Wednesday, July 31, 2013

EDEN: the first week!

It's been seven days since I uploaded my treasured self-published novel Eden onto Amazon's Kindle service. At this time it has sold 71 copies so far and is settling in nicely at around 10 copies per day, which places it around the 6,000 mark in the rankings on Amazon's UK chart. This is all very interesting to me as it gives some kind of perspective on what the rankings really mean to an author watching a particular book.

Remarkably, after just two days, Eden received an unsolicited review from a Top 1000 Amazon reviewer in the USA, who gave a glowing testimony and a 4-star rating.

So far, so good. There has been absolutely no publicity for this title except for me to post here, on my Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter, so many of the initial sales are likely to have been made by fans of the Ethan Warner series. But behind the scenes I've been hard at work sending out review requests to book bloggers on both sides of the Atlantic. So far, I've had three confirm that they will be reviewing Eden ( one had already bought it! ) so I'm keeping my fingers crossed for good reviews, which help to move new titles up the ranking as prospective buyers gain their confidence in a title by the reviews of others.

I think it's fair to assume that my traditional publishing success has given me a better launch-pad than an author starting out from scratch with a self-published title. What I have to do now is build upon that initial success and try to generate momentum around the title - the more positive reviews the book gets, the higher it will climb in the charts, provided I keep working at the publicity side of things.

I think also that the success of The Chimera Secret, which is selling fast at the moment and at the time of writing has eight reviews, all 5-stars, may be helping people to spot my bargain priced thriller on my Amazon Author Page. Speaking of price, it's still at £1.02 - I want it at £0.99, so will tinker again with the pricing structure tonight to get it right.

I'll be keeping that price for the foreseeable future, and watching the ratings with interest to see if the arrival of reviews affects the book's position. I suspect that reaching the top ( if the book can and does ) will be a long-haul rather than a meteoric rise, but it will be worth it for me to have broke through in both the traditional and the digital publishing world...

Friday, July 26, 2013

EDEN is here!

Eden is now available! I've launched the book and it's up on Amazon worldwide. For fans of my books or regular visitors here, it's at a special launch price of £1.02 in the UK and $1.56 in the USA and Canada. Grab it at this fab price and enjoy!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Self publishing : Kindle sales rankings.

I've been having an interesting few weeks watching the sales rankings on Amazon, keeping an eye on the success of both The Chimera Secret ( Ethan Warner's fourth outing ) and Soul Seekers ( my first self-published title ). I've never been a fan of staring at rankings - I've always felt that I should be busy writing instead and with Simon & Schuster's immense marketing campaigns for the Ethan Warner series, getting noticed has not been an issue so far in my career. Now, though, with my valiant new venture into self publishing underway, rankings have taken on a new importance.

Chimera was on offer at £0.99 for a month before the release of the paperback on July 18th, and it peaked in the 1,380 position at this price. Since heading back to full price it's slid down the charts a bit, but remains high enough to be attracting attention ( 3,000 or so at the time of writing ).

Soul Seekers peaked at around 1,000 in the Kindle chart before slipping back down to about 10,000. This is quite amazing as I have not yet performed any publicity for the book. I have approached a small number of Young Adult book bloggers for reviews, but haven't heard back yet and am not chasing for now. I suspect a few fans of Ethan Warner bought copies speculatively, and I know one of them reviewed it favourably on Amazon after reading it.

These figures might not mean much to some, but as a rule of thumb if a book hits the Kindle ( paid )1,000 position it's selling about 100 copies per day. Get to the 100 position and you're selling 1,000 or so per day.

After thinking about all of this for a day or two, I think that Chimera probably would have broken into the top 100 if it had stayed at the same low price - it was climbing ever-faster before the promotion ended and without a huge investment in marketing from either myself or the publisher. Even now, it's selling well at four times it's original price. Soul Seekers ( self published through my literary agent ) is priced a little too high for my liking and is also in a different genre to my traditionally published books, so to have reached so high and still be selling ( albeit in lower numbers for the time being ) is a great start.

The BIG test, for me, will be the launch of EDEN. This is my first completely self-published title, and like the Ethan Warner books is a combination of thriller and adventure. I'm doing some last minute research on pricing, categories and marketing methods as I await my editorials, and then it'll be the last application of polish on the manuscript and the various descriptions for Amazon before the launch. Fingers crossed, the genre placement, the price and the high ratings of all of my books will be enough to push this new title up where I want to see it: the top 100.

I should have a launch date set within a week or so, and will continue to update on how my other books are doing soon ( eight reviews at the time of writing for Chimera, two for Soul Seekers, all of them five stars!! )

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"EDEN" - my new thriller!

I'm very excited to share my brand new thriller's jacket art! Do let me know what you think of it!

