Monthly Archives: October 2012

Publishing Advice From a Newbie, to a Newbie.

So, your book is ready and you are poised to take the literary world by storm with your incredible work. But before you press ‘publish’ there are a few things you may want to consider.

Once again these are in no particular order.

1. Create a Company – I can only talk about the UK here, but I’m sure anyone in the USA will be able to do it too. The idea behind this is to make your life easier by having your work published by a company you control. When you publish your book, you’re going to want to get a EIN number from the IRS. Having a company name to do this, takes about an hour. I wrote a piece about it in June, here.

If you don’t have a company name it takes about six weeks.

Setting up a company is incredibly easily.

Step 1. Decide on your name (check to make sure no one else has it – Google is your friend here).

Step 2. Call your bank and arrange a meeting with their business manager.

Step 3. Set up a business account under the company name.

Step 4. Call the tax office and inform them of this.

Seeing how you need to call the tax office anyway, and you’ll probably want to set up a business account too, you may as well do the rest of it.

HM Customs are very helpful on the phone. Mostly. The IRS were very helpful too. Eventually.

2. Format Your Book – It may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s incredibly important that you follow the rules for formatting your e-book before you publish it. If you have Scrivener, feel free to be exceptionally smug as this takes about an hour once you figure out what goes where. If you don’t…. ummm, well it’ll take you a lot longer.

There’s a piece of software you can download from Amazon to check how your book looks (Kindle Previewer) . I advise you to use it. And use it often. Check the pages are all formatted correctly, check that the chapter headings actually go to the right chapters and check that the cover looks right.

It looks like this.

3. Pick the Right Categories – When you finally upload your book, you’ll get the chance to select two categories. These will be the genres you’d like your book to be part of. My advice here is to find the two categories you think fit and then go take a look at the top 100 of each. Get a good idea of how many you’d need to sell before you get into the top 100 of those two genres. If you need to sell loads before you even hit them, then it’s probably a good idea to pick another category.

4. Select the Right Price – I personally think the 99c (69p) market is over-crowded and have read many blogs that suggest finding a foothold with that price is actually harder than doing it with a larger price. If you set a price and it’s not working, change it. It’s up to you to decide what you do and don’t charge, so see what fits best.

5. Sit back and be Happy – Once you’ve finally clicked publish, you have earned the right to sit back and enjoy it. Yeah, your work is only just beginning, and you’ll need to arrange interviews, reviews, blog tours and a variety of other promotional things, but for that moment in time, savour that you are now a published author.

That’s it for another week. I hope some of this will help. Next week I’ll look at the ‘thick skinned’ part of being a writer. It’s all about reviews.

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Book Advice From a Newbie, to a Newbie.

So, you’ve finished your book and you’ve decided that you want to publish it yourself. Congratulations. It’s a big step, but you’re determined and you think your book is good enough that someone, somewhere must like it, so why not try?

I published my first book on the 30th April this year and since then I’ve learnt a few little pieces of info that I’m going to share. One newbie to another. Some of these things I’ve mentioned before, but they’re worth mentioning again because there important. These are in no particular order.

 

1. Get a good cover – Yeah, I know the old saying about judging a book, but that’s the whole point of a cover. To judge the book. A crap cover will cost you sales. And worse still, an inappropriate cover will cost you just as many. Now by inappropriate, I don’t mean a cover of an orgy or something (although that might sell with a certain demographic), I mean a cover that goes against what the story is about. Having half naked men or women on your cover is all well and good if you’re writing Romance (in fact I think it’s probably one of the laws of the genre), but if you’re writing a piece about a character who survives a genocide, or a science fiction book about aliens and man’s place in the universe, you may want to reconsider.

This will cost you money. You have to decide how much you’re willing to spend to get a cover done.

2. Get some crit partners – You’ve finished your book and, if you’re smart, you belong to a writing group so that people will read your work. But you also need people who will read all of it at once. These are the people you should be sending your book to before you even think about publishing. They may well find a dozen faults with it, but they’re one of the most important groups of people a writer will ever meet.

You will need crit partners.

3. Get a copy-editor – Apparently this is a step a lot of indie authors ignore. I’ve not noticed it myself, but it’s worth mentioning anyway. A good copy editor will go through your work and point out all your mistakes or bits that probably want changing. This isn’t the same as the crit partner (although some people fill both roles). This will also cost you money, but it’s money well spent.

4. Write the blurb – Okay, I hope everyone does this bit. But write the blurb. Then do it again. And again. And… well you get the idea. Keep doing it until it’s ready. And then have people read it (preferably the crit partners from above as they actually know the book).

