The Writing Sparrow Episode 4: A Chat About Formatting, Book Trailers, and Book Covers with Becky Wright

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Transcript:

Sarina Langer  00:08

Hello, and welcome to the Writing Sparrow podcast. I’m Sarina Langer, and this podcast is all about writing, publishing and marketing your book. You can find transcripts on my website at sarinalanger.com. Let’s get started!

Welcome back, friends and Sparrows, to episode number four. It is the 28th of September 2020, and today I have Becky Wright with me on zoom. Apart from being an indie author herself, she also runs a full time business, Platform House Publishing with her husband. And that’s what we’ll be talking about today. The services they offer include formatting, book trailers, and book covers. And I have worked with them myself on several projects. Well, first of all, welcome to my podcast. You’re the first person I’ve interviewed for it. I’ve done one interview before but for someone else’s podcast. But it’s a lot more weird when it’s my own.

Becky  01:15

Yes, yeah, you’re in control. So it’s fine. You’re in control.

Sarina Langer  01:25

I am, I am very in control. I’ve done the first episodes just with myself. And that was incredibly weird and awkward. So it’s actually a lot easier doing an interview because I can see you. Of course the listeners, they can’t see anything. But I could see you while we were doing the interview.

Becky  01:43

Yeah, you’re not getting crazy. You’re not talking to yourself,

Sarina Langer  01:45

thank God. It’s been a worry for many years. This is very different. And I mean, your business, as you’ve just said to me, before we started recording it, you’ve been really busy. I’m really chuffed for you. Because what you do is normally so good. So you’ve done a few things for me. You’ve done trailers, you’ve done a cover for a short story, and now you’re doing another few covers for the podcasts. And you’ve been formatting for me? Yes, now we’re doing this as well. So I know how good you are. And I know how fast your turnaround is as well.

Becky  02:21

We do really try to be really quick. We try to be realistic, because most people want things done yesterday.

Sarina Langer  02:29

Oh, yeah, I know that.

Becky  02:31

Because that’s the thing with writers, you know yourself. We’re all… we’re all involved in the actual writing process. We think, Oh, I need to get this sorted. When do I need it? Well, I needed it yesterday. But I suppose I better talk to someone about getting it done. And then we do have a little bit of a time… a time issue cuz my husband works full time. Yeah, so yeah. So because he deals with all the the trailers and the book covers and  the digital aspect. And he’s in charge of that. So on his days off… well he doesn’t get a day off. His days off, he’s working for me. So whenever he actually gets a day off–

Sarina Langer  03:10

It’s got to be so hard for him as well, because I’ve– The first episode I recorded for this, apart from my introduction, was about burnout and how important it is to look after yourself and to take time off. I trust he still gets some time for himself even–

Becky  03:25

Yeah yeah. Well he went fishing last night, so I was quite happy

Sarina Langer  03:30

Night fishing. That sounds so relaxing.

Becky  03:34

Yeah. He loves fishing. Fishing is his go-to sort of chill-out time. Doesn’t have to think, doesn’t have to talk to anybody, doesn’t have to talk to me.

Sarina Langer  03:52

I can’t really see you being very demanding. But of course with this job, because there are so many things happening all the time and all at once, I mean your to-do list must just completely blow mine out of the water.

Becky  04:03

I work with my diary, my diary is attached to my palm most of the day. It sat on my desk and it doesn’t move and it’s, it’s constantly open and I’m constantly updating because I have a brain like a sieve. Yeah, I think it’s, it’s, it’s that writer’s brain because we’re all… it’s marshmallow most of the time. You’re so consumed by words and plots and characters who decide to do their own thing.

Sarina Langer  04:33

Weirdly enough in this lockdown, everyone’s been talking about how at first they didn’t really do any writing. And then they just kind of got into a new routine and they ended up writing and plotting and world building and all that and I just burned out really bad.

Becky  04:50

I didn’t do anything. No, I’m with you on that reading. My reading has had to take a backstep. I’ve had to prioritise because everybody decided, right, wait, I’ve got all this time on my hands. I’m gonna write. So now I need formatting on book covers, and we’ve been so busy because of that.

Sarina Langer  05:12

But I’m so chuffed for you because of course you just set up the business. I think it was only last year and it’s just completely blown up, so that’s credit to you and your husband for how good you are.

Becky  05:25

Thank you. It’s wonderful to hear. I mean, we get some fantastic words of reviews. And everyone’s saying, oh, my goodness, that’s amazing, I never never imagined that’s what it was going to look like. Because most people have an idea. We all have an idea in our head, yes. But when it’s actually visual, and you can actually see, especially with the trailers, the trailers are… they are the thing.

Sarina Langer  05:47

When I first asked you to do a trailer for me, to me, it felt like the hugest thing I’ve ever done. Definitely, because normally, when you think of a trailer, like something that you might see on TV, or maybe in the cinema, so for little me, with five books published and a box set, to have a trailer for my book was something so bizarre.

