Tag Archives: ebooks

It’s quiet because….

…For the first year ever, I’m actually DOING NaNoWriMo. It’s scary and busy and means I have to actually concentrate and commit and lots of other words that begin with “c”.

This won't be the cover  or the title, but I needed something to upload to the NaNo website so it looked better...

This won’t be the cover or the title, but I needed something to upload to the NaNo website so it looked better…

I’ve decided to write a sequel to “Eddie and the Kingdom” for several reasons.

1: Someone asked me. Just one person, but you know, there’s such a thing as customer service and responding to your readership.

2: I had a bit of an idea for the story.

3: The first book was only 50,000 words or so, which is the NaNo target.

4: “Eddie and the Kingdom” was the first novella I ever wrote, and I wanted to see if I could do it faster and maybe even better. Eddie took a year or more. This first draft should be done inside a month (currently at 20,000 words after six writing sessions).

5: Everyone else and his Mum has a series. This way, I get to write book three next year and call it an “Eddie novel” or “A novel of the Kingdom”. Or “Marvel: The Guardians of the Galaxy Strike Back!” if I want to get sued into penury.

So that’s why I’m taking the time to write this post and explain why I haven’t got time to write any posts.

How are YOU getting on with YOUR novel? Post an excerpt or link below!

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Birthday week sale!

DSCN7810Once again, it’s the week before my birthday, so I’ve reduced all my e-books to $0.99!

You can find them all on my Amazon.com author page , but if you’ve never read this blog before, here’s a run down of each one:

Coffee Time Tales – five stories perfect for your coffee break, from back in the days when I wrote for magazines.

Coffee Time Tales 2 – more of the same.

Sci-Fi Shorts – four short tales of science fiction, including the award-winning “Boglet” and the Golden Age of Sci-Fi style “Twist Stiffly and the Hounds of Zenit Emoga”

Troubled Souls – Three stories from a uniquely male perspective, and the opening chapters of “Eddie and the Kingdom”

Tribute – My YA novella about Lisa, who wants to step out of the shadow of her famous musician father, but runs into his old bandmate and begins to see things a bit differently.

The Great Canadian Adventure – The real-life account of our first year in British Columbia

Eddie and the Kingdom – My novella of the zombie apocalypse. Eddie has carved out a comfortable life in the post apocalyptic world, until Jackie arrive and tells him about the Kingdom that’s about to engulf his home.

The Poems of Edwin Plant – A short collection of odd poems.

If you’ve already bought any of these e-books, then the perfect birthday present would be for you to leave a review on Amazon. Doesn’t matter what you say, honesty is always best, and very much appreciated.

Looking forward to another year!

How things change.

My Fire was featured on the cover of my first e-book, "Coffee Time Tales" (Now re-covered)

This was the first cover I designed myself. And it shows. The book now has a better one.

Just over two years ago I published my first e-book, “Coffee Time Tales” (http://amzn.to/16z6R9y ). It was a bit of a joke, a bit of fun, just throwing together some old short stories into a single volume and knocking up a cover pic. There was no marketing plan, just telling people I knew online about it, and doing the obligatory free five day giveaway.

Yesterday I found the blog post where I discussed the publishing of the book. A friend asked how it had gone in the comments section, and I replied that I was pleased with the modest 150 downloads.

150.

Not so long ago I re-worked “Troubled Souls” (http://amzn.to/17RZzOH), to tie in with the newly-released “Eddie and the Kingdom” ( http://amzn.to/18mSF2w) . I blogged about the re-release, went on Twitter, alerted people to the upcoming giveaway and haunted several publicity blogs, logging in to them to post details of the launch. I actually worked quite hard. Just quite hard, not actually hard.

“Troubled Souls” just about topped fifty downloads. Worldwide.

I know I’m not good at pushing my books. I know I don’t do all the right things, because this is a fun venture and I just can’t take it seriously – I get paid for my playwriting and reviewing – but I think this story does illustrate how saturated the e-book market has become. My book of drivel could garner 150 downloads with no effort two years ago. Now a book I worked on promoting sinks almost without trace (It did get a couple of great reviews, thank you!)

You don’t just need a great book, a great plot, proper formatting and an eye-catching and professional cover. You need determination, marketing, planning and the will to be in it for the long haul.

Prices rise and fall….

Next month I’m experimenting with price points by raising the cost of all my e-books. Except one.

It’ll be the fifth anniversary of our emigration on March 9th, so I thought I would drop the price of “The Great Canadian Adventure” for the whole month. It’s the true-life account of our first year, from the week before we flew out to the purchase of our house. I’ve tried to include helpful links and also added in material from my wife’s viewpoint to balance my own writing.

It’s currently available for $4.99 at Amazon, but will be down to just $1.99 from the 1st March.

Find it in the US HERE

in the UK HERE

and in Canada HERE

And if you’ve already got it, don’t forget to leave a review to warn… I mean, encourage other readers.

Celebrating failure

Don't get overwhelmed by the goals you set yourself....

