Help – Should I use Createspace or KDP for my paperback? #indieauthors #writers

In the next day or so I will be setting up the paperback version of my new book, The Sentinel’s Reign. It will be the third book I’ve published since 2015.

The first two paperback went through Createspace, which I have found easy and straightforward but being in the UK I would prefer to be able to get a local proof copy and not wait on shipping time and have to pay so much for postage etc. It will also be cheaper to buy my own stock without having to add on overseas postage.

I’ve heard good and bad about the KDP print books and I’m reluctant to take the plunge now. Is it worth it? Should I go for it and switch the other two books over too?

I’m reaching out to those indie authors who have made the switch to ask what you think. Was it easy? Would you recommend it?

Or perhaps, like me, you’re unsure or you’ve decided to stick with Createspace. I would love to know what other indie authors are doing about their print books and if you have any advice to share. I’m sure many people are having the same doubts and we can help each other.

#Mondayblogs My thoughts – Getting Published Day workshop #indieauthor

Last month I went to a Getting Published seminar. It was right at the time of the bad snow hitting the UK, but thankfully it went ahead and the trains were running. Not everyone made it through the snow, but the room still seemed packed with writers eager to learn the secrets of submitting to agents. Would this be the big breakthrough I’d been hoping for?

I went to the event with the knowledge that my two self published books were being well received, in some cases loved, by book bloggers and reviewers (although sales haven’t been good whilst I focused on writing rather than marketing). I also had the added bonus that my first book, Visions of Zarua, was being considered by Czech publishers as a Czech translation. (Cover issues have held up the contract signing, but I’m hopeful it can go ahead very soon.)

The Getting Published day didn’t go exactly as I’d hoped, but I did learn a lot and it reinforced the knowledge I’ve gained over the years from workshops, magazines and articles online. Let’s start with the positives of the day.

 

How to submit to an agent – Some top tips

Be professional

Focus on one book in your letter

Get the agents name right

Intrigue them with a great pitch

Try and get a connection with the agent to mention in the letter.

Focus only on agents in your genre.

 

What I learnt about Agents

Agents are just people

Agents want the same as writers – to get great books published

Of the 450 agents in the UK, not many specialise in fantasy.

They are busy professionals and they appreciate a professional approach.

They give up their free time reading through the slush pile

It can be good to go with a new agent who is building their list, rather than experienced agents who have full lists and only take on new authors occasionally.

 

Other interesting facts you might want to know

Agents and publishers don’t care about your social media presence unless you have masses of followers or it is relevant to the book you are submitting.

Agents don’t care about your self published books unless they have sold 100k copies.

If you submit a self published book, agents don’t know what to do with them. They want new material.

 

Finally, what I learnt about me

I’m crap at mingling and talking to new people, though I’m ok if it is one to one i.e. chatting with the person sitting next to me.

I want to succeed enough to ask questions in front of a room full of people, even though it makes me feel sick.

I want this enough to keep going to these workshops.

There are lots of nice people out there, sometimes you have to be brave enough to make the first contact.

 

Conclusion

These events are worth the money and the time, even if you are shy like me. If you are willing to make the effort you can make connections with other writers in the same position as you. If you are really lucky, you might just be able to chat with an agent who represents your genre.

I can’t help but feel writing fantasy and being a self published author puts me at a double disadvantage in the publishing world. But it’s what I love and I won’t change my dreams to try to write to the market. Instead, I will keep plugging away and enjoy the freedom of self publishing, whilst I wait to find the right agent who believes in my writing as much as I do.

Have you any experience of writing or publishing workshops? Have you any advice or tips to share? I’d love to hear from you.

10 Tips for re-reading your novel after publication #indieauthor #amediting

A few weeks ago I re-read The Lost Sentinel (Book One in the Silent Sea Chronicles). I loved the experience of reading my own book in paperback, and I had the brilliant idea to use post-it notes to highlight things as I went along. These may have been facts I wanted to check in book 2, reminders for planning book 3 and the prequel, spelling or grammar niggles, places where the Astral Plane was mentioned etc.

