Tuesday, 27 August 2013

The Writer's Pains

Image by Paul G Neale, artist
by JJ Marsh

My arm hurts.

Between the fingers, across the wrist, up my forearm and elbow, and into my shoulder and neck. The first signs of RSI (Repetitive Strain Injury) and a major wake-up call. All those little micro movements on the keyboard, mouse clicks and scribbling by hand have added up to a massive great impediment to a writer.

The effect makes other activities painful. For the first time, I’m grateful that my left-hand drive car is an automatic.

RSI is not the only occupational hazard for your average wordsmith. 
Matt Haig, in 10 Reasons Not To Be A Writer

They have bad backs. Maybe not the debut writers, but by the time of their third or fourth novel, they can hardly walk. This is why Margaret Atwood has to be winched everywhere with the aid of a helicopter. It is why Salman Rushdie is eight inches shorter than he used to be. It is why Julian Barnes always clenches his jaw.
I’m not alone in facing physical aches and pains, (check out Jane Friedman’s great post on back problems) so I asked others about the challenges of writerly pain and how they dealt with them.

Swiss ball

Joanna Penn, www.TheCreativePenn.com
I had increasingly bad back pain for around 9 months in 2012, to the point of waking me at night and I often slept on the couch with extra back support. I had a lot of tests but the doctors couldn't find anything wrong. The physio suggested sitting at my desk on a Swiss ball in order to foster micro-movements. I was only able to sit on it for an hour at first, alternating with my office chair, but within 6 weeks, the pain was practically gone and I always use a Swiss ball at my desk. I find myself bouncing on it sometimes as well as rocking around, plus I can just roll it sideways and lie backwards for a stretch while I'm thinking. It's a cheap and easy solution to the writer's bad back - perhaps not for everyone, but well worth trying!

Room, room, if, if, if, if

Iida Ruishalme – writer from Finland – who suffers from hyper-mobility

I had RSI when I was 15 years old from writing stories by hand. When I got older, I worked in a lab, using microscopes and computers, and the pain came back. So I experimented with speech recognition software for my writing. Both Mac and Windows have inbuilt voice to text systems, which are worth trying, but now I use Dragon software to write my first drafts, emails and so on. It took a while to get used to the commands and learn how to pronounce certain words in English, but now it’s second nature. One thing freaked me out at first – sometimes when I paused to think about what to say next, the computer typed room, room, if, if, if, if. Finally I realised my hypersensitive microphone was picking up the sound of cars passing my window.


Roz Morris – http://rozmorris.wordpress.com/

I'm rather well acquainted with RSI. I crippled myself at the start of the 1990s, doing typesetting and layout on computers. I developed a gnawing ache in my arms and hands that was impossible to escape – even when not at work. Acupuncture erased it – but only lasted a couple of hours and cost an arm and a leg. Since then I've relied on ergonomics.

I learned to touch-type, which keeps the hand in an efficient position. I banished the back and shoulder pain by switching to a kneeling stool, which you can adjust so your hands fall into a natural position. Building the muscles in the back and upper body makes a difference - one theory is that RSI can be caused by wasted muscles pressing on nerves. If you can't abide weight training, swimming is good. Wrist rests didn't make any difference except to press on already sensitive nerves, but an ergonomic keyboard worked miracles. I found the curved ones weren't much help, but I discovered a hinged keyboard made by Goldtouch, which you fit to your shape. If you're having a painful day, you can adjust your typing position by changing the angle in the keyboard. 
Standard mice are agony for me, as are those little laptop tracker pads. The 3M joystick mouse has made life a lot more comfortable. I still get breakthrough pain, so I use books to jack my monitor up to a different height. If none of that works, I go to the bad side. I have a notebook computer which is ergonomically awful, but a few days typing in that position gives me enough of a rest to return to the proper set-up. 
Oh, and screen breaks are supposed to be important but I always forget to take them. Guess I could be more comfortable still ...

Making the Break

Ben Myers – author of Richard & Pig Iron – http://www.benmyers.com/

Ernest Hemingway famously wrote standing up, on a Royal portable typewriter. So, it seems, did Charles Dickens, Lewis Carroll, Virginia Woolf and now Philip Roth, who suffers from arthritis in one shoulder. Victor Hugo meanwhile wrote in the nude, Edmond Rostand, author of Cyrano de Bergerac, wrote in the bath to avoid interruption and Marcel Proust and Mark Twain both wrote in bed (though not together).

