I want to self-publish but where do I start?

My advice to new authors is to always give the traditional route a chance before turning to self-publishing. However, it’s my feeling that self-publishing may be the only option for many writers. I read an academic paper last year, one of the first to look at authors from a Black, Asian or other minority background. One of my major takeaways was around the barriers that exist for authors from all minorities. There is a practice that exists within most publishing houses called ‘comping’ where submitted books are compared against previously published works to get an idea of how commercially viable they might be. So, what’s the problem?

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What 2022 might have in store…

With a brand New Year having arrived all too quickly, I’ve been thinking about what might be happening in 2022 with regard to my books. I’ve now written twelve Mac Maguire mysteries and the thirteenth is about a third of the way there. This one will be set at Christmas and a Mac Maguire book set during the festive season is something that I’ve been trying to achieve for quite a while. In order to ensure that I succeed this time, I will continue writing this book during the early part of the year and will hopefully have it completed by June or July. If my plan works out then I should have no problem in publishing it in the run-up to next Christmas.

Does that mean that I will only be publishing only one book this year then? No.

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Coming soon – The Blood Moon Murders

Mac Maguire’s twelfth outing – The Blood Moon Murders – is a little different to the others. You might get a clue what this difference is through the dedication – ‘For Halloween, ghost stories and things that go bump in the night.’

I have long been an admirer of M. R. James and his ability to put ghostly goings-on right into the workaday world. I’d guess that it was the title that first gave me the idea that this might be my chance to incorporate a supernatural thread into a murder mystery. That and the fact that the book should be ready to be published around Halloween.

As you can guess from the title the murders take place during an eclipse of the Moon by the Earth. I witnessed a really good one some years ago and the effect of the moon darkening and then glowing red with the light that had made it through the Earth’s atmosphere is a really eerie experience. It was easy to see why ancient peoples saw this as a harbinger of change and even doom.

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‘Spoons’ as a metaphor and why it’s so useful

I’m talking here about Spoon Theory and how it’s become a really useful tool not just for myself but for my whole family.

To quote from Wikipedia –

‘The term spoons was coined by Christine Miserandino in 2003 in her essay “The Spoon Theory.” While out to eat with a friend, Miserandino’s friend began watching her as she took her medication and suddenly asked what it was like to have lupus. Miserandino grabbed spoons from around the diner where they sat and gave her friend the handful of spoons she had gathered. The spoons helped Miserandino to show the way that people with chronic illness often start their days off with limited degrees of energy. The number of spoons her friend had was how much energy she had to spend throughout the day.[1]

As Miserandino’s friend stated the different tasks she completes throughout the day, Miserandino took away a spoon for each activity. She took spoon after spoon until her friend only had one spoon left. Her friend then stated that she was hungry. To which Miserandino replied that eating would use another spoon. If she were to cook, a spoon would be needed for cooking. She would have to select her next move wisely to conserve her energy for the rest of the night.’

So, why has this become so important to us?

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Pain – a fact of life for both Mac Maguire and me

Looking through all my posts, I realised that I’d never written anything about something that looms large in my life every single day and also in that of my fictional alter-ego, Mac Maguire. It can, by itself, decide whether a day is going to be good or bad.

Pain.

So, what brought this up in the first place? I was having an email conversation with one of my readers, who also has pain issues, when I was reminded of a review that someone left for one of my books a few years back. I’m paraphrasing here but it went something like – ‘It’s a good story and we know that the lead character suffers from pain but I don’t know why the author needs to keep mentioning it.’

To explain, Mac Maguire is the main character in my crime series of books. He’s a former police officer and murder specialist who was forced to retire from the force due to damage to his lower spine. This damage led to him having ongoing pain issues, in fact, pain issues very similar to mine! So, why did I saddle poor Mac Maguire with this in the first place? I was working at the BBC when I finally had to admit that I had a disability and it was only then that I began to notice the absolute lack of disabled people on TV and radio. This was also true for books and movies. So, when I began writing (ironically to take my mind off my pain) I wanted to ensure that I did my bit to make disabled characters more visible and that is why Mac Maguire inherited my pain issues.

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If you’re self-publishing then who are your most important readers?

The answer isn’t complicated, it’s those people who you ask to read your book before you publish it. I’ve touched on this subject a few times in my posts so why write about it now?

My latest book, A Concrete Case of Murder, took quite a while to write. Too long for my liking. Writing is never an easy process but, due to a confluence of adverse circumstances, writing became impossible for some months. Since retiring, I have been publishing two books every year, however, A Concrete Case of Murder took over eighteen months to complete. Having a series of ten books already published, most of which were well-received, I found myself getting a little paranoid about this latest one. I think that my paranoia was mostly triggered by an offhand remark someone made which was something to the effect of, ‘If it was hard to write it will probably be hard to read’. It was not a comment I appreciated all that much.

And so, the seeds of doubt were sown. All I could do was carry on writing and then trust to my readers.

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Just published – A Concrete Case of Murder

The eleventh book in the Mac Maguire detective series has just been published. Here’s the official blurb –

‘Mac is just back from holiday and is once again getting bored when he is asked to help out by the local police. It turns out to be one of the strangest thefts that Mac has ever come across – a whole house has gone missing! Evidence is hard to find but, with some creative thinking and the help of his partner, Mac finds himself on the track of a suspected murderer. Despite his best efforts, tragedy strikes, and he is left to wonder if the murderer will ever be brought to justice and whether this might be a case that he will never recover from.’

This book has been a long time coming. Since I retired and started writing full-time, I’ve been averaging two books a year. It’s taken well over a year just to produce this one. I hope that it’s been worth waiting for!

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Tim Teagan, Prostate Cancer and what every man should know

2020 was a horrible year. I know that Covid was a major issue for many people but, surprisingly perhaps, it rated fairly low when it came to my family’s other health issues during that year. One of these issues, and not the greatest, was my Prostate Cancer. I had been diagnosed just the year before when, by luck more than anything, my problems urinating became apparent. I didn’t go to my doctor though as, like most men, I just tried to ignore it. However, I was asked by my neurologist during a routine examination about this and she insisted on reporting it, just in case. While the problem could have been caused by the damage to the nerves in my lower spine (which is also the cause of my chronic pain), my neurologist wanted to rule out Prostate Cancer first. This proved to be a very wise decision and one for which I’m very thankful. Continue reading

Self-publishing – some positives and negatives

KDP logoI started categorising my blog posts when I restyled my website and I was surprised that I had only blogged once about self-publishing. So, here is blog post number two. In talking to other authors, I realised that quite a few of them have only tried the traditional route because they are either still unaware of what self-publishing can do or find the whole process a bit opaque or even scary.

You need to be aware that when I say ‘self-publishing’ I mean Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing or KDP. KDP is basically the only game in town. It will publish your book in virtually every major market but you have to play by their rules. I talk more about this below. So, if you’re having problems with finding a traditional publisher, you should definitely read on. Continue reading

2021: what’s in store for Mac Maguire?

I’m confining my thoughts about the new year ahead to what I’m hoping will be happening with regard to my books. Although I have some thoughts about what I would like to see happen in 2021, I think that I’ll keep them to myself for now. I recently read an article that listed a bunch of people making their predictions at the start of 2020 and, of course, they were all way off the mark. Continue reading