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Getting it right November 21, 2014

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 6. Castle Tips.
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Self-publishing is taking off, it’s accessible to everyone. But what’s the trick to it?

Today I came across an excellent NZ Herald article from September. It investigates the rise of self-publishing and highlights some remarkable New Zealand success stories.

The thing that is implicit in the article is that there is absolutely no substitute for a proactive author. But it also makes another important point – your product has to be right. Enter Castle.

The article quotes Doris Mousdale, stalwart of the NZ book industry, owner of Arcadia Bookstore in Newmarket, and former national book manager for Whitcoulls and retail manager for Dymocks)…

I make a point of looking at all self-published books that come my way, but it’s really only around one in every 10 books that I’ll end up stocking. Something lets many of them down – it’s either the cover, or the production values – so it doesn’t look like a professionally published book. It’s important to spend a little extra on those things. A printer will print anything you want, so it’s up to you to get it right. It’s got to look right in your hand, and it’s got to feel right when you open the first page.

Since its establishment 15 years ago (coincidentally, the last 15 years is also the timeframe of the rise of self-publishing and the digital revolution), Castle has held to a key idea: your book can and should match the best on offer from established commercial publishers.

Sometimes, a mediocre-looking book costs the same to produce as a professional-looking book. In those cases where professionalism costs a little more, you find yourself with a more impressive and attractive product. And when it’s all said and done, why not do justice to the book you have toiled over? The finishing touches count.

Contact us to see what we can do to help.

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An interview with Sir Patrick July 2, 2014

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 5. News, So Old So Quick.
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Sir Patrick Eisdell Moore, author of our Rampart book So Old So Quick, was interviewed on Radio NZ’s Nine to Noon show earlier this week.

You can listened to the full interview here.

More about the book (and purchase online) on the Castle website.

 

New Release: So Old So Quick May 30, 2014

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 3. Castle Books, 5. News, So Old So Quick.
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So Old So QuickWe have great pleasure in announcing So Old So Quick, our latest title, published under our Rampart imprint.

Published in the author’s 97th year, this is the memoir of an Auckland lad who went on to accomplished amazing things. During the war, Sir Pat served as a medical officer, the only Pakeha in the Maori Battalion. In the post-war years, as an ENT specialist he pioneered community health initiatives, cochlear implants and the establishment of Auckland’s Hearing House.

About Rampart: Castle’s Rampart imprint presents inspiring New Zealand stories for a general readership.

For more info about So Old So Quick and to purchase copies (print and ebook) visit the Castle website.

Christmas and Summer Reading Gift Guide 2013 December 6, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 5. News.
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Here’s a round-up of new and recent releases from Castle that we think will make great Christmas gifts and reading for your summer holiday. As always, everything is home-grown right here in New Zealand…

Christmas and summer selection

 

Mrs Shepherd’s Oven, by Patsy Nealon. For kids, age 4-9.

Mrs Shepherd has pies to bake for her knitting group. She is not happy because her brick oven has fallen down. What will she do? The quirky and fun adventures of a family of shepherds whose story touches on, and coincides with, the Christmas story. Great reading for all year round, and for general (as well as Christian) audiences. Illustrated throughout with water colour cartoon pictures that kids will love. Softcover, 22 pages full colour. A Castle Kids book! NZ$17.95. More info, view a sample or purchase here. (Or ask for it at your local Christian bookshop.)

Your Secret World, by Brian Goodwin. General adult.

This book examines your ‘secret world’ – the inner workings of your heart, soul and mind – and shows just how important they are in your everyday life. With compassion, insight and love, Brian Goodwin explains what ‘makes us tick’, looking at the things that spark our desire or hold us back, and opening us up to a heart to heart relationship with the Creator and others. Your Secret World draws on a wealth of biblical wisdom and the work of other Christian authors. Available as a printed book or ebook. NZ$26.95 (ebook US$9.99). More info, view a sample or purchase here. (Or ask for it at your local Christian bookshop.)

The True Adventures of Lucy the Hen, by Daphne Joy. For kids, age 4-9.

In the chicken run, there is no one else quite like Lucy! Lucy is a very clever and special hen. In this beautifully illustrated full colour picture book, Daphne Joy tells us some of Lucy’s true life adventures. Each story concludes with ‘Learning with Lucy’ – bite-sized thoughts that apply the things that Lucy learns to our everyday lives. Softcover, 28 pages full colour. A Castle Kids book! NZ$14.95. More info, view a sample or purchase here. (Or ask for it at your local Christian bookshop.)

