After all the wonderful advice I got on my previous post about cover design, I thought I’d got things under control in that department. But my attempt at a cover for my third book was so abysmal that I daren’t even show it to you here. Compared with similar books already on Amazon it looked very basic and most definitely amateurish.
I think this is because the book is non-fiction and therefore requires a very business-like cover to get anywhere near competing with the hundreds of other books on the same subject.
So I decided to call in the professionals. I used the website Fiverr. This site features hundreds (or maybe thousands even) of sellers offering their services for just $5. The range of services is vast from personalised greetings cards, translations and bespoke bedtime stories. But there are also lots of e-book cover designers on there too.
I picked one of the top-rated designers (like on EBay, buyers have to leave feedback on the service they received) and told her the title of the book, what it was about and a brief suggestion about the type of image that might be suitable (it is also possible to send the designer a specific photo if you have one that you want to include on the cover).
Two days later my cover design was delivered and you can see it on this post. It’s much better than I could produce. I’ve borrowed the title from a ‘column’ on the Open Writing website which runs an extract from this blog each week (the site includes lots of other writing from around the world, too).
A Writer on Writing is a compilation of 14 of my articles that have appeared in the UK writing press, such as Writing Magazine & Writers News, The New Writer, Writers’ Forum and Freelance Market News. They cover subjects as diverse as generating ideas, writing articles with an anniversary ‘hook’ and flash fiction.
As I did with my other books, I have set an introductory price of 77p - with a view to increasing it when I see how sales go. Setting the perfect price point to encourage buyers without devaluing the work involved in producing a book is very difficult. 77p is the lowest price point available to independent authors.
I’ll keep you posted on how my e-publishing empire is growing (or not as the case may be!).
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
Eddie Walsh from the sadly defunct Emerald Writing Workshops competitions has refunded entry fees for his competitions that
would have closed later in the year. So now I’ve got £3.60 to use as the entry fee in another contest. So I’ve been looking around to see what there is with a £3 to £4 entry fee and discovered the following selection of short story competitions:
- Monthly ‘Writing Magazine’ Competitions - £3 for subscribers and £4 for non-subscribers but I’m going to give these a miss because, as a subscriber, I can enter the contests in the Writers’ News section of the magazine for free (I’ve unofficially set myself the challenge of entering the WN comp. each month & have managed 3 so far, with th 4th in the pipeline).
- Monthly ‘Writers’ Forum Competitions - £3 for subscribers and £6 for non-subscribers, plus there is the option of paying an additional £5 for a critique. This is a possibility but I know I’ll be tempted by the critique and a total of £8 is a lot for one competition.
- Dickens Bicentenary Writing Competition - £3 per prose piece/£2 per poem. Entries to be inspired by a character from a Charles Dickens novel. Closes 15th August 2012. Not for me – I’ve read very little Dickens so unless I went for Scrooge, I wouldn’t know who to base my hero on.
- The Word Hut 5th Short Story Writing Competition - £4 entry fee with prizes of £50, £25, £10. 1,000 words and an open theme. Closes 16th September 2012. I’ll give this one some thought and have a look through my ‘stock’ of 1,000 word stories.
- Speakeasy Open Creative Writing Competitions - £4 per story/£3 per poem with prizes of £125, £75 and £50 in each category. 2,100 words and an open theme. Closes 31st October 2012. This is another one for me to consider but I might have to write something new to meet the word count – most of my stuff seems to be shorter.
And if you’re looking around for other competitions to enter a good resource (which I’ve used in my searching) is the Writers’ Reign website.
After a dearth of acceptances over the summer months I’ve had four bits of good news in three days:
- Writers’ Forum have accepted an article that I first pitched to them back in July.
- I have a short story in this week’s Weekly News (dated 24th September). Thanks to Julia for letting me know it had been published and to Helen Yendall, my writing buddy, for giving the story the once-over before I sent it.
- I have won the Friends of Morley Literature Festival short story competition. This was a free to enter competition (which we like!) with a £50 first prize. There is also a prize-giving in Morley, near Leeds – I’m still working on the logistics of attending that. The 2012 short story competition is now open and entry forms are available via email from the organisers. Details are here.
- I have been asked to write for the Work Your Way magazine website. I mentioned this magazine on my blog a couple of weeks ago. It’s a new publication aimed at entrepreneurial/self-employed mums.
So at the moment my head’s buzzing and I feel great! But now I need to get some more work out there in the hope of getting this ‘high’ feeling again in the future. So I’m trying to learn from these acceptances.
Writers’ Forum taught me not to be afraid to chase an editor if he doesn’t reply to a pitch within a reasonable time – the summer holidays meant time was short and things were overlooked.
The Weekly News story was written from a male point of view and involved sport. This may have increased its chances of success in a publication read by both sexes.
My competition win shows that there’s nothing to lose and everything to be gained by sending off an entry to a free competition. For more free competitions check out Patsy Collins’ blog.
The offer from Work Your Way came about because once I’d had one article accepted by the magazine, I went back to the editor with another idea before she had time to forget who I was! Now I have to get my thinking cap on and come up with several more ideas – it feels quite scary to be put on the spot!
Acceptances seem like buses – you go for ages without any and then several come along at once.
Over the last few months I’ve been submitting stuff into a big black hole with every editor ignoring me. However, patience and perseverance has paid off and in the last couple of weeks I’ve had a handful of positive responses. So I’m feeling good!
Articles have been easier to place than fiction (not surprising when you think how many more markets there are for features compared to short stories) and the turnaround is quicker too.
These are the publications that have recently accepted my work – they’re wide open to all writers so why not give them a go?
- The Weekly News - I have a short story in the April 9th issue (in the shops now!) and have previously posted here about writing for them.
- Writers Forum
- Freelance Market News - this is available on subscription only and comes from the Writers’ Bureau stable
- Work Your Way - this is a brand new magazine aimed at entrepreneurial mums (incidentally I found this market through a lead in Writing Magazine).