Personally, I’m still suffering, so painkillers, massages and many breaks are the best I can come up with ...

Libby O ­– Narrative Ninja from Australia ­– http://rowinggirl.com/

There’s no quick fix. I’m doing physio and limiting my screen time. I also use a software program which enforces breaks – see five free alternatives here. The screen fades and shows a picture of someone meditating. Drives me mad, but seems to be working.

So, whether you use balls, dragons or adjustable mice, there are remedies. But damage takes time to repair. Prevention is better than cure. Take your breaks, move your muscles and above all, protect the instrument.

That’ll be you.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Founded by a small group of traditionally published writers from Prospera, Penguin, Random House, Harper Collins and Hodder, Notting Hill press is a dynamic imprint representing professional writers in the UK and US. 
They agreed to answer a few questions from one collective to another.

What brought you together?

Talli and Michele have known each other for a few years, and met Belinda when she put together her Sunlounger summer anthology. When Belinda mentioned that she wanted to start independently publishing her books in the US, the time seemed right to combine our resources.

Most of you have previously been traditionally published. So what were the factors that triggered the decision to go indie?

Michele began independently publishing in the US where she didn’t have a publishing deal. It seemed to make sense for her debut, Single in the City, which was about an American woman who moves to London. That book was successful in the US so when it came time to publish the sequel, she and her agent decided to publish that independently too.

Specifically with the Sunlounger summer anthology (which was very much inspired by Michele's community spirit) Belinda felt that it was the only way to go. There was a size factor - the collection runs well over 200,000 words, which would make for a hefty doorstop of a paperback - but more significantly our independent status is what freed so many authors (44 in total) to contribute with their publisher's blessing. (No rivalry between houses, just benefit for all!) In fact Belinda’s traditional publisher, Hodder, even put her next novel (The Travelling Tea Shop) on hold to accommodate this project, so the two modes really can work in harmony. (And as we type, Sunlounger is #19 in the Amazon Kindle Chart, which is thrilling for us all.) 

And Talli decided to self-publish after having two novels traditionally published by a small press. With 99 per cent of her sales in e-books due to limited print distribution, she figured it made sense to pay a one-off fee to a professional cover design and editor, and keep the remaining profit for herself.
Like Triskele, you each retain the rights to your own books, pay the costs of publication and receive the full royalties. What elements are done collectively?

The main benefit of being part of Notting Hill Press is the sharing of expertise. For example, one of the authors has an excellent paperback printer in the UK that some of us have looked into. Others are experienced publicists, so have been able to write the PR for our launch. Then there are the million little details around marketing and promotion where we share our knowledge. If something has or hasn’t worked for one author, the rest of us learn from that. 

What do you see as the key benefits of being in a collective?

It’s definitely in the sharing of expertise and resources.

Do you share a designer? Do you try and go for a shared look and feel?

We don’t share a single designer, or try for a consistent look, but some of the authors use the same designer. Because they’re vetted by people we trust (each other), it saves a lot of time and energy to use them. The same is true for our copy editors, content editors and formatters.

You say you consider yourselves hybrid authors. Is this a matter of chronology, or do you have other books you are choosing to publish traditionally? If so, what drives the different choices?

We have other books that we choose to publish traditionally. Michele, for instance, will put a manuscript out to UK publishers within a month but will publish her Christmas novella independently. Talli has just signed with Amazon for her most recent book, The Pollyanna Plan, and her upcoming manuscript. There are other deals in the pipeline between some of the other authors and traditional publishers. And some of our authors, like Lucy Robinson, doesn’t consider herself a hybrid; she just publishes her books in the US independently.

Each of us makes our own decision about publishing independently versus traditionally, and in which geographies. That’s based on many factors including our relationships with our traditional publishers and whether we think a book will be well-suited to their business model. For instance, some books may be considered too niche for a traditional publisher, who might want to appeal to the widest possible audience. In that case, independent publishing makes more sense.

The publication schedules of traditional publishers also means that it might make sense to independently publish, as is the case with Michele’s Christmas novella (which she’s writing now for publication in October – a traditional publisher would struggle with such a short publication timeline). 

According to Jonny Geller of Curtis Brown, commercial women’s fiction, or chick-lit,  is having a tough time of it. Given your USP, would you say that’s true?

Definitely not. We’re all best-sellers and see no signs that our readership is tiring of the genre.

How do you know if a writer will ‘fit’ NHP? What factors do you consider?

