Preparing to Launch Your First Novel

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

You’re finished writing (and perhaps editing) your first novel, you’ve set up your online platform . . . now what? Exactly what do you have to do to publish, sell, and market your book?

You draw up a schedule filled with tasks and deadlines to keep you on track. Here’s a very brief—and definitely incomplete—schedule that a novelist might follow:

  • Month 1: Submit your manuscript to literary agents.
  • Month 4: Follow up with agents.
  • Month 5: If you haven’t yet found an agent, submit your manuscript to book publishers.
  • Month 8: Follow up with publishers.
  • Month 9: If you haven’t found an agent or a publisher, you might consider self-publishing your book. If you choose this route, set a publication date and apply for an ISBN (or two ISBNs if you’re publishing both an ebook and print book). You can also choose to register copyright for your book. Once you have this information, create cover copy and a title page in Word. Next, hire a cover designer.
  • Months 10 to 12: Once you’ve hired a cover designer, ask him or her to create Advance Review Copy (ARC) and final versions of the cover for both the print book and the ebook. Be sure to add the ISBN to the back cover. Hire a formatter for the ebook and print book.
  • Months 13 to 14: Using a program such as CreateSpace, print several copies of the ARC version of the book; be sure to use the ARC version of the cover. Search for prospective reviewers to review your book before it’s published. Ask the reviewers to email their reviews to you and send them the ARC copies as soon as you receive them in the mail.
  • Month 15: Follow up with the ARC reviewers to see if they received their books. Contact PR firms for blog tours; if they turn you down, consider creating your own blog tour.
  • Month 16: Finalize plans an set up a schedule for the blog tour.
  • Months 17 and 18: Place ads for your book and start the blog tour. At the conclusion of the tour, email each blog to thank them for participating.
  • Month 19: Email ARC reviewers who have not yet sent their reviews to you.
  • Month 20: First, publish the ebook. Next, publish the printed book; be sure to use the final version of the cover and text, not the ARC versions. Add the reviews (from the ARC reviewers) to your book pages on Amazon and Goodreads. Announce the publication of your novel on your social media accounts (author webpage, Twitter, Facebook, etc.), and add your book’s cover, blurb, and link to its purchase page on Amazon to your author site. Finally, send a personal email to the ARC reviewers to thank them.

Then write your next novel and start the process all over again!

Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in April 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at   or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪ 




Photo credit: Underwood Typewriter via photopin (license)


Becoming a Clothing “Hoarder” in Tough Times

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

 As I entered my 50s and as the economy began to tank (perfect timing!), I became aware of one scary new reality: my days in the paid workforce were probably numbered. All around me, people my age were being forced out of their jobs, which were being turned into poorly-paying part-time gigs or outsourced to lower-wage countries. And, thanks to age discrimination, many of these same people, even the best-educated ones, had a hard time finding a new job, especially one that paid as well as their old one. All too often, these discouraged workers found themselves giving up their quest for employment and retiring early.

And when these middle-aged people—too young to draw a pension—become unemployed long-term and their benefits run out, they lose access to a steady income. That means, of course, that their ability to spend money is limited, and they need to “make do” with that they already have.

Sure enough, my own job gradually become more precarious, thanks to a company reorganization and, a few years later, the sale of the division I worked for. Faced with this difficult new reality, I began planning for the day when I, too, would need to “make do”. In other words, I limited my clothing purchases to items that I could wear not only right away, but long into my retirement years. I began to hoard clothing!

Now that I’m retired, I’m glad I made the choice to become a hoarder. There’s very little that I need to buy—basically, only replacement pieces—and my wardrobe will look good and serve me well for years to come. Most importantly, I don’t have the stress of needing to buy new clothing on a limited budget.

