Yesterday I was lucky enough to be interviewed on Lynn’s Books. Lynn was the judge tasked with reading The Lost Sentinel for SPFBO this year. Though The Lost Sentinel didn’t make the cut, she had some great things to say in her wrap up post and it was a pleasure to be interviewed by her. Please head over to read it now.
I have been very quiet on the social media front these past few months, hoping to work hard on my draft of The Sentinel’s Alliance. That has not gone to plan but I have been doing lots of other exciting things and thought I would share them with you. Maybe you can pick up some tips for things you can be doing with your self published books.
Note – This whole situation came about because of Rebecca Howie’s post on The Backdoor to Bookstores. As you can guess it’s about getting your books into the bookshops, something I had thought impossible and didn’t bother researching. Her post has led me to;
- Register all my books with Nielsen via a simple emailed form. This means my books can now be found on the website of most bookshops like Waterstones.
- Ask my local Waterstones branch about stocking my books. I am waiting to hear from the relevant department.
- Contact my local library. Again I am waiting to hear from the relevant department but the librarian was hopeful it would be accepted. If not I still have the option of donating copies for them to lend.
- I already had a PLR account but my books weren’t on file. As I’ve now registered the books with Nielsen I can apply for my books to be added to my account. Again I am waiting for them to be processed.
- Today I am posting a physical copy of each of my books to The British Library. Once deposited, there will always be a copy and a record of my work, though they did warn me the backlog was 3 or 4 months.
My next steps
- Contact local indie books stores – I already have a list to work through.
- Print some leaflets with LOCAL AUTHOR and hand them out around my local towns.
- Look into book festivals for 2019 with a mind to having a book stall.
- Look into having an audiobook produced for Visions of Zarua through ACX. I can go with the 50/50 split with a producer and pay nothing up front so there is nothing to lose. My main concern is the voice – I have 4 VP characters 3 of which are male. I think I will have to request a male narrator, though I’m not keen on men doing female voices and vs versa. Varnia is such a strong character, I would hate for her to lose that edge in an audio version.
I have just switched my paperback books from Createspace to KDP. It was a very simple process and took just a few minutes with the automated programme KDP have developed. Rather than try to explain it myself, I read a great post about it yesterday on Nicolas C Rossis’ blog.
Now onto my writing challenges for Autumn 2018
- Finish my draft of book 3 asap, though I’m still coming to grips with the mess I made of it during Nanowrimo last year!
- I want to try to plan the Prequel of Silent Sea Chronicles whilst writing book 3, ready to start work on it in 2019.
- Write the draft of a new novella during Nanowrimo. I want to aim for a word count of 30-40k.
- Enter at least 5 short story competitions. I have 5 stories edited, critiqued and ready to go and I think I have picked some good competitions to try.
- Enter a few first chapter competitions.
- Look for Self Pub novel competitions to enter that don’t cost loads of money
- Work on new short story ideas for a possible anthology in 2019. I’ve already seen a couple of covers that I would love, but I can’t jump ahead that much, can I?
Other things I need to focus on in 2018
- Promos for all books, including working on my AMS ads which I’ve heard is now changing anyway.
- Contact reviewers – look for new opportunities and contact previous reviewers. It’s been a difficult summer for many reviewers so I’m hoping to reconnect with some of them during autumn/winter.
- Write up my book reviews and post weekly. I like to do this on a Tuesday with the #tuesdaybookblog tag set up by Rosie Amber.
- Study writing fiction for YA and decide if I want to head in that direct at some point. Some readers already class my Silent Sea Chronicles trilogy as YA so I’m interested to see why and if I should be targeting that market.
- Finish my Goodreads reading challenge, which I am just about on target for.
- A future goal I want to think about for 2019 is setting up an author newsletter. I know I should, but it’s one of those jobs I’ve been putting off.
It feels good to write down my achievements and my goals. I shall print off this list and pin it to the wall by my desk for inspiration and to keep me on track.
This list will easily take me to the end of the year. I just need to focus and stop getting distracted. I did find this post from Ari really helpful about her own September 2018 goals and working towards them each week. She shares lots of great advice and her site is well worth a visit.
Lastly, if you are looking for motivation you really should read this book – Overwhelmed Writer Rescue by Colleen Story. I reviewed it last year and it is packed with advice. I must revisit my copy.
I hope I have given you some ideas and if you have any tips to share or other routes I can follow as an indie author, please comment. I feel as though I’ve been out of the blogging loop for ages, so I’d love to reconnect with people.
Many people in the self publishing world will be aware of the annual ‘Self Published Fantasy Blog Off’ competition set up by Mark Lawrence. 300 hundred books are whittled down to just 1 winner.