Becky  06:10

I know. And we really try to… I mean, we did a lot of extensive research into the market and what was available out there. And if you’re a big publishing house, with, with massive funds behind you, it’s okay, you can have these beautiful, beautiful trailers with real actors and, and we thought we can’t do that. But James has fantastic access to videos, and we’ve incorporated a lot of moving aspects to the trailers now. And yesterday… this is actually a sneak peek. No one knows this. My new, my new novella is coming out very soon, and obviously James has decided that we’re going to have this fantastic trailer for it. Okay, well, I’ll leave that to you. And he’s found a voice artist, and  she’s done the read-over the top. So rather than just having music and the words on the screen–

Sarina Langer  07:11

You stepped it up another bit. Yeah, that sounds incredible.

Becky  07:16

It was a little trial thinking Well, okay, how good is it actually going to be and so we sent the blurb and she did it. And the turnaround was like within hours actually. And, and it was so amazing. I literally just cried last night thinking–

Sarina Langer  07:31

Oh, I feel that. When I first heard my narrator start reading Rise of the Sparrows, I just started thinking, Oh, my God, this is… she’s reading my book. And she just read that Cephy is crying, and she’s actually doing some crying noises. And I feel like… I actually feel really bad.

Becky  07:53

It’s amazing how your characters… I mean, in your head and in the readers head, we have our own thoughts of what they sound like, what they feel like to hear, like, even if they were in the room and having a conversation with you. And when an audio artist puts that into reality, and all of a sudden your words that you created. This just… it’s a fantastic feeling.

Sarina Langer  08:15

It’s one of my favourite things for me so far. I mean, I published my first book about four years ago, and there’s been so many highlights, absolutely. Like your book trailer, for example. But hearing a narrator read it and do the accents as well, for me was the first time I’ve thought about… I’ve really thought about the accents. Because as you’ve just said, your character sounds a certain way in your head. Usually it’s just you. And then when you do an audiobook, you have to hand in the list of all the characters, if they have any speech habits, whatever. And I just sat there thinking, well, Kaida should probably sound Japanese, because that’s where she’s from in the book. And to me, she just sounds like a fancier version of myself. Obviously, I’m not Japanese, and I don’t have an accent. So to hear her do that, for me was a bit of ah this is really weird.

Becky  09:09

Yeah, yeah. But also really good. Yeah, fantastic. We’re learning all the time. All of us. We’re all learning. Every time, I know, these little milestones and these little steps we were climbing and it gets a bit bigger and we climb ever more. And it’s like, are we going to do this and, and when we take a step back and actually look at how much you’ve achieved? It’s amazing as an independant author because we don’t have massive publishing houses behind us.

Sarina Langer  09:41

We have to do everything ourselves. Obviously, we can outsource quite a few things. But ultimately, that’s down to us. You know, we don’t have someone who says, By the way, we’ve just started work on your cover. This is the person who’s going to be doing it. You know, we end up doing all the research into that ourselves. We have to find someone ourselves. And then hopefully we get a mock version the cover so we can choose something. And then we’ll take it from there. But, you know, I think quite often when people first decide I’m going to write a book, they don’t necessarily know how much actually goes into this process, because it’s not just sitting there. And the words probably won’t just pour out magically with rainbows and sparkles attached. It is actually really hard.

Becky  10:27

Yeah, I mean, I don’t know about you, Sarina, but when I first decided, oh, I literally woke up one morning, I thought, I’m going to write a book, everyone looked to me and thought, she’s… she’s lost the plot today. I had no aspirations of doing anything with it apart from getting the story on paper.

Sarina Langer  10:47

That’s probably the best way to approach it to be fair, if I end up having no expectations. And then when your first book ultimately, doesn’t do very well, because most of our books don’t, but it’s fine. By the way, you know, don’t go expecting that your first book is going to make you famous overnight. And you know, if you go in with just the expectation of just I’m just going to write a book and see what happens. I think that’s really… that’s a really healthy mindset to have.

Becky  11:14

Yeah. And I think it’s also for personal achievement, knowing that you’ve created the character, that story. And it’s unique to you. And we all know that there’s only certain, certain amount of plots out there, there’s only a certain amount of scenarios. Yeah, but no one’s told that story in your way. So it’s your story.

Sarina Langer  11:34

I’ve recorded exactly something like that yesterday, one of my first episodes is – or was I guess, at the time you’re hearing this – about whether your story is good enough. And that’s one of the things that I said, that you don’t know how much your story is going to grow, or what it might become, your first idea is just that it’s just, it’s just the starting point of something that will blow up into something much larger than what you can perceive right now at the very beginning. It will grow into something so beautiful.

Becky  12:05

Exactly. And it’s also when you first start you do have… I suppose there’s, there’s people have different feelings. Some people like myself, and probably you I’m just going to put this story down on paper and see how I feel about it. And the characters do grow. And I never quite know exactly when I start, I have, I have a general idea of what genre and where I think I’m going. But really is not until the characters pick up the plotline and thinking I will actually, I’m going over here with this

Sarina Langer  12:42

Actually, I may be a little bit drunk right now – not me, the character – cuz so often you just, you just don’t expect at all where they’re going to go. Often I’ve just thought well Rachel, where did that come from? We did not talk about that. I can’t- I don’t remember allowing this

Becky  12:57

Exactly. And I think it is the moments where you, you realise that… I think that you realise that you’re meant to be doing this. If it’s not, if it’s something that comes naturally and the characters then do it themselves, then you are not necessarily in control. So it’s something that’s happening. I think, if you have to put too much structure into it, and you have to plan too much, right, in this chapter this has got to happen, this conversation has got to happen, it’s too regimental, it’s too planned and then it becomes a little bit limited.

