Tag Archives: self-publishing

Media Monday: If you’re a self-published author look away now…

Writing news

It’s “Media Monday” where I bring you my views on the latest writing and publishing news…

You might want to look away now. Or, go get yourself a drink. Especially if you’re an author looking to self-publish. Go on, well done…What’s that?A Pina Colada?  I roll my eyes. Right, now down it in one because the latest news for all you aspiring writers out there is that authors publishing their work DIY style online earn an average of $10,000 (£6,375) – and, wait for it, less than half make $500. I know. What? Another Pina Colada? Oh, go on then.

Yep, the latest news published in an article by The Guardian last week revealed that a survey of writers concluded that only the smallest percentage of authors were raking in more that $100,000 in 2011. In this less than 10% were earning approximately 75% of this revenue and, that’s right the rest – that’s more than half of all those exhausted writers surveyed – scraped in just enough to cover the service of their car. If they have one.

Once I pick myself up from the floor, along with my broken laptop and spilled pens, I have to admit that this news comes as no surprise. Like with any industry that has headline success stories, such as music, art, banking – oh wait, no, the lasts one’s a disaster story, sorry – for every high-fiving, cash-generating sensation, you’ll find thousands of bleary-eyed, overdraft-inducing wannabees. And, as I peer at my sorry bank balance and peel open my eyes, I speak from experience here. But hey! We are writers! We are a hardy bunch, single-minded in the pursuit of our craft, nothing but nothing can stop us from plowing forth! So, I shall whisper then that the survey found that  yes, you’d do well if you were female, with a college degree and in your early 40s. Never, ever so much before have I wanted to be older than right now. On top of this, it turns out our paper-published cousins are muscling in on the act, with big names such as Jackie Collins announcing that she is to bypass the traditional paperback route and put her novel The Bitch (sorry, bad language…) as a self-published piece. Have we nothing left for ourselves, I hear you cry? Even if it does earn us peanuts?

Well now look, let’s not get hysterical. No one said this was going to be easy. We must wish good luck to everyone! And the good news is that there is something we can do. The survey also revealed that the high-earners it identified dedicated more of their time to writing, banging out an average of 2,047 words a day compared to 1,557 from those lower down the pay scale. So come on! Write! Also, making your book sound professional is another earmarked area by the survey, with it highlighting the need for writers to perhaps get their work professionally edited and proofread – this alone can help you earn 13% more than average (and, I for one shall be doing this…). Yes, that’s right, readers have been waiting our new writing voices, but, understandably, not one full of spelling errors.

Of course, as the Jessie J song goes, it’s not all about the money. What counts for success in one writer’s eyes, may not in another’s. For some, simply finishing the first draft of a novel is achievement enough, for others, the stars, my dear, the stars! Whether you pick yourself up from the floor or the ceiling, the trick is knowing what your goal is and then doing everything you can to get there. And in that, I wish you all the luck in the world. But perhaps first, just step away from the Pina Coladas, hmmm?

What are your experiences as a self-published author? Do you want to make money from your writing? Or are you content with the art of writing itself? Let me know.

 **Look out on  for Wednesday: Wednesday Wafflings” when I post the latest entry from my Diary of a Hopeful Author…**

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Fifty Shades of Grey: e-book success or top-shelf snigger?

Writing news

It’s “Media Monday”, when I bring you a short, sharp post of the latest writing news…

Fifty Shades of Grey. Heard of it? It’s the erotica novel that has just pushed the phenomenal Hunger Games off the US bestseller list and has bagged its author, E.L. James, a $5 million publishing deal – oh, and it’s a bit racy. While industry experts and publishing houses are now dusting off their erotica authors and getting them out on the shelves to cash in on this new trend, many journalists and reviewers are hailing this fiction genre as the long-awaited voice for all women. News streams such as The Huffington Post have applauded E.L.James’ book, with guest blogger, Lisa Guest, declaring that it was ‘about time’ women spoke of s.e.x (see, I can’t say it…), while Goodreads.com has announced that the book could be turned into a movie. But, the thing is, I think they’ve all missed a major point here, namely, has the fact that this was originally published solely as an e-book contributed to its success? Fifty Shades of Grey is, as the media claim, ‘mummy porn.’ But answer me this: How many mums do you know who go to the top shelf of the local supermarket and chuck a copy of Playboy in with the mince and the nappies? I’m guessing there aren’t many. And that’s the point. These women saw an opportunity with the e-book format – and so did E.L.James. Namely, they could buy their erotica and no-one would be any the wiser. Except, perhaps, their other halves.