To Rise Above, by Julianne Jones. Young adult and general adult historical fiction.

Katie, Samuel and Rhiannon have settled into a distant land but soon their faith will be tested beyond anything they had ever imagined… Julianne Jones’s superb second historical novel. A story of drama, romance and intrigue set in colonial New South Wales. Great reading for teenagers and adults. Available as a printed book or ebook. NZ$24.95 (ebook US$9.99). More info or purchase here. (Or ask for it at your local Christian bookshop.)

Into the Heart of PNG, by Kay Liddle. General adult.

In 1952 Kay Liddle waded ashore on the northern coast of New Guinea – the start of a lifelong relationship with that remarkable country. This is Kay’s personal story of years spent in service and partnership. It is filled with the difficulties, challenges and rewards of a dramatic life of mission. It is also the story of Christianity taking root and transforming the lives of ordinary Papuans – sharing the Good News, seeing whole groups of people move towards God, establishing churches, and training leaders. Available as a printed book or ebook. NZ$27.95 (ebook US$9.99). More info or purchase here. (Or ask for it at your local Christian bookshop.) Also available: Book Two.

Get Real, by Jill Stanley. General adult.

Real excerpts from an ordinary life in the hand of an extraordinary God. Jill Stanley’s real life story grabs and transports you from her quaint English village to Europe’s pulsating cities, and across both Atlantic and Pacific oceans to a remote island in the South Pacific. A transparent, brutally honest record of human passions, mistakes, flaws and sincere attempts to find lasting peace and truth. With hilarious adventures and powerful encounters, Jill will surely disarm and entertain you along the way. Available as a printed book or ebook. NZ$26.95 (ebook US$9.99). More info or purchase here. (Or ask for it at your local Christian bookshop.)

To see the complete line-up of our new and recent releases, visit the Castle website. Our catalogue contains an amazing range of books.

Introducing Castle Kids November 26, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 5. News.
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Castle Publishing has great pleasure in announcing an all-new imprint – Castle Kids.

Castle Kids logoThis idea has been in the pipeline for quite a while. Castle has a strong belief that New Zealand authors have a unique point of view, and we knew that while we had been demonstrating this in the area of general non-fiction for some time, we needed to expand this vision into children’s publishing as well.

For some time, the Castle Kids concept had been awaiting the right product. We got our feet wet assisting Mike de Vetter with his wonderful Rose Princess book and with Lyndon Douglas’s remarkable Debbie Dart book. Then, this year, two books came along at around the same time that pushed the idea forward.

These two books are Daphne Joy’s The True Adventures of Lucy the Hen and Pasty Nealon’s Mrs Shepherd’s Oven. Both are beautifully (but very differently) illustrated and both tell the kinds of endearing stories that parents love to read to their children and that children love to hear.

We hope to bring you more Castle Kids books heading in 2014 and beyond, but meantime be sure to check out these two new titles (here and here) – they make excellent Christmas gifts.

How to take advice July 11, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 6. Castle Tips.
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We’ve all seen it on TV programs like American Idol – the would-be star turns up for their audition utterly convinced that he or she is the next big thing… only to have their dream crushed within a few moments of their performance… whatever they had been told about the merits of their performance prior to the audition turned out not to be entirely true. Their performance shrinks under objective critique. But if they are wise, they will take that critique and get better. And that’s what it should be like for authors.

Writers' tipsThe process of writing tends to be deeply personal. It’s not uncommon to hear authors referring to their manuscript as their ‘baby’. You tend to pour yourself into your writing – you try to make it true – true of yourself and your experience of the world. When that goes public, you are not only putting a piece of yourself on display, you are putting your abilities as a writer up for critique. It’s a big call! A lot of the books that Castle works on are autobiographical and by first-time authors… so the feelings of risk can be even higher for the author.

Unconditional support

All going well, as an author (whether you are a first-timer or more experienced) you will have people in your life who really believe in what you are doing and are a source of encouragement. These are your supporters – the people that want to see you do well. They boost your confidence with praise and other types of support. This is a good and wonderful thing. But you also need people to critique your work – not to pull it down for the sake of pulling it down – but to help you make your work the best it can be.

The American Idol illustration is probably an extreme example and it’s not directly applicable to writing. But you can’t help wondering whether, if the performers had sought genuine critique prior to standing before the judges, they could have been much better prepared.

I’m not a believer in ‘either you got it or you ain’t’. I believe that some people have a natural gift for writing but I also believe that with some hard work and help, anyone can tell their story in a meaningful way. And it needs to be said that even those with a ‘natural gift’ need to work hard and have their work critiqued to achieve the best from their gift.