A great community has sprung up around this competition. Part of that has been authors coming together to share news of their books, price promos and today I’m sharing the page set up to showcase some SPFBO authors, past and present, whose books are free to read with Kindle Unlimited.
J Elizabeth Vincent has kindly put this together, please take a look here.
Both of my books, Visions of Zarua (entered 2016) and The Lost Sentinel (current entry), are on the list.
Talking of The Lost Sentinel I just found out at the weekend that Lynn, the judge with my book in her group of 30 books has picked The Lost Sentinel as one of her second batch reads this month! That means in a few weeks time I will hopefully know if The Lost Sentinel is still in the running. Check out Lynn’s post about her latest choices over on Lynns book blog.
I have everything crossed, but the competition is very strong. I know I would make a useless judge, but thankfully I only have to read for the pleasure of it and don’t have to pick any winners.
I have purchased a number of titles thanks to this competition. Here is a link to my post about the books I’ve bought and why.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to be back tomorrow with my first book review in a while.
I couple of months ago I asked for some advice on whether to publish the paperback of my newest book via Createspace or try out Amazon KDP. I got some great advice and many people were happy to have changed over to KDP. Here’s the link to my original post.
I deliberated for some time, but decided to stick with Createspace as I knew the process and it was getting close to the book release date. I didn’t want any last minute problems messing everything up.
Using Createspace was as simple as ever and I had soon uploaded the doc and cover files, checked on screen for errors and ordered my proof copy. The only gripe I have is the shipping costs. As usual, I left myself no time to mess about before the release date on 29th June 2018, so I had to use their priorty shipping. Over $20 later, I had my proof and read it through for typos and formatting errors. Once I was happy with it, it was just a matter of agreeing the proof and then it went live in a few hours! I quickly ordered a UK copy (free shipping as I’m a prime member) and double checked those last minute changes were ok before making the big announcement to the world that it was for sale.
At the same time I did a test print with Lulu. It was cheaper as the postage was a lot less, but I felt the cover colours were inferior to Createspace and they did not support the font used for my chapter headers (reverting it automatically to times new roman). The overall quality of the book was better than I’d seen in the past. The quality of the paper was good and it felt more sturdy than the test copy I received from them last year for The Lost Sentinel. I weighed it all up and ordered 3 books from Lulu to keep as stock or give as gifts. Great, or so I thought until the books arrived a week later. There were 3 different books from 3 different authors in the package! I assumed somehow Lulu had sent me someone else’s order until I looked inside the book cover. It was The Sentinel’s Reign!
I got straight onto Lulu who replied 2 days later (standard response time) they wanted photos to prove what had happened. I sent them over and they agreed to redo the order free of charge with express shipping. A week later and I’m still waiting for the order to be fulfilled, let alone delivered to me. All in all, I’m not too impressed with Lulu.
Whilst waiting for the Lulu mess to be sorted last week, I ordered 10 books from Createspace as I really wanted to have some stock for the people who prefer to buy direct from me rather than online. I paid for the expedited shipping method, which they estimated would be about 2 weeks. They arrived within 5 days! And they are all perfect, though this picture doesn’t do them justice.
I still want to trial the KDP paperback, but I’ve had such good service from Createspace and the covers are so tactile and beautiful I think I’ll stick with them for a bit longer.
One last note on why I’m sticking with Createspace – the US paperback copies feel so much nicer than the UK paperbacks. I like that silicone feel they have, while I know others prefer the matt feel of the UK version. It is a small detail, but enough to convince me to stay where I am and pay that little bit extra for postage.
What are your thoughts or experiences with Createspace, KDP and Lulu?
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
- First decide why you are re-reading and what you want to get out of the experience.
- 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.
- 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.)
- Have a notebook handy to jot down any facts that need to be checked, or issues to work through.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Don’t forget to celebrate your achievement. Publishing a book is amazing. Enjoy holding it, reading it and savour the whole experience.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
- Publish book 2 – The Sentinel’s Reign
- Finish the first draft of book 3 – The Sentinel’s Alliance
- 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
- Attend some writing events / workshops
- Contact book reviewers
- Learn more about marketing and get my books in front of more readers
- Tidy up the blog and create a new banner and a landing page.
- Blog more often with more focus on books and writing.
- Have more guest posts and get involved in more blog tours.
- I plan to have a healthier diet and start walking more.
- Get more sleep
- Be more positive.
- I want to read more fantasy. See the list of books on my 2018 TBR list
- I want to post more book reviews
- 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…
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.
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
Giveaway ends November 24, 2017.
See the giveaway details
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);
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…
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?
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.
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!