I got a good review from SFBook a few months ago but to be shortlisted by anyone, let alone a respected sci-fi book blogging site, is brilliant. A nice addition to the cover award the book won in August last year.
In the deafening silence of self-publishing a novel out there into the
The winner went to ‘Europe in Autumn‘
Everyone else is at it so I thought I’d write a post about setting goals too. I was also inspired by Sophie Playle’s post on ‘Writing Goals – What Are They Good For?’ which talks about how to set goals and what goals to set, eg. be flexible and don’t aim for the impossible.
I’ve always had yearly writing goals but this year I’m going to write them down for everyone to check out and ruthlessly measure me against come December 31st 2015.
My writing goals for 2015 are;
- Finish 2nd and 3rd draft of Novel 3, ‘Blindsided’ by Easter.
- Give copies to beta readers for feedback.
- Write 4th draft of ‘Blindsided’ based on feedback.
- Get first 3 chapters and synopsis professionally edited and sent off to agents.
- Get ‘In A Right State’ onto other online retailers.
- Keep an eye out for marketing opportunities for ‘In A Right State’ and experiment with price.
- Get 2nd novel, ‘Broken Branches’, professionally critiqued and edited in the 2nd half of 2015 and look to get a self-published version launched early 2016.
- Write more blog posts.
- Think more about 4th novel (untitled) and make notes.
Plenty to be getting on with this year.
My debut novel, ‘In A Right State‘, has been available on Amazon for about 6 months now and what no-one really tells you is that during this first 6 months you spend 99% of your time trying to get reviews.
At least, for an unknown, self-published, debut author, that’s what you should be spending your time doing because no-one knows who the hell you are so you have to try to convince others to read your book so they’ll tell people who you are and that you’re worth parting with their hard earned cash for.
There are two types of reviews; the customer review you see on Amazon and other places, and then the book reviewer review, the one you see on blogs and on Goodreads, etc. You want both.
So how do you do this?
Basically, a politely worded email asking if maybe someone would kindly donate their precious time to reading a FREE version of your book and review it somewhere….anywhere!
My debut novel, ‘In A Right State’, has now been live on Amazon for 6 months since launching on 7th July 2014, so how has it performed?
Back in February last year I try to define different levels of success in a blog post, ‘Self-Publishing: My goal & defining success‘. According to those goals, I’m just short of ‘success’ (selling 50+ ebooks and getting a few reviews).
- I’ve sold 16 ebooks on Amazon.
- I’ve sold 0 paperbacks.
- I’ve got 4 reviews on Amazon.
- 4 reviews on Goodreads.
- I’ve also got some good reviews on a few book blogging sites such as SFBook, which I’m also really pleased with.
- I also got in the local newspaper, Featured in Local Newspaper!
But the crux of the matter is how much did I spend? Was this a profitable venture? No. Not even vaguely close.
The grand total including editing, developing and marketing = £1,085.33.
I’ve sold 16 ebooks with a royalty of $4.12 per ebook = $66/£42. So in total I’ve made a loss of -£1,043.33 in 6 months.
Not great but I’ve ended up with a professionally edited and presented ebook that I’m proud of. There’s also the added bonus of a print-on-demand paperback version which I had never envisioned of achieving so soon.
And that’s after 6 months. If there’s two lessons I’ve learnt through all this is that publishing and the book industry is slow and getting reviews is hard. I have a few review copies out there in reviewers ‘To Read Lists’ and there’s more out there to be contacted, plus I’ve only been selling on Amazon at full price. In the very near future I’m going to get onto the other ebook providers and also start discounting too.
I refuse to offer this book for free purely out of principal, plus it smacks of desperation.
So, that’s the 6 month review, I’ll see if I can improve things for the 1 year review but I’ve also got the 2nd draft of Novel 3 to get on with too. I need to let ‘In A Right State’ go for a bit and let it fend for itself because I’ve already dedicated a whole lot more time and effort into it than I originally planned but that’s because my original plan was so ill thought out and naive as to be ridiculous.
I’m going to write some more blog posts on what I’ve learnt so far. I should have a bit more time to reflect on the few things that have succeeded and the multitude that haven’t.
Oh yeah, plus I need to get stuck into the 2nd draft of the 3rd novel, ‘Blindsided’. PLUS! I’ve got the seeds of a 4th novel which I’m going to mull over and percolate over 2015 too.
The paperback of ‘In A Right State’ is now available for purchase from CompletelyNovel. Just got a proof copy yesterday and it looks great, really good quality, especially the cover. The paperback will be going onto Amazon and other online retailers soon, but you can buy it from CompletelyNovel today. It’ll take about 2 weeks for the book to be printed and delivered.
Paperback £5.99 + Shipping £4.25 = £10.24
Also, if you’re still not sure about whether to buy it or not, check out this excellent review by Anthony over at top notch sci-fi review site, SFBook.
