To CreateSpace…or not to CreateSpace?

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hbrinkman bookseller

Over the past six months I have introduced ‘A Construct of Angels’ (using my bookmarks) to hundreds of people. In that time, a clear pattern of responses has emerged from my endeavours.

Pretty much everyone is initially startled by my ‘Do you read much?’ query, but they soon settle when I hand them a free bookmark and ask them if they’d care to try my book. Most stare at the bookmark, then at me and I can almost hear the penny drop as they say; ‘This is YOURS? You actually WROTE this?’

It always surprises me how people change when it dawns on them that they are standing next to someone who has (self) published a novel. Having had six months to get used to the idea, the shock and awe of finally completing a book has worn off, and I often forget how humbled I always felt in the presence of Jenna Burtenshaw, the author of Wintercraft and Blackwatch. Last year, I attended her book signing in Darlington and there she was - a published author and there I was, a newbie wannabe unpublished speck of nothing. I wasn’t fit to stand in her shadow…and so on.

It’s very strange hearing people using words like ‘honoured’ and ‘amazed’ when they talk to me – words that I try to shrug off. I’m not a movie star. I’m simply a writer who managed not to succumb to the depressing idea of never having a book see the light of day – nothing more.

Generally, the people I talk to are quite receptive to the idea of the bookmark and most will assure me that they will have a look at the free chapters available via Amazon. Of those who tell me that they don’t own eReaders, most are surprised that Amazon will offer them free software, ‘Kindle for PC’ that allows them to read Kindle books on their PC, Laptop, Netbook or Tablet. I’ve probably been responsible for a few dozen non-Kindle readers now being able to buy and read Kindle eBooks. :)

I also point them towards Smashwords, where ‘A Construct of Angels’ is listed in ePub, pdf and several other formats.

With the remainder, I have hit a stumbling block and I feel that the time has come to address that problem. Some readers, for various reasons, remain committed to paper books – something that I am currently unable to supply for sevral reasons. For one, I have been rejected by every genre-relevant agency in the UK, which is one of the reasons that I decided to self-publish. The other reason for my remaining entirely electronic is that the cost of a paper book was so far above that of an eBook, it seemed prudent to sell my work at the lower cost rather than try to push the more expensive paper version.

But I have seen so many faces registering disappointment when I admit that my book doesn’t exist in physical form, I am now reconsidering my decision to remain purely and unshakably twenty-first century electronic.

CreateSpace seems, for the moment, the best option for me. My book is already uploaded to Amazon, so having it available on the same site would appear to make sense. I’m currently using Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and Scribd to shift copies (some with better success than others), so a fifth site would just complicate things – unless of course that new site was far better than CreateSpace.

If you’re also in the position of thinking about offering a paper book, Karen Inglis has posted a huge amount of information on the subject. As a UK-based children’s author, Karen is favour of using a combination of CreateSpace and UK print-on-demand company LightningSource to save on shipping costs and delays.

*One day later;*

A couple of my blogging friends (thanks guys) have advised me that CreateSpace may now be advanced enough to be able to use for distribution on both sides of the big pond.

Sounds like a plan…although the goalposts are constantly shifting.

Watch this space…I might be entering the twentieth century once again. :)

.

keep calm plus author inside

Are you a ‘Secret Identity’ Author?

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SP_AL_UK mask

Do announce the existence of your writing self to the world?  Do you tell all and sundry that you are proud to call yourself writer, or author?  Or do you hide your writing-ness under a bushel, hoping that sales will continue regardless of your introversion?

Despite being a quiet sort of soul, I tell everyone what (little so far) I’ve achieved.

Many years ago, when I was working within the world of MLM (multi-level marketing), I was taught to declare my presence to everyone with whom I conversed – it could only boost sales.

Now, as an author, I had to decide what was better – to hide in a corner and just hope that my books would quietly sell, or to promote them to everyone I met at the risk of being thought a pest.

bookmark

Back in November 2012, I produced a healthy number of bookmarks using nothing more than a colour printer, a laminator and a cheap guillotine.  The result was a useful ‘hand-out’ version of Ravven’s cover artwork. 

Whenever I met someone new, I would simply ask ‘Do you read much?’  If the answer was yes, then I would pass out one, sometimes two bookmarks to promote my work.  More often than not, the recipients were happy just to receive something for free.  In most cases, they were truly interested and asked all about the novel.

