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Archive for the ‘Indie Publishing’ Category

It’s been a while since I’ve done one of these but as I’ve just put in my tax return  the timing seems right.

First up, self publishing/indie publishing has been great for me on many levels. I’ve never felt so good about my writing. It’s liberating, hard work and fun. I’m not rich. I’ve not made it big. But I’m happy!

I also scored a short listing for Beneath the Floating City, my collection of SF stories. That was a lovely surprise.

My sales figures are not to hand but I’ll try to give an indicative account.

My Bookbub last year allowed me to give away 27,000 copies of Shatterwing. I was also book of the week on ibooks Australia

I also used Instafreebie (now called Prolific Works) to give out free copies and to build my newsletter subscribers. That’s a bit harder to count but it is in the thousands as well. I also give away Argenterra and Beneath the Floating City. If you are looking for freebies then the newsletter sign up below will give you access to those.

Earnings from royalties from books and direct cash sales is $4500 approximately.

My expenses were $6300 approximately. Most of that was on editing, proofreading, a new laptop, toner and other product related things. So I made a loss. I thought I made a profit because I still had money in my book account, but then I realised I had invested more money in my books before the end of the financial year.

I had a international Bookbub for Dragon Wine Volume One-a box set of the first two books for 99 cents in July this year (so not included in the figures above). That wasn’t huge but the investment by readers in the series has been great. I’ve had the best response in people buying the rest of the series, particularly in the UK. I sold 327 books in July. In the UK that was 160 of my box set. I didn’t get a USA Bookbub so did some newsletter swaps and had sales of Dragon Wine in the USA too, but without the hefty price tag. In the following month I sold 360 books on Amazon. In the USA that was 142 sales, UK 173 and in September sales were around 63 units across the Amazon stores.

The upshot is I have money in the bank and I’m thinking of using it to put new covers on the Silverlands series. Argenterra doesn’t sell as well as it should and I think that’s because the cover I asked for was trying to depict what was going on in the novels, rather that speaking to the genre. They are epic fantasy and I need covers that call out to epic fantasy readers. An expensive newbie mistake.

These earnings amounts are small. Yes. That’s true. But they are also a damn sight more money than I saw through traditional publishing.

I haven’t invested in a big way with advertising. I might try that next year. I have done Bookbub, Bargain Booksy and newsletter swaps this year. All have been worth it to find new readers.

For the quarter July, August and September I earned $1500. I had a book launch so that accounted for quite a bit of that, but there were expenses of the launch too.

Right now I’m thinking about my strategy and tasks for 2019. I hope to build on what I have done this year.

I have these books out

Traditional published with Harlequin

Spiritbound by Dani Kristoff

Bespelled  by Dani Kristoff

Invoked by Dani Kristoff

Rayessa and the Space Pirates under my name

Rae and Essa’s Space Adventures under my name

Self/indie published under my name

Opi Battles the Space Pirates

Shatterwing

Skywatcher

Deathwings

Bloodstorm

Skyfire

Moonfall

Argenterra

Oathbound

Ungiven Land

Beneath the Floating City (short story collection SF)

Through These Eyes (short story collection Magic realism)

Under Dani Kristoff

A Sorcerer’s Spell

I have also put out

Dragon Wine Volume One, Two and Three, which are box sets of two dragon wine books. I’ll be putting out a complete set but like the Silverlands Series that will only be available on Ibooks and Kobo.

That’s 13 books put out by me and 5 with traditional publishers. But a lot more when you include box sets by way of products.

I’m hoping to put out 2-4 books out next year. Stay tuned.

Here is the amazing cover art for the complete series of Dragon Wine.

 

For free books and good deals and news from me sign up to my newsletter.

 

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This blog post is brought to you by systems failure. I have marking to do but the Uni’s website is down and all marking is in the computer system so damn…I also have face to face marking from 12 but that has a work around. I can’t even access my schedule. So either I’m going to sit there or the system is coming back on line and I’ll know when it is over.

This blog post is brought to you by a glitch…I think that would make an excellent short story title for the domino effect of a glitch and the end of the world. I’m sure someone has already written that. But there would be on evil overlord because the necessary spreadsheets for world domination would be inaccessible.

This post is going to be about writing. If that bores you look away now.

I’m currently revising or tidying up the first draft of Moonfall, which is the last part of the Dragon Wine series. This is a daunting task. You see the draft was written by a mad woman who obviously had no idea of continuity. I was suffering from RSI and some sort of brain fugue at the time of drafting and I wrote it in half hour sessions…and it shows.