Now the book is in paper format, it’s doing very well, but for its author E.L.James, the success lay, not only in having the guts to write a book of such an explicit kind in the first place (it’s one of a trilogy), but to then sell it as an e-book so readers could purchase it in the privacy of their own homes. Like it or not, the e-book is a seller, and while Fifty Shades of Grey is not my kind of novel, top-shelf snigger or not, you’ve got to admire the sheer success of it all.

What do you think? Is it an e-book phenomenon or simply a top-shelf snigger? Let me know.

**Look out for “Wednesday Wafflings”, my Diary of a Hopeful Author out on..Wednesday. This week, I talk about the sheer agony of listening to my own voice on the radio…**

A new column may mean I won’t have to streak for You Tube

I do like the song Living on a Prayer. During my teenage years, it was the school disco song of choice, the boys playing air guitar, the girls quietly swooning over Jon Bon Jovi’s long frizzy locks, such were the days before GHDs. Ah, the good old 1980s. These were also the days before  the internet, the days when mobile phones resembled bricks, computer games consisted of Pac Man and a Sinclair ZX you had to program yourself, and You Tube was  a term the  neighbour two doors down used when you overheard her  gassing to your mum over the fence about “women’s things”.

The reason I bring this up isn’t necessarily because I have a hankering after bad perms and Wham Bars (those things crackled in your mouth!), but rather because I am contemplating the next step for my book promotion.  I blame it all on a lad called City Boy. Well, he’s not exactly a lad, he’s a former banker working in the City – and he’s written a bestselling book or two.  Now, I know a bit about promotion, but this man, he’s gone to a whole new level.  After reading a promo article by City Boy (real name: Geraint Anderson) I open up his website (www.cityboy.biz) and take a look at the things he’s done to get himself out there. My hubbie walks by just as I click on City Boy’s You Tube video.  He peers at the screen. ‘Is that..? Is that his..? Is that man running down the hill naked?’ I nod. My husband looks again. ‘But…why?’ I look at the laptop with him. City Boy is still running, now into a crowd. ‘It’s to promote his book!’ I cry.  Then, feeling I should qualify things, I add, ‘He’s at a festival. He’s streaking at a festival.’ ‘Oh, right, yeah,’ says my hubbie, as if that explains everything, and off he goes, slightly bewildered, slightly scarred. I go back to the video some days later. The content has been blocked by EMI due to copyright. Ah.

Clicking through to another City Boy clip, this time a skit to do with Johnny Depp, I sit back and have a think. My book sales are doing reasonably okay at the moment, but, after the initial push and coverage, things have gone a bit quiet.  There is the great opportunity of writing a regular column for our local paper, but I’m awaiting confirmation, so I can’t count my chickens (or is it eggs?).  So, what I need is a big boost. What I need is You Tube. I pitch the idea to several people, with various responses. ‘You’re not going to streak are you?’ says hubbie. ‘You’re mad,’ says a friend.  ‘Whooooa! Can we be on it?’ shout the kids. Hmmm.  To be honest, the whole thing does make me quite nervous. What would I do? How would I do it? How do I set a You Tube account up? Oh holy lord. After a bit of investigation, turns out, setting the whole thing up is pretty straightforward. You register, set up an account, choose a name that will appear to viewers, and you’re away. All you need to do next is make a video, upload it and pray to God that you don’t look an utter muppet. To the world. So no pressure, then.

And so to ideas. My lovely hubbie says he can video something on his iPad and talked about various ideas, including having our youngest play her guitar (as my book has guitar in the title…), and while that’s all great, I’m not so sure about having the kids in it, plus, to be honest, I’ve always had a few videos playing out in my head. One scenario, which has been in my head since my first job in marketing back in 1997, is set to Lionel Ritchie’s number, Celebration, where the whole marketing department, including the Director, get up on their desks in various dancing poses, singing into their pens and Filofaxes. Clearly, I either had a lot of spare time on my hands back then, or I was so bored I had to do what I could to make it sparkle. Whichever way, it was a daydream that fired many another over the years, many of which included big show songs and people singing into the camera whilst carrying about their regular tasks, such as vacuuming, teaching, scrubbing the loo or skydiving. Well, okay, maybe not sky diving.

