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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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Over the weekend I attended Continuum SF convention (#13) in Melbourne. It was also the National Science Fiction Convention this year. I don’t have a lot of photos but I do have a few anecdotes.

I drove down from Canberra and it was a lovely drive and I stayed at Lucy and Julian’s place Friday, Saturday and Sunday and then Keri’s on Monday. As a poor student with no stipend I had to do this trip on the cheap! My main reason for going was to support the fan funds and add to the general lustre of the fan fund delegates. I’m not officially the GUFF delegate until I head to Helsinki in August.

I was able to get onto a number of panels and I must say the program was exceptionally good with some really fun topics. I participated in four panels, which is a record for me. And I wanted to go to the fan fund auction as I had brought some items down to help raise money. The big item was a Regency bonnet made by yours truly.

the bonnet

 

I headed in to the Jasper Hotel on Friday night with Lucy. I was a bit not with it after a 8-10 hour drive, most of that time deep in Stephen King’s Dark Tower Book Three-the Wastelands. (I did finish it on the way home! Awesome series) but I managed to catch up with a few people and go out for some lovely, reasonably priced noodles and caught up with a lot of friends.

The fan auction was on Saturday and I bought things but I didn’t mean to. But the good news was that the bonnet was sold for a nice sum and Alison Goodman won the bid by phone! Here is a snap of Alison in her new bonnet.

alisona and bonnet

On Saturday I had three panels, one was at 9am. I thought no one would turn up that early but it had a nice full room. That was the Art of Publishing panel and was mostly audience driven as far as topics covered.

Then I was on the Fan Funds Panel. Not a great turn out there. Pity because they serve an important purpose and the panelists provide information about the funds and what they do and where they go. Guest of Honour Seanan McGuire popped in and helped us brainstorm ideas for fan fund auctions. The fan funds rely on fund raising and as I’m a delegate I have a task of raising the money to reimburse the fund for my trip.

The next panel was Panels and Prejudice. It was a packed panel and so much fun. I learned stuff. Thanks Jodi. It was a bit of get a word in edgeways type thing but I heard good things from the audience later. I was dressed in my Regency gear and Alison wore her new bonnet. I believe Paul has a photo of me but alas I don’t have one.

I also made it to Bren McDibble’s Book launch for her YA Climate Fiction story How to Bee. Great launch speech by Cat Sparks, great bee themed cup cakes. I bought a copy from the grandkids but I believe I will enjoy reading it.

bren and cat

Bren and Cat and a close up of those cupcakes.

beecakes

I notice that the cakes are in focus! Eep!

One of the things I snaffled from the Fan Auction was Leslie from Ghostbusters. Here is a shot of Justin trying to sell her. Holtzmann is in the background.Julian and Leslie

Getting her home was a bit of an ordeal. Lucky Keri had her big car and she took Leslie (Patty) to her place and then I collected her and now she’s in the hallway, freaking (I mean greeting) people as they come in. K J Taylor snaffled Holtzmann!

Both the guest of honour speeches were amazing. Likhain delivered a very moving speech about her relationship with the Philippines and the effect of colonisation on her culture and her concept of her forebears. She received a standing ovation.

Seanan McGuire blew me away. I know of her, but didn’t know much about her but she was amazing. What a life! What energy! What delivery! I’m now primed to read/buy her books. She also writes as Mira Grant. I also managed to chat with her just in passing and talk about school of hard knocks. An inspiration, truly. I hope she gets back to her fur babies soon.

Sunday panel adventure was a topic on Women in Star Wars and that was also a fun topic. I think I revealed way too much about my age and also the degree of my fan fantasies!

Sunday night was the Ditmar awards ceremony. My lovely friend Kaaron Warren took out best novel for The Grief Hole, making it three major awards in Australia for that book. Go read it. She’s amazing and so is her work.

Here is a pic of the MCs, Alison Goodman and Michael Pryor! Don’t they look good.

Alison and Michael

Monday I took a sickie. Naughty me but I think it all caught up with me so instead I hung with Lucy and Julian, met up with Rose and did a bit of a walk around Brunswick. Then it was off to meet up with Keri and do a girls veg night thing with lasagne, bubbly and Jason Statham (Parker) and Helen Mirren with a big gun! (Red).

So if you have never been to an SF con you should try it. I’m an extrovert but sometimes I find all the people a bit overwhelming. But for me, conventions are catching up with friends and meeting new people. I do a lot of this in the bar either drinking bubbly or tea.

