Friday, 12 December 2014

Self Publishing Update- Tips on Sigil, Calibre & Social Media

Releasing The Awakening was a steep learning curve & I am still learning but I have picked up some tricks & tips along the way & thought I'd share.

When I self published The Awakening I was terrified of formatting & had no idea what epub & mobi files actually meant. I paid for someone to format for me & do the conversions so I ended up with a word document, epub and mobi file. This was quick & easy but had its own problems. When I later wanted to edit the file I couldn't & I ended up very stressed.

I decided with The Reckoning I wanted to do a lot more myself and keep the control.

I've seen many posts, videos & I even bought a book on formatting but it still seemed terrifying so I used a brilliant free software called Sigil.

Sigil is an epub editor & formats the book for you.  I edited in word & the transferred each chapter over. It creates a Table of Contents for you & looks really professional. You validate your file by using the flight crew & I only encountered 1 problem.  I had the chapter headings underlined & it didn't seem to like this.  I tried to resolve the issue but I'm no IT bod & ended up removing the underlines & then got a perfectly validated file. Sigil looks like this & the green tick is the button you use to validate.  I loved this software & would definitely recommend.


You can upload your lovely shiny epub file onto Kindle Direct Publishing & release it into the world.

For giveways, reviews etc you may also need a mobi file & I used another free software called Calibre to do this.  I'm not so confident with this software but it did the job.  It looks like this -


I also made sure I updated my social media.  When I first started I was not on Twitter or Goodreads but now have a presence on both.

For personal use I love Facebook but don't find it so successful for book posts as it now has a habit of hiding posts & sending promotion boost messages which I find annoying.  I have a fairly small Facebook following 229 & my last 5 posts were seen by, 73, 46, 100, 229 & 73 people.  So as you can see you do not always reach your full audience.

I know some people have started using an alternative platform called tsu https://www.tsu.co/ but I have not explored this avenue yet.

I have found Twitter has been the best source for me & is where I get most of my interaction.  I have just over 1000 followers which is small compared to many but I am pleased with the results in just over a year.

I am undecided on the benefits of Goodreads & am uncertain how much interaction I should have.  I'm in two minds as to whether I should actually rate books myself & find the star system a little frustrating from an author point of view. I received a 1 star the other day & of course there is no feedback so you have no idea why.  Goodreads state Don’t engage with people who give you negative reviews. We cannot stress this enough. The number one mistake new authors make is to respond to negative reviews. I completely understand why they say this but it can be frustrating & I'm deliberating coming of the site.  I know some authors love it & it has been very successful for them.  I think the downside for me is Goodreads actively encourage giveaways but Ebooks are not valid & my books are ebook only so it means I cannot use this vital tool.  The terms & conditions state Ebooks are not allowed. Every winner must receive a physical copy of the book.

Although Twitter is by far my best social media source my favourite has become my blog & has been an unexpected upside from self publishing.

I have now released 2 novels & a short story & am having a self publishing break but will continue to blog, write, read & keep an eye on the self publishing world.

Good luck & hope this has helped any newbies out there.

Emma x
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Monday, 1 December 2014

Giving a Kindle eBook as a gift - Possible work around

I have been frustrated since self publishing about the lack of give as gift button on Amazon.co.uk.

Our American friends have had the feature for years & I cannot understand why we can't have the feature here.  I did email Amazon months ago & was told my feedback would be passed onto the appropriate team but that appears to be that.  Maybe everyone effected should email them & they'll realise its an issue that needs addressing.

I have been searching for an alternative solution for months. Recently I stumbled across Echo eBooks Digital Publishing and a blog post http://echoebooks.com/blog/160-giving-a-kindle-ebook-as-a-gift#.VHjW_iVybIU  this offers a solution to the frustrating problem.  To try it yourself follow the instructions on their site.  I can take no credit for this & am just sharing the information as I think its brilliant.

You still cannot buy Kindle eBooks as gifts, but you can buy gift cards which people can then use to buy Kindle eBooks.  The system Echo eBooks has come up with is to customise a gift card.  This will then show the eBook name & cover of the book you wish to suggest/gift. This is then emailed to the recipient.  Obviously the recipient could still use the credit to buy something else but it does look quite professional & seems to be the best work around I've found.

