For Cats’ Eyes Only Author Visit Read and Craft session

The launch of “For Cats’ Eyes Only draws ever nearer and for any libraries in Devon, or beyond for that matter, who would like an author visit, here’s what to expect.

  • Ideal for kids aged 6 – 10 years but with a bit of leeway either side.
  • Suggested max 30 children per session.
  • Olli will talk briefly about how the book came about and answer any questions.
  • Reading passages from the story which is packed with terrible puns, with a fair bit of silliness, and a smattering of fart humour.
  • Everyone (who wants to) gets to make their own personalised secret agent I.D. card which can be disguised as a credit card.
The craft activity
Step 1 : Take pre-printed template.
Step 2 : Fold along the vertical divide
Step 3 : Glue the inside and stick firmly down
Step 4 : You now have the credit card on one side and ID card on the other
Step 5 : Fold in half again, with the credit card facing outside
Do not glue this time. Write your name on the front of the card, and sign the back.
Step 6 : Add your thumb or fingerprint to the ID card. You can stick a passport photograph of yourself, or a picture of an animal in the photo space
Step 7 : For the finishing touch, stick the special holographic sticker on the card, to give it an authentic look.

For a poster to promote this activity right click and “save as”

PDF file (716kb not easily edited) 

Word 2016 DOCX (960kb editable file)

JPG file (5mb editable image)

 

Olli Tooley Author visits

Just a quick blog post to list the dates booked so far for my author visits this summer.

Saturday 15th July 10:00 – 15:00 is the official launch of the Summer Reading Challenge and I will be at Barnstaple library North Devon for that, although I won’t be selling For Cats’ Eyes Only because it is being launched at Ilfracombe library’s event.

Wed 19th July 15:30 – 18:00 is the launch of the Summer Reading Challenge at Ilfracombe Library. I will be there with copies of “For Cats’ Eyes Only” to give to all children who sign up for the challenge. Amii James will be there too, doing a related art/craft activity as well as face painting, balloon animals, and more.

For Cats’ Eyes Only reading and craft session
  • Mon, 24 July 10:30–12:00 Tavistock Library, The Quay, Plymouth Rd, Tavistock PL19 8AB
  • Tue, 25 July 10:30 – 12:00 Ilfracombe Library, The Candar, Ilfracombe EX34 9DS
  • Fri, 28 July 10:30 – 12:00 Dawlish Library, 1 Lawn Hill, Dawlish EX7 9PY
  • Fri, 28 July 14:30 – 16:00 Newton Abbot library, Passmore Edwards centre, Market St, Newton Abbot TQ12 2RJ
  • Tue, 1 August 10:30-12:00 Crediton Library, Belle Parade, Crediton
  • Tue, 1 August 14:30-16:00 Lynton Library, 17 Queen St. Lynton EX35 6AA

Week commencing 7th August, I have to visit beautiful Suffolk. Never one to waste an opportunity…

  • Sat, 12 August 11:00-14:00 Chantry Library Summer Fair T.B.C.
  • Tue, 8 August 14:00-15:30 Gainsborough library, Clapgate Ln. IP3 0RL
  • Wed, 9 August 10:30-12:00 Hadleigh library, 29 High St, IP7 5AG
  • Thu, 10 August 10:30-12:00 Haverhill library Camps Road, CB9 8HB
  • Thu, 10 August 14:00-15:30 Glemsford library, Tye Green, CO10 7RH
  • Fri, 11 August 14:00-15:30 Ipswich County Library, Northgate Street, IP1 3DE

And then back to Devon…

  • Mon, 14 August 10:30 – 12:00 Barnstaple library, Castle Walk, Barnstaple
  • Wed, 16 August 10:30 – 12:00 Combe Martin library
  • Wed, 16 August 14:00 – 15:00 Okehampton Library, 4 North St, Okehampton EX20 1AR
Finishers’ events

I’m thrilled to be able to add, that I am at two finishers’ events.

  • Sat 16 September 10:30-12:00 Ilfracombe Library finishers event
  • Sat 16 September 14:00-15:30 Braunton Library finishers event

 

Learning from mistakes in self-publishing.

Worst self-published print book ever?

The first book I began to write was “Children of the Wise Oak” but that stalled because I decided the original idea was terrible and I didn’t know how to proceed with it. The very first book I finished was a short story called “Time Tunnel to Londinium.”

