Join me on G+

I don’t know about you, but I’m increasingly tired of Facebook. In the past, there have been many pros of using it, both as an author and for a personal account. Facebook pages were a great way of reaching out to fans and were ideal to ensure people didn’t miss important news. However, for me personally, there are now many annoyances:

  • My FB wall is no longer interesting, but cluttered with links, gifts and statuses that I rarely care about.
  • Facebook is making it practically impossible to reach out to fans. Even if you ‘like’ my page, you’re unlikely to actually see updates in your news feed.
  • FB paid ads and promotes have a decreasing reach. Even if I pay to promote an update so that it’ll appear on more of my fans news feeds, the numbers it reaches is still barely worth the expense.
  • And, then there’s the whole FB mantra of removing content which should be deemed appropriate whilst simultaneously allowing videos of be-headings and shootings to clutter the screen. Seriously, you remove a picture of two Indian men kissing but allow killings to be shown?!

Google+With this is in mind, I’m increasing turning to Google+ as a way to share news, chat with people and discuss my passions. I’ve set up a little Google+ community for readers of my work too. The benefit of this, over Facebook, is that YOU can post in communities, YOU can chat in communities, and YOU can do all of this without any of your posts being relegated to a tiny sidebar which no one reads (yes – FB, that’s aimed at you).

It has taken me a while to used to Google+. It’s no Twitter, and it sure isn’t Facebook either. However, what it is is a great foundation for reaching and talking to like-minded people. There’s no maximum characters, and it’s a good idea to actually have some long posts now and then. Joining communities doesn’t clutter your feed as it does with FB, and it’s easy to hop in and out. And then there’s the indexing; seriously, for authors, Google indexes your posts pretty instantly, making them highly searchable.

So, if you’re an author or a reader, head over, join my page or add me to your circles. Say hi, build your own profile and join the Google+ masses.

Why Self Publish – Top Considerations for Going Indie

“I used Grammarly to grammar check this post, because when it comes to blog posts, I tend to babble!

Cover - smallA few weeks ago I had the pleasure of talking to a writers group about self publishing. Most of the circle were new to writing or had spent years polishing manuscripts but had never stepped into the world of indie writing. I covered a lot of areas, including price points, the publication process and the many platforms that you can showcase your work on. It also got me really thinking about why I self published and what led me to the trail of putting my work out there for anyone and everyone to dissect.

Closure

How many of us have dusty manuscripts sitting around in desk drawers or hidden away in forgotten computer folders? I, for one, had several stories that had been written many years ago never to see the light of day. But, why shouldn’t they come out again?

This was one of the driving forces behind becoming self published. I wanted to put my work out there and actually gain closure on the words I’d written. After all, I’d put so much effort into writing, it seemed a shame that no one else would ever see it. If only one other person and read my work, I’d be over the moon.

Motivation

There’s nothing quite like motivating yourself to write because you have a hefty publishing schedule. Before the first book is out, you can rest on your laurels a bit and take your time to get everything right. When you have several pieces of work out, especially as part of a series, there’s a definite driving force behind your work. When there are fans awaiting the next book, I’ll tell you, your motivation is certainly bumped up a notch.

cryofor kindle-600pxFlexibility

In the past, the only route to getting your books out there was the traditional publishing method. But times have changed, and there are now many avenues to explore. I know many authors and friends who have broken away from agents and publishers because of their rigidity. Even for ebooks, it can take months for work to be proofed, edited, bounced around several agents and have the cover created. Much of today’s advertising responsibility is now put upon the authors themselves too, and publishers are increasingly taking a step back.

Why get a traditional deal where you’re paid 10% but have to do most of the work?

Why sign up to an agent who will delay the release of your work and change story details when, left to your own devices, you can publish on your own terms?

I had manuscript requests for CRYO from several agents. However, I knew that any release would be delayed for a long time and that story changes would inevitably be made. That was something I didn’t want to compromise on. Thus, self publishing was the way forward for me.