I tested it on my mum who said the gift card looked very good.  This is what the gift card looked like.




What do you think?

Have you found any other solutions?

Let me know if you give it a try.

I hope you find this interesting.

Emma x

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Friday, 14 November 2014

The ££Price££ Factor! My facts & figures.

Since self publishing I have messed about with my pricing structure.  I have offered free promotions and used the kindle countdown all to varied degrees of success.

I have just released my second full length book The Reckoning so for the release weekend I offered the first book The Awakening free.

The free promotion really took off & for the first time in ages I got into the charts reaching the dizzying heights of number 1 in the FREE Teen & YA Paranormal chart & 182 overall. Woo Hoo!!!

Overall 299 free copies were downloaded.  My hopes are that people will then go on to The Reckoning and I may get a few more reviews & adds to Goodreads TBR lists. However I have seen numerous debates about whether these free promotions actually work with some people suspecting that the free book will never actually get read!

Do you read free books you download?
Do you add to Goodreads?

The Reckoning has got of to a slow start with only 10 books downloaded at the full price of £1.92/$2.99.  I have therefore taken the decision to reduce the price to £0.77/$0.99 which is the lowest Amazon KDP will let you go.

Amazon KDP have 2 pricing structures with 70% royalty or 35% royalty.  If you want 70% royalty you have to price at $2.99 or above which is why a lot of books are around this price. I have however opted for the lower 35% royalty in the hope that I will sell more at the lower price.

Today is the first day of the low price so I'll see how it does over the weekend.

I have noticed that quite a few of the digi-print books with publishing houses like Carina start of with low price points to generate interest and good sales rankings.

I have today checked the bestseller list on my kindle and 31 out of 100 are priced at £0.99 or less.

Personally I think up to £2.99 for an ebook is a reasonable price but know being a new author I cannot expect anywhere near this price point.  For a paperback I used to pay around £3-6 depending on the book and store bought in.

I currently have several books on my wishlist but I refuse to buy them at what I consider an unreasonable price.  For example Seeing Other People by Mike Gayle is £9.99 and The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes is £6.99 and Before You Die by Samantha Hayes is £4.72. I think these prices are ridiculously high for an ebook.

What do you think?
How much do you regularly spend on a single ebook?
What price would make you want to buy a book by a new author?

Thanks for reading.

Emma xxx

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Wednesday, 10 September 2014

The Crying Game?

Recently I've read two books. From reviews & especially twitter feedback I was prepared for both being real tearjerkers & to have the tissues ready. They were If I Stay by Gayle Forman and The Dead Wife's Handbook by Hannah Beckerman. I enjoyed both books but didn't think they were outstanding and at no point did my eyes water & my heart strings were not pulled.
 
It got me thinking that emotional scenes obviously effect us all differently I don't think I've ever cried reading a book and I love reading & have read hundreds. Even older books like My Sisters Keeper and The Lovely Bones left me dry eyed although I absolutely loved both & felt the emotion.
 
I've recently watched the new BBC1 drama In The Club & again twitter was full of people saying how emotional it was. I enjoyed the series but the only scene that made me feel emotional was Will Mellor's character asking to keep the photo of his children. I think Will Mellor played a brilliant part especially considering  he is well known for 'two pints of larger and a packet of crisps' which couldn't be more different.  Anyway slightly getting off topic!!!
 
I'm not sure if because I already have children I found it less emotional. I have been in the delivery room, held a newborn etc. I kept getting distracted by minor issues.  I know its a drama & things are exaggerated but I kept thinking you can't just run onto a labour ward? Who walks out with a newborn with perfect makeup & clothes? Why are they all so slim within days of giving birth? Maybe I'm too cynical ha ha!!!
 
I'm not completely heartless as a child I blubbed over many a film/programme.  I got upset at the cinema watching Never Ending Story (the horse scene), cried watching Tarzan and an episode of Lassie where a dog died.  As an adult I've been known to shed a tear watching Call the Midwife and an episode of The Royle Family where Barbara was doing Nana's hair had me sobbing my heart out.

