Posts Tagged ‘self publishing’

good reasons for having your book reviewed

May 18, 2011

As part of my marketing plan for my newly published book: Teaching Language Learners, after presenting the book at the IATEFL Conference  (IATEFL = International Association of Teachers of English as a Foreign Language) I asked people that I thought knew something about the subject and who showed interest in the book to write a review for me.

Having someone else comment on your book, even if it is negatively, is much more helpful than I realized. Not only do you have plenty of scope for improving the book, you get advice on how to approach your next project and you are given greater insight into something you may have thought you knew well already. It is a very humbling, educative experience. I found that several people have expressed completely different ideas.

This review was written recently and I have included it to share with you how interesting someone else’s view can be and how new ideas can be generated from their different perspective.

Review of  the book by Rosemary Westwell: ‘Teaching language Learners’ by Jane Hayter (included with permission from Jane Hayter)

Dear Rosemary,

Thank you so much for sending me your book. I don’t think I am at all qualified to review it, but I enjoyed it very much indeed.

I never trained as a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, but I had English up to degree level, but could not take up my place at university. I was given a whole box of text books for the course for TEFL by a friend in France. I spent over six months going through them in great detail before I had French children wanting to learn English. Over six years I taught about 20 from ages 7 – 16.

I have to say that I think your book is so good. It is the first book I have read of an account by the author, an English specialist, learning another language. I have read many books on English Grammar. Pinker’s ‘The Language Instinct’, several of Chomsky’s and others. I have always been very interested in how we learn our own language as very young children but your book goes further by drawing on your persona; experience of how you learn and the methods you used at different stages of your ability. Your book is very clear about these methods and how to make teaching interesting and enjoyable for both teachers and students. I thought the suggested tasks were excellent, as was the general layout. You gave plenty of scope for teachers to come up with examples of their own and perhaps, most importantly, to recognize what is needed at different stages. When I was learning French I never heard spoken English and so was immersed in the sounds of the language — its rhythms and pauses. This helped me a lot when I took lessons from a 75-year-old ex-Grammar teacher who spoke no English. Unlike some books, the author gave great importance to listening before conjugating verbs and dictations etc.

I’m afraid I don’t really have any negative things to say about the book. I thought it was well set out, with excellent content. I wish I had had it when I was in France! I liked very much your pronunciation conundrums. When I had my French students, I made 5 foolscap-size cards of them. They dreaded them and groaned each week. We did 10 old words and 10 new ones each lesson and always 5 sentences for homework along with other stuff!

I hope this has been useful. It is not very academic I afraid – just a personal view. Good luck with this excellent book Rosemary.

Best wishes      Jane Hayter

For further information about the book contact rjwestwell@hotmail.com

Advertisements

The web works!

July 13, 2010

Putting your thesis on the web free to view by all and sundry pays.

I finished my thesis on “The Development of Language Acquisition in a Mature Learner” a couple of years ago. I had kept a diary while I tried to learn Spanish as a beginner. The analysis of the diary was the basis of the thesis. I thought it would be something that a lot of people would be interested in. I made a few attempts to interest publishers in the diary of my learning experiences and the thesis but only received messages that they might be interested and would get back to me. They did not get back to me.

In the meantime, I wrote my own informal description of my language learning experiences in a self-published book: Out of a Learner’s Mouth (available at Burrows in Ely if you are interested).

Then, suddenly, after 2 years, a legitimate publisher approached me by email. They had been scouring the internet for possible theses to publish and had come across mine. They were interested in publishing! I had been told that the thesis was a good one and even though they may have been flattering me, I had worked jolly hard for over 9 years to get it completed. So it seems that getting you work published is more a matter of timing than anything. To my mind, it obviously pays to concentrate on getting you book right rather than getting a publisher interested with an incomplete work. When a publisher is looking for new work  – then and only then, will they show interest. Common sense, I suppose – but then, who has an abundance of that? (obviously not me.)

Go ahead, publish your book, you won’t regret it!

June 21, 2010

If you are thinking of publishing you own book – one that you think you would like to read yourself – go for it I say! It opens up a new world. You might not become a millionaire over night, but the rewards from positive feedback you get are well worth giving it a go.

At first you feel you are out on your own, indulging in a bit of vanity, being a self-indulgent eccentric. Your friends and family show mild kind interest because they know you, not necessarily because they are equally enthused.

Then someone insists on buying the book. It is just what they are looking for they say. Finally, they write to you to say how much they enjoyed it. You are not alone anymore. All your efforts have been worth it. Someone out there thinks the same way as you and really appreciates your efforts.

