Spirits of the Middlelands is here

Spirits of the Middlelands 270pxIt’s been a long time coming, especially for Inside Evil fans who have had to wait since last summer when The Tower of Souls came out, but Spirits of the Middlelands has finally arrived! I’m really pleased with how the story ended up, answering many of the questions from the previous two books, but also setting the way for the next two novels. There’s something for everyone – gin swilling Susan, Roberta and Sam’s close friendship and, of course, lots of Faithful (though he’s not longer the fluffy kitten he used to be).

If you want to buy or simply look at samples, then head to Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk or Smashwords to take a look. It’ll be coming to Apple, B&N and Kobo over the next few days, so I’ll provide the link on the sidebar as soon as they’re available.

So, what’s next?

There are lots of plans afoot, but the two major projects for 2013 are Inside Evil Book 4, and the second instalment of CRYO. I’m desperate to get back to John, Amity…even Agnes, and discover what’s happening in their new found world, but I can’t wait to explore more of Gathin with the Ridgewood gang either. Decisions, decisions. Both books will be completed this year though…so plenty of writing and reading to do!

Inside Evil’s available – FREE

After reading a gargantuan number of blogs about marketing, advertising and general other book selling ideas, I’d realised a few months ago that it was probably best to make Inside Evil free at some point. I’m not in Amazon’s KDP Select so I have no way of taking advantage of free days. However, taking point from the lovely Lindsay Buroker, I thought that I’d make Inside Evil free when Spirits of the Middlelands was published at the end of March…thereby encouraging people to try out the series without having to make a financial commitment.

Cover - smallSo, a few weeks ago I ran a tester, reducing my Kobo price to zero. Any sales? Fat chance. Kobo really is a non-starter for me, but the fact that I had a free book there and got not downloads demoralised me – A LOT. I decided that if I was going to give this a proper crack, then I’d have to take a stab at price-matching on Amazon. There’s no clear deadline for this to occur…it’s down to the Amazon gods.

Yesterday morning I logged into Amazon and found, to my absolute shock, there were 89 price-matched downloads. 89 people saw my book and wanted to try it out. WOW. Then figures started to climb, and climb, and climb. As of this minute, I’m #1 in free horror/occult and #330 in the overall Amazon free store. I’ve had 900 downloads (I’ve just checked – exactly 900) and I’ve sold 4 of my other books. Wow. WOW. This is on NO promotion as I didn’t have a clue when Amazon would price-match…it’s just spiralled.

I’m keeping track of my statistics and will write a more in-depth piece after a few days have run their course and things have settled down a bit. Unfortunately, at this juncture, only Amazon.com has the free listing as I didn’t know that I had to price-match across channels. I’m also not sure whether this will be a perma-free or a month’s promotion before the release of book three. But, for someone who has been selling only tens of books per month, and was seriously wondering whether people were even interested in trying out my work, this has been a huge motivator. I KNOW that there are a lot of freebie grabbers out there, and that lots of people won’t even read it, but the fact that over 900 people (I just checked again) have downloaded it, AND book two, The Tower of Souls, has started selling is a GOOD boost.

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Anyway, if you want to try Inside Evil out for FREE, head to Amazon. I’ll report back soon with more results.

Using multi-channels to sell your ebooks

Anyone who’s read this blog for any length of time will know that I’m a keen advocate of the multi-channel approach when it comes to selling books as an indie author. Had I come into the publishing industry a few months earlier, say around December 2011, then Amazon’s Select program may have well stirred enough interest to get me to sign up. As it is, I published Inside Evil in March 2012, and after reading several reports that the advantages of Select were already waning, decided against becoming exclusive. It seemed pretty obvious to me; I didn’t want to put all of my eggs in one basket.

Select continues to draw a large number of people in, and I’m sure that they’re doing very well out of it. However, distributing with Smashwords and Kobo Writing Life has never been easier. I hear a lot of people saying that they have issues with Smashwords, but in all honesty, I can hand on heart say that I’ve had no problems. I’ve gone through their Meatgrinder without ending up with a completely ruined eBook file, I’ve got into their Premium catalogue with no worries, and I’ve been distributed fairly fast. B&N does take a while to get going, but I don’t necessarily think that this is Smashwords’ fault because CRYO landed in the iBookstore just days after being distributed.

Why use the multichannel approach?

- Readers

Readers want flexibility, and whilst the Kindle is still a huge eReader, an increasing number of people have other devices. I read everything on my iPhone and I have fans of my work who read on the Nook and Sony devices. Had I started on Select, none of these readers would have got to sample my work whilst the exclusivity contract was in place. And, though I’ve thought about putting subsequent work into Select, it ultimately means that any readerbase I’ve already gathered would be penalised for not choosing Amazon as their number one ebook provider.

