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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?

New cover reveal for FRY!

25 Sep

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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

 

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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?

 

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!

A Toddler’s Self-Publishing Tale – Guest Post by “What Squirrels Do” picture book trilogy author Hazel Nutt

27 Mar


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My name is Hazel Nutt. I’m a two year old toddler and I have so many ideas for books, that tradional publishers wouldn’t be able to keep up with me (my parents find it hard enough.)

I first decided to go the self publishing route, as I am a control freak! I wanted to keep complete control over my picture books (and my parents). My parents are easier to keep in check than an agent of a traditional publisher.

I want to get up about 10 picture books this year and I don’t have the patience to wait a year for a publishing date for each and every one. I’m a toddler and I want things done now!

I have initially self published on Amazon, where I have three picture books published as paperbacks and Kindle versions and another additional couple of picture eBooks on Kindle.

I have another picture book ready to go that my parents’ plan to publish as an eBook on Smashwords, which will be available in lots of additional eBook formats than just Kindle, to see how much that makes a difference. They may decide to make that particular book permanently free, in order to get interest in the other books I have co-created with my parents.

I tend to take up a lot of my parents’ time during the day, so they have had to burn the midnight oil to get these picture books created and published for me, but they know how important the dream of being a published writer at just two is to me.

I think they initially wanted to get everything published last year, but instead they gave me the gift of publishing my three picture books about what squirrels do when people are looking the other way, for my second birthday in February. I was thrilled.

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Since then, I have been telling my parents how to market these picture books in a number of ingenious ways. I’ve got them to create and maintain a blog written from a toddler point of view, with me letting people into my life with a weekly diary summary –  my art, tips for other toddlers on how to train their parents and picture book reviews and author interviews. I’ve got my parents to create squirrel masks and a squirrel coloring book to accompany my picture books.

As part of a virtual book tour, for the month of March, I have been doing interviews left, right and centre, being published all over the Internet. I have been asking for reviews from as many people as I can and I have been writing guest posts like there is no tomorrow (well my parents have until 2 or 3 in the morning, which I know because I often wake up with a wail and they are still dressed.)

There is of course much more we could do, like videos, more on social media sites and networking, but the most important thing is that my parents are trying to do all sorts of imaginative things (based on my suggestions) to make me successful.

This is perhaps where traditional publishing has its advantages, as there are already marketing channels in place and you have the year build up until your book is published, so there is a hungry list of buyers waiting to snap up your book. Basically, you are not on your own.

The virtual book tour will be a good basis to build future promotions on. My parents will make me a successful author and they wouldn’t get that satisfaction if we had gone to a traditional publisher.  You never know, once I’m a well known picture book author, I might get noticed by a traditional publisher.

Hazel Nutt is a baby blogger who loves to share her take on the world, through words and art. She writes funny posts that should tickle the humor buds of most parents. She particularly likes blogging her toddler opinions and advice on how to train parents, to ensure that other toddlers can also wrap their parents around their little fingers! Find Hazel and her opinions here. Please sit back, relax and enjoy.

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Hazel Nutt also writes funny picture books. Her first trilogy is about what squirrels do when people are looking the other way. The What Squirrels Do is a trilogy of picture books that give people an insight into these curious creatures, not EVER revealed to the public before. It will shock you to know some of the devious tricks squirrels play. It will solve some of life’s mysteries, like why there are shopping trollies in the middle of the woods and why car alarms go off in the night, and they will make you laugh.

These books cannot fail to bring a smile to the faces of both toddler and whoever is reading the book to them. Why not take a look at http://www.whatsquirrelsdo.com for more information on these delightful little curiosities.

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