Genuine critique

So here’s the thing: benefit from the unconditional support of the people close to you, but also seek out genuine critique. Sometimes your unconditional supporters might be the people who are able to give you the critique – that would be an amazing relationship to have. Other times you might find it easier to seek the critique of someone separate from your circle of friends. The important thing in either case is to be wise about who you seek for critique – make sure they know what they’re talking about! Make sure you seek the critique of people with wisdom.

When you approach someone for feedback, take a deep breath, be brave, and then give them permission to be objective. Tell them that you want their honest opinion – that frees them up to give you their best advice without worrying that you might take offence. Sometimes what they say will be hard to hear but, again, be brave. Discuss their critique with them. Remember, it is your work under examination, not you personally.

You’re the artist

Then it’s back to you as the author – the artist. Sometimes as a creative person seeking the opinion of others, you find yourself pulled in different directions. But, having taken advice and critique, the ultimate decision and direction is yours alone to make. Shelve some advice, and take some on board. Do it with humility, but you are the author. Sometimes the big decision is in fact to make a compromise (you may encounter this when dealing with a commercial publisher who has strong ideas about ‘what the market wants’), but nonetheless, take ownership of the decision.

The ability to seek critique and then to know what to do with it is an important skill to have.

Self-publishing success story: The Gospel in Ten Words May 8, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 4. Castle Distributed Books, The Gospel in Ten Words.
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the-gospel-in-ten-words_lgFor ten years Paul Ellis pastored a multicultural church in Hong Kong. He was also a professor at one of Asia’s leading business schools. Then he decided to return home to New Zealand to pursue his passion for writing and study, and even more importantly, to convey a message of God’s amazing grace and love through the written word.

He began writing a blog, escapetoreality.org, which grew to having a large and dedicated following all around the world. Then he published his first book – The Gospel in Ten Words. The book is described like this: “At a time when many are hearing mixed messages about the love of God, The Gospel in Ten Words is a welcome reminder of the good news revealed by Jesus. It is an invitation to return to the unmixed and liberating gospel of the apostles. This book will take you to the heavenly treasure rooms of grace and leave you awestruck at the stunning goodness of God… you will come face to face with the One who has called you to the thrilling adventure of living loved.”

Paul has been extremely proactive about reaching a growing number of people. In the nine months since he published his book, he has sold over 5000 copies – a superb result, and sales are continuing to grow. To give you an idea of just how promising this number of sales is – in New Zealand a non-fiction title currently reaches bestseller status when it reaches sales of 10,000 copies in its lifetime – Paul is half way there in under a year.

Paul has done a great job of building the profile of his writing, but he also produced a wonderful book which is touching lives across the globe. You can find out more about this book and purchase copies here.

DIY Publishing Power to You April 18, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 6. Castle Tips.
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With technology and the right services, all the tools are there for you to publish your own book – DIY is the way of the future and it’s here now. I know it sounds a bit dramatic and ‘salesy’ but it really is the truth – if you have the time and inclination you can get your book out there yourself, now. But DIY can be daunting and new technology can be a steep learning curve – and sometimes quality goes missing. In this article I want to talk a bit about the opportunities that exist for you to publish your own book, and also provide some advice for undertaking that journey…

blog-article-pic-180413Without wanting to give a full history lesson, it all started with the development of the personal computer and desktop publishing software. Digital publishing technology grew from there – the other important developments were digital printing and the ebook.

Digital Printing
Digital printing (a form of glorified photocopying, with extremely high quality results that are as good and often better than older print technology) meant that smaller numbers of books could be feasibly printed. When I first started in the publishing industry 13 years ago, the only real option was offset printing on a traditional printing press. To make that feasible (ie, to make the cost per book realistic), you needed to print a minimum of 1000 books and preferably 2000. That’s a lot of books in the context of the New Zealand market, so the risk was significant. For a self-publisher or a small publishing company, that meant potentially ending up with a garage or basement full of books if they didn’t sell. With the advent of digital printing, the cost per book of printing a small number of books dropped significantly. So now it is feasible to print 250 copies (or even less in some cases). The initial risk is greatly reduced, and reprints can be done with a minimum of fuss if more copies are needed at any given time.

eBooks
Meanwhile, along came ebook technology. This is a paperless technology and so the cost of printing is taken out of the equation completely. Amazon and others developed ebook readers that are wonderfully easy to use and so good that even die-hard book-lovers can be swayed by the availability and usability of ebooks. The ‘eBook Revolution’ it was called, and the buzz swept through the publishing world. Would this be the death of printed books? What would happen? eBooks provide another great opportunity for self-publishers. Having your book as an ebook is cost effective and makes it available to a potentially huge audience.

