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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 known for a while that an Indie Publisher’s work is never done. I’m living the dream baby! Yeah! So much to do!

Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part Four was uploaded today and is now live on Amazon. I’ll pop by tomorrow and update the links in the My Books section. Next steps. I’ve booked Bloodstorm in for Smashwords formatting. I really don’t know why I bother because I don’t sell books on Smashwords, but you never know! I could be wrong.

Tomorrow evening I start the layout for the print version of Bloodstorm. I need to get that done and printed before I leave in 14 days. Yes, I’m off to Worldcon 75 in Helsinki in exactly 14 days. I’m so stressed. There is so much to do! But I’m also excited to be going. I just got back from New Zealand yesterday. I had an interesting trip stranded in Wellington during a storm. Lucky some SF friends came to the rescue. Thank you Lynelle and Ross! I would have been so sad, and wet and cold, without you. Photos for another post.

Tomorrow I’m back at uni and I have so much to do!

Now specials. I asked Escape Publishing to put Spiritbound (a Dani Kristoff novel) and Rayessa and the Space Pirates on special. That’s right people. 99 cent until 31 July so get in quick. This is a rare event. I don’t think Spiritbound has ever been reduced before and Rayessa was last 99 cents years ago.

The only links that seem to work for me is Amazon and iBooks.

Here we go:

Rayessa Amazon  iBooks.

Spiritbound Amazon   iBooks

Or try Escape Publishing for other retailers.

And if you want to try Argenterra,  The Silverlands Book One, which is an portal fantasy, it is on Instafreebie for free. Instafreebie require newsletter sign up. Link.

If you want to try Shatterwing, Dragon Wine Part One, my dark fantasy series, it is on Instafreebie for free. Instafreebie requires newsletter sign up. Link here.

And I have The Sorcerer’s Spell by Dani Kristoff for free on Instafreebie. This is a sexy paranormal romance. Link.

 

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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

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$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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Well it’s been a long wait!

The reversion of rights process did not go as planned. Shatterwing and Skywatcher were taken down early (I had requested May) and I had a mad scramble to get covers and get the books prepared etc. I’m so lucky that Crocodesigns were able to do the whole series. Don’t you think Frauke did a great job? There is more to come. She’s working on the covers for final two parts (not actually written yet) and box set covers.

I can’t decide which cover is my favourite. I really love the meteors and the depiction of the observatory in Skywatcher and I love the colours in Deathwings and I love the dragon in Bloodstorm. Overall, I think the covers portray the darkness and the space elements of the stories. Shatterwing and Skywatcher are out now everywhere! iBooks should flow through today. I uploaded them this morning.

Deathwings I think I’ll put up next week (maybe). I’m so nervous about releasing this part three. It’s been edited and proofed and it’s waiting to go. But holding on to it seems like a good idea. I’d like to be able to release Bloodstorm, Dragon Wine Part Four soon after. That’s due back from the editor next week. Still I’m nervous. Stupid I know…but I can’t help it. I had ten years to work on Shatterwing and Skywatcher. Although I drafted Deathwings and Bloodstorm a while ago it is only recently that I’ve picked them up again. Hopefully there will be some good reviews. I need to work on the final two parts.

These books are retailing around $3.99 US per book. I’ll be putting links up in my book section later on. I need to drink some French Champagne just now and eat chips and dip and chocolate and veg in front of Netflix. Sorry duty calls. I presented my confirmation seminar for the PhD today and it went well! So celebration.

 

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And I’m going to release Part One and Two together as a ebook box set. Maybe next week. Estimated price is $5.99 USDragonWineVolOne-3D

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I was bright eyed and bushy tailed yesterday.

This morning not so much.

Of course there are a number of reasons for this. Yesterday afternoon I sent off Ungiven Land (The Silverlands Book 3) for proofreading after quite a while working through the toughest edits yet. It was going to take me a lot longer but on Sunday I hit of spot of chapters that had light edits and I pushed through them and built up some momentum. That left yesterday morning to finish it off. I had some family obligations during the day, but after that I did some more tinkering and sent the book off. It’s a bloody long book at 145,000 words.

Then yesterday evening, I picked up the revision I was doing of Bloodstorm (Dragon Wine Part 4) without much recollection of how much more I had to do. Well, I was further along than I thought so I pushed through and sent that book off to the editor last night. It’s a shorter novel at just under 90,000 words. I think I have more work to do on a battle scene but the edit will help with that I think. It gives me a month to think about it and make notes. I needed to push it off my plate as I have important PhD stuff to do.

So you would think after an excellent sleep that I’d be ready to roll and full of vim and vigour. Obviously my stories are still in my head. I was thinking about both of them while driving and drove right past two turns offs to my university and didn’t realise until I made a t-junction. Oops! So I had to go to another entry and park in a different spot. Then I realised I hadn’t brushed my hair. This called for emergency coffee and I hope  it kicks in soon.

After having these deadlines I don’t think I like them. I had listed Ungiven Land for pre-order on Amazon. For some strange reason beknownst only to my back brain I put down 31 May 2017 as the delivery date. However, I had not allowed enough time for processing proofreading changes so I had to push it back by two weeks. Amazon lock you out of the file about 3-4 days before release btw. I have had now had my pre-order privileges revoked for one year because I pushed back the date. Thank god for that. I can’t be tempted to put in hard dates that give me stress. I don’t want to do that again because that deadline plus the ones I had with the editors really put the pressure on.

As I don’t have more fiction planned other than putting up books of which I have the rights back, I’m going to give deadlines a miss for a while. I have my PhD novel to think about.

Fingers crossed I get some covers this week because Shatterwing and Skywatcher are ready to go. Deathwings and Bloodstorm the next two parts of the Dragon Wine series are coming soon.

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Some people may think writing a book is easy. Maybe writing a trilogy isn’t too hard. And that fantasy stuff? Why it’s all made up so what’s the problem? Anyone can make stuff up.

Ahhh…I’ve finished a trilogy and it was a challenge. I thought they were easy before I finished one. Now I know it’s damn hard work. Also, I started The Silverlands more than fifteen years ago. I know so much more now than I did then but it’s hard to go back and change things so you have to be happy with what you have and what you can achieve within the limitations of your original vision.

But the map? I always had a drawing of Argenterra but a wise person once said to me back in 2003-That’s not a map! And proceeded to tell me all the things that were wrong with it-scale, place names, the size of a lake etc.

Through the years I worked on the Silverlands series and on Argenterra, the imagined land. I thought about the landscape and what is going on with the magic in that land. How did it get there? What does it do? What does it all mean?

To cut a long story short, with the excellent assistance of Russell Kirkpatrick, (@insanemapboy), I have a map. It was hard work. I think I drove Russell to the brink of madness. I’m sure he wanted to throttle me. Yet, he dragged me kicking and screaming into a better understanding of maps and I listened. So now there is the map of Argenterra, taken from my scribble and drawn into perfection. (as perfect as it is going to get). The ebook is not going to show the map well. The print book maybe. So I’m putting it here for you all to see. You won’t see the tears, the sweat, the anguish, the retro fitting. I mean I literally moved mountains and changed the course of rivers to bring you this. Something I envisaged so long ago and now here looking awesome.

Final Map Argenterra

And, yes, it was Russell Kirkpatrick that told me my map wasn’t a map way back in 2003, when I was a babe in the woods. He sent me on a path to better understanding. Thanks Russell.

I have put the map with the series description under MyBooks! Link is here.

 

 

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