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  • jonsparks3

A Long Road (Part 2)

Updated: Jul 2, 2023

As I related in Part 1, Three Kinds of North, and the whole Shattered Moon series, have been a long time in the making.

Today I'm focusing on what's happened in the 5+ years since 10/12/17. (12/10/17 if you're American.)

Since then health issues (outlined in the website bio), and a general awareness of mortality, made me think I really ought to give fiction a higher priority before it was too late. The decision to split The Shattered Moon into two books was one part of it. Naturally I gave closest attention to the first book, renamed Three Kinds of North, and began the process of submitting to literary agents in July 2020. I've had some encouraging responses, notably from the renowned Julie Crisp, but no one loved it quite enough to take it on.

Over the years I'd accumulated sketches, fragments, and rough drafts of various other projects too; ones which got past the 'rough' stage include a portal fantasy and a contemporary Young Adult novel. I've also got a couple of 'harder' science fiction books in the pile, and I'm hoping to give one of those another polish, maybe try it with a few agents—but my No. 1 priority is honing Book Two of The Shattered Moon.

I also tried to turn my hand to short stories, all SF or occasionally fantasy. Curiously, though I was comfortable with tight word-limits in my non-fiction career (1800 words for one of my long-term regular outlets), my 'short' stories always tended to spread. I rarely managed anything under 5000 words, which is the upper limit for a lot of markets. Again, I had a fair few 'we like it, but not quite enough' responses, but never got beyond that. A couple of these are now free to read on the website.

In 2022 I decided it was time to self-publish, and if I was going to do it I was going to do it properly. The real push to get Three Kinds of North into shape and into the big wide world has happened in the last few months, but I was gradually gathering information and resources well before then. I attended a few relevant sessions at the Jericho Writers Conference in York in 2019, and have benefited from their tutorials, discussions, and other online resources, ever since. I've also been following David Gaughran and Mark Dawson for some time.

Just to give an idea of what's been involved, here are the websites and apps I've been using to assemble the jigsaw:

Atticus (for book formatting; particularly important if you want to offer a print edition);

Ingram Spark (distribution, both print and digital);

StoryOrigin (where you landed to sign up to this newsletter and collect your free story);

MailerLite (creation and distribution of this newsletter);

Nielsen (to register ISBNs, essential if publishing a print edition);

Wix (creation of the author website);

Facebook/Meta Business Suite (for the FB Page and creating/disseminating ads);

Canva (so far, purely to add text effects to my FB ads).

And finally, BookBrush (handy way to create the 3D image of the book cover on an iPad, and some other cool stuff).

Every one of those required some sort of learning curve, some steeper than others. I had a couple of false starts before I got myself properly sorted with Ingram Spark, and the FB ad creation process is quite involved too. At the other end, Canva is a doddle to use and even the free version has a load of possibilities. I know some authors have used it to create their book covers.

To create the book covers I also used Lightroom and Photoshop, but I was already comfortably familiar with those. The actual writing is done in Pages. You could write directly in Atticus, but I wouldn't recommend it. I also find Word anything but conducive for creative work, but everything gets run through it before uploading to Atticus, just to double-check the formatting is as required.

I'm provisionally booked to give at least one presentation on my self-publishing journey, so I'm making notes and taking screenshots as I go. If anyone else is contemplating a similar endeavour, let me know and I'll see what I can do to help.

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