May’s increasing sales

May’s been a great month for me. Today, not to blow my own trumpet ‘too’ loudly, it’s my birthday. I’m 31 on the 31st of May…if only I could get 31 sales today too. ;) Talking of sales, May has, by far, been my best month and I’ve noted a 233% increase in my books rocketing off the shelves. OK, ‘rocketing‘ may be a bit of an exaggeration, but I’ve increased from THREE sales last month, to 10 sales this month. See, I’ve had so many sales that it’s now not grammatically correct to spell out the number!

I know that hitting the lowest possible double digit figure for monthly sales may seem a ridiculous thing to be celebrating, but I’m moving in the right direction and that’s a good thing. I’ve had a unsolicited five star review on Amazon.co.uk, I’ve had an email from a reader asking if I’m writing another book, and I’ve been getting great feedback from a couple of reviewers. I’ve had Inside Evil proofed from tip to toe so as to remove as many errors as possible (there were quite a few, I’ll admit it). And, let’s not forget, I had a new cover created.

When you’re first starting out in the publishing world, it’s little things that thrill you. Any sale is very exciting, a positive review makes your jaw hit the floor, and moving into a Top 100 list offers so much excitement that it’s almost impossible to stop screaming and dancing around the house (yes, I did this). I could never understand the rankings. I was listed as at some stupid seven millionth and something in the Kindle store, yet I didn’t appear in any other category lists. I wanted to know exactly how awfully low I was for specific genres. Then, I sold a few books and suddenly I was #87 in Horror and #93 in Occult in the co.uk listings. I didn’t stay there for very long mind you, but I don’t really care. I, me, Geoff Wakeling was, for the briefest moment, in a top 100 list. Awesome.

With May almost over, I’m already looking forward to June. This lovely summer month should see me feature on a few website reviews. In addition, my LibraryThing promotion finishes on June 5th. I’ll then be sending out 50 copies of Inside Evil to readers for reviews, so I hope that a few more positives may come back from the promotion. Ultimately, I hope this will lead to more sales as news of the book is spread across the web.

In the meantime I’m cracking on with the second book of the Inside Evil series. I’m almost ready to reveal the name, I just need to ponder it a little more before it’s set in stone. I’m also readying for a tiny weeny competition, the winner of which will have their idea featured in Book Two. Details to come.

For now, I must go and celebrate my day with another cup of tea, maybe some cake, and definitely some more writing. :)

The first review

Today has been a brilliant day. I found three neglected venus fly trap plants in my local garden centre for 10p each (yes, only TEN PENCE). They’ve got new shoots coming up, and all they need is some sunlight and rain water to start thriving again. Oh. And I got my first Amazon review as well. A five star one.

I haven’t been rushing out to find reviews from people, and though I’ve heard that this obviously helps sales, I like the organic process of gaining write-ups. Asking for a review and getting five stars is one thing. Having a random reader buy your book for $2.99 and love it enough to come back to Amazon and leave a FIVE star review,  is quite another.

A few days ago a Goodreads member gave me three stars. I was a little downhearted, especially, as from looking at her ratings, she either reads from the moment she wakes or simply goes through awarding book ratings by their covers and descriptions. I mean, can anyone seriously read four or five books A DAY? She wasn’t just having a sudden blitz either as looking through her history, she seems to do this every day! Still, a three star rating was a great ‘I like this book‘ rating, which in itself is very good. Followed the next day by a five star review. Wowzers. ‘Well written‘, ‘believable characters‘, and ‘great descriptions‘ were all highlighted. I’m in awe. I’m encouraged. I’m certain that this little review was totally worth it.

To think that in the current economy, a reader chose to pay $2.99 by buying a book from an unknown author with only a single title in their catalogue is great. To think that the unknown author was me, that someone liked my book, enough to go onto Amazon, write a review and give me five stars – well, that’s just a feeling that’s quite indescribable.

A new cover

I’ve been pondering about getting a new cover made up for Inside Evil for a while as my efforts weren’t a staggering success. There’s lots of debate on Kindle forums and other communities about whether a good cover increases sells. Whilst the majority of people advocate the need for an awesome cover, I’ve seen quite a lot of books that are selling reasonably well with pretty dire cover art. However, it seems pretty obvious that, for those flicking through Amazon’s ebook lists, an eye catching piece of art work will draw more attention from potential readers.

I want my entire ebook to be the best that it can be, and so I hired the creative genius of Char Adlesperger over at Wicked Cover Designs. I’d heard lots of good things about her, and for $55, an ebook cover was an absolute bargain.

Working with Char was incredible, and not only was it cheap to get a cover done, but fast. I put in my request on Saturday, and by mid afternoon yesterday (less than three days), the title was complete. I’d given her an outline of some features that I’d thought about, and I think Char brought them together amazingly. Adding to that, she even suggested adding a strap-line to bring the entire cover together and entice more readers; something that I hadn’t thought of myself.

I’m overjoyed with the results, and can’t recommend Char enough. Whether it sells more books or not, I certainly think its eye-catching and I’m really happy with the results. Now, I have to get back to writing the next in the series, if only to see what Char can come up with next!

