Had a lovely talk this morning with Owen Mullen, author of the Charlie Cameron series, the gritty Glasgow detective. We talked writing and Glasgow.
It was great to get this successful indie author's insight into the creating of his books, the state of publishing and his tips for indie authors starting out.
As you'll find out in the interview, I'm a bit of a fan of Charlie Cameron. Maybe it's the name, maybe the city?
But whilst Charlie the PI is in a direct line from Sam Spade through Elvis Cole, he's heroic and believable and that's a difficult to achieve
Added to that, we get a sneak preview of the writing in progress - Charlie Cameron #5 - and it's dynamite! www.amazon.co.uk/Games-People-Play-Owen-Mullen/dp/1519126352/
Doing the Amazon free promotion certainly increases your downloads (thousands for Clarissa and hundreds for Divining Murder) - both got to number one in their categories. However the day after the promo, when you see your sales fall is a little daunting.
But then you realise your average sales have increased and it becomes something that has been worth it.
This time around I used a tool from the lovely people at Book Marketing Tools for authors. I recommend their podcasts - but this tool really worked to post your free books to websites in minutes not hours.
Five or six years of hanging about Cafes with a netbook, then everything comes at once.
First there is Clarissa and the Poor Relations - who knew how that would go? Certainly not me. But success bring the need for attention, marketing, replying to comments and reviews. And it is ongoing and respectful of my readers. And also to write another in that genre as asked for by some, which is a lot of fun, - but I wasn't planning it
Meanwhile, Divining Murder was edited, then changed (a lot) then copy edited - with every change needing to be approved. Anyone reading the first version of Clarissa on kindle will understand that
the copy edit needs multi 'accepts' a page - if you are me.
So Clarissa got a proper copy edit too. Another day and a bit of mindless clicking.
Now DM is up and launching nest week, so ... if you you read past blog posts I'm trying to do what I did not do last time. And that's a lot.
And then my lovely niece and writing partner Germaine Stafford (my Gem) finally finds time in her insane schedule to work at finishing the edit (begun two summers ago) of The Case of the Curious Kilt, A Tattie Scone Mystery. I think we laugh too much doing this to get a lot done. I can't wait for you to meet Elvis the Hebridean tiler and reporter, the lovely, charming and hen-pecked Mungo, the twin sisters Effie and Nell. We know them so well and love them. (Book 2 half-written too, desperate to get onto it.)
Divining The Lost, Andromeda Book 2 is with the editor (wonderful Karen Holmes) now and I await to see how much work I'll need do to iron out the snaffoos. I'm always sure I'm sending a good copy - then I learn how much I cannot see.
So it's mad right now, but as my Gem says, 'These are quality problems'.
Anyone want to coach me on Goodreads? - I'm supposed to be doing that too! It's not that easy to navigate.
It's getting closer and closer to my book launch , yay!!!
I've watched a lot of videos and researched a lot of sites around book marketing because, well, I had no clue what I was doing. But I am not stupid enough to believe that I can expect anyone to know my book is there if I do not let them know.
There are a lot of videos that simply like to talk in the most general way for an hour with no actual links or how-tos - these are time wasters who wish to sell you a book or a service. But I find this as frustrating as the RyanAir site. Tickets at £19.99 that with add-ons end up costing £68.20 - just tell me the truth, why don't you? I might want your service, if you just don't waste my time with a too-vague video.
On you tube, I found a really informative one. Very detailed. Kelsye Nelson offers real and practical help. It made me want to check out Writer.ly (her company) on FB and Google+ community. and follow her on twitter @Kelsye Here is the link: www.youtube.com/watch?v=h-SGvHm9fMI
No matter what opportunities I missed, no matter how many, many ways that I went wrong , amazingly I sold some ebooks. In fact this happened:
Not bad for a shot in the dark.
After the heady numbers of the Amazon Free Promo days, I was sad to see the figures falling, but really, that is once again jumping to conclusions.
If you one book on kindle that nets you £1. 40, for example ( based on a £2.00 sale price and Amazon's generous 70% royalties), then if you sell one a day, you make £9.80 per week £39.20 per month. This will likely be doubled by your Kindle Normalized Pages royalty(based on pages of borrowed books read) which will bring you to £80.00 . One book a day.
But there will be more- won't there? What if there were ten sales a day - not a huge number, surely? And so if there were more books ... Suddenly, there is more chance of you accumulating something that might look like a living.
I have spoken to a number of crime writers who have been able to buy back the rights to their out-of-print back catalog and begun to self publish as ebooks etc.