Sarina Langer  13:35

I mean, I, I plan and I plot quite a lot, I’m definitely more of a plotter. But I also always think of myself more of a very flexible plotter, so I know where things are going to go. I know roughly what the end is. Sometimes I have a very faint idea, but I would never sit down and, and know exactly what needs to happen in every single chapter and how long they need to be and then stick to that so rigidly that my book suffocates.

Becky  14:04

That’s it. Yeah, yeah. I mean, I think we all need some sort of idea where we’re going Otherwise, we’ll end up in nonsense which goes around the circle and no one’s getting anywhere.

Sarina Langer  14:13

Exactly. And I don’t believe that people who say that they are complete pantsers have no idea whatsoever when they’re going in, because you must have had some kind of idea that made you sit down and decide to write this down.

14:25

That’s it. So you already have something.

Sarina Langer  14:28

Exactly, no, it doesn’t have to be a completely full blown structure that’s really long enough to be its own novella in its own right. But you have something and because of that you probably already have some idea of where it needs to go or where you would like it to go. So that’s… that’s a plot. It doesn’t take long, but that’s a plot, that’s an idea and direction.

Becky  14:50

Yeah, where you’re going and who your character is. I always tend to start with a character. I just listen and know them quite well. They’re thinking, Okay, now what’s happening with you? What you up to here? What’s he going to do. Let’s see where that goes next.

Sarina Langer  15:06

I just throw 100 tarantulas at him. Will he panic? I would, I would probably just have a heart attack and die. It’s fun to do because you know, who knows what they’re scared of until you throw 100 tarantulas at them? Yeah, me too. I should try that. The first question that I’d written down for you was formatting related because for me formatting, and I think for many writers, is the Antichrist. Formatting for me means wanting to throw my laptop out of the window, taking a pillow and screaming into it until I have no voice left. But you enjoy it.

Becky  15:53

I absolutely love it. I think the problem is I am slightly dyslexic. And which is really strange to be a writer. No, I think I’m a storyteller. So as long as I can tell the story, I leave the other aspects in the hands of others like you to deal with the other things. But when it comes to formatting my brain and my eye works on visual. And I like things to look neat and tidy, and uniform. So I think formatting is the way. And when we don’t use… we don’t use templates. And I looked into all of that initially. So I build my own templates. And we do it all in Word. And then I input, I import everything else. And… but I’ve learned, I’ve learned everything the hard way.

Sarina Langer  16:53

I mean, there’s only so much research that you can do before you actually have to start doing it. When I started writing my first book, I thought I knew roughly what I was doing plotwise. But since then, I think for every book that I’ve written, my procedure has changed again and again and again. So you’re just constantly evolving.

Becky  17:12

That’s it, and you just learn, like we’ve, we’ve had the conversation before that you are, we are always learning this, is never a business that you can sit static and thinking, yeah, I know what I’m doing. I’ve got everything figured out, I’ve got this template now. And my next book will be easy but it’s gonna kick you in the butt and it never works. And I think I would like to think that most independent authors out there have the same mindset that they know that this is a learning curve. And the industry’s forever changing, there will always be something new.

Sarina Langer  17:47

I mean, just think back a few years ago, we still had CreateSpace. And now that’s gone. And everything just runs over KDP. And that just yeah, it seemed to happen overnight, but in Amazon’s defence, I think they’ve, you know, they’ve really given us quite a long time to get used to the idea. But it’s just changes like that, that you don’t see coming at the start of the year. I guess.

Becky  18:10

That’s it. Yeah, exactly. 2020 is a fine example of that,

Sarina Langer  18:14

Oh, blimey, I mean, I had so many plans at the start of the year, and none of it has happened or happened in quite the same way. Because I think the whole–

Becky  18:21

Everybody’s in the same boat, and that, that’s the population, we’re all in this together.

Sarina Langer  18:26

And I think as writers, we have this mindset, as you said that we know it’s going to be a learning curve. So when something like this happens, we don’t freeze and we go well, I don’t know how to deal with this. We go on, it’s just another thing that I didn’t plan on.

Becky  18:40

It’s a plot twist. We have to just adapt. Let’s just see how this pans out. How exciting.

