Have you ever made a cup of coffee while half asleep and you take a sip of scolding hot liquid thinking it's had a few minutes to settle when in reality it's still the temperature of molten lead?
Yeah. I might be speaking with a lisp today.
At some unknown point in the next few months I will be leaving the drudgery of working for someone else behind and experience the crushing doom of being a full time author.
(And with coffee-tongue activated, it sounds a little like, 'ethperienth tha kruthing doom of being a ffull time awtha.')
Or maybe it will be a kickass time! Who knows? Future me knows, but he's being a tight-ass when it comes to hindsight.
So here are some of the challenges facing me right now. If you have any insight, corrections, tips, or wads of money, send me an email! There's a little icon up the top of my site. Or there's Twitter. Or Facebook. Or Goodreads. I am surprisingly contactable.
Problem 1: Not enough books.
A lot of writing bloggers seem to blog about things they've seen on other people's blogs, using the same sources and presenting it in their own words. What they all seem to agree on (because they're reading the same single source) is that financially successful indie authors have an average of 13.75 books published compared to not-yet financially successful indie authors who have an average of 7.4 books published. Where do I fit in?
I have 4 books published and 1 short story. So, I'm in for a challenge. I do have 1 zombie book almost published (covers are pending), Broken Toys is being beta read at the mo', and the final Kingston Raine book was mostly beta read and then put on hold for a year as burn out took over (courtesy of working on 5 books in 2 years featuring the same characters). So by the end of the year I might have 7 books published. Can I get 7 more published in 2017? I'm taking bets now.
Problem 2: Not enough time.
The more financially successful authors have been publishing for 3+ years. I'm clocking in at 2. Why does that matter? Less time to build a readership, less time to learn how to promote your ass off, less time to figure out what works and what doesn't. And I've only really been promoting myself for 6 months, and not even all that effectively. I'm still very much in that trial and error stage.
Problem 3: Not enough money.
I guess there's never enough. I began the year trying to figure out how much money I was willing to throw at promotions. Then I doubled it. Now I'm thinking I might have to double it again. In 6 months I'm willing to bet that I'm going to need to spend $1,000 on every book I publish just to give it a fighting chance at being recognised.
Problem 4: Not enough reviews.
Reviews sell books. I have almost no reviews. Guess how many books I'm selling? Admittedly, I'm getting better at getting reviews, but I'm still in that trial and error stage of knowing where to go and who to talk to. Time will tell how I go with that.
Problem 5: It's all up to me.
Even as supreme poobah of motivating myself, I'm going to have off days. I could probably work 80 hour weeks and not see any difference for years. The whole 'did I do everything I could do?' is going to weigh heavily on me and the simple answer is: no. I'm running a small business here by myself and trying to learn how to master a whole lotta skills that people go to university for and spend years honing in a workplace. I have to teach myself how to do that and pass myself off as a pro within just a couple of months. Even so, there needs to be a balance between life and being productive. I'm exactly the type who, at 10pm and after calling it a day, wants to get back to writing and editing because there really is just a little more I could do. But if I'm taking a year off from working for other people then I'm going to want some decent memories out of it, not just, 'I sat in my office staring at a computer screen for 12 hours a day.'
Of course, if you feel like helping a brother out then I'll just leave this handy little link to a book down below. It's 99 cents. And if you happen to feel like dropping a review, that would be mighty nice of you. :)
Over the last month I ran 10 promotions to test out various sites and marketing strategies for Kingston Raine and the Grim Reaper. Admittedly, the book is really hard to pigeon hole into a genre. It takes place in the afterlife during an attempted coup where the hero manages to teleport through fiction in an attempt to get back to his own world. If there was a category for 'the author was smoking some 'shrooms while writing this,' then Kingston Raine would fit quite snuggly in there. The result of it being hard to categorise is that most readers are probably expecting a different type of book than the one being pushed in front of them, and thus they might skip over this one as it is definitely not what they think of when they search through 'fantasy'. Another thing hampering my success is likely the lack of reviews. I'm sure it is more convincing to buy a book with 50 good reviews than just the 6 I have. But one problem at a time.