I think as I've got older maybe real life and my cynical side mean I don't really cry as easily and books have never really had that power over me. I've recently been working on my own Book 2 and it has an emotional end scene.  I was thrilled that a beta reader said it tugged at her heart strings. I wonder what others will think when its released.

What do you think?

Do you cry reading emotional scenes?

Emma

xxx

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Friday, 8 August 2014

Self publishing & me - an honest account

When I started this blog I wanted it to be an honest account of self publishing & I hoped any newbies who stumbled across it may find it helpful.

However as time has gone along I've not revealed my true feelings as I didn't want to appear unprofessional or moany but feel this therefore is not doing what I originally set out to do.   

In truth self publishing is creative, hard work, rewarding & a little lonely. Sales are slow & hard to come by. In the last 90 days I've sold 4 copies of The Awakening & 57 free copies of Origins were downloaded in my summer promo. I hope the free downloads might lead to some future sales but worry they may simply end up unread on kindles around the globe.
I'm not very good at blowing my own trumpet & in the early days received a bad review in America which seriously dented my confidence.

Here's the review -1 star

Most of you know by now that I am what I lovingly refer to as a "book masochist"; meaning that I will read pretty much anything I start all the way through, no matter how hard it is to get through, just so I can write a review on the entire book.
Unfortunately, despite the interesting synopsis and the cover of this book, this has earned the title of "First Book I Could Not Read". In fact, I made it a whopping 18% into it before I was forced to move on. Normally, I would wait a few days and try again, or just forgo the review entirely, but I feel in just that 18% I can write an honest enough review. After all, what I write may still appeal to readers of a certain taste. To me, this book reads as either a bad role-playing narrative, or as something that was written by a very inexperienced (and young) writer. I could not get into this story at all. I didn't care about the characters, what their secrets were, or how their story would end. Perhaps after reading for as many years as I have, I have become a bit of a book snob (I would like to hope this is not the case), but I need more to a story than this drabble.

Its a little upsetting my hard work is reduced to the term drabble & only 18% was read but I've learnt to brush it off.  You need a thick skin & a strong belief in your own product.
I love my book but have had periods of self doubt.
I've been working on the sequel & am really happy with it. I've included a lot more dialogue as this was feedback I received & love the ending.
Along the way I think you can get bogged down by KDP, Twitter, Facebook and updating your blog & forget how much you enjoy writing. Some people advise you need a strong presence online & others say don't post too often and annoy people. Its a minefield!!!
I've actually really enjoyed the blog side of things although I don't think mine is read much. This however doesn't bother me. I love my little blog.

Anyway back to self publishing I think I've forgotten a little of why I first self published. It was simply to share my story which consumed my thoughts & the sense of achievement. Obviously I wish it was being downloaded in larger quantities but the fact its out there & has some good reviews is amazing & I strongly believe the sequel is better.

I've decided to take a little step back. Not worry about stats, reviews, kindle countdown (which doesn't seem to work for me) & wait for my beta readers to come back to me & then polish book 2. Although my laptop is currently poorly & in the shop argh!!! Fingers crossed they can mend it otherwise book 2 will be delayed & I'm currently in the editing zone.

When book 2 is ready I've decided I'll do a proper one day book blitz launch & then fingers crossed it does well. If not I love it & am proud of it & that is the most important thing. After book 2 I feel I will have achieved what I set out to do.

I do have another teen book idea & have wrote 30000 words but am unsure if the present format works. I'd also love to write a holiday chick lit one day and have the beginnings of a book at 10000 words although that may never get finished or may end up for my eyes only. I enjoy writing & think I need to remember that & not the pressure I have put on myself. The pure beauty of self publishing is you are your own boss. No deadlines, timescales or limits. You decide & I think I needed to remind myself of that.
Sorry for the long post but hope someone out there will find it useful or interesting & if not I simply feel better for doing it.