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I loved the blue post-its matching the cover, but I soon discovered the disadvantages of this method. I didn’t write on every note exactly what I was supposed to be checking. Going through it afterwards, not all the highlights made sense and I couldn’t find any problems with the text. Having suffered this problem, I thought it would be a good idea to share my top tips…

10 TIPS FOR RE-READING YOUR WORK AFTER PUBLICATION

  1. First decide why you are re-reading and what you want to get out of the experience.
  2. Don’t be scared! If, like me, your book has been read and reviewed you have those reviews to fall back on. Perhaps they have flagged up issues you need to address, or maybe you can just read them as a confidence boost.
  3. You have to let go when you re-read. So you’re suddenly not happy with the placement of a comma, or you think a sentence could be rewritten a little better. Ask yourself is it really that big a deal? I’m never satisfied with my writing, so I decided that I had to overlook some of the little niggles or I’d end up rewriting the whole thing! I did make a couple of changes, but this wasn’t an exercise in making The Lost Sentinel better, I wanted to read the sequel straight after to ensure the books worked as a series. (Thankfully they do.)
  4. Have a notebook handy to jot down any facts that need to be checked, or issues to work through.
  5. Post-it notes are great as they allow you to mark a section you have an issue with and let you get on with reading without breaking the flow. BUT make a note of the point you’re highlighting! It saves time later on.
  6. Colour coding the post-its is a quick and easy shortcut. I went back and did this afterwards. I used different colours to represent book 2, 3 and the prequel. A different colour for the scenes that featured the Astral Plane, and finally any changes that needed working through were transcribed into my notebook to work through later.
  7. Be prepared to love and hate your own writing. I had ups and downs re-reading The Lost Sentinel. When I was feeling down, I looked back over those reviews on Amazon and Goodreads. It’s always good to be reminded that others have enjoyed the book and loved your characters.
  8. Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement. Publishing a book is amazing. Enjoy holding it, reading it and savour the whole experience.
  9. Once the re-read is done you have to decide what changes are really necessary. Then you’ll need to update the e-book and paperback files before re-submitting them to your chosen platforms, in my case Amazon and Createspace.
  10. Finally, double-check everything you’ve changed is correct once it has been published. It’s worth taking your time and making sure the book is the best you can make it. Then hopefully future re-reads won’t result in more changes.

 

I will probably go through the above process when I’ve finished writing book 3, and for any future books in the Silent Sea Chronicles. Hopefully next time around it will go more smoothly. And I hope you can take something helpful from this as well.

Have you any tips to share when re-reading your published work?

***

Silent Sea Chronicles is a heroic fantasy series set on the magical island of Kalaya.

Book 1 – The Lost Sentinel is available now at Amazon.

Book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign will soon be sent off to my second wave of Beta readers. And then after a final edit and proof read, I will hopefully be ready to publish by May. Closer to the date I will have a cover reveal – I can’t wait to share the amazing cover with you.

Thanks for reading. I hope you will continue you follow my journey as an indie author.

 

Writing update 2018 & New Year Plans #amwriting #amediting

Last year (that sounds so weird) ended on a high for me. The Lost Sentinel was on Brizzlelass’ 10 top reads of 2017 and I also received a lovely email from a reader who said she really enjoyed the book.

That sent me smiling into 2018…

But 2017 has been a year of ups and downs on the writing and blogging front. I published my second book, The Lost Sentinel – Silent Sea Chronicles bk 1, I finished the draft of book 2, which I’m editing and preparing to send to beta readers asap, and I started the draft of book 3 during Nanowrimo. But I’m far behind on the publishing schedule I set myself and I’ve let my blogging slip to near non-existent.

So with this in mind I’ve done some thinking about what I want to achieve in 2018.

Writing

  1. Publish book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign
  2. Finish the first draft of book 3 – The Sentinel’s Alliance
  3. Look at another WIP that has been waiting for an end for several years and decide if this is the book that I want to submit to agents.

