Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Three Cheers for Smashwords.

Smashwords have just found their authors three new markets. I love these guys. They do a good job finding ebook markets and are a pleasure to work with.

Here is the extract from their newsletter giving details of the new markets.
The full story is over at the Smashwords blog.

The new partners include:

• Odilo - Will expand our library distribution to 2,100 additional libraries in North America, Europe and South America.
• Tolino - Tolino will bring Smashwords titles to Germany's largest retailers, including Thalia, Welbilt, eBook.de and several others that collectively account for over 35% of Germany's ebook market.
• Yuzu - Yuzu is the the digital education platform and retailer operated by Barnes & Noble College, which operates 743 college bookstores serving 5 million college students and faculty members. The agreement will make it easier for a wide range of Smashwords Premium Catalog books to be assigned for classroom use by educators. The agreement also opens up exciting opportunities for self-published authors - especially college instructors and other educators - to publish low cost learning materials for the higher education market.

All Smashwords authors are automatically opted in to these new channels with the exception of authors who've selected the preemptive opt-out feature in the Smashwords Channel Manager (this feature prevents books from being opted in to new, unannounced channels). For all other authors, you'll have at least three weeks to opt out if you don't want distribution to any of these new partners. Obviously, we think all these channels are worthwhile because more distribution equals more sales opportunities!

Shipments will begin in January with books expected to first appear during the first quarter of 2016.

Monday, 2 November 2015

Real Facts and Figures for the Indie Author.

So we Indies and our e-books are dying out? Huh! Read the facts at Authorearnings.com
These guys are great and they deal in facts!!!


When you look only at authors who started publishing less than a decade ago — in 2005 or later — the gap between the numbers of indie and traditionally published authors earning midlist-or-better incomes nearly disappears. Fast work, considering that none of those indies had widespread access to readers until 2010, giving their traditionally-published cohort-mates a five-year head start.

In fact, if we look at only authors who debuted in the “ebook era” — i.e. in 2010 or after — we see a reversal. At each annual earnings level, we find far more indies than traditionally-published authors who debuted in the last 5 years and are now earning that much or more.

If we look at the most recent debuts — authors whose first Kindle book was published in the last three years or so — the disparity grows:

There are fewer than half as many traditionally published authors as indie authors who debuted in the last 3 years and are now earning consistently at the $25K/year level or $50K/year level from Kindle ebooks.

This, then, is the world that all new entrants — whether traditionally published or indie — face in 2015. If you’re a debut author in 2015 with a manuscript in hand, or even an experienced author regaining the rights to your backlist or starting out with a fresh pen name, when choosing your publishing route it’s that right-most set of bars in every one of these charts that is today most relevant to you.

But what if you are destined to be more than a mid-lister? You don’t want to sell your work short. Isn’t it still worth being patient and pursuing the traditional route, to have a better shot at truly stellar earnings?

Surprisingly, as we move into six-figure-earning territory and beyond, the contrast between indie ebook earnings and traditionally-published ebook earnings becomes even more stark. Let’s look at:

In closing, while these trends in our changing industry are exciting, it’s also worth reminding ourselves that the odds against an author being able to make a full-time, high-paying career out of writing are long indeed. They always have been. There are many hundreds of thousands of US authors publishing books each year, both traditionally published and indie. Only a few fortunate thousand from among them will end up earning a living solely from their art, no matter which publishing path they take.

The choice of how to publish is never an easy one. It’s also worth reminding ourselves that what works best for one author may not be what works best for another. All paths have their merits and downsides, and neither can guarantee anyone success. But today, our chances of achieving that success as writers are better, and there are more ways we can make it happen, than at any previous time in history.

And that’s a wonderful thing.

Download the raw data this report is based on (.xslx)

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11 Responses to “Individual author earnings tracked across 7 quarters, Feb. 2014 – Sept. 2015”

Brian Meeks
September 23, 2015 at 3:59 pm


Like all of your reports before, this one continues to shine a light on the current state of the publishing world.

I’ve never questioned my decision to be an Indie author and even if the numbers showed that Traditional was the way to go, the freedom and control is what I like most about being an author/publisher.

