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Posts Tagged ‘self publishing’

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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It is still very early days in my hybrid/self-publishing venture for the Silverlands series. Book one is out and my main focus is on gaining reviews for the book. Why is this important? Bookbub. When I have all three books out I want to submit to Bookbub. You need reviews for that. Good reviews. So far so good. I don’t have a lot of reviews but what I have I’m very pleased with. There is a lot of retweeting of a review prefaced with How Not To Write Distopian YA. I thought that rather amusing. I wasn’t writing dystopian YA, but epic fantasy with a YA feel. Yet it might have some dystopian elements, of course. My main sin is a cliffhanger ending. Apparently cliffhangers are to cause people to buy the rest of the series. Hell everyone wants their readers to buy the next book. Mine wasn’t for that purpose. I started Argenterra when I was a newbie. I’ve thought long and hard how to move the ending…before the cliffhanger….after the cliffhanger…and nothing seemed to work. To top it all off, book two has a cliffhanger too. I guess I have to own that I’m evil.

My woes! Would you believe I have had the most difficult time with book 2? Firstly, I have to revise it a little and polish it before it gets edited. That’s sort of sitting there while I finish book three. Book three is totally rocking btw. However, I need to finish the draft before I go back to book two so I can align some things. Issues with agency, pulling back in some places so I can redeem a character in book three. The usual stuff.

The cover and the name of book two has been a real issue. I believe this problem crops up for authors in traditional publishing. I know I had to face it with Dragon Wine. Changing the name of the book (s). For example, in my original thinking there were three books in the Moon Fall Trilogy, Dragon Wine, Dragon Wing and Dragon Wane. Then Momentum took Dragon Wine. The editor wanted to split the book, call the series Dragon wine and I had to come up with two names for the first two parts. That was hard work and eventually I came up with Shatterwing and Skywatcher. It’s going to be a real bugger with Dragon Wing when I get around to publishing that. If I publish it in two parts what the hell and I going to call them. Barrahiem and Deathwings??? Your guess is as good as mine.

So back to the Silverlands…Book Two was called The Crystal Gate. Getting the cover together for this was proving to be hard. We tried a couple of combos but they weren’t working, particularly as I wanted the series’ covers to have some consistent feel across them. I’ve been stressed. I’ve been anxious. I’ve had sleepless nights. Then I realized I had to change the name of book two and think up a new concept for the cover. I tossed and turned and then it came to be: Book Two should be called Oathbound. That way I could have Sophy on the cover and used symbolism to denote the chaos of the oaths have brought round in the story, not just for Sophy but for others.

Yet I was so stressed because I was mucking the artist around. I like to be very straight, say what I want so all this indecision was like killing me. I know it’s a bit silly, but the responsibility for this is all mine. The cover, the content, the marketing…and I want it to be good, not crap…not just another ebook flung into the ether…I’m proud of this production. So there’s the woe. It is really tough.

I consulted with the lovely Aiki, who had beta read book two. She totally agreed with Oathbound being the best name for the book. I think I gave her a sleepless night. She’s arty, you know, not like me. She came up with the idea of binding or chains. You can find out about Aiki here. She’s multi talented and an author of an amazing SF YA story that’s coming out soon. Also she has been so supportive. High five, Aiki.

So anyway, I bit the bullet and emailed the lovely Les Petersen. I sent him my horrible sketch, some photos of my model with different expressions and he sent me this like within an hour or so.

Oathbound

I think this is amazing. I love it so much. It was just what I was picturing. Thank you Les for not sending the hit men after me.

Now I’m going to show you book one and two together. Les added the subtitle to book one (somehow I forgot that originally). Anyway, let me know what you think.

 

I should add that the cover for Book three is going well. Book three is called, Ungiven Land. I believe Sophy has a sword!

So if you are interested in checking out Argenterra. Here are the buy links. It’s available in ebook from your favourite ebook retailer.

Print copy from Book Depository here

Amazon.com Here

Amazon.com.au Here

Kobo Here

ibooks Here

Print (Amazon.com) Here.

Time to go back to work on the PhD. It’s creative project work today.