- Maximum Exposure

There’s no denying it; Amazon is a huge marketplace and has millions of readers awaiting your novel. But this can have its downsides too. It will take more sales to get into Amazon’s Top 100 lists than it might on Apple or Kobo, and you’ll fall out of those lists more quickly too. Being on Amazon alone also stymies the places you can promote, and you’ll be stuck to advertising methods that only point directly back to Amazon. In addition, the Select contract means that you can provide excerpts of no more than 10% (i.e. the sample that Amazon offers) and links must direct back to them. However, by choosing to use a multi-channel approach, the world and all the eReaders really are your oyster.

Limiting Risk

Placing all your work in one place is risky. What happens if Amazon suddenly decides to stop promoting indie authors? They make a deal with the Big Six and, almost overnight, all those top ranking indie books disappear way down the lists because of changed algorithms? This is not a good thing, and it’s made worse if your work is only available on Amazon. Of course, creating a newsletter is the best option if you want to reach readers regardless of where they are and whatever happens to the market. However, by having your work in as many places as possible,  you can limit the risk of a big hit due to one market changing or closing.

I love Amazon, and they do make it very easy for us indie authors to sell our books. But I also love the multi-channel approach, and I’d be severely stunted if my readers suddenly couldn’t download on iBooks or the Nook.  CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has now made it to Apple, just days after it was uploaded to Smashwords, and you can find it for both US and UK versions. Having it in multiple places has helped its launch and got the book off to a good start. As for your advertising, which do you prefer? Amazon Select or multi-channelling?

CRYO: The Rise of the Immortals has arrived

cryofor kindle-revI’m over the moon to announce that CRYO: Rise of the Immortals has finally arrived. I got the final revisions this morning, spent a couple of hours making corrections and going through the manuscript one final time, before uploading to Amazon. As ever, Amazon were pretty swift off the mark, and CRYO: The Rise of the Immortals is already available to purchase.

This is a novel that has taken a LONG time to write, and there have been a lot of revisions along the way. Scrapping characters, changing existing ones, creating new ones. Throwing whole storylines away in favour of an alternate route…it’s certainly been an interesting ride.

If you’d like to know more, the the CRYO page now has the full first chapter, or alternatively you can download the sample from Amazon itself. Whilst CRYO is available at Smashwords, it’s still going through for Kobo, and could take some time for B&N because I have to wait for Smashwords to send the manuscript through.

How to create promotional postcards for books

Christmas is coming up and I’m, well, rather under-prepared. It seems like an age ago since I read that interview with Amanda Hocking about self publishing books on Amazon, even though it was only back in February. Since then, life has changed considerably. But this is my first Christmas, and I’ve no idea what sort of promotion I should be doing.

Other than writing the article about creating Christmas book hampers, the only other idea I had was to create some actual physical promotional tools. I went to a family christening back in July, and lots of people asked about the books. I told them, chatted about Inside Evil, said ‘oh, you can find them on Amazon,’ but I had nothing to give. This Christmas I decided to go one step further and create some postcards that I could hand out.

photo (17)If you haven’t got much time for promotion, or have little money for buying adverts, then these postcards are perfect. I’ve created them with a view to giving them to friends, family and acquaintances rather than leaving them in stacks at book fairs, but they could be used in that circumstance too. I created and ordered them from Vista Print very easily and, more importantly, they were very affordable – just £30 for 50 postcards. That price also included an online proof that I won’t have to pay next time I order. Plus, I went for two weeks shipping to get them in time for Christmas, and hey presto, they were here within 10 days.

Why did I go for postcards?

There are a vast variety of options to choose from in customisable merchandise, and I nearly got sucked into creating mouse-mats, pens and even keyrings with the Inside Evil cover on. BEWARE, they do try and lure you into spending – you can’t really blame them.

My main reasoning behind postcards rather than bookmarks is that the Inside Evil is largely in an ebook form. Yes, you can buy paperbacks, but I’m promoting the ebooks more than anything. Someone who uses a bookmark on a regular occurrence may well be more likely to read traditional books than fire up their kindle. And, if they do fire up their Kindle, my bookmark isn’t going to be anywhere in sight to remind them to buy.

Secondly, I like that you can fit more onto a postcard. Rather than reaching out to strangers, I’m reaching out to people I already know are interested in my books. Therefore, I want to provide them with a few more details and incentives to buy.

I’m very happy with the overall look of the cards, and the price. I’ll be giving them out this Christmas, so I’ll let you know whether they help remind people of my work and bump up sales as a result.