Love

Emma xxx
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Wednesday, 2 July 2014

Twitter - Things I've learnt that may help/interest you including #FP

I joined twitter a little late 12 January 2014.  For any new self pubbed authors I would really recommend you get on twitter as soon as possible.  My following has increased steadily on twitter whereas Facebook has stalled.  I have conversed with more people on twitter than I expected and met a few lovely people.  You can search for like minded people by using key words so you can find people that maybe interested in your page i.e.- keywords book/reading/ya/paranormal.

One thing I stumbled across was #FP this stands for Friday Phrases.  It is a creative writing game. You write a short story or poem and put #FP at the end. I absolutely love the challenge of fitting something interesting into 140 characters.  It is really fun and gets your creativity flowing. I will check throughout the day other amazing writers contributions. You can favourite or retweet other #FP and it is a lovely community.  I've also followed some new people via #FP and had a few new followers myself.  It is not for self promotion and is just for fun. If you want to see more info check out- http://fridayphrases.com/


Here are a few of my contributions -


The rain pounds on the rooftop waking me. I am warm under the duvet & smile. An icy foot touches mine & I shiver from the cold & lust.


Life is nothing now you are gone.  I have no strength, no happiness, no love. I pray for the day I do not wake & can join you again.


"Wakey wakey sleepy head, its time to get out of bed. The sun is shining high in the sky, lets build a plane & see if we can fly."


A bulb flickered. I watched from the shadows as she smoked on the porch step. I should have stopped coming but the grave was already dug.


Ennie meenie minie mo, Shall I let you live or let you go? You look so sad you pain me so, I must kill you as you are foe.


I jolted awake. Heart racing. A passing cars headlight sent a warm glow over the room. I sighed relaxing but then saw a figure move.


I woke only remembering fragments of a dream. A shopping trolley, beer, laughter. I looked outside confused to see a trolley on the lawn.


The tarot reader shuddered. She looked up visibly upset. "Do not travel by car today." As I left she grasped my hand. "Promise." 


Screech! I heard a heart wrenching thud. Everything went quiet & then screaming. It was only after a few seconds I realised it was me. 


I have learnt about manage flitter. This is a system that allows you to review followers. It will tell you who's not following back, inactive users and use keywords to find new followers. If you 'd like to take a look the website is http://manageflitter.com/


I've also come across #MondayBlogs.  This helps your blog post get noticed, meet others in the blogging community and you can stumble across some fab posts.  The basics are to share posts, RT others and use the # it is restricted to Mondays and No Book Promo allowed.


Update Dec 2014 - other useful # to promote blogs are #ArchiveDay on Saturday's #SundayBlogShare obviously on Sunday's & #wwwblogs on Wednesday's.

The final thing is to make lists.  Twitter has the function to make lists so you can categorise groups of people.  Your twitter following can grow rapidly and you can't possibly read all the tweets.  I have 4 lists currently. 1.Authors 2.Helpful & fun bloggers 3. Celebs and 4. Family & friends.


I find this method means I can keep up to date with relevant tweets easier and I'm sure I'll add more lists in the future.


I hope this helps anyone out there.


Thanks for reading.


Emma x



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Friday, 27 June 2014

Book 2 Update

Hiya everyone time for an update.

I have finally managed to crack on with the sequel to The Awakening.

I seemed to get stuck on 50955 words and didn't seem to have the time or motivation.

We are in the process of selling our house so spent 4-5 weeks house hunting. This combined with my day job and two children meant not much writing got done. However I have managed to get loads done in the last 2 weeks and typed the end on Wednesday.

The finished draft is 67000 words and I'm really happy with it.  I have gone through the draft once and removed obvious errors and separated it into chapters using natural breaks.  I think a couple of the chapters maybe too long so I might need to jiggle this a bit.

The draft has been sent to 4 beta readers who will let me know what they think. I'm hoping they will like the new characters,storyline and most importantly the end which I love.

Once I have received their feedback I will make any changes required and it will then need proofreading and a new book cover made.

I am going to have July off and hope to have all the replies back in August. It will depend when my house sale goes through as to when I'll be able to make the changes as we expect this to be in August but have no date yet.

I feel so happy to have finished it as it had been at the back of my mind for weeks.

