Browsing Tag


Advice on Self-Publishing

Advice on self-publishing, part 1: Write the book

As I’ve described in this post over here, people have started asking me to give them advice on how to go about self-publishing their work. Now, I’m no Amanda Hocking, or J.A. Konrath, or any of the other names you hear about who’ve made big names for themselves in the self-pub arena. In the general ocean of publishing, I’m a pretty tiny fish indeed.

And yet. I have actually managed to run a Kickstarter, and I’ve still got Book 2 of that promised set of work on the way. I barely clear two digits of sales a month, but I am actually slowly selling books. Which seems to be enough for people to ask me for advice on what I’m doing. So this is the first of a series of posts about that.

So. You want to self-publish your work. What’s the very first thing you have to do?

Write the book. No, seriously. Write the book.

This sounds like it ought to be self-evident, doesn’t it? And yet, a lot of the time it’s not. This happens in traditional publishing all the time, where aspiring writers try to query before they actually have a book to show for it. Same deal with self-pub. If you want to put a book out there for people to buy, whether you’re going through a traditional publisher or whether you’re going to actually put it out there yourself, you really do have to put fingers to keyboard. You have to get the book out of your head and into a file you can ultimately turn into a sellable product.

Lots of writers with way, way more experience than I do have said lots of things about how to go about doing that. What I’m going to tell you though basically boils down to this: do whatever it takes to get that book written. It doesn’t really matter what tools or programs you use, or what methodologies. It doesn’t matter how many words a day you write, or whether you use outlines to map out everything in advance or write everything completely by the seat of your pants. Every writer writes their stuff differently.

But every single writer in the world has one thing in common: they do, in fact, write.

For me, Nanowrimo was a helpful way to get the novel that eventually became Faerie Blood out of my brain. It taught me what writing a set number of words a day felt like, what having a deadline felt like, and that it was in fact okay to write crap because it was more important to get the words out of my head than it was to make every single word perfect the first time. As a corollary, it also taught me to expect that actually, yeah, the first round of words that come out of my head probably will be crap.

Nanowrimo may or may not work for you. It’s just one example of a way to inspire yourself to get the words written; there are plenty of others, some social, some not so much. Like I said above, though, what way you choose to motivate yourself ultimately doesn’t matter as long as it works.

In no particular order, here are some things I’ve tried that work for me to get my writing done:

  • If I’m blocked, have a couple other projects I can flip over to to throw words at until the main one unblocks in my mind
  • Set my daily word count goal low, then when I shoot over it, I often feel inspired to keep going anyway
  • Be aware that sometimes I will be too exhausted or too stressed to write (my medical history has certainly taught me this); be willing to forgive myself on the days I don’t write, as long as there continue to be days that I do
  • Keep as many notes are necessary to sketch out plot structure, worldbuilding, and character development, but keep the organization of them simple so I don’t get lost in my file organization
  • Keep old drafts, especially of cut material I may need later
  • Track word counts for rough progress on how much progress I’ve made on a book

How about you, fellow writers? What’ve you tried that works for you to get the words out of your head? What doesn’t work for you? Share your tips on how you get there in the comments!

And in the next post in this series, I’ll talk about beta-reading and editing your book. ‘Cause yeah, getting those words out of your head is only the beginning.

Advice on Self-Publishing

Advice on self-publishing

I’ve been having an uptick lately on people coming to me for advice on how to go about self-publishing your work. This is simultaneously flattering and kind of startling.

Flattering, because, gosh, people seem to think I know what I’m doing. Startling, because wait, what, you people think I know what I’m doing? *^_^*;; When did that happen?

But, be that as it may, okay, yeah, I am starting to get asked questions often enough that I’m going to do a series of posts on the overall topic of self-publication, just so I can have something I can point people at in case they need advice. As y’all know I can blather with the best of ’em, but it helps if I have to blather only once. So. Consider this an announcement of posts to come.

I’m thinking I’m going to break them down into these sub-topics:

  1. Write the book. No, seriously, write the book
  2. Get the book beta-read and edited
  3. How to build your own ebooks
  4. Where you should deploy your ebooks for sale
  5. What sites you can employ if you don’t have your own skills for building ebooks and/or who will deploy your ebooks for sale for you
  6. What to do if you want to self-pub in print
  7. Commissioning cover art
  8. Kickstarter and other crowdfunding services–should you use them?
  9. You’ve deployed the book for sale–how do you help readers find it?
  10. Should you also try to traditionally publish as well as self-publish?

Do also please keep in mind that I’m real small-fry in the overall publishing picture; I’m lucky if I sell a couple dozen copies of anything in a month. (By which I still mean, a couple dozen copies of Faerie Blood; Valor of the Healer is still too new to have any real, definable effect on my monthly sales yet.) So if you try to enact any of my advice, please understand that I am not going to hand you the path to fortune, glory, and becoming a Big-Time Author(TM). What works for me may not work for you. Or it may work way better for you. Or you may find something else that works way better for you. Your mileage may vary!

