Tag Archives: self-publishing

Enough

Just pulled my books off Smashwords.

Indie writing? You can shove it where the sun don’t shine. And anywhere it does, I’m not fussy. I’m going to start actively looking for an agent the moment i get a new book finished for them to look at. Not the Polo series, that’s going to have to wait – nobody will touch a book previously self-published. Not unless your current book sells, of course, then they suddenly get very interested.

A bit of a relief, really. So tired of struggling to promote them singlehandedly, with Smashwords not helping. They made it hard for anyone to find my work unless i managed to catch someone’s attention on Twitter and give them a direct link.

I foolishly marked my first book Adult (back in 2011) , thinking just that it wasn’t a children’s book, so the first 10 weeks my first book was published, Smashwords literally made it invisible unless someone opted in to ‘Adult’ which to them meant “hardcore erotica”. Continue reading

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The End of My Brilliant Career

In 2009 I started on Twitter. I was already writing, and had gleaned from the interwebs (those i first experienced back in about ’88, and wanted to play with, but didn’t get my chance until about 1998) that a social media presence was required. So i started this blog, and tweeting, and met some interesting folk.

Experienced as an editor, i wanted to self-publish, and didn’t even send the manuscript to any agents to look at. I decided Amazon wasn’t for me – for a start, they needed you to have bank account in either US, EU, Japan or Brazil, and i didn’t have one. (This has changed quite recently.)

Finally, in 2011 i published one book on Smashwords – and my dream since my teens (’73-79) was complete. I was a publisher! I hung onto that thought through a series of disasters and awful choice in friends, as it took me until 2017 to release the follow up to that book, and its companions. A quartet. Very proud. Released them literally on Thanksgiving (not a holiday in Australia!) As usual, my marketing is flawed. But still, i was in publishing.

I worked in actual big money publishing, so doing it myself felt wonderful. Once i’d got the books selling on Smashwords (and various distributors) I’d start with Ingram Spark and their Publishing On Demand packages, and put out paper versions of the books. I couldn’t wait.

Meanwhile, i found typos, edited those and put up new versions, and that was pretty much 2017 gone. And so i started really pushing my books, as the mistakes i’d clocked were fixed and they were fit for reading. I was selling. Selling well enough off the back of the good ratings for the first two books (which are free) that i could see the first paper versions, could even smell and feel them.

I was top of the ‘best reviewed’ charts, and that was the only reason i was selling. People go with the crowd. They don’t scroll through to page 120 to see who rated very poorly in case there’s a hidden gem. However i was nearly on the front pages of various most-downloaded and best sellers’ lists too, so i could see a glorious future, one with paper in it.

Then someone gave me a non-5 star review. And then another book got one too. They didn’t seem to dislike the books, they said they liked them, but still, 4 stars. Then another. And my books disappeared off the top of the charts. Not just down a bit, they went to page 120 or worse.

When i found my books, i saw that other people with even more 5 star reviews than me also had been nobbled by one 4 star review and were on page 120 too.

My sales dried up as my books moved off the front pages. Then they stopped.

I tried talking to Smashwords, even to Mark Coker (the CEO) and they were nice about the facts – which were – Smashwords rating system is unfair. It’s also open to abuse. I can go on there now, give the top rated people 4 star reviews, and they will disappear FOREVER. Unless you page through to page 120. They will be behind the guy whose mum gave him 1 glowing 5 star review. Yep – one 5 star review outweighs 20 of them if you get just one 4 star or lower review.

I have written about this before, but i figure you probably can’t be bothered paging back then coming back here again, so trying to sum it up. So Smashwords said they weren’t planning to do something about it in 2018, but they’d consider it for their 2019 list.

Since February 2018, i’ve been looking for some way to fix this. I tried Patreon (it’s supposed to be ‘be a patron to the arts’ but it seems to turn out ‘lots of artists begging and a tiny number get lucky’), discovered it wasn’t really my scene. And a week or so ago, i got Smashwords “Plans for 2019”. You guessed it, no plans to sort out the ratings system.

Which leaves me completely at sea. My entire marketing plans hinged on how well reviewed my books were, which gave them visibility – not just on Smashwords, but on Barnes & Noble, Kobo, and in the Apple iBookstore. That visibility gave me sales, gave me more visibility, and so on.

I’m poor, i cannot afford to do more. I’m crippled and ill – i can’t get a better job or save (about $1500 would do it) or the usual tricks. And i’m 58 so even if i was fit, turning tricks is out of the question.

I could remove the books from the site, redo them enough to be plausibly ‘new editions’ then republish, but i’ll still be open to that one spiteful person who decides their books need to sell more than mine do, and gives me 1 bad review. So i won’t.