Continuum Convention #13 organisers! You rock. Great job and I had a fab time.

 

 

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The downside of celebrity is that it is so one sided. These personalities are beamed into our lives so much so they become a part of it. There is  a realness there, but it is not real, not really, just to the subjective experiencer. I first noticed it when Princess Diana died. I cried so much. I was glued to the TV, for the updates. I was swamped with disbelief. She was a princess. She shouldn’t or couldn’t die. We were near the same age, our children were born close in time, she set the fashion I wanted to emulate, she was on magazine covers everywhere. Then there was little internet. I had no computer at home. There was definitely no social media. No direct interaction.

Now in 2016 we have lost a lot of celebrities, some quite unexpectedly. Then Carrie Fisher had a heart attack and my world just kind of folded. I was expecting either news that she was going to have surgery or that she had died. They seemed the only two options. As the silence continued death seemed to be inevitable. When the news came I cried. I cried a lot. I was weepy and sad the whole day. Matthew took me to brunch and we sort of sat there both feeling sad for the same reason we had lost Carrie Fisher. We didn’t really talk about it. Blubbering in public is so not my thing. This is the price we pay for having celebrities in our lives.

Carrie Fisher championed a lot of things, now in dying she raised the awareness of cardiac arrest in women post-menopause. Women have the same risk as men once those lovely hormones leak out of system. It’s like two wrong sides of a coin. Loss of youth, beauty, hormones verses the sweating, the insomnia, the weight gain, sometimes depression and increased risk of death from cardiac arrest.

Carrie Fisher was on social media. She wrote books that revealed intimate details of her life, at least details that allowed us to share and to bond. This means she was even closer that Princess Diana ever was to me.

In 2013 I wrote this post after seeing Carrie Fisher at Supanova in Sydney, Star Wars A Force Awakens wasn’t out yet. Here

So basically I was into it.

Mental illness is strong in my family…

When I read Shockaholic I totally got where Carrie Fisher was coming from. She took those shock treatments because she wanted to keep her life together, to keep her daughter in her life. Bipolar (and most of the severe mental illnesses) can be so isolating. You churn through friends and family because they can’t take it, can’t take the crazy shit and what makes it tough is that the sufferer needs love and support to get through.

I don’t have a mental illness myself but I’ve lived with it. I did however get severe post natal depression at age 19 and had a psychotic break. It took me years to get back to where I was. Sometimes I experience anxiety. I’m not perfect. Not with my genes. Right now at age 56 I wonder about myself. I watched an Oprah Show replay of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Renoylds. Carrie Fisher liked the manic stage of the illness. I get manic now and then. I get that. You achieve so much when you focus, when the energy is pouring out of you. My eldest daughter says I’m ADHD and I do score highly in the online questionnaires. It’s probably too late for me to take pills. I’m me. I can live with me. My friends know. They speak Donna. My daughter had been on at me about this for a couple of years but it wasn’t until I started the PhD that  noticed things about myself. The obsessive working, the manic mind, the shifting from one thing to another as I couldn’t concentrate, my brain going off in a different direction especially when I’m in a group of people talking. I upset people when I go off topic when they are discussing something important to them. I interrupt people to blurt out what’s flashed into my mind. Waves a hand. Too bad. I can cope with a label.

I got off luckly. I never did drugs. In my family drugs are a trigger for schizophrenia, bipolar and schizo affective and probably depressive illnesses. Compared to my siblings I’m the lucky one. With Carrie’s history it’s hard to tell whether the drug using in her youth was a symptom or a trigger or both. Lesson is if you have the genes for mental illness even dope smoking can fuck with your brain chemistry and bring on a permanent mental illness. That is why I do tea. Tea all day long. Occasionally alcohol but too much of that stuffs your brain too and you only get one brain. So Carrie Fisher’s death affected me.

Then the next day Debbie Reynolds passes and I’m like Fuck me! No! It’s a fucking tragedy. You couldn’t write shit like this.

I feel for her daughter and her brother who have to live with two holes in their lives. I’m nothing in this. I’m the symptom of the modern age, the age of celebrity and social media and fake intimacy. I feel for her friends and colleagues who really knew her. I feel for her fans like me are left with this sense of loss that is real and unreal both. I honour the fight that Carrie Fisher fought for her life, to conquer her demons, her unhappiness to find herself. I honour that she stood up for mental illness and addictions and that she shared her experiences through her books, interviews, shows, scripts. From memory from reading Wishful Drinking, she said she left school at 15 to work on stage with her mother. Carrie Fisher didn’t need a degree to be smart. She was clever and witty and profoundly knowing. She’d been to hell and back. Vale Carrie Fisher. Vale Debbie Reynolds. Condolences to those who loved you.