I am up to chapter four. Oh man I want to kill this MS. I want to stab it in the heart. I want to pull my hair out. I wail into the darkness – why am I doing this?!

It’s painful. I can’t tell you why apart from the above. I have to think to fix the ms just to get it to beta readers. Then when they tell me what’s shit about the draft I have to think again and fix it. Then I send it to the editor who will no doubt tell me how completely shit it is again and I’ll have to take vitamin pills and think up some more stuff.

Why? Why am I doing this? Writing fiction? Writing any goddamn thing? I must be completely mad. I could be sewing or vegging in front of the tele or reading a book or drinking tea with friends.

If this sounds familiar to you then I am not alone. If you haven’t been through this then maybe you’ll recognise the signs at some stage. If you write perfect drafts without pain and are marvellous and gorgeous I could hate you.

I have to face the music. I was happy with the draft when I drafted it. It was the final instalment and I thought it kicked ass (arse!) but in the cold light of revising I can see so much wrong with it I want to cry. I don’t cry though, I get ranty.

Here I am ranting!

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I always forget all the things you have to do when you travel and all the costs involved that you don’t think about when you book that fateful ticket!

I had a big score today. My travel insurance is through my credit card and I don’t have to pay extra for coverage. Big win. I did, however, need to pay for a new passport.

I am not quite excited yet. I leave on Thursday morning from Canberra, fly to Sydney, then Sydney to Dallas and a late fright from Dallas to Indianapolis. I leave and arrive on the same day. It’s a weird kind of time travel. On my way home, I lose two days.

The other weird thing is that I booked to go earlier  so I could get a cheap flight. Hahahaha! Then I spend $1000 for accommodation for that week that I’m there earlier. That’s just stupid. I put up my hand. Yes, I’m stupid.

Being a writer, however, I can make use of that week, exploring the city, observing the culture, the food, putting all that experience to good use.

The reason I’m going is for the PCA conference where I’m giving a paper on my research. This is the first foray into the research results from the romance writers and readers. A good test run because when I get back I must start on the exegesis, which is an in depth look at the research. Even then, I probably won’t cover all of it as there’s just so much. People are talking about a book. Oh well, if I get funding I suppose I can write the book. I can relax a bit better now that I have the first cut of the presentation done.

I wanted to try to catch an SF convention while I was in the US but the PCA runs into Easter so I can’t. I have a couple of days after and they are hard to fill, mostly because I’m finding it hard to decide. Should I go to Chicago and check that place out. I have some stories set there so I could research the location. Or should I hang around Indiana and go up north to check out the Amish museum and stuff. Should I go or should I stay??? Argh. Then I had a thought to go to Nashville, or just fly to Dallas early and check out that city. Man oh man. Decisions. Decisions. DECISIONS!

I’ve sent Skyfire off to a beta reader for comments. My other beta readers are reading Sihe, my phd novel. I might have mentioned my editor for Dragon Wine Series went back to work at Pan Macmillan so I had to find someone else. That was good. All booked in for early May. That means a lot of hard work in April to get it ready. Yesterday I started on the tidy up of Moonfall, as that has to go to beta readers by the end of April if it’s to get to the editor in June. Who says there aren’t deadlines when you indy publish? You can’t muck people about. If you book something in it has to be ready. If the editor smashes it and tells me it needs more work that’s on me.

Also, while I’m away the Aurealis Awards will be announced. I have finally got Beneath the Floating City in Print. Here is a link to Amazon.

 

 

So the upshot is that I can safely say that Skyfire, Dragon Wine Part Five and Moonfall, Dragon Wine Part Six are coming soon.

A stay tuned for Donna’s travel blogs from Indianapolis, Indiana, USA>

 

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Back in this post I said I’d give an update after my Bookbub in October, which was for Shatterwing, Free, USA only. See previous Indie publishing post here.

I think my earnings for September were higher than I first anticipated because iBooks mixes up the currencies and it isn’t until you get the invoice notice that you know what you are being paid. I think I estimated $76 from iBooks and it was more like $126. Also, I didn’t twig that Amazon hadn’t paid me any US earnings…I guess I wasn’t too vigilant or whatever. The deal is that for all payments except for Australian sales I have to wait until I hit the $100 or equivalent. In October, I was paid out my USA earnings from April 2016 until August 2017. This is what I mean when I say notional earnings. There are timing differences and minimum amount requirements before you actually see any money.

In October, I bought Patty Jansen’s Indie publishing book called, Self Publishing Unboxed, The Three-year, No-bestseller Plan for Making a Sustainable Living From Your Fiction and read it. (link to the book is here)

I bought the second book which is focussed on Newsletters etc. The second book is a bit advanced for me but I’ll get there.