Writing in general

  1. Attend some writing events / workshops
  2. Contact book reviewers
  3. Learn more about marketing and get my books in front of more readers

Blogging

  1. Tidy up the blog and create a new banner and a landing page.
  2. Blog more often with more focus on books and writing.
  3. Have more guest posts and get involved in more blog tours.

Lifestyle

  1. I plan to have a healthier diet and start walking more.
  2. Get more sleep
  3. Be more positive.

Reading

  1. I want to read more fantasy. See the list of books on my 2018 TBR list
  2. I want to post more book reviews
  3. I want to read at least 35 books in 2018

So I know I’m still asking a lot of myself in 2018, but with a more positive attitude and focus on what I want to achieve, I’m hopeful that I can do this.

Wish me luck…

Happy 2nd Birthday to Visions of Zarua my debut #standalone #epicfantasy – It’s #giveaway time!

It has been two years since I published my first book, Visions of Zarua. This time two years ago I was buzzing with fear and excitement, and still in shock that I had actually released my baby into the world.

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Now, with two books published and a third planned for next year, I feel more confidant as a self published author.

On the anniversary of Visions of Zarua’s Ebook publication, I’ve enjoyed reading through the reviews on Amazon and Goodreads to appreciate how well received it has been by the public. I thought I’d share the latest stats with you, before announcing my two giveaways…

Goodreads: Visions of Zarua has an average rating of 4.32 stars with 28 ratings and 16 reviews. It’s currently on the bookshelves of over 1520 people.

Amazon UK has 19 reviews and an average of 4.5 star rating.

Amazon US is a bit behind with 12 reviews and a 4.3 star ratings.

And now here’s the link to enter my Goodreads giveaway. It’s open worldwide, so why not have a go.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Visions of Zarua by Suzanne Rogerson

Visions of Zarua

by Suzanne Rogerson

Giveaway ends November 24, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

 

I’m also giving away an Ebook on my blog! All you have to do is comment on this post and I’ll pick a random winner on 24th November, the same day the paperback giveaway ends. If you’ve already read it, you can still comment and nominate a friend to receive an early Christmas present!

I’d love you to retweet and share this post with as many people as possible too, but it’s not a requirement for entry.

You can find out more about Visions of Zarua – A standalone epic fantasy, by following the links below (don’t forget it’s also available to read for free on Kindle Unlimited);

Amazon UK  and  Amazon US.

And if you have read Visions and would like to leave a review, I would love to read your thoughts. I’m still hoping to break the 20 review barrier by Christmas, so it would be great if you could help me out.

I’ll end with my favourite photo quote from the blog tour last year…

cathy - pyre picture quote

The KDP Countdown deal Results are in! #indie #indieauthor

Well, I’m astounded by what a little advertising can do. These aren’t the massive results others have achieved, but it is the BEST I have ever done, and the best Visions of Zarua has ever done. I’m ecstatic, and my self publishing verve has been restored!

So how did Visions of Zarua do during the 99p / 99c countdown deal?

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The deal ran 20th to 27th July 2017

Day 1 – My efforts consisted of Tweeting, blogging, Facebook, Instagram – the usual suspects.

COST = MY TIME. SALES = 0

Day 2 – BKnights

COST = $11. SALES = 3

Day 3 – My Facebook Ad: Aimed at 15-30 age group male/female in UK and US with interests in reading, fantasy etc. Total of 9 interests.

COST = £6. SALES = 0

Note – I picked this age group as they had shown the most interest in previous ads. There were 1,169 people reached – 16 likes and 1 link click (to Amazon book page). 12 photo quote clicks were recorded – obviously having the photo quote took away from the amazon link click. (A few days later I invited these people to Like my facebook page.)

Day 4 – Bargain Booksy Ad

COST $40. SALES = 24!

Finally making progress, although I haven’t covered my costs. There were 21 sales in the US and 3 in the UK. 

Day 5 – Facebook Ads attempt 2

This time I ran two ads, 1 US and 1 UK. I upped the age range 16-65+ male/female. I reduced interests to 4.

I also used the Amazon book page as the direct link for the Ad, rather than have the universal link in the wording of the ad as before.