5. Write your author bio – Again, a no-brainer. Make it interesting though. Unless you’ve lived under a rock for ten years, you must have an interesting part of your life. And if you have lived under a rock, put that in, people love weird shit.

Look how interesting the rock is, how green the grass is and how… yeah, I’ve got nothing.

6. Start teasing your book on your blog – Show people your cover, post the first few chapters. When I did this back in March/April time, it had two good effects. Firstly, people started to ask when the book was coming out and said they liked it, and secondly it got the cover out there for people to get used to so that when they see it on Amazon, they think ‘hey, that’s that book I thought was interesting’.

7. Research other books/authors in your genre – See how they’ve gone about getting sales and read anything on their blog that might help. They posted that stuff to help people. Use it.

8. Get a thick skin – We’ll look more at this next week. But be mentally prepared for what is about to happen. If you don’t have a thick skin, you’re probably going to tear your hair out at various points in your writing career.

 

I’m sure I missed a few steps, but those are the main ones I can think of. Next week I’ll go through my advice when you’re about to finally push that publish button and bathe in the warming glow of being an author.

Until then have a good weekend.

 

 

The Past Week

The past week has been one of editing. Editing is a solitary job and sometimes it’s a depressing one. But it needs to be done, so you just get on with it. When the book is ready, I’ll post the Prologue and first two chapters like I did with Crimes Against Magic.

Until it’s ready, I figured I’d go through what impressed me and what didn’t during the past week. And something that didn’t.

The good.

Batman #13 – Death of a Family part 1.

I imagine most people have seen Heath Ledger’s excellent portrayal of the joker in The Dark Knight. He captured the insanity of the character very well.

Scott Snyder goes one further. This is a joker I would be terrified of. It takes him 3 sentences to turn the Joker into the kind of character that wouldn’t be out of place in a horror movie.

If anyone out there wants to know how to write suspense or horror, read the first 5 or 6 pages of this book. And then read the rest of it. This is only the first part, but I can imagine it’s going to be a hell of a nasty journey for the reader. And I can’t wait.

Oh and the art work is incredible. Easily the best book DC puts out.

Avengers Vs X-men

It’s done. Over. Finished. And I enjoyed it. It was probably the best ‘summer event’ from comics I’ve read in a long time. Yeah some of it was stupid, and some of the character work was… off. But other than that, well worth your time.

Uncanny Avengers

Well that was great. Firstly the art is superb. Incredible work from John Cassaday, who makes everything look like fantastic.

The story was good too. Rick Remender is an excellent writer, and I for one am very interested in seeing where it goes. Judging from the end of the book, it’s going to go to somewhere very interesting.

The Bad

 

Dark Shadows

I watched this the other day and basically it’s saved by two things. Jonny Depp is great. Eva Green is stunningly beautiful. I mean she can act too, but it’s her beauty in this film that wins out. Other than those two things, it was dull and didn’t seem to know what it wanted to be, horror or comedy and it didn’t really work as either. On the plus side, once more… Eva Green.

 

 

There’s no ugly, because nothing I watched or read was that terrible, and I tend to avoid reality TV like the plague.

I did get some writing done on book 3 (With Silent Screams), although not enough to consider it impressive. I’ll be doing Nano this year, because I’m insane apparently. My plan was to get a lot done then and finish book 3 in Jan/Feb when I take time off work. But they turned me down to take the time off, so I need to re-think it.

Until next week, have a good weekend. And it’s almost Halloween soon. That’s something to look forward to.

Sales

On 30th April I launched Crimes Against Magic to the world, with no idea how it would be taken. I didn’t know if it would sell, get good reviews or vanish quietly into the realms of Indie-publishing, never to be spoken of again.

Turns out it did okay. So after having April to September’s complete sales figures, I thought I’d share them with you all. 6 months of sales figures (if not 6 months in actual complete months) is a pretty good selection of data.

Now, I’m not showing this to everyone to show off, I’m fully aware that I’m nowhere near the upper echelon of sales, but maybe someone will read this and they’ll see that if I can do it, then they’ll have some hope that they can too.

So, to do this I’m going to break the figures down into three categories.  We’ll do UK sales first, then EU and we’ll save the American sales until last because that’s where most of my sales have come from.

 

 

 

 

 

As you can see, the figure for sales in the US is astronomically larger than the UK or EU. And I haven’t changed the price (except for 1 week at the end of Sept), so nearly every one of these sales is based on the $4.99 (£3.11) price tag.