One said that for the first time in her thirty -year traditional publishing career she is finally making a good living from her work. Hallelujah!
What not to Do Number 5
Do not put the book up without the links to your website, mailing list, blog and /or next book. Though I had read and listened half-heartedly for a year to marketing experts, and they ALL said this, I of course did not. In this way I missed the possibility of 2000+ more contacts of those lovely readers who downloaded the book on its Amazon free promo days.
I had no idea that would happen and I've fixed the problem, but a little late. Well, a lot late. Do not be me.
Here's one of the most informative book marketing videos I have found
What Not to Do Number 4:
Do not accidentally take over someone else's Facebook Group. They don't like it.
In the blogs/ videos and webpages I read intermittently, there was the admonition to use Fb as a marketing tool to let people know that your book exists ( however brilliant your book is, it will just lie on the shelf of the biggest bookshop in the world and no one will be able to find it unless you promote it.
First I shortened the url (web address) of my place in Amazon. You do this by visiting one of the websites who do this for free - making an extremely long web address:
What not to do number 3
You must not decide, in a cantankerous mood, that self publishing means paying nobody for nothin'.
Yes, vanity publishing was once a thing but now the whole climate is in flux and there are many ways to go forward. Publishing houses that writers pay to put out books but are fully staffed with editors, cover designers and marketing experts. Digital publishers that enhance the quality of your ebook and offer marketing help too.
But having decided to go with Amazon's kindle direct publishing , you still have to be clear about what's needed. An editor as I said before. I had to take Clarissa down and repair several times and there are still one or two errors. Or three or four I don't want to do another fix now, for example, because then it would be down at the very moment when I'm launching a website and new Facebook page and I'd miss all those new ( a girl can dream) clicks.
I didn't pay for an editor and suffered.
I didn't request beta readers to help me notice mistakes or clunky bits and suffered.
I delayed paying someone to make the front cover (you really need someone with artistic and graphic know-how. We have all seen those crime novel cover where the author gets his wife to dress up in a trench coat to indicate a female detective then adds the clumsiest title over the top of the out of focus shot). It doesn't cost a lot and you can audition artists on Fiverr (there are loads of talented graphic artists on Fiverr - and if you pay for extras on your gig you can get super quality) or Upwork where artists apply for a job you post at the price you post it.
This is what five dollars as a cover for the short story Francine. Pretty darn good. As soon as it makes me some money, I'll give him a better wage. The sheer swiftness of the return of this job lets me know it took this whizz-kid a very little time.
Paying people for help in launching a book that probably took you hundreds of hours isn't vanity, just professional.
What not to do Number 2:
Do not believe the encouraging statement that your book will be uploaded in only 20 minutes. Mind you, it cheered me at the start but I've always been a sucker for optimism.
Somewhere on kdp (which is Amazon's kindle direct publishing site) there must be all of this information in side bars. But we're talking me here. The hopeful basher-ahead. And I didn't read it.
Here comes the helpful bit:
Before you sit down to elf publish, collect the following items/ info:
1. A bank statement for the bank you want to be paid into. (I know it seems previous and ridiculous at the moment, when you only have only the vaguest hope that anyone other than your mother will buy it, but Amazon won't upload unless they have somewhere to pay you. ) You will need the usual account and sort code numbers but also two other numbers the BIC code and the IBAN (or SWIFT in US) to identify your bank internationally. Which is why you need the statement, (digital or paper) not just a card.
2. Your National Insurance Number for the US tax form. (Again you're thinking - Already?'But .you cannot upload without it - and looking for it delays the process).
3. The Cover image - so obvious that no one would think they could upload without it - wouldn't they? No one could be that stupid ...
There are lots of ways to get your cover made, or make it yourself. There are lots of sites that can make one pretty fast and the prices and quality vary. You could post the job on http://www.fiverr.com
or try Upwork where you can post a job and review portfolios.http://www.upwork.com
4. When you go on to add your book to Createspace (Amazon's free print-on-demand site) you will also need the measurements of a paperback that you wish your book to be (in inches) This will stop you staring at figures depicting book sizes with not a clue how to envisage them.
5. While we're on Createspace publishing, you will need your cover photo, an image for the back of your book and a blurb. The Createspace tools will lead you on from there.
All of this saves jumping up like a jack-in-the-box at regular intervals and finding those pesky bits of paper that are at present in a filing cabinet under your husband's camera equipment which you absolutely did not kick.
I won't lie to you, the rest won't occur in two minutes, but you really will have just saved yourself about two hours of phaffing around - and around.