Tag Archive | self-publishing

Writing advice – me? Eek!

I’ve always felt that I was not worthy to give writing advice. What could little old me say photocopier.jpgthat countless others have not already said, and probably better, and with more gravitas?

Still, I’ve been thinking recently about those who are, as I was for many years, slaving in their day jobs longing for a better future, wishing they could bring an end to a humdrum existence and find their muse in writing.

This is my report from the coal face.

Another life is possible, but it is not easy. The main reason to stick with the day job whilst writing – advice given by most writers these days – is that writing does not pay much. Traditionally published or self published, the result is not, for most of us, a sudden landslide of money, fame, and swanky socialising with celebs. On the contrary, it is often a lonely, self-doubting, poverty-stricken experience. Whether you can tolerate that depends on how much you enjoy writing – whether the end justifies the means.

It wasn’t easy for me to write while I was working full time at jobs that weren’t suited to my temperament; I just couldn’t switch off the work woes. Part time work was much better, so if anyone else is struggling with their muse, as long as you’re willing to endure the poverty, part-time could be the way to go.

The simple pleasure of doing something you truly enjoy, the excitement of holding your Me holding Angelica Diedown book, of seeing it in libraries and bookshops, and of reading reviews from people who have enjoyed your work are all the upsides. I didn’t think the downsides would be quite so down when I started out on this path, as in order to actually start writing properly I had to believe in myself, and convince myself my books were going to do well. After all, who would be motivated to try hard at anything if they believed they would fail?

At this point I’ve neither failed nor truly succeeded, at least to the extent of earning an actual living and maybe enough to travel and buy a house, but I have succeeded in completing three full novels, and they sell enough to pay some bills so I consider it a partial success. When I sat at my office desk for all those years fantasising about being the next Anne McCaffrey I thought it would be marvellous. Well I’m not yet the next Anne McCaffrey and it’s not marvellous, but it’s still an achievement to have three novels out there and know that people read them and they even make a bit of money!

So my advice is, go for it if you’re willing and able to cope with the downsides, and maybe, just maybe, the upsides will eventually become the greater.

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Progress on the sales front

I just realized that I haven’t blogged since August, so it seemed like a good idea to add another progress report.

I’m glad to say that things have picked up considerably lately with regard to book sales. I’m not sure why, mind you!

It seemed to start when the original Snowbooks versions of The Legacy and The Dream were remaindered (and in some cases were on sale in pound shops), after which there appeared to be a flurry of interest and more reads of this blog. It’s possible that people bought the Kindle versions of the books via word of mouth after that. Whatever the reason the sales graph has risen, and in December The Legacy reached the rank of no. 1 best seller in time travel romance on Amazon.

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The Legacy’s Amazon ranking over the past year

It has been hard to keep going at times, particularly while struggling financially, but I’m now feeling newly encouraged and hope to have my next book out later this year.

Thanks to everybody who has bought my books – I hope you enjoyed reading them as much as I enjoyed writing them!

Progress report

I haven’t been blogging very frequently lately, so maybe it’s time for a progress report at least.

I’ve just had the best sales yet on a Kindle Countdown Deal, with The Legacy selling over a hundred copies in total. I realize this doesn’t sound like I’m into the megabucks range – I’m a long way from that! – but compared with the way things were before I got back the rights to The Legacy and The Dream, it’s amazing. Back then I would get excited when I had a couple of sales in a month, so a hundred in seven days feels like pretty good going.Cover for The Legacy

Like most writers I want to make a living from doing what I love, and of course so far I am nowhere near that point, but there is improvement, albeit that at times it seems almost imperceptible.

I am currently working on two novels, both of which will have time travel elements. I enjoy writing ‘stranger in a strange land’ stories, where the main character has to put it all together herself (I haven’t yet braved writing from a male perspective!) and keep up appearances, so one of them is in that form. The other one is far more tricky but involves a dystopian near future and the 18th century. I’m still working out all the details with that one due to the complexity of the ideas so watch this space!

I also still have a children’s science fiction story work in progress that I hope to get finished at some point, and ideas for further novels occur far too often for me to keep up!

I’m going to carry on with self-publishing for now. I may submit work to agents at some point but although I would very much like my books to be in libraries and bookshops (as the versions of The Legacy and The Dream published by Snowbooks were, of course) and my paperbacks to sell better (available via CreateSpace) so far my experience of self-publishing has been good and enjoyable, and of course more lucrative, even though still a long way from enough to live on!

My self-publishing experience…the story so far

I thought maybe it was time, now that Angelica Died has been ‘out’ for three months, to talk about how things have gone.