It’s still interesting to see the looks on my colleague’s faces when I tell them that I’ve (self) published a novel.  They look at me as if I’d just said ‘That song that’s at Number One..I wrote that.’

*Takes a moment to bask in adulation, then returns to reality*

If you don’t tell people that you have worked your socks off for ten, twenty years, applied your time to editing, reviewing, querying agents, sending out to beta readers before finally, finally, finally seeing your work in print, then why bother publishing in the first place?  True, you may not be worried about sales and are content to see your book sell just a few each month.  I count myself as a member of that happy group – at least for now.  But it cheers me every time I see another sale – it means someone else has downloaded that which I’ve worked so hard to achieve!  

On that last point, if you haven’t yet achieved that lofty and seemingly-unattainable goal, don’t ever, ever, ever give up on your dreams.  You are so close, and deserve it so much more that those who simply threw in the towel!   Don’t just take my word for it – ask anyone who has been published or is self-published.

There’s an old saying; ‘The only guarantee in life is this; If you give up, you will achieve nothing.’

But back to the main point of the post…if you have a book or a short story that is live, let as many people as possible know about it via Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook etc plus word of mouth.

free advertising

I even invested in a set of magnetic signs for my works van – something that has spurred many people to ask me about them.  As soon as that happens – they get a free bookmark! :)

Even if they don’t download a copy immediately, the bookmark will linger on a desk, in a drawer or pocket for a time and might remind them at a later date, or be found by a curious family member who could then be intrigued enough to search for the story.

Other authors have produced fridge magnets and keyrings – other items that can last for years and subsequently trigger a sale.

So, don’t be afraid to put your name out there, display your cover and spread the word.

What other items of ‘swag’ have you created as a reminder that your book is ‘out there?’

Place your answers on the side of my fridge, please! :)

untitled3

Bookmark – this page.

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bookmark

A little while ago, I was asked by Ryan Casey for feedback on how well my (home-made) bookmarks were being received.  Well, I can tell you that since November – a period of four and a half months - I’ve given out every one of the 500 I made in those first exciting days.

 Last Thursday I had to open up my next batch of 600, which I’d made back in January.  Five days later, I’ve already given out thirty or so.

I mentioned a while ago that my day job keeps me busy, sending me (randomly, it seems) to all parts of England, Scotland and Ireland.  This gives me the opportunity to meet a great many people, from engineers to office workers, and allows me to (tentatively) offer my book to those that seem receptive to the idea of a supernatural romance novel.

The conversation, always a work in progress, usually opens like this;

‘Do you read much?’

‘Me?  Yes.’

‘Well, can I give you one of these?’ *Hands over bookmark.*

‘Oh, what is it?’

‘Just my little contribution to literature.’

‘You wrote this?’

‘I did.’

‘What’s it about?’

And so the conversation begins.  For my thoughts on how to best describe a book, click here.

Today, I hit gold.  I asked one lady if she read supernatural romance and her reply was ‘My Kindle is absolutely stuffed with it!’  If I hadn’t intrigued her with a bookmark, she wouldn’t have gone on to BUY IT!!!  Woot, as so many people are fond of saying. :D

My job also, as I circle the country and begin to pop up in places I haven’t visited for months (or even years),  allows me to chat to old friends who automatically ask me ‘what have you been doing?’  What a gift!  Immediately, I drop a bookmark onto the table and tell them that I’ve been writing a book.

‘You wrote this?’

‘I did.’

‘What’s it about?’

and so on…

The point of all this reminiscing is that swag – even home-made swag – is a conversation starter, an ice-breaker, a way of introducing the fact that the person opposite the conversationalistee (IS a word, so there!  And if it isn’t, it ought to be) is a bona-fide author and that the said conversationalistee (I’m not so sure it is a word now) ought to be bowing and scraping and muttering ‘I’m not worthy O Great One.’

Or at the very least, they should say ‘Sure, I’ll buy your book. I realise how difficult it must be to have applied that much dedication to your art and produce something of worth.’

‘Oh, thanks,’ is nice too, although not often productive in a salesy way.  I DID get my hand shaken in a congratulatory manner not so long ago (for getting published), so that was a boost for me and my oft-perforated ego.

Anyway, enough of the self-worship.  I’m not worthy of it.  But you are.  If you have spent a lot of time creating a complete story or poem and want to publish / have published it, then why on Terra shouldn’t you advertise?  There are other methods of introducing your work to people.  Mine is a simple free giveaway that starts a conversation.  It’s a must for me…someone who’s essentially a non-people person.