US 14 likes, only 2 link clicks (234 people reached)

UK 2 likes, 21 link clicks. (470 people reached) No idea if these resulted in sales.

COST = £8. SALES = 10 (5 UK / 5 US) – Maybe a result of Bargain Booksy and / or facebook ad?

Day 6 – Booksends

COST $35. SALES = 28

Very happy with these figures!

DAY 7 – Bookrunes.

COST = $25. SALES 9.

I was interested to give Bookrunes a shot as they advertise to UK, US, Australia and India. Even though the deal doesn’t run in all those countries, it’s still very much needed exposure.

And guess what,

Day 8 = 3 sales in Australia!

Extra: Amazon Marketing Services

I also ran an AMS ad throughout the whole KDP countdown deal. The results take a few days to finalise, but so far it looks as though it received 1847 impressions, 1 click and 1 sale. That sale cost so far $0.07. I have a profit WOOHOO! However, that’s the worst an AMS ad has ever performed for me. It was a sponsored product ad with 48 keywords, but they would not let me mention anything to do with the sale or price in the ad so that doesn’t help matters. I also still have an ad running for Visions of Zarua all the time, so the two ads will have been very similar.

The deal has ended, but I have my fingers crossed that more sales will trickle in over the next few days / weeks.

Final Thoughts

Over 8 days Visions of Zarua sold 77 copies. 17 UK 57 US and 3 AU.

I may be out of pocket but it doesn’t matter because 77 new people own my book and countless others have seen it! Even though I haven’t hit any bestseller lists, I’m still happy with the results.

In the past I’ve sold in Canada, Germany and been read in India – so I really can say that Visions of Zarua has been read Worldwide. If I hadn’t had the guts to self publish back in 2015, no one would have seen my work, and no doubt I’d be out in the real world right now trying to find a job that fits in with school hours and term times – boring!

Instead, I’m fully pumped and ready to get on with book 2 in the Silent Sea Chronicles so I can start this crazy business all over again.

P.S – Thanks to my blogging friends who gave me words of advice and encouragement when I had a wobble a few weeks back.

P.P.S – I’m still desperate to get some reviews for The Lost Sentinel (and Visions of Zarua). I want to try a repeat experiment with countdown deals for The Lost Sentinel soon, but it only has 4/5 reviews on Amazon and some ad sites require 10+ reviews. Can you help?

If you’ve read either books, please consider reviewing them on Amazon. If you would like a reviewers copy, please get in touch.

Now I’m planning a whole week without the internet – well almost. I’ll still be checking my emails, wordpress comments etc, so please add your thoughts and comments. I love to interact, that’s what makes this whole thing worth the effort.

Thanks for reading!

Visions of Zarua Amazon link

The Lost Sentinel Amazon link

The Lost Sentinel – 1 month after publication & 1 day left Goodreads giveaway

Well it’s a month today since my second fantasy novel was published, so I thought why not have a recap.

Firstly, the Goodreads worldwide giveaway to win a paperback copy ends tomorrow, so check out the link if you want to be in with a chance of winning. Over 1,150 people have already entered so I’m really pleased with these numbers.

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Lost Sentinel by Suzanne Rogerson

The Lost Sentinel

by Suzanne Rogerson

Giveaway ends July 17, 2017.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Unfortunately, The Lost Sentinel seems to have become lost in the sea of books, and neither the blog tour nor the local book event has done much to improve its exposure. I’m trying not to lose hope, but I am beginning to regret the decision to self publish – why didn’t I at least try a few agents first! I made a list, had everything in place (letter / synopsis), why didn’t I go for it?

At least Visions of Zarua is still being read on Kindle Unlimited and there is a link to the new book at the end, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed people will want to download The Lost Sentinel as well.

I would love to get more reviews on Amazon for both books, especially when Amazon takes down reviews for no apparent reason and then reinstates them a few weeks later. I’m talking about poor Susan on Booksfromdusktilldawn – she’s a dedicated and genuine book reviewer who had all her reviews removed – I hope they have resolved this for her now. I know the UK ones are back up at least.