So, there’s probably a few questions that you might have from this.

 

Where did these sales come from?

Well, I blogged like a crazy person in May and June, doing spotlights, interviews and anything else I could to get the book out there, so that probably helped. And I’ve gotten some incredible reviews. But the thing that I believe helped the most is the cover. Everyone who has seen the book has told me how good the cover is, and I believe that my sales are certainly helped by having a good cover.

Does this mean I have agents asking for my hand in partnership?

Ummm… no. Not even slightly. In fact, I haven’t heard from any agents, at all. Not that I was expecting to.

 

Where does Crimes Against Magic sit now?

 As of writing (10am UK time), it sits about the 47,000k mark in the UK Kindle store.

 

In the US, it sits here:

 

Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,474 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

 

Despite the fact that sales have really dropped off, it’s still pretty damn good. Especially for a first-time, unknown writer.

And to answer a question that I’ve been asked a lot recently.

 

Where are you with Born of Hatred?

Editing. I’m about half way through the editing process and hope to have that done within a week. Then a few people need to read it and we’ll go from there. Basically, it won’t be too long.

 

 

And that’s it for another week. I hope someone found the figures I’ve posted interesting or helpful. Have a good weekend.

Interview with The Ink Babes

I’ve got a treat for everyone today, with an interview with the fantastic Ink Babes. The Ink Babes are 3 talented women-Pat Hollett, Lisa Forget and Tammy Crosby-who put together the Bleeding Ink anthology –  60  dark tales by 40 authors – from short stories to poetry.

Here’s a small excerpt:

Through The Eyes of Him – By Christian Riley

 

He walks these same streets of this city in which I live in—San Francisco. I know this, because I’ve recognized certain familiar features. Store fronts. Buses. Street names. And he’s here now, in this day and age of which I also live. I know, because I read about the work he does in the San Francisco Chronicle. Or, I watch it on the evening news. And the perversion within this particular detail is that I don’t really need to follow the news in order to learn about his work. I don’t need to read about what he did the night before. And that’s because, I’ve already witnessed it.

I see it glowing on my bookshelf now, in the spot I’ve made for it next to a wooden bowl; the mask of death I picked up at a yard sale last year. Rightfully so, I thought it’d make an excellent addition to the decorum I’ve got going on in this home of mine; a one bedroom studio right above Marley’s Dark Roast Cafe.

It is made from what I think is cocobolo wood, with shades of brown, and hints of red. Although I’m no anthropologist, I believe this thing was crafted by some witch doctor from the jungles of South America. Or the plains of Africa. It’s got that kind of look to it, you know, roughly hewn, tribal.

It’s a mask for crying out loud, so of course I’ve worn it. I held it up to my face the first time I found it, looked through those gaping holes as if they were my own eyes. No big deal.

But then I noticed it was glowing red one evening, like it’s doing now. And yes, I held it to my face on that night as well. And yes, I saw something much more than the confines of my apartment. I watched in lurid horror, as a nightmare unfolded in the streets of this city . . .

Him.

I don’t know this man. Don’t know his name, or where he lives, or what he does for a living. Hell, I don’t even know what he looks like. But I know what he does when the day grows black, and the night crawls out from the sewer to bathe the citizens in the stench of decayed debauchery common to a beautiful city like this one.

I’ve seen how he stalks young women, barely-dressed prostitutes standing on corners, eyes scanning passing vehicles and walking patrons, searching for that next meal. He usually stands between two buildings, black trench coat, studying his victims. Yes, he kills these women. He’s a murderer. A predator. A hunter of the weaker beings within our species.

But what does that make me?

Sometimes he gets bold with this hobby of his—killing more than one person in the same evening. On those nights, this mask glows fire red, like a smouldering ember. Warm to the touch, as I place it over my face, sit back on my couch, and then watch him jerk people around with his strong arms, gag, and bound them in the back of his car, rip at their clothes. After he strangles them, when their last breath comes to a complete gasp, he drags them out onto the street, or parking lot, and then buries a two-foot long piece of rebar into their back—the signature of his work.

I see it all.

There’s plenty more where that came from.

And here’s an interview with the lovely ladies, themselves:

The Ink Babes

 Tammy Crosby

Lisa Forget

Pat Hollett

1. So, why don’t you tell us all a bit about yourself?

We’re three women who sought a way to bring together wonderful writers, great stories, and package it into something dark and delicious.

