“…just as a paroxysm of nausea swept over him,” I finished, looking up from my exercise book. My schoolmates looked bored, and somebody flicked a chewed-over paper ball at me. Paroxysm. Not a word you hear used much in everyday language, but I’d read it somewhere and decided to shoehorn it that week’s chapter. My English teacher was thrilled though. Every Saturday I was persuaded to stand in front of my class and read the latest instalment of a serial adventure I was writing. One month it was Doctor Who, another it was my version of a James Bond yarn. No sex, just gadgets. Not that I needed any persuading. I loved storytelling. Being an only child, a lot of my time was spent drawing comics and poring over books while my idea of heaven was taking the bus to the local library and just trailing my hand along the shelves. Continue reading
John Mountford has been a keen commentator on this blog for many months. Has has just published his first novel, and I asked him to share some tips about his experience with us all.
I have just Amazon-published my first novel, KILL MANDELA, two years and ten months after writing the first word. Despite the plethora of help for new authors on the web, I took my fair share of wrong turns along the way.
And so I decided to give something back by adding my bit to that vast pool of self-publishing help – and where better than the blog of one of the most helpful writers in the business, Rachel Abbott.
A quick disclaimer: these tips are from my personal experience, and may not perfectly match your circumstances. Nonetheless, I stand by them.
I’m enjoying my journey as a self-published author very much and that’s partly because one of the great things about the self-publishing community is how supportive indie authors are of each other. We often compare notes, and offer each other advice. But I don’t really know many traditionally published authors, so I was delighted to be introduced recently to Paul Finch, whose novel Stalkers has been in the Kindle top 100 for over a hundred days. We had a chat about the similarities and differences in our experiences.
RA: We are both lucky enough to have been in the Kindle top twenty recently, but we became bestsellers by quite different routes I think. Would you tell me a bit about how Stalkers came to be published?
PF: The idea behind Stalkers came from one of my brain-storming sessions, where I simply devote a day or two to hatching high-concept ideas and jotting them down. Not necessarily ideas aimed at any particular project … just anything that strikes me as the basis for a good story, be it for a novel, a novella, a short story or even a screenplay. Stalkers originally began life as an idea entitled The Nice Guys Club. It just hit me one evening…this idea about the most terrible kind of secret club. At first I thought it would only work as a horror story – it was too dark to imagine it falling into the realms of crime or thriller fiction. But I’d been massively impressed by US cop shows like The Shield and The Wire, and have long felt that we are painfully lacking in this kind of stuff over here. In all honesty, you have to go back to The Sweeney to find that kind of edgy, gritty, fast-moving crime series in a British setting. Several times I’d spoken to my agent on this same subject, and he’d always responded: “if you can give me one, I’ll try to sell it”. The Nice Guys Club seemed a perfect fit for this new police hero I was evolving – an affable but isolated character, hard-boiled as hell, and loaded with baggage – but it was also obvious that it would be near enough impossible to place this story on television; the subject matter was simply too disturbing.
As the debate about traditional vs indie publishing goes on – and probably will do for some considerable time – it was great to hear from one author who has experienced both. Author David Treanor has kindly given us his perspective on the two sides of the publishing coin.
In my old life as a BBC journalist I would occasionally have to interview people for jobs. I’d take home a stack of application forms — maybe a-hundred or more — and try to draw up a shortlist of twelve. I used to like it when people made spelling mistakes. It meant I could rule them out right away. But I know I didn’t always get it right. Then would come a couple of days of interviews. Sometimes I felt that half the people I’d seen would be great at the job. But there was only one vacancy. So I did my best. But I will have made mistakes again.
I feel traditional publishing is like that. Far too many submissions, far too few opportunities to get into print. And those taking the decisions will have made mistakes. We all know the stories of the best sellers rejected a dozen times.
From a family of avid readers, even as a child, I always had a passion for books. Whether it was reading novels on road trips or writing assignments in school, literature was always part of my life.
In the winter of 2000, after sustaining a season ending eye injury while playing professional hockey in Oklahoma City, I found myself with a lot of time on my hands, and a new hobby emerged.