Colouring book and felt tips out, I start to sketch some ideas of what the video could look like to which song. My brain is buzzing, and I don’t know whether it’s from the 3 espressos I downed or from the scary reality that I really might do this You Tube thingymajig. My hubbie walks by and stops to view my artwork. ‘Is that a toilet?’ ‘No,’ I reply, wounded, ‘it’s a car.’ ‘Oh.’ Just then, my Blackberry flashes. I pick it up and check my emails. ‘Oh my goodness!’ ‘What is it?’ asks hubbie. ‘It’s the Editor of the local paper, the Gazette. They want me to write a column for them. I’ve got to meet them on Monday.’  My hubbie gives me a hug. ‘Well done, honey. Proud of you.’  Then, pausing,  he adds: ‘At least now you won’t have to streak for You Tube.’ And with that, he goes downstairs. I return to my felt tips and stare at the page. Slowly, things are beginning to happen for me. I’ve been writing for years and years, and now, just maybe, I might have a stab at it. I pick up a brown crayon and scribble Jon Bon Jovi’s hair. I take a deep breath. Nope, still can’t quite get my head round all that frizz.

Whilst attempting to sort out my book price, I end up with ‘kick me, Valentine’ on my back

This week, I log on and see that the price of my book has gone up. It is now at £1.02, as posted on the Amazon UK site. Thing is, not only do I want to keep the price under a quid, I had just tweeted that it was only 99p. The tweet was my attempt at a mini sales push. My message was it’s Valentine’s Day, stuck for a gift? Then why not download my book, it’s only 99p…etc.  And now it’s £1.02. Damn. I am not now sure what to do. 

I decide to check in and reset the price. But as it can take up to 12 hours to amend, I can only sit back and wait. In the middle of this cost crisis, my youngest comes up, gives me a quick Valentine’s hug and pegs it out the door. Meanwhile, the eldest walks past, unaware that she has a post-it note on her back, courtesy of little sister, that reads, ‘I love Daniel Radcliffe.  ‘Sweetheart,’ I say, one eye on Amazon. ‘Yes?’ she says. I glance at the sticker on her back. That’s quite funny, I think. ‘Oh, nothing,’ I say. Off she skips (literally). I am a bad mum. 

It also seems I am a bad PR person, because this week my main task has been to write up a press release about my book in a vain attempt to drum up some major publicity. Thing is, I haven’t a clue where to start. All I have is a winking cursor and two kids hyped on on half term and Love Hearts running around shouting,’It’s a cheese life!’ Don’t ask. As luck would have it, an old friend of ours has kindly offered some good advice on who to contact press wise. All I need to do now is draw up a list of what to do and when, then stick to it. I hear the eldest raise her voice at her sibling. ‘I do not love him!’ she shouts. Then, a door slams. I sigh and return to my screen, squinting at my book price. Something falls from my back. I look down to see a post-it note with the words ‘I love’ scratched out and replaced with, ‘Kick me, Valentine’. I pick up the note and stick it on the screen. It might come in handy later if I don’t sort this book price out.

New book being published

Alright, so it’s an e-book, self-published via Kindle Direct, but it’s a start. Trying to break into the world of the author is tough. We hear of over night success at Costa Award ceremonies, but it’s more likely that the author has been writing away for years and years before they got anywhere.

There are many times when I nearly gave up on the whole thing. You get rejections all the time. But the good thing about all this? It makes your skin thicker. Which is a good thing, because not everyone is going to like what you do, no matter how much you get your name known. And that’s okay. Really. My book is due to be live any hour now, and the next stage is to publicise it. That certainly feels a bit nerve-racking, but I’m hoping friends, family and fantastic social media mates will help me along. And, of course, there’s always my mum. It’s a start. Let’s see where it will go.

To purchase my new book, The Boy Who Played Guitar, go to http://www.amazon.co.uk/Boy-Who-Played-Guitar-ebook/dp/B0072G32UU/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1327928661&sr=8-2