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Julia Johnston blog posts

Ready to promote and market your book?

  • Julia Johnston

Right pleased I was, winning the W&A blurb competition, the prize being a publishing package with the Amazon-owned Createspace. Partly my own perfectionism (read ‘indecisiveness’?) to blame, but the sometimes overwhelming process took a whole year from start to finish. 

I wanted a paperback edition (POD-Print on Demand) as well as an eBook, but it was time-consuming. You focus on the look of the book and you must approve physical copies which have to be meticulously checked/reprinted/shipped with corrections. Cover design, interior design, and editing—all require substantial input. This is both the most welcome and most challenging aspect of self-publishing.

The time difference and ‘language barrier’ added to the challenge of making speedy effective decisions. The Createspace staff couldn’t have been more helpful and patient, but something was definitely lost in translation. 

I had to send a lexicon of British English words to the editor too including …

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Ready to self-publish?

Julia Johnston

The fourth in a series of five blog posts by Julia Johnston (author of If Everyone Knew Every Plant And Tree) charting her journey from preparing to submit her manuscript to agents, through to the self-publishing of her debut novel.

This week: she explains her decision to self-publish her novel. 


Dazed and confused by the keen interest/no-interest-at-all-anymore from two lovely successful literary agents, I braced myself for the writing of another batch of begging letters. I braced myself, too, for the year or more of waiting. I’m on a merry-go-round, up and down, round and round, going nowhere fast (well, slowly I suppose).

Out of nowhere, blogs, articles and podcasts oozed information, advice, and real-life experiences on self-publishing; you couldn’t move for them. I see now it was the zeitgeist phenomenon in action. Perhaps I needed to think seriously about it? “Why don’t you self-publish?” I kept hearing. Easier said than done, I thought, and wasn’t that for rubbish …

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Ready to Revise & Rewrite for a Literary Agent?

Julia Johnston

The third in a series of five blog posts by Julia Johnston (author of If Everyone Knew Every Plant And Tree) charting her journey from preparing to submit her manuscript to agents, through to the self-publishing of her debut novel.

This week: revising and rewriting for literary agents.

Of the twelve submissions I made to literary agents, two of the four who read the full manuscript were interested. So I chugged up the confidence roller coaster…

There I was in the peculiar and welcome position of two agents giving both positive feedback and much valued suggestions for change at the same time. 

Agent numero uno questioned the inclusion of a ‘horticultural’ theme: ‘With the objective of Oliver being relatable to the target audience, I’m afraid I did question his interest in horticulture.’ He advised me, too, that we don’t actually see that much of it going on. He did say, ‘I know the horticulture element gives you this brilliant title, but I’m afraid I do worry about …

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Ready To Submit To Literary Agents!

Julia Johnston

The second in a series of five blog posts by Julia Johnston (author of If Everyone Knew Every Plant And Tree), charting her journey from preparing to submit her manuscript to agents, through to the self-publishing of her debut novel.


“Yay! I’ve finished my novel… I think.”

You’ve arrived at the open sea—the end—with your ‘book’ a sea-worthy vessel. Now, to test the water. Time to submit your completed manuscript to agents. We all want a literary agent with a view to securing a traditional publisher… don’t we? 

I dutifully bought the Writers’ and Artists’ Yearbook and the Writers’ Handbook and together with t’internet, compiled a list of agents I might approach. I researched their background and crucially, the sort of manuscripts and writers they take on. Would-be published authors are warned to look forward to a nice little pile of politely-worded rejection letters. Yet we still send submissions to carefully selected, gorgeous, hugely discerning …

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Ready to be Read?

Julia Johnston

The first in a series of five blog posts by Julia Johnston (author of If Everyone Knew Every Plant And Tree), charting her journey from preparing to submit her manuscript to agents, through to the self-publishing of her debut novel.


“Time’s up. Put your pens down.”

“Noooooooooooooo!”


Handing in an unfinished test paper. To be scrutinised by an examiner. The frustration, the humiliation, the distress. It wasn’t ready to be read.

That’s all behind us, is it not? There’s no one wrenching our manuscripts from our hands or pointing manically at their watch. We have the luxury of time.  But it’s not as simple as that.  We need to be finished before submitting our work to a literary agent or a publisher or a literary consultant or even a friend. 

How do we know if our novel is ‘finished’ though? How do we know it’s ready to be read?

If you’re like me, you’ll have gone through/be going through your work with a fine-tooth comb, and a spade, and a shovel. …

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