I’ve been receiving Patty’s advice for a while. She’s probably the reason I am where I am now. She has some very practically and insightful advice no matter where you are in the process. Her book gave me a few gems. Such as I opened up a dedicated bank account as per the book and I’m so pleased with that. I have changed over all the payments to that account and linked it to Paypal and have a debit card. This means that my Instafreebie dues come out of that account instead of my personal credit card. It means when I look at my accounts I can see my book earnings. You can’t imagine how exciting that is. Instead of them being swallowed up by bills or spending them. May aim is to be able to pay for my edit of Skyfire with my earnings. I think I’ve reached that goal, or I will when all the money comes through. I may even have enough for the proofreading costs too. In that I have reached my first goal, to support my creative life with my earnings.

The other thing that Patty has put me onto recently is Mark Dawson’s podcast ‘Self Publishing Formula’. I have found them to be useful and inspiring. When I get more time I’m going to implement a lot of that advice. Mark Dawson runs courses etc but I’m probably not there yet in terms of earnings and output.

So the Bookbub result. In all over 27000 copies of Shatterwing were downloaded. I had immediate sell through, though conversion wise iBooks was higher. I made the cost of the Bookbub back in a couple of days. Amazon reporting is the quickest, others I have to wait for like iBooks, Draft2Digital (which is just Barnes and Noble sales I think) and Streetlib for Googleplay.

Estimates of downloads per vendor

Amazon 20,000

ibooks 2,400

Google Play 2,800

Barnes and Noble 2000

Kobo 500 (note the free download counter isn’t working properly).

Sell through is still occurring. For example, including the November sales so far, I have half a per cent on Amazon. It’s not much but considering level of sales before it’s good. I expect that to increase by the end of the month. Whereas iBooks was 1.5 per cent straight off and will rise by the end of the month.

By conversion I mean people who get book one who go on to buy book two. The conversion after that is really good. For example, if they buy book two they pretty much by the rest of the series.

The good news for readers is that I’m writing Book Five, Skyfire at the moment for NaNoWriMo. I was going to write them during next year but as I was fishing around for a project for NaNoWriMo I figured I owe it to my readers. One reader left me a message of Goodreads asking what the timetable was for the rest of the series. And some lovely readers left messages on my Facebook page leaving lovely comments. They all helped me to decide on that. I was going to write a contemporary romance. Another time perhaps.

Other things that happened as a result of the Bookbub. I went from one follower on Bookbub to 88 and it is still rising. People who follow you on Bookbub get an email when you have a new release and also when you have a Bookbub deal. That’s awesome.

I’m still small bickies but I’m growing my readership which is what I want. I just have to finish the PhD and then there will be no stopping me. I have two series that I’m thinking of publishing and I have another novel that needs polishing with a possible series after that. Then there are the ideas for prequels and sequels to the Silverlands and Dragon Wine. I just hope I hold up physically.

Earnings for October I estimate at over $1500.

I will also get paid out accrued British Pounds as well as USD because I made more than 100 in each currency. So cash wish a bit more than that.

This is enough to fund my edit!

I forgot to mention that I had an iBooks promo early in the month in Australia. I had around 1700 to 2000 downloads, with follow on sales. I don’t know the conversion rates. Last time I looked it was around 2 per cent but I haven’t updated the figures.

 

On the day my Bookbub results were coming through I was in absolute agony with sciatica. I’ve never experienced anything like that. It should have been an awesome day. I’m really grateful for the chance to promote the books to new readers via Bookbub. It was totally worth it. I have submitted Argenterra for a Bookbub and been rejected. I’ll just have to keep on trying. Perhaps next year when the rest of Dragon Wine is out I’ll get another Bookbub. You have to wait 90 days between promotions.

 

 

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As some of you may have seen I’ve been in Europe for nearly two months (August through to end of September) and maybe you thought that I had no publishing results while I was away.

I did a few things before I left Australia to make sure things were ticking over and while I wasn’t fully engaged in the promotion or writing side of Indie publishing, things were happening and somethings are easy to do on the run or the fly so to speak.

It is a bit early in the game to talk of trends, but I’m happy to say that August outperformed July. Let me cast my mind back and check my notes for August.

I had my books still up on Instafreebie by the way and I wrote to my newsletter subscribers to tell them I might be quiet. Travelling meant that I couldn’t participate in a lot of cross promotions. I had had Argenterra for free on a Freebooksy promotion and I left it free when I left. There seemed to be a tail there and ‘shrug’ it couldn’t hurt to leave it for free.