So this is it. The end. 

I’m going to do more books, i just won’t be bothering to put them out as an self-publisher. It will be the more usual route of Agent followed by (if i’m lucky) Publisher. Seven years of my life (and another two learning how to), i gave it a good shot.

N.B. Having just noticed that Amazon Australia (which opened in December 2017) allows me to publish via Amazon, i might put the books on there – seems better than allowing them to stay rotting in the basement equivalent of Smashwords.

So maybe i’m not at the end, it might be another beginning. Aargh, not again!


copyright 2018 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com




Not Waving But Frowning

Nearly end of January? Gawd. Ok, so finally have all the Quartet up and published, despite starting the process back in November – yeah, right on Thanksgiving, which meant they didn’t appear on the site for a week. The first two are free, so if you’re bored already, go enjoy some escapism.

I also have my Patreon page sorted for the moment. I told Mr Whatsit to unPatronise me, because for a while there i was ready to give up everything, disappear back into my garret, and screw trying to maintain several sites/pages/accounts AND somehow create. It was all too tiring. And i was sliding into depression with the constant demands of self-publicising stopping me from doing what i need to do, write the next book.

Maintaining my net presence is still too tiring, to be honest (I have Chronic Fatigue, so i’m not exaggerating – it’s actually exhausting). I’m better on Twitter. On Twitter, you can collapse and nobody notices, quite handy.

Then i discovered some new reviews of the just-released books (2,3, and 4) and read one (yeah, i know, never read reviews) that complained the series was ended. And only gave it 4 stars – though there was no reason given other than they were sad over it being over. They should have looked me up online, because i’ve tried to make it clear i’m working on the next book, which is like a prequel to Polo’s story.

Another review was very critical of my grammar (it’s not me, it’s Polo!) and gave examples, then said they weren’t actually examples from the text. Tricky to fix. He did suggest Word’s Grammar checker. Um. Yeah, i did use that, lol. Here’s a thought, write to me, help me fix errors and I’ll happily gift you a copy of the next book.

However, while we’re being honest, i can’t do this on my own. I need both affirmation and assistance. Humans are part of that. I’m not completely human. I was raised by Siamese cats, so don’t fit in well.

Fitting in, and being human, that’s something i explore in the books. People do seem to be liking them. Book 1 is the top rated free sci fi or fantasy book on Smashwords, out of thousands (it was top rated in its price range since it was published in 2011).

It’s only been free since the other 3 books made it to ‘published’ on Smashwords, which was only early December, and it’s moving up the ‘Most Downloads’ Chart too. (35, up three points, on the Most Downloaded General Epic Free Scifi.)

I’m trying not to despair. Can you tell?

copyright 2018 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com


Ending the Beginning…

At last, i’m putting the quartet up on Smashwords. Can’t quite believe it. The covers are done, edits are done, i’m just doing blurbs and making sure they upload okay.

They came out pretty….

The Birthday Dragon‘s been out for years, that’s going to be free, once the new version is okayed. As the first quarter of Dragon Soldier used to be in the previous book, it’s free too.

Books 3 and 4 are not free. Like Books 1 and 2 they’re over 100,000 words. I’m thinking $2.99 each.

I’ve been putting final touches on my Smashwords pages, adding a interview. I came to do this blog and realised “i’ve forgotten everything i ever learned about HTML” which was a nice match for when i started doing the covers and realised i’d forgotten everything i ever knew about Photoshop.

So i uploaded the new version of Polo Shawcross: The Birthday Dragon and waited for it to be okayed. Found a mistake in the stuff beyond the ending. Re-uploaded. Found something else, re-re-uploaded. And thankful it was finally okay, so i started work on the blurbs for the other books.

Every time i checked back, the book wasn’t okayed yet. Smashwords never takes long, so i began to wonder if i’d jammed something up, re-re-uploading. It was never a problem before. And i waited.

While i waited, I started a Patreon page. This is a rather nice notion that artists find patrons who sling them a few dollars a month, every month, and the artist (that’s me) in exchange gives them access to unpublished stuff or first drafts, perhaps completely never-to-be-published stories.

Anything that helps my income is worth a go. (It’s not quite up yet, i’m still getting it sorted out.)

I checked Smashwords. Something occurred to me. It was Thanksgiving in the USA when i did the first upload. Bugger. By the end of the week it was Black Friday. I’d literally picked one of the worst weeks in the US year to upload the books.

Double bugger. And then i realised. Now i’ve begun my Patreon page, i’ll have to change the books again to include the Patreon link.