And it’s captured a few extra sales along the way.  The product of a bit of graphic manipulation, a colour printer, laminator and a cheap guillotine, it’s a low-budget method of shifting a few extra books. 

Don’t walk amongst potential punters in silence – be interesting, be something a little bit special.  One day you may just introduce yourself to a literary agent or publisher.  Or Steven Spielberg. 

Okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch, but you don’t know who his friends’ friends are, do you?

Tell the world that you’re out there – and write on!

untitled

P.S. In the interests of balance, I feel that I should say this;  I may have handed out over 500 bookmarks – but I have yet to sell 500 books.  Not every one strikes gold.  However, the bookmarks might lie around for months or even years before triggering someones curiosity – whereas a fleeting memory is pretty much gone for good and is very unlikely to result in a sale.

The BIG Giveaway…the results.

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Image courtesy of Cjcj at Stock Xchng

 

Twelve days have gone by since the Big Giveaway of ‘A Construct of Angels’ and as promised, I’m typing a few lines of feedback to let you know if I thought it was all worthwhile.

Before the giveaway, ‘Construct’ had sold eighteen copies.  That wasn’t a problem – I’d always imagined that my first novel would be a slow seller.  As I’ve told many people, I didn’t buy any of Robin Hobb’s books until she’d written six of them.  The first Harry Potter book I considered buying was ‘The Goblet of Fire’ – book four in the series.  E E ‘Doc’ Smith had written seven Lensman books before I ever laid eyes upon them.  Robert Heinlein, Arthur C Clarke, Andre Norton…all the same.

So I wasn’t expecting a stampede.

The weekend of the giveaway arrived – December 1st and 2nd.  I watched with barely-restrained anxiety.  Would anybody bother?  I’d Tweeted, I’d Facebooked, I’d emailed, I’d reTweeted, I’d told KindleBoards plus everyone who knew I’d published.  What more could I do at this early stage in my self-publishing career?  Ryan Casey had warned me to expect hundreds of downloads.  I saw twenty.  I stared at my tiny Netbook screen, waiting for the numbers to change, but they remained steadfastly low.  I refreshed.  Nothing changed.  I logged out and back in again.  Still no change.

It wasn’t until I realised that my Netbook was only displaying part of the Amazon KDP screen that the true scale of what had just happened hit me.

I’d had eight hundred and twenty-six downloads.
Smiley Faces
I looked again, scarcely comprehending.

How many??

Even now, nearly two weeks later, I can scarcely believe it.

So, to say that word got around would be something of an understatement.  With only Twitter, Facebook, Kindleboards, this blog and my contact list to work from, at least a thousand people had received the message that ‘Construct’ was up for grabs.

I’m happy to report that the first part of the exercise has been, without any shadow of doubt, a big success.

Now I can only wait and hope that the main object of the exercise, the procurement of some useful feedback, will bear fruit.  Even if only 5% of the readers leave positive feedback, that would still be forty reviews to strengthen ‘Construct’s credibility.

Fingers crossed and on with the sequel.

Write on!

A Construct of Angels is FREE on Amazon Dec 1st and 2nd 2012

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‘A Construct of Angels’ has now been live at Amazon for five weeks now…the time has come to use two of the five ‘freebie days’ on Amazon KDP to list ‘Construct’ as a free download.

This will (if all goes to plan) apply to Saturday and Sunday (1st and 2nd December), hopefully from 0001 Pacific Time Saturday to 2359 Pacific on Sunday…give or take.

If you’ve already downloaded a copy, please tell your Kindle (or Kindle-for-PC enabled – a free download from Amazon) friends that ‘Construct’ will be available for this period.

Or if you’ve been the (lucky?) recipient of one of my advance copies, please download a free copy so that you will be able to (if you so desire) leave a line of feedback when you are able.

The rumour is that Amazon is busy removing feedback from peeps that haven’t procured a copy from their site.

I emphasise that this is just gossip at the moment and I haven’t seen any first-hand evidence of it.

As this is the first time I have tried the Amazon KDP free download day feature, I will feed my  experiences back to you in my next post.

Please take advantage of this offer if the genre appeals to you and if you are able to, please be kind and leave some feedback.

Feedback is a very valuable commodity to debuting authors and helps to boost credibility, build buyers’ confidence and hopefully encourage future sales!

Thank you.

Write on!

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