What’s going on?!
Where the bloody hell is Wigthorn?!
What happened to Worthing?!
Don’t worry, you haven’t been transported into an alternate reality, you’re still in Worthing. But if you want to be transported into an alternate reality where Worthing is Wigthorn, the old pier is underwater, you have no privacy, satellites watch your every move and people disguise themselves as sheep or hyenas or a cactus, then read the debut novel by Worthingite (or Wigthornian), Ben Ellis – ‘In A Right State’.
Available to buy now on Amazon UK.
About £3.60. Ebook only.
(I didn’t draw the penis, I swear!)
Your information is being sold. And guess who’s paying for it?
It’s 2066, and living in a country where big corporations are constantly undressing you with their spies isn’t much fun for Duncan. He remembers the days when information was protected, not sold to the highest bidder. When his illegal organic vegetable trade is discovered at the bottom of his garden in the town of Wigthorn, the tomatoes really hit the fan.
Amy works for Pharmara, the biggest pharmaceutical company in the UK, analysing user data. Yes, it’s as boring as it sounds but she believes a little corporate access to personal information is a small price to pay to live in a post-tax, post-carbon, post-poverty world.
After all, if you’ve got nothing to hide, you’ve got nothing to fear … right?
Poppy lives in Shaded Vale, a town rich enough to stay off the radar. Her father has some big plans to shake up the industrial power balance.
Thrown together by circumstance, Duncan, Amy and Poppy become tangled in a dangerous quest for truth with Pharmara Security hot on their heels. But if knowledge is power, how is it that those in power are such idiots?
On Tuesday evening I went and saw Will Self at The Ropetackle in Shoreham as part of his book tour for ‘Shark’. I can’t remember how I heard about it but it was sold out when I checked the website at the weekend. I phoned Tuesday afternoon and it was still sold out so I asked if it was worth turning up and waiting to see if any seats remained empty…the woman said, maybe. So I went. The front desk said there were no tickets but the man in front had just asked about a refund on a couple of spares, so I approached him with a friendly smile and a crisp tenner, and bought one. That is what is commonly known in the trade as ‘a right result’.
I really wanted to go because it’s not very common for a top, respected, Man Booker short-listed author to come down to these parts, at least I didn’t think so. Turns out he’s been down here about 10 times, so I haven’t been looking hard enough. I like his journalism and his refreshing point of view on Question Time (not enough authors, too many actors), ‘5mm Barrel’ and I’ve read half of ‘The Book of Dave’. I feel bad. I loved his writing but at one point what I thought was a kind of moped turned out to be a some kind of cow-type animal and I thought, ‘Fuck this. If I can’t tell the difference between a cow and a moped what else have I missed.’ So I gave up. The concept of the novel has always stuck with me along with the writing. It’s so rich, and not just an interesting read but funny too. It’s not an easy read though and I think that’s where I went wrong, trying to read it last thing at night when all my brain and eyes want to do is shutdown.
The cover for ‘In A Right State’ won the Fiction Cover Award for self-published books over at The Book Designer for the month of July.
Against some good competition too, but when I submitted it I had faith in Emery’s skills – my mate who designed it.
If you want to utilise his skills too then you can get in touch with him at www.ripegraphics.com which is currently getting rebranded and overhauled.
Thanks again to Emery because I love the cover, but it’s nice that someone else recognised it’s greatness too!
Now go and BUY IT and see if the content lives up to the packaging.
‘In A Right State’ has finally garnered a couple of reviews and half decent ones too. Check them out on Amazon – a 3 star and a 4 star, I’m pretty happy with that for starters.
Plus they’ve been posted on the reviewers own blogs and on GoodReads;
I’m surprised by the quality and depth of these two reviews. I’ve been approaching book bloggers, offering them a free copy of the ebook so they’ll hopefully write a review on their blog and cross post on Amazon and Goodreads (I’m confident enough that no-one’s going to completely pan it) *crosses fingers*. So these two reviews are not written by ‘normal’ Amazon customers, they are by bloggers with their own websites, but I’m still pleasantly surprised by their breadth and insight.
Also, the fact they aren’t a gushing 5 star worship makes them more interesting. This doesn’t mean I’m after a 1 star review to make it even more interesting.
I’ve told my mum NOT to write a 5 star review on Amazon. Her surname would give it away. She’d probably sign it – Mum x - as well. And what if she didn’t give it 5 stars?!
I think getting reviews makes this book more real and means I can now start to kick off my other marketing plans. I don’t think anyone wants to buy a non-reviewed, self-published, debut, ebook-only novel. Some independent reviews adds some credibility to a previously unknown product by an unknown author.
Hopefully this will start the ball rolling in terms of sales which then generates a few more reviews and so on.