Sarina Langer  18:48

Um, yeah, exactly. I mean, yes, I’m so I’m so grateful to you with what you’ve done with my box set. Because Originally, I thought, well, I’ve done the formatting for the other books by myself, I’ll do the box set and the novella too. And then for all my following books, I’ll give them to Becky. And then I sat down and thought, actually, I just I gave it to her

Becky  19:13

Absolute pleasure to know. I get… I feel quite honoured every time someone gives me a piece of work to do. I feel quite honoured to be part of part of the process. Yes, it’s so personal to the writers. And there’s a real element of trust, giving somebody your manuscript and saying, right, now put this into book form. Because obviously, we get it in an A4, full-run on manuscript and then it’s transferred into a book and then you… It’s when you get that proof copy, and yes, my goodness, it actually looks like a book. It doesn’t look like some random files on my screen. Those don’t make any sense to anyone but me. It actually looks like a really big paperback that you might just see walking into Waterstones, for example. I feel quite honoured to be part of part of that for everybody. I mean, it’s like when last night, I was formatting my own book, which is quite strange because I haven’t done that for a while because it’s been a year since Mr Stoker and I came out, or even year and a half. And so when I sat and did that I thought, Oh, it’s my writing on this. What am I going to do with it? Because, like yourself, we get a brief and and, and I give suggestions and things we can do to it. But obviously, depending on the genre, a lot of the time it’s either very decorative, or it’s very plain.

Sarina Langer  20:45

Yeah, it was anything that I hadn’t never considered, before I really started talking to other writers is that different genres, obviously have completely different expectations. So you’d probably format a horror book, for example, completely different to a contemporary.

Becky  21:03

And that will be down to the actual, the actual font that the the main body of the text is in to the font of the title headings, and whether you’re going to have ‘chapter one’ or just ‘one’ or having Roman numerals. Yeah, it literally does depend on the actual genre. So it could be very slick, and very clean, which sometimes you’re thinking of from a formatting point of view, that’s going to be really simple. But it isn’t because you need… because otherwise, it looks, it’ll look really bland, and the most simplest addition, or a font, or the title size, or the position can really make a difference on that.

Sarina Langer  21:42

Yeah, it can really make it blow up in a very, very good way. And just completely change how you look at it. And, yeah, I mean, I always think that the first page is so important, because you might… when you open a book, and you’re instantly in love with the layout, and everything just looks so pretty. You immediately know as a reader that the author has really thought about this.

Becky  22:05

It’s the, yeah, it’s the time taken and the attention to detail. And the love we all put into our our books is not just about the story. I mean, it has to, it has to follow through I think, especially nowadays where most, well, a good percentage of our independent sales come via ebooks. And, and years ago, it was just a case of Well, once it was in that format, it didn’t really matter because you couldn’t do anything with it. It was just a, it’s just an ebook. That right there is the cover. There’s ebook. It’s all about story. But now there’s so many things we can do. And it doesn’t have to be and we can make it match the paperback. So we’re not restricted. I mean, we are restricted on some, some elements don’t translate, don’t convert into ebook very well. So we find ways around it. I’m a great one for finding a solution. If I have a problem, it may take me a few days. And I may email the client back and say, Okay, can you leave it with me a couple of days, I need I need to get to the bottom of this one. So again, it’s going back to that I’m constantly learning I’m learning ways to around situations where in the past we said, Oh, we can’t do that. So I will always do my damnedest.

Sarina Langer  23:27

I know this from personal experience as you do, because when I’ve had books come back to me from me, and I was just something where something wasn’t quite right. And I’ll send it back to you again. And I always feel really bad when I do by the way. She thought she was done and here is something that’s not quite there. And you’re always really fast getting it back to me as well. So I know that as soon as I send my book to you, my worries are over. And I think for me, that’s such a, it’s such a such a breath of relief. Because I know that as soon as it’s in your hands, I can stop worrying.

Becky  24:01

And that’s wonderful to hear. But I also think that’s because I’m an author myself,you know, I understand from everyone’s point of view that this is your book baby. You want it to be perfect, but you also want it now. Because I mean, I am probably the world’s worst. I’m so impatient. And I do have the, erm, James will tell you, it’s like, I want this well, when do you want it? Well, I wanted it last week,

Sarina Langer  24:28

But I hadn’t thought of it in advance.

Becky  24:32

I’m terrible. I mean, if with every every piece of work that’s booked in with us, whether it is formatting, book cover or book trailer or images, anything, everyone gets this form like you know, we have this form and you fill it out so we have as much information as possible and a lot of the time the information may seem irrelevant, and people start filling out like, well, I don’t really know what to put in there. But chances are we will need it because unfortunately like James, especially the trailers and the book covers, he can’t read everybody’s book before he does that book trailer. So it’s getting a real feel for characters, plot scenes, seasons, feel what music, the, the characters like to listen to everything so we can then, you know so we can have a clear vision before he goes into the piece. So going back to me being the world’s worst. Jay says to me, so what do you want for this trailer? Well, I don’t know. Yeah. So. So we’re formatting, I try and get as much possible information from, from you. And then because I am an author myself, it’s very important to get the changes done as quick as possible. Because I know that the process is so intense for publishing, because there’s always something you need to do. There’s always–

Sarina Langer  26:04

There’s always something. I think, which book was it? That was one book that I published, I think last year? Well, for me, probably the first time ever, I was done quite early. And I think I had everything uploaded to Amazon. And I was so nervous because I thought that everything was done and just, I just kept thinking I must have forgotten something. There must be some things that are gonna go wrong in the last second, because there’s no way I’m this prepared.