I had no intention of trying to find a traditional publisher. Not because I didn’t want one, but because I felt that the entire industry is geared up to a “rejection” process rather than a “selection” process. I knew my shallow ego could not face rejection. I also felt that publishers were only interested in books by celebrities. While this may not be strictly true, it was enough to put me off.

But at that time, I came across a company called “Blurb” who are still going. They offer a self-publishing service for any number of books from a single copy to hundreds. They have a variety of options including their own software for creating the book interiors and covers, and a huge range of book sizes and formats. They even offer hardcover options.

What they don’t do, at least not for free, is tell you how to make sure your books looks professional. Nobody does, and boy is it easy to make mistakes. See here for help to avoid some of those mistakes.

  • Book size
  • Paper choice
  • Font
  • Font size
  • Gutters
  • Justifying
  • Line spacing
  • Cover design
  • Blurb
  • Editing
  • ?????

There are so many little things to consider, and if you get any one of them wrong it sends a signal to prospective readers “this is an amateur book”. They might not even know why!

So how bad was my first effort? – Pretty terrible, but don’t take my word for it; I still have plenty of copies left.

Let’s start with the front cover. Well ok, it could have been worse, but I mocked it up using images from the internet without bothering to check if they were available for reuse. (This is a serious mistake and nobody should ever do this, although I fear huge numbers of people do) If you cannot find an image you like which is officially available for commercial reuse and modification then you should not touch it with a barge pole. Take a photograph yourself, get a photographer, or artist, or a professional cover designer to help you. Rather use a WYSIWYG cover designer like on Amazon Kindle than leave yourself open to a copyright suit in the future.

Then there is the size issue. These books were a standard size offered by Blurb, but paperbacks in the USA are a different set of sizes from those in the UK. Almost all my market is the UK so I should have used a standard UK paperback size. That size is 198mm x 129mm (I just typed that from memory and then double checked) (It is actually 7.8 inches by 5 inches but who uses inches these days?)

Let’s just reiterate that
UK standard paperback size for a novel is 198mm x 129mm
If that is the only size you know you will be fine for some time to come.

So what about the interior? How badly did I mess up that can of worms? Well…

Have you spotted it yet?

Comic Sans!

That’s not all, but it is enough. I wanted to make it easy to read for young readers. I personally dislike double story “a” even now. Nobody writes an “a” like it is printed. But that is no excuse for using Comic Sans in any book aimed at children over the age of about five.

Now it turns out I was worrying over nothing much. Most junior school children can comprehend the difference between a double-decker serif “a” and the letter “a” they write with their pen or pencil. It might be an issue for Aspies like me who spent ages fretting about this little detail but not for “normal” children. (there’s a whole world of things you can do to help those with dyslexia, but that’s an article in itself)

I now tend to use Century Schoolbook 12 or 14 point (the larger for younger readers 6-18 smaller for 8-10) and Garamond 11 point for YA.

I also got it printed on white paper because I naively thought that looked more expensive. Alas it also makes it less readable, especially to dyslexics apparently.

Blurb saved me from making some of the other classic mistakes, for example page numbering and titles in headers being incorrectly formatted, not having gutters (the words disappear into the book spine without them) and mirrored margins; but it did allow me to use “left justified” instead of “both justified”. In books you do not want a ragged margin on either side of the page.

So I had one hundred copies of this book printed (the more you print the cheaper it is per book) I sent out copies to people who bought them, but now I refuse to sell any more because I know how awful they are. I keep them as a warning to myself and others of the perils of not doing proper research.

 

Cover art for Women of the Wise Oak – Preliminary Sketch

For me, one of the most exciting things about preparing a new book for publication is the cover art.

With the “Wise Oak” series, that process is deliciously drawn out as Iver Klingenberg sends me the preliminary sketch first, and then usually a work-in-progress close to completion, before I see the final finished painting. Then there is the next step which involves taking the painting to Andy Jones who turns it into a finished cover.

Well, we have reached that very first step and I absolutely LOVE it.

Preliminary Sketch for “Women of the Wise Oak” cover design.

Crowdfunder Launched for Women of the Wise Oak

Here we go; the project is now live.

Already a few pledges coming in, as we expected, from people who have been waiting for this for months.

It would be easy to get complacent at this point but it is a long slog to reach the target.

We had to set the target at £2,400 this time because we need to make sure the book gets separate copy and line edits. The first book was pretty clean, but one or two teeny things snuck through. That’s not the editor’s fault, but mine for not having the budget to do the job properly.