"EDEN" is a post-apocalyptic thriller and will be available on all e-readers. The publication date and price are to be released very soon, but feel free to ask anything you like about the forthcoming title.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Self publishing professionalism: formatting your novel.

It's an oft-reported fact that a huge portion of all self published novels available out there on the Internet are poorly formatted, badly edited ( if at all ) and generally presented in a manner that guarantees that anybody purchasing a book from that author won't be coming back for more.

As a traditionally published author, my e-books have had the benefit of editorial teams ensuring that they appear as perfect and professional as possible to my readers. Now that I'm self publishing a few titles, I have to live up to that standard or risk alienating existing fans and driving away potential new ones, and with more and more titles clogging up the system it's getting harder to get noticed by the day. To really stand out, my novel ( and yours ) absolutely has to be presented perfectly if it's not to be lost among the quagmire of poorly written and formatted novels swamping digital servers around the globe.

The bottom line is that getting a novel written well is only the first step in self publishing. A title must be professionally edited, a cover must be professionally designed and content must be perfectly formatted to appear correctly on all e-readers. For the author determined to achieve success, this means hiring an editor, a designer and somebody with HTML skills necessary to convert their beloved tome correctly ( or paying Amazon to do it all for you ).

Or does it?

I'm quite lucky in that my former profession was graphic-design and I'm also fairly computer literate, so this means that two out of three tasks I can perform myself, to a degree. However I'm intending to recruit an editor to check my next self published title out before releasing it to the world. The cover is already designed, by myself, and opinions so far are that it looks great. So that leaves the HTML side of things...

Most people don't like computer coding, and nor do I really. But all HTML represents is a language that all computerised devices view in the same way. During my research I came across a blogger who, for the benefit of millions of aspiring authors, has put online a detailed step-by-step review of how to convert your book all by yourself. The link is here;

I've just used this process on my forthcoming self published thriller, and it has produced awesome results. I really couldn't be happier, so if you're struggling with your own formatting procedure then head over to the site and have a good read. You won't regret it!

I'm just waiting for my editors ( my mum and fiancé! ) to get back to me regarding the novel, which will hopefully be in a week or two. Once the edits are done, I'll start the process of sharing the cover, picking a launch date and hopefully whipping up some interest in the title on-line...

Tuesday, July 09, 2013

Some of my new articles recently published!

I've been fortunate enough to have had two articles published on-line, both concerning the Ethan Warner series of books and how I go about researching them. You can find the articles by clicking the links below:

The first is for my publisher, Simon & Schuster, on their Dark Pages website:

The second is for Books Monthly's features section:

Full of facts and stories taken directly from some of my novels. Enjoy!

Thursday, July 04, 2013

Promoting a self-published novel.

So, the experiment begins...

My self-published novel "Soul Seekers" is now available on Kindle for the princely sum of £2.01 in the UK and $3.10 in the USA. However, lost among a million other digital titles it's not going to get very far on its own.

When the title appeared on Kindle, I made my first steps in self-promotion by releasing details of the novel here, on my Facebook Fan Page and on Twitter. I also entered the title details on Goodreads in case fans of my Ethan Warner series wanted to take a look.

This resulted in a flurry of early sales, pushing the title up into the 3,000 position ( approx. ) for a couple of days. Then, as the early buyers dropped away, as expected the title has gradually slid far down the chart. This is normal as my reach through Twitter, Facebook etc probably only amounts to a few hundred people, of whom only a small fraction will buy the book.

What begins now is the proper promotion of the title. Things change fast in self-publishing, and I've noticed in my research that methods that once were considered useful no longer work and that there are far more people using things like forums and so on to promote their work. A more crowded market means it becomes harder to get noticed, and brand awareness is the key to higher sales.

My first steps have been to approach avid book bloggers and request reviews. This is usually done via e-mail, and I have prepared a document that presents my work in as professional a manner as possible. Being a successfully published author already may ( or may not ) give me a slight advantage over somebody starting from scratch, but a professional approach gives a blogger some confidence that the novel itself will also be professional, and that applies to all authors.

Here's an image of my document, drawn up to give potential blog reviewers a simple at-a-glance look at my novel.

I'm currently awaiting replies, and also a few reviews from fans of the Ethan Warner books who have purchased Soul Seekers.
I also managed to get an idea of just how many books you need to sell via Kindle to make it up into the top 100 and the top 10. You need to sell around 200+ copies per day to break into the top 100, and the top 10 titles can be selling as many as 3,000 per day. The general opinion is that it's very hard to break through unless you're already a well-known name or your book is available for £0.99 or less. That said, popularity does grow as books gain positive reviews and word-of-mouth, still the best advertising tool, spreads awareness of an author's work.
I'll report back here should anything interesting occur over the next few days...