As the hype around ebooks begins to settle, here is my assessment of the situation: eBooks are here to stay, are the way of the future, and the forerunners to some amazing future technology. But printed books have a lot more life in them yet – and aren’t disappearing any time soon. For example, data shows that ebooks are massively popular for fictional books (ebook sales now exceed paper book sales) but in non-fiction, printed books still beat ebooks in terms of sales.

A Self-Publishing Strategy
The self-publishing strategy that we recommend is ‘ebook plus a short printed run’. So this means that you should have your book produced as an ebook (for future-proofing and availability) and also do 250 to 1000 digitally printed copies. The number you should print depends on how sure you are about how many you might be able sell. If, for example, you are out speaking to groups a lot and selling books along the way, then printing more copies might be a sensible idea.

So the time and technology is right for you to publish your book. And the tools are there for you to do it all yourself, but should you go it alone?

Quality DIY
Recently I read an article about the NZ Post Children’s Book Awards, which mentioned in passing that Chief Judge, Bernard Beckett, said, “the judges … noticed many books had ‘great potential’ but were let down by formatting, design, illustrations, and editing.”

And here’s the rub of the DIY, quick and ready, scene that we’re now in. Quality is slipping. I was at a publishing workshop recently where the expert (who was otherwise very good) told the participants not to worry too much about the quality of the formatting of their ebooks because… well, because no one really cares about the quality of formatting in ebooks.

Quality always matters – most of us would agree that when it comes to reading a book or ebook, if the formatting and editing is all over the place, it will detract from the reading experience and stand in the way of the message the author is trying to convey.

Enter Castle Publishing. At Castle we take advantage of all the wonderful tools and technology that now make publishing so readily available, but we provide the expertise and experience to make your book a high quality product. Our belief has always been that self-published books can match commerically-published books in terms of quality – that on the shelf, you shouldn’t be able to tell the difference. And ‘quality’ doesn’t have to mean ‘expensive’ – mainly it is about attention to detail and making use of the experience and expertise we have. Not only that, but we can guide you through what can potentially be a daunting process – you don’t have to go it alone.

Let’s face it, you’re pouring yourself into your book – you’re investing yourself in it – so it’s worth doing well. So step out, take advantage of the opportunities that now exist for you to publish your book, but get someone with publishing know-how on your team.

A free ebook March 22, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 5. News.
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From today until Tuesday (26 March, NZ time) you can download the Kindle version of To Rise Above by Julianne Jones for free!

To Rise Above is a superb new historical novel. Katie, Samuel and Rhiannon have settled into a distant land but soon their faith will be tested beyond anything they had ever imagined… A story of drama, romance and intrigue set in colonial New South Wales. Great reading for adults and teenagers.

To visit the Amazon page and download the Kindle version (free until Tuesday), click here.

For more info about To Rise Above, or to purchase the printed book version, click here.

And if you’re interested in publishing an ebook of your own, contact us.

Writing: A lonely occupation? March 20, 2013

Posted by Andrew Killick (Publishing Manager) in 6. Castle Tips.
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Writing is essentially a solo occupation. Most authors seek out solitude when they’re working, but sometimes that solitude feels like isolation. The great news is that there are ways to find support and connect with other authors – you just need to know where to look.

Get with a groupBeing part of a community of writers provides an opportunity to bounce ideas around, get trusted constructive criticism and, importantly, to interact with people who understand what you’re up to! Many towns have writers’ groups – so perhaps search online or ask at your local library to find a group near you. But if you are a Christian author living in New Zealand, I’d like to point you in the direction of the New Zealand Christian Writers Guild.

This Saturday, the NZCWG is celebrating its 30th anniversary, with an event that features published author Dr John Sturt and Castle’s Managing Director John Massam as guest speakers. For 30 years the guild has been doing a fantastic job of supporting and up-skilling its authors. For more information about becoming a member, receiving copies of their publication or about their workshops and meetings, head over to the NZCWG website.

Another place to search for like-minded people and groups is on Facebook. Facebook is excellent for helping to build communities of people – no matter how geographically scattered those people might be. Recently I came across the Facebook group, Christian Writers Downunder – a friendly bunch of Australasian Christian writers getting together online. You’ll need a Facebook account, but you can visit their page and request to join in here.

So get alongside other authors, and avoid the pitfalls of always working alone.