Archive for the ‘book’ Tag

Createspace and print editions.

Createspace. Amazon’s resource for creating, amongst other things, printed editions of books. Even as a fan of the Kindle for publishing I do have to admit to there being a certain thrill to holding a physical book in your hands. We all started reading with print so it speaks to something deep inside to have an actual book you have written in your grip.

So, is Createspace a good idea? Yes, for those of us self-publishing it is a great resource. Sure, most copies of our books out there will be digital but there are always a few people who stick with print and print only. Even though it may only get a few sales that is still new people reading what you’ve written, whioch can only be a good thing.

However, there is one issue – the useability of Createspace. There are a lot of steps in setting up your book, and I do mean a lot of steps. Even if you have already set up your book in Kindle Direct Publishing you cannot just port it across to Createspace. You may have already done all the formatting of the text but Createspace will ask for a PDF of the interior . . . and then it will mess with it a bit so you still have to go through and fix some problems. You may already have a cover but you will still need to upload it again, picking a template that includes the spine and back cover. Why it cannot drag across the interior text and front cover automatically by use of your book’s ASIN, I do not know. Oddly it will let you port everything across to KDP at the end of the process but you cannot do it the other way around.

After much effort, and occasional bad language, I know have all my books set up as print editions as well as digital. This is great but in a couple of days I have the joy of trying to convince Amazon that the print and Kindle editions need to be linked, based on my first experience of doing it this is unlikely to be a fun time!

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Serials and collected editions.

Once a serial is finished how long should you wait before listing the collected version? Once the collected edition is up, how long should the serial episodes be up? Should they stay available forever, or be taken down?

 

Honestly, I don’t know. The collected edition of my serial, New Dawns, probably went up way too quickly, but then again it wasn’t like the serial episodes were selling in huge quantities. I’d had them all up together for a few months but decided the other day to take down the individual episodes. Is this the right decision? Who knows, I will have to wait and see.

 

The other question is what to do about The Carters? So far I have published Sovereign Nation and a shorter follow-up called Chasing The Future but I don’t see the third story coming out any time soon, that is if I ever get around to it at all. On it’s own Chasing the future is not attracting a lot of interest so do I just bundle it together with Sovereign Nation? If I do, should that be as a new collected edition or should I revise the text of Sovereign Nation and add it in? This is one I continue to ponder.

When reality interferes with your writing.

As I have said before, I have gone for a complete change in career and I am currently in the middle of a year-long course learning to be an Early Years Teacher. This includes a lot of work at university and a lot of time in a placement at a nursery, along with family and other commitments this means I am pretty much busy six and a half days week and getting up early every day. The long and short of it is, I am exhausted. A consequence of that is I am not writing anything.

 

How do I break out of this? Honestly, I don’t know. At the moment I haven’t really got the energy to think through new story ideas and I definitely don’t seem to have the time to write them. So, what do I do? The answer is simple, I just need to find time. Even if I can’t spend hours at the keyboard every day maybe I can find time to write a hundred words a day or even fifty. Once I get going I know I will get excited about what I am doing and want to come back to it more and more but the difficult bit is starting from the blank page.

 

Maybe doing some promotions on my existing books will help to get me going? Maybe just putting together print editions of my Kindle only books? Either could be worth a try.

Starting something new

I’ll admit it, things are tough at the moment. I’m studying full-time on a course where we (the students) are not getting as much support as we might hope for, my funding has been cut and the workload is huge. This doesn’t leave a lot of time for writing and it means my motivation levels are pretty low. The last thing I wrote (not counting essays and the like) was the Christmas episode of New Dawns and that was finished in November!

So, how do I get back into the swing of things? Notes. Lots and lots of notes. I am forever writing notes about story ideas. This is how I start my stories, sometimes with a note as short as a word or two and sometimes with a note several hundred words long. Then I pick one (or two) and add more and more detail to the notes until I reach a point where I just have to start writing it.

Now, it is true, the finished story often bares only a passinbg resemblance to the original notes but they give me a starting point – a feel for the story’s shape if nothing else. All I need to do now is pick a couple of my notes and start expanding on them – another story for the Carters? New Dawns, Season Two? A detective novel? Sci-fi? Who knows?

A short update on numbers.

Ok, time for a quick update on where I am at with download totals. Overall 5,143! Much higher than I was expecting. That breaks down to:

Second Time Lucky? 1,607
Sovereign Nation 1,639
Chasing The Future 325
New Dawns, Season One, Collected Edition 738
New Chances (New Dawbs, Season One, Episode One) 767
New Dawns, Season One, other episodes 67

The vast majority of these are free downloads although there have been a few sales – downloads are overwhelmingly in the USA: 4,808 of the 5,143. I’m starting to get some ‘borrows’ too, I should probably start tracking them too.

Why do you write? What are your goals as an author?

There are as many answers to these questions as there are authors but I think most authors can be broadly divided into two camps – the ones whose answers mention money and success a lot and those that don’t. I am one of the writers who does not mention money as a motivator – don’t get me wrong, I am not criticising those who do nor am I saying I wouldn’t like to be able to make a living doing what I love but it is not my key motivation.

If you go looking for advice about writing on the internet you are likely to find a lot about maximising sales and how you too can make thousands of dollars a month by just following some simple tips. The truth is that if you want to make a living writing your best bet is to work hard, put in the time writing anything and everything that makes money – magazine articles, novels in fashionable genres, non-fiction, anything you can sell. If you work at it hard enough, write enough and sell it well you stand a chance of making a living at it. Don’t let anyone criticise you for doing it either, if it works for you then go for it.

