Her favourite books were those that described a variety of people and cultures she had never had chance to meet. At the book club she always recommended triumph over adversity books from war-torn dictatorships. She had educated herself in diversity by watching confessional relationship shows in the afternoons. There was no my-boyfriend-slept-with-my-granny-and-married-my-sister scenario she wasn’t familiar with. But when it came to your own daughter out alone, as she had been, mid-morning with a strange man, and indeed he was an extremely strange man, you couldn’t help but wonder…

Susan made the introductions as Pluto and Rufus held one each of their Granny’s hands and swung themselves like fairground boats.

‘This is Fairly Dave,’ Susan said.

‘Oh I see,’ said Geraldine, her eyebrow lifting even further. ‘Are you in a rock band?’

‘You’re thinking of someone else, mum. He’s a sort of……’

‘Therapist,’ said Fairly Dave and Susan thought she could see a flash of orangey purple that was unmistakeably shame. Fairly Dave didn’t like lying.

‘Well yes,’ Susan said. ‘I’ve been falling apart a bit recently, in fact half of my head is already missing and,’ she tried to make her voice gentle, ‘it’s only going to get worse.’

‘You’re sick? She’s sick?’ she said looking from Susan to Fairly Dave.

‘Well not sick exactly,’ said Fairly Dave. ‘I’m, er, working with her on it, developing a programme.’

‘You never told her the bit about the apple face men!’ said Rufus. ‘Or when we were sucked into a hole.’

‘Ah yes, the Whole,’ said Fairly Dave, quickly. ‘That’s what I work with to do the um, you know, healing.’

‘I’m into holistic,’ Susan’s mum said nodding. ‘I do Yoga every morning and meditate at night. I drink green tea and give myself a liquid detox every January. And I eat a lot of porridge, with those, thingumys – what are they called Susan? Sprinkled on top, you know…’

‘Pumpkin seeds?’

 ‘No, no, it’s got an x in it. Oh yes! Flax seeds, it’s a superfood you know. Oh,’ she said turning to her daughter. ‘Susan, I had no idea. You should have confided in me.’


‘What does Nigel think about all this?’

She read Susan’s face. ‘You haven’t told him.’

‘Well you know, Nigel. It’s hard to pin him down sometimes… How’s Dad?’ Susan asked, changing the subject.

‘Pottering round in the shed as usual.’

‘That’s good,’ said Susan, serving the soup. As she ate she felt the welcome warmth travel along her gullet. If she could see her insides, would it look like the soup was travelling through the gaps in her body? By putting her faith in Fairly Dave she had prevented herself from thinking about the truth that she was in mortal danger. There were a lot more important things than whether she had shaken the dust of her antimacassars. But she hated to let the housework slide. The more mess and grime there was around her, the more she felt that her mind was descending into chaos. She may have to travel the universe to save herself, but it was important that she made the beds before she left.

Sorry I can’t embed the links. Enjoy!

Why I self-published both paperback & ebook

The joy of holding your own paperback in your hands. So exciting!

One of the main attractions of self-publishing is the ease with which you can now produce and distribute your masterpiece and along with that how you can offer it as a very reasonably priced ebook which any right minded individual will of course shell out for. All you have to do is upload your file to Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords and (after a short wait in some cases) your book is available in a variety of formats and across a number of outlets including Amazon and Barnes and Noble. What more could you wish for? And the wisdom seems to be that those amazing self-publishers who are making millions out of this are doing it on the downloads. I hear no tales of truck loads of books whizzing round the country, book signings even. The electronic is embraced utterly. Indeed many small presses are embracing the economic feasibility of being digital first outfits, Proxima books, Crooked Cat Publishing, and Carina Press are examples.

I rejoice in and embrace the new technologies that have allowed me, singlehandedly (well almost) to present my work to the world from the comfort of my own home. I attended a One-Stop Publishing Conference in 2010, where I listened to the fascinating self-publication journey of A.J. Healy, writer of the children’s book Tommy Storm. It was quite an early endeavour in this self-publishing lark, a heroic tale of negotiations with Chinese printers and long hours on the road touting physical copies of his book round the independent bookshops of Ireland. It required levels of physical and financial dedication that the ebook publisher might shudder at.