I received such an email today and I hope the author does not mind my sharing some of her comments. She was writing about “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” (available at Burrows Bookshop in Ely tel: 01353 669 759).

 Her comments: “I can not find the words to describe how I feel about your book, it is the best read I have had in ages. It is such fun, whilst at the same time a lot can be learnt from it.

 I cannot begin to tell you how much I enjoyed it, every word, although I will never get to GCE, C grade! I relate so much to the way in which you, go and have an early coffee! Any excuse to stop studying, we were on parallel lines almost all the way through, even down to reading Joanna Trollops’ A Spanish Lover, except you are two years and ten grades ahead of me! And I have not bought an apartment in Spain.

 I have just returned from a short Spanish course in Palma, Majorca, which was great fun but debatable as to how much Spanish I can speak, I can order a coffee and a glass of red wine so all is not lost! I am going to return next year for an intensive two week course, but in the mean time keep listening to my CDs and re-reading my book, that is when I can get it back from my friends, I should have made them buy their own!

 Thank you so much for writing and having the book published, it is an absolute joy.”

Talking helps when promoting your book

June 16, 2010

Yesterday I gave a talk about my book “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” written as an amusing series of diary entries describing my trials and tribulations of learning Spanish as a mature learner. I gave the talk at the Institute of Education in London – where I completed by PhD. I thought it would be good practice for me, a chance to flog a couple of copies of the book but  little more. However, with Anita Pincas in the chair, her people management skills made it much more than that. She had encouraged a fascinating group of people to attend. I asked them to interrupt if they wished and I am glad that I did for as I chatted my way through a number of these learned people interrupted, supporting my stories with what they knew about how we think and learn from their study and research. I certainly found what they had to say fascinating.

A writer in the Ely area?

May 8, 2010

If you are a writer and you live in the Ely area, you might like to try Burrow’s Bookshop – address: Burrows Bookshop, 9 High Street Passage, Ely, Cambridgeshire CB7 4NB tel: 01353 669 759

They are holding my book at the moment:  “Out of a Learner’s Mouth” – an amusing description of the difficulties of trying to integrate in a different culture in Spain and learn the language.

There is no harm in asking eh?

The sweet smell of success – the book is published and people are buying it!

April 2, 2010

Ah, the sweet smell of success. The book is published and people are buying it! It was worth writing after all and if it brings a smile to the readers or encourages someone to take up learning a language, even in their later years, it has served its purpose.

Success, I hasten to add, is not the NUMBER of people buying the book, it’s the fact that they seem to appreciate the contents. After all, if the number of copies sold is the primary concern, I should have written a steamy sexy large print book about famous people – not my cup of tea.

So far, of course, kind friends have been among the purchasers, but there are others who do not know me, and people who have purchased because of ‘word of mouth’. The international feel is very rewarding too, with orders and positive praise from places as far flung as Australia and Japan.

A tentative press release has been taken up by the Ely Weekly News and this week it is featured in a full sized article with my picture staring back at me. The publication is officially announced! The magazine Cambridgeshire Pride has been making encouraging enquiries and it will probably be included in my old school’s magazine ‘Reflections’. (My old school is St.Michael’s Collegiate School, Hobart Tasmania.) I am hoping Burrows in Ely will take some copies (- watch this space) and you can get a copy at Toppings, Ely.

The most nerve-wracking person I contacted was my ex-tutor for my PhD, Anita Pincas. She really knows her stuff, and I was very nervous awaiting her comments. The book is a light-hearted account of my experiences learning Spanish based on my original diary that was more serious and formed the data for my PhD thesis. My tutor, bless her, passed it to her colleagues at the Institute of Education, London University, who also showed some positive interest -whew. I may be giving a talk on it at the University and I am presenting a workshop at the IATEFL Conference at Harrogate this year (2010).

The book? It is called “Out of a Learner’s Mouth: the trials and tribulations of learning Spanish” and it is a humorous and no holds barred diary of a language learner trying to learn the language in her later years. It is written for similar language learners, people who may want a bit of a laugh before going on holiday to a Spanish-speaking country, teachers who want to gather ideas and share the ups and downs of coping with students, teacher trainers who want to know just how a learner thinks and researchers who can laugh at the difficulties of researching language learning.

It costs £10 (plus £2.75 postage) and is available on eBay or could be purchased by contacting rjwestwell@hotmail.com

Learn from my mistakes when publishing your own book.