Two things are critical. We have to love their writing and want to work with them. This means someone who is cooperative, supportive and happy to pitch in. After all, it’s a collective, so it’s only as strong as its members.
And of course their books have to be chick lit/romantic comedy. 

What are your plans for 2014?

We’ll run two big promotions a year, one in summertime and one near the end of the year. We’re not open to submissions so may not expand in 2014, and don’t have any plans to expand into other genres. We’ll probably put out a dozen books or more in the year. It’s a fairly new venture so we’re still feeling our way around a bit! 

How do you see the future of publishing generally?

We think more collectives like NHP and Triskele will emerge, and more “traditional” authors will look to publish independently. The trend for self-publishing will continue and lots of new authors will try their luck, but readers are getting tired of poorly designed, edited and written books, and the role of book blogs will become even more important as readers look for recommendations they trust.
The traditional publishers will continue to be the main distributors of paperbacks in the UK and will get increasingly savvy on the eBook front. We already see some nice initiatives around pricing responsiveness from some of the publishers, but still too many high-priced eBooks, especially in the US.

Wednesday, 14 August 2013

Triskele Bookclub THE GOLDEN LYNX by C.P.Lesley

Review and Interview by Liza Perrat


Russia, 1534. Elite clans battle for control of the toddler who will become their first tsar, Ivan the Terrible. Amid the chaos and upheaval, a masked man mysteriously appears night after night to aid the desperate people.

Or is he a man?

Sixteen-year-old Nasan Kolychev is trapped in a loveless marriage. To escape her misery, she dons boys’ clothes and slips away under cover of night to help those in need. She never intends to do more than assist a few souls and give her life purpose. But before long, Nasan finds herself caught up in events that will decide the future of Russia.

And so, a girl who has become the greatest hero of her time must decide whether to save a baby destined to become the greatest villain of his.

Review ...

The Golden Lynx is set in 16th-century Russia, with Nasan, an Islamic Tatar as protagonist. Nasan witnesses the murder of her brother by a Russian, triggering a battle, and the young Tatar princess becomes the peace offering. Nasan is sent by her parents, far away from her homeland, to marry Daniil, who is related to her brother’s killer. Before long, Nasan finds herself caught up in events that will decide the future of Russia.

This was a period of history about which I knew next to nothing, and I enjoyed learning about it through this story, which is always a sign of good historical fiction for me. I loved the author’s excellent descriptions, and her intriguing exploration and contrast of the two cultures.

In her refusal to play the expected role of women in this society, Nasan comes across as strong and independent, even though I would have like to witness just a little more of her nightly escapades. I loved the idea of the Golden Lynx playing “detective” in parallel to Daniil, and, all in all, found this a compelling 16th-century adventure. I look forward to reading more of this author’s work.

Interview with C.P. Lesley ...

As a child, C. P. Lesley thought everyone told themselves stories to help themselves fall asleep. It never occurred to her that anyone would pay her for them, and for a long time, she was right—no one would. But after years of producing horrible prose, reading books about novel writing, and pestering hapless fellow-writers and friends to read her drafts, some of the advice stuck, and she finished The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel, followed by The Golden Lynx. Five Directions Press published both books in 2012. When not thinking up new ways to torture her characters, she edits other people’s manuscripts, reads voraciously, maintains her website, and takes classes in classical ballet.

LP: One of Triskele Books’ hallmarks is a strong sense of location, and this is what first attracted me to The Golden Lynx. In the opening, I truly felt I was tramping around in the snow with Nasan. Is this sense of place, or location, important to you too? 

CP: I think location is an understated but crucial part of the reading experience—especially for historical fiction, since “the past is a foreign country,” to quote David Lowenthal. It’s difficult to become immersed in a world if you have no idea what it looks, sounds, or smells like. There is a balance: as a novelist, it’s important to tie the description to one character’s emotions in the moment, remembering that other characters, or even the same character at a different time, will see the surroundings differently. But when location occupies its proper place in the story, it can capture the reader. I’m delighted to hear that Nasan did that for you.

LP: One of the things I enjoyed about The Golden Lynx was the credible historical detail: language, customs, religion, and social conflicts. I know you are an historian, CP, specializing in 16th-century Russia, but did you have to do any extra research for this novel?

CP: Oh yes, tons. I know a lot about the Russians, but the Mongols and Tatars are much less familiar to me. I love that part: the research into this culture that has turned out to be so much richer and more complex than I imagined. With the Russians, too, I have to read up on battles and military equipment and the like to ensure that what I describe is appropriate for the 1530s. Even simple things like what people ate and drank changed between the beginning of the 16th century and the end.