Royalties and Ranks

I’ve left this one till last, but it IS important. I think a lot of non-publishers think that us indie authors are money grabbing because we get up to 70% of royalties! Damn right we do; it takes a lot of time, effort, tears and frustration to write, publish and market a book. Why would I go to a traditional publish to get a 10% cut but have to do an increasing level of work that was traditionally their responsibility? The answer – I wouldn’t.

The other point to mention is that authors working through agents often have no idea of the quantity of books they’re selling. If you’re being asked to market and advertise, how on earth are you supposed to do so effectively if you have no idea the numbers of novels you’re shifting? Simple answer – you can’t.  In self publishing you have complete control on price points, can see your royalties and rankings, and can, therefore, market properly.

There are MANY more reasons for self publishing, and I hope I’ve shown you just a few pointers which led me to become an indie author. If I was offered a print only publishing deal tomorrow, then – I’ll be honest – I’d probably take it. However, in the modern world of publishing, I personally think it’s daft to compromise yourself simply for the perceived pride of having a publishing deal.

Spirits of the Middlelands in Paperback

photo (13)I’ve finally gotten around to creating, shipping and mailing the proof copy of Spirits of the Middlelands. I don’t actually sell many copies of the Inside Evil series in paperback, and truthfully, creating these physical books is probably more for my pride, than anything else. Having your novels sitting on the shelf at home is a delight, and it always helps spur you on to write the next thing. I’ve also found it’s a good way to passively advertise….just read your books when you’re on the train, waiting at a bus stop,  laying on the beach. It naturally creates exposure, and if anyone asks, you can say you’re doing research for later books!

Anyway, creating paperbacks with CreateSpace isn’t hard, as I blogged in a previous post; you just need to set aside a half a day to get it all correct. Then, you’re little proof copy will be winging it’s way to you in no time!

Now that I’ve finally got this paperback done – and yes, I will be sorting out a CRYO paperback eventually – I can announce that there’ll soon be a little competition. If you’d like to win the first three books in the series, signed of course, then check back here over the next few weeks. In addition, if you’re ready to get your writers/readers hat on, you might even be able to see something of your own creation in the next novel.

Promoting your book on Goodreads with listopia

I’ve not had a huge amount of success on Goodreads. I don’t like the interface, I find the forums troublesome and I really don’t read enough to be actively participating in book discussions. Mostly, I find that you have to use passive promotion on Goodreads; that is, instead of going around saying ‘Here’s my book‘, ‘Read my book‘, ‘Look at my book‘, you have to participate in forums about other subjects and let users find your work by themselves. Of course, a few plugs here and there in the appropriate forum threads never hurt, but overall, Goodreads is a place for readers to discover books, not have them thrust upon them.

A new area of passive promotion which I hadn’t even realised was available until last week is the listopia option. This Goodreads area is a place where people can add their favourite books to current lists, or start their own lists to organise great reads into easily found categories. It also offers an ideal place for you to add your book, utilising lists that you book falls into to spread your novel across as many pages as possible and, therefore, in front of as many eyes as possible.

Listopia is easy to find, and easy to add your book to. One word of warning, it’s probably best not to start adding your books to the ‘Best books Ever written‘ or ‘Best Indie Books‘ categories. In fact, it’s probably best to stay clear of any ‘BEST’ lists because this is for the readers to decide upon, not you. However, you can add your book to any other list that is appropriate. For example, I’ve put Inside Evil into ‘British Fantasy Authors‘, ‘Fantasy Books Set in Two Worlds‘, and ‘Science Fiction & Fantasy Titles for 2012!’ I’m not making assumptions by adding my book to these categories, I’m just telling readers what they can expect to find.

Whether or not this process will help Inside Evil get added to many more shelves I have to find out. But, placing it in as many places as possible surely can’t help gain more exposure.

