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Archive for the ‘Promotion’ Category

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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My indie published Argenterra, Silverlands book 1, is on promotion this weekend for 99 cents.

Argenterra is an epic fantasy novel, interweaving three romances over the three books. The story starts with Sophy and Aria and then joins up with Rae’s when Sophy and Aria are whipped into the world of Argenterra a land where everyone can use magic except Sophy. The story is YA appropriate.

Argenterra with subtitle

Argenterra is featured among around 100 books, from SF through to Fantasy so here is your chance to do some exploring. There are some very interesting books here for 99 cents.promo-jan

The link to the promo is here and you can select via your favourite retailer. For example, click on Amazon, iBooks, Kobo etc and you will see the books that are featured for 99 cents with that retailer. Links are also geocoded in understand.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for allowing me to participate in her promo weekend.

Oathbound, Silverlands book two is still with the editor but I hope to get that our in the next few months. The Ungiven Land is close behind that.

Ciao!

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I’ve joined Patty Jansen’s free book promo for first in a series. There are 66 books up there for free in the SF and F genres. Shatterwing is up there too.

book promo

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

I’ll be back with a review post of the Ai Weiwei/Warhol exhibition!

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Happy New year! 2015 is done and 2016 is here. Yipee!

2015 was a tough year for me on many fronts. My mother passed away on the 4th of January and then my health was a bit up and down. (Looks like it’s thyroid issues). Work became a bit of struggle and then I injured myself, resulting in a diagnosis of some thoracic disc protrusions. That diagnosis sent me on a downer. Not only was it (is it) painful it curtailed my writing in a big way. The bigger thing that diagnosis it did was make me look at my life at what I was doing with my work and what I wanted to do with my productive time. You see, I can only see this arthritic spine of mine getting worse over time and so doing things like craft, writing  etc becomes more precious to me. I love making things. It’s my life blood.

I lost my friend Sonia to scleroderma and other close friends have had some health scares. My eldest son moved to China for work. He loves it. I miss him.

On the bright side, and there is one (or many), I’m generally healthy, so is my partner, Matthew, my children and my grandchildren.

2015 me and dweeb

Me (the Dweebette) and Matthew (the Dweeb!)

So apart from some chronic pain I’m really happy on in the inside. That makes a big difference. We love our house. Our deck got built and it’s amazing.

deck 2015

The long awaited deck and a peak at the views.

I also got to see some Koalas when I took some visiting Indonesians out to Tidbinbilla.

2015 koala

As I wasn’t able to write, I had to do other things to keep me sane so I did some craft-weaving, sewing and millinery. I try to use a timer to alternate through different things so I don’t injure myself. Millinery can be done standing up. I also discovered Audible and have been listening to some fab books. I’m going to continue that.

I also did a few cakes. Like this one for my daughter. Totero and this one for my boss’s farewell, a vintage Kombi.

So what is in store for me in 2016? As previously mentioned on this blog, I am commencing candidature for a higher research degree (PHD). That starts in February. I have lots of reading to do and some papers to write. The topic is Feminism in Popular Romance.

I’ve got a bit of organising to do to get ready for that. I need to clear the decks of some writing tasks. The reason I’ve taken January off work. I also need to do some practical things like reorganise my office in readiness for study. I wouldn’t call it organised now…but that needs to be improved. I had a message from my daughter. Mum: junk attracts junk. I get the message.

I’m hoping some books will also come out in 2016. I may experiment with self-publishing. Sometimes it can take too long to flog a book and it gets dated. In that case, I may as well get it out there and experiment.

Appearances wise, I’m hoping to get to Contact in Brisbane over Easter and to the Romance Writers of Australia conference in Adelaide later in the year. I’m very tempted by Supanova!

With regards to hats, I’m working on doing more of those and setting up a website to sell them. Bring on the steampunk hats!

I’ll be finishing up on the day job in the first part of the year. Losing the good income is a scary prospect, but you know I’m going to take the leap and see where it gets me.

Happy New year! Hopefully you will pop back again.

2015 hat by cat

Me in one of my hats. Photo by Cat Sparks.

Oh and Dragon Wine Part 1 is on promotion. It’s free in ebook. I’m also doing a blog tour and a give away of a hard copy. To be in the draw to win a print copy of Shatterwing leave a comment.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

Blurb

Dragon wine could save them. Or bring about their destruction.

Since the moon shattered, the once peaceful and plentiful world has become a desolate wasteland. Factions fight for ownership of the remaining resources as pieces of the broken moon rain down, bringing chaos, destruction and death.

The most precious of these resources is dragon wine – a life-giving drink made from the essence of dragons. But the making of the wine is perilous and so is undertaken by prisoners. Perhaps even more dangerous than the wine production is the Inspector, the sadistic ruler of the prison vineyard who plans to use the precious drink to rule the world.