LP: Tatars are among the cultures I knew nothing about, and it was a delight to read such a well-researched novel that allowed me to peek into their culture, as well as their relationship with the Russians. Why did you choose to write about the Tatars in this era?

CP: This is a classic writers’ story. In brief, I fell into it. When I originally conceived The Golden Lynx (under a different name) years ago, I intended it to kick off a mystery series featuring a husband-and-wife team from the Moscow aristocracy. I set it in 1534, because that was a difficult period in Russian history. In December 1533, Grand Prince Vasily III died and left the throne to his three-year-old son, Ivan (later known as Ivan the Terrible). Child rulers in traditional monarchies almost always give rise to conflict, and this was true during Ivan’s childhood as well.

In that early book, I made my heroine half-Tatar so she would have a reason to be less bland and passive than young women were supposed to be in those days. When, years later, I decided to rewrite the basic idea into The Golden Lynx, I needed a heroine proficient in archery, riding, and swordplay. Only among the Tatar tribes of the steppe could women plausibly develop any of those skills. That was when I began doing research to find out what my decision meant. In fact, I still am. I have Natasha Fijn’s Living with Herds next to me at this moment.

LP: I found one of the strongest parts of the novel was the portrayal of the differences between two very different cultures, including religious differences. Can you tell us briefly about these two cultures, and why you decided to explore these differences?

CP: Russia in the 1530s covered an area less than a quarter of its present size, composed of northern forests, taiga, and tundra. It was brash, vibrant, Orthodox Christian, oligarchic (although it presented itself as an absolute monarchy), agricultural, expansionist, and determined to overcome its isolation from Europe—the result of more than two centuries of Mongol/Tatar rule. It had a fledgling bureaucracy, a large peasant population, and no standing army or schools. Only the bureaucrats and the clergy, for the most part, could read and write—and with parish priests, “literacy” often meant memorization rather than learning. Among the elite, men and women lived segregated lives, with women confined to the house much of the time. Most peasants lived in small villages scattered throughout the forest, farming poor soil under adverse weather conditions and vulnerable to disease, famine, and invasion.

The Tatars occupied a huge arc to Russia’s south, from east of the Volga through what is now western Ukraine. By the 1530s, their glory days as the rulers of western Eurasia were behind them, although they hadn’t realized it yet. Their empire had broken up into separate kingdoms, each of which thought itself the heir to the whole. They are harder to categorize than the Russians because they combined a small, formerly nomadic Mongol elite; sedentary townspeople and farmers who had lived in the area for centuries; and nomadic Turkic tribes. These groups formed at least two connected cultures, both officially Muslim but with fundamentally different orientations. Urban Tatars were culturally sophisticated, cosmopolitan, often literate, polyglot religious moderates who supported the arts and sciences and built schools, universities, and observatories. They lived off the profits of the Silk Road, so they had indoor plumbing, books decorated with Persian miniatures, Chinese-style pottery, and the kind of architecture that survives in the Taj Mahal. Yet their princes fought constantly, and even the most cultured of them were ruthless in battle. Loot and the sale of slaves obtained through military campaigns supported them just as much as trade and tribute. Their khans (male descendants of Genghis) ruled as autocrats with the assistance of the leading clans, but by the 1530s political disintegration led to many assassinations, plots, and coups. They kept their many wives and concubines in harems, although elite women often acquired an education and could exercise considerable power behind the scenes.

The nomadic Tatars, in contrast, lived scattered across the steppe in round felt tents, moving between summer and winter pastures as they had for millennia, supplementing the products of their herds with raids and plunder, and getting together only in response to specific outside threats, the appeal of a khan, or a festival. They regarded townsfolk and settled peoples as prey and clung to their ancient customs while paying lip service to Islam. The exigencies of nomadic life meant that women had to ride, defend themselves, and care for families under harsh conditions. Although subordinate to men, women played an important role in steppe life. Their connections with the hearth fire, birth, and the ancestral grandmother spirits who protected each clan gave women exceptional shamanic power—or so people believed.

As to what attracted me to the subject, Russian history has fascinated me since college. I find the Tatars, if anything, even more interesting because of the complexity of their culture. It seems a shame to me that so many Westerners know so little about this part of history. And although I didn’t set out to explore cultural differences—as I mentioned, I had practical reasons for making Nasan a Tatar—once I started, I found these differences a rich source of characterization and conflict.

