Encouraging the masses

After my book was made available to the public, I enjoyed a brief period of it doing quite well, in fact better than I expected to be honest. It’s now been downloaded over 550 times and went into the Kindle top 20 humour charts. All very good, I thought, something to be sustained, I thought… but how? I knew as soon as people stopped being able to get the book for free, interest would drop significantly, and drop it did. 

Now comes the waiting part. We’re in a period where people have no time to read, there’s Christmas and the new year to deal with, I realistically don’t expect the majority of people to get around to reading it until well into January. This poses a tiny problem. As Amazon.com are hosting the book, I rely on reviews to pique people’s interest in it, but if no-one’s read it, they can’t review it, and with no reviews, no-one reads it; cue stomach acid level problems.

In the meanwhile I’ve busied myself with reviewing proofs of the paper version of the book and approved it for print, this means that anyone who preferred to have a hard copy of he book, can now obtain one. According to my sales figures, those three people will be very happy. Probably.

This is where I fall back to cliches told to me or overheard being said to others when young: disappointment brings character, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, good things come to… nope, I still don’t believe it and remain defiantly convinced that cliches are codswallop. 

Only one thing to do: go back to editing my second book, know the other book will take time to grow and a watched pot gathers no moss, and remember that I just want to write, sales are nice, but getting the stories written down are the most important element of this whole “adventure”, that and developing a tingling ache in my right wrist which I suspect to be early signs of carpal tunnel syndrome. Not achieved from writing books, mind, but from hitting cmd + R to view my sales figures, it’s so addictive, you wouldn’t believe.

A paperback version of the book is here: http://www.amazon.com/The-Dead-Famous-Ronald-Moger/dp/1481278185/

Strangely, it doesn’t seem to show up on amazon’s search thingy. I’m growing ever more suspicious of this whole internet fad, I look forward to the day when I can grow fat eating chocolates while dictating my next masterpiece to a hired hand. God help my bedframe, Ikea can only put so much quality into each bed and I’m pretty sure that bloating to a size that would make Jerry Springer want to interview me via skype isn’t the best way forwards. Salad it is then.

How I’ve tried to promote my book

I’ve found, since abandoning my book to the amazon website, that the internet is full of people’s opinions on how best to promote ebooks to the masses.

Some of this advice seems quite logical, some of it a waste of time, personally speaking. Here are some brief notes on what I’ve found so far:

Kindle readers forums – These are a good way to promote your work and most have a section for authors to promote their latest work, but be aware of a couple of things: firstly some of these forums require you to be, not only registered like other forums, but also approved. This means that it might take time for you to get any work done there and the danger of course is that you might sign up, wait for approval, and then forget about it completely. Time wasted, especially if they don’t email you to say if you’ve been approved.
The second note is regarding time differences, example: I found a forum based in the US where authors could post links to their books accompanied by a short description of it. The problem here is regarding time zones. If you post at a reasonable time in your own zone, by the time the target audience in the US is awake and checking the forum, tens of other authors might have posted after you, pushing you to page 3 or 4 or 17. That, with the rule most forums have stating that you can’t repost within a certain amount of time or bump your own work without moderator approval, equals another big fat waste of time. Timing is definitely key here. I personally would recommend posting when it’s about 4pm in New York meaning that everyone across the country is online in some capacity when you consider the time differences across states.

Shopping sites: no-one seems to have mentioned these, a great untapped resource. On many consumer forums there are threads where people can let each other know about freebies or offers online. I posted a link to my book in one of these and got a great deal of downloads and also became tipped as one of the better freebie offers. Warning: many of these sites warn against self-promotion so it’s best to either use a pseudonym or to get someone else to post on your behalf, lest you become banned from the site!

Facebook, Twitter, Blogs etc: Although you can rely on your friends for the first few downloads or purchases of your books, only the most loyal of chums is going to put up with you harping on about your latest project for very long. I know that an individual author or book page can get you around this partly, but your friends will most likely also be signed up to this, and they rarely distinguish between you posting personally and the promo page posting. People will hate you.
I would suggest that Twitter is more forgiving for this as your posts will only be visible for a short period and you can target your posts to the right people with hashtags. Obvious, I know, but additionally I’d add that there are pages that suggest what hashtags you should use specifically for promoting your ebook. I’d recommend researching these if you haven’t done already. Blogs are great, but so far I haven’t been able to exploit their potential completely. I’m still learning 🙂

Lastly, I found a great deal of Kindle pages on facebook that had millions of “likes” on them. I posted links to my book there and that seems to have paid dividends.

So far I’ve had over 450 downloads of my book in two weeks. I’m all too aware that other people have done much better than me, I wouldn’t doubt that some have not done so well. It’s a learning process and full of trial and error. I’ve made mistakes, but also surprised myself. I’d welcome any comments below on how everyone else has fared, I’d add as well that if anyone has found the tips above useful please let me know 🙂

Shameless self promotion: My book is available on all Amazon websites for download. You don’t need a kindle to read it as you can also get a kindle reader for mac or pc for free by googling it.

