Non-fiction author Liz Broomfield on which professional services she won't skimp on.
Today, I’m delighted to welcome Liz Broomfield to my blog. As well as writing non-fiction, Liz is an editor, transcriber and localiser who has been running her own business since 2009. (I’ve recently had the pleasure of working with her on my forthcoming novel, An Unchoreographed Life.) As well as her editing and other work, she runs a popular blog at www.libroediting.com/blog in which she shares tips about running a business, using Microsoft Word and information about the English language. Liz enjoys running and the gym, and volunteers helping community groups get the best out of social media.
Liz, I have to start by congratulating you on your recent marriage. As of Saturday, you are now Liz Dexter.
Yes, but as I already have an author profile, I’ll continue to publish under the name of Liz Broomfield. Elsewhere, I’ll be Liz Dexter.
Perhaps you wouldn’t mind sharing with us something about how you came to be a writer.
I was somewhat of an unlikely entrepreneur, waiting until I was nearly 40 to take the plunge and start working for myself after a career in information management and administration. When I went full-time self-employed after running my business part-time for a couple of years, I decided to blog about my experiences as I went along. While I was doing that, I put together a small resource on a health issue I was dealing with, which I turned into a book, mainly as practice to see what my clients who were self-publishing had to do. When that worked well, I decided to turn my blog into a book, so I did, and published “Going it Alone at 40” in 2013. I then found that there were lots of books around on starting a business, but not many on maintaining one, so this year I’ve published “Who are you Calling Mature?” which covers that topic.
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What genre do you generally write in and have you ever experimented with other genres?
Funnily enough, when I was at school, everyone thought I was going to be a novelist. That’s everyone including me! I was always scribbling away and writing stories and poems. But my actual published writing has all been non-fiction: I’m at home writing web content, how-to guides, instructions and manuals. I developed my writing style through my blogging to be more personal and a little light-hearted at times, and people have appreciated that aspect of my books.
What are you working on at the moment?
I’ve just published my new book, “Who are you Calling Mature?” and an e-omnibus of that one and my previous business book, because I try to keep my prices as competitive as I can, and this allows me to offer a special deal on the two books. I’m working on the web pages for both of these books, listing where they can be bought as the various platforms come on board.
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Where do you get your inspiration from?
I get my inspiration from my experience as a businesswoman. I’m really passionate about sharing the idea that anyone can be an entrepreneur – you don’t have to be a beardy Branson to succeed, and, most importantly, you don’t have to throw everything into it, give up your job and risk the family finances. When I started out, I found lots of resources that promised the earth but for an extra investment, and didn’t tell you the nuts and bolts of how to do it. So when I started putting together my books, I was determined to tell it how it is, panic stations, tracksuit bottoms and all, and to give people a resource they could use without having to spend out on loads of extra courses and downloads. That still inspires me in everything I write – whether it’s books or blog posts – I’m all about sharing information for free or for the lowest cost possible.
Who do you show your first drafts to?
My books have been based on my blogs (with additional material and a lot of re-crafting), so my first feedback comes from my blog readers, who are generous in sharing their own experiences and reactions. When it’s time to put a book together, I have an editor, Catherine – every editor needs an editor, and it’s quite horrifying to find the mistakes pointed out in your own writing, but she edits like I do. Then I have a beta reader, Chrys, who looks at the bigger picture. Two colleagues, Louise and Laura, read the books once they’re first published and give me feedback on them as well as reviewing them.
The shift from paperback to digital books appears to have plateaued in 2013. Was this a glitch or will the upwards trend resume?
I’m not sure. There seems to be a renewed trend for value-added paper books, with special sections from the author, or collectors’ editions. When I was considering doing a print edition of my first business book, I asked around business communities I belong to and, yes, people were still keen(er than I expected) to buy paper books, not just e-books. I read more on paper than I do on the Kindle still (maybe because I spend all day staring at people’s words on my monitor) and I don’t see that changing any time soon.
Are there any books on writing that you find useful and would recommend? (please include links where you can)
I always recommend Jo Penn’s website http://www.thecreative.penn.com as a marvellous resource for writers, especially indie writers, as you can find information about the writing process and the publishing and marketing processes which is absolutely invaluable. Jo is a client of mine, but I don’t get a referral fee for promoting her; I do use her information and advice myself!
I will second that recommendation! I recently attended a marketing course run by Jo and saw her speak last week at the London Book Fair. She was, as always, quite wonderful.
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What were the key factors that influenced your decision to become an indie author?
I wanted to experience what my indie author clients go through when they’re publishing their own books, and to see if I could create an extra income stream for myself and useful resources for my clients. I wasn’t sure that I could pitch the books to a publisher, and was quite happy to do it myself.
Which publishing platform/s have you used and why?
I’ve used KDP for Kindle, Amazon CreateSpace for my print versions of my business books, and have also published my e-books via Smashwords, which populates lots of platforms such as Kobo, WHSmiths, Sony, iBooks, etc. I am not the biggest fan of Amazon, but that’s where the customers are, so that’s why I published with them (the CreateSpace thing was an experiment but seems to be going OK at the moment). I upload them onto Smashwords to give people an alternative to Amazon, and to let them get the books in different formats, and from different platforms.
Who designed your book covers? If you used a cover designer, what brief did you give them?
I used Vik n Charlie at fiverr.com (http://www.fiverr.com/vikncharlie )who was recommended to me by another indie author. Not everything costs $5 – I pay considerably more to have my full covers done. For the first one, I asked for the colours to match my corporate colours of brown and turquoise, and for an image of a computer. She came up with the goods right away, and I rebranded my cholesterol book with her and had her do covers for all my others. Now she has my typefaces and basic design as a template, which makes it easy for me to get what I want and for her to create the covers.
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Which professional services won’t you skimp on? (editor/ professional proofreader? designer for your book interiors?)
I could not do without an editor / proofreader, as it would be embarrassing in the extreme if someone found a mistake in my work, given my day job! I have to say that I don’t use a designer for my book interiors – however, I would if they had anything more complicated than text and the very few images in them.
Do you think that you would be aware if the book you were reading was traditionally published or self-published?
I’m quite aware of this one, which is why I’ve chosen to answer it. So often self-published books have giveaway thick, heavy white paper and shiny, curly covers – and that’s before you read them and find that they’re unedited and full of typos. It doesn’t need to be that way – you can choose matt covers and cream paper (which is a little more expensive but looks a LOT better and is lighter, so cheaper to post) and if you’re writing and self-publishing, you do need to get edited! That’s not an attempt to get more customers – I have a busy roster and don’t take on many new ones, but a plea as an indie writer and reader!
What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
Well, I have a day job, of course, and my main hobbies are reading (I make sure that I make time for that) running and the gym. I’m also doing research on the author Iris Murdoch in what I laughingly call “my spare time” …
You can find out more about Liz:
My blog: http://www.libroediting.com/blog
And my e-books page on my blog: http://libroediting.com/e-books/
My review website: http://www.librofulltime.wordpress.com
My facebook: http://www.facebook.com/libroediting
My twitter: http://www.twitter.com/lyzzybee_libro
My Amazon author page:: http://bit.ly/lizbooks
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