But all that said: does anybody have any general self-pub topics you’d like me to add to this list? Or any specific questions in any of these areas you’d like me to address in a forthcoming post? Please let me know!

Faerie Blood

A quick self-pub status check

By very rough estimations, I sold somewhere between 330 and 364 copies of Faerie Blood‘s Drollerie edition. I have to estimate this because in my first royalty report from Drollerie, I didn’t get individual sales numbers, and some of that report was covered by the Defiance anthology. So based on how my numbers for both titles were broken out later (i.e., it didn’t sell nearly as well as Faerie Blood did), I’m ballparking somewhere between 330 and 364 for Faerie Blood, with the remainder of that 364 going to Defiance. These numbers span a period running from the book’s original release in May of 2009 up through my last Drollerie statement, which covered up through June of 2011.

As of this writing I have sold a total of 211 copies of Faerie Blood‘s Kickstarter edition in just under a year. So while I haven’t actually surpassed the previous number, this 211 has happened in a shorter time frame.

Assuming that some who bought the Drollerie edition grabbed the Kickstarter version as well, I think it’s safe to say at this point that all told I’ve probably sold around 500 copies of the book. BUT! If you actually count my Kickstarter backers as sales, that runs the number up to more squarely compete with the Drollerie number, I think.

It’ll be amusing to see how this trend continues once Valor of the Healer drops!


Eighty-nine kinds of BAD IDEA

Just about all of you who read me are very likely people who also read John Scalzi. If you are a Scalzi reader, you’ve probably already seen his post about Hydra, Random House’s new self-pub imprint.

If you haven’t, however, you should go over here and read it. Right now. Note also that he links off to Writer Beware’s post on the same topic.

Executive summary: if you’re an aspiring author, run far, FAR away from these deal terms or anything like them. Don’t let the allure of being published–and believe me, I get it, that’s a REALLY SHINY ALLURE–blind you to contract terms that would completely screw you out of getting any actual money. Go self-pub before you go Hydra. It’d be harder work for you but then you’d actually get to keep your money.

Spread the word. Boost the hell out of this signal.

ETA: Scalzi’s put up a followup post analyzing a contract from Alibi, the sister imprint of Hydra. (Hydra is the SF/F imprint in this clusterfuck, and Alibi is the crime/mystery imprint.) Go read his analysis of the contract terms if you haven’t already. And I reiterate: if you are ever faced with a contract of this nature, SET IT ON FIRE AND THEN RUN AWAY.

Obligatory disclaimer: yes, I’m aware that my current publisher is not an advance-paying publisher, which is the big opening beef Scalzi’s got against this contract. However, I also note that before I signed my contract with Carina, I read the hell out of that contract, and I landed an agent who also understood the contract and who negotiated with Carina on my behalf on the things that could be negotiated upon. And another agent also gave me feedback on what Carina’s contract terms were like, so I understood going in what I’d be doing.

So obviously, I do not have a problem with working with a non-advance-paying publisher. I do have a problem, though, with everything else Scalzi points out about that contract.

Faerie Blood

Self-pub sales update

In the event that any of you all coming in are new (since I’ve picked up a few Carina people following me on Twitter, hi Carina people!), here’s a quick note for you: while I’ll be writing for Carina under the name of Angela Highland, I’m also doing a series under my actual name of Angela Korra’ti. The first of those was Faerie Blood, originally published via Drollerie Press, reborn as a Kickstarter self-pubbed novel and now available on several major ebook sites as well as in print if you get it directly from me!

And now I’ve been keeping an eye on how my sales do. As expected, they’re teeny tiny numbers, but they’re non-zero, so now I’m pretty much at a state of ‘every so often pocket change shows up’. Which is really pretty nifty. This post is of course prompted by Amazon just notifying me that I’m about to get another drop of pocket change from them on the 28th–for the amount of $45.65. That’s going straight into the Buy Anna A Shiny Thing, Most Likely a New Macbook Fund. 😀

Amazon continues to be the place where I sell the most ebooks, though at least last month iTunes was giving it a bit of a run for its money. On both sites I’ve usually cleared 10 sales a month (though this month so far I haven’t had a one on iTunes). The Nook’s generally getting me 1-2 sales a month. Smashwords and Kobo are barely on the radar, with 2 sales for Smashwords and 3 for Kobo, and that’s total over the last couple of months.

I’m very pleased to report as well that whoever buys the next copy of Faerie Blood will in fact be my hundredth sale for this entire year! And remember, folks–if you want a print copy, you can buy those directly from me! Same deal if you’d like to buy the ebook and don’t want to go through the various vending sites, which of course want their own cut of my money. I will happily hand-sell you the book in the format of your choice.

Thanks to all who contributed to my sales last month! I hope you all have enjoyed or will be enjoying the book!

