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New cover reveal for FRY!

25 Sep

FRY ebook

 

 

As much as I liked the old cover for FRY, I didn’t feel it really fit the psychological thriller genre as well as it could so I decided to update it. I wanted a cover that would be more appealing to my target audience, namely women, and would show more clearly that FRY is a psychological thriller, and not a horror novel.  The the new cover, courtesy of Grafire Studio.

Have you changed any of your book covers? Do you think it’s made any difference to your sales?

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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!

Taking the Traditional Route – Guest Post by ‘Dolls Behaving Badly’ Author, Cinthia Ritchie

13 Feb

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When it came time to look for a publisher for my first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, I had no doubt that I’d go the traditional route. I was working as a journalist at the time and every few days the UPS man would bring in a box of books for review. I’d sit at my desk, barely able to contain myself. Browsing through those books, so new, so untouched, was the highlight of my week. I loved the feel of the bindings, loved opening the first pages and reading the dedications, the acknowledgments, loved turning to the first chapter and not knowing how the voice would sound, if it would be lyrical and lovely or brisk and matter-of-fact.

In my mind, traditional publishing was the only way to go. I wanted the verification, the approval. I wanted to know that editors in New York (who all wore, I was sure, expensive shoes and sleek, tailored suits) were impressed by my writing, and my book. I wanted to feel as if I had made it.

Dolls Behaving Badly released last week through New York based Grand Central Books/Hachette Book Group. I have the verification, the approval, and though I’ve never met her, I imagine my editor wears expensive shoes and wears smart dark suits.

Yet, looking back, the whole process hasn’t been as seamless as expected. My book is out, yes, but the world isn’t mine. My life is basically the same. Except that now I must promote my book. And that means competing with self-published authors who have the freedom to set prices as they see fit.

Indie on the rise

Years ago, self-published books were viewed as a last resort for people without the writing or story skills to nab a traditional publisher, and most books were badly edited, badly written and badly produced.

That’s changed, however, and the past few years have seen since more self-published books hitting the New York Times bestseller list. In fact, one weekend last summer saw four independent authors snag seven New York Times bestseller spots.

Self-publishing is no longer reserved for old ladies writing their memoirs or housewives penning poetry about flowers and trees. Authors are producing professionally edited books with slick covers and clever marketing campaigns, and they’re edging ahead of higher priced traditionally published books.

This hurts. I know. My book sells for around $14 in bookstores and $10 for eBook format. That’s reasonable, or used to be reasonable.

Yet, I’m an unknown author and while there’s a good chance of people picking up my novel in a bookstore, there’s less chance of that same person buying it online for $10 when there are hosts of others selling for $5.99 and less.

Like all of us, readers want a bargain. They want a good read, yes, but they want to spend a reasonable price. They want to feel as if they’ve made a smart choice. They want to feel smart. We all do. Yet how smart is it to spend twice as much for one book than another?

Good news, bad news

The price differential between indie and traditional books is bad news for authors backed by publishing houses. The good news is that traditional publishers offer invaluable information and support when it comes to promotion. I’ve been lucky enough to garner positive reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Kirkus Review, Booklist and Library Journal Review. The weight of these reviews, along with the reputation of an established publishing house, could take me far.

Could, that is.

When it comes down to it, we are all, traditional and self-published authors alike, fighting against thousands of other authors and thousands of other books for readers. It’s a daunting process, and many of us will lose.

Years ago Mark Doty gave a talk at my graduate school. He looked around at the forty or so of us gathered in that room and said (and here I paraphrase): “Only one of you will make it. It won’t be the best writer, but the most determined.”

This, I believe, holds true for post-publication authors as well.

Cinthia Ritchie is a former journalist who lives and runs mountains and marathons in Alaska. Her work can be found at New York Times Magazine, Sport Literate, Water-Stone Review, Under the Sun, Memoir, damselfly press, Slow Trains, 42opus, Evening Street Review and over 45 literary magazines. Her first novel, Dolls Behaving Badly, released Feb. 5 from Grand Central Publishing/Hachette Book Group. 

 

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Dolls behaving Badly is available from Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Indie Bound. You can contact Cinthia on Twitter and Facebook.

Next week, I’ll be blogging about how my daughter and I made headline news around the world and my family’s connection to the Titanic.

 

 

 

 

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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