This question appears in Della Galton’s column in the current Writers’ Forum magazine. I thought I’d try to answer it using my own experience, with two anthologies published over the last six weeks or so.
I published One Day For Me on 23rd January and, as of 6th March, I have sold 63 copies, 3 on Amazon.com and the rest in the UK. Of the UK sales, 58 were at 77p each (giving me a 26p royalty each) and 2 were at £1.53 (giving me £1.03 royalty each). This has given me total UK royalties of £17.14.
I published Old Friends on 22nd February and, as of 6th March, I have sold 20 copies, all in the UK at 77p each. This has given me total UK royalties of £5.20.
So, financially, I say it has not been worthwhile. BUT I still have a lot to learn about e-book marketing and the inner workings of the great Amazon machine. So I’m hoping that once I get my head around that and also publish a couple more books that I have ideas for, sales will improve. In the meantime, if anyone knows how to get a foothold in the US market – please let me know!
Forgetting the financial side of it, there have been many other benefits from dipping my toe into e-publishing.
I’ve had lots of positive feedback from people who’ve read the books, particularly One Day For Me, in the form of Amazon reviews, emails and face to face. Also, I’ve learnt that those outside the ‘writing industry’ often don’t appreciate the importance of leaving reviews for books they’ve enjoyed – and many simply don’t know how to do it.
But the best thing to come out of this experience is the new respect that family, friends and work colleagues have for my writing. It is no longer just ‘a little hobby’. Instead it is something that has a tangible product which is on sale worldwide and which they can buy. This has made me feel more professional and less guilty about claiming to be a writer.
So, in summary – YES, the anthologies have definitely been worthwhile.
And if you buy one, I think you’ll find they’re a worthwhile read as well!
One Day For Me: 8 Award-Winning Stories - these stories have all either won or been shortlisted in UK national writing competitions.
Old Friends: 13 Coffee Break Stories - these stories have all previously appeared in UK magazines
So choose your favourite caffeine fix – latte, cappuccino, mocha ….
And which cake do you fancy? Lemon drizzle, chocolate fudge or fruit cake?
If you’re sitting comfortably, then I’ll begin.
Or I would if this was a ‘real’ instead of a virtual book launch. Then I could have the pleasure of meeting you all in the flesh and thanking you for all the support and positive comments about my first e-anthology. Plus I could read you one or two stories from the newly released Old Friends.
Instead I’ll just tell you about my second book and then you can visit Amazon and ’Look Inside’ or download the sample to get a real flavour of it…
Old Friends contains 13 short stories that have previously appeared in My Weekly, People’s Friend and The Weekly News. I’ve included tales with a twist, stories about the ups and downs of family life plus, of course, a little romance.
I hope this collection will bring a little escapism to your coffee break!
Or find it on all other Amazon sites by searching for ASIN B00BJIKIBI.
I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed putting it together.
It’s great to see so many of you here today – thank you for sparing the time to come along. There will be chocolate profiteroles and cream when I’ve finished speaking – so I’ll keep it short!
One Day For Me contains some of my writing successes from recent years – eight stories that have either won or been shortlisted in UK national writing competitions. The subject matter and characters are varied and include Wallis Simpson, an abused wife, a young girl making money from lost property and a pro-athlete struggling with the demands of her career.
I’m proud of these stories and I’d like to share them with you.
Of course, I didn’t work in isolation. I want to say a big thank you to my writing buddy, Helen Yendall , who read many of these stories when they were still a work in progress.
I also want to thank Marilyn Rodwell of the Birmingham RNA and our anonymous erotic writer member, who between them organised an inspiring workshop on e-publishing – without which I would never have got this project off the ground.
Finally, I would like to say a huge thank you to all the followers of this blog who took the time to comment on my original cover design. I learned a lot from you all (which I will summarise in another post) – and I hope you agree with me that the finished cover is a vast improvement!
I now declare One Day For Me launched!
Now the waiters will circulate with the profiteroles – enjoy!
Many writers worry about the time-consuming nature of maintaining a presence on social media. What is the best platform (blog, Twitter, Facebook etc.) to concentrate on?