Take care everyone and have a fab weekend.  I'm going to wait with baited breath for the replies. Eek! hope they like it.

Emma xxx
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Monday, 19 May 2014

Oldies but Goodies I found whilst trying to reduce my book collection.

I've recently been trying to reduce my paperback collection and must admit I struggled. I have managed to part with about 25 but the rest got re boxed.

Whilst sorting them out I did find some brilliant books I'd forgotten about and some when time allows I want to re-read.

I have loads of Emily Barr, Marian  Keyes, Jodi Picolt and Lisa Jewell (more than I realised) which I'm sure loads of you have read and enjoyed.

I also found 2 books I LOVE and are nothing like those mentioned above.

Is Harry on the boat? by Colin Butts and E. by Matt Beaumont, I've had both for many years and have read them both twice or maybe even three times over the years.

Is Harry on the boat? Is rude, crude and bloody funny. It follows a 18-30 style holiday company during a season in Ibiza.  There's drugs, drink, sex and embezzlement.  I loved the characters they have very likable qualities except for Alison & Mario.  It transports you to sunshine & makes you completely forget the day job & makes me glad I'm too old to go on an 18-30 trip.  I seriously couldn't handle it anymore ha ha!!  A brilliant summer read.

E. Is set in an advertising agency and is entirely made up of e-mail conversations.  This book is also really funny. Some of the e-mail conversations made me laugh out loud especially the humour of Nigel Godley and Pertti Vanhelden.  There are rivalries, bitching, sackings, and IT issues.  Be prepared for lots of swearing and humour. It is quite blokey but I loved it.

What books have you got in your collection you'd forgot about or are too good to part with?

Emma x
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Monday, 28 April 2014

St George's Day - 23rd April - Children's story

In England on 23rd April it is St George's day.

Flag of England

Unfortunately it is not as well celebrated as many other countries national day.

St. George is the patron saint of England. The most famous legend of Saint George is of him slaying a dragon. There are many versions of story of St George slaying the dragon, but most agree on the following:
  1. A town was terrorised by a dragon.
  2. A young princess was offered to the dragon
  3. When George heard about this he rode into the village
  4. George slayed the dragon and rescued the princess
Sadly neither my son or daughter celebrated St George at school or nursery.  I told them both the legend.  I managed to find a children's cartoon on YouTube which my 3 year old son loved.  I think it is a great shame it is not celebrated more.  I think more English people celebrate St Patricks day than St George!!!

My children have asked me to write a story for St George's day. We've decided to have a twist in our tale and make George a girl called Georgina.  I am finding it a little tricky as I'm writing a rhyming story and not much seems to rhyme with words like Dragon, Castle, Prince or George!!!

I'm going to work on it in the week. For now here's a small snippet -

Several people began to scream and rush about
It was time to tell the King & Queen without a doubt
They rushed to the castle & banged on the door
"Whatever is the matter? Has someone broken the law."

Little Luke explained about finding the dragon
just as his uncle Jim arrived on his wagon.
"The dragon is coming. Everyone get in the castle."
They all flooded in including the postman and his parcel.

The door was locked & everyone sighed
Until they saw the dragon approaching & were horrified.
As he stomped through the town fire streamed from his jaw,
His stomach rumbled and he let out a roar.

I'm thinking of emailing the school and asking if St Georges day can be celebrated next year.  It doesn't have to be anything time consuming. The small children could easily make a flag & maybe a story could be read in class or assembly. The school do celebrate other days e.g. - Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights.

I think we should all be a little prouder of our country and St Georges day is the perfect time to be able to demonstrate it. 

When I've finished the story I'll share.

Below are a few images associated with England I thought I'd post -



Fish and Chips
The London EyeBlackpool Tower





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Thursday, 20 March 2014

Book 2 Update.........

Hiya everyone

Thought it was time for an update.  The sequel to The Awakening (so far unnamed) is coming along quite well.

I am up to 39,729 words. Last night I managed to get another chapter finished and had many more words in  my head but unfortunately my eyes were too tired and I had to turn the lap top off.