2. What made you decide to self-publish?

So many things, but a big part of was that we wanted creative control over it, and the learning experience as a whole. An anthology seemed like a fun manageable project to tackle. Since it’s so unique from anything we’ve seen so far, it would have been even harder to place with a traditional publisher. Not to mention we wouldn’t have gotten to know so many amazing authors! J

3. Do you have a favourite book or author? What are they?

Well it’s a given that we all like Kelley Armstrong, since we all met up as members of her OWG writing group. 😉

 

4. What do you do for fun when you’re not writing?

(Pat) Having just bought a new home, I spend a lot of time unpacking and working on the house.

(Tammy) Well, when I’m not a full time working mom, I love to get out and play hockey once a week and possibly take the dog out for the occasional trail run when I have the energy for it.

5. Do you have any other projects in the pipeline?

Currently, we’re all working on our own manuscripts which we put aside while working on the Bleeding Ink Project.

6. What has been your favourite part of this writing/publishing experience? The scariest?

Favourite part has to be working together. We get along so well, it’s like working with best friends. We laugh together and agree on most things. We also challenge each other as well. The scariest? Same as it is for any author I suppose, will they like it? That’s always the big fear.

7. Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?

(Pat)I guess it happens. I just work on something else if it does. The ideas always seem to flow, if not for one story, then for another.

(Tammy) Since I have so little time to devote to writing I’ve never had a block. *knocks on head*

8. How did you come up with the title?

Tammy has always liked the quote “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.” By Ernest Hemingway. So Bleeding Ink just seemed to be a natural fit for our first work

9. Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep putting those fingers on the keys. Never quit. You could be the worst writer on earth, but if it FILLS you up, heart and soul, then by all means, keep writing.

10 . Best and worst writing tip you’ve learned?

(Pat) Grab a hold of the reader and make them hang on for the ride has been the best writing tip I’ve learned.Can’t really say there are any bad writing tips, just different opinions about how to write.

(Tammy) Best tip is to read your work aloud. It’s amazing to me how you can ‘hear’ the pacing of the words when you read them aloud. Never had a ‘bad’ writing tip. Some work, some don’t, but it’s different for everyone.

11. Tell us about your cover. Where did the idea come from?

Tammy designed the cover. She’s great with Photoshop and she’s done many banners and icons for us writers and bloggers.

12.Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

Just that we really hope you enjoy the anthology. We really did our best to pack it full of a wide variety of pieces to the reading both short and thought provoking.

13. When did you first consider yourself a writer?

(Pat) I think when I first started writing. Anyone can be a writer. But, you strive to become an author. I believe that’s what most writers hope to accomplish through their work.

(Tammy) When I wrote the first draft of my first manuscript. That was when I truly thought, I’m a writer. Good or bad…yet to be decided. 😉

14. What is the last book you read?

(Pat) Currently reading Game of Thrones.

(Tammy) Thirteen by Kelley Armstrong, are you seeing a pattern here? Lol

15. You can be any comic book superhero – Who would you be?

(Pat) Definitely Thor

(Tammy) Lara Croft. I want big boobs and bigger guns. 😛

 

16. If you could go back in time, what advice would you give to your 16-year-old self?

(Pat) Don’t let other people hold you back from doing what you want to do. Listen to your inner guide, and do everything you dream of doing. (Tammy – yup that about sums it up! J )

17. If you found a time machine, where would you go, and when?  (What time period)

(Pat) Either back to the time of knights and castles in England, or ahead to see the future here in Canada.

(Tammy) – I’d stay put. For women there was never really a ‘good’ time to be one so I’ll just stay right where I am and hope for the best.

18. What TV shows do you enjoy?

(Pat) Vampire Diaries, True Blood, Game of Thrones, Dallas.

(Tammy) – Mentalist, Vampire Diaries, Project Runway, and I’m really looking forward to Elementary starting soon.

19. Someone wrongs you. Do you get revenge or allow Karma to do it for you?

(Pat) like Karma biting people in the ass, but then again, Karma sometimes needs a little help… LOL!

(Tammy) Depends if it involves my kid or not. 😉

20. You get turned into a werewolf, who do you pee on first?

(Tammy) – Without a doubt, our new puppy Max. He’s peed on pretty much everything I own, so it’d be only fair.

21. What was the last movie you went to see?

(Pat) The Hunger Games. (Tammy – yeah me too, I don’t get out much.)

And that’s the end of the interview. Thanks to the Ink Babes for taking part, and I hope you all enjoyed reading it as much as I did. If you want to learn more about The Ink Babes, you can go:

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