That being said, this is the first year I’ll crack the 25K mark (possibly the 50K mark, but that depends on how the last quarter goes. Last year I hit 10K and the year before 5K. The big difference each year as been the number of titles I have available.

This business has changed my life and I’m very appreciative of all that you do for our community. Reading these sorts of reports always makes my day.


Brian D. Meeks
(Sometimes Arthur Byrne)
September 23, 2015 at 4:14 pm

Historical Novel Society Review

Well! Wow! A review to end all review by a reviewer who really tuned into what I was trying to say. Thank you, A. K. Bell.

And because the review is Editor's Choice my novel is now entered into the HNS's Indie awards. much Joy!

Here is the link to the review: https://historicalnovelsociety.org/reviews/tizzie/

and the review:

Tizzie by p.d.r. lindsay

Naive and trusting, Tizzie never questions the life she leads as unpaid help in her brother’s household. Help is not quite correct – Tizzie is an accomplished cheese-maker, and by rights she should have a nice amount of money set by for her hard efforts, but brother Jack and rapacious sister-in-law Maggie have been stealing from her for years.

And not only her money. Tizzie was in love, but should she marry, her brother would have been obliged to pay her dowry, so he lied, making Tizzie believe her sweetheart had left without her. Since then, Tizzie has locked her feelings away – except for when it comes to Agnes, her niece who is destined to a life as unpaid help to her oldest brother. History repeating itself, but when Tizzie discovers how Jack stole her future, she vows she’ll not let the same happen to Agnes.

And so a silent and lethal power-struggle begins with Tizzie and Agnes fighting a losing battle against Maggie’s greed. Ms Lindsay does an excellent job of depicting the building tension, the slow tightening of the bonds of future servitude round a desperate ten-year-old girl and her helpless aunt. But Tizzie and Agnes have some allies, and the more Maggie pushes, the more Tizzie realises this is a fight she must win – for Agnes’ sake.

Set in the Yorkshire Dales at the end of the nineteenth century, Tizzie is not only the dark and gritty tale of a woman whose dreams were cruelly crushed by her brother and his wife. It is also a vibrant description of life in the 1880s, period detail inserted with impressive skill in a narrative that flowers into fantastic descriptions of the Dale while never losing pace and a sense of impending doom. This is a harrowing and addictive reading experience in which hope flickers feebly in the dark. But it does flicker, and it is quite impossible to remain unaffected by Tizzie’s determination to ensure her niece will have what she was denied – a life.

Thursday, 17 September 2015

A sensible view of the Kiwi cringe.

This is one of the best views on the problems New Zealand writers have within New Zealand. Cultural cringe is sad and Chris Else does a marvellous job of explaining the whats and whys. Eleanor Catton won last year's Booker Prize and found herself in trouble with the New Zealand Press and general public because she dared to make some mild criticism about certain aspects of the New Zealand literary world.

My thanks to Chris Else for this sensible and very clear explanation of soemthing which has puzzled a lot of New Zealand writers.

Novelist Chris Else reflects on “the Eleanor Catton affair”

The article originally appeared in the most recent volume of New Zealand Books, a quarterly publication dedicated to reviewing New Zealand literature. It was then reproduced in the Book Council's newsletter.

Poppy lopping and cultural cringeing
Among the matters raised by the Eleanor Catton affair, two seem to have been given short shrift: our treatment of our tall poppies and whether or not we suffer from cultural cringe. The Dominion Post editorial for 30th January 2015 denied the existence of a tall poppy syndrome: “New Zealanders are kind, sometimes excessively so, to their achievers. Keri Hulme says she got enormous support when she won the Booker, and this is the usual pattern.” In a similar vein, the New Zealand Listener editorial for 7th February 2015 came close to denying the existence of a cultural cringe:

It is simply not true to say that we don’t embrace our literary successes. The Listener has always championed excellent writing; in fact, we put Catton on the cover before her Booker win. By contrast, sports stars almost never make our cover.

These claims are no doubt true; however, they are also beside the point. We laud our successful people; we also sometimes cut them down. The grosser form of the cultural cringe may be on the retreat, but there is a subtler, more insidious form that is as deeply ingrained as racism or sexism. The tall poppy syndrome is its inevitable consequence.