POV’s for continuing series

I’ve never really been a fan of writing in first person. Though I don’t mind reading books that follow this style, I’ve always found it a little self indulgent. Perhaps I’m the type of storyteller who watches my characters from afar and writes, rather than actually becoming the lead hero or heroine in a tale. Writing in such a way allows me to follow several characters within a single book, which offers all sorts of freedom, and difficulties. Having now started the second Inside Evil novel, I’ve been struggling slightly with which Point of Views (POVs) to explore.

The first draft of Inside Evil was fairly disorganised, with several POVs inter-tangled. Eventually, Roberta Arlington, Karl Frans and Susan Lingly became the main focus, and the book developed particularly well from these view points. In book two, heroine Roberta remains, whilst I love writing scenes with Susan and Martha Wittle, so again, Susan stayed. My struggle began when thinking about how to involve both Karl and Sam Carter to the story. Having both been important characters who played their parts in helping Roberta, it was vital for their stories to continue in some way.  Having had Karl’s POV in Inside Evil, it seems only obvious to continue this thread, but then, I wanted to develop Sam. However, the logistics of the story pretty much mean that Sam is isolated from the other groups and needs to forge his own path.

So, Sam has become a POV for the second novel in the series, with Karl’s future still in doubt. As many characters often do, Sam is already proving that it was the right decision and has already started to forge his story across my computer screen. But it leaves me with the question…do I increase POVs to four by including Karl, or does the incompetent detective simply become a secondary character for the time being? Will this irritate readers?

Time will only tell, and as the book progresses, I’m sure Karl will start being difficult if he’s not happy with taking a back seat on this one. In the meantime, I better get back to seeing what Sam has in store for me.

Library Thing – Giveaway Promotion

There are many resources that you can use when it comes to advertising a book. I like to take the passive marketing approach, joining in with discussions posted on communities and groups such as Kindle Boards (KB) and Goodreads and getting clicks from signatures, rather than aggressively posting about my work. KB really is a must if you’re a self published author, and you’ll find all manner of help in the Writer’s Cafe forum. Meanwhile, I am slowly getting to grips with Goodreads, and after my post the other day, I’ve noted that Inside Evil is now on several people’s ‘to be read’ lists. I haven’t actively advertised at all. I’ve simply engaged with readers and writers in the forum and they’ve decided to add my book.

I’ve been looking for a way to offer a limited number of freebies of late because, of course, getting people to read your book must be your main aim. Having opted out of KDP Select, there’s no way I can offer freebies of my book on Amazon other than changing the actual book price to zero. However, someone on KB talked about Library Thing and the opportunity for no-cost free promotions and so I decided to get involved.

I’d taken a look at Library Thing once before, when I initially published and was looking for advertising options. However, I hadn’t realised that they offered a wonderful give-away option. It’s superbly easy to navigate and as long as you’re not offering your title for free anywhere else, you can sign up a certain number of copies to be offered to members. I’ve set a one month deadline and 50 copies, and on June 5th, Library Thing will email me a list of people who have requested my free book in turn for a review, along with their email address so that I can send out the correct files.

I only set this up a few hours ago, and I already have one request, so it seems like it could be a great way to get a book out there, especially if you’re a new writer. I can only speculate as to whether reviews will come out of this promotion, but I think Library Thing could be a good resource for building fans and spreading the word.

Premium Friday

Some people seem to love it, other’s seem to hate it. Personally, I think that Smashwords is a brilliant tool for e-book self publishing, and though I am yet to make any actual sales through the portal, I fail to see why people don’t utilise it more. Yes, KDP Select limits Smashwords use, and the difficulty of withdrawing previously distributed books so as not to break Amazon’s guidelines can be hard. However, if you’re never going to opt into KDP Select, like so many authors I know, Smashwords can be a great place to sell.

Today, I finally looked at my dashboard and saw the result I wanted – Premium Status. This means that Inside Evil can now be distributed to stores such as Sony, Apple and Barnes and Noble. Unfortunately, as a British resident, I can’t use B&N’s own Pub-It application, so finally getting my work into their ebook stores is a great thing.

Gaining Premium status with Smashwords wasn’t too difficult, and if I’d have avoided a few hurdles, then it would have been achieved far earlier.

  • Prepare your Kindle document first. I did almost nothing aside from changing the indexing to produce a Smashwords copy for the Premium Catalogue. Kindle’s guidelines are, on the whole, easier to understand. So preparing your Kindle copy first might save you a lot of time and confusion.
  • Remove your page numbers. This was something I didn’t realise I had to do, and it was flagged up in Smashwords, pushing back my approval but ultimately offering a better publishing format.
  • Avoid Tweaking. Being new to self-publishing, I’ve tweaked and changed, and tweaked again, several times. Whilst this isn’t so much of a hassle for Amazon as updating is very easy, every time you put a new version onto Smashwords, it’ll hold back your Premium Catalogue approval. If you can, get it right the first time so that you don’t have to constantly put yourself at the back of the queue when uploading a new version to Smashwords.

I’m obviously expecting a great flurry of sales now – not. Inside Evil should appear for distribution sales from one to two weeks depending on the platform. And, whether sales are made or not, I’m glad that the nice bold tick has appeared in my dashboard. It’s fulfilled my Friday.