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3 New Year’s Resolutions I intend to keep

1 Jan

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In 2015, I will be more careful with my time. I want to work in a way that is more effective, creative and efficient.

1. Outsource more

This year I will increasingly outsource the work I don’t want to do and look for new opportunities in self publishing. I will consider outsourcing anything that takes me away from the actual business of writing. I am doing some of these I outsource already. But I intend to do more:

  • Editing
  • Proofreading
  • Cover Design
  • Formatting
  • Audio recording
  • Marketing
  • Advertising
  • Research
  • Translations
  • Foreign Rights

2. Work on simultaneous projects.

I find that is easier to stay inspired if I dip between projects. I will have one main project at a time, but I’ll allow myself half an hour here and there to dip into something else if I want to. It’s not that different to spending a little time on social media or blogging. I see it as a way to warm up before starting work, or as an alternative if my attention is flagging. The main thing is to make the most of the time I have for writing.

3. Blog for readers, not for writers

I started Self Publish Bible at the beginning of my self-publishing career, when I was still had everything to learn about the business. A couple of years in, I feel my focus has changed. I have a little bit more experience and although the world is constantly changing, I know where to go for good information. You can’t beat blogs like  The Creative Penn. There are also some great podcasts – I love Rocking Self Publishing and The Self-Publishing Podcast; a great mix of enthusiasm, information and entertainment. I still like to talk to other indie authors and swap ideas, but I don’t need to do that on my blog.

So I’m starting a new blog.

Lorna Breaks Stuff is aimed at my fiction readers. It will be light-hearted and fun, with lots of colourful pictures. It should be an enjoyable way to keep in touch with readers without bombarding them with emails.

What do you think of my new year’s resolutions? Are you making any yourself?

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Disaster and contingency planning for self-published writers

28 Apr

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Last month was the anniversary of the launch of my first novel, FRY. I can’t say it was as special as the anniversary of my first baby being born, but it still meant something to me. I was planning to do a post to commemorate the event, but the internet had other ideas. 3 weeks, 2 engineer visits and 1 new router later, it’s finally working again.

Our internet issues got me thinking about how fragile the self-publishing environment is. It’s predominantly eBook based, which requires both authors and readers to have near regular access to the internet. Of course, this dependency on the internet must be true for a lot of businesses, but it especially applies to self-publishers. The internet brought down the costs of publishing and distribution to near zero. It is a market based solely on the existence of the internet. Without the internet, our current opportunities would not exist. I would not be writing this blog, and most likely, FRY would not have found an audience.

This latest outage was not the first time we’ve been without internet in recent months. At Christmas, we were without power for the best part of three days, and there were more power cuts in February. On both occasions, we were lucky to avoid the floods that affected the villages around us. But for me personally, the power cuts meant that I could not participate in social media or work on my new novel, as I had saved it on my computer. Without electricity, the batteries on our phones and laptops quickly ran out. Not having electricity in the house is a major hindrance, but it is still possible to do most things; we lit candles for light, bought a camping stove for cooking/heating water and we still had a car to get around in. Working on my novel, on another hand was impossible. We are completely reliant on electricity and if it cut out and stayed out – I would not be able to blog, distribute my books or finish my novel, without starting all over again from scratch. But then again if we lost electricity for good I would have bigger problems… no more Eurovision!

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So what can I do (other than digging an underground lair and stacking it full of water and tins of Spam?) Well, I don’t think we are likely to lose electricity or the internet any time soon. It’s possible but unlikely. It’s far more likely that I will spill coffee on my laptop, drop the flashcard down the loo or overwrite a backup file. It’s also possible to back up to an empty directory instead of a file (yes, I was doing that for a few months). So what is a writer to do? Well, here are my suggestions:

  1. Back up. Then back up the back up and take a back up of that. It won’t hurt. Just make sure you set up a process so you don’t confuse yourself. I back up every day to a flashcard, then back that up every week or so to another computer. I then back up that up to an external hard drive  and also back up to a cloud every few weeks. This is not paranoia, but a cautious back up strategy.
  2. I also print. It’s easier to read when proof reading and also means you have an additional hard back up.
  3. If possible, I also avoid using the same laptop for writing and the internet. There are a lot of viruses out there and I don’t want them!

What do you do to safeguard your work? Do you have a contingency plan in case of disaster?

High or low? Choosing a price-point for my self-published eBook

21 May

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When I launched FRY on Amazon back in March, I initially priced it at $2.99, which translated as about £2.06 in the UK.  For the first few weeks, it sold steadily on both Amazon.com and Amazon UK. Then after around three weeks, my UK sales started to pick up as it was swept into the orbit of some much more prominent books in my genre. By orbit, I mean that it appeared in the ‘Customers also bought’ category for these books, and by prominent, I mean Amazon top 100 books – top 10 at one point. I believe that this happened because I went free for a couple of days shortly after my book launched, which helped give my book more visibility, even if it didn’t lead to a sales bump at the time.

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I knew that FRY would not probably not stay in the orbit of these more prominent books forever, and noted that most of them were priced lower than mine. £1.99, or even 99p or less were quite common for books in my genre, so after the first month, I took a gamble and dropped the price right down to 77p (99 cents.) This definitely had an impact. I went from a best of around 20 sales a day, to 70 sales in one day (nearly all in the UK). Albeit temporarily, FRY rose to number 4 in psychological thrillers on Amazon UK, above some of my favourite authors.

And now? A few weeks on, I do not make more money at the lower price-point, but I do sell a lot more books and I reach a lot more readers, which is very important to me. As a writer, I want people to read and enjoy my book, and I also want to build an audience for the next one, May Queen Killers, which comes out next year. I also get more reviews, which have been overwhelmingly positive, and I’m sure this helps to convince readers to give FRY a go.

Many self-publishing gurus advise that you don’t drop your price, or attempt any other marketing tactics until you have a number of books out, but for me at least, the low price is working. For now. And of course, I can always change my mind. That’s the beauty of self-publishing. Nothing is set in stone.

Have you experimented with different price-points?  I’d love to hear about your experiences!

New Year, New Blog!

2 Jan

Greetings, readers and welcome to my new blogtopia. I will be publishing my first novel, a psychological thriller called FRY on Amazon in March and this blog will plot my trials and tribulations as a self-published writer.

As this is my first post, perhaps I should tell you all a little bit about myself. I am a politics, social psychology and European Studies graduate. I have worked mainly in the British civil service, primarily at the Home Office. I have two small children who keep me highly amused and I suppose I am a little bit quirky. I have an unlikely fondness for My Little Ponies (yup, that’s the children’s toy) and used to help organise conventions. I love the Eurovision song contest – I haven’t missed it in 15 years and nor has my poor husband. We even went to see it live for the 50th anniversary in Kiev. I once met the Dalai Lama on a plane (he smiled kindly at my son) and I am very, very fond of coffee and chocolate.

I was named after the novel, Lorna Doone, so really, I had no choice but to become a writer. It’s what I’ve always wanted to do. I just hope I’m not jinxing myself by launching my first book in 2013!

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