We should distinguish poppy lopping from two other situations in which writers and artists get dissed. The first is elitism, where the insiders of a group or clique sense that an outsider is making claim to membership and move to protect their territory. The second is professional envy, where one insider sees the success of another as undeserved and lashes out in vituperation. In both cases, the criticism is ostensibly levelled at the work, and it is often difficult to separate the prejudice from a strongly expressed but nonetheless honest judgement. By contrast, the tall poppy syndrome is an attack by an outsider on an insider, and it is directed not at the work but at the person.

A tall poppy is someone who achieves notable and possibly international success in a particular endeavour, be it sport or art or literature or music or even business and, as a result, becomes a celebrity. She (or he) is lauded and lionised. Her fans are proud of her; they are kind to her; they can’t get enough of her and, if she isn’t careful, she’ll be so busy making public appearances and giving her opinion on everything from climate change to her favourite footballer that she won’t have time to pursue her career. She becomes a hero, although I think a more accurate word for the role is “champion”.

The concept of a champion has evolved over the years, but it still retains elements of its origin. In biblical times, the fates of nations were decided in battles between individuals. When David fought Goliath, he did not just represent the people of Israel, he embodied them; and when he slew his opponent, the whole army of the Philistines was thereby defeated, despite their numerical superiority over the Jews. This is a tribal arrangement. The champion fights on behalf of the tribe, and the tribe identifies itself with its champion. If the champion wins, the whole tribe shares in the victory and triumphs through it. If the champion loses, the tribe falls apart and retreats in disorder. Psychologically, it ceases to exist until it can recover and regroup and re-establish itself.

Sports people understand this role; they explicitly represent their tribe, be it country or province or ethnic group. Writers, artists and musicians are often taken by surprise. One day they are doing their thing and the next they are a national representative. What they don’t appreciate is that you don’t choose to be a champion, the tribe chooses you whether you like it or not and, having chosen you, it then expects you to behave as a champion should.

In the case of the Kiwi tribe, the champion’s responsibilities are reinforced by what might be considered the national temperament. She (or he) must be modest, even humble. She must not be seen to be greedy or mercenary or selfish. She can be proud of her achievements to the precise degree that she is proud of her country and proud to be its representative. A triumphant Valerie Adams wrapped in the New Zealand flag or Edmund Hillary saying “We knocked the bastard off” are the paradigms.

Catton’s mistake was not that she called the government a bunch of neo-liberals who don’t care about culture. She had already done that implicitly by coming out publicly as a Green supporter in the general election. Nor was the reaction to her remarks in Jaipur an attempt by the right wing to deprive her of her right to free speech, as some people have suggested. There were two reasons she was attacked by the slavering wolf of talkback radio: firstly, she spoke outside the tribe to people from a foreign country; secondly, and perhaps more importantly, she explicitly distanced herself from the role of tribal champion by saying that she was uncomfortable being New Zealand’s “ambassador”. She was “a traitor” and “ungrateful” because she denied what the tribe considered its rightful share in her achievement; she thereby threatened its sense of identity.

Such reactions aren’t peculiar to New Zealand or even to nations. One of the best examples is the way in which members of the international protest generation turned on Bob Dylan when he abandoned his acoustic guitar and took his music in a new direction. Dylan, too, was “a traitor” and “ungrateful” – he was famously called “Judas” by a fan at the Manchester concert of his 1965-66 tour – because he had turned his back on “us” and seemed not to appreciate “our” belief in him.

Champions are valued most when the tribe is up against it or when a group feels small and insecure. In this lies the connection between our tall poppies and the cultural cringe. Our pride in the Cattons and the Lordes is a measure both of the things we value in our culture and the extent to which we feel the rest of the world is better than we are at such things. Our champions both exemplify our values and point to our vulnerabilities.