There are only two people that stand in his way. Brill, a young royal rebel who seeks to bring about revolution, and Salinda, the prison’s best vintner and possessor of a powerful and ancient gift that she is only beginning to understand. To stop the Inspector, Salinda must learn to harness her power so that she and Brill can escape, and stop the dragon wine from falling into the wrong hands.

Dragon Wine Book 2 :Skywatcher, the follow on book is also available in ebook and print.

http://momentumbooks.com.au/books/shatterwing-dragon-wine-1/

 

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Being a writer isn’t only about the writing of books and stories. There is this thing called “PROMOTION” which has to be done.  Except it’s not promotion per se, it is letting people know you exist and then maybe that you write as well. Sometimes that is fun and sometimes it’s hard work. Sometimes you don’t even know if it’s doing you any good.

I love Twitter! Thank God for that. It makes my promotion life easier, but I just like hanging and keeping up to date. I’m probably a wee bit, just a teeny eensy bit over stimulated, particularly for my age group. My grown up kids don’t use Twitter like I do and definitely don’t get it.

Facebook is cool too because it’s so useful to keep in touch with people and extended family and it has some fab tools, like pages. Of course, playing around on Facebook is time consuming too. I’m probably lucky that I can justify the time spent on their as promotion, when is just another form of procrastination.

Blog posts (like this one) take time to write. Not only do I need to maintain this blog, but I should do guest blogs and interviews to get my name out there. This are great but boy can they be hard work. Interviews are pretty easy really except where there are hard questions. The hard part of these is not letting on you’re an idiot. Okay, okay.  I mean sounding like an idiot. Also, you want to let some of your personality through, preferably not all of it. Not the I had ‘one margarita too many’ personality that only your dearest friends have seen and have refrained from putting the footage of such incidents on Youtube. Then there are topic based blog posts for other people’s blogs. I think I spend as much time staring at the screen thinking up what I will talk about as I do writing the post.

Then we come to what do I write on my blog to keep it active, so people know I’m alive and also I’m not writing posts that say ‘buy my book, buy  it now’ every day. To help with that I do interviews on various topics. Usually these are related to the craft of writing and it gives other authors an opportunity to promote their work as well as sharing their writing titbits. I suppose some smart and hyper-intelligent person is thinking, why are they doing this? In the good ol’ days writers didn’t do this. They just wrote.

I’m sure many a writer has thought the same and doesn’t bother. Unfortunately, these aren’t the good ol’ days anymore (that’s why the are called the good ol’ days). We are a very connected society. There’s the Internet and there’s Internet shopping. There is also fewer physical bookstores to put books in for people to buy by walking past it on the shelf. That does go on still, but not in a big way.

Then there’s ebooks! They aren’t on physical book shelves. They are on the Internet so the Internet is where you need to market those. Discoverability is the new challenge. It’s always been a challenge I believe, it’s just harder these days. There are a lot of writers out there. Writers are in competition with games, dvds, social media and other forms of entertainment.

Speaking of YouTube, I have not got very far with that. There could be live blogs, interviews, panel discussions, book trailers, pictures of me sunbathing and other things that I can’t think of right now. Working full time with my day job leaves me with plenty of imagination but little time to invest in putting ideas into action.

Now we come to the point of this blog post. You have probably been wondering that.

Doing this for two is a killer. I have two of me!

There’s me and there’s the other me. That’s two lots of blogs, Twitter, Facebook and guest blogging to maintain. It’s like having your brain ripped out through your nose. Okay that’s mummification! But you know it’s painful. I have to think stuff up twice! TWICE!

I shouldn’t complain. I mean I decided to have two of me, writing completely different stuff so I should have to wear it.

Why am I telling you this? If you think I’m not doing a good job keeping my blogs up to date, then this is my letter to the teacher.

PS I tell a lie. Rayessa and the Space Pirates also has a social media presence. That’s three.

The non-official photo of me

The non-official photo of me

Photo by Taamati Terata

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Finally I blog about the launch party to celebrate the launch of Rayessa and the Space Pirates, my first longer form publication. Technically according to Romance Writers of Australia I am still unpublished because Rayessa is only 30,000 words and you need to publish at least 40,000 words I think to qualify. So I’m chasing that goal right now. I also don’t want to be a one hit wonder!

So Saturday night was the launch party. In the lead up I caught a virus/cold/nausea bug that laid me out. Nicole Murphy was suggesting that I postpone it. I was close to deciding to do so. Friday I was still sick in the morning but I started to come right in the afternoon. I also had ideas that I could supervise cake baking and meatball making etc.

Friday night I baked the UFO cake (not decorated) and the base for Yumi’s princess doll cake. Then I flopped into bed.

Saturday well we were all at it. Erana, my daughter, Nicole came at 10 am and Matthew was here. Flat out we were painting props, cleaning, decorating etc. Lucky I had bought a few things in the lead up. I had black sheets to cover my retro eyepopping curtains, painted cardboard tubes, glowing stars, a plasma ball light, disco ball. I ducked out for a red police light etc.

I had to buy the food so I was at Aldi at 8.30 waiting for it to open. Erana and Yumi (6) made the meatballs.