Don’t get overwhelmed by the goals you set yourself….

My favourite Douglas Adams quote of all time refers to deadlines:

“I love deadlines, particularly the whooshing noise they make as they go by…”

For the #RomanceChallenge that I picked to kick off this year, I gave myself a tough deadline – I was going to write a 35,000 word novella between the end of January and Feb 14th (Since publishing a romance e-book on Valentine’s Day seemed like a good marketing move…)

I’d like to say my unexpected bout of Lassa Fever (or Bubonic Plague, Black Death or whatever…Clearly it wasn’t just FLU, that would be pathetic…) was the reason that the work is stalled at 10,000 words. Certainly it didn’t help to lose a fortnight, but since then, I’ve really had plenty of time to bang out the required wordage. I mean, I read Rachel Aaron’s excellent book on increasing your word count per day, and by that token I should be done and edited and published already.

I didn’t make enough progress to be done by the deadline, especially since there are many other domestic tasks to get done by the weekend, not least being Tiny Weasel’s birthday preparations. Now I have a choice. I can flip tables in frustration and announce that the project was a failure. Or, I can just keep plugging away, and put out the book when it’s ready.

Some years ago, I complained to Mrs Dim that I have a completion neurosis. I start many, many odd projects in the course of any given year, but most of them will languish half-complete for a long, long time. It’s not that they don’t get finished, it’s that they don’t get finished in order, or within the original timeframe.

My Mandalorian armour, made for Fan Expo 2012. Yet to appear at Fan Expo...

My Mandalorian armour, made for Fan Expo 2012. Yet to appear at Fan Expo…

As I’ve got older (not necessarily grown up, you understand) I have become more organised. I have seen the value in pursuing a task until it is complete. I have less guilt over leaving sillier projects to languish while I finish the worthwhile things.

So I’ll be annoyed with myself for not hitting the target I painted for myself, but I’ll be glad that Tiny Weasel doesn’t have to take a backseat to my writing progress. I’ll be glad the house gets hoovered and there’s food to eat, because there’s ALSO the odd e-book now and then, published when I’ve finished, and that’s fine.

As I sat down to compose this, WordPress told me Kristen Lamb had just written a blog post in a very similar vein (Though she doesn’t have Mandalorian armour. As far as I know…)

http://warriorwriters.wordpress.com/2014/02/12/setbacks-success-excuses-oh-my-the-truth-about-publishing-myths-about-muses/

The point is that your goals are things to aspire to, not things to bring you more misery. Strive to be better, to achieve more, and be content with what you do achieve.

Correlation does not imply causation

That’s my caveat for today, the last day of my free giveaway of “Troubled Souls”. I’m keeping it in mind because I’ve had FOUR sales this month (and this month is less than 10 days old) when I usually get around two or three at most. Four sales, with three being the follow-up book to “Troubled Souls”.

Available at the Kindle Store

Available at the Kindle Store

This is the first time I’ve seen any connection between a giveaway and sales, but this is also the first time I’ve given away a book with a direct link to a connected book. Previously, “Troubled Souls” mentioned that “Eddie and the Kingdom” was coming, but there was no link. Now “Eddie” is finished, published and the link is in “Troubled Souls”. And at least one person has chosen to buy another of my books.

At just over forty downloads in total (worldwide), this has been my most successful giveaway, and the one I worked hardest on. The usefulness of the giveaway gets debated a lot, but I think we can assume causation here. With a direct link between the book being given away free and the book that follows it, I have generated some sales from the free offer.

This should be good news for people writing series books – trail the next book at the end of your previous book, and include a link, and free giveaways of book one should lead to some sales of book two. Make it easy for your customer to spend their money – they get to the end of the first story, read a teaser for the second and the link to purchase is right there….Click!

I don’t think there’s ever going to be a magic bullet – something that everyone can do that will guarantee sales or success. Anyone who tells you that is likely trying to sell you their book “How to sell your e-book”. But in this case, I think there is a connection between the giveaway and the sales, and if I were a better marketer, both the number of downloads and the number of sales might be higher.

That doesn’t mean the number of sales of unconnected books of mine would be higher, though. At least one person has said they liked my short stories but weren’t interested in zombies. My butterfly attention span when it comes to genre is certainly working against me there. But if you find your niche and love living in it, you could use this tactic to add sales from giving away your older books.

Is it time to stop e-publishing?

Today looked a lot like Tuesday. There are school trips to volunteer for, evening meals to be planned before Karate, the washing has to go on…Tuesday stuff.

Just because it looks professionally printed, doesn't mean it makes sense...

Just because it looks professionally printed, doesn’t mean it makes sense…

But then I got to the computer and a friend had posted a link to Chuck Wendig’s latest post. Here it is:

http://terribleminds.com/ramble/2014/02/03/slushy-glut-slog-why-the-self-publishing-shit-volcano-is-a-problem/

Apologies for the profanity – it’s his, not mine, and it’s just the way he is, bless him.

