I’m frequently approached these days by new and aspiring authors asking me how best to go about getting a book published. I’m afraid I don’t have the answers so I’m delighted to welcome L K Chapman, author of The Stories She Tells to Linda’s Book Bag today to describe some of her route to publication. I also have an extract from this fabulous new psychological thriller to share.
The Stories She Tells is available for purchase here.
The Stories She Tells
When Michael decides to track down ex-girlfriend Rae who disappeared ten years ago while pregnant with his baby, he knows it could change his life forever. His search for her takes unexpected turns as he unearths multiple changes of identity and a childhood she tried to pretend never happened, but nothing could prepare him for what awaits when he finally finds her.
Appearing to be happily married with a brand new baby daughter, Rae is cagey about what happened to Michael’s child and starts to say alarming things – that her husband is trying to force her to give up her new baby for adoption, that he’s attempting to undermine the bond between her and her child, and deliberately making her doubt her own sanity.
As Michael is drawn in deeper to her disturbing claims he begins to doubt the truth of what she is saying. But is she really making it all up, or is there a shocking and heartbreaking secret at the root of the stories she tells?
My Self-Publishing Journey
A Guest Post by L K Chapman
My journey towards being a writer started quite early – I wrote my very first novel while I was at school, and another while I was at university, but it was 2012, not long after I got married, when I first decided to try to write “seriously” with the aim of getting published. I initially tried to rewrite and work on the sci-fi novel I wrote while at university, but in the end I abandoned that and worked on a new idea instead, after taking a bit of time to focus on learning more about writing and editing and how to structure a book. It took me about eighteen months to write my first “proper” novel, then I approached a few literary agents, but I didn’t pursue that avenue for long and decided I would self-publish instead. My first novel Networked was released in 2014.
Initially I used a self-publishing company to format and publish the paperback version of my book and I also had a cover designer, but unfortunately this strategy didn’t work out well for me as I ended up not liking my cover and on top of that the self-publishing company went bust just a few months later and I never received my royalties from paperback sales. I never even found out how many copies I sold. That was a real low point for me, and it cost me a lot of money for things that I never even used as I had to re-publish the book myself, but it did push me to learn a lot of new skills. Now I publish my e-books using Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), and independent publishing platform Createspace for the paperback. Self-publishing was daunting to start with as I’m responsible for every aspect of my book – the cover, the contents, the formatting and the marketing, plus about a hundred other things! But it is possible, as I was amazed to discover when I first managed to do it! Publishing the paperbacks is really interesting – I don’t have to have a big stockpile of books in my house to try to sell (which is the vision I used to get when I thought about self-publishing!) Instead, copies of the book are only printed when somebody buys the book online. The book is printed in the country it is ordered and sent out to the customer, which is called print-on-demand. I didn’t know about any of this until I set about publishing a book myself, so it was a lot to take in!
One really hard thing about self-publishing is that it’s difficult for your book to get any visibility or any sales. I went for weeks on end sometimes without a single sale, and it wasn’t until 2016 that things started to turn around for me with my second novel, psychological thriller Anything for Him. The sales of that book enabled me to invest some money in publishing my latest novel The Stories She Tells, so I had the book professionally copy-edited and had a cover designed.
This time I followed a recommendation from a highly successful independent author to find my cover designer and that worked out a lot better for me than my experience with my first book! I’m so pleased with the cover my designer produced for The Stories She Tells – I gave him a blurb for my book and a small list of existing book covers that I liked and felt were comparable to what I wanted in my cover. He then came back to me with a few initial designs and I picked my favourite. I loved the initial design so much I didn’t ask him to change anything! I think the overall atmosphere of the cover is almost more important to me than what is actually on it – I think the cover needs to be representative of the genre and give some hint of the mood of the book – is it fast and thrilling or slower paced and thoughtful? Friendly and bubbly or dark and creepy… I felt that the cover for The Stories She Tells captured the way that one of the characters is in quite a controlled, almost sterile environment that is suddenly shattered, like the wine glass on the cover.
I get lovely reactions from friends and family about my books – they are all very happy and pleased for me. I think being an author is one of those careers where if you say you want to do it you get a lot of people basically telling you that you can’t, but with how relatively straight-forward it is to self-publish books there aren’t so many barriers any more. It’s not been a particularly easy road, and when I look back now it’s amazing how much I’ve learnt and how much I continue to learn, but I’m hoping to publish many more books in the future!
(We hope so too! Thanks for this fascinating insight into your publishing journey. I’m sure readers can’t wait to look at the extract from The Stories She Tells that now follows.)
An Extract from The Stories She Tells
‘Not again,’ Sadie said, ‘please, not again.’
Michael looked down at the pregnancy test in her hand, and saw that it was negative. He sat down beside her on the bathroom floor, and put his arm around her awkwardly. ‘Sadie…’ he said.
‘No!’ she shouted, the suddenness and loudness of her voice taking him aback. She shoved his arm away. ‘No,’ she said again quietly.
Michael gave up. He knew how desperate she was for a baby and never had a clue what to say when she got a negative result. When he tried to talk to her he usually ended up putting his foot in it and making things worse. Sadie put the test down on the floor and rested her forehead on her knees, her hair falling forward and brushing her bare legs. It was six-thirty in the morning and she’d done the test the second she got up, so she was still wearing a baggy old t-shirt of his that she wore in bed. When she’d called him into the bathroom to wait for the result she’d looked glazed with sleep. He watched her as she slowly lifted her head again, took a deep breath and let it out in a long sigh. ‘I’m all right,’ she said. ‘I’m going to be all right. Just… just give me a minute.’
Michael left her and when she appeared half an hour later she was dressed and ready to go out. ‘Come on,’ she said when she found him in the living room eating a bowl of cereal in front of the TV, ‘we’re going to the shop today, aren’t we? You wanted to go in early before it opens―’
‘You don’t have to come,’ he said. ‘If you can’t face it I can go on my own―’
‘What would I do here? I don’t want to rattle around the house all day. I want to be busy.’
About L K Chapman
Louise Katherine Chapman was born in Somerset, UK, in 1986. She studied psychology at the University of Southampton and has worked as a psychologist creating personality questionnaires for a consultancy company. She has also spent some time volunteering for mental health charity Mind.
L K Chapman loves to write because she loves learning about people and she loves stories. A major turning point in her life was the day she realised that no matter how strange, cruel or unfathomable the actions of other people can sometimes be, there is always a reason for it, some sequence of events to be unravelled. Since then she is always asking “why” and “what if” and she is fascinated by real life stories capturing the strength, peculiarities or extremes of human nature.
LK Chapman’s first novel, Networked, was a sci-fi thriller but now she’s turned her attention to writing psychological suspense. Her first psychological thriller, Anything for Him, was published in 2016, and her new novel The Stories She Tells was released in October 2017.
LK Chapman lives in Hampshire with her husband and young family. She enjoys walks in the woods, video games, and spending time with family and friends.