A misty walk to work gave me the inspiration for a scene and I have managed to write a large chunk of it and its seems to be going well.
I also had plans for another scene but unfortunately a similar theme has been used in a recent episode of vampire diaries which I love so I've had to abandon it.  My thoughts were to give a new character a bit of background.  I was going to have a flashback where he was being experimented on by a doctor.  However something very similar has just happened to Damon so I've had to have another think.  Luckily I'd only wrote a few brief paragraphs so not much time was wasted.

The most exciting thing is that I know the end. I know what's going to happen. It needs editing but its basically done and I'm really happy with it. Eek!!! I can't believe it.  I'd love to share the details but it would spoil the surprise!!!
I also have a rough plan for two more chapters and then I have two mini chapters that need adjusting. As I have a part time job and 2 children I sometimes get a flash of inspiration when I have no time to write so I jot down as much as I can and then lengthen it when I can. Once this is done I need to have read through as at the moment the friends aren't featured very much and I want them to be included a little more so need to add a few friend scenes/facebook exchanges. 

I'm hoping to get some more done next week as I'm definitely in the writing mood at the moment.  Shame the day job gets in the way.  Do you think they'd notice if I didn't turn up for a few days? ha ha!!!
Hope you are all having a good week. Its nearly Friday. Woo hoo!!!                   



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Friday, 7 March 2014

3 Month Update

Hiya everyone

This post is for those interested in my self publishing journey.

The last 3 months have had many ups and downs.I have learnt a lot and hope any aspiring authors may find this helpful.

When I was researching self publishing I found it very difficult to find any actual sales figures so thought I would report mine every few months. After 3 months seems to be an appropriate time for my first report.

My sales figures for my first three months are - 

361 free (promotion I ran in December) The Awakening
44 sold The Awakening
8 sold Origins

Total 413

Whilst I am pleased with these figures I had hoped the free promotion would have resulted in more reviews/recommendations and I'm not sure if it was a successful promotion.

Most of the free copies were in America (272) so I had hoped for some reviews on Amazon.com but I've only had 1 and it was not at all complimentary (Eek!!!) The other review on Amazon.com was from a UK blog review and they very kindly posted the review on Amazon.com/uk and Goodreads.

I've seen various blogs/articles about free promotions and people seem to have varied opinions on the results.  I'm reserving judgement at the moment and may try it again in the future now The Awakening has been updated.  On 25th February I updated The Awakening and 97 proof reading errors were corrected and the acknowledgements page was added which has my contact details on.

I'm hoping to run a kindle countdown very soon to increase sales and awareness and with the updated version hopefully get some further followers on Facebook and Twitter.

One piece of advice I would give any aspiring authors is to get on Twitter immediately.  I have only recently joined and my following on Twitter is already 150 and its only been a couple of weeks, however my Facebook following has stalled although I think partly this is due to notifications not appearing on peoples news feeds. Several friends have told me they do not see my posts unless they actually go to my page.

The other problem I have encountered is getting my book out there. By nature I'm not very good at blowing my own trumpet and find self publicity very difficult.  I don't want to trouble people or annoy anyone with multiple posts. I have emailed approximately 80 book blog people but only had 10-15 replies. I'm not sure if this is due to peoples time constraints or if they do not really like the sound of The Awakening.  I know a lot of book blog sites are run my people who also have jobs,college,children etc and is a hobby or sideline so everyone is very busy and time is precious.

I've also seen on numerous review policies that they do not deal with self published authors.  I'm not sure if this is because they think the finished product will not be a good standard, previous dealing with self published authors did not go well or simply because there is an abundance of traditionally published books to choose from. Any feedback would be welcome.

Since joining Twitter I have been amazed by the amount of authors out there both self published and traditionally.  I think it may take me a little while to find my place and build up some contacts.  I have conversed with a few lovely people who have kindly featured me on their sites and I am very grateful for their time and effort.

Thank you to everyone that has bought and enjoyed The Awakening. Remember you can always comment on my Facebook page or tweet me.

Thank you also to the book bloggers that have helped me spread the word. Happy blogging. 

I hope you have found this post interesting. Sorry its a bit long.

Emma xxx

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