 

 

 

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Today marks the end of my working life in the Australian Public Service. It’s my last pay day. I can’t begin to express how big a change this is for me at this time of my life. I gave up my big paying job, my ‘social capital’ as an educated woman and well-paid over spender/consumer. I gave up building my nest egg and putting heaps of money into my house, or using it to go traveling or just buying shit. I’m sure this will bother me in future, but now I don’t have regrets. (I’m pretty scared about not having money but its’ not like I’ll have none just less! Okay a lot less. A $100,000 less on paper.)

The bottom line was my arthritic spine was making my life pretty miserable and I wanted to spend what productive time I have doing what I want, while I can.

Upside, I can now talk about politics and stupid things that bother me without being threatened with the sack.

I think doing the PhD allowed me not to think about anything but the Phd. It gave me something to put my mental claws in. I am enjoying it. Now, I didn’t get a stipend so that makes things tougher financially. Not that stipends are huge, but it would have helped. Needless to say I’m going to apply again (and fill out the forms correctly this time) at the end of the year. But I have to face the fact that this is it. It’s me, my superannuation and my mortgage. I have the lovely Matthew but I don’t want to impose on him at all, so I’ll be paying my way on the household stuff. My life decisions shouldn’t be reducing his quality of lifestyle.

Then there’s the writing. Still a big part of my  life. The self publishing/Indie publishing thing well I have to see where that takes me.

My previous post I spoke about Print on Demand publishing. I have made my first stupid mistake that cost me money. Not a lot of money, but still I already paid that bugger and had to pay it again. And today is when the money just stops!

You see I found a typo on the very last line of my acknowledgements. It was one letter on a page that maybe no one would read. So I changed the files (I haven’t done iBooks yet as I need a Mac!). For everything it wasn’t a problem, except of Ingram Sparks. I didn’t realise they were going to charge me for the set up fee again, even for the epub file. They charge US $25 to upload your epub file and another $25 for the print. I think other places like Smashwords (which I didn’t use) doesn’t charge.  So fingers burnt. If I waited until other people reported typos then I could have done a lot at the same time, but no I had to change this one letter for about $60 Australian. So lesson learnt.

I’m not complaining that people have to be paid to do their job. Fair enough. I’m complaining that I was stupid, didn’t even think about it and got my fingers burnt.

Createspace hasn’t charged me to reload the print file but I have to go through the review process again. Lesson make sure the file is typo free (it’s really hard) and if you find a typo and it’s a wee thing live with it. That’s what you had to do in the old off-set days.

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Having your book in print, in physical form, is the best feeling ever! No doubt about it.

Print on Demand (PoD) services are fantastic (if you get the right ones) because with digital publishing technology you can do small print runs (one book) and the books are fairly economical to produce. No longer do you have to do an offset print run (old-style) and have a garage full of unsold books to get a price per unit down to a manageable level. With a print book you can wave it about and say look at me. You can do a book launch, sell books, and do book signings. You can take your book on holiday and photograph it in picturesque places. You can give copies to people. You can sell them. That’s the up side!

The best place for a book is in a book shop. This is because people go to book shops to buy books. They go to browse and if that shiny god of inspiration is shining on your book and your browser, you may get yourself a sale. Baring that, having reviews, word of mouth etc may get a person going into the book store to actually buy your book. Other venues for sales include conventions, but that can result in no sales, a few sales or heaps of sales, depending on a number things, including the size and the book buying inclination of the attendees. On line book stores are fab too. My own experience has been that I go to them when I know what I want and I need it now. On line is not a good place for browsing, unless you have promo! A flag waving promo that says buy me because I’m a must read before you die Alas, those promos cost big biccies.

There’s nothing stopping PoD books being in book stores. Nothing, nothing except a small thing.

Book stores traditionally get a cut from the sale of the book, usually a discount on the Recommended Retail Price (RRP) and this discount can be 40 to 45 percent (sometimes more, maybe less but not so in my experience unless the bookstore owners are awesome and treat you like a star). That’s not so bad is it? I mean I can do that. I have done that given the standard discount on my books to book stores. I’ve got to pay a percentage to the distributor too, lets say 10 to 15 percent. Okay  I’m cool with that. Bring it on! Buy my books in wonderful, awesome bookstores!

Here’s the catch. When bookstores buy from distributors and mainstream publishers they usually have a six months sales and return condition on the purchase. That is, if the books don’t sell they can send them back. This is a risk management set up so that the bookstore doesn’t have the risk of non sales.  There is, of course, firm sale options where bookstores might get a bigger discount if they take a number of books but if they don’t sell they are stuck with them. The risk is on the book seller then.

