Tag Archives: #indieauthor

‘And I’ve never looked back’ 5 Reasons Why You Should

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People describing their successful career journey or achievements often include the phrase “…and I’ve never looked back”. I appreciate that it’s an expression rather than literal truth, and I understand what it means, but somehow it sounds a wee bit smug or self-satisfied. As though they no-longer have to consider their humble beginnings, or anyone who might have given them a helping hand on their way to success and glory. Anyway, for those of us who don’t feel consistently swept away by the tide of success, this post will explore a few reasons why looking back can be a good thing.

1) The journey is never over. Well, unless you’ve decided to quit doing your thing. And just because you’ve done well so far, doesn’t mean you’ll continue to do well. Circumstances beyond your control may change, and you may need to be prepared to adapt. Look at the changing women’s magazine market – when I started subbing to the womags, there were a number of titles open to us newbies. Then some magazines announced they would only accept submissions from their previously published writers. Then came contract changes taking all-rights. Now there are hundreds of writers competing in a very narrow market. I’ll admit, this knocked me off track for a while, but I’m thankful that I had already started publishing my own short story collections by then, and this is where I see my writing taking me in the future.

2) You may be surprised by what you’ve achieved. Taking a moment to review all that you’ve done will (I almost guarantee) remind you of elements you’d forgotten. Remember the pride you felt at each new achievement? These are the building blocks which have brought you to the present day. But you might also discover something you didn’t know – for instance, I only relatively recently took the time to analyse my KDP sales and readership patterns. And yes, the majority of my readers are in the UK or USA, but there are also readers in Germany, France, Spain, India, Canada and Australia. Wow!

3) If you feel you’re stuck in a rut, or that your writing is only going downhill, a review of your progress will give you context and perspective. You will know whether something is a blip or a trend. It might also give you a boost to realise how far you’ve come. Charting your progress over time will help identify any patterns – particularly if what you’ve experienced personally doesn’t seem to follow the general trend. If you can identify what’s different about the way you are doing something, you are in a stronger position to decide on action for the future.

4) Reviewing your progress to date helps you to identify where to focus your energies in the future. Monitoring your earnings per book (or downloads of free books) shows you which titles are most successful – which may influence what you choose to write and publish in the future. I’ve just worked out that about 8% of my book royalty income comes from KU page reads because I’ve chosen to enrol my books in KDP Select. Monitoring this percentage could help me when deciding whether or not to stay enrolled.

5) It’s all too easy to compare yourself to other more successful people in your field – and that’s where self-doubt and impostor syndrome sneak in. And be assured, there will always be someone more successful than you (by whatever measure of success you are using). Yes, you need an awareness of your peers and their status, but it is far better to chart your progress from your own beginnings so you can see how far you’ve come. I’ll borrow an analogy from my other obsession – horse-riding. I used to compete in dressage competitions with my previous pony – a fairly ordinary cob mare of indistinct parentage. We’d turn up at some events and there would be lots of very glamorous people riding sleek warmblood types – like the ones you see on the telly – and then there would be me and my slightly fat, hairy mare. We would try not to be put off in the warm up ring while these fine examples of horsy athleticism thundered around, and my little mare would whinny at them and wonder why no-one wanted to talk to her. But when it came to it, in the dressage arena there was just me and my mare, and we would just get on and do the test. Even if we didn’t get placed, we always had the dressage score sheet with the judge’s comments to take home and work on. Sometimes we would get placed even when I knew we hadn’t performed that good a test (perhaps because some of those classy looking warmbloods were too highly strung to behave in the arena). Whatever, we could always compare our score with our previous scores – benchmark our achievements against our own progress not the competition.

When you review your own journey, just take a moment to feel a tiny bit smug and proud of all that you’ve achieved.

And then crack on with the next story! 😉

New eBook Release: And Not Forgetting Love

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This is one of those days which has been such a long time coming, but now all of a sudden it’s here and I can’t believe it! I was expecting to do all this last year, but I’ve previously posted about last year being a “write off” (ha ha) and so at last I can announce (cue trumpet fanfare)…..ta da:

And Not Forgetting Love – my latest short story collection.

This is a compilation of 12 short stories looking at love from various angles. They are love stories in a sense, but they aren’t all straightforward romances, and they don’t necessarily end happily ever after.  Some of these stories are about the first tentative steps towards love. In others, the characters are clinging to the memory of past loves, or dealing with a relationship where things have gone wrong. Some are hoping for a second chance; some are happy to be free!

But whether it makes you smile or sigh, each story will invite you to care about the characters for the brief time you are with them, and perhaps to acknowledge that you too have been there.

