I haven’t blogged in a shockingly long time, mainly because we (my girlfriend and I) have just had a baby who was, unthoughtfully, born 3 months premature so I’ve been otherwise engaged.
Anyway, a nice surprise was this review from Publishers Weekly which was actually initiated over at BookLife. They offer FREE book reviews so it’s worth a punt for any authors out there wanting more reviews.
As baby Harry is close to coming home, I’m hoping to write more of my football screenplay, ‘Row Z’, and also blog a bit more. I’ve never been prolific but these last few months have been shockingly unprolific.
As a debut self-published author you seem to spend most of your time
begging kindly asking for reviews. 60% of these requests are ignored, 35% reply (which is amazingly scholarly and decent of you) and then 5% reply AND post a review (which is unbelievably generous of you).
So you spend a lot of time waiting.
Typically, you wait and then two come along. SFCrowsnest at the beginning of the month and now Sci-Fi Kingdom. Check it out here.
It’s a nicely structured review; a synopsis, the review, a grading (8/10 btw 🙂 ) and the best bit, ‘favourite quotes’ which was great as I’d forgotten writing these lines and even I thought they were pretty good! So that was a nice reminder.
You can get your own copy of ‘In A Right State’ here. It’s FREE at some places and about £2 at others – Amazon doesn’t make it easy to list books for free.
Amongst the huge wastes of extended, frozen time within the publishing landscape, occasional glacial changes happen, breathing a little fresh air upon your dry, scaled skin before finally eroding it into the desert forevermore.
I got a book review.
It’s over at SFCrowsnest, one of the oldest SF related sites out there, so they know their onions.
This is the first book from Ben Ellis so it’s his debut novel which surprised me as its quite impressive…it was an enjoyable read and I’ll keep a look out for more work from the author.
So thanks to Andy and SFCrowsnest for reviewing the book, much appreciated.
In a stroke of marketing genius and profound business acumen along with a stenching wiff of extreme desperation, I’m giving away my first born novel away for FREE.
Amazon doesn’t allow you to price your ebook for free unless it’s exclusively with them, which mine isn’t and isn’t going to be, so you’ll have to grab your freebie elsewhere.
Google Play FREE
The book has been professionally critiqued and edited and got a good review from SFBook – https://sfbook.com/in-a-right-state.htm – being one of their books of the year for 2014.
Some might say, you get what you pay for, but I like to think of it as ‘paying it forward in a bartering economy with no risk to the consumer’ – let my talent for concise, poetic prose dazzle you.
If you like the book then repay the goodwill by writing a good review or mentioning it on a social media site. Don’t keep schtum.
My novel, ‘In A Right State‘, was launched in June 2014, about 18 months ago. The sales stats are pretty shocking. Sold about 30. So, what now?
I could keep the status quo and also hold fast to the principle that art costs money but, in reality, where is that going to get me? A few months ago I did a BookBub promotion giving away the ebook for free on iBooks and got a few thousand downloads. It also resulted in a few extra reviews on iBooks…literally, about 5.
Giving away my novel for free is a bit of a shitter but the main crux I have to resorting to this measure is that the USP of this book is the price; the ‘freeness‘ of it. Not the story, the writing, the plotting, the characters, the marketing, nor even the cover which I didn’t do myself, but the price. The most successful act of my writing career so far is giving something away for free.
But fuck it. It’s also a career move. I’m currently submitting ‘Blindsided‘ to agents with just the mention I’ve previously self-published a novel. But if I can successfully give away this first novel to a bunch of people, garnering more positive reviews and also drumming up some new Twitter followers then submitting to more agents with some positive numbers might help swing their opinion my way. Publishing is a business. Katie Price’s ghost written opus’s are published because they’re a guaranteed seller, not because they’re going to threaten the Man Booker shortlist.
So, my debut, self-published novel, professionally edited and designed, costing a pretty penny to launch is now a mere marketing vehicle. I had such elevated dreams for this young fellow, now it’s been relegated to walking the streets with a sandwich board over it’s shoulders.
First, I’ll list the ebook as free on iBooks, Kobo, etc and then hope that Amazon picks up that it’s free elsewhere and change their own listing to free (see – Amazon, Let Me Give My eBook Away!). Once it’s listed as free everywhere then I’ll try and do one more BookBub promotion. Hopefully that’ll really ramp the numbers up and see where that takes me.
Not to the bank, obviously 🙂
I recently got this handsome letter from ‘The British Library‘ informing me the paperback version of ‘In A Right State‘ is now taking up valuable space on their hallowed shelves. Well, it’s deposited, not yet indexed, so it’s probably propping a door open or straightening a wonky table leg.