With PoD, I know with my supplier, I can opt for accepting returns, but I have no idea how that would work. In principle, with POD the book comes into being because of the order so what happens if it is no longer wanted? The options are the book gets destroyed and the purchaser gets a refund on the cost of the book (not the postage) or it gets returned to the distributor and the returnee pays the postage. After this I don’t know what happens. Can it be resold? Dunno! So I’ve opted for no returns.

So in this way, despite  allowing a discount on my books that are comparable to traditional publishers, I am most likely locked out of bookstores, unless I approach them myself and even supply them from my supply of books. My book is not competitive because it can’t be returned (it might be noncompetitive for other reasons too, like no promo, no rep, no sales history etc). The other downside which works against bricks and mortar bookstores supplying/ordering/selling POD titles, is that if they order one book they have to pay postage (usually that would have be passed on to the buyer indirectly or directly). If they ordered five or ten then it would be cheaper but they aren’t going to do that because they can’t return them. If you as a book buyer are lucky enough to have a bookstore that will order in PoD titles then stick to them. Thank them. Send them Christmas cards or seasons greetings because they are awesome. Online it’s a bit different because you expect to pay postage (or not) depending on the store.

The upshot of this is that PoDs are not going to get you heaps of sales through bookstores. They are lovely to have. (I’m going to be selling my pretties at Supanova in Sydney in June!) but we are still small biccies, unless we become big biccies.

I ask myself why I have priced my books to allow bookshops to get the 40 percent and the distributor their percentage. I should race over to my set up page and change it to the minimum, but maybe I’m optimistic that some bookstores will either buy my book or supply it to lovely people who order it in and for that, I’d like them to be compensated.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

Buy links for Argenterra here.

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So Argenterra, my YA/adult crossover fantasy is out there in the world. Fly baby, fly.

I have paid for some advertising,  and stuff, but essentially the only copies that have sold so far were friends buying the pre order. I’m very grateful to them! Thanks guys.

I have sent out a couple of review copies. All reviews help! I am waiting to see what the reviewers think. If you want to review it, please let me know.

It’s early days so I’m not going to stress about sales. From past experiences it goes in ups and downs. Discoverability is the biggest challenge with ebooks or small press or Indie publishing. The book is not sitting on a shelf in a book store waving hello to you as you walk in. (As an aside the print book is discounted to book stores at 40% and can be ordered via Ingrams.) For buy links click  here or see My Books Tab.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

What I did want to say is that Argenterra is first in a series and I’m committed to putting the three books out. There should be a cliff hanger warning too! For that reason I’ve included the first chapter of book two at the end of book one.

As a self/Indie publisher I can make the commitment to publish the whole series. I may not put them all out in hard copy print, but we’ll see what demand is like. I’m currently revising/polishing book 2, The Crystal Gate. It’s written but I haven’t looked at the draft since 2009. My writing has changed a bit since then. I need to have it beta read, edited before I can layout etc. The proofing and stuff can take a couple of weeks too. I’m hoping to finish the revision by the end of May.

Book Three is partially drafted at 50,000 words. At the time I was writing it, I figured it wasn’t worth finishing a trilogy that hadn’t sold. Now the publishing world is completely different. Now it’s my trilogy and I’m in control so I will get it done and out there.Drafting book three to 135,000 words may take until much later in the year.

Control is so underrated.

As Dragon Wine was put out by Momentum, I had no say in the book being split in two, which people complained about. And as the books didn’t sell sufficiently well, they declined to publish the next book in the series.  A nice blow after working on it for ten years! Thousands were downloaded for free, but unfortunately that didn’t translate to sales. However, the next book is drafted and I will try to get it out later in the year. It’s a bit hard when I don’t have the rights to the first book and given it’s lack lustre performance and it’s very dark nature I can’t quite make up my mind what to do. It’s hard not to get disheartened and lose faith in your work. Alas, Momentum is no more, but Pan Mac have the rights. The Dragon Wine series is quite complex and dark. I may have to lighten it a bit before I publish the next installment. If I publish it.

