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A Self Publishing Journey (with my older books)

Part of the impetus for restarting my website and web presence was a journey I had over the last year or so with my first five books — the J McNee series, which detailed the investigations of a very dour Detective from the city of Dundee, on the east coast of Scotland.

Originally picked up for three books by the brilliant UK small press, Five Leaves (and the first two were published in the US by St Martin’s press), the series then moved for two books over to the lovely folks at Severn House, who did a beautiful job of hardcover and large print editions.

But the books were spread out over three publishers with wildly different approaches to them, which mean that readers were getting confused about paperback editions, ebook prices and lots more. We tried to find a way to consolidate the entire series at one place, but what happened was that the rights reverted to me.

I had dipped a toe into self publishing previously when Five Leaves didn’t do an ebook version of THE GOOD SON, and allowed me to have a crack at it. It resulted in one of my favourite book covers from the brilliant JT Lindroos, whose design was influenced by a number of series I loved at the time. I went back to JT and hired him to design covers that would reflect that original redesign for the rest of the series:

Look at ’em? Ain’t they gorgeous?

But this was at a time when I was still considering whether they even needed to be print books. It was fellow crime writer, Jay Stringer, who convinced me to experiment with some print versions. Jay is a pretty talented layout guy, and he took (with JT’s blessing!) the cover designs and added back copy, spines and so forth. He did some lovely interior layouts, too, with graphic touches and all that good stuff to make the words really pop. Honestly, they are my favourite versions of the books. And, speaking of Jay, check out his website, where you can dig some of his work and learn more about his fantastic novels (my personal favourite will always be the McIlvanney nominated WAYS TO DIE IN GLASGOW, which–full disclosure–I worked on as the development editor).

Now, I ain’t some kind of genius, and so I used Amazon’s KDP system to create the pbs, but they did a lovely job. If all goes well, the pbs should also be available through “expanded distribution” which means they are available to order at any bookstore you want! I may try and expand on this side of the self publishing journey one day, but as it stands, it was enough for me to know all the books were available in a format someone might like.

One day there may even be audio versions of the books (I recently met an actor I think could do them very well indeed!) but I want to be able to pay the narrator fairly, and so that plan is currently on hold, as voice readers can often get screwed with low pay for what is a really tough job, and I’d like to be able to properly compensate whoever the voice of McNee turns out to be if I’m the one producing the ebooks.

The thing is, I loved revisiting these books for the self publishing editions. It was a joyous experience, and I even got to dig into the guts of FATHER CONFESSOR a little — this was the third book in the series, which I loved, but never felt quite landed the way it should (there were also some continuity errors due to issues during the writing process) to make it more like my original vision for the book (I should add, I’m still proud of the original edition, and it’s no reflection on the lovely publishers that I went back to it — the errors were very much my own and it always annoyed me that they sneaked in!)

But now that I had I had these lovely new editions, I needed a way to let people know they existed. My old website was getting a bit cluttered, and the then-hosts were not making things easier with a design system that never quite seemed to do what it was told. So it was a hop over to a new provider, who introduced me to WordPress and widgets and all these things that allowed me to create proper pages about the books, such as this one here that contains links to all five McNee books (some construction is still happening, but we should soon link to all major ebook stores, and I hope that the inclusion of ISBNs for each book will mean your local bookseller could even scare up some of the beautiful PB versions!)

And, of course, we’ll be talking soon about some of my other books and projects that you may not know about. But in the meantime, welcome to the new I hope you find everything you need here… and if you don’t? Well, you could drop me a line either in the comments or at the coming-soon contact section…

Published inBlogBookscrime fictionJ McNeemy booksself publishing

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