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Posts Tagged ‘Newsletters’

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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Recently, I’ve taken the Indie Publishing thing more seriously. I believe there is only two ways to go about this. Do it or don’t.

I’ve also learned that is also hard work and that it requires a different mind set from traditional publishing.

Traditional publishing you have the acceptance of the publisher etc and they (hopefully) have a strategy to market your books. If you have the print deal you get into books stores and launches and if the publishers are pretty good you’ll have some press releases and even a marketer selling your books, getting you press in various places. These days you have to do some of your own marketing, Twitter, Facebook Pages, Blogs, Instagram etc etc.

That is nothing like Indie Publishing. And I don’t even know the half of it. I’m at the bottom of the hill pushing the dung to the top.

So what have I learned so far?

Advice is out there. Ask. I have learned so much mostly from the generosity of Patty Jansen and her cadre of Indie Publishers. (I’ll put a link up her page at the bottom of this post). Believe me there is a lot to ask.

Putting your book up on Smashwords or Ingrams and expecting it to sell doesn’t work (except maybe in some fluke circumstances). Believe me I had a book up there and it didn’t do much. You have to write more books. I had to turn that one Indie Published book into a trilogy. And I have the rights  back to another series so by mid-year I’ll be playing with eight Indie Published books and that gives me more options marketing wise/promotion wise. This does not include my traditionally published works under my own name and my pen name.

New skill sets…administration, formatting, Photoshop, buying stock images, learning about newsletters, different places to market my books, cross-promotions, pricing etc.

That’s just a quick overview. You really don’t understand until you do it. For example, I buy my own ISBNs so they have to be registered, then I register them with the National Library Catalogue in Print, then there is listing the books with different sellers and distributors, writing blurbs (the hardest thing of all), hiring editors, proofreaders, cover artists and writing briefs for cover artists. There are the ebooks to format and upload and print files to prepare…yadda yadda

Yet, it is rewarding. This has been the most challenging thing that I have done. It’s scary. It’s empowering. But most important of all–it’s a business. That’s the biggest change in mindset for me. I want to make a living from my writing. I want people to read and enjoy my books. I have to get the books out there. I have to find my audience.

So big achievement of the week. There have been a number of them, but sending out my first newsletter is the star  moment.

I’ve called the newsletter Wing Dust. People who have read the Dragon Wine series will get the reference.

Here is my newsletter banner, which I put together on Photoshop. Thank you You Tube for the tutorial. (It’s a very complicated and powerful program btw).

Newsletter banner master amended

If you want to sign up to my newsletter click here. 

You can unsubscribe from the newsletter at any time.

Heartfelt thank you to Patty Jansen. I suggest reading a few of her posts on Indie Publishing. Great advice and good sense from her. You can find her here.

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I am taking the writing gig seriously and this year you’ll see a lot of output from me (I expect five books out by June). So I want to put together a newsletter mailing list.

I’ve signed up with Mailchimp and I have a very basic sign up form.

I was hoping some of you lovely people would test it out for me and also that some of you would be interested in being on the list.

The mailing list URL is here. Feel free to tell me if it doesn’t work.

Also feel free to tell me what topics you want to hear about.

There’s

  • the PhD study
  • Writing advice
  • Self-publishing tips (as I learn them!)
  • Retro romance reading
  • General stuff.

Also, today took a serious turn. I’ve book a proofreader for the books coming up. This saves me a world of angst and time. I can proofread, but it is hard to do your own books and it takes me several run throughs to reduce errors. So booking a proofreader is worth the cost and has been added to the book budget.

I expect two edits to come in around the same time. Egad! Not planned that way.

And I put my toe in the water folks. I submitted a request for a Bookbub promotion. I’ll let you know how that pans out. But I expect it will take a few goes.

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