Writer? 4 steps towards a writing career

The arduous path to a writer career

Karen Perkins



For today’s post I have a guest writer, Karen Perkins.

I invited her because her story demonstrates a journey from starting to write seriously to established employment. Like many interesting writers, Karen had a developed skill and passion beforehand that could colour her fiction and support it with first-hand knowledge. Like other successful people, she did not let disaster down her, but adapted to new circumstances, using her experience to develop new skills. Furthermore, the experience of writing enabled her to help others improve theirs, then her path through the arduous work of preparing a book for publication led to self-help books on editing and formatting.

Step 1: Interesting experience

Step 2: Perfect skill in writing about it – whether fiction or non-fiction

Step 3: Tell others how to write well.

Step 4:  Provide vital techniques for publishing the book.

Readers of this post can see the path Karen has taken from beginning to end. That is what interested me and led to my invitation. Karen, please tell us: –

My Journey

I have been passionate about books since I first learned to read, and was also a very keen sailor. Unfortunately, I injured myself in the Contender European Championships in 1995 (although still won the ladies title), which resulted in a condition called fibromyalgia. This is an extremely painful and debilitating condition and resulted in the loss of my previous career as a financial advisor.

I started writing, almost as therapy, and it quickly became a compulsion. I cannot see myself ever stopping now! I struggle to travel, and realized this would work against me in looking for an agent and traditional publisher so I decided to self-publish as a way to show publishers I was able and willing to promote and market my books online, as well as—hopefully—prove sales and gain positive independent reviews.

I enjoy the publishing side of writing so much, I have not submitted to a single agent since I pressed that ‘Publish’ button the first time, nor do I expect to. All three of my current books: Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning in the Valkyrie Series (historical novels about piracy and slavery in seventeenth-century Caribbean), and Thores-Cross (a historical paranormal stand-alone novel) are #1 best sellers in their categories on Amazon—Ill Wind and Dead Reckoning in Sea Adventures, and Thores-Cross in British Horror.

I had established LionheART Galleries with my partner at the time I had started writing, designing, making and selling jewellery, and broadened this to include LionheART Publishing House when we published our first books. This has grown to offer copyediting, proofreading and formatting services for other self-published authors as well as cover design and book trailers. In the past year, I feel very privileged to have helped over one hundred books be published on four continents—some very successfully.

Recently I published The LionheART Guide to Formatting, a comprehensive, step-by-step guide to formatting e-books and paperbacks in Word 2010 to help Indie authors who prefer to do it themselves.        formatting guide


This was followed by The LionheART Guide to Editing, in both UK and US Editions. There are a number of comprehensive grammar guides out there and I wanted to compile a tool which is simple, easy to use, and full of tips to include punctuation and grammatical rules, paying attention to current trends in the publishing industry. The areas I highlighted are the ones I come across most often when editing.  I also detail the method I use when editing and polishing a manuscript for publication. Even if you decide to hire the services of an editor, most charge by the hour and the higher the standard of your manuscript, the lower the final editing cost.

EDITING guide UK - small

As writers, we are wordsmiths, creating a world, characters and story through language, and punctuation is one   of the tools of language. To ignore it, except for rare exceptions, to me is like Monet painting with the wrong colors, or Michelangelo attempting to sculpt using a hammer when a chisel is needed.

Words are what we do, language is our medium and punctuation our tool. When I write, I want to take my readers to my world, to join my characters on their journey, to experience their challenges, traumas, desires. I want them to take this journey with me, without noticing the individual words, full stops or commas. I want them to lose themselves in the story, not in the mechanics of it, and this will only happen if all the elements are right.



This involves checking the detail, then double-checking it, then checking again; not only the spelling, tense, grammar and punctuation, but also any factual information in your manuscript such as real-life names, whether of historical figures, place names or brand names. I will suggest changes and highlight any inconsistencies or contradictions and focus on the writing itself, keeping the reading experience at the forefront on my mind as I work to make sure everything is clear, there is no opportunity for misunderstandings (unless part of the plot), and your novel flows well.



This is the final stage in the process and focuses on the words themselves. It is a detailed check for even the most minor errors and typos—the final polish of your manuscript



There are three main avenues to publish your book as an Indie author: Kindle (KDP), paperback (usually CreateSpace) and EPUB (usually Smashwords), and each avenue needs a different format, each with its own challenges.

Kindle (KDP). The main difficulty in your Kindle format is that what you see in Word is not necessarily what you get on a Kindle after your Word file has been converted to their mobi format. This means indents have to be properly set (tabs or a number of spaces can be corrupted in the conversion). Also, watch out for spaces at the ends of your paragraphs and extra paragraph breaks with can result in blank pages in the Kindle book.

CreateSpace is an Amazon print–on–demand company. Publishing through them means your paperback will be available on every Amazon site in the world (including Book Depository), and they will print and send a copy of your book to order. You therefore have worldwide distribution with little or no set up costs. This is also the format where you can add your own style to the finished book, with headers and footers, different fonts etc., and the main issues here revolve around the sizing of the file, and formatting page numbers etc. correctly.

 Smashwords is the difficult one. They convert your file into a number of formats, the most important of which is EPUB, and distribute to a wide range of online e–book companies, including Barnes &Noble (Nook), Kobo and iBooks. Because your book has to meet the criteria of all these sites, the requirements are more stringent than for KDP above. The best way to ensure your book passes is to use their Nuclear Method, which strips out all the existing formatting, and then start again. It is time consuming (and at times frustrating), but it is the best way of ensuring there is no stray formatting, such as hidden bookmarks or fields, that would cause your book to fail their review process.

LionheART Publishing House

LionheART Publishing House offers low-cost, high-quality copyediting and proofreading for novels, non-fiction manuscripts, scripts, dissertations, poetry, children’s books etc., whether you write in UK English or US:

£12.50 (US$21, €16) per hour

As a rough guide, this usually works out as £5—£8 per 1000 words ($9—$15 or €6—€9)

We also format your book, ready to upload to either or all of the three main sites (KDP—Kindle, CreateSpace—paperback and Smashwords—EPUB). Our charges for this are:

CreateSpace Format: £25, US$42, €32

KDP (Kindle): £25, US$42, €32

Smashwords: £40, US$70, €50

Full details are on the website, including testimonials and links to books we have worked on: www.lionheartgalleries.co.uk/Publishing–Services or you can contact Karen Perkins on publishing@lionheartgalleries.co.uk

We are happy to carry out a no-obligation sample edit so you can make absolutely sure you are happy with our work before you commit.

Karen and LionheART Publishing House are also on Facebook:



and Twitter:




The LionheART Guide to Formatting is now available:




The LionheART Guide to Editing Fiction: US Edition is now available:




The LionheART Guide to Editing Fiction: UK Edition is now available:





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