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This is a long time coming. I’m so sorry to be so distracted to write this up. In my own defence I did write up the Ditmar awards straight away!

I headed to Swancon a few days early to hang out with Glenda Larke. We came into Perth on the Thursday night and attended the guest of honour dinner. It was a great meal and I got to meet a few of the committee and the guests of honour, John Scalzi, Kylie Chan and Anthony Peacey. The committee had a really cool thing going. They moved the guests of honour around with each course of the meal so we got to talk to all them over the course of the evening.

This photo so Sarah Parker, Swancon programmer and Glenda Larke at the GOH dinner. Did I mention one of the best things about conventions is socialisting?

Sarah Glenda GOH dinner

The Hugo results were due out while we were at Swancon so Glenda and I got a crash course on the Sad and Rabid Puppies. The next morning we saw the Hugo nominations and continued our education.

On Friday, I had a number of panels. The first one was Food as Worldbuilding, which was really interesting panel. Food is such an important part of our lives and it was stimulating to think about how what our characters eat tells the reader about the world, or even what they don’t eat. Even rituals about food, either religious or other were discussed. I know have a lot of ideas from this panel that I can put into future writing.

lounging about

My second panel was Terrors of the Second Draft, which was fun. The other panellists had different views-I think I was the only one to find second drafts hard work. It is taking a draft, crafting it, to make it into a book and that takes work, consistency and day after day of sitting in front of my computer. Maybe I’m hyperactive but that’s hard sometimes.

My third panel that day was The End of the Printed Page: Are Books (as we know them) Dead? This was a wide ranging discussion covering selling ebooks, piracy and print books. No, we didn’t think books were dead.

The audiences in the panels were really interested and well informed and were a joy to talk with. I took some photos of the panelists in other panels I went to.

SwanconKeith

John Scalzi, Guest of Honour Speech

John Scalzi, Guest of Honour Speech

The convention had a lovely vibe and it was quite surprising to me that I didn’t know most of the people. I haven’t been to Swancon for ten years. It is also a vibrant SF community. It was great to see the committee had some many people supporting it.

Anthony Peacey picture below hosted and organised the first Swancon. I had to pleasure of listening to his speech on listening, technology and the changing world.

Anthony Peacey, Guest of Honour Speech

Anthony Peacey, Guest of Honour Speech

I visited the dealers’ room on Saturday. It closed on Sunday and Monday. I raided the small press tables and also bought a Lost in Space Robot for me and a talking Bender for Matthew. I already posted about the Ditmars so I’ll skip that.

Lost is Space Robot.

Lost is Space Robot.

Book haul. One of the best thing at a con is picking up books, particularly small press books that aren’t easilybook haul

Scalzi and Cat Sparks at the Climate Science Fiction panel.

Scalzi and Cat Sparks at the Climate Science Fiction panel.

available in bookstores.

Cat Sparks talking clifi

Cat Sparks talking clifi

Keith Stevenson on the climate science fiction panel

Keith Stevenson on the climate science fiction panel

Glenda Larke talking climate science fiction

Glenda Larke talking climate science fiction

I attended some great panels. John Scalzi’s guest of honour speech was entertaining. He was talking to us while waiting to start his talk and then was 20 minutes into it before realising it had already started. Kylie Chan’s guest of honour talk was also fab and Anthony Peacey’s.

So many interesting panels. Keith Stevenson talked about constructed languages in his panel, using his novel in progress.

The panel I had the most stress about was Spec Fic Writing – Science Portrayal in Fiction on Sunday. It was a panel with John Scalzi, which is awe inspiring to say the least. Tsana was also on the panel and she’s a scientist. But I stressed for nothing. It was a really great panel and there was a lot of hand waving going on (people’s use of science in their writing). The conversation also covered some movies, particularly Interstellar.

The hotel, Pan Pacific, was lovely. Very flash. There was food available for lunch at a reasonable price. So well done to the Swancon 40 committee. I hope to go to a Swancon again in future.

Great opportunities exist at SF conventions to socialise and talk to other writers.

A few photos from dinner or just hanging.

Glenda Larke and Amanda Bridgeman

Glenda Larke and Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda Bridgeman

Amanda Bridgeman

Glenda Larke and me

Glenda Larke and me

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