The Listener editorial was right when it said that it is not an example of cultural cringe to ask whether our literature is inferior. It is, however, cultural cringe to assume such inferiority without having read the work in question or to believe that international acclaim or success, of itself, guarantees superiority. The cringe is a prejudice and, like all prejudice, its effects are subtle and pervasive. It influences the reading public; the organisers of literary festivals; booksellers in their choice of what to purchase and where to display it; book page editors deciding what should be reviewed, by whom and in how many words; reviewers and book bloggers in their expectations of a book and the subtle pressures that govern how it might be criticised and in what terms.

A platitude favoured by our politicians and arts bureaucrats is that our writers are vitally important because they are “telling our stories”. According to the Listener editorial, New Zealand fiction comprises about 3% of fiction bought here. One conclusion we could draw from this is that the received wisdom is wrong: New Zealand writers are out of touch and are telling someone else’s stories – whose, it is hard to say. Another might be that New Zealand readers aren’t interested in our stories. This, presumably, implies that we have no cultural identity of our own, but have fallen victim to some neo-colonialist con that leads us to believe we are part of a global culture dominated by America. The case of The Luminaries suggests this isn’t so. Here is a novel based on a couple of intellectual conceits, a literary tour de force that reportedly sold over 100,000 copies in the local market in a year. Its success suggests that we are indeed eager for our stories, but only in so far as the world out there approves of them first. Twenty or so years ago, this was not the case. In the 1990s, novels such as Once Were Warriors and The Vintner’s Luck and, to a lesser extent, The Warrior Queen and In a Fishbone Church, achieved strong local sales before they gained any international success. These days, our literature has apparently become invisible to the wider reading public, and few people are interested in seeking it out. The cultural cringe, it seems, is alive and well.

Chris Else is a New Zealand writer who is also a literary agent, technical writing consultant and who runs, with his wife, a manuscript assessment service.

Listen to the researchers who know: Independent E-Book Sales are growing.

Independent Writers owe a great deal to the team at author earnings.com. When the publishing industry is busy talking down e-books and e-book sales, telling us they have plateaued or are even dropping, here is the truth from solid research.
Take a look.

Seems to me e-book sales are still strong and the research only covers amazon sales!

For those of you in a hurry here is the meat of their latest research:

During that same period in 2015, Amazon’s overall ebook sales have continued to grow in both unit and dollar terms, fueled by a strong shift in consumer ebook purchasing behavior away from traditionally-published ebooks and toward indie-published- and Amazon-imprint-published ebooks.
These “non-traditionally-published” books now make up nearly 60% of all Kindle ebooks purchased in the US, and take in 40% of all consumer dollars spent on those ebooks.

Traditional publishers and publishing industry pundits are claiming that the broader US ebook market has now flattened, or is even shrinking.

But at the same time, the largest ebook store in world is telling the Wall Street Journal that the exact opposite is happening:

“Amazon says e-book sales in its Kindle store—which encompasses a host of titles that aren’t published by the five major houses—are up in 2015 in both units and revenue.”

So which is it?

Indie ebooks without ISBNs have grown from 30% of all Kindle ebooks purchased in January 2015 to now account for 37% of all Kindle ebooks being purchased in September.

When indie ebooks that do have ISBNs are included, then indie self-published books, which made up 36% of all Kindle ebooks purchased in February 2014, now make up 42% of all Kindle ebooks being purchased on Amazon right now.

Unfortunately, we didn’t also go back and retroactively check each book in the 4 earlier 2014 datasets to see which of them had ISBNs. Had we done so, it would have beautifully charted the rapid rise of the untracked ebook “shadow industry,” right alongside the rapid decline in market share held by traditionally-published ebooks.

But right now, as of September 2015:

“Nontraditionally-published” ebooks from indie self-publishers and Amazon publishing imprints make up 58% of all Kindle ebooks purchased in the US.

Traditionally-published ebooks make up 42% of Kindle ebooks purchased in the US.

When the AAP reports “declining ebook sales”, they are describing the shrinking portion of the US ebook market held by their 1200 participating traditional publishers, whose share of the broader US ebook market has fallen in the last 18 months from 46% of all Kindle ebook purchases to less than 32%.