Get to know the author – Juli D. Revezzo

I loved getting to know movie lover, fantasy enthusiast and zombie writer Sara Shrieves last week. This week I’m very happy to be interviewing Juli D. Revezzo, a high fantasy lover who hides away in her writing cave using mythology to help craft her novels.

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JuliDRevezzobTell us about yourself? Do you write for a living? If not, what’s your day job?

Well, I can’t say I write necessarily for a living, but it does take up my whole day sometimes. I don’t really work outside the house these days.

Favourite food, place, colour and writing zone, please.

Favorite food would be Italian food–spaghetti and sauce, lasagna, pizza. Color: Purple. Writing zone…well, my little office in the back room. Or writing cave as it’s affectionately known.

You write in the fantasy/supernatural genre….who’s been your inspiration?

I like most traditional high fantasy I’ve read: Tolkien, Melanie Rawn, J.V. Jones. I have to say my all around favorite is Michael Moorcock. After them come the classics, LeFanu and Poe other such authors.

Favourite books? Movies? TV Shows?

For books, The Elric Series, is always my top choice, also Moorcock’s Von Bek books, then there are authors like Patty G. Henderson and S.G. Rogers, and, and, and (gosh where do I cut off the list?). For movies, I’m a fan of the Aliens films; Excalibur is also longtime favorite. Also the Lord of the Rings films, the Narnia films, the Underworld series, I could go on and on…

Who’s your favourite all time fictional character?

I have to say Elric, then King Arthur.

The Artist's InheritanceWho’s your favourite character in your own work?

The heroine of The Artist’s Inheritance, Caitlin and after her, Beryl, the witch.

Let’s talk superpowers….there’s no denying we’d all love one. What would be your choice, and why?

Weather manipulation would be nice. Why? It’d be nice to be able to keep hurricanes away from land. I also wouldn’t mind teleportation. Wouldn’t that just make travel easier?

Inspiration’s a funny thing. Where do you find yours? Is there one particular moment that stands out?

A lot of the time I find it in reading mythology. For instance The Artist’s Inheritance was influenced by the fact that at the time I started writing it I’d just finished the Welsh mythological tome The Mabinogion and a handful of Irish mythological texts. We tend to think of the gods as helpful and loving but they could be meddling when they wanted to be or if a lesson was necessary. So I played on that theme in my novel. How would a wife deal with it if the gods came and smacked her husband upside the head for something?

Writers have very different approaches to completing our works. Are you a heavy plotter? Jump back and forth between scenes? Sit down, start at the beginning and just write?

I definitely tend jump back and forth. I can write a whole section at a good clip. But then the steam will peter out and I’ll jump forward to keep going until I can fill in that hole.

House of CardsWhat’s fresh about your books? Quirky and different? Likely to entice readers and keep them coming back for more?

I think if people go into them thinking the ghosts are the bad dudes, they’re in for a shock. My ghosts tend to help out the living more than I think in most ghost stories you might encounter. And when the gods are brought into most novels they’re not treated fairly. I tried to treat them a wee bit better in my own, (though with what they put my heroine, Caitlin, through she’s got a right to be bitter). Also, I try to stay away from the “idyllic retirement home” or beachcomber feel that so many books set here tend to. I try to write it as “at home” as I’ve always felt.

What are you working on now?

I’m working on a follow up to The Artist’s Inheritance and *sheepishgrin* will soon be getting started on some revisions on a paranormal romance novel I just sold. It’s a wee bit different than The Artist’s Inheritance, I must admit!

How can readers connect with you?

You can find my books at AmazonBarnes and Noble, and Smashwords. Feel free to visit my homepage, Facebook, Twitter or other social networking links to say hi.

Good Reads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5782712.Juli_D_Revezzo

On G+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/111476709039805267272/posts

On Librarything: http://www.librarything.com/profile/julidrevezzo

On Manic Readers: http://www.manicreaders.com/JuliDRevezzo/

On Shelfari: http://www.shelfari.com/authors/a1002694572/Juli-D-Revezzo/

Cover Reveal – CRYO; Rise of the Immortals

I feel like I’ve been waiting MONTHS to get this artwork. In fact, it’s only been a few mere weeks. Keith Draws has done an amazing job with this cover, and it’s everything that I wanted and more. This has been a novel which has been in the works for years, so to see everything finally coming together is rather incredible.

The book itself is currently with my editor and I’m hoping to get it back and corrected in the next few weeks so that I can make a December launch! For now…I’ll have to just gaze at the cover….and keep writing the next Inside Evil book too. :)