Genre blogging and how it helps you sell ebooks

I’ll be honest, I’m a bit of a blogging whore. I can’t help it. I’ve had so many blogs in my lifetime that I can’t even write them all down. In addition to running this author blog, I have a gardening one for my landscape company, I’ve just started a new one about my Second Life bookstore attempts, and I have many old and languishing websites that are long forgotten.

Over the past couple of weeks I’ve been reading with increasing interest about the reasoning behind genre blogging; that is, writing about your novel’s genres and interests, rather than about the writing process itself. It does seem obvious when you think about it. If I blog about how to write novels, ways in which to promote books and my own self-publishing story, then I can expect to attract other authors who are interested in, or going through, the same process. If I blog about Inside Evil or my other books, I’m likely to attract only my current fans or those who are specifically looking for more information on my books.

However, if I blog about fantasy, science fiction and other subjects that have inspired the books, then I’m more likely to attract new readers who might give my books a go because they have similar interests. 

I’ve increasingly been thinking about blogging in my genre and how to go about it on this blog. Writing about fantasy and science fiction is no hardship for me at all – I’m more than happy to gush about Mass Effect, LOTR or Blood & Chrome for HOURS. But, these subjects are such a dramatic split from this current blog that it just didn’t sit right with me.

Would I offend current readers of this blog by posting material that they really weren’t interested in? Would new readers looking for the latest gaming update or cinema release really be drawn in by other posts about writing?

I don’t think so.

As such, I’m attempting to breathe some life back into my old blog, The Modern Hermit. I’ve had this blog running for several years, and despite not having posted on it for nearly a year, I still get more hits a day on that site than I do here, largely because the back-list of articles and keywords. The blog certainly has a different tone than here, with completely different subject matter and a far more informal, even cursing voice sometimes, but it draws readers. Readers that could become book buyers.

Today I’ve updated both the themes for each blog to tie them together, as well as adding a new page on The Modern Hermit about my writing. It means that if those interested in fantasy and science fiction material are interested, they can easily find my work, but that I can keep the realms of writing and genre blogging separate from one another.

I think my little tip here is that if you feel that two subjects don’t fit alongside each other on a blog and you run the risk of repelling the very viewers that you’re trying to attract, listen to your instincts. Instead, create two blogs with the same themes, the same look, sister sites you could even call them. Then encourage cross reading for viewers, but ensure that should they want to do so, bloggers only need read the items that interest them.

How to sell eBooks in Second Life

I’m always looking for new ways to sell books. I haven’t yet managed to get that snowball effect with my novels, and am far from getting that crucial 1,000 sales on Amazon, so at the moment it’s hand selling all the way. Not that I mind, it’s nice to actually talk directly to most of the people who buy my stuff, but it takes up a lot of time – time that I’d rather be using to write.

I’ve been in Second Life for a number of years now, doing little bits and pieces here and there. I’ve always believed that it would be a great place to sell books, especially ebooks as, like Second Life, they’re virtual. There are some large readers and writers communities online, and if you could just access these groups, you’d have a great audience to reach out to.

But, just what is Second Life?

Second Life is, simply put, a virtual world where you can build anything. Think of a computer game where you take the role of the main character and adventure through levels to complete quests, and in the case of MMO’s (million multi-player onlines) make friends, build guilds and journey through the game together. Now think of a platform where the developers haven’t created the world in which you land, but have left it up to you to create. We won’t go into the extreme complexities of building, but suffice to say users have created some stunning and creative places to visits, from New York and London replica’s, to fantasy lands with waterfalls, mountains and secret forests to explore.

How can Second Life help sell books?

Like all online worlds, Second Life has an economy. Lindens (L$) can be bought for real life dollars so that you have money to buy commodities in-world. Lindens can also be pulled out of the game and into real life accounts, and this has enabled many people to make their entire living through selling items and services in Second Life. So, in theory, you could sell books for Lindens in Second Life and then draw the money out into your account.