Dragonwine

Dragon Wine Series

My previous post may have sounded a bit down on traditional publishers. It wasn’t meant to be. It’s just that the crisis in publishing is affecting everyone in the industry and it makes life difficult, particularly here in Australia. I have an agent trying sell a book to traditional publishers.It’s a good book-hasn’t sold but I’m not giving up yet on that. I’ve only half written the sequel to that.  I have more books written that I’d like to see get traditional publishing deals. It’s just tough out there and it takes a lot of time. With 15 years worth of writing behind me, I have a little bit of a back list of unpublished novels. I’m also working on new ones. I may be hyper active. Here’s hoping the PhD will keep me busy, too busy to write anything else but the PhD novel.

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People say it’s easy self-publishing a book, or Indie Publishing as they say these days. It’s not all sunshine a roses and I’m not talking about sales here. I’m talking about getting the files ready and loaded etc.

The proofreading, file formatting and instruction reading and following are very left brain that leave me without a right brain cell to aspire to creativity. I’ve been caught in that vortex for weeks it seems. The difficulty is not in the amount of advice out there or the assistance other Indie publishers provide because that’s so fab. It’s just the tediousness of it. It’s like doing ten tax returns in a row. It’s killing me with my left brain. I can now understand why people pay others to do all that crap for them. They may end up making no money out of their publication (most, I think) but at least they have held onto their creative soul.

I have to go back to the reason why I’m doing this. Argenterra got to acquisitions in Australia but then it didn’t fit the young adult niche here. (just one part of the story) The Australian market is a small.Even the digital publishers are getting thin on the ground. I’ve submitted Argenterra over the years and well I run foul over arguments about whether it is young adult etc.  I always thought it wasn’t, but then on reading it maybe it’s young adult or young adult cross over. Last year I was chatting to Keri Arthur and she recommend I Indie publish. I’ve had titles epublished with traditional publishers and why not try hybrid. I talked to her about the Silverlands Trilogy of which Argenterra is the first. I could get two books up quickly and then polish off the third book. I’m not expecting to do anything earth shattering here, but it is certainly an eye opener. The amount of control you have as an Indie publisher is like a drug. You get to make all the decisions but you have to do the work.

There are various ways to get your book out there these days. When I had a small press it wasn’t so easy. There was no Amazon.com.au and people without US bank accounts couldn’t list their books on Amazon.com. Ebooks were not a thing. It was PDF and maybe just the beginning of ebooks in the world. Having that small press experience has been good, but not having the tools I used to have was pretty ordinary. I used to own Creative Suite now I’m reduced to Word.

It’s hard. I whinge a lot you may have noticed.

I’m not even talking about the stigma of self-publishing here or the difficulties in promoting a book.

The process for formatting an ebook is pretty straightforward. But anything that requires discipline and attention to detail can be tedious for me. I can do it but I don’t/can’t do creative stuff round the same time.I had a author friend proofread for me after I laid out the book. In Word this entails formatting with titles so that you can do a table of contents. For an ebook you don’t have to worry about page numbers or headers or footers. I used Calibre to covert my epub. But for Amazon, you only need to the Word file. Most of the other places do the conversion from Word for you too.

It was formatting the print version that life became more complicated. Headers and footers and page numbers. I did a proofread and found a few little things which I changed in the ebook too. Unfortunately, using preorder on Amazon meant I couldn’t change the file. Eep! Lesson number one. Do your own proof before uploading the file. I was able to do it after it became live. Second is don’t underestimate how long it can take to proofread your book properly. (I printed the book out to do my proofs) Then research, ask around what is the best way forward. I chose Createspace for US Amazon.com and Ingram Sparks for rest of the world. (I’ll put a link below as to why). Then I got into problems with the paging. I was either missing a page or having two blanks when trying to get the odd number pages to fall on the right hand side. That took a whole night to fix. Needless to say that I have matured emotionally over the last two weeks. (I you believe that then you’ll believe anything.)

The cover was another issue. I had a pro cover done but it was not the wrap required for a print version and the file sent to me was a PDF and you need specialist software to put the cover together. Having exhausted my $ I had to beg help from the lovely Rebekah Turner. We had to do two covers-one for Createspace and one for Ingram Sparks. But I’ve been told you can use the Createspace one for Ingrams. If I had brains I could have used Publisher I suppose.

Today everything is loaded. Because I wanted Createspace to do the Amazon.com I loaded the book there first and then did Ingrams once it was showing on the Amazon listing. This is because Ingram will list it on Amazon if it’s not there already. (See blog link below to understand why.)

