I had already done some research on social networking/online promotion tools before I published Niedermayer & Hart, which is absolutely essential in my view - I am a very great believer in the old adage, "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail!". However, I don't think anything can really get you totally ready for the shock (or joy!) of self-publishing. I started building a website and doing some background research last November but my advice to any aspiring author would be to start as soon as possible - before you've even started writing the novel preferably! Without a doubt get a blog going as soon as you possibly can, it provides a shop window for your efforts as a writer and encourages you to be disciplined about working to deadlines. I write a weekly blog, with an occasional update if I think it's relevant between posts. Be sure to proof-read everything thoroughly - get a wife/husband/friend to help if possible - smelling mistakes (joke) look bad and are so easily made. After many hours of staring at text on a screen or page, a sort of word-blindness overtakes the mind. Independent authors are by no means the only people responsible for typos and errors but I think we become an easy target for the opprobrium of the big publishers when they are too numerous to be chalked-up to natural error.
Anyway, I really wanted to write this blog about all the excellent help I've received. I've already mentioned in earlier posts about the many kind people I've come across through my efforts, via the marvel of the World Wide Web, to launch N & H onto the unsuspecting world. The help and continuing support of some people not only warms my heart but goes on surprising me. However, I am also enormously lucky to enjoy the backing and support of a wonderful family. If it hadn't been for my wife, Judith, my aspirations as a writer would probably have remained sunk like my self-esteem was when a major international publishing house who had shown a lot of positive interest in the book decided against doing it after five months of dangling and hopeful anticipation. Luckily for me too, she is also more accurate when it comes to spelling and punctuation than I am and has made a fantastic editor for my work. In fact, we are mutually beneficial to each other in this area - she edits me and I edit her. I have also recently helped her (using my newly learned skills courtesy of the many Indie authors who generously passed them on to me) to convert her local history book Southborough War Memorial (originally published and printed in 2009) into an e-book. It is a wonderful piece of research which she undertook in her spare moments over seven years. She writes great poetry too and is currently working on a book for children - she has an eclectic, very interesting blog and website http://www.judithjohnson.co.uk and deserves a viewing.
My son Tom has been marvellous too and always willing to help in any way possible. He did the camerawork on Niedermayer & Hart - The Prologue, designed the book's great cover and single handedly made the set, clay figures and did all the animation for the promo A Gripping Tail. He is currently busy on its sequel, delayed at one point by software problems and always under a great deal of pressure from his busy job. He has been fortunate on The Purr-fect Crime (the title of the sequel) to be assisted by his girlfriend Lou. I have seen the rushes without any sound, and all I can say is that the sets and characterisations are fantastic. And I hope to bring news very soon of its publication on You Tube. In the meantime, I'll post up the odd production-still on my Facebook author page. If you enjoyed A Gripping Tail - and I can't honestly think of anyone who didn't, then you will definitely enjoy watching A Purr-fect Crime.
M J Johnson
First name, Martin, middle name, James - but can't say I've ever really used it!.