Here are a few shots of the result. Remember this is a kitsch SF, dilapidated space station setting. We figured that Rayessa would have done up this sign and put it at the entrance.

Welcome sign

Then there was the entry. There is a bit of a story about the red tape. I got this set of 5 coloured masking tape from KMart. I tested it on the floor and it didn’t leave a residue. (story continues later).

entry

I’m not sure it translates that well, but after you walk through a black crepe fringe with star shaped lights, you walked in here. I thought it looked awesome. Matthew did a great job on it.

danger

Nicole painted wall panels and made signs. This was in the hall. Basically it’s a very defunct refueling post.

abort buttonEveryone was getting into it. Nicole made this for the wall. I thought it was very cool. Matthew started getting ideas and there were signs going up everywhere and new funky things being created.

curtains

This is a shot of the black sheets covering the curtains and a glimpse of a sign done by Matthew and the power generator created by Erana.

Here is a close up of the generator. We haven’t broken it down yet.

power generator

I had created things for the sample bag. I couldn’t get out to buy bags so Erana’s mother-in-law Wendy gave me some bags from her shop. Then Erana got the idea to put a design on them at the last minute. She did a great job. Inside was a small can of baked beans, a sample of hard tack (not as hard or as big as it should have been), a highlighter pen (my other daughter asked me why there was a pen shaped like a tampon in the bag), a little pack of smarties (protein pills), a glo stick bracelet, a space food stick (not shown), a Rayessa postcard, a welcome to Outpost 311 (like on Rayessa’s blog) and her Emergency Checklist.

bag

Here are a couple of tubes. This may be arranged post party. I painted those and I thought it was fun. I had visions of doing movie props and then I tried painting something important and came back down to earth.

tubes

The food had a theme too. Asteroids, because Outpost 311 is in the asteroid belt, with a smattering of outpost possible food. I also wanted to cater for friends who were vegetarian, gluten intolerant or lactose intolerant as much as possible. I also didn’t want to go overboard.

So we had beef as well as chicken asteroids (meatballs gluten and lactose free), vegetable asteroids (jacket potatoes) and sweet asteroids (gluten and lactose free chocolate crackles)

We had mining shaft moss ( avocado dip), scum from the reclamation unit (a mustard aioli), spume from the air filter tanks (sour cream) and some other spicy salsas.

Then we had chili beans, green beans, brocolli and mineshaft fungus (mushrooms), lettuce leaves and tomatoes.

This actually was quite filling. And there was the UFO cake.

Drinks. This wasn’t my idea. I wanted to buy a punch bowl with little glasses, but Matthew said you have to serve the punch out of a bucket, one marked with the hazchem symbol.

So, 10429_hazchem_sign

drinks

Alcohol was in the hazchem bucket (vodka, a cranberry juice, sparkling grape juice). It was purplish.  The red bucket had a mango and apple juice with lemon sparkling mineral water. It was quite refreshing.

I had a great bunch of people over to help me celebrate the launch of the book. I’d been at this writing gig for 12 years. I didn’t think Rayessa would be the first thing I published, but there you go, you never know. I wasn’t planning on a ‘launch’ per se, rather a celebration. However, Nicole snuck in to my study and printed out an excerpt of the book and I read a bit. I had a lucky door prize, which was a Millennium Falcon USB  memory stick with a copy of my book. However, the USB memory stick did not work. It was bust (I must speak to Think Geek), so I gave one of my Rayessa mugs away and emailed a copy of the book to Sharon Ding, the lucky winner. Nicole had also organised a pass the parcel. It was hilarious what she had people doing. The prize was a three foot long green tentacle. Bob Phillips won that but I think there was some angst because others coveted it.

I had a great time and caught up with some lovely friends. Some couldn’t make it at the last minute. So sad. A big thank you to Cat Sparks and Rob Hood who drove from Wollongong (2.5 hours away). You can see Cat’s photos here.

The party could not have happened without the dedication and hard work of Nicole Murphy, Erana Loftus and Matthew Farrer. Thank you all.

Because I was sick I didn’t get a chance to get a poster printed, but here is the cover again.

Rayessa and the Space Pirates_cvr

Ps. That red tape issue. Well this is what happened. I lifted the tape.

residue

This required methylated spirits and elbow grease.

residue close up

And the red goo got on my hands. I should have worn gloves.  I can’t get the red gunk off. Yew!

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So continuing on with the promotional stuff I have added a Facebook page for Rayessa and her own Twitter Account. She’s a bit wary because she’s stuck on an asteroid and doesn’t know anyone except Gris and various and dubious space pirates.

Her facebook page is here. http://www.facebook.com/pages/Rayessa-the-Space-Pirates/413707248709192

On Twitter she’s @RayessaSpacePir

And her blog is here http://rayessaandthespacepirates.wordpress.com

More stuff to come. I have to put the thinking cap on. On 10 January, Alwin Anton is going to come to the rescue.

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