So how can a self-published slice of speculative fiction end up at The British Library?
Go to – How to deposit printed publications – on The British Library website. Here it gives you a brief description of why and where to send it, there’s more in-depth information on ‘Legal Deposit‘ here. I simply wrote my address on a post-it note (sick of writing cover letters!) and stuck it to the front cover, signed the book and posted it off. No SAE required.
From posting my book off to receiving this receipt took about 2/3 months.
My book was published by Completely Novel so it’s good quality and has an ISBN number. The British Library doesn’t mention either of these points as being a pre-requisite but I doubt they accept stapled pages of A4 paper.
The winner is the cover with the most votes, so go here – http://completelynovel.com/articles/vote-for-your-favourite-book-cover – and vote by clicking the tick box next to your favourite cover and then adding your email address.
Vote for mine if you want!
You can view it on the right hand column over there or click here, what a beautiful cover it is!
The closing date for voting is 11.45pm (BST) on Sunday October 18th.
I’m classing a ‘failed novel’ as one that has been submitted to agents and publishers over a year or two without having achieved a sale or any/much interest. This is what happened with ‘In A Right State‘.
‘In A Right State’ is my first novel and I sent it out to about 40 agents and 20 publishers, only getting a couple of sniffs – one agent wanted the complete manuscript but gave up after about 6 chapters, another publisher wanted the whole thing to read but then went ‘dark‘.
I started writing my second novel, ‘Broken Branches‘, whilst submitting the first and then after about 2 years I gave up on the first to concentrate on submitting the second and begin writing the third, ‘Blindsided‘. After finishing the first draft of Blindsided, I wanted to do something else before going onto the 2nd draft so I decided to self-publish my first novel, ‘In A Right State’.
So what led me to this decision?
ISBN numbers are a big worry for a first time self-publisher, at least it was for me. They smell of officialdom and when you start looking into it, the smell intensifies with cost – Nielsen UK ISBN Agency – £144 for 10 ISBN numbers!
What is an ISBN?
Here’s the official answer from ISBN International;
An ISBN is essentially a product identifier used by publishers, booksellers, libraries, internet retailers and other supply chain participants for ordering, listing, sales records and stock control purposes. The ISBN identifies the registrant as well as the specific title, edition and format.
The first thing to know is that if you’re only producing an ebook then you do not have to have an ISBN. If you’re publishing a physical book, then you’ll need one.
The advantage of having an ISBN for any book is a common reference number across multiple online retailers. It allows the author to search Google with their ISBN to find places selling their book, whilst also allowing retailers to know who’s published a particular book and who to pay. This also allows customers to find their ideal retailer form which to buy your book from.
9781783016501 – In A Right State ebook
9781849145633 – In A Right State paperback
An ISBN may offer a slim sliver of security against lazy ebook pirates who haven’t deleted any ISBN info and gives the author tracking info via Bowker (extra cost + I’ve heard accuracy ain’t perfect), but I think the standardisation argument above is enough to convince me of the benefits of getting an ISBN.
Here’s a free online barcode generator for you to give your designer to place on the back cover – Bookow – the sight of seeing a genuine ISBN barcode on your back cover also derives an unexpected thrill too.
Anyway, here’s what I did and what I’ll do next time to get 100% bona fide ISBN numbers for my book at nowhere near the original costs.
With the eBook Partnership distribution service you can get an ISBN number for your ebook for free. The distribution service is $50 (£32) so get this for your free ISBN number and get your ebook submitted to all the major retailers too, bargain!
I used Completely Novel, a print on demand company, for my paperback version. Their ‘Plus’ plan (£8 per month) includes a free ISBN number and a few other features which make it worthwhile such as full online distribution.
So that’s it. How to get an ISBN number for your self-published ebook and/or paperback in the most cost-effective way.
A year on from self-publishing my first novel, what lessons have I learned? What would I do differently next time? What mistakes did I make?
Even though my sales have been pretty poor, I don’t think I made many mistakes. I experimented and as a result there’s a few things I won’t be doing again, but I don’t think I did anything to adversely affect sales. By the same token, I obviously didn’t do much to stimulate sales but therein lies the alchemy.
I did 4 drafts, gave it to about 10 beta readers, redrafted again, gave it to a professional editor for a critique, redrafted, then the editor copy-edited the whole thing. I wouldn’t drastically change that for the next time, I’m pleased with the words that came out the other end of that process.
Beta readers are hard to come by. I recently got my 3rd novel back from some beta readers, about half of which have beta read all 3 of my novels. My general rule is; if they get back to you, use them again. If they don’t, ditch them. They’re just too polite to ditch you.
Paying for an editor is expensive but worth it. The best money you’ll ever spend.