Simple English ~ Nicola Prentis

Thoughts on ELT, English and whatever else comes into my head

I’m venturing into self-publishing …

Well, this feels highly exposing.

But, now I think of it, so did having books published by a publisher. The moment a book is ‘out there’ and judgeable, if it’s one you care about, which, so far, all of mine have been, is like holding yourself up to the public and asking them to rate you out of ten. Or five, since that’s what the all-important Amazon review is.

With books backed up by a publishing deal, there’s an element of protection for your ego. A publisher has invested time and maybe money in you and your ideas and the validation must mean that people who think it’s rubbish are, at least partly, wrong.

Anyway, with four published books and another on the way in 2016, I’ve decided to stop hawking Love Lessons, my long ago written, first stab at writing a novel, to agents and publishers. Actually, since the final rewrite, I’ve only sent it to one. And it was rejected, despite them being the publisher of my naughty novella. It might appear that this means it’s no good. But I think their reasons were not that it isn’t publishable, but that it doesn’t fit with the other writing. Which is true – there’s no filthy er*tica element in Love Lessons. I wouldn’t even describe it as steamy.

lovelessonscoverrszSophie Day is a broken-hearted, newly-qualified English teacher on her way to Rome to get over her ex. A disastrous encounter with The Italian Sex Pest on the plane over, becomes a classroom nightmare when Marco Mezzanotte turns out to be her first, highly important, executive one-to-one student. Flirting as a reflex, Marco derails her lessons into unsettling is-he-or-isn’t-he-asking-me-out episodes or downright humiliation.
Despite hating him, Sophie fights her growing attraction with school ma’am primness especially when she thinks he wants her to help him pick out a ‘You’re Dumped’ present for his current, stunning girlfriend. She has other reasons for hiding her interest in Marco as her frighteningly taloned and mini-skirted boss, Veronique aka Venomique, has her sights set on him too. 
Marco isn’t the only difficult student. From vacant teenagers to a plastic surgeon who can’t help dispensing his professional, personal, criticisms during lessons, can Sophie learn to deal with any of them?

The other reason they gave was that they didn’t feel it had enough of me in it. This is because they, like almost everyone else who has read or heard about the choose-your-own-er*tica, believe that that represents me the best. Such is the Er*tica Fallacy. No-one who hasn’t known you forever can quite shake the notion that you can only write what you know — and that “to know” something is to have done it. This makes no sense. While most are willing to believe that I go to *rgies and … aherm … etc no-one ever thinks I have a mirror that predicts the future as in The Tomorrow Mirror.

In fact, Love Lessons is about the most ‘me’ I’ve ever put into a book. It’s set in the world of ELT, the classroom scenes are all inspired by real-life students and Sophie might be a bit like I was when I first started teaching while Lisa is more like the teacher I was by the time I wrote the book. Other ELT archetypes make their appearance and I definitely couldn’t really say that bit about any resemblance to living persons being coincidental. Marco, unfortunately, is ten times more charming, sexy and wittier than any student I ever had and I’ve, sadly, never been to Rome.

So, self-publishing. Why? Well, I’m increasingly sceptical about the type of deal and, therefore, sales a non-famous, non-priority writer gets from a publisher. The romance market, including as it does, erotica, is very crowded. Half of it’s crap. Half of the crap is written by Names. To stand out you need to be extremely lucky, extremely good at the publicity and somehow manage to briefly pop your head above the rubbish and the high-profiles. And then you need to be good. In that order. This is all still true for self-publishing but at least you aren’t under any illusions about what the “fairy dust” of being published will do for you.

Self-publishing means you also get to keep the money being made off your writing AND keep the rights to your work. I was finally convinced of this by this article. My er*tica has had almost 4,000 downloads but I have averaged 7p per book for various reasons and have no rights over the content. I can’t do any worse on a per book basis at least!

I’m curious to see what will happen to this romance novel. I started Love Lessons in 2006 on the plane to Istanbul and it’s been written, re-written and edited in Turkey, England, Qatar and Spain. At first I had set out to write a Mills & Boon/Harlequin but I couldn’t as chick lit-ness kept creeping in so I went with that instead. I’m quite attached to it but I think I can handle reading reviews. It suits the summer read as it’s light and fun and makes no pretence to being literary. It’s pure chick lit but, that said, a man might like dipping into the classroom bits if he’s an ELT teacher. Women don’t need to have been a teacher to enjoy it but, if you hate chick lit, this is not for you.

Oh, and I designed and drew the cover and am pretty proud of myself!

If you’d like a copy, you can find it here on Amazon for $2.99. Other outlets coming shortly.



5 comments on “I’m venturing into self-publishing …

  1. brittneysahin
    July 23, 2015

    I agree about self-publishing. Best of luck!

    • Nicola
      August 1, 2015


  2. brittneysahin
    July 23, 2015

    Reblogged this on brittneysahin and commented:
    Great post on ‘why self-publishing’ …

  3. dilano71
    September 6, 2015

    Hi Nicola,

    Great post on self-publishing. I wrote an ebook a couple of years ago ‘A Short Guide to TEFL’ (pardon the plug) and it seems to sell about as well as other ebooks on Amazon related to ELT (not many!), but I get to keep most of the money I make (a few hundred quid a year).

    I’d be interested in hearing your thoughts about writing graded readers for B2/C1 level learners of English. As a C1 Spanish learner, I practise by reading pulpy crime novels (the male equivalent of chick lit perhaps?) which I can pick up for a couple of euros on Amazon. The relative simplicity of the writing is ideal for somebody like me (85% lexis rule) who wants to develop a reading habit in a second language without feeling like I’m studying.

    Looking forward to reading your next post.

    • Nicola
      September 6, 2015


      Congratulations on self-publishing AND making money! That sounds like more than I make from my nonELT published books.
      I haven’t written Graded Readers at that level, mine are A1ish, A2ish and B1ish. I know they do do higher ones which must be almost like abridged versions rather than noticeably graded but I could be wrong. I think, though this might not be what you’re asking, that at that level a Graded version is good for students wanting to read literary classics as they are written in such as way as to be too challenging and not as useful for learning real, modern English so reading the original is too hard and less worthwhile from a learning POV.
      However, for less taxing books, once a student is B2+ I always tell them to read originals of books they either already know in their own language translations or “easy” books like pulp crime as you suggest or those written from the POV of a child or self-help books as those tend to be written for ease of digestion. None of my students ever take my advice though! I actually managed to read Bridget Jones in Spanish when my Spanish can’t have been more than pre-int (and still is). Testament to the vocab learning potential of reading in another language, I still know “hacer polvo” as a result! (to shag) 🙂
      PS Did you know have a round-up of self-pubbed ELT books?

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This entry was posted on July 20, 2015 by in Thoughts, Writing and tagged , , , , , .
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