I decided to self-publish after my first two books were traditionally published by a small publisher. I was, and am, very grateful to them for giving me my break, but this time around I wanted to try something different.

It was fun choosing my own cover, but also stressful and very time-consuming as I trawled through countless stock shots of ‘woman’ and ‘sea’ and then maybe ‘lonely woman’ and then maybe ‘stormy’ and so on. I had a specific image in mind, but none of the stock photo suppliers had it, so I had to settle for less. I still love my cover but I was horrified to discover not long ago that there is another recent book using this same stock shot for its cover! I thought that picture was pretty obscure, but obviously not so. Even traditional publishers use stock photos and it’s not so uncommon as one might think to find the same photo gracing more than one book. I’m not happy about it but until I can afford my own artwork or photo shoot I shall stick with the cover I have.

I also decided to put Angelica Died on CreateSpace, as I have a number of readers who prefer a paperback to a digital read. That proved to be easier than I expected. I knew nothing when I started but it was simple to have the cover made ready (I used a Fiverr.com seller) and even though my original text wasn’t in the correct size format (I picked the book size 8″ x 5.25″ after a lot of deliberation), CreateSpace’s software sorted all that out for me. The main thing, really, was trying to get the text to look like a proper book. I had to recall all the things I’d almost forgotten about from my early use of Word such as ‘widow/orphan control’, hyphenation, and types of page break, to eventually get the text formatted correctly.

Digital sales have been far better than with my two other books by this stage, possibly because I have the tools available to me through Kindle Direct Publishing to gain a little more attention via countdown deals. Sales have not been stellar but then I’m still a virtual unknown with no great promo schemes up my sleeve.

So, the verdict so far is…not too bad, but could be better!

On reaching a nadir

I just wanted to use the word nadir in a blog post heading! It’s one of my favourite words and in my opinion such a beautiful word should in fact mean the opposite of what it does. Zenith just doesn’t cut it as far as I’m concerned.

But yes, I am at a nadir. I wish I were at a zenith.

When I was first published it was amazing. I was in a cloud of happiness wondering how I got so lucky. And the moment when I held my first copy of The Legacy in my hands is one I’ll never forget. Those were my words, and they were in a book!

Two years later and with my second book out, it amazes me how the reality of being published is absolutely nothing like the myth. Friends have listened agog as I’ve told them how little I earn per book, and indeed how little I have actually earned. Most people think that if you’re published you’re on the way to at least a comfortable income, with maybe a bit of fame thrown in. No, sadly without a day job you’re likely on the way to poverty, and no one wants to know you when you’re just another unknown author among so many. Still, it’s not fame I want or need, but a reasonable income, and that seems to be like looking for snow in the desert.

If I’d known then what I know now, would I have given up work to write? Yes, because it was the only way I could achieve my dream. The day job was squeezing the creative life out of me and I couldn’t write other than in sporadic bursts when stress levels were low enough to allow it.

Now I’m finishing novel number three, and as I’ve mentioned in an earlier blog post, I shall be self-publishing this time. One agent has expressed an interest in my work, but not in this particular novel (although it’s changed drastically since she saw it). Either way I simply can’t wait the months or years it might take to obtain an agent and then for the book to sell to a publisher. I need to earn some money now. I can’t do any worse by self-publishing considering my earnings from traditional publishing so far would still only pay a couple of electricity bills.

So I am at a nadir in my writing career, struggling to keep cheerful in the face of continual disappointment, and plagued by bursts of despair, but writing is too important to me – too much a part of me – for me to do something else. It’s what I want to do and it always has been.

The novel formerly known as The Song

I’m pretty good at changing my mind about things, and now that I’m not hamstrung by any plans to offer my next book to a publisher (short of an absolutely fabulous offer of thousands and thousands of pounds!) I’ve had a lot of ideas about the book formerly known (to me at least) as The Song. I’ve been working madly on it lately, but the signs are that it may well become two novels. I’ve even considered making it a trilogy, mainly because ‘the muse is upon me’, but I’ve decided two books will be best. If the word count is as long as I anticipate then it will be two books, but if not then it will be a single book with two distinct parts.

My decision to self-publish my next novel is exciting and freeing, but I shall miss the pleasure of seeing it in libraries and bookshops. In the case of the latter I’ve seen almost no copies of my other two books in bookshops, but it has been especially heartening to know both my books are in quite a few libraries. If things go well with e-book sales then I’ll look at producing a paperback.

Watch this space for more news of…er…whatever title I finally decide upon!