My Freebooksy results were around 2500 thousand copies given away and I earned the cost of it I think with people buying the second and third books.

I had signed up for a number of promos on Kobo which didn’t do anything at all. However, I did make $19 in August from Kobo, mostly people buying from the Silverlands series box set and the Dragon Wine Box set.

The great thing about Kobo is that the promotions are really easy to sign up for. I could do them on my phone. If Kobo accepts your submission for a promo it makes the changes to your prices if required. Some of these promos might be 30% off a box set. I thank case you need to do nothing at all as the promo is applied at point of sale. Most of these promos are free and you pay through a cut in royalties. This is a good thing if a promo doesn’t work for example. There are paid promos and I’ve only ever applied for a cheap one for $12 but haven’t been successful in getting one of those.

Streetlib was a no earner for me in August, but some freebies did go through there via Google Play.

Draft to Digital, which for me is Barnes and Noble, gave me around $35 Australian in earnings. Biggest for me. They would have to be the Freebooksy follow through purchases.

Surprisingly iTunes/iBooks was a big earner for me in August with $82.33 in earnings. Again I think some of that is the Argenterra Freebooksy and other sales are just random or coming from my newsletter.

Smashwords also came through for me with someone buying a whole set of the dragon wine books so about $15 Australian there.

And the big earner for me was Amazon with around $135 Australian in sales.

That’s approximately $285 from sales in August.

I also had a lovely person who had bought the ebooks order the full set of Dragon Wine in print so I can safely say my earnings were $300. Still small bickies but a steady increase. I was also glad I didn’t just take a rejection for Argenterra from Bookbub and used Freebooksy instead. That’s $100 US but that was money that was refunded from previous promotions that didn’t work so well.

Instafreebie was still ticking over but giveways were slowing down with no active cross promotion going on.

That’s double July folks.

I also had help from Patty Jansen’s ebookaroo which lifted the tail on the Freebooksy for Argenterra.

And I got news that I had been successful in gaining a Bookbub, International Only, but that’s excellent.

September

I don’t have all the figures in yet but I can work it out. Seeing as some of this money doesn’t get paid for months.
I found out today that Draft2Digital did not have my payment details. However, their tax interview process is so easy it was done in a jiffy.

As I was travelling, the main promotion in September was the International Bookbub for Shatterwing, Part One of the Dragon Wine series. I was so excited by this but didn’t really have anyone to share it with who really understood how amazing it was to finally get one. I think it has to be the wonderful covers from Frauke at Crocodesigns and the cover blurbs from Craig Cormick and Glenda Larke that swung it for me.

The international Bookbub runs in Canada, Australia, UK and India. It was for 99 cents. It cost around $200 to run it. I put all the stores to 99 cents, or so I thought. I didn’t realise that Canada and Australia were listed on Googleplay for $1.99 so the emails from Bookbub said my book was $1.99  and the sales were pretty lame in those countries as a result. Canada wasn’t too bad, Australia maybe I had four sales. I don’t really know. I was devastated and had to work out what happened. I sorted it out but still what a way to blow a good chance. UK sales though were pretty awesome and I must say the sell through in both UK and Canada has been good. So I’m thinking that the Bookbub paid for itself or will do.

I think there is a sweet spot there at 99 cents and $1.99. People are willing to try a book at 99 cents if you are unknown. If you are known and they want your book they will pay $1.99 and up. So in Australia that has to be true, Canada less so because books actually sold there despite the $1.99 price tag.

Here’s the thing, with the international Bookbub you can apply for a US one within 30 days. I did that and was refused. Why? Because my book had been reduced for more that 14 days in the last 90 days. I had to have it explained to me as I was confused. I always thought that you couldn’t offer to Bookbub if you reduced your price in the previous 90 days, but it is actually discounted for more that 14 days, so it’s okay to have a week or a day special price and that doesn’t reset the Bookbub submission clock. I will master these Bookbub rules.

Anyway I was a bit down in the mouth as not only did I stuff my international bookbub, I had stuffed the chance at the USA deal. But lo, a light did shine on me and I put my book in for a free promo Bookbub USA. I figured they could only say no. Yet, I was accepted. This confirms what I’ve been told that there are two different decision processes, paid and free. So I will have a USA Bookbub for Shatterwing in October. This is very cool because that is what I have wanted from the beginning. You can get a massive amount of downloads via Bookbub for a free fantasy book. Shatterwing is currently free because I was advised that Amazon were having difficulties discounting. Yet, as soon as I discounted elsewhere Amazon price matched so I requested the price to zero there too. Fingers crossed this all goes to plan.