If you want to make a fortune as a fiction writer with work you genuinely believe in, the works of fiction you love and have carefully crafted and poured your heart and soul into, then your best bet may be prayer to your deity of choice. The truth is that this only happens for a tiny minority of writers. It would be marvelous if it would happen for all of us but the reality is that it probably won’t.

So, if you can’t make a lot of money or be offensively rich and famous, if you can’t even make a living at it then why bother? Simple. Because you are a writer. It is something you are, not something you do. Even the people who seem to be writing anything they can to make money are doing it because they love writing, they are just more felxible about what they are willing to write.

Sure, if you are like me then the books you publish will not be much in the way of sales and even your free downloads won’t be anything to get over excited about. However, if you would be writing them anyway you might as well publish them online – it is free to do and gives you a new hobby, checking download numbers, which will give you a few days of joy and many days of self doubt. Of course, if you are a writer self doubt is an old friend so you’ll enjoy that.

Why do I write? Largely because I can’t stop myself, I am writing stories in my head all the time so I sometimes have to force them out onto the page.

What are my goals as a writer? To keep writing, it is just that simple.

Failure to Launch.

No, not the awful rom-com. That is a movie so bad I think it may technically qualify as a crime. Instead I am talking about the launch of my latest book, New Dawns, which collects the serial I published recently.

For the launch two promotion were booked in, one was booked on 23rd November and the other on 28th November, both through fiverr.com. The first I have used before and confirmed I was booked in for 5th December, the other I haven’t used before and I have not heard a word from. Neither put anything up yesterday. Neither replied to questions about when the promotions would go live yesterday.

End result, no sales whatsoever.

So, a total failure of a book launch. The big problem is that you can never get back that launch day feel and the promotional value of it. Hopefully they will get back to me today, or at least soon, and run the promotions but it is a big missed opportunity. Isn’t it annoying when things out of your control wreck your plans? I guess I should have remembered the old saying ‘Men make plans and God laughs.’

Serial Fiction

The final part of New Dawns, Season One, went up on Amazon on Friday. First time I have published a novel in serial form and the first time I have written a Christmas story to finish off a book. The collected version will be out in a couple of weeks (on 5th December) so I need to work out how best to market that and see what sort of download numbers I can get.

What have I learned from writing a serial? First and formost, if I am going to commit to a publishing schedule then I need to have everything written first or specific time set aside to write that cannot be taken over by other things. Everything but the final part was ready to go when I set it all up, the final part was tough to write as I had no time to do it and a commitment to get it out in the same schedule as the rest.

Secondly, serial fiction is a complex beast and very different from writing a novel or short story. Each individual part of a serial must be a satisfying story in itself. Not necessarily stand-alone as it is part of an ongoing narrative but a satisfying read on it’s own. Did I manage this with New Dawns? Probably not with every part. Honestly, New Dawns would probably have worked better as the first novel in a series. In any future serials I will try to think more like a TV series – the first part is the pilot and the others the individual episodes. New dawns was possibly more like a mini-series – one story split into parts – and the individual episodes should probably have been longer and thus fewer in number overall.

Will there be more New Dawns? Sure there will, there are a million more stories I can tell in that setting but I need to work out the best way to tell them. For now, I am ready to move on to the next idea and see where I end up with that. Will it be another serial? That will very much depend on the idea.

Sales and downloads.

In the past I’ve put up a lot of information about sales and downloads but recently I haven’t updated on the last few promotions – increased busyness in real life reduced time to post updates! Instead I thought I’d put up some total figures as they might be of interest.

A bit of history to start with, publication dates.
Second Time Lucky? and Sovereign Nation went up in mid-to-late September 2013.
Chasing The Future went up on Amazon in July 2014.
The various parts of New Dawns went up in October 2014, with another part going up the end of this week and the final one going up when I have finished writing it.

Second Time Lucky? total downloads: 1,153 (1,146 free, 7 sales).
Sovereign Nation total downloads: 1,243 (1,221 free, 22 sales).
Chasing The Future total downloads: 325 (320 free, 5 sales).
New Dawns (all parts) total downloads: 474 (458 free, 16 sales).

Overall total downloads: 3,195 (3,145 free, 50 sales).

Broken down by country:
2,929 in the USA.
162 in the UK.
30 in Germany.
22 in Canada.
14 in Italy.
8 each in France, India and Australia.
6 each in Spain and Japan.
2 in Brazil.

In just over a year that is 3,195 total downloads! Way above what I would have expected. Yes, it is mostly free downloads but I don’t care about that. Even assuming that the highest downloads (Sovereign Nation) are unique readers and that every other download has come from subsets of them that means over 1,200 people have read something I have written. At least I can be sure it is too many for it to just be friends and family!

Christmas in November (and October).

Admittedly Sainsbury’s had the Christmas biscuits out for the August Bank Holiday weekend so you could argue I am a little late but it still seems odd to write a Christmas story now. Then again, if I wrote it at Christmas I’d be releasing it after Christmas – not exactly a great release strategy!
The final part of New Dawns is set at the first Christmas for the colonists on humanity’s new homes, hopefully giving a positive and uplifting ending to the story. The only problem is, how do you get into the Christmas spirit so early? Honestly, I don’t know. I’m trying but it just feels downright odd, especially as the past few days have been bright and sunny! I’m in London, October and November are supposed to be cold! We’ve got better weather now than we had during some of the summer, where’s the snow?
I guess I could put on the Christmas 24 channel but I fear that many TV movies may melt my brain. A Christmas carols CD? If they get stuck in my head and I start wandering around humming them it will make people think I’m crazy. Well, I guess I am stuck with just using my imagination – serves me right for writing fiction!