I do believe the word i’m looking for is “AAAARRRRRRGGGGGHHHHH”.

copyright 2017 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 


Self-imposed Social Media Exile: Day 37

  • I have begun to hallucinate conversations with people online. I have them in my head rather than logging on. This saves heaps of time and reduces chances of arguments.
  • The baby hippo pics are not up to par. Have been forced to watch National Geographic doco’s to get my hit.
  • my Klout is in freefall. Down to 45! Despite formerly being a well-respected social media guru (over 50 on Klout) I’ve now lost my social media guru-status.
  • The Birthday Dragon (my debut novel) is sliding up and down the various charts on Smashwords – last seen at number 6 on Highest Rated but it’s fallen off the Best Sellers – i did suspect it showing there was a glitch, or that books on Smashwords only had to sell a copy a month to rate.
  • Yet again, some hot young pop starlet is supposed to be looking at one of my songs with view to recording it. Goddamn it, stop getting my hopes up, bitchez! Record something, then don’t wipe out on drugs or unsuitable men, and make my freaking fortune. Mind you, you killing yourself could be good for sales. *looks thoughtful*

****

In other news: I have pretty much given up on my first book (The Birthday Dragon – yep the one on the right of this post with the pretty cover). Not completely, just on spending much more time pushing it for now, as for the first 10 weeks of its publication – while it topped all the charts – it was completely invisible.

So all the work i did (and the work done by all my lovely friends who actually bought it, or won it as a prize, and were kind enough to do reviews for me) was pretty much pointless.

 ****

This last has induced a state of Siamese Zen™ which means instead of being really that chilled, i’m a bit tight-wired, and might kill something. Oh, yeah, the book was invisible because i made the mistake of marking it Adult.

I figured seeing people were having sex i probably should. It’s a novel for adults, with adult themes, including frank discussions of various sexualities, pretty constant drug use, and a hero whose main motivation is usually getting laid, so i figured Adult it should be.

Turns out that was huge mistake, one that took months to discover. As most of the Erotica isn’t Adult rated, there’s no need for The Birthday Dragon to be as it’s a novel, not a pornographic work (it’s also known as #TheThing when on Twitter).

Especially because Smashwords was completely blocking any passers-by from seeing the book.  The only people who could see it were those went direct via a link  (which meant usually people who happened to follow me on Twitter), or those who knew the site and had switched off the Adult filter, which is in about 4pt type in the top right of the page.

*sounds of screaming*

****

But hey, i did a good deed, told another author about it – her book seemed excellent (from my glance at the sample), she’d been published 6 months longer than i had, and was invisible. How could i not say anything? She’d marked hers Adult because she used the F word.

We were both left shaking our heads (and no doubt both using the F word and worse rather a lot) at how Smashwords never bothered to say, in BIG letters, that

Adult means Nobody Can See You.

****

Yeah, so i was feeling really fucked off a trifle dispirited at that, especially since i’d wasted rather a lot of time both promoting my book and trying to find out why, after the first few weeks, there was no buzz. No interest. Nobody was even looking.

Finally, the fact that it was invisible was revealed, just as i completely ran out of energy and time. Oh and sanity. That’s where i’m at. Like a sensible person, i’m writing Book 2, and will relaunch Book 1 when i do.

I’m very glad there are people out there who liked Book 1 and are prepared to say so in public. I’m hoping at least some of you meant it about wanting to buy Book 2. Which reminds me, if you read it and haven’t done a review, please do (at link just above), they make a huge difference to site visibility and thus to people’s interest.

This time, while you’re all enthused and telling people about the book, they WILL be able to find it easily on Smashwords.

*bangs head on desk rather a lot, for a very long time*

****

  • When i write about 2011, it will be the “Year of The Headdesk”.

****

Book 2 is currently titled “Dragonskin” – as yes, you guessed it, this it the book where Polo learns to control shapechanging. Of course, being Polo, he’s going to take the scenic route to that discovery.

The half-brother second-in-line to the throne is still out to get our hero, thinking up inventive ways to kill him slowly, but he has to let the enemy in the north take their turn. The heir to the throne, having driven Polo away, is still plotting to take over the world. He may just manage it.

Polo’s just trying to survive. Little matter of having joined the army while on a drunken bender. He has three years.

****

I’ve shifted my estimated publication date for Book 2 – which was “before Christmas 2011” – because no way will i make that.

Currently aiming at “first couple of months of 2012” and earlier the better, but i’ll keep you posted.

Now shoo, i’m busy writing.

copyright 2011 https://stinginthetail.wordpress.com/