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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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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?

Creating an audiobook with ACX

13 Jul

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The audiobook version of my debut novel, FRY comes out later this year and I’m really excited!

If you are interested in making an audiobook of your self-published book, I recommend you give ACX (Audiobook Creation Exchange) a try. The process is quite straight forward. I posted a description of FRY, along with an excerpt and details of my review rankings on ACX and waited to see if any narrators would be interested in producing my audiobook. ACX offer you the option of paying the narrator a fee, so that you as the author can keep all the profits, or else you can go 50-50 with the narrator and share the profits. I found the second option more appealing as it means you don’t have to invest any money up front. It also means that you and the narrator have an equal interest in the project’s success, which can only be a good thing.

I’d love to say that the offers came flooding in straight away, but I didn’t get much interest for the first few days, until I received a message from ACX to tell me that they had awarded my book a stipend. This meant that on top of the 50-50 profit split, my narrator will be paid for each hour of finished recording time, up to £2,500 dollars. This is when the auditions and messages of interest really started coming in.

ACX only opened up to the UK in April of this year and this may explain why I had some difficulty in finding narrators who could do an authentic British accent, which my book requires. Despite this, I felt confident in choosing actress Crystal Marcano, as not only did she get the accent right, but she also understood the tone of the book and was both enthusiastic and active on social media.

More about ACX

ACX was created by Audible, an Amazon company. They distribute to the three leading retailers of audiobooks; Audible.comAmazon.com, and iTunes. If you choose to distribute exclusively to these three channels,  you earn 40% of the profits, whereas if you choose to distribute your audiobook non-exclusively, you earn 25% but retain the right to distribute your audiobook at your discretion.

Useful links

How to create audiobooks via ACX

Marketing ACX audiobooks

Are you interested in making an audiobook? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Should writers also be readers?

30 Jun

 

Image courtesy of Marin/FreeDigitalPhotos.net

The last book I read was Gone Girl, which was just fantastic. Great style, great twists, really did it for me. Trouble was, I stole a few hours from my writing schedule to read it. I know I shouldn’t have, but it was so good, I just couldn’t put it down. And it made me want to reach for my next read straight away. I am already halfway through Killing Me Softly by Nicci French, another book I can’t put down.

I used to read all the time. I spent far more time reading than writing. But that was partly because I was commuting to work every day, and what better to do on the tube than read? Since I had my children, I’ve read a lot less. In fact, it took me a couple of years to finish reading The Thread by Victoria Hislop. Not because I didn’t love it, but because I find it hard to commit to a chunky book the way I used to, knowing that I don’t have hours at a time to devote to it.

I’m making a reading comeback though. Last year, I set myself a modest goal on reader’s website Goodreads. I decided that I would read 10 books by the end of 2013. As someone who likes to tick things off lists, I felt strangely pleased when I met that goal. This year, I’ve set a goal of 15 books and I’m already 8 wonderful, delicious reads down. The more I read, the more I want to read. And the more I want to write too, because reading good books is so inspiring. Reading bad books can be useful too. When something about the book doesn’t quite click, I like to try and work out what it is, so that I can avoid making similar mistakes in my own writing. Luckily I have excellent taste (or just plain luck), and all the books I’ve read so far this year have been corkers.

I’ve heard writers who say they are too busy to read, and if I’m honest, I was one of them for a while, but I think I’m past that now. As I work on making writing my career, I know that reading needs to be an important, yet enjoyable part of my work.  A good story haunts you. It forces you to think about it, long after you’ve put the book down. Without reading, I think it would be hard to grow as a writer.

How much do you read? Do you find that reading interferes with your writing schedule, or does it enhance it?

 

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.

 

 

 

 

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