thinkingI’ve never liked word counts. The pressure if you’re not on your game, grinding out words as you push your story uphill, or, blasting past your target easily but with the nagging feeling that tomorrow might not be such a cake walk so should you stop and save some momentum for tomorrow or carry on?

If you go for a target, how many words do you choose? The internet will provide you with a wide range of targets and reasoning behind it. If it works for you, great.

I hate them because real life gets in the way so you need to be flexible. I’ve just given my third novel to some beta readers to get some feedback and I’ve completed those three novels without a word count target.

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churchI recently spent a weekend in Helsinki and someone I follow on Twitter, Crystal Huff, is involved in the sci-fi community plus she’s Finnish! She gave me some great pointers of where to go and also let me know about Helsinki’s bid to host Worldcon in 2017.

Crystal also tweeted…

I’ve never been to a Worldcon or any kind of sci-fi/fantasy/book related conference before (something I should rectify) but I have been to some work related ones so I understand the concept of a conference. Also, I’m just a self-published author of one little sci-fi book so don’t get your hopes up Helsinki but here’s a little blog post about why I think Helsinki would make a great location for Worldcon in 2017.
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blindsided-betaAs you can see, I’ve produced some printed versions of my latest novel, ‘Blindsided‘, to give to beta readers. I’ve also put together a PDF version to give to those beta readers who prefer ebooks and to email readers overseas.

I’ve got 10 beta readers so far. I may get a couple more, but I think 10 is a good round number. 5 men and 5 women. 3 over 60 yrs old and 7 between 25-40 yrs old. 2 x American and 8 x English.

I’ve written an introductory page telling them what to focus on (character, story, awkward phrasing, etc) and what not to focus on (spelling, grammar, layout, etc) plus I’ve added 6 questions at the end which are specific points I want answered in case they don’t address them in their feedback (If you want to see this introductory piece and extra questions then add a comment and I’ll blog about it).

This is all purely reader feedback, different from a critique you’d get from an editor, but still essential. This is the first time anyone, except me, will have read it. Is it interesting, does it make sense? These are all fundamental questions regular readers can answer. Number 1: did you finish it?

Some beta readers are new ones I’ve picked up over the past couple of years while the others are readers I’ve asked before and they’ve given good, constructive feedback.

So there it is. ‘Blindsided’ leaves my laptop for the first time and steps out into the big bad world.

But it’ll be back in a month or two for a good scrub down, change of clothes and a haircut before I send it out again for an actual, paid editor to review.

Suppose I better start thinking about Novel 4?

distributionI’ve done my penance on Amazon KDP with pretty poor results so the next step was to spread my wings and get submitting to the other online retailers. The problem with this idea is that submitting to these sites would take time and is about as much fun as chicken pox.

Fortunately, I’d met the people from eBook Partnership who create and distribute ebooks at the Publishing Deconstructed event last September, so I dropped them an email. Turns out they take out all the hassle of distributing to all the main online retailers plus a few foreign ones too for a mere £40. Bargain!

So I sent over my ebook files and cover, completed a form and waited.

I didn’t require Amazon as I’d already submitted to them but a few weeks later I started appearing on a few other retailers. Unfortunately, iBooks rejected my EPUB file because it wasn’t valid, which was annoying as this meant Calibre was churning out non-valid ebook files. Luckily, I’m an ex-web developer so I was able to go in and fix the issue which involved changing the file path to a few font folders – but if you’re unwise to the whims of code and file paths this would mean forking out to get someone else to do it.

Now ‘In A Right State’ is available in a few places, all at a variety of prices around the £1.30 mark.

iBooks

Kobo

Nook

Google Play

I haven’t sold any copies yet except 3 at a place called ‘Overdrive‘, who I’d never heard of, but they supply eBooks to libraries all over the world and these sales are broken down to which library downloaded it, which is pretty cool.

Hopefully this extra reach will help sales a little but I’m not expecting anything amazing, it’s all about marketing the book. If no-one’s heard of the book then it makes no difference how many retailers are stocking it.

eBook Partnership have been great value, so I’d recommend them to anyone requiring distribution without the headache.

So now the marketing continues; trying to get blog reviews, Amazon reviews and getting featured on some key ebook newsletters.

And finish off my 3rd novel.

untitledWell, this is a bit of a result. My debut novel, ‘In A Right State‘, has been shortlisted for the SFBook Book of the Year 2014!

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 Autumnby Dave Hutchinson, so congratulations to him. I’ve added it to my Amazon Wishlist, along with a few of the other shortlisted titles. You should do the same!

January 20, 2015

ghostwriterEveryone 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;

  1. Finish 2nd and 3rd draft of Novel 3, ‘Blindsided’ by Easter.
  2. Give copies to beta readers for feedback.
  3. Write 4th draft of ‘Blindsided’ based on feedback.
  4. Get first 3 chapters and synopsis professionally edited and sent off to agents.
  5. Get ‘In A Right State’ onto other online retailers.
  6. Keep an eye out for marketing opportunities for ‘In A Right State’ and experiment with price.
  7. 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.
  8. Write more blog posts.
  9. Think more about 4th novel (untitled) and make notes.

Plenty to be getting on with this year.

fucks-sakeMy 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.

Not easy.

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!

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stateMy 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.

paperbackTwo bits of great news this week.

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

BUY ‘IN A RIGHT STATE’

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.

October 16, 2014

worthing-herald-article

I was featured in the local newspaper, The Worthing Herald, for my stunt changing the ‘Welcome to Worthing’ signs.

You can BUY my ebook on Amazon UK, here.