Come what? May … Results

Sales and Borrowing

I posted on 10th May to say that I was intending to conduct one of my regular experiments. Before I continue, I should say that the only ‘regular’ thing about my experiments is their frequency. I don’t believe indie writers learn anything by sitting still, observing, and waiting for the world to come to them.

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What was I up to this time?

My personal challenge was to refrain from daily promotion of my books for the remainder of the month, which effectively would mean 20 days of not using any of a variety of platforms to ask people to check out my work.

Contrary to what some folk might think, I’m not an ‘in your face’ type person, so the whole ‘self-marketing’ idea was alien to me when I started out as an indie writer. I learned with my debut title that if I didn’t shout about my work, then nobody else would.

I got on with it, and it produced results. Okay so moving on, nothing mind-boggling, but after a change in my attitude to the sometimes embarrassing act of self-promotion I had a few sales, and I realised the truth – if I waited silently, nothing would happen.

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Did I have work in progress during May?

Having a variety of projects on the go at the same time is my preferred method of working. As May got underway I was already working on two novels, and making notes towards the commencement of a third.

I had to attempt a couple of things to make my idea work:

1. Restrict my visits to social networking sites to a couple of short visits per day.

2. Compel myself not to check my sales and lending figures on a daily basis.

3. Remind myself that I was trying this thing for more than one reason.
a) Primarily, it was to free up more writing time.
b) Secondly, it was to see how much effect it would have if there was a lack of daily promotion.

Apart from my own interest, both of those targets were for the benefit of any fellow indies who read my posts, either as subscribers, or by extension when I offer my thoughts on social media.

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How did it go with social networking visits?

I managed for the most part to keep to two or three visits per day. There was an anomaly in this area, because I continued trying to keep up to date with the first charity anthology by the Indie Author Review Exchange group on Facebook. I’m proud to be both a member of that particular group, and a contributing author to the anthology.

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What is that very important collection of stories?

You’re Not Alone by Ian D. Moore and friends.

To be published as an eBook on 11th July 2015.

An anthology of short stories produced to raise funds in aid of the Macmillan Nurses

An anthology of short stories produced to raise funds in aid of the Macmillan Nurses

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Apart from that, how did I get on?

Otherwise, I feel I did well. I avoided getting tangled into the threads on Facebook, forums on LinkedIn, or keeping up with comments on Google+. I have to be honest and admit that Twitter irritates me, so although I use it, I cannot spend good time reading bite-size chunks and random thoughts.

Now having said that about Twitter – I do actually stop and check out books that are advertised on Twitter, which is why I still use it myself, obviously thinking that there might be like-minded souls out there.

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Were there any sales, lending, or slumps?

Yes, and there was no discernible pattern or reason.
— I had sales of various levels except for five days.
— I had lending except for six days.
— There was a two day period when there were neither sales nor lending.

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Did I learn anything else?

Yes, and it’s for the benefit of those indie authors who presently have one, or even two titles out there and are feeling a little disheartened. I’m not a big name, but in only a few years of self-publishing I can say that without a shadow of doubt – more titles means more sales.

That might sound simplistic, but in a blog next week I’ll elaborate on that area. What I have to say in that post may be of interest not only to those of my peers with one title, but also those with low sales figures.

What else have I achieved with my latest experiment – if anything?

1. In that period of 20 days when I was abstaining from advertising, reading mind-numbing messages, and getting involved in conversations and debates – I completed the first draft of seven more chapters of my latest crime thriller, Acts of Vengeance.
If you know how hard I work at my craft you will appreciate that was a feat.

2. Those chapters might not sound too remarkable, but to put them in perspective, I also started work on and completed the first two chapters of my first erotic novel, Give and Take.

3. Again, it may not seem like much, but the exercise has given me a boost in confidence in my own brand. I know there are those who do not believe that an author’s name is a brand, so for you guys, please think about this question:

Would you consider any of the following as brands?

Wilbur Smith, Jackie Collins, Stephen King, Lee Child, Katie Fforde, or James Patterson.

It was just a thought …

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Where do I go from here?

As I assess the positive and negative aspects of my trial, I have to say that I’m happy that I tried such a thing. My initial thoughts are along the following lines:

1. Maintain my writing output as best I can. I’m in the enviable position of only working in a ‘day job’ for three days per week, so I can feasibly get in at least three writing days.

2. Get back to self-promotion, but only on a weekly, or possibly twice-weekly basis:
a) Promotion on Facebook groups which exist for the purpose of reading, reviewing and self-promotion.
b) Promotion on Twitter, because it is done automatically by the Independent Author Network, of which I am a member.
c) Promotion on Google+ because I’m a member and I check out other members news.

3. Blogging activity:
a) Try to write at least one blog post per week.
b) Allocate time to read other blogs. I supposedly have 140+ ‘followers’ but I tend to mainly visit those who I know make an effort to visit mine. It may not be often, but I do get there.