Becky  26:07

I have a checklist. I have a checklist of everything I need to do

Sarina Langer  26:36

I do. But I don’t question my checklist. And then I’m like, did I forget to put the most important point on there?

Becky  26:42

I have added to it. And it’s like, keywords and categories, and things like that and getting those right. And it’s just it’s the publishing process. It’s so once it’s out there, it’s almost that sigh of relief, isn’t it? Is that release day? And you’re thinking, you have them initial nerves? Oh, my goodness, someone’s going to read my book. And then you’re thinking, ah, okay, well, it’s out there, there’s nothing else I can do for it for the minute. I’ve just got to–

Sarina Langer  27:12

Just get it out there. And you know that, by that point, you couldn’t have done any more to make it the best it can be. So you just need to move on. Because otherwise, you’ll end up just worrying about it constantly, instead of writing the next book.

Becky  27:26

Yes, exactly. And I do know a lot of writers, especially writers on their first debut novels, where they’re, they’ve almost got their date set to release, and they’re still going in and fiddling with it.

Sarina Langer  27:42

I try… I must admit, I have done that. I always try not to do it. But there’s always something that you just suddenly remember last second, we thought– Two weeks ago, someone told me that I missed a comma somewhere, something that your reader won’t even care about, but you care about it. Because you know now that it’s there. And

Becky  27:58

Yeah, but there does have to– There does come a time where you have to put it down and you have to say, Okay, I have, because otherwise you’ll be panicking for that, for that release day. And you’re thinking what? Well, once it’s locked in, you can’t do anything, it’s coming out in two days time and you find–

Sarina Langer  28:15

You’ve done everything you can do. You can’t possibly, can’t possibly do… Why, even more than that, because eventually you have to let it go and move on. I think so many of us tend to, tend towards perfectionism, which is…

Becky  28:30

I think that goes with the word author. To some level I am I am, I am terrible. And it’s relinquishing responsibility. I know a lot of us have that issue. No, I like to format my own book. I will sort this out myself. Sometimes you have to relinquish that and give it to somebody else

Sarina Langer  28:53

I think it’s especially writing the first book. Yeah, it’s always this thing of no, I can do it myself. I don’t need any help. It’s my book. No one else gets this book like I do.

Becky  29:02

I Oh, I so did that. I totally get that.

Sarina Langer  29:05

It’s totally fair. Obviously, we completely understand where they’re coming from. But also, I think it’s, it might be quite difficult to accept at first. But it’s very important to accept that your formatter, for example, and your editor and your cover designer, they’re working with you, they’re not working against you, they what do you want for your book, which is for it to be the best that it can possibly be.

Becky  29:29

That’s it. That’s it. I’m more open now than I used to be with suggestions. So if someone says but you know what, that’s great. But have you thought about this? I’m like, Well, no, brilliant. Let me think about that. 

Sarina Langer  29:43

Because it could be good! And actually, why haven’t I thought of that, that’s genius.

Becky  29:48

It’s not seeing the wood for trees. Sometimes when you’ve looked at something for so long because you created them words, you’re so blinkered by what it contains, that you don’t see the most obvious Ideas sometimes, though, it’s taking somebody else’s viewpoint, which is, you know, the beta readers are so important.

Sarina Langer  30:09

I’ve got a few episodes planned, just dedicated to beta readers alone and critique partners, because they will absolutely save your work and they will be valuable. I don’t think either of us can quite stress just how important these people are.

Becky  30:24

No, no. These things we’ve learned, we’ve learned along the way. Because I think in in the very beginning, and I didn’t fully appreciate just how important that was.

Sarina Langer  30:37

No, I didn’t when I first published Sparrows, I did the bare minimum. And I’m, you know, for me, it’s been such a steep learning curve. But obviously, we’ve all had that I got, I did a proofread. I had that done. And I had beta readers. And that was that that was the extent of what I did, which is why a few years later, I republished it. Because I did, I did it very badly. The first time. And I think I, I got back about 21 pages worth of feedback from my beta readers on that first book, just things to chang and things to take out. And now, erm, Brightened Shadows with my beta readers right now. Hopefully, I’ve got it back, actually, by the time this airs. And so far, all I’ve had, I’ve heard back from about half of them, and I’ve had people saying this should be a movie, I can picture this so well, it should be it should be a movie and I just I loved everything I completely forgot about even taking notes, because I just enjoyed everything. So you know, to go from having 21 pages worth of this is shit and this is terrible and this makes no sense and this was wrong and you spelled that wrong to just getting a completely forgot about even taking notes because it’s so good…

Becky  31:51

That’s it. When you know you’ve done it, but because we’re all learning. The mind in process is learning every, every, every new book, whether it’s the same genre, you’re going, like, I’ve gone slightly off kilter with this latest novella, I won’t divulge too much of that, but I’ve gone slightly off. It’s still Gothic. It’s still horror, but it’s gone slightly in a different direction. But it’s, um, but you’re always learning and you’re always progressing and everything is a little bit slicker. And because you’re learning, you’re thinking, Oh, yeah, that’s gonna, someone’s gonna read that and thinking No, and, and you look at it and think, no, I’m not happy with that line. And you reword it. And,

Sarina Langer  32:31

And then you probably put it back again to how it was to begin with.