If you’re over 50 and would like to try my rather unorthodox strategy, here are some suggestions:

  • Choose one theme for your wardrobe. This could be either an established style (romantic, classic, sporty, etc.) or an original style devised by you. In my case, I have combined tailored 1940’s to 1960’s pieces (and recreations of them) with preppy modern classics to create my own “preppy vintage” style.
  • Choose a style that never or rarely dates; that way, you’ll never again need to replace an entire wardrobe.
  • Look for versatile clothing that can be combined with a lot of other pieces and worn almost anywhere, such as a simple dress in a good wool, a fitted shirt in a cotton sateen, a cashmere twinset in a brilliant colour. But also look for interesting “statement pieces”, such as a pencil skirt in leather or a silk blouse in a rich print.
  • Stick with one silhouette (e.g., fitted all over, fitted and flared, etc.) and choose one or two styles for each type of clothing within that silhouette. For example, fitted hip-length jackets, collared shirts and pullovers, slim pants.
  • Stick with classic pieces unless the trendy item you’ve fallen in love with fits into your style and can become a long-term (5-10 year) part of your wardrobe. In my case, I purchased a couple of trendy items—a jumpsuit and culottes—in the knowledge that they would fit perfectly into my retro-themed wardrobe.
  • Narrow your palette to three to six fashion colors (plus neutrals) per season.
  • Narrow your shopping to a few brands that offer similar clothing.
  • Choose clothing in natural fabrics, such as wool, cotton, silk, and linen. Clothing in synthetic fabrics wears out quickly and is uncomfortable to wear.
  • Only buy quality clothing, even if you have to buy some or all of it on sale.
  • But don’t bother with clothing sales unless you know exactly what you want before the sale begins. Too often, women end up buying marked-down clothing that they never wear only because of the reduced price. If possible, try on the clothing in the store before it goes on sale just to make sure that you really want it. Then keep your eye peeled for sales (either by checking the store’s website or by getting on its mailing list) and grab the item once it’s marked down.
  • Buy less clothing and try to make every purchase count.
  • Obey the 5-10 year rule: never buy a piece of clothing at any price unless you can see yourself wearing it for 5-10 years.
  • Once you’ve established your wardrobe, only purchase replacement pieces.
  • Make sure all of your clothing fits perfectly; if it doesn’t, take it to a tailor.

Do you have any ideas for building a “retirement wardrobe”? Feel free to post your comments.


Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in the spring of 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪ 


Photo credit: Enchantée Closet via photopin (license)


The Best Bloggers for New Indie Novelists

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist. Please sign up for free updates at ‪ 

Are you a new indie novelist wondering how to publish, market, and promote your novel? Wonder no more! These bloggers are here to help:

  • Jane Friedman: The mission of Jane Friedman, a former publisher of Writer’s Digest, is to educate writers on all aspects of the publishing industry. Topics covered by her award-winning blog: how to publish your book; how to self-publish your book; writing a novel synopsis; how to find a literary agent for your book; should you hire a professional editor; 5 WordPress themes for professional authors. Visit her at



  • Booklife is Publishers Weekly’s site for indie authors. The site provides guidance on topics such as writing tips, marketing, design, and social media, and includes profiles of indie authors, all at


  • Writer’s Digest’s blog is a treasure trove of information for new novelists, covering everything from literary agent listings and ideas on how to combat author anxiety to writing successful query letters and tips for getting rid of writer’s block, all at


  • Author Jody Hedlund provides guidance to fellow writers on such subjects as stalled plots, tips for increasing your writing input, and ideas for staying motivated during the long process of writing a novel:


  • Indie Reader is the definitive resource for indie authors, covering indie books, authors, and independent publishing. Includes reviews of indie books. Visit




That’s just a brief sampling of the help available. Indie novelists, you are not alone!


Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in the spring of 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at

or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪ 




Photo credit: IMG_0942 via photopin (license)


Should You Write Your Novel “For the Market”?


By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist


According to popular wisdom, novelists who want to sell lots of books “should” write the types of books that most readers supposedly want to buy, principally fiction that falls within certain established genres such as romance, horror, and mystery.

On the surface, this advice makes a lot of sense. Book publishers are more likely to buy conventional genre novels, mainly because they have large, dedicated audiences. Publishing is a business, after all, and publishers need to sell as many books as possible.

But the reasoning behind this advice is flawed. Sure, there are large audiences for these types of books, but publishers put out a lot of them, creating a lot of competition for readers. The result is too many authors and publishers producing far too many similar novels, novels that tend to be bland, boring, unoriginal, and even superficial.