LP: Apart from your other novel, The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel, I believe you have sequels planned for The Golden Lynx. Can we have a few teasers, please?

CP: I am currently working on The Winged Horse (Legends of the Five Directions 2: East). It follows Nasan’s older brother, Ogodai, as he travels to a nomadic horde in the southeastern steppe to marry a girl he hasn’t seen in six years and discovers another candidate muscling in on both the horde and the girl. In the subplot, Nasan and her husband visit the Tatar stronghold of Kazan on Russian government business, where they uncover some of the political machinations mentioned above. The idea is to contrast the different types of Tatar culture—urban and steppe—so that people get over the idea that all Tatars are the same.
The series will include three more books: The Swan Princess (north), The Vermilion Bird (south), and The Shattered Drum (center). At the moment, I have only general ideas as to what will happen in them, but Swan Princess reintroduces a couple of past villains while Daniil is fighting for his life (literally) against the Lithuanians, forcing Nasan to revive the Golden Lynx. So she will have more night-time adventures—to the great distress of her mother-in-law. Vermilion Bird is Maria’s story, and Shattered Drum is Grusha’s; I can’t tell you more than that, because it would give away too many spoilers.

LP: You belong to the author collective Five Directions Press. Was that a conscious decision on your part, to publish independently? Or would you have preferred a traditional publishing deal?

CP: In the end, it was a conscious decision, but I did pursue a traditional publishing contract first. At the time, I assumed that was the only path to publication. I also worried in the beginning that my books were not good enough, and I didn’t want to rush them into print. When I reached the point where several agents liked my work but said they didn’t know editors who would buy it, I decided the problem was marketing, not quality. By then, my writers’ group had made the decision to go ahead with Five Directions Press, so I pulled The Golden Lynx from the one agent who was still considering it to maximize the collective’s chances of success.
LP: Since this interview, Triskele Books has had the pleasure of interviewing all the members of Five Directions Press, in the first of our series on The Author Collective. Read our "blogversation" here.

LP: Thanks so much for answering my questions, CP, and best of luck with the sequels to The Golden Lynx.

CP: I had a great time answering your questions. Thank you for giving me this opportunity.


The Golden Lynx Retailers:
Amazon.com- Print $16.99 or Kindle $5.99
Barnes and Noble- Print- $16.99 or Nook $5.99
Apple iTunes- $5.99
and as a special order by bookstores

Friday, 9 August 2013

Collection of Self Publishing Tips for Writers

It’s fair to say that everyone at Triskele Books has learned a lot and gained bucketfuls of experience over the past eighteen months or so. But you can never know too much about the dos and don’ts and rules and regulations of indie-publishing.

We have put together a User’s Guide of Tips from some of the most established voices in the industry, and added into the mix one or two sage words of advice we’ve learned ourselves.

Writing a book is no mean feat. But publishing it yourself is another story. If something you read here helps you along the way, our job is done!


1) Build a Rapport

“Get your name and brand out ‘there’ now by reaching out to bloggers and writers who share your genre, and build a rapport. Support others’ books and writing and they just might do the same for you.” (30daybooks.com)

2) Take Creative Risks

“There is one other factor that doesn’t get discussed as much, but in my mind is just as important: The freedom to bend and blend genres, invent new forms, and take creative risks.” (A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing)

3) Website savvy

“Ensure you have at least a professional looking website and an email sign up list so that you can direct people from your book back to this site, and start building the list for the next one so you’re in a more confident position next time around.” (Joanna Penn - How to Market A Book.)

4) Social savvy

“Social media plays a huge role in building an author’s platform, marketing, and author branding. One of our favorite social media platforms is Twitter.” (BiblioCrunch)

5) Focus on the Basics

“A well-written story, a smart cover, a proper edit, clean formatting, and an enticing blurb. You only have to do that stuff once, and then you can get back to working on the next book.” (David Gaughran)

6) Passion, Persistence, and Pluck

“The playing field is leveling—Net neutrality ensures the internet stays equally available to all. As far as online business is concerned, each book competes on its own. In this environment it’s your passion, persistence and pluck that will sell your book, and that’s within your power.” (The Book Designer)

7) Write Well, Publish Regularly

“You don’t have to chase the hottest genre or write for mass appeal to make a living as an indie author; you do have to write well enough to appeal to the people who enjoy your niche, and you do have to publish regularly to keep your name out there, especially when you’re first building up your fan base.” (Lindsey Buroker)