The following link is for amazon.com but if your country has it’s own amazon website, please check there for reasons related to local tax etc etc etc

http://www.amazon.com/The-Dead-Famous-ebook/dp/B00APOQVFY/

Experiences of my first day published.

So, I finally got around to abandoning my first book to the world and got it published as a kindle download on the various amazon sites. The first day had 3 sales, which I thought was nice but I knew deep down that these were most likely 100% attributable to friends so felt something had to be done to reach a wider audience.

I had decided to go with Amazon’s kindle self publishing route and, as part of that, I additionally chose to opt in to their kindle lending library. This essentially means that I am tied to them for 3 months exclusively which is a nuisance when wanting to publish digitally elsewhere but, on the other hand, I have direct access to one of the largest digital lending libraries on the net.

The agreement also means that, within those 3 months, I can offer up to 5 promotional days when the book is available for free to Amazon customers. As I had been boring my friends with details of the book for the past few months I thought better to get rid of one of the days immediately and I was happily surprised with the results.

During that 24 hours, I reached number 20 in the UK kindle charts for humour (number 360 in the main kindle charts) and number 34 in the US/international chart (around 1500 ranking). There are said to be over 1.6 million titles on Amazon so, for me, I was extremely happy with the outcome.

Total download figures for that period were 294 worldwide.

Now comes the hard work. I might have been able to rely on friends and family for maybe 10% of those figures but I’m presuming that all those friends who wanted the book have now downloaded it, and so now I have to find new markets. Cue: more social networking, finding of kindle users forums and all sorts of self promotion. It’s hard work, but if I want to get noticed by an agent or publisher, that’s 100% necessary.

Hell Pt.2: KIndle Nightmares

In my last post I described, in minor detail, how I saw my feeble attempts at procrastinating away from editing my book.
Well, I expect people to be proud of me as, not only did I succeed in not finishing the editing, but I procrastinated so successfully that I ended up editing another book entirely. Quite a feat I think you’ll agree.

I decided to upload my first book, The Dead Famous, to Amazon to be available on Kindle. This has brought me so much fun such as:

The formatting was out
There were section breaks where I could have sworn there were none before
The Table of Contents looked TERRIBLE (a common problem for Mac users, I understand: be warned)
I was overtired

All of these things culminated in an attitude of “I don’t care any more, I just want it out there”. The problem is that I started writing this book as a film script in 2001, I then worked on it sporadically over the next ten years with little progress and was getting used to the black cloud of this project hanging over my head, it was no longer fun and I just wanted it to go away.
I then joined a writers’ group who gave me the much needed inspiration to re-approach the work and, nine months later, out popped a baby book. A novella, and perhaps born prematurely, but as any loving parent will tell you I love it all the same.

I have made mistakes for sure; I should have got the contents page finished, I should have maybe paid for a professional editor to give it the once over, I should have, should have should have,

The thing is, it took so long to get done, I just wanted rid of it. It’s out there now, I’ll live with the consequences, God help my impatient soul.

 

Oh, and don’t even get me started on the cover art, I was ready to be locked away for the trouble of that one. I ended up just saying “is it dark, does it give an impression of misery? Pretty much, although the misery might come from it being completely the wrong cover but, meh.

I didn’t get much sleep last night, can you tell?Image

Editing Hell.

After taking a much needed mental break, I’ve finally got around to editing my current book in  my now traditional style. That doesn’t necessarily refer to the approach of how I actually edit it, I mean specifically: cutting everything and everyone off to get the work done.

Editing is by far my least favourite aspect of creating a novel, and that means I wish to get the process started and finished as soon as possible. To acheive this I need to:

Turn down any friends that ask me to go out.
Turn off all music (but not Beethoven, for some reason that doesn’t distract me).
Cut myself off from the internet and don’t even think of going near my phone to check on people’s latest tweets or facebook statuses (…and don’t get me started on Angry Birds).

So, it basically means: become a recluse, concentrate on the task at hand, get on with it, don’t moan, know the end will be worth it.

Image

This is one of the photos for the cover of the book “One Cat Went to War: The Tale of Unsinkable Sam”. It’s a very good photograph as it represents exactly the story inside (about a cat who falls for another cat and then, after the Nazi invasion of Poland, treks across war torn Europe in order to find her again). It also represents one of my worst enemies: procrastination.

I could have spent days editing the work and had it possibly finished by now, instead I concentrated on the fun stuff. Making book covers is fun, it’s my new version of getting out the crayons, glitter, and sticky stars and ruining the carpet with copydex.

Pretty fonts, different cover templates, varying pictures, all of these are the devil’s distractions from the pits of procrastination hell. The cover should be the last thing I should be working on right now, actually maybe the second to last thing, because blogs are also the angry birds of the crap novelist’s world.

I’ll bet there are some of you out there reading this who should be writing, re-writing and pulling the hair from your armpits in frustration while editing your work, but you aren’t, you’re browsing the net reading other blogs about editing and fooling yourself this is actually sort of work sort of maybe. It’s not, you’re kidding yourself, as am I.

