From 2014 to 2018 I wrote four books, for a series eventually called the New Reform Quartet.
I published the first in the series, New Reform, in August 2019 and I’m now gearing up for the launch of the second book called The ODC (The Online Death Cult) in February 2020.
There were a several reasons for the five-year delay, and I don’t regret the wait now that I’ve seen the distractions there would have been between books.
Holding four books in your head is difficult enough without thinking about cover designs, blogs, marketing and audiobooks. If I had have done them as separate completed projects, there was a danger that I might have literally have lost the plot.
The other useful outcome from waiting is that now I research an aspect of book publishing one at a time. This means that if I have got to grips with Photoshop or Adobe Spark (Facebook banners, etc.), then I can complete all of these in advance. I have all four covers pre-designed, which actually turns to eight if you add on the Audiobooks.
One advantage of Self-Publishing (there’s not many) is that you can think on your feet and change things that aren’t working, or unexpected positive learnings. The first edition of New Reform deliberately had Nazi-themed colourings – red and black. This didn’t sell as quickly as I’d hoped as it narrowed the book’s appeal.
I work in a book shop, which is handy! I checked the fonts and colours of other thriller writers and gave it a teal and orange makeover, and I used more fonts. The other thing that had happened is that I had picked up some positive reviews, so I included these quotes and reworked the blurb.
After this, I picked up a number of female readers, to my surprise, as my initial readership I was aiming for was older males.
This meant I returned to my pre-designed covers for the forthcoming books and changed the fonts and colour schemes to match.
Changing covers is one thing, changing the text is another. Self-publishing is flexible, which means you can even alter the text in your book at any time, even after publication. However, making your own audiobook means the text has to become more or less fixed.
Recording your own audiobook does make the editing much sharper, not just because you are looking to finalise the words, but also because if you are self-narrating, you spot the tongue-twisters and where the dialogue sounds unnatural when it leaves the page.
Like the cover designs being easier to do four at a time (you’ve got to grips with Photoshop at this moment), so the recording of the audiobooks is the same. You have consistency with the equipment, your voice and the mastering process. However skilled or unskilled you believe you are, if you are lucky enough to get listeners, they will appreciate a whole series having the same overall feel.
I didn’t plan it that way, but I’m glad I didn’t write and publish the first book immediately. Even as I was writing Book Four, there were still plot-lines I needed to amend through the previous books.
New Reform is out now on Amazon, Audible and iTunes. The ODC is released in February 2020. Books three and four will be released in August 2020 and February 2021 respectively.
Links will be available on jimlowewriting.com but also, search Amazon for the New Reform Quartet, and they should magically appear.