Meanwhile I had put out feelers for someone to pitch to iBooks Australia for both my series. First attempt was a no, then out of the blue I get an email saying I’d been accepted for Shatterwing. It was going to be later in the month but then changed to today. So Shattering in iBooks Australia free book of the week. Which is blowing my mind. I did not expect that. Thank you Patrick and iBooks Australia.

So my results for September while I was travelling and couldn’t do much but I had an international bookbub (slightly underdone due to silly me and book settings).

Let me see.

No sales at all through Draft2Digital. This makes sense as my main sales are for Barnes and Noble and I had an International Book Bub which excludes the USA.

Kobo (I had a number of promotions. Some worked. Some were other sales)  $90 (58 books sold). I’m using the raw figure here but that doesn’t account for Kobo’s cut or exchange rates.

iBooks $88 with 59 books sold. Again raw figure, not counting exchange rates etc. Edit. Corrected figure is $118 and a bit more for US sales.

Streetlib was about $3-$4 but I have no idea what currency and have to wait a very long time to be paid given I haven’t reached the payment threshold yet.

Amazon approximately $260. This is an estimate because it’s in different currencies. The bulk of this was books sold for 99 cents, which means I earned 35 cents or pence.

In September I had sales across all my books, the bulk, some 231 copies of Shatterwing at 99 cents or pence. The sell through I think is around 10 per cent for book two and then less for books three and four. I had a couple of sales of the Argenterra series too.

So ebook sales are around $440  $470 so an increase on August. This is also more than the biggest royalty cheque I received from my traditional publishers.

I also had a book launch and print book sales at Conflux at the end of September so I haven’t done the accounting on that yet. I think I made enough to cover the cost of the table and maybe the cost of the books, which is good I think.

That’s me. I may pop back after the Bookbub and the Book of the Week Promo and tell you the results of that.

I consider myself very lucky to have some upward movement so soon after uploading the two series. I’m very lucky to have got a Bookbub relatively quickly. I have been the person who checks the sales figures and sees no sales. Now I see sales. Modest sales but believe me that’s better than none.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for her advice and guidance and to Facebook group for promotion that I belong too. Thanks to the buyers of books and for liking the stories enough to read the series.

Here is a pic of me from my book launch taken by Cat Sparks. I know I posted it in the previous post but hey! Different audience.

IMG_0999

 

 

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Last month I posted about my Indie Publishing experience from a beginner’s perspective. That post is here.

There I discussed coming close to earning $100 in that month from my Indie publishing efforts. I did notionally make $100.

Well this month I’m over that amount. Earnings figures are notional by the way, because the money comes in at a different time. For instance Kobo calls them estimated earnings.  So this month notional earnings are around $140 $150.

Mind you I had to work hard for those few dollars!

I also gave away heaps of books this month but more on that later.

Sales

I used Kobo promotions a lot this month and that where I had most of my sales. Kobo are really easy to deal with and they offer a wide range of promotions, about half have no upfront costs just percentage of takings. I wasn’t successful in getting all that I bid for but I did okay. It takes time and I think getting my name seen will mean eventually people will buy. It also helps to have a number of titles.

Next biggest sales were iBooks, surprisingly. It is not easy to promote on iBooks. There is no easy way for Indies to promote on iBooks. I hope one day they will adopt the Kobo model.  Then Amazon was the next chunk of sales. Nothing earth shattering but better than a big fat zero! You cannot bid for promos on Amazon. Amazon put together their Daily Deals by themselves.

Promotion

As mentioned above I have a promo tab on Kobo. I directly list with them to access this. I had two or three promos with different books through the month: paranormal romance and dark fantasy.

I tried for a Bookbub a couple of times through the month with different titles and met with rejection so I decided to do something with another provider. It can be dangerous to put all your eggs in one basket, particularly when the basket holder is swatting your eggs away!

I used Freebooksy to get the word out that Argenterra was free on 28 July. I made it free earlier than that and it’s currently free. Interestingly, this means I won’t be able to tout for a Bookbub for this title for three months as Bookbub exclude books that have been discounted for three months. Freebooksy is not cheap. It was $100 US to list for a day. However, they are a great group to work with and they have been very considerate of my other efforts with Bargainbooksy.

I find it interesting that Amazon doesn’t let people promoted except by AMS ads which I don’t find effective at all because these email services are making heaps of money from marketing specials and freeboots to their subscribers.