Better get on with it, the next blog will be cheerier, I promise, as I will have finished the editing. Probably, it depends how far I get on Angry Birds tonight.

Choosing a narrative style.

This is actually one post where I would like people to comment below on their thoughts. I encourage comments anyway, but this time I will not reply as the comments should be your opinions with no comeback from anyone else, there as a “Hmm, I hadn’t looked at it that way” sort of thing.

When coming up with a project to work on, one of the things I’ve been trying to figure out is the best approach when it comes to narration. For example, the first book I wrote was written completely from the main character’s point of view. This brought benefits and limitations; the benefits being that I could give more information about how the protagonist was viewing the events around him and leaving hints as to what was really going on in the story. The limitations there were that I was restricted on how the other characters were described as most people don’t talk like “I just met Bob, a tall fat man with a penchant for silky women’s underwear, he walked with the swagger of a baby rhino and body odour to match”, if you do know someone who talks like that then, well, you know some quite unique people but I think these people are pretty thin on the ground. It also meant, as another writer pointed out to me, that you had to rely on him telling the truth.

The next book was told as a traditional “once upon a time” style story but purely following a single character along his journey from start to finish. Other characters came and went, but you were tied to this one person. It was restrictive in other ways, as the other characters came and went you were always going to be faced with a “this is what happened since you last saw me” breakdown of events. It can be a bit tedious and has to be done well to keep the reader caring about it all, also the danger is that the side characters are having a much more fun and interesting time than the main character is and your readers find themselves flicking forwards a chapter or two to find out what they’ve been up to.

It seems to me that, once you’ve chosen the approach you’re going to take, you’re stuck with it unless you’re ok with changing your mind at a later date and rewriting the whole thing to suit. If it works and you’re happy with it, then why not? My main question from all of this would be: how do you choose, and how/when do you know you’ve made the right decision on the style? Have you found yourself changing your approach halfway through a piece? If so, why and how? I’ve worded that badly, but hope you get my point. All constructive answers welcome!

Blogarama - The Blog Directory

Rejection letters I have received

Let’s start with an obvious statement straight from the book of “well durrh!” : Agents are busy people.

Controversial, I know, but that’s that and therein lies the problem. They are tasked with, not only the job of looking after their current clients and making sure their needs are met and that they aren’t stolen away from them in the middle of the night by the evil agent across town, but they also have to keep an eye out for new talent at the same time.

How do their brains work? Well, let’s put it this way: let’s pretend that they have spent the whole day running around trying to appease a particularly important client, made phone calls, told their bosses what’s going on or what isn’t going on and why, pressure pressure pressure. Then, they get your email. You want them to represent you too and have given them a brief description of why you think you’re so great and why they should spend some of this hard fought over spare time to read the three chapters you’ve given them.

Online are plenty of guides, a lot of them written by agents themselves, explaining what a submission to an agency should contain and what mistakes people often make. That being the case, I can imagine how fed up they get when a submission turns up with bad spelling, bad formatting, the wrong attachment or no attachment. It’s only a few minutes to check these things before submitting and also a short enough time to read the rules they expect to be followed. This is partly why so many people are rejected each year. You need to woo them, let them know that, not only will you be easy to work with, that you are methodical and professional, but also that you don’t write like a grapefruit with learning difficulties.

I talk as if I know the game inside out, of course I don’t, hence I’m unsigned. Of the agents who have been kind enough to reply to my submissions, I’ve had one template with my name in a different colour to the rest of the text, one that suggested I read a book on writing from about 1908 that everyone I asked about it said it was basically a waste of eyeball use, and one that was actually really nice. The agent rejected me and gave his specific reasons but stated very clearly that it was his own opinion, that other agents might feel differently, and wished me the best of luck. It was lovely.

This sounds like I’m expecting the agents to jump when I say, I hope not. I should point out that, in one of my last submissions, I left in “Dear Agent X” in my template, therefore proving I was most likely spamming every agent under the sun or that I thought this person was some evil representative from S.P.E.C.T.R.E.

Either way I was not surprised that, three months later, they had not responded. They have my sincere pity.

Blogarama - The Blog Directory

Edwardian Promenade

Your #1 source for Edwardian history!

Author Ronald Moger: Short stories and tales of publishing woes.

Short stories, the search for success and tales of book promotion attempts :)

Book Hub, Inc.

The Total Book Experience

Chris Martin Writes

Sowing Seeds for the Kingdom

michaeldcjohnson

Peace.Love.Harmony

Lingo Lunch

A Canteen of World Travellers Baking Stories

Catching Fireflies

finding magic along the way

knacktimesite

KnackTimeBooks, LiteraryFiction, Reading, Writing

My Day Out With An Angel

Where The Angels Meet To Post Messages

Daily (w)rite

A DAILY RITUAL OF WRITING

newbornsolitude

Stories, research and fiction about the first years of a person's life

Marketplace Blog

How to Build Awesome Online Marketplaces

Andreessen Horowitz

Software Is Eating the World

OK Freud

Education on toxic relationships and mental health

Killer Kitsch

Art, entertainment and pop culture blog for the discerning geek & nerd