Lost in the shuffle is a very different type of book fan, a fan who is frequently ignored by book publishers: the sophisticated reader. This breed of reader is hungry for thoughtful, original writing, writing free of stifling convention, writing bursting with complex characters and unpredictable plots, writing that says something fresh and startling about the human condition.

So should more novelists “ignore the market” and write what they want? My answer to that question would be a qualified yes. Yes, more novelists should write what they want to write. That type of writing is more of a creative challenge for the writer and can be more exciting and rewarding for the reader. And the world hardly needs more predictable and pedestrian novels. And serious writers do have the option to self-publish. But . . . it’s hard to sell a self-published novel, even a well-written and professionally produced one. After all self-published authors don’t have the same resources as book publishers.

So serious novelists should continue to write from the heart but maybe, after they self-publish their work and start to sell a reasonable number of copies, they should band together to persuade publishers to make unconventional, challenging novels more widely available.

An impossible task perhaps? Not when you consider the fact that a number of offbeat, critically acclaimed novels have managed to sell well even though they didn’t fit into established genres: Life of Pi by Yann Martel, How to Build a Girl by Caitlan Moran, and almost any novel by Margaret Atwood and John Irving.

Kathleen Jones’ first novel, a midlife comic romance set in the world of stand-up comedy, will be published in the spring of 2018 by Moonshine Cove Publishing, LLC. Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at

or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪ 




Photo credit: Thomas Hawk, Read a Book, via photopin (license)







How to Wear Vintage Clothing Without Turning Yourself Into an Antique

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

One of my oddball passions is collecting and wearing antique clothing from the 1940s and 1950s. A long-time classic movie fan, I’m drawn by the ultra-feminine styles, fine fabrics, and precise tailoring of the clothing worn by the Hollywood stars of that era. When I started purchasing vintage clothing in 2003, I tried to mimic that look, combining a fitted, nipped-in waist suit jacket with a full skirt appliqued with shiny beads.

Of course, I ended up looking ridiculous. My outfits were more costumes than ensembles. But I still loved vintage clothing and didn’t want to give up on it. After fourteen years of trial and error, I’ve finally learned how to really integrate vintage pieces into a modern wardrobe:

  • Choose a specific era, the one that suits you the best.
  • Limit yourself to only one vintage item per outfit. I usually base outfits around my signature piece: a 1940s or 1950s fitted wool, hip-length jacket with a nipped-in waist and pretty dressmaker details, such as fabric-covered buttons and satin-trimmed lapels.
  • Mix modern and vintage clothing and stick to one silhouette. I stick to a fitted silhouette, mixing fitted antique jackets with slim fitting, tailored, simple modern sportswear, such as collared button-down shirts, trim ankle pants, and pencil skirts.
  • Don’t be afraid to refashion vintage clothing to make it more modern and flattering. I hired a tailor to recut and shorten a mid-calf, A-line, gray wool skirt from the 1940s (half of a suit) into a slim, knee-length pencil skirt.
  • Search for modern pieces that look vintage, such as a full-skirted dress or a jacket with a peplum. Alternatively, you can buy vintage patterns online and pay a dressmaker or tailor to make them up for you in new fabrics. Both of these choices can result in pieces that mix well with real vintage items but look fresher and more modern.


With a bit of thought and experimentation, vintage clothing can fit easily into a modern wardrobe and open up a range of exciting style choices in a retail environment increasingly dominated by bland and cheaply-produced clothing.

Want to Read More?

Check out Rebecca Emily Darling’s post, “How to Wear Vintage Clothing Without Looking Like You’re Wearing a Costume” at

Do you have any tips for adding vintage clothing to a modern wardrobe? If you do, please share them with us.

Visit Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist, online at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪ 



Photo credit: carbonated Vogue Balmain suit 1083, 1949 via photopin (license)





Where Are the Heroines in Romance Novels?

By Kathleen Jones, The Quirky Novelist

Please check out my latest post on Romance Junkies:

Kathleen Jones is the author of an upcoming midlife romance novel set in the world of stand-up comedy. Visit her at or on Twitter at and sign up for free updates at ‪