This dramatic market share shift has not gone entirely unnoticed in traditional-publishing circles. In July, influential industry veteran Mike Shatzkin observed that:

“Ebook sales for big publishers may be declining but they’re being replaced by indie sales at lower prices (their USP) at Amazon.”

Way to go Indies!
And thank you guys for your research.

Friday, 31 July 2015

More Tips from the Helpful

I love all the advice from Shawn and RJ but I want to know why when I do all these things I still cannot get one person to sign up for my email newsletter which goes out (or will when I have readers!) once a year!!!!!!
Seems to me there is a magic wand involved and something else which no one can name but the lucky ones have.

Well I will persist in my efforts but I do wonder.

Here are the tips for gaining a list of readers and a hint about why we all need beta readers.

Shawn & R.J. from Book Marketing Tools

We all know the story: you write a book, find an agent, get rejected, get signed with a publisher, excitement! Joy! Then they ask, "Send us all of the people in your audience, so we can get the word out." Some publishers won't even give you a book deal unless you already have a built-in audience. That is what has made self-publishing so appealing for many authors. But, the need for an audience is still there, no matter which publishing path you take.

We here at Book Marketing Tools have told you... "Build a list..." But we say now, "Build an audience and own that audience."

There are subtle, but major differences between those two approaches...

A list is just a group of people represented by emails.

An audience are those same people, but who get engaged and who are highly interested in you and your books.


A list can be passive with little conversation between you and them, usually in one direction (from you to them).

An audience is the group of people who you are highly engaged with, those you talk with and those that talk back.


A list is numbers.

An audience is real people.


The reason you should build and own an audience over just building a list is because those who own audiences have more leverage and have the ability to sell books at will.

I said that right, "sell books at will!"

Think of brands and people that own their audience: Apple, Oprah, Coke, Zappos, Stephen King, Amazon, etc. when they sell their latest widget, book, product, or service it's not a question of who will buy, but how much... They are selling at will.

Ok, so you've learned how to build a list, but how do you build and own an audience, so you can sell at will...

Here are some basic tips to help you get started:
• get your list more engaged by asking for their input. At BMT we have begun to do this by regularly asking our audience / list what they think about things. This one act has created a stronger audience than when we first started just building a list.
• ask your list to be part of what you are doing for project and books. I was shocked to see the response when we did this at BMT. Every 6 months we ask all those that have been on our list for at least 6 months to be part of our guest blogging program, this has allowed our list to contribute to our growing blog and it has given them visibility among their peers.

How can you do the same?

We'd love to hear what you think would be good ways to get your list engaged with you, contributing ideas and feedback in your business, with your books, etc.


Believe me, we know all too well how hard it can be to share your work. You created these vulnerable characters; you built this fantasy world. What if the readers don’t like it? What if they do? What if they think you are terrible/amazing/stupid/mediocre? As long as your story remains tucked away in the confines of your laptop, it is safe.

But surely that misses the point of writing. We write because we have something to say. We believed in our ideas enough to spend all that time writing and editing; now we need to believe in them enough to share them with others.

A good first step for a lot of writers is to find a community of beta readers. These are real people from around the world who love reading and love giving feedback to writers. They are not professional proofreaders or editors; rather, they relish in setting their eyes on fresh writing and being the first to find the gems.

There are a number of online communities that exist to help writers find beta readers, including Wattpad and Scribophile. We also like a new app called Penned, which allows you to read and share stories right from your phone.

So go on. Be brave. Put it out there and see what happens!

Thursday, 9 July 2015

If only...

I have been enjoying the brilliance, clarity and sheer genius of Dr Philip Ball. The Doctor is 'a freelance science writer, broadcaster and lecturer who's particularly interested in the interactions of the sciences, the arts, and the wider culture.' That sounds somewhat abstruse. In fact Ball makes it all so fascinating I'm in despair.

In May he was one of the guests invited to New Zealand for the Auckland Writers Festival. He gave two talks - the first 'Bright Earth: the Invention of Colour' was recorded at Te Papa in Wellington. The second ‘Invisibility: A Cultural History’ was recorded at St Margaret’s College in Christchurch and both were gobsmackingly brilliant and utterly depressed me. He is one of those incredible people who can link unlikely things and make connections which pull parts together and give the listener a great Eureka moment.