4. Continue to read and review as many Indie Author Review Exchange members’ books as possible.

5. Maintain a ‘maximum of 3 x 15-minute visits per day’ policy for social purposes on Facebook. There is a tendency to get involved in discussions on social networking sites, but time disappears when we’re in touch with those that we regard as friends.

There is a slight twist in that previous comment. I admit openly that I do not socialise in the regular sense these days, and have not for some years. The term ‘friend’ is used freely on social networking by many, but that is effectively where any of my present friendships exist.

Yes, since leaving the military in 1992, I have become something of a social hermit, but I don’t mean that in a pathetic way – it is fact, and through personal choice.

Thank you as always for taking the time to visit and check out my musings. I appreciate all feedback.

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Oh yes, there’s a P.S.

In the last 24 hours I completed the first full draft of Acts of Vengeance. I will now let it ‘rest’ for at least a week. While that manuscript is resting I’ll be active with some more chapters on Give and Take, my secondary work in progress.

I will also be reading, editing, and critiquing work for my peers. One of my favourite background roles is acting as mentor for a fellow writer.

I know it’s still early days, but I already feel that if you enjoyed my anthology Coming Around and other erotic stories, you will enjoy the novel Give and Take.

Thanks again for reading my posts.

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Come what? May …

Come what? May …

Well, it’s the month of May, and I’ve decided to try an experiment, as we indie authors are known to do on a regular basis. This particular indie author is always experimenting.

I’ve just returned with my wife from a week in the Netherlands. I would say Amsterdam, but we are in the habit of getting out and about, so although we spent a lot of time in the beautiful city in which we were based, as usual, we ventured further afield.

Delft - the Netherlands

Delft – the Netherlands

Anyway, I digress.

Whilst away, I spent at least an hour every day working on my latest novel. I wrote several new passages and reinvented one of my fictional abodes. I also introduced a new character for the team of bad guys, so I was pleased with my progress.

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What else came to mind?

What else indeed. There were four main things:

1. Like any indie author, constantly promoting their own brand, pushing their back-catalogue, their latest release, or keeping up with social networking – I lose a lot of actual writing time.

2. The result of the constant marketing activity may be tedious to the author concerned, but I believe that it is as we often refer to it – a necessary evil. I consider social networking to be a promotional activity, although to a lesser degree.

3. There are occasional comments on social networking sites that demonstrate quite clearly that there are some dissenters concerning the self-promotional posts. It may be one comment, or one comment that prompts others to voice an opinion, but they will always be there.

4. I wondered about ceasing my promotional activity for the remainder of this month. When I got home after my break, I checked social networking contacts and my Amazon sales activity for the most recent 30-day period.

There were some surprising results.

a) I had in excess of 90 Facebook notifications, (of which, at least 30 posts involved me). I’ll refrain from including Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, emails, etc.

b) In the week up to 9th May, I had a book on promotion; reduced to half-price – but it sold less than my other work.

c) In the month up to 9th May, I have only had two days where I have had no sales or lending.

d) My sales over the most recent two months are only marginally higher than my lending rate. Keep in mind, if books are borrowed there is still a royalty payment.

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My intention now is to concentrate on my writing for the remainder of May, which will mean 20 days without self-promotion. I am a member of the Independent Author Network so as part of their agreement with authors they will promote my brand occasionally on Twitter, but as I don’t believe Twitter is an effective platform for book promotion I’m not concerned about that area.

I will of course continue to pay one or two daily visits to social networking sites on the off-chance that there is a conversation in which I would benefit from taking part.

Instead of a regular update on the topic here on my blog, I’ll leave the next three weeks to run their course and then I’ll write a blog post to report on my findings.

Now at the risk of repeating the title of this article….
Come what? May….

As always, I appreciate any views and comments.

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Resource ideas for Writers

Who might benefit from this post?

Anyone who writes poetry, flash fiction, short stories, novels, articles, letters … well, you get the idea. If fellow readers and writers respond, we will all benefit.

DSCN2950

Why am I initiating this now?

I haven’t done a writing course. I learned through experience how to build my collection of resource, or reference books, and I’d like to help other writers by suggesting a simple list of books. It may be that some writers don’t feel they need them all, but having a proposed selection is always a good thing. After reading this post, you might like to join the team; let’s work together and help each other to succeed.

What is it about?

It’s about resource, or reference. Yes, of course we can all use the Internet. How about that occasion when the link is down, or you want to be away from the screen for a while. There is nothing quite like having an actual book, complete with bookmarks or page indexes at certain places. I’m going to start us off with my favourite list of reference material. No, not yet; it will come later in the post.

What can you do?

Take part. Leave an opinion if you wish on any of the ideas, or better still, if you have an idea that isn’t listed; share it with us, the writing community.