I didn’t write with the intention of being published. I wrote for the love of writing, as a hobby. I continued to hobby write through the years, honing my craft, making time between work and family obligations. Continue reading
I am delighted to be able to report that next week sees the long awaited launch of Only the Innocent in paperback and audio formats in the US. And to celebrate that fact, 25 copies are being given away in the Goodreads Giveaway.
A brand new cover has been designed by my publishers, Thomas and Mercer, and I think it really does the trick. It creates exactly the right atmosphere, and those who have read the book will know what I’m talking about.
As those of you who follow my blog know, I write mainly about marketing with the aim of sharing some of my experiences of getting to the top of the UK charts with Only the Innocent.
So I’m going to be following this giveaway with interest, to see if it does actually impact upon the early sales of the book. And I’ll report back.
If you fancy trying to bag yourself a free copy, click here. For those of you in the US who may not know much about Only the Innocent, it historically made most of its sales in the UK but has been a steady seller in the US, and has achieved an average star rating of 4.5 from 59 reviews – so we’re looking forward to its launch in paperback.
If you don’t want to wait until the end of the giveaway period (it ends on the 18th February, it is available for pre-order from Amazon now, with a release date of 5th February – that’s next Tuesday!
Just three weeks after its publication date, I am planning to release my second novel for ebook readers in the UK. The Back Road is another thriller / mystery, and I’ll be talking more about it later. But I am considering blogging on a daily basis for about three weeks leading up to the launch to talk about the marketing activities I’ve been involved in on each of those days. I’d love to know if you think that would be interesting to other self-published authors.
Finally, The Back Road will be published in the US in paperback in October this year – so it’s going to be a busy year.
Yes – I know that I’ve done several posts on this already, and you can find them here and here – but I couldn’t talk about the last twelve months without talking about the marketing plan, and even in this short time, I would change my approach to marketing.
Those of you who have followed these blog posts in the past will be aware that I didn’t actually have any plan at all at the launch of my book. That was a very significant mistake, because I had taken no time at all to build a sales platform and could only rely on friends and family to buy in the initial stages. (A sales platform can be defined by an author’s visibility and reach within their target market.) My platform consisted of nine Twitter followers, and about six Facebook likes – so not a good start.
In the second part of this blog series to celebrate a year since the launch of Only the Innocent, I want to talk about everything that happened between the decision to publish, and the actual launch date. I will touch on the things that I did, and more importantly the things that I should have done – the lessons that I have learned.
In the world of technology, things move at a remarkable rate. When I was preparing Only the Innocent for the Kindle, the process I went through to convert my file from a Word document to a mobi file was very long-winded. I couldn’t find any really good converters, and there were plenty of warnings about bad output from Amazon’s own system, so the first thing that I had to do was spend time considering how best to format my book.
It will be one year this week (today, to be precise) since Only the Innocent was published as an ebook on Amazon (and shortly afterwards in other ebook formats) – and what an incredible twelve months it has been.
I thought I would take the opportunity to share with you my experiences over the last year – the good, the bad, and the frankly quite unpleasant (but very little of that, I’m pleased to say). I have learned a lot, and it has been one of the most exciting and exhilarating experiences in my (very eventful) life.
And one thing is absolutely certain – I don’t regret for one minute deciding to self-publish my first book.
If you are a non-US citizen and you have self published your books in the US, you will already be aware that there is a 30% withholding tax applied by the distributor, and if you’re selling a reasonable number of books, that could be quite a bit of money!
But you CAN do something about this.
I put it off for far too long, and when I eventually got around to it, I found a website with a great article by Karen Inglis – and I followed her instructions to the letter. The whole process was straightforward, and so I thought I would ask her to write a post for me to share with you.
I should point out that I made the decision a few months ago to form a company for my publishing activities. That may or may not be the right way to go for you – it depends on a number of factors and the best person to advise you would be your accountant – but it certainly made it a whole lot easier to deal with the procedures in the US, as you will probably see from Karen’s article.
I hope it proves as helpful to you as it did to me.