8) It’s All About Connecting

“But what I learned is that the best way for me to look at my writing career is to remember why I write. It’s to reach readers, to touch their hearts, maybe even change their lives (for the better).” (Live. Write. Thrive)

9) Quality Books Take Quality Time

“If you don’t pay attention to the quality control of your work, you’ll kill your writing career before it even starts. Readers are not stupid. They may be downloading 99¢ e-books like crazy right now. But they’re already starting to figure out that something’s not right. Many of these books are poorly written and desperately need editing. (Rachelle Gardner)

10) The Big IF

“[It's the] movement that says we CAN publish well all by ourselves—if we embrace the right tools, take the time to develop our craft, find the right team members, educate ourselves, and are willing to step out of our comfort zones for the sake of our book’s success.” (Wise Ink)

11) Make Sure Your Book is Amazing

“Professionally edited with a professional cover design. Spend money on this because all the marketing in the world won’t sell a crappy book.” (Joanna Penn - How To Market A Book.)


…. from Triskele member, Liza Perrat

Support other indie authors: connecting with, supporting and promoting other indie authors whose work I respect is vital. And it works both ways.

Join Goodreads: participate in groups relevant to your books, to connect with like-minded readers, and thus target readership for your books.

Host giveaways: on your own blog or website, or those with a large following, to help spread the word about your books, and gain exposure.

…. from Triskele member, JJ Marsh

Use your environment: Be a local author and visit book clubs, do signings, promote via local media. And if the book is set somewhere different, play up that feature, approach Russian/Japanese/German book bloggers and focus on the setting. If your book fits in a genre, there’ll be aficionados somewhere who want to read it - use online connections. Just remember to give more than take.

Be discoverable: Find yourself platforms which do not promote your work, but establish you as a writer to trust - through journalism, blogging, guest posting. Ensure those curious enough to click on your bio will be directed to your body of work, which has easily clickable links. Make yourself easy to find.

Keep reading: All the blog posts, articles, comments, Tweets, status updates, co-promotions and press releases add up to a lot of content, not mention working on the next book/short story. All output and no input makes Jill a dull girl. Switch off, unplug and just read, at least once a week. Call it topping up your reservoir.

…. from Triskele member, Catriona Troth

An extract from my rejection letter to a mainstream publisher

'Maybe I’m shooting myself in the foot. Maybe I’m cutting myself off from a level of marketing and distribution I can’t hope to emulate as an indie author. Maybe. But I will choose when I publish my book. I will decide what it’s called and what is on the cover. I will determine how long it remains on sale to readers. I won’t have the help and advice of a traditional literary editor, but neither will my ideas be overruled by some anonymous marketing professional from a supermarket chain.'

For me, one of the real visionaries in the world of Self Publishing is Polly Courtney who turned her back on her golden ticket dream with a big traditional publishers to go the indie route. I always remember her words because for me too control is vital: ‘The main benefit for me is the ability to fulfil the vision you have for a book, from how it's worded right through to how it's sold and promoted. You can make things happen – and not just via traditional means. I've had the chance to experiment, testing cover designs on a pool of collaborators, opening up my first draft to self-selected 'editors' from social media and making a film-style trailer for the book. I'll also be able to play with the ebook pricing when it comes out.’

…. from Triskele member, Gillian Hamer

Be as professional as you possibly can in every aspect of your book. Do what you do well (ie the writing bit) and leave everything else – as much as your budget will allow – to the professionals.

Join a critique group – either virtual or real life. Make sure at least a half dozen pair of eyes if possible have read and discussed your novel before you type The End.

Invest in a proof reader you can work with and trust, try to build up a relationship with an editor, so they understand you and your writing style.

.... from Triskele member, JD Smith

When looking for a professional to help you, whether it's copy editing, proofreading, formatting or cover designing, make sure you ask for recommendations. Never use someone you don't trust or you haven't had referred to you by a satisfied customer. Look at their portfolio and ensure that they are the best person for your needs.

Expensive doesn't always mean the best. Good cover design and formatting doesn't cost the earth. It's worth budgeting for it because in the long run it can save you lots of time and frustration that could be spent marketing your book or writing the next one.

Never let the world of writing get you down. Set yourself small, manageable deadlines. Remember that you are meant to be writing because you enjoy it, not because you have to do it.

Thanks to http://www.darlawrites.com/ for triggering this idea. Check out Darla's site for many more insights and inspirations.