Since the US is going through an interesting time with election primaries I made sure my promos did not conflict with any election or public holiday. Without any further ado, here are my results:
9 April: Digital Book Spot. Cost: $10.50. Result: 4 sales.
16 April: Awesome Gang. Cost: $10. Result: 0 sales.
18 April: Bargain eBook Hunter. Cost: $22.50. Result: 1 sale.
20 April: Betty Book Freak. Cost: $15. Result: 3 sales.
1 May: Bookscream. Cost: $3. Result: 0 sales.
3 May: Discount Book Man. Cost: $10. Result: 0 sales.
6 May: eReader Cafe. Cost: $35. Result: 13 sales.
9 May: Lovely Books. Cost: $15. Result: 1 sale.
11 May: Read Cheaply. Cost: Free. Result: 2 sales.
16 May: Book Gorilla. Cost: $50. Result: 30 sales.
Overall, it cost $171 to run that leg of the promo. I sold 54 books. I'm not all that disappointed, since this is one of those trial-by-fire situations that everyone has to suffer through before getting any traction, and it's definitely useful to know which site works for me and which doesn't. I'm willing to try most of them again later in the year, but only with more reviews under my belt.
Updated: after speaking to Vinny at Awesome Gang he gave me an additional push on twitter and pinterest. Got 2 sales, so thanks to him!
Yesterday I got the beta version back for Last Words, a zombie story. I'm forever stumbling over this title because the last book in the Kingston Raine series is the Lost Angel. So between the Last Angel and Lost Words mix up, things get kinda screwy. This is actually the second beta-version I've worked on for Last Words. The first was done in January and was awash with notes and a general consensus that it wasn't ready yet. Have you ever had a project you've worked on that you are mostly happy with, are aware that it might be a little flawed, and then have a reader tell you it's just not any good? You have to roll up your sleeves, sit your ass down, and take a spoonful of suck-it-up, because they're right and every story you have can be improved.
Last Words is already a tricky book. It's written in the form of a diary as one guy backpacks through Europe only to find that he's done so right at the start of a zombie outbreak. As all transport deserts him he's left to his wits and humour to survive in a country that barely speaks English, having to trust people he barely knows, and figure out a way to travel the several thousand miles back home without anything killing him.
There are many pros and cons to writing an epistolary book. It worked for Dracula, it worked for Frankenstein. Being compared to those is a pro. A great big con is that everything written takes place after the event so there is very little dramatic build up. When a horde of zombies chases our hero we know he makes it out alive because he's there to write the story. So, things can't be as straight forward as they would appear. And the events that happen to this poor sap have to be surprising enough to keep people interested, which makes it kinda crap when your beta version comes back full of flaws.
I was left with quite a dilemma: how do you save a story that's focussed on a 23 year old who has limited life experience? Make him as sarcastic and funny as possible, give him an ex-girlfriend who he still pines over, and finally: find out which character your star beta reader likes and GRUESOMELY KILL THEM right when they're needed the most. Then casually hand the book back and wait for the moment of evil joy when you hear, “What the fuck??? Did you just kill Xxxxxxxxxx???”
Then you taunt them a little more. “Read it quickly or I'll kill your favourite character in the next book as well.” Or I might just be randomly chaotic, pick out a name from a hat and a cause of death from a mug, and throw in a red herring or two because the sassy lady everyone likes starts to cough and wheeze, the old man is short of breath, and the pregnant teenager has a habit of darting across the road when there's lots of traffic. Give this an A+ or someone else dies! Muwahahahaha!
Anyway, Last Words is almost done. The cover mock ups should be done in a week or so. ISBN assigning should happen around about then as well, then it'll go into pre-sale mode. Whoo!