When can you respond?

Please feel free to respond immediately with a comment on this post. The more information we can get out there from within our community, the better it will work for all of us.

Where will the information go?

On any social link you want to place it. Personally I use Facebook, Twitter and Google +, but there many more. It’s going to be a team effort.

Why should anyone take part?

We are a community of like-minded people, and it’s good to share. The ‘pooling’ of knowledge is a mutually beneficial thing to do.

How will it work?

That will depend on you; writer, reader, or blogger. This post will feature my own favourites, and then we’ll take it from there. My next posts will spell out why I find particular books so useful. Some reasons might not be obvious by looking at the book title. My links are different colours, to help distinguish the titles. The final three are not linked, because they depend on personal preference or locality.

What are my favourite reference books?

English Dictionary and Thesaurus, Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook, The Writer’s abc Checklist, Zodiac Types, Baby Names, Love Writing, Body Language, Road Atlas (UK), World Atlas, Yellow Pages or equivalent phonebook.

Now, it’s your turn. Let me know your opinion, or suggest a book to add to our list. If you want to see how big we can make this thing – add a link to your own blog. If your idea is unique, or fits in with the theme, I’ll add it to my list on my website.

Thank you for reading and taking part!

TEN DAYS – the novel

As I move on with the third draft of my romantic thriller I’ve taken the step of sharing my jacket blurb on Facebook.  I’ve also shared Chapter 1 to give a taste of my writing style.  My theory is that even if only 1 in 10 people who see the post actually go in and read either one of them then my marketing has started successfully.  If I am fortunate enough to attract any reasonable comments I’ll add a second chapter to my blog next month.

A working cover for the e-Book

My graphic is a working cover page for the e-Book and may not resemble the finished article.  I’ll use Twitter and local media when the time is right and I’ll continue to plug the story on Facebook.  My other intention is to print off and distribute five copies to readers for market research purposes.

The jacket blurb I’ve used is only an experiment and may well change, but the first chapter is close to the finished article as it stands now.

My main investment has been time and effort but depending on the result of my strategy I may have to put money into the pot.  I’ve worked out at the moment that a single photocopy of the manuscript is going to cost me £9.  If all goes well I hope to recoup whatever outlay I have in that area.

I will very shortly live up to my promise to myself to reduce my retail working hours which will mean a serious drop in pay, but a vast increase in time invested in writing.  In order that I don’t look as if my retail work is actually going backwards and out of control, I fully intend to alter my status and profession on any social media with which I’m connected – so watch this space.

Laying foundations

The 7 foot x 4 foot mural in preparation

I would suggest that it’s accepted, not all foundations are to do with buildings.  For example in my first graphic I’ve demonstrated how I prepared our son’s bedroom wall (a few years ago) before we hung up his Airfix models from the ceiling.  It would have been okay to hang them up, but with the backdrop of the Red Arrows in a flypast and the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight underneath … now there’s a more complete scene.

Once the wall was painted we then moved on with the job that was well underway; finishing off a couple of models to hang in the corner of the room in front of the mural.  So a lot of work was done before, then some support put in place … and the job was complete.

The corner complete with haphazard ariel display

Once again, as is my way, I’ve tried using some sort of analogy for what’s going on with my writing.  My action thriller ‘HAWK’, based in Glasgow, is already written up to the end in it’s second draft and waiting to be re-written a third time.  I’m happy enough with that for now.  I’ve still got my character profiles and relevant information so I’m confident with where I have to go on that one.

My more recent project, which is a collaboration with a distant friend is a romantic tale, interspersed with action.  The working title is ‘TEN DAYS’ and it’s set for the main part in Central America.  It is now reaching the end of the second draft and as it happens is taking up almost every waking hour.  You, dear reader will be able to see from that … I am keen to see it completed.

My aim is to get TEN DAYS completed first and then I have a chosen few who will read it and give me some honest feedback.  If it gets the go-ahead from those readers or needs a little more work then it will be dealt with quickly.  I’d like to get it up to publishable standard by end of December this year.  My aim is self-publishing as an e-book.  I have cover and blurb ideas in hand already.

So what’s all the foundation stuff about then?  I know I will be responsible for marketing so in an effort to broaden my platform, apart from this blog with it’s new domain name and Facebook, I have joined Twitter and about.me … and added my pages to Google.  There will be the small matter of maybe taking out an ad in a local newspaper but we’ll see if I consider that a reasonable idea when I’ve got the book written.

I have to say that although it’s time-consuming and hard work I am thoroughly enjoying the novel writing process.  The need for more than one draft becomes fairly obvious after the first attempt at the story and then the second draft highlights just how much more work has to be done!  I will get there and one day in the not too distant future I’ll write of it here.  I still have no wish to be famous, only successful!  That in essence is what all the foundation stuff is about.