Listing Argenterra for free is a loss leader tactic used by many vendors since forever. Technically I don’t like giving books away for nothing. I think it lowers the value of your work. On the other hand, giving away book one with the hope that:

  • the person downloading will read it (preferably sooner rather than later);
  • having read book one they will like it enough to buy book 2 and 3;
  • after reading books 2 and 3 will like my writing enough to try another series, and
  • after reading my work they become a fan of my writing and stick to me like spat gum to a shoe!

I don’t know if there are any figures out there, but from past experience and my own behaviour I know that free books downloaded may never get read, but as I said before I’m looking to find my audience so one must take a chance.

Before the Freebooksy promo I let people know it was free. Not in a big way. Patty Jansen put it on the Facebook page for Ebookaroo and I asked some people to include it in their newsletter. I don’t know if people did but about 60-70 copies had been downloaded before promo day. On promo day, I got about 1700 downloads on Amazon and about another 100 on iBooks. No figures from Kobo as their freeboot counter is out. But I had a tail, next day more books downloaded. This could have been due to late email opens and people clicking and finding the book still free, or because with the 1700 downloads I had reached #123 overall Amazon freeboots and #1 in three sub categories of Epic, Sword and Sorcery and Coming of Age. Then Patty Jansen included Argenterra in her regular newsletter and then more downloads happened. So far maybe an extra 300-400. I just had another look at the figures, maybe that’s closer to 500 downloads from a newsletter. That’s so fab. I’m so grateful for the little leg up.

I didn’t see a lot of buy through to the rest of the series. Maybe one or two. If only one percent of those 2400 people (maybe more) go on to buy the series that’s still 24 people who might go on to buy the series. The promo will pay for itself eventually. Also, people have my book so there is always a chance.

Newsletters and Instafreebie

Technically sending newsletters and listing books on Instafreebie are promotion too. Shatterwing was included in a group Instafreebie/Bookfunnel promotion and wow! It was the best yet. Probably 700 new subscribers who downloaded Shatterwing, Dragon Wine Part One over four days. I think the covers have something to do with that.

I think some of my sales come through my newsletter subscribers. Not heaps as yet, but I get a lot of people checking out the buy links on my website.

I also had a few deals going for newsletter subscribers. Not exclusive to them but being a subscriber allows them to find out about it.

Escape Publishing kindly discounted Rayessa and the Space Pirates and Spiritbound (Dani Kristoff) to 99 cents. The announcements for these were included in my newsletter and there were some sales. I don’t know how much because I can’t see because the books are controlled by the publisher. These books were included in Ebookaroo (Patty Jansen’s general newsletter) and there were some sales as a result. I was happy to give something to the newsletter subscribers and I don’t often get discounts from my traditional published books.

Also, to broaden things a bit and have something new to keep my subscribers interested, I published Beneath the Floating City, a sci fi, short fiction collection and put it on Instafreebie, mostly with a private link for my subscribers but it is also there for anyone to download. All bar one story has been previously published over the 17 years of my publishing life. I’m going to put together other collections. The next will be Compost Juice, magic realism and fantastical tales. I won’t do that until I get back from overseas. Maybe for Christmas. I also published this collection to all the eretailers.

Print versions

A major suck for my energy, time and dollars this month has been laying out books for print. Indesign gave me a kick up the butt and my photoshop skills are Neanderthal level, but I managed.

Shatterwing, Skywatcher, Deathwings, and Bloodstorm are out in print with the new covers. These are available on Amazon through Createspace and elsewhere as distributed by Ingrams. So yes, technically the library or your books store can order them in.

booksAlso, Oathbound and Ungiven Land join Argenterra, in print.

The Sorcerer’s Spell is in print too, but just through Createspace. It will appear in bookstores as well as Amazon over time, such as Book Depository. Opi Battles the Space Pirates was already in print, same deal through Createspace. You can buy a copy on Book Depository no problems.

This means that for the book launch at Conflux over the long weekend, 29 Sept to 1 October, I have books all to hand.

I have done all the things!

Phew!

Now to take off on Friday for nearly two months. Worldcon 75 and Helsinki here I come. I am the GUFF delegate, taking Australian fandom to Europe. See previous post for where I’ll be.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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I have mixed feelings about writing this post. On the one hand I think my experience will be useful to some of you and on the other hand you will see how poorly my I am doing. However, having said that, I don’t feel down, I feel enthusiastic. It is early days! If you are doing this writing thing then there has to be a bottom line for you. This is mine.

I love writing stories and I’m looking for people who like to read them.