March 26, 2010

It is very exciting when your first real book is published and you have a stack of the books in front of you. Now you have time to reflect and you can get down to the publicity.

No one is perfect and the more I try to write, the more I appreciate criticism. I no longer see it as a personal slight, but rather a benefit for someone is taking the time and effort to read what I have written and is trying to help me overcome my mistakes to improve.  In a similar way, while I freely admit I have made mistakes this time, these mistakes are part of the learning process. Hopefully, as I continue my writing career, I will avoid making the same mistakes the next time I publish.

I knew that paying for someone to publish my book would be costly but I thought selling the book would be a doddle – after all I have SO many friends who have been asking about my writing. Then reality strikes.

The cost, for your info on this the 26th March 2010, for my short paperback was about £315 for copy-editing, £210 for the cover design and £400 for the 100 copies I rashly ordered. I estimated the cost would be about £9.23 per book.

Then, I did not take into account the freebies that were expected – 6 books to be sent to the copyright libraries, one to the publisher, the copy-editor, the cover designer, the voluntary publicity  officer, the friends who wanted to read it…. Now I have come to the conclusion that you are very unlikely to cover costs with you first book. However, the NEXT one should be another matter. (I can hear you say “You reckon?”)

Deadlines are another issue. I had created a deadline of about 4 months to have the book copy-edited and published – far too short. I was very lucky to have a copy-editor and publisher who could get the job done in time. Then I let myself down. I was given a first proof copy and being over excited about the whole thing and ever so keen to have the first completed copy in my hand I said everything should be fine, I did not need to read it through again and the books were printed.

The books arrived! How wonderful! How exciting! Then I read through one of the books, and I found, to my horror, there were mistakes, mistakes that had previously been spotted by the copy-editor that I thought I had corrected! I have no idea how it happened – perhaps I thought I had saved my corrections but I hadn’t. I am left with the certainty that next time, I will allow a year for the completion and I will check again and again during the process. However, I know that when I read proper, published books I find mistakes in them too so I hope that my readers will understand.

At the moment there is the problem of publicity. I have emailed my friends and attached the first few pages of the book. They have been very kind and positive. One friend who has just completed an MA in Creative Writing pointed out some errors and clichés. One of the errors he was right about – it was one of those I distinctly remember correcting. Otherwise, I explained that I had deliberately made ‘bad’ choices – like clichés because I wanted to show that I was a cliché kind of person. This is the joy of publishing the book yourself – you can deliberately stray from the narrow path of writing according to a plethora of principles for ‘correct’ writing. Fortunately for me, now, criticism is very welcome and I am determined that next time I will encourage as many different people as possible to read the book before I start the publishing process.

Now comes the embarrassment of trying to sell the idea of the book to possible purchasers. It is difficult trying to talk about your personal ‘baby’ in a way that does not sound like self aggrandisement. I think the best thing would be to get someone else to write your press release and I am very lucky this time for a kind friend has written it for me. Maybe I can use this as a model for the press release for my next book. It reads as follows:

“Lacking foreign language skills didn’t stop Witchford resident Dr
Rosemary Westwell from hopping on an aeroplane, introducing herself to
a stranger in a Spanish pub, and purchasing an apartment with her
credit card.
After realising owning property abroad may require her to have some
local linguistic skills, Rosemary, in her sensational silver years,
decided she was going to master the language – at any cost.
From her experience came Out of a Learner’s Mouth The Trials and
Tribulations of Learning Spanish
her first paperback novel on the
subject.
It is a hilarious account of the real challenges faced by anyone
attempting to negotiate another language – at any age.
Written in diary form, Rosemary documented her experience as part of
her PhD studies at London University.
Rosemary’s determination to acquire a foreign language was partly
driven by her interest in teaching English as a foreign language in the UK.
Despite having five university degrees, and a belief that she could
teach herself anything, Rosemary said learning a second language was a
surprising challenge.
“When I was actually trying to learn this language I was so fickle and
changed so quickly. There were a lot of things I learnt about
myself as a learner and that has helped me teach others,” she said.
“I used to expect far too much from my students in class.
“It certainly changed my attitude to teaching.”
Rosemary will present a seminar at the International Association of
Teachers of English as a Foreign Language conference in Harrogate
April 7 – 11, where she will talk about her experiences and officially
launch the book.
Out of a Learner’s Mouth will be available from April 7
For more information about the book contact Rosemary Westwell on
rjwestwell@hotmail.com”