On Radio 4 alone there are plenty of magazine shows that need topical, expert material for their programmes – Woman’s Hour, Money Box, the Today Programme, PM. Your book and the knowledge or experience that enabled you to write it might give you viable ideas for an article, or an engaging comment to follow up a programme.
Approach your target programme’s production office with a well-thought out idea, backed up by your credentials as the author of a book on the subject, and you may get lucky. (Other national outlets can also be approached in this spirit – the nature of your book will dictate what should be your priority, e.g. a special interest national magazine in your field.)
Debbie Young is one such person. Debbie is an absolute expert on book promotion and marketing. She has 30 years experience in the industry and runs Off The Shelf Book Promotions which offers a bespoke marketing and promotion service to self-published authors (she also maintains a very useful blog of book promotion tips here.)
Debbie’s book Sell Your Books! has just been published (I’ve read it and it’s excellent – well worth buying if you want to give your book the push it deserves). I asked her a few questions about selling books and her answers were so comprehensive that I’ve split them into two blog posts. Here we go with number 1:
It’s often said that a writer needs to build a potential readership before their book is published. Do you agree and if so, how would you recommend doing this?
Try to define your potential readership, so that you can bear them in mind whilst writing the book. But don’t let it distract or divert you from actually getting the writing done nor from writing the book you want to write. Be true to yourself.
Always be on the look out for practical ways of reaching your target audience. Keep a note of useful websites, interest groups etc that you can come back to when you are ready. Watch out for what others in your field are doing to promote their books.
By all means engage with your potential readership but don’t show them your hand before you are ready – your book may evolve into something quite different to what you expected!
Consider also: other influential writers who you might ask to review your book; book reviewers; book bloggers; local booksellers; interest groups for your genre or topic. Follow their blogs and comment on their blog posts. Follow them on Twitter, befriend them on Facebook and GoodReads. Write reviews of their books. Comment on their book reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. Post worthwhile comments on their websites. Go to their public events. When commenting online anywhere, include a link to all your contact details (website, Twitter, email etc) so they can track back to you and the relationship can be a two-way thing. Then, when your book is published, you will be a familiar (and hopefully respected!) name to them and they will be well-disposed towards your new book.
Secure your own website address (URL) in advance so that it can be printed on your book jacket. But don’t be tempted to promote the book before it exists. This can be counter-productive. You’ll have much more impact on a bookshop, for example, if you can go in with actual samples of your book, a fully functional website and a few reviews, than with nothing physical to show. These things give you much more credibility as an author whose books are going to make a profit for the store.
There’s a lull between finishing your manuscript, proofing it and it being on sale as a finished product – that’s a really good time to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. But don’t rush things. In this digital age of e-books and on-demand printing, there’s no rush to start marketing your book, because it’s never actually too late. Your book doesn’t come with a sell-by date, and it won’t be remaindered or de-listed by your publisher (i.e. you!). There’s more about this on my blog here.
On the other hand, don’t err on the side of sloth! You do HAVE to put in the effort sooner or later if your book is going to be successful, because no matter how good it is, it won’t sell itself if you don’t promote it at some time.
5minutefiction has launched a short story competition to celebrate its first birthday.
Entries can be on any theme and any length between 100 and 1500 words. Closing date is June 1st 2012 and the entry fee is £2.
First prize is £100, second prize £50 and third prize £25. In addition, the winners will be published as part of an e-book short story anthology, along with up to 20 other additional entries. These stories will receive royalties from the sale of the book.
All entrants will also receive feedback.
Judging will be slightly out of the ordinary with 10 shortlisted stories being put to the public vote. Voters will be charged 10p to vote to help ensure only 1 vote per person.
Full competition details are here.
Also, I am pleased to announce that the e-anthology of selected stories from the last competition organised by 5minutefiction is now available. Time for Love contains 18 of the best entries from the Valentine short story competition – including mine (this could be the nearest I ever get to a book launch so I have to make the most of it)! Someone else you might have heard of, Simon Whaley, also has a story in there.
Time for Love is available to purchase from Amazon here. At only £1.54 it’s cheaper than the Kindle version of Woman’s Weekly Fiction Special – and might just help you win this competition!
If you don’t have a Kindle, download free software here to allow you to read Kindle books on your laptop.