I like Chuck’s posts, and I like his books. He writes in a way that sounds like a snarl, like the words come pouring out at speed, but I’ll bet he revises and works really hard on every sentence. In fact, since my e-copy of one of his books was published with some editing notes left in, I KNOW he does that.

Anyway, I like to read his books and his blog, and I usually find myself in agreement with what he says. In the case of e-publishing, what he tends to say is “There’s no problem with it, but since there are no Publishing House Editors, or agents involved, YOU have to be the guardian of the quality of your work.” There’s literally nothing stopping you typing a stream of consciousness novel and uploading it with a crayon drawing for a book cover.

In his latest article, Chuck argues that the very freedom that e-publishing has brought has clogged the virtual bookshelves. Finding decent books amongst the dross has become harder and harder, and many people are taking price points, or even the self-publishing aspect itself, a indicators of quality. You can see the logic – “I downloaded five $0.99 books, and all of them were terrible. I won’t bother with books that are sold so cheaply.” Or “Every self-pubbed book I’ve read has been riddled with mistakes. I’ll stick with traditional publishers from now on.”

The very first e-book I bought was “Confessions of an Ugly Stepsister”, by Gregory Maguire. It was for my Hewlett Packard iPaq, and it had some beautiful illustrations, as well as the text. That was a book that had recently come out through a traditional publisher. I later bought “The Hunger Games” and “Save the Cat!”. These books looked, on my e-reader/phone, just like they did in the stores.

Then I bought a book that was self published. The author had set up a small press, but was writing their own books as well as advising and publishing others. (No gender indication or clues here.) The book wasn’t good. The cover was pretty enough, looking more professional than amateur, but the story was unlikely. Within the first two chapters I was openly scornful of what I was being asked to accept, and I had already found upwards of ten spelling or grammatical mistakes. Although I had downloaded the book on a free offer, it was going on to charge around $7 per copy, and this was only the latest in  a series of books by this author. This book had been written by someone with experience, edited and proofread, and yet it was still a very bad book.

Perhaps the problem is identifying the difference between a bad book and books we don’t like. “On the Road” is held up as a classic novel. My Father-in-Law has two copies. I read it years ago and despised it. I found the characters unlikeable, their journey pointless and the whole book depressing. Does that make it a bad book? I don’t think so. I won’t read it again, but I know that other people reading it have found it to be marvelous and inspiring and so on. No one reads it and says “I hated all the spelling mistakes, and the main character’s name changes spelling three times through the book.” As a novel, it’s done properly, despite the author writing the whole thing on one continuous roll of paper. It’s been properly edited and proofread and packaged. It’s a good book, and I just don’t like it.

Compare that with other books I’ve read, where the story might have appealed, if it weren’t for the constant errors and formatting disasters that drag me out of the story and make me grind my teeth. It’s a bad book.

All these are things I thought of while reading Chuck’s blog today, and it made me think about the eight or nine e-books I have on Amazon. I’m giving one away currently, and it’s not setting the world aflame. The last few days I’ve been wondering if there was any way to get more people to download it, to review it, to tell their friends about it. And now, I’m considering removing it, along with all the others.

I like the books I’ve written. The collections of short stories were fun to produce, and writing longer things was a novel experience (heh heh heh!) But as I mentioned before, it’s been two years since I began putting my work up on Amazon, and in that two years, though some books have sold, I’ve not earned anything from them. And in addition to not earning, I’m adding to the heap of books people have to wade through to find what IS worth reading.

I wonder if it’s time to admit to myself that writing prose is only ever going to be a hobby, and if that’s the case, is it something I need to share with the world? My plays have a publisher and moderate success – they have a purpose, in that they are sold and performed all around the world, every month. I get an income from those sales, and people out there get plays to act in. But these e-books go out into the world and I worry that they don’t sell, even though I’ve told myself there’s nothing riding on those sales, that I’m just publishing for the fun of it. Well, that doesn’t feel like a worthwhile reason any more.

All this has more weight right now because I have few commitments this week – no library shifts until Saturday, just the one school trip to volunteer for today, and the laundry already more than half-done. I have the Romance Challenge novel standing at 7,500 words, and four days of writing might see most of a first draft completed. That would leave a week of half-days to finish and revise and publish before my self-imposed deadline of Feb 14th.

And then? Do I watch the stats for another e-book, telling myself it doesn’t matter if it sells, but wishing it would? Wouldn’t my time this week and next be better spent working on sketches and pays for TLC and planning Tiniest Weasel’s birthday, and something for Mrs Dim for Valentine’s Day?

It’s not that I’m thinking about stopping being a writer. That’s something I’ve thought about before and rejected, because I couldn’t stop being a writer. But maybe I can do without the extra worry of publishing e-books. If I’m finding my head full of short stories, I can write them down, but there’s no need to take them further, and if I do, there are always competitions out there, if you look hard enough.

Answers in the comments please – vote “Give it up!” or “Stick it out!” . Remember, the e-books were never meant to turn me into the next JK Rowling or Hugh Howey, so it shouldn’t be about financial success.