Now I am proposing to visit relevant bookshops to see if they will stock a copy or two. One local shop has kindly agreed to stock one, (yes, only one) and their reaction was so different to my friends’ – “It won’t sell” was the first reaction. “Why not?” I wanted to ask, for I reckon that it would suit no end of people – learners of Spanish, teachers of a language looking for a light read that gives ideas, people designing courses, anyone thinking of going to a Spanish-speaking country for a holiday, retired people who want to be inspired to learn a new language… no end of people. I try to reassure myself that the Beatles and JK Rowling had similar problems when they started.  I have even put the book on ebay (www.ebay.co.uk) and when I searched for my name (Rosemary Westwell) it came up immediately. I have only just put it on ebay, but you would think that someone at least would have looked at the entry and maybe one or two even bought it – but the list of visitors remains ‘nil’. .

I guess the main thing is to develop a thick skin, believe in what you are doing, accept that everyone is human (including yourself) and get on with it – remaining positive no matter what. After all, as they say, overcoming mistakes can be the making of someone – you agree?

I would be very interested in your comments (and I mean it!)

Writing the blurb on your book is not easy

March 18, 2010

Writing the blurb on your book is not as easy as you might think. What are other people really interested in? – mainly themselves, you might answer. How do you relate the book to other people’s interests? People are so varied; their interests are so different. Perhaps the only solution is to write what you are interested in yourself and hope that others feel the same.

Is it safe for you to write without a copy-editor tidying up your language? Probably not, but they are busy people and sometimes it may be worth the risk…

Here is the blurb for my recent book Out of a Learner’s Mouth. The blurb has been tidied up – perhaps it could serve as a model..? (or not! What do you think?)

Out of a Learner’s Mouth

Picking up a stranger in a pub in Spain and buying a flat from him is an unusual way of starting a new relationship with the country and its language. However, this mature lady casts caution aside and gives the stranger her credit card to pay a deposit for her dream flat by the Mediterranean Sea. When the contract is signed and she first enters the building, she is unable to communicate with the electrician who is still fixing the wiring. She realizes she has to learn Spanish.

In a series of amusing anecdotes she records her feelings about the language and the Spanish way of life. She struggles with new vocabulary and with interference from school French. As her exposure to the language increases, her attitude alters; she makes drastic changes to her approach when teaching English as a Foreign Language to students in the UK.  

She describes the new Spanish words she acquires and shares the trials and tribulations that all language learners have with concentration, memory, personality differences and interfering life events. 

A developing awareness of the benefits of image, humour, other language associations and her past learning and teaching experiences give insight into the nature of the process.        

The book is an essential companion for those contemplating learning Spanish, or planning a holiday in a Spanish-speaking country, and for those in the language learning, researching, teaching and teacher-training businesses.

self-publishing in the Telegraph

February 24, 2010

A friend gave me a cutting from the Telegraph Weekend (Feb 13th, 2010) about self-publishing. Three websites are mentioned: http://www.blurb.com, http://www.lulu.com http://www.amolibros.com and www.vanitypublishering.info. Otherwise the article does not give a lot of hope. I will find it difficult to sell my self-published book – I am not surprised.

I tried to use the format of blurb some time ago. I could not get my book to fit into their framework. After a couple of hours I’m afraid I gave up. I have settled on a local small publisher – Rodney Dale at FernHouse in Haddenham, Cambs.

The article did alert me to copy right issues. It was much cheaper for me to have the ISBN number under the publisher’s name. I see that this gives him copyright. I will have to check on this!

Jonathan Clifford’s website (www.vanitypublishing.info) might also be worth checking

I have found something that may improve my writing (I hope).

February 23, 2010

I have found a great book that may improve my writing. Style by Joseph Williams, published by Scott, Foresman and Company ISBN 0-673-38186-2, gives ten lessons in ‘clarity and grace’. I am not sure about the grace bit, but he certainly helps to clarify. I have not finished reading the book, but I have already come across some brilliant ideas.

New to me is the notion of placing an important idea at the END of a sentence. While he agrees that you try to put the central idea at the beginning of the sentence/paragraph I never thought of leading up to a main idea and placing it at the end.

I always have a problem with too many adverbs and he shows how to avoid these. In the chapter on cohesion he provides lists of joining words that I can use when teaching. He provides exercises for you to try and answers to some of them in the back. I really need answers to any exercises I do, so I skipped those that had no answers.

 I have decided to buy a copy for myself for I think it will be very useful if I teach advanced English as a  Foreign Language in summer as planned.  

And no, nobody is paying me to say these things!