And Not Forgetting Love is available for Kindle on Amazon – just click here!

Quick Guide to eBook Publishing with Amazon KDP – Part 5

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This is the last in a series of five posts designed to help you if you’re publishing your first eBook with Amazon KDP. It aims to give you a few hints and tips as well as some links to other sources of help. If you’ve just stumbled upon this post today, you can catch up with all the previous parts using these links:

Now we’re at the final stage:

Part 5: Marketing your eBook

Actually, it’s a bit misleading to say this is the final part, as the promotion and marketing process should really be on your mind from the moment you have the idea for the book. But I’ve left it until last in this series as, if this is your first eBook, getting the darn thing written and formatted is daunting enough.

One of the hardest things about self-publishing is the fact that you have to learn to wear a lot of different hats. Yes, you’re a writer, but you’re also a copyeditor, proofreader and cover designer. You’ve had to learn how to deal with the technical aspects of eBook creation. Now you also have to become the Marketing Department for your writing business. If you’ve been able to develop some or all of these skills in other roles prior to embarking on your writing career, then you’ll have a head start. For most of us though, not all the skills in the self-publishers toolkit will come naturally. If you’re a creative writer and a dreamer, if you like to spend vast amounts of time in your own head with just your characters for company, chances are you’re not going to be the sort of person who enjoys public speaking or self-promotion. So yes, marketing your book can be hard – but you’re a creative person (you must be, else you wouldn’t have written a book in the first place) so you should be able to come up with a strategy which suits both your book and your personality.

Fortunately there are loads of great resources out there for self-published authors. For instance, you can try Mark Dawsons’s Self Publishing Formula  or Joanna Penn’s site The Creative Penn. Both contain free resources as well as their own books and courses, and links to other useful sites. There are also loads of great articles in print magazines such as Writers’ Forum and Writing.

Read as much as you can about marketing and promotional strategies for eBooks, but don’t get carried away – keep in mind all the time what you are trying to achieve. Your eBook is available – what you want to do is let people who might be interested know how they can find it. There are lots of ways to go about this, including:

  • Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram etc. are great ways to reach a fairly wide range of people relatively quickly and easily. But there is so much promotional activity on the internet that you have to have an integrated approach to publicizing yourself and your book. Ramming it down people’s throats by repeated posting “BUY MY BOOK!” is not the way to go. Yes, you need to run a few ads, but more importantly, you need to get involved in discussions, and engage with people about topics relevant to your book. Make online friends. Treat social media in the same way you would any other social interaction. You’re aiming to raise awareness and generate interest in your writing – you do this by building an online presence, and developing relationships.
  • Telling all your friends! It can seem incredibly embarrassing to talk about your writing with people you know (the non-writing people that is!). It’s difficult to work into conversation, and we Brits find it particularly tricky to talk about our own achievements. I always think of the bit in Blackadder Goes Forth when George says “Well you know, one doesn’t want to blow one’s own trumpet,” and Blackadder says, “You might at least have told us you had a trumpet!” That seems so true when people you know well say things like, “Oh, I didn’t know you write!” And you’re then embarrassed that you didn’t say something before. You’ll also be amazed when the people you least expected to be interested in your writing are the ones who end up being your biggest fans! Incidentally, you’ll probably know lots of people who don’t have a Kindle, but you can tell them how to download the app for their phone or laptop so they can be part of the eBook experience.
  • Sending press-releases to local newspapers (I’ve sent out a couple of press releases, and they were used – local papers are desperate for copy!). Though I’m not wholly convinced that this does generate any additional sales, it can lead to other opportunities, and does raise your profile as a writer.
  • Blogging about your writing (or chosen specialised subject if you write non-fiction). Or getting other people to blog about it! Or commenting on other people’s blogs… Or going on a blog tour…
  • Giving talks to writing groups or other interested parties. Or taking part in an event at a local library, bookshop, or other local community activity.
  • Paid advertising on Facebook/Amazon etc.
  • Building a mailing list.

Whatever you decide to do, remember to keep it up. Maintain that social media presence. Attend those events. Keep talking to your readers.

So, that’s my quick guide in a nutshell. To sum up, it is possible, if you do your own cover design using your own images, to create an eBook with absolutely no outlay, but if you want professional help, be prepared to spend money on cover creation, editing and proofreading, and marketing and promotion. Be realistic about how much you can afford to spend given your likely earnings – eBooks are not a get-rich-quick scheme.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this series, and picked up a few tips on the way. If you’re about to have a go at creating your first eBook, I’d love to hear how you get on.