I have a couple of promo ideas in the pipeline; kindle countdown deals, an Amazon US giveaway, and hopefully a feature in a local publication. After that I’m planning to take a step back and recharge my blogging battery whilst I focus on finishing book 2. There are only so many setbacks an author can take, and I don’t want to lose my love of writing.

If you are a reviewer who would like to review either The Lost Sentinel or Visions of Zarua, click on the covers to be taken to the Amazon page to find out more. Please get in touch via the comments or via my contact me form on the blog.

Thanks for your time, and have a great Sunday everyone!

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Indie Interview: Suzanne Rogerson

Yesterday Rebeccahowiebooks kindly featured my Indie Interview as part of The Lost Sentinel’s blog tour. Thanks for having me again, Rebecca.

FOR THE LOVE OF FICTION

A long, long time ago (last year) I started this Indie Interview series, and one of the first authors I talked to was Suzanne Rogerson, the then author of Visions of Zarua, a standalone epic fantasy novel.

Suzanne’s been spending the past year promoting her book, so when I heard she was publishing a new novel, I was pleased when I was asked to be a stop on The Lost Sentinel blog tour.

You can check out the other blogs Suzanne will be visiting this month below.

Hi, Suzanne. Welcome back to Read A Lot.

Thank you, it’s great to be here again.

Q: Tell us a bit about your new book, The Lost Sentinel.

The magical island of Kalaya is dying, along with its Sentinel. With the Kalayan people turning their back on magic, can Tei help the exiles find their new Sentinel before it’s too…

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Indie Focus: Interview With Self-Published Author Suzanne Rogerson

It’s day 4 of the blog tour for The Lost Sentinel and I’m really pleased to share this indepth interview over on Another World Book Blog. Please come over and join us.

Another World


BACK FOR THE SECOND OF THREE VISITS

SUZANNE ROGERSON PROVES SHE’S MADE OF HIGH FANTASY HEROINE MATERIAL BY AGREEING TO BE INTERROGATED ON ANOTHER WORLD

ImageThe Interrogation Room here at Another World has remained unoccupied for far too long. Today, for your viewing pleasure, this oversight will finally be rectified as I have secured my latest victim interviewee.

To mark the imminent publication of her new novel The Lost Sentinel, Book One of the Silent Sea Chronicles, I have brought in indie author Suzanne Rogerson to face twenty probing questions to gain some insight into her new book, herself, as an author, and (of course) to examine his geek credentials.

Enjoy the interview, and be sure to keep an eye out for the review of Suzanne’s book this coming Friday.

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Tip for #indieauthors Check your Royalty payments! #selfpub #indiepub

This is just a warning to other self published authors who might not be aware of the 30% tax withholding that’s applied to Non-US citizens royalty payments. This affects Amazon, Createspace etc. Maybe you’re a new self published author, or hoping to self publish in the near future. If so, read on and learn from my mistake…

When I checked my royalty payment due from Amazon US book sales and KENP pages read, I realised there was a 30% tax withholding fee. At first I thought it was a mistake, then I thought why the hell hadn’t I noticed it before? They don’t hide the fact from you, I just hadn’t paid any attention to that column until now. Looking down the list, each month I’ve been deducted 30% on my US royalties (haven’t told the husband yet!).

So I’ve spent the morning trying to find out what went wrong when I did the tax interview on Amazon back in 2015 and how I can rectify the issue. I’ve googled, checked forums and blog posts, cursed and pulled out my hair.

Finally, I re-did the tax interview on Amazon and Createspace and added my non-US tax reference. Now its showing as 0.0% tax withholding. It’s a huge relief and turned out to be a very simple solution. If only I thought to do it when I registered as self employed last year.

So this is a word of caution, although maybe I’m the only one silly enough not to check their royalty reports properly. I also want to ask a question of those more clued up than me on the whole royalty payment and tax process. Is there any chance Amazon will kindly refund me the 30% underpayments which started in June last year?

Does anyone know how to go about requesting that refund, or have you any experience of trying to get your money back?

If not, it’s back to google and the forums for me.