Yet I have decided to provide a paperback option to those who wish to buy Housewife with a Half-Life. And while my tale does not compare to A.J. Healy’s, it also required more financial and physical dedication than my ebook version. I actually had to leave the house and travel several miles down a motorway to meet the real life people (lovely people) who had offered me a chance, as a local author, to launch my book in their bookshop (Hughes and Hughes, Dundrum).  I had to order a quantity of my own book costing several hundred euro upfront as the distribution channels made available by the publisher (CreateSpace) were either not the right ones for the Irish bookseller or were not available yet (haven’t figured out which yet). Ordering your own book is similar to the partnership publishing offered by some small presses where they ask you to invest in a certain number of copies of your own book. The number can be quite reasonable and enables the small press to get your book out and use their contacts to promote and review it, or in the worst cases the upfront payment you make is money for nothing. The publishers are offering nothing more than what you could do yourself for less. (There are ways in Ireland for the self-publisher to access distribution networks and book chains and I’ll outline those in another post. )

In my case I used CreateSpace, an Amazon venture, to create my paperback. This simple process which I will describe in another post, enabled me to upload a cover file (I had engaged a designer who provided me with the files), to upload my interior file, to review online and physically by ordering proof copies and to have my paperback available on the most commonly used online bookstore and other associates.

But why did I bother to go through the additional work in producing a paperback? Why did I publish both an ebook and paperback?

It wasn’t that much extra work

In terms of the quality and production of the book, much of it was done already. The cover design and editing had been paid for. In terms of proof reading, having a physical copy actually enabled me to find outstanding mistakes and update the electronic versions as well. There was an additional cost in ordering proofs but as I’ve said, it was worth it. Much of the promotion work, posts, adding author details was also duplicate from the electronic version.

I was born in the old days and so were my friends

I’m open to what is to come in the future of books and electronic media. I found this article on bendy e-paper fascinating. However books as physical artifacts are intrinsic to my history as a reader and a writer, I still love having the physical book in front of me and it goes so far that if I happen to read a book in electronic format on my Kindle that I really admire I will go out and buy a physical copy. For many of my contemporaries and friends, many of whom are not regularly on the internet, a book is a 3 dimensional thing. When they see that I have a real-life book on offer, they are more likely to buy it or read it and even those I know electronically only have voiced a preference to read my upcoming work in book format. Of course I’m not just selling to friends but what is true for a proportion of them must still be true for a proportion of the reading public as a whole, particularly the age range I’m aiming at with Housewife with a Half-Life. On a personal note I was absolutely thrilled when my CreateSpace paperback order arrived unexpectedly yesterday almost two weeks ahead of schedule. Look at the picture. Do I look happy?

A paperback has given me greater kudos and opened up further publicity avenues.

I am so grateful to Hughes and Hughes bookstore in Dundrum for offering to launch my book as a local author. They are working very hard in drumming up publicity for the launch event which will take place on 22nd June in Dundrum shopping centre, Dublin and having a third party working on my behalf lends my novel credentials and helps to make it a viable project. We hope to get newspaper and radio interest too and in general get the book talked about in the public eye which is so important. I will also launch the paperback online (having already launched the ebook). This lets me contact Goodreads readers and organise an extended book tour. All these activities add to the visibility of the book. I can also try further techniques such as book tweeting services and advertising to raise the profile of Housewife with a Half-Life.

I am not saying that any of this will make me a bestseller but having a paperback as well as an ebook a) gives my heart and soul a satisfaction that personally I would not have had with just the ebook version b) makes marketing, PR and selling sense. What about you? Have you chosen against a paperback option for whatever reason and why does that make sense for you? As  a reader do you think it makes any difference what format the book comes in? Let me know what you think.