Faerie Blood

Self-pub status update

I have received notification from Amazon’s KDP system that my first drop of royalties, for sales in June of this year, will be delivered to me on the 31st. The amount is puny–$39.45–but it is by gods my royalties, and I’ll be very grateful to get them.

Similarly, Apple has a notification up on my iTunes Connect account saying that my first payment from them should be delivered on September 6th. They owe me over $75 at this point for total sales, but I expect to get a subset of that; I don’t know the exact amount yet.

The long and short of it is, though, I’m about to get money for my self-pub sales and that is awesome. Especially since the sales so far in the month of August have been minimal–especially on B&N and Smashwords and Kobo. So those of you who aren’t in favor of either Amazon or Apple, if you want a copy of Faerie Blood and you don’t have it yet, those sites have it too!

Especially worthy of note is that Kobo just sent its Writing Life authors a notice saying that to celebrate the site being up, they’ll be bumping up the royalty rate to 80 percent. Which is super, super shiny, so any of you Kobo owners out there, if you’d like to consider buying my book, now’s the time! And remember, y’all, I’ll also be happy to just hand-sell you a copy of the ebook if you want it, just drop me a line and we’ll make arrangements! The same will apply once I get the next drop of print copies from Third Place; the request for the next set of those is in, and I’ll post when I have more copies available.

Amazon has also, by the way, also informed us KDP users that self-pub sales will now be available in India! So readers in India should be able to grab my book off of now. If anybody out there actually succeeds at doing that, I’d love to hear about it!

And oh yes, speaking of iTunes–I’ve gone ahead and deployed Faerie Blood to all the remaining iTunes stores I have access to, for a total of 32 stores! Mostly this means a bunch more countries in the Eurozone, and a couple of Scandinavian countries as well. If you’re in Europe and you’re an iTunes user, chances are high you can get Faerie Blood that way now.

I have cleared 80 copies sold so far this summer, counting print and digital. It’d be awesome if I could clear 100 by the end of the year.

Faerie Blood

A quick self-pub status report

I may be in Canada right now on vacation, but this HAS turned into a bit of a working vacation as I have extensive edits I need to do (for reasons which will hopefully be made clear soon in an upcoming post!). So I’ve brought my iPad along with me to Canada, as well as a Bluetooth keyboard to type on. Which has proven surprisingly effective as a way for getting editing work done!

But that’s not the point of this post. The point of this post is to give y’all a quick status check on how the self-pub situation is going!

I just checked my numbers on the various places Faerie Blood is deployed for sale, and saw that since coming up to Canada the day before yesterday, I’ve had another couple of sales on the iTunes store and another one for the Kindle. This brings my total ebook sales for the month to 21, to wit: AWESOME. If I make it to 30 by the end of the month, I’ll double June’s numbers, and June’s numbers were only for a week and change!

The big interesting thing I’ve noticed so far is that the iTunes store is in fact my big seller so far this month–12 sales there, as opposed to only 7 so far for the Kindle. What’s particularly interesting to me is that several of my sales for the iTunes store are in fact on the iTunes Australia store! So HI AUSTRALIANS! Thank you for buying my book, whoever you are!

I note as well that mostly, the places I’m seeing the most sales are the places where I have actual reviews posted–the iTunes Australia store, and Amazon US. (I’m still getting sales on iTunes US even though I DON’T have reviews up there.) The takeaway from this, anyway, is that Reviews are Good Things. So many thanks to those of you who have taken the time to review the book on your chosen markets! It helps!

(The rest of you who’ve read Faerie Blood, please consider posting your own reviews! And do make them honest. I try not to read reviews in depth–I only pay close enough attention to see how many there are, and to get a sense of average overall rating. So don’t feel like you have to review me well to please me, because you don’t! As long as the review is an honest one and discusses what you liked and didn’t like about the book, that’s what I’m after.

Though that said, positive reviews certainly will be happily accepted!)

Barnes and Noble is clocking in so far at two sales this month, and the only reviews I have there in fact appear to be left over from Faerie Blood’s previous incarnation on the B&N store–the datestamps on them are concurrent with the Drollerie edition. Which suggests to me that B&N didn’t clean up its database when that version was yanked, but whatevs! If any Nook owners out there who’ve bought the book want to put up current reviews, I encourage you to do that too!

No sign yet of sales at all on either the Smashwords or Kobo sites. Kobo’s neat because it actually hooks into Goodreads and shows the nine reviews I’ve received there–so if you’re a Goodreads user, reviews on that site can also help me. I’m sure hoping somebody will eventually buy me on that site, though. I like Kobo!

Anyway, long story short, 21 sales so far this month of ebook editions, and 19 print copies, for a total of 40. I’ve already gotten the money for the print copies; hopefully the money for the ebooks will show up in September or October. Tiny, tiny numbers in the grand scheme of things. But they are my tiny numbers, and I love them so.

Thank you, each and every one of you, for buying and supporting my book!