And if they like them maybe they want to buy some of my work and read more and then I can write more…

Having said that I have been working on my story writing skills since 2000. I’ve put in a lot of hard yards and I’m hoping that it will pay off, because I love reading and writing stories.

So first of all this first six months of 2017 have been a hell of a ride. I had a personal problem that knocked me for a six. (This is a cricketing term btw). It means I was totally laid bare, huddled in a stress coma for months. Having indie publishing stuff to do was probably useful in that time. I had everything written, it was edits and stuff that I had to plow through. That was also hard work. It is fortuitous, too, that I had planned all this in the first six months of the year because I’m going to New Zealand for a couple of weeks in July and then to Europe for a couple of months in August. (see earlier post about winning the GUFF ballot). I hit the ground running again at the end of September, with Conflux in Canberra, where I might have a table if I can get print files ready etc.

The first thing is my tally.

The Silverlands Series is out. Argenterra published April 2016. Followed by Oathbound (March) and Ungiven Land (May) in 2017.

Republished The Sorcerer’s Spell (under Dani Kristoff) 2017. Originally published by Harper Collins, Impulse Imprint.

Published Opi Battles the Space Pirates (written November, 2016 published February 2017)

Republished Shatterwing and Skywatcher, Dragon Wine parts one and two. Originally published by Momentum Books, Pan macmillan Australia). These were taken down before I was ready so I had to do a made scramble to get them re-released. So much pressure.

Published Deathwings, Dragon Wine Part three. Published in June 2017.

Soon to be published, Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part four. Due July 2017.

Indie published tally first half of 2017 EIGHT. (Original fiction Five  Re-released Three)

Indie published tally total NINE books.

In words, I have to estimate. Original fiction over half a million words. All up, three quarters of a million words, this year.

I also have a short fiction collection in progress, but I am not sure when I’ll get to that. Soon!

So now to the outlays. Editing, proofreading, file conversions and covers. These are the capital costs and I don’t expect to earn this money back unless the series takes off and then you know I will, but in the mean time they a like assets. They earn some return, or are expected to. But they can earn for years. The previously published works were edited and proofread by me. Opi was edited and proofread by me and a family member. The rest was professionally edited and proofread.

Scribbling on the back of an envelope, let me tally up the approximate outlays. Two editors, one proofreader and three cover designers. File conversions for Smashwords. I can do this myself but it aggravates the RSI so I paid for some titles to be formatted.

Editing —————$6,250

Proofreading——$1,650

Covers—————$3,500

File conversions– $300

_______________________

$11,700 Australian

Then there are some ongoing costs.

I use Instafreebie to gain newsletter subscribers (as well as this blog). Once past the free month, it costs $20 US per month.

Now that I have more than 2000 subscribers I had to choose an email management service. That is about $180 per year so far. I paid for a year in advance with enough room to grow my list.

Website $100

I sub to Creative Suite so that’s about $20 US per month.

I bought some deposit photo images about $39.99 for a year or for 100.

ISBN’s ($88 for ten)

File fees if I use Ingram Sparks (don’t have cash atm)

Paid promo. I’ve paid for a Bargain Booksy twice. I was refunded once to low uptake. So far that’s a negative ROI. I may have paid for something else but can’t remember and I’d have to go look.

I have used AMS ads on Amazon. I have found this has got me no returns at all. But I’m new to this. I’ve probably spent $20 US on this with zero sales. One person did buy a book then refunded straight away.

Facebook ads. A couple of ones that were crap (my fault). FB ads are pricey so it pays to research how to use them effectively. I figure I’ve spent maybe $50 but won’t be spending more until I learn some more about marketing.

I have put in for promo prizes. Probably around $20 US. I’m not sure that helps but I’m not adverse to it. I’d rather have email subscribers who want to be there on my list as much as possible.

Goodreads. I’ve only done Giveaways twice now. I don’t think it did anything for me. I did get a one star rating from someone. A four star on one book and a three star review that complained about Opi being riddled with errors. I checked and there were a couple but it was mostly because of US/English issues. I have heard Goodreads advertising is good but I haven’t tried it yet. The costs of the promo are the books and postage. So this year that was around $60 as I used Book Depository to post direct. Last year I used Amazon and it cost me around $120 for three books.

Bookbub. I’ve submitted three times and was rejected. I have one pending a decision. These are the top dog of book advertising and sales. I will keep trying. Once you are rejected you can’t apply with that title for a month. But I have been told you can apply with a price say 99 cents, then for free if it is knocked back. Having more than one series is helpful for that. If you are giving your book away for free, you need to have a pay off, hence a series and possible sell through. A single book you don’t have much to gain, I reckon. Costs vary but upwards of $500Au.