Platforms for Publishing your ebook: To Select or Go Wide

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In my last blog post about smartphones I mentioned I was now hooked on podcasts – in particular I’ve been listening to The Creative Penn, The Book Marketing Show, and the Smart Author podcast. Listening to a writing-related podcast at the same time as doing everyday chores is great because at least I feel like I’m learning something new about the indie-author world, and making a positive impact on my own writing, even when I’m not able to be at my desk. It’s also really inspiring to listen to the experiences of other writers – especially those who’ve had lots of false starts or disappointments in their careers, but have ultimately been very successful.

One of the topics I’ve been thinking about as a result of this is whether or not I should continue to stay in KDP Select, and thus stick exclusively with Amazon for my eBooks, or whether I should consider striking out to Kobo, B&N Nook, Apple iBooks, etc.

There’s no doubting that Amazon is currently the major player in the eBook market, and it’s difficult to imagine a future in which this is not the case. As a newbie to self-publishing last year, it seemed entirely sensible to trial my initial ebook upload through KDP, and having done that, it also seemed sensible to maximise my potential readers by clicking to join KDP Select. Now though, with a couple of ebooks under my belt, I’m considering my longer term strategy.

The ebooks I’ve published to date, The Camel in the Garden and Beyond Words are both short story collections, but I’m currently working on a non-fiction project. One of the reasons I’d like to consider cross-platform publishing for this project is to enable it to be borrowed via public libraries (though applications such as OverDrive). I’m also coming around to the view that the all-eggs-in-one-basket approach may not be sensible in the long run – especially when the basket it owned by such a huge, powerful organisation. In order for us as indie-authors to have choice in the way we self-publish, alternative platforms have to exist – and in order for them to exist, they need authors and customers.

So at the moment, I am exploring Smashwords and Draft2Digital and learning as much as I can about opportunities to publish across multiple platforms. I’d be really interested to hear any other self-published authors’ experiences of and opinions on either staying with KDP Select, or using a multi-platform approach. And if you’ve come out of KDP Select in order to “go wide”, please comment below to let us know how you go on.

 

“I am a #writer” – Keeping the Faith

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One of the best Christmas presents I ever received was a portable typewriter. Granted, we’re going back a bit. I was 13. My mum had watched me scribbling away in notebooks, or head buried in a kazillion novels over the previous months/years. She had listened when I told her I wanted to be a writer. And she wanted to help. Opening my present on Christmas Day was one of those rites of passage moments – not only was it something I really wanted (I appreciate this makes me a pretty nerdy teenager!), but it was a proper grown-up present. And most importantly, it meant that my parents didn’t think I was being silly. I said I wanted to be a writer: they believed me, and believed in me.

I now know how lucky I was. And I also now know that having people around you who believe in you is only half the battle – you also have to believe in yourself. There are so many hundreds, thousands, of great books out there, so many talented writers, it’s easy to become discouraged, to think there’s no place for you. Even literary success may not wholly dispel feelings of “imposter syndrome”.

After some initial (perhaps too easily won) success in short story writing when I was a teenager, my writing “career” took a nose dive. For many, many years I dabbled, but didn’t work at it. Only when I made the decision to do a Creative Writing MA did I truly start to take myself and my writing seriously. There were huge benefits – from writing regularly, from being exposed to other people’s writing processes and discussing each other’s work, and from learning about the wider publishing industry. Building my author identify online (instead of hiding way in anonymity) was a huge step for me (I kept waiting for the sky to fall in – just for reference, it didn’t). Achieving the MA gave me some kind of validation – as did publication and success in writing competitions. But hearing feedback from readers is the best thing. (This is the first year I’ve had “fan mail”! Thank you so much to the people who have emailed or contacted me via Twitter to tell me they’ve enjoyed my stories – I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your support.)

I know several would-be writers who are too nervous to show their work to the wider world, or even talk about their writing. But if you write, you are a writer, and if you want the wider world to believe in you as a writer, you must first believe in yourself. If you want the wider world to know about your writing, you have to talk about what you do.

Next week is National Short Story Week – a great opportunity to talk about all things writing and short story related. To coincide with this, I’m running two special offers on my eBooks:

The Camel in the Garden will be FREE from Monday 13th – Friday 17th November 2017

Beyond Words will be HALF PRICE from Monday 13th – Sunday 19th November 2017, so you will be able to pick up 12 stories for a mere 99p.

To find out more about either of these short story collections, click the relevant tab at the top of this page.

If you’ve struggled with self-belief or “imposter syndrome” and would like to tell us about something which made the difference for you, please comment below. Similarly, if you read any great short stories over the coming week, please let us know. 🙂