BUT, with linking to Real Life items, the process is made even more simple. 

My Second Life bookstore

About four weeks ago I created Best Books (Inside Evil readers will realise the significance), a Second Life book store that would contain Real Life books. The premise is simple; Second Life residents browse Best Books and can find a range of novels, read the samples, learn about the author and then follow a purchase link to buy on Amazon. I met with many people that said it might not work, I learned that Amazon had once been in Second Life in an attempt to do a similar thing and that it wasn’t cost effective. However, over the past few weeks, I’ve sold four books. That’s more than I’ve sold at Kobo, or Smashwords, or Barnes & Noble, or Diesel. In addition, because I’m using my affiliate Amazon account, I made some affiliate money off the sales too! It may only be four, but those are new readers, a new audience, and any one of them could be the individual that blogs, writes, tells 1,000 friends about my book.  Anyone of them could start that all important snowball.

How can I help you sell books in Second Life?

The best thing about my new venture is that YOU, authors, can take advantage, even if you have no interest in getting into Second Life yourself. Best Books currently costs a minimal amount to run, and I hope to be able to fund the SL venture on the money earned from affiliate sales. This means that the cost to advertise your book in-world is a big, fat, ZERO. Yep, I’m charging nothing. It’s FREE.

I already have several authors interested in participating, with my view to building Second Life’s best and biggest eBook store. As I gather more books and attract more readers, I want to hold book readings too. There’s also the opportunity for book signings, with people being able to visit Best Books, talk with the author and request a Authorgraph right then and there.

GET INVOLVED

If you’re an author and are interested in getting involved in the venture, please don’t hesitate to contact me through my email address: geoff_wakeling@hotmail.com. If you want to visit me in-world, then please feel free to hop on this link and head to Best Books. Otherwise, just email me and we’ll talk about how it works and what I need. Generally, all I’ll require is cover images, blurbs, your samples (the same as Amazon’s preview), book genre, author picture and biography…the same media pack that you’d normally supply book reviewers with.

In Summary…..

If your books sales are streaming in, then it’s unlikely that you’ll need to advertise in Second Life. However, no matter what your sales figures may be, I always think it’s important to reach out to new readers and possible audiences.

Can you sell your Real Life books in Second Life? Yes, I’ve proved it, I’m selling copies of Inside Evil and The Tower of Souls already and I’m quite surprised by it.

So, if you want another avenue to get noticed, to showcase your work, and to help drive up your sales, then get in touch and lets build this virtual bookstore!

A surprising new book

You may have read an earlier post where I talked about how to promote books on Squidoo. I’ve become fairly addicted to Squidoo over the past few weeks, and whilst I am yet to actually note any sales as a direct result of my marketing there, I am having fun. In addition, creating a lens about how to write a great vampire novel seemingly triggered a creative thought process in my brain, and now I started a new book!

With it being NaNoWriMo this month, and the fact that I haven’t really got off the starting block with the third Inside Evil book, I’ve been a little worried. I’ve failed at NaNoWriMo for two years running, mostly because I just haven’t sat down to write, rather than attempting and failing miserably. I have no interest in writing a vampire story, it’s really not my thing, but my Squidoo lens talked about the importance of bringing something new to a genre, of putting your stamp on it, of creating a new tale with one or two features that are original. Finding originality in literature is incredibly hard these days as most things have already been written. Then, choosing to write in a small genre, such as vampires, makes the task even harder. But it got my brain thinking, and last night I had a flash of inspiration for, uh-oh, a zombie story.