Kobo promotions

I see this as a really positive thing. If you are listed on Kobo you can ask them for a promotions tab and then check out their offers for promotion. Some are pay up front and give your book for free, but others are 30 per cent off (applied at the check out) so you don’t put your book down in price and you share your royalty with them. Others you can do price knock downs. I use the last two. I haven’t had a big success but I have had sales. I figure if you don’t promote no one knows you are there.

Newsletters and Instafreebie

I figure that I’m building audience. So Instafreebie, I have three books up there at the moment for free and two email lists, one for Dani Kristoff called Spellcaster featuring paranormal romance and one for fantasy/dark fantasy called Wing Dust. I have about 1000 subs on Spellcaster. I found my paranormal romance had a faster download rate from Instafreebie, than the fantasy. I have around 1200 on my fantasy list. I’ve given away 3000 books so far. People download your book and you ask them to sign up to your newsletter. They can unsubscribe and they do but not all of them. Doing newsletters was hard at first, but there are people on the end of that email. Some write back to you and it’s nice. If you give away the first book in your series then potentially that person will read it and maybe like it. I find Instafreebie good because people who are on it want books to read. Whereas in my previous experience it can be hard to give your book away and if it is downloaded it may never be read. With a newsletter you can reach out to people who have your book, some of them read it and go on to read more of your work.  See my bottom line. I’ll put it here again.

I love writing stories and I’m looking for people who like to read them.

So newsletter wise I am small and I have to grow my list. I think newsletter are good for all writers because it allows you to keep in touch and let them know when books are coming out etc. I include recommendations of books I’ve read, also freebies and cross-promotions from other authors. I’m probably too chatty but I’m learning.

Free cross promotion. Mostly I participate in these to reach more subscribers with my Instafreebies, but I have also had excellent help from Indie gurus like Patty Jansen who has a newsletter ‘Ebookaroo’ for announcing new releases and special deals. Other people will cross promote you too if you are organised. I’ve done more promoting of other people than they have of me, but that’s because I’m a bit disorganised. It works though.

General Twitter and Facebook etc is still normal for me. As I am addicted to these I only use them for promo sparingly. Facebook groups dedicated to indie publishing and instafreebies are where I get a lot of help and information. My experience FB and Twitter promo don’t help you sell books. I use them to let people know about my publishing but my friends aren’t my audience. Friends will buy your first book but then it is only those that like your work that will continue to buy books. If you try to hard sell them you lose your friends. I’d rather have my friends. Ditto other authors. You just annoy them. You have go find your audience elsewhere.

Results!

Well for the first time I will make over $70  $90 $96 in a month (will I make $100). I think that’s the Australian dollar equivalent. My biggest month previously was around $20. But now I have all the books up and out bar one. My last two traditional publishing royalty statements have been zero!

Where have my sales come from?

Amazon, Kobo, iBooks and Google Play. Nothing from Barnes and Noble since earlier this year.

What’s hard and what’s easy?

The hardest things for me have been commissioning and commenting on cover art, newsletters and anxiety. (Anxiety about my work being good enough and how it will be received-normal for any author)

Newsletter content is easier for me than it was, once you do it, then it is easier. That first one was a hurdle. But I need to do more work on learning code, presentation etc.

The administration side is pretty heavy. It was really stressing me out until I woke up to myself. I was a public servant. Admin is my thing. So I stopped stressing about it. Now I don’t mind it at all and I get to do things when I’m not feeling creative, including formatting books for print, proofreading, checking out cross promotions, researching indie publishing and so on.

The easiest things? Spending money! I’ve run out now so I have books that I could be working on but no money for editing, proofreading or covers. Unless I get a job. But as I’m going away I will have to try for a day job in October, part time that is. Or my books start earning. If books start selling then I can think about reinvesting that money into more books. I have an SF romance and a steampunk series, plus more dragon wine and loads of other ideas. I have to be positive that something will allow me to keep publishing and to a good quality with editors and proofreading and covers.

Writing. It’s easy as I’m writing for me and for the readers too, but I’m free. It’s a mental thing. I still have an agent and I’ll still keep trying the traditional publishing route, but PhD means I have other stuff to do, like writing the PhD novel. Once past the PhD I will be focused solely on the writing.

Hanging out on the internet! Easy to spend time on that.

Anyway, I hope this was useful to some of you.

I’ll finish up with the covers of the Dragon Wine series because they are so awesome.

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