Posts Categorized: Publishing/marketing

A year on Amazon: how many reviews?

July 9, 2014 Publishing/marketing 2

A year ago, for reasons not relevant here, I decided to record every Kindle ebook uploaded to Amazon for a full month. For the sake of my sanity, I restricted it to epic fantasy. I recorded 390 ebooks uploaded over the month of April 2013, excluding foreign language ones.

A year on, it occurred to me that it might be interesting to see what had happened to those 390 books. So during April 2014, I looked each one up on Amazon, and noted the number of reviews. These are total numbers; I didn’t attempt to track numbers of 5*, 4* and so on. I noted rankings, too, but these are just a snapshot in time, whereas reviews are cumulative. Read more »


Update on Wattpad

June 30, 2014 Publishing/marketing 0

It’s coming up for two months since I started posting chapters of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ on Wattpad (previous posts here and here), so this seems like a good time for an update. First, some stats.

Chapters posted: 27

Followers: 27

Reads: 543 (each person reading one chapter counts as one read)

Votes: 102

Comments: 97

I post one new chapter a week, usually on a Friday morning. At the current rate of progress, I should reach the last chapter at the end of January. Read more »


Update on Bookvetter

June 17, 2014 Publishing/marketing 0

A few weeks back I signed up for Bookvetter, a site which allows authors to peer-review each other’s completed novels and achieve a degree of approval which then connects to book bloggers. I said at the time that I liked the idea of it, and I still do, but I’m not sure how well it’s working at the moment.

Here’s how it’s supposed to work. Authors post their own completed novel for review, selecting the number of reviews they wish to receive. They then have to review the same number of books in return before they can see any reviews posted for their own work. To achieve ‘vetted’ status takes at least six reviews of your work which agree that it is of publishable quality. Which means you have to complete six reviews of other authors’ work. At least. It’s a long process. Read more »


Cover reveal for ‘The Plains of Kallanash’

June 4, 2014 Publishing/marketing, The Plains of Kallanash 4

If you read my previous post on cover art, you’ll know that I decided to pay the professionals to design something for me, since my artistic skills are non-existent. I found some pre-made artwork that captured something of the feel I was hoping for, so I was able to pass that along to the designer as a starting point.

The beauty of custom cover art is that you can ask for whatever imagery or symbolism you want. I knew I wanted to capture the vastness of the plains – that big sky effect. I also suggested using pampas grass heads to represent the sort of grasses growing there. I asked for a fantasy-style font, and maybe some glowing letters, since that plays a part in the plot.

Read more »


On Wattpad

April 29, 2014 Publishing/marketing 0

When I was first mooting the idea of putting ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ out in the world in some shape or form, one of the ideas I had was Wattpad, a site where authors post chapters of their work for readers to enjoy for free. I signed up and tried it out, although I came away rather bemused (you can read the results here).

Now that a number of chapters have been posted on the blog, and the necessary steps for publication are underway, it seemed like a good time to revisit the Wattpad idea. About three weeks ago, I started posting chapters there, the first four, followed by a couple a week until it catches up with the blog (because if I had to cope with two different sites at different stages of the book for long, my head would explode). Read more »


On cover art

April 21, 2014 Publishing/marketing, The Plains of Kallanash 3

Everyone agrees that the cover image on a book is crucial for success these days. At least, for anyone below the rank of megastar author, that is. J K Rowling could perhaps put out a book with a totally blank cover apart from the title and her name without impinging on sales, but there are very few of whom that can be said. For most authors, a good cover is an asset and a bad one will lose you sales.

But what exactly is a good or bad cover? It’s quite hard to pin down these qualities exactly, although most people recognise one or the other when they see them. A good cover is one that achieves all of the following: Read more »


To DRM or not to DRM?

March 31, 2014 Publishing/marketing 2

I’ve spent some time this past weekend setting up my account on Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) preparatory to self-publishing ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ this autumn. I didn’t actually intend to do more than input a few basic details, but Amazon makes it incredibly easy to go on from there. So I entered my bank details ready for all those royalty payments (ha!), confirmed that I’m a non-US citizen for tax purposes and amused myself by generating a very bad cover from the built-in cover art creator.

It’s possible to go through the entire process of uploading the book, cover art, the whole kit and caboodle to KDP (and to CreateSpace if you plan a printed version), see what everything looks like and generally get things in place ahead of time. CreateSpace helpfully reformatted everything for me and told me how many pages there were (over 600 at font size 12 – eek!). KDP found 17 spelling mistakes, of which one was in fact an actual, genuine spelling mistake. It’s all very helpful. And at the end of it, the famous ‘Save and Publish’ button. One click, and there you go, your book for sale on Amazon. Read more »


On US withholding tax

March 15, 2014 Publishing/marketing 1

Like everyone these days, I spend time randomly trawling the internet, reading tweets, clicking links, perusing blogs and in various other ways managing to kill vast amounts of otherwise productive time. But the great virtue of this is that every once in a while, I happen upon some really useful information.

Like US withholding tax.

What is it? It’s the 30% of royalties that Amazon retains on behalf of non-US authors selling through its online store in order to satisfy US tax laws. [Actually, it’s probably not just authors this applies to, but I came across it in that connection, and that might, in time, affect me, so I’m going to talk about authors here.] What does that mean? It means that any author not residing in the US will have to do some paperwork to satisfy the US tax authorities. Read more »


On ISBNs and other dilemmas

March 12, 2014 Publishing/marketing 1

So as I take baby steps towards possible self-publishing of ‘The Plains of Kallanash’, I’ve found myself thinking about ISBNs (International Standard Book Numbers – those long strings of identifying digits that most books seem to have). You’d think it would be a simple enough procedure – I need an ISBN (or ten, since that’s the minimum you can order), I contact the agency, here’s my money, ching ching, ISBNs are in the post. Well, not quite. There’s a 4-page application form, for a start, and a 10-page booklet of instructions, not to mention awkward questions like how many pages is your book and what price will you charge and who’s publishing it. Hmm. This needs thought. Read more »


Traditional publishing: why would I?

March 5, 2014 Publishing/marketing 4

As a reader, I’ve been a fan of self-publishing for some time now. While many self-pubbed works really would have been better strangled at birth, some of my best reads have been by authors who side-stepped the traditional route. As I inch towards self-pubbing my own work, I wondered just what it would take for me to sign a contract with a traditional publisher. What would the benefits really be?

Now I should, perhaps, point out the obvious here. I’m never likely to receive an offer from a publisher. I’ve no intention of submitting, I have no agent, I’m unlikely ever to sell enough myself to attract any attention. So this is purely hypothetical.

But let’s suppose, very hypothetically, that it’s happened, and I have indeed received an offer from a publisher to put ‘The Plains of Kallanash’ out to the masses. Let’s assume that it’s a most likely scenario, that is, not a telephone number advance, but not derisory. About $5,000 seems to be a standard amount these days, so let’s run with that, and assume a boiler-plate contract. What would be the pluses and minuses? Read more »