Becky  32:37

And the clip, the clip board and thinking, no, okay, maybe I’ll put that one back in. Yeah,

Sarina Langer  32:42

Just, just just to see how it looks, just to see how it reads. And you know, I always think when I, when I read books, in the few moments that I take for myself to just enjoy a book that someone else has written. If you just look at any one sentence, you think you could have taken that word out.

Becky  32:59

Mm hmm.

Sarina Langer  33:00

And maybe he even completely obsessed over that, but the word is still in there. And, you know, it reads perfectly fine.

Becky  33:08

Yeah, yeah.

Sarina Langer  33:10

So it’s probably fine if I don’t obsess over mine, quite to this extent.

Becky  33:15

As a reader, as a reader, I think that when you’re reading a really good book, as in a good story, a lot of the time you’re so – like you’ve just said about your beta readers with this one. As you’re reading, you’re not reading as a writer, you’re reading the story, because you’re so involved, and the characters are taking you with them. And you’re feeling their emotions that a word a lot of the time, all the extra little words, you don’t actually read anyway, because you’re, you’re reading the story, rather than the actual line, aren’t you. As an editor, you read the lines when you’re editing, but when you’re a reader, you are reading the story, and I am just like you on the different– oh like when we said about formatting, when I pick up a book, and I do definitely try not to do it now. But I will look at the layout and thinking, Okay, I quite like that. And it’s terrible, rather than the actual words.

Sarina Langer  34:13

No, do that. I do that quite a lot. And I’ve just now started doing it with movies as well, everyime we’re watching something just casually with popcorn on a Saturday evening, I think, you know, this moment that is called the dark night of the soul and I can tell you exactly what’s coming up next. I mean, he does care and he just wants to enjoy the movie. As we all should.

Becky  34:35

Yeah, me and James do the same. We’re watching, we’re watching… he doesn’t watch horrors. Despite what I write, he doesn’t watch horrors. So to get him to sit down and watch one with me is quite, quite a task and we do it occassionally and I will be like sitting thinking I know what’s going to happen next, and if it doesn’t, well, they really missed a trick there because I’d have written that.

Sarina Langer  35:00

It could have been so good.

Becky  35:03

And he watches, he spent so much of his time watching movie trailers. So I think a lot of, a lot of, a lot of the book trailers that we’re doing now are becoming more and more cinematic. Because he watches… he will sit on YouTube and he will just be scrolling through and watching movie trailers constantly just to get more ideas on the graphics and on the sound. And he’ll say, Did you hear that? And I’m like, What I didn’t hear. He said, the sound effect there. Because he’s, he’s picking out everything. So I think everything’s evolving. But it just goes back to how we’re all learning something all the time.

Sarina Langer  35:39

constantly. But it’s also really exciting. And I think you’re like me, and that is that you don’t mind all the learning you actually quite enjoy it.

Becky  35:46

No, I love the learning. Going to bed at the end and thinking, Oh, well, I achieved something today because I didn’t know how to do that yesterday.

Sarina Langer  35:53

Exactly. I mean, this week for me has been so daunting. And again, awkward. I can’t stress how awkward it’s been for me. But also, I’ve learned so much. And I felt genuinely pleased last night when I left my office and thought, you know what, it’s been really hard. And I’ve spent so much time just feeling so awkward for myself, but I’ve just recorded two podcast episodes.

Becky  36:16

That’s such an achievement.

Sarina Langer  36:17

And I’ve done it and I should be really proud of myself.

Becky  36:20

Very proud.

Sarina Langer  36:21

And we had pizza last night. Thank you. So I think you do need to celebrate your successes no matter how small they are, and no one else will do it for you.

Becky  36:24

Well there you go! No, that’s it. That’s it. And we do, we do need to do that. And we need to congratulate ourselves. And I think as it’s too easy for everybody to put themselves down. Oh I’m not sure if this is good enough. I’m not sure if I’m good enough. Well, you’re not in any competition with anybody else, you’re in competition with yourself. And as long as you think that you are growing. And I think that’s important. And that’s important with the learning that with especially with an indie author, that the process is inside you. And if the second book is better than the first in your own mind. You’re thinking, no, that’s better than that. Then you’ve progressed. And if you’re learning when you’re writing the sentence structure, and you write a paragraph and you’re  thinking, Oh, my goodness, I love that, then you’ve learned something.

Sarina Langer  37:19

Yes. And you should celebrate that because it’s such an achievement.

Becky  37:24

Exactly. We don’t, we don’t get… It’s not like we’re going to university, and we’re getting all these degrees to do what we are doing. Because it’s, because it’s, because it’s creative. And we’re all in different genres. And we’re learning different aspects of it. And we’re growing as we go. So it’s, it’s a completely different, completely different industry. I think now, as well as it’s, it’s changed, the independent authors, it’s such a massive part of book publishing.

Sarina Langer  37:59

Yes, it’s growing so much all the time.