Listing the ebook. I could have used Smashwords, but I wanted to some control over key accounts; Amazon, ibooks, Kobo. Amazon was the easiest even with the tax declarations. Kobo was pretty simple and ibooks was complicated. First thing to know about ibooks is that you need a Mac to upload your content. That information would have been useful and would have saved me three nights of wrangling. I’ve used Ingram to distribute the ebook elsewhere.

Many thanks to Patty Jansen for answering near hysterical emails with aplomb. Also thanks to Ainslie Paton for help with book blurb (a whole day back and forth), Rebekah Turner for cover wrangling and Aiki Flinthart for proofreading, moral support and information.

Why am I doing this? Why don’t I forget about this book or this series?

The publishing industry is in a state of flux, particularly here in Australia. I don’t believe we can rely on the book industry to be the gate keepers they once were. Publishers are not loyal to their authors anymore. If you’re not a best seller then you’re out. Heaps of mid-listers have lost their publishers, not because they aren’t good writers with great books, but because they aren’t making the big $$$. Being a new author is even harder. Your book doesn’t sell the expected number your chance is gone. If you don’t have the sales then it’s darn hard to get another publisher.

Why Argenterra? I love this story. I’ve almost written a trilogy and what a waste it if never sees the light of day. I’ve revised and rewritten this story many times because I believed in it. Now it’s time for me to see if others like it too. I love the characters in this book. Sophy and Oakheart are my personal faves but there’s Lillia too.

After 15 years, I’m going to give self-publishing a try.

IMG_6085

Cover by Les Petersen

Here is the link I mentioned above. Here

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The best laid plans are meant to be tramped upon and splattered against the walls. I thought I was going so well and then I don’t know what happened. I fizzled. I lost confidence. Maybe I can blame the Hashimoto’s. I have energy which is great. I don’t have hypers but I have had a couple of crashes in mood and energy despite the meds. The meds are great though. I thought they worked well for energy but not the brain. My brain feels more calibrated though.

I’m off to write with some friends today for about a week. I thought I’d have more done but um I haven’t. I’m progressing things and will be on track before heading back to work. I’ve started some reading for the PhD, mostly Mills & Boon books with some retro which are so fabulous and interesting. Really I mean it. I met with the wonderful Doreen Watt who has an amazing collection way back to the beginning of Mills & Boon and she has a service where she helps people by supplying that ‘missing’ book as well as an amazing database. I’m just back ground reading at the moment to give me ideas on where to focus for the Feminism in Popular Romance research.

One of the reasons I’m at a confluence of indecision is probably the three projects I have on the go. The YA romance is in the final stages of revision, although I have some late feedback that has challenged me. I need to think on it. The Regency Romance is clear in my head and a chaos vortex on the page. I jumped a few chapters when I last drafted it and now I have no idea what is supposed to go there. And it’s messy as all hell. I dictated a lot of it and it’s full of wrong words (misheard by the software) and I’m not sure I want to play in that sandpit right now. That leaves the SF romance to complete drafting. It was my plan to work on this after finishing to draft the Regency, but um …I only read through the Regency draft and got some feedback on the opening. It should go in the too hard basket.

So for these writing things I like to have a project in mind so it should be the SF romance…I’ll settle on that then. Even though I haven’t read it through. I’ll just have to push on.

Meanwhile, I have the editor working on Argenterra and the edits are coming through. Egads! I’m going to try self-publishing this story has  been close in submissions and wasn’t taken up and after 13 years trying to sell it and reworking it over and over, I’m going to push it out there.

I have been working on a guitar cake. Photos later in the week! And I’ve picked up a discarded craft project, a granny triangle rug. I’ve done no housework and I’ve not prepared my study for the Phd.

Mmm maybe I’m not so slack after all. I did take the evening off to watch Jupiter Ascending though! Love it. I know people (particular friends) hate this movie but to a SF romance lover and a paranormal romance reader it’s a fab meld of everything.

 

PS. The other me, Dani Kristoff, is a finalist in the ARRA awards for Spiritbound.

PSS.I am very sad about the passing of David Bowie and Alan Rickman this week. I haven’t been able to even watch stuff about Bowie. He was an amazing artist and I’m just so shocked and saddened.

 

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