The inspiration occurred to me yesterday, and I decided to write some notes and shelve the idea for a while. After all, I’m in the middle of writing TWO book series. Plus, I’ve NEVER wanted to write about zombies. However, as I was working at a gardening client’s today, the novel just wouldn’t leave me alone. Ideas were coming thick and fast, and I’ve just ended up writing a 3,000 word first chapter for the book! I don’t have time to write a full length novel, not when I’ve got other series in motion, but a short 20k/30k novella might be OK. So, it’s decided, this NaNoWriMo I AM going to participate. I’m going to write my first ever short story. I’m going to take a leaf out of Hugh Howey’s book, and throw a short out there and see if it gains traction. If it does, I’ll write more. If it doesn’t, I’ll be happy that I completed NaNoWriMo for the first time and crafted my writing skills a little more.

I’m excited! I’m off to write!

How to use Squidoo to promote your ebook

When it comes to marketing, I’m a firm believer of promoting in as many places as possible. The internet makes this quite easy as you can sign up to article websites and PR providers all over the place, helping to spread your author name and novel titles. Increased exposure helps to build both branding and awareness, and so getting as many mentions across the Internet is a GOOD thing.

I should say before I continue, that Squidoo is no quick fix or easy way to promote your ebook. Like most other platforms, it requires time and patience, and if you’re looking to only invest a couple of hours on squidoo and reap huge benefits, then you’re probably wasting your time. It’s probably not the best way to market a book, and I’m also fairly new to the website so I’m not a pro either. It’s a huge time sap too, and I’ve been spending hours on there over the past few days when I could have been doing better things. However, I like to take a time out between writing books to formulate plans, and squidoo has been quite fun to use, hence this post. In addition, recent reports listed by the site showed that it was the 64th most visited website in the US, and gained 2 million hits in just one day this year, so there is big potential to attract readers.

BUT, what exactly is Squidoo?

Simply put, squidoo is a website where you create articles (called lenses) about specific topics using the platform’s ready built webpages and modules. Think Ezine Articles, About.com etc. Anyone can join, anyone can build, and the best feature is that anyone can earn money from their Amazon modules. Amazon modules that can point directly to your books.

HOW can it help me promote?

The best way Squidoo can help you promote your books is by building an online encyclopaedia of your work. You can create lenses for your books, link these to lens of your characters, or places, or book themes. Think Wikipedia, but a wiki for your work created by you.

So far I’ve created an Inside Evil lens, The Tower of Souls lens and several others. I’ve linked them together. I’ve added Amazon links, a poll of favourite characters, a simple cast list and a ‘Did you know?‘ section.

 

The more ‘likes’, comments, tweets etc that you get for a page, the higher it’s visibility becomes. And, of course, in the same way that you should be commenting on blogs, responding to tweets, and pasting FB marketing material to promote your book every day, a few updates on your lenses can work wonders. Once you’ve spent the time creating, you can simply check in every day, update, respond to comments and factor the time into your marketing schedule.

EARN points and level up

Whilst Squidoo isn’t a game as such, you do start at level one and earn points as you go. These points are equal to expertise, and each time you level up, you unlock new features for your lenses and additional ways to climb up the community ladder. It’s a fun side to squidoo, and you’ll keep wanting to earn points like mad just to see what’s waiting. You can breathe a sigh of relief when you reach level 85 as that’s the top, but as I’m currently only 22, there’s a fair way to go.

BEWARE,  it’s a time suck

Like many social platforms, Squidoo is a total time suck and isn’t for everyone. You need to enjoy the experience of making lenses and taking part in the community if you’re to benefit at all. Looking at it only as a promotional tool probably won’t work. In addition, you’ll probably need to create more lenses than just your book ones, and this means that you need to actually enjoy using the website. I’ve created lenses in Pets,  Entertainment and How To as a way to draw traffic to my profile and build my squidoo presence.

I’m not advocating that squidoo is about to be a ground-breaking new promotional too, but I’ve enjoyed using it over the past couple of days. If it proves successful, I’ll drive traffic towards my books whilst earning commission on their sales (and any other items I add to my Amazon modules). If you have some spare time, then take a look. You can find my profile HERE, and start exploring this world of virtual squids.