Becky  38:03

Also, it’s, it’s, we can need to congratulate ourselves and feel proud, rather than having this stigma attached to the fact that we’re not traditionally published,

Sarina Langer  38:12

well, which is perfectly fine. And we need to be okay with it. And you know, not everyone ends up being an indie author because we can’t get a publisher. For me, it’s because I don’t want a publisher. I’m such a control freak.

Becky  38:30

I was gonna say exactly the same thing. I need to be in control, and if I were not in control, I don’t think I would enjoy the process and then put pressure and restraints on–

Sarina Langer  38:40

Absolutely. And we already do plenty of that ourselves anyway. And you know what, the idea of someone saying, by the way, this is your cover. And this is what we’re using and me thinking, but I hate it. I don’t think it represents my book. The blurb doesn’t represent my book, it, it’s almost ambiguous, and almost seems to show that it’s a different genre than it actually is. I would hate that so much.

Becky  39:02

That’s it? Yeah. Yeah. And because we, we are creative minds, I think most of us have an idea of what we want the visual aspect of the book to look like, even if we can’t put that in to creative aspects, you know, so we need a cover designer to do it. We all have in our minds, I like our characters, we know what they’re going to look like, we know how they talk in our heads, and we created them. So we know what that book needs to look like, and we have a feel of this is how, this is how I envisioned it. And if it doesn’t, if you’re not in control of that… Now not saying that if a publishing house, a big one decided to approach you and said, right, we’d love your books, and we’re going to– and this is what I can do. Most of us would say, Oh my goodness, yes. Where do we sign?

Sarina Langer  39:51

I think I would say okay, let’s let’s have a tea and we can discuss this.  And you know, I’m very flattered, but also let’s just talk about it. Because it’s still in my book, and I need to have a certain level of control over everything. But also Yeah, sure, let’s, let’s absolutely talk about it. You know, I’m open to the idea. But a lot of it would certainly need to happen on my terms.

Becky  40:12

I mean, I’ve purposely never… I have never gone down the route of traditional publishing. I’ve never approached a publishing house. I’ve never sent a manuscript off. I’ve never done it. And I think most of us have, but I never have. And I think that… and that’s fine by me. And it’s not because… I’m not traditionally published because I was turned down. And because no one’s even had the opportunity to turn me down. And it’s not one of those decisions I made because of fear, or fear of rejection, it was more of a case of… No I’m quite happy to do it how I’m doing it. I’m quite happy to be in control. Yes, I’m not a number one bestseller. No, you can’t buy mainstream in the bookshop, you can’t go into the supermarket and pick it off the shelf. But you know what, that’s fine by me. It’s available on Amazon, you can still click, and you get it delivered. Or you can just download it instantly. Readers are still out there. And it’s still being read, and it’s still being enjoyed. And I think that’s it, and if you can connect to it– It’s like reviews, they are so important to us. But when you get one, and if you’ve really hit home with that one reader, you said, Oh, my goodness, this part in this book, and I absolutely loved it. And I– then that’s, then it makes everything worthwhile.

Sarina Langer  41:46

Absolutely, definitely. Yeah, I mean, I think we’re always told to have an ideal reader mind when we write, someone that we want to write to. But most of us probably don’t actually know this reader, it’s just someone that we’ve created. So then we have this guide when we write, that we have this rough idea of who we might be aiming for. But when you then find a review like that, as you said, it shows you that actually, this person does exist. And they’re loving all the moments that are… that I wrote for them, for this person. They’re all connecting.

Becky  42:19

Yeah. So it’s when they really connect with the characters, and they feel the emotion. I mean, I think a lot of the time I write, I write what I want to read. And so I am the reader. I think a lot of the time, I think, Well, you know, I… No, this is the book, this is, this is, this is my genre. This is the genre I write. This is the genre that I choose to read. If I can pick up a book, this is my favourite genre. So I write that, I don’t think you can work any other way. But I think I am the reader that I am aiming for. And I think, well if I’m there, there has got, there has got to be other readers who want to read it too. And and if people don’t connect with my book…

Sarina Langer  43:06

That’s fine, they’re just not your audience.

Becky  43:09

We all like if– the thing is, if we all liked the same genre, we all liked the same books, we’d all be writing the same books, and there’d be no diversity out there and we’d be bored. Exactly. We would be really bored. They’d be monotonous amounts of the same thing, whether it’s axe murderers, or Gothic horrors, or fantasy with Dragons or romantic fiction. There’d be so much of the one thing because we’d all write the same, so.

Sarina Langer  43:45

Well, let’s get back maybe to talking about your business. What always really impresses me, and we’ve already touched on that a bit earlier, is how much you get done. You’re so incredibly prolific with the business. You’re always working on something.

Becky  44:04

Yeah, I used to procrastinate terribly. I used…

Sarina Langer  44:09

How do you… how do you plan out your day? How… how… how?

