Monday, July 1, 2013

Interview with Kiwi Author Lorraine Orman.

Hi Lorraine, thank you very much being on our blog today.
I'm excited to share with our readers about what you are going to be up to in August in regards to self-publishing, but I'm jumping ahead of myself.  First things first, please can you tell us a little about yourself and the books you have published.
I've been involved with children's literature for many years as a librarian, reviewer, judge and author.  My first novel to be published was Cross Tides in 2004 (YA), and that was followed by eight more books for junior, intermediate and secondary-aged readers.  I've been published by Longacre, Scholastic NZ, Penguin NZ, Penguin Australia, and Walker Books Australia.  My recent venture into indie publishing is a YA e-book called Touchstone, now available from the major online bookstores (such as Amazon) and via Wheelers E-Platform.
So you started writing for the School Journal with Learning Media.  It must have been thrilling to get your first story formally published. Can you describe your experience please?
In those days Learning Media had the time to be very supportive of budding authors.  Rejected stories were sent back with small critiques.  After rejecting a couple of my short stories and indicating I was almost there, they accepted two stories for the School Journal – much to my delight.  One was published with no changes (The Budgie Man, 1982); the other (Sisters, 1983) needed a tweak at the end.  Eventually Learning Media published seven of my stories – but usually I had to do a bit of re-writing before they finally said yes.
What has it been like having your novels and children's books published traditionally here in NZ?
It's been great fun.  I think my publishing record was the result of tenacity, cunning, some degree of ability – and lots of good luck.  I often managed to get the right mss on the right desk at the right time (with the help of the Richards Literary Agency).
What changed that caused you to look into self-publishing?
I'm one of those mid-level NZ authors who got dropped when the big changes started within the NZ publishing industry.  When Longacre merged with Random House a few years ago I lost a publisher who'd been very supportive of my YA books.  Touchstone took several years to research and write, but none of the publishers were interested.  I couldn't bear to let all that work fall into a black hole.  So I decided to do it myself and produce it as an e-book.
So you published Touchstone earlier this year.  Can you please tell us about the process you took to get your story published as an ebook?
I took a long time to find the courage to do it.  I attended seminars, researched widely on the internet, set up a support network of colleagues, warned my family I was about to embark on something stressful and time-consuming – and began preparing the mss for the conversion process with Smashwords.
What was the process for publishing on Smashwords?
In response to the question about Smashwords – I downloaded the Smashwords Style Guide and studied it carefully.  It's very user-friendly (i.e. written for dummies!)  Then I started the formatting of the mss as I worked through the instructions.  This process can't be rushed – you have to understand everything and follow the instructions 100%.  It's nerve-racking, particularly at the beginning when you have to delete all your previous careful formatting.  Eventually you get to the stage where you push the Submit button and offer your mss to the Meatgrinder!  All going well, you'll end up with a functional entry on Smashwords' book catalogue – and you're in business.  But beware – if you haven't done your formatting correctly, the Meatgrinder will spit you out with several nasty comments...
How different has it been for you to self-publish versus having your book published for you?  Do you earn more money?  Has it gone further in the book world than you expected?  If not, why do you think this is?
It's been a massive learning curve.  It forced me to come out of my author's corner and become editor, designer, formatter, distributor, and publicist.  However I didn't do it all myself – I contracted out the final editing and proofreading stages, the final cover design, the writing of a secondary-level Teachers' Resource Kit (available free on my website), the production of an interesting flyer, and the new Touchstone promotion pages on my website (
It cost me a lot of money, and I haven't had any income from the book – yet!  Why not?  It's extremely hard to generate interest in one e-book amid tens of thousands of them worldwide – in a market dominated by the USA.  I was previously established in the NZ market, especially with schools and libraries – but New Zealand is proving slow to pick up on e-books.  I like to think Touchstone is a slow-burner; it will be purchased as our schools and libraries establish new e-book borrowing platforms that can include NZ books (such as the Wheelers system).
Thank you Lorraine for this interview.  So in August you are presenting a workshop with the Storylines Festival in August on self-publishing.
Thank you for the chance to do a blogspot, Joy.  Yes, I'm figuring there are plenty of people out there who are teetering on the edge of indie e-publishing.  Basically I want to say to them – if I can do it, you can.
Doing it Yourself: An Introduction to Publishing Your Novel as an E-Book with Lorraine Orman.  Topics covered:
  • Looking at e-readers and e-book formats
  • Making your manuscript the best it can be
  • Deciding how much you can do yourself
  • Beginning your e-book promotion campaign
  • Creating a book cover
  • Starting the e-publishing procedures
  • Making decisions and coping with conversion processes
  • Distribution of your e-book
  • Promotion of your e-book
  • Money matters
For more information about Lorraine and her books, please visit her website:
She also has a Facebook page for her ebook Touchstone here:
Thank you Lorraine, we really appreciate hearing from someone with years of experience in the area of children's books.  All the best for your workshop.
~ Joy Findlay

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