Becky  44:16

working around a six year old at home is and obviously been in lockdown was not fun. And home schooling was not great to add into the mix. But I think I don’t sleep very well. And that’s going to be an honest, but and I think that’s simply because my brain is so full of everything I’ve needed to do. So I try and transfer that onto my diary. So every morning I look at my diary, every night before I go to bed. I’ll add anything that I didn’t get done today, ready for tomorrow and prioritise. I try and prioritise. And a lot of the time clients always come first, because everyone’s on a deadline, and I work my deadline… my deadlines around everybody else’s. And this is a lot of the time why we work so far in advance. At the minute we’re only taking bookings for December. I’m booked up until December. But we’re still… we’re already taking bookings for 2021. So I’m already got diary bookings up to spring.

Sarina Langer  45:17

That’s amazing. And it’s very well deserved.

Becky  45:20

Thank you. And it’s simply because our time is so precious. And it’s also… most of us can work in advance, most of us know, Okay, I’m writing this book is nowhere near finished. But I do need to plan the cover. And I even… if I have no clue at all yet what the cover is going to be, I’ll book it in the diary.

Sarina Langer  45:43

Yeah, and I must say, I’m the worst for that. Because as my cover designers will tell you, I book a cover. And then eventually I say, Actually, yes, we can do it now. But just so you know, I’m not going to be ready to finish the cover, because I have no, no idea how thick this book is going to be. I haven’t even finished the first draft. So I don’t know why I thought half a year ago that I should book this. But let’s just say that things came up and I ended up, maybe I ended up editing a different book, or maybe I had something to do there. Maybe I set up a podcast, and I mean, the covers for the Blood Wisp trilogy… I think I got the last one done at the start of last year. I’ve had this covers sitting on my laptop for for over a year, for nearly two years on some of them. And I’m still working on the second draft of the first book. Because this monster has changed so much in ways that I definitely did not predict. And you know, as you know, sometimes it’s just what happens, but I booked these so far in advance. So I think I will be, when I book a cover, I almost need them to say, Are you sure? Are you sure you be ready?

Becky  47:00

Yeah. I mean, we tend to book clients in and it’s never on, it’s never for a week, it will usually be a month, right? Okay, you’re booked in for this month, because we know that everybody has to adapt, and a four week period will give us leeway for anything that’s working over, over its time or over anticipated timelines. Because a lot of the time as we know we do something and you think, yes, that’s what I want. And then you’re like, Well, actually, can we put this on the cover? Or can I change that blurb? So because James is only available for certain amount of hours in the week, I will then say, right, okay, well, we need to do this, but it may be 48 hours time, I may not be able to get it done today. So in a four week period. So if I say someone’s booked in for November, they, they’re booked in for the whole of November, not because it will take the whole of November to do the job. But because then we can shuffle them around, and then I will give myself that flexibility, and I’ll always try and prioritise people depending on their timeline and where they are in their publishing process. And when their, when their release date is. And a lot of the time people will be like, okay, I want to get this out, say November, I’m booked in for October, I may try and get them in for September thinking, You may have been over eager, and it may not be ready. So I’ll always try. And so I juggle, say my calendar, my diary may look quite strict at the beginning of the month, and by the time I get to the end of the month, everybody’s changed position and jobs have been brought forward and put back because I’m working around everybody. So it is a juggling act. And then I have to block out days for myself which feel quite guilty. And I own the early days, timelines and my own deadlines will often put off and put off all the time because I was desperately trying to get clients in before myself, and James said to me Okay, you’re going to have to block out, why don’t you give yourself a whole month and I was Oh no, I can’t do that. I can do, I can do, I do like two or three days at a time maybe a week in a month that hasn’t got a lot on, so when I say that we’re booked up into, we’re not taking bookings until December. We’re not solidly booked up but we are because I’ve got a release coming out. And then James is like well I still do need your cover. I still need to do your trailer. We’ll need to format. And then I still have, erm, and then that gives me enough space and room to put people in on quick notice because a lot of the time we have a lot of I’ve got this right ready to go, can you just change this for me? Okay, that’ll take me a couple of hours but let me. So I need them sort of days where they, they’re that hovers in the in the diary where there’s nothing particularly in but I know I’m going to be busy at the end of the day. Something always comes up.

Sarina Langer  47:25

Something will come up, often last minute.

Becky  50:04

And now I have a podcast cover!

Sarina Langer  50:10

Well, that’s just rude, I don’t know who would do that.

Becky  50:14

Which is why we which is why I allow myself these days knowing that I can always get something in during the course of a week at the drop of a hat a lot of the time, so I will do that.

Sarina Langer  50:26

Well, this has already gone on a lot longer than I promised. And I think this is a really good note to finish on as well that if you… if you can’t be bothered, or you just, just the idea of doing your own formatting is giving you a slight like panic attack and you want to scream into a pillow, book Becky and James, book Platform House Publishing and do it now because they get booked up really quickly.

Becky  50:51

Really quickly. Yes, and we’ll always try and get everybody in. I hate turning clients away. And I, and I don’t turn them away. I’ll always juggle around.

Sarina Langer  51:02

There you go. Book them now and you will definitely get a slot with them and you will be very pleased that you did.

If you enjoyed today’s episode, maybe learn something along the way, hit the subscribe button. You can also connect with me on Twitter @sarina_langer, on Instagram and Facebook @sarinalangerwriter, and of course on my website at sarinalanger.com. Until next time! Bye!

Transcribed by https://otter.ai


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