I'm hoping to buy his latest book: 'Bright Earth: Art and the Invention of Colour', published by the University of Chicago Press, ISBN: 9780226036281. I learnt so much not only about colour and art but about people, history and chemistry. But it was his talk, ‘Invisibility: A Cultural History’ which has had me going back to Radio New Zealand to listen and I still haven't got half of it sorted in my head.

What I wonder about is where Dr Philip Ball got the ideas and how he could see that they stretched across all the things he linked so sensibly? This kind of intelligence and ability to see beyond surfaces and basic ideas stuns me. I do not feel capable of doing this myself and know that I need to do it in order to write the things I want to write. Hence the depression and frustration as the novel refuses to make sense and won't go where it ought to in order for me to finish it. Listening to the talks simply leaves me feeling perhaps I should not waste my time trying to write because I won't be able to write anything worth much anyway.

This is mid-novel blues and time to call on the strength of my colleagues in Writer's Choice and get mutual support, sympathetic groans and some bracing advice. It seems to me that writers on their own need to make sure they have a support system for those agonising days, weeks and even months. I wonder what Dr Philip Ball could make of this creative depression and what he might connect it to. I would love to know in the hope of preventing the dread depression next time I hit the mid-novel blues.

Tuesday, 30 June 2015

Sometimes...just sometimes.

It seems to me that New Zealand writers and the NZSA and Creative New Zealand and the Book Council will never grow out of this idiotic belief that pretentious arty-farty 'literahry' writing is great writing. Whilst searching for a market for a story I came across this print journal, an American well established Small Press one, called 'Iconoclast'. Its submission guidelines sum up perfectly what I want to shout at New Zealand writers.

Prose: To 3500 words (occasionally longer). Subjects and styles are completely open (within the standards of generally accepted taste—though exceptions, as always, can be made for unique and visionary works). We like work to have a point or more. We don't care for the slice of life type of story—or any other kind in which characters are unable or unwilling to change their own conditions. Most stories of alcoholism, incest, domestic and public violence are best left to the mass media. Anything topical has probably already been overdone. Simple storytelling usually wins out over slickness of style or the perfectly crafted workshop, MFA story about nothing or the author's neurosis. We never look down our noses at plot. Nor are we immune to the power of a literary stylist. With the possible exception of mysteries, most genres written well, sincerely, and conscientiously have a chance. Humor and science fiction are hard sells (too often these writers think an interesting concept can substitute for a plot or an original ending), but we do publish a fair amount of both. Politics and religion are best left to the demagogues and hypocrites. Killing a character-(s) off in the end usually indicates a lazy or unimaginative beginner. Will we ever publish another bar room story? I don't think so.

Is a cover letter really necessary? We don't do bios (as iconoclasts, we're not into personality cults or self-glorification). A good writer can make us interested in nearly any subject or person. Essays that are merely undocumented opinion or op-ed style pieces have little chance.

Please don't send preliminary drafts—rewriting is half the job. If you're not sure about the story, don't truly believe in it, or are unenthusiastic about the subject (we will not recycle your term papers or thesis), then don't send it. This is not a lottery (luck has nothing to do with it).

Wonderful stuff! It's the difference between writing for other writers to admire your work and writing to share something with readers. I wish Kiwi writers who all want to be literary writers would grow up and remember that if it's fiction they are writing then it should be a work of imagination to share with others as in the good old days of storytelling when people gathered to hear 'Once upon a time...' or 'Listen and I'll tell you a story.'

Friday, 26 June 2015

A really useful place for Indie Writers

I've been working with two wonderful new writers. Full of enthusiasm, grit, stickability and thousands of story ideas these two newbies put the writers' group to shame.

Moaning about not getting published via the traditional route this writers' group wouldn't even consider being independent and forming a co-op to help each other publish. Too much hard work and they couldn't sell their books, it was too difficult.


Might I recommend to all Indies new or established that they join up or even just check out the Author Marketing Club.com? Full of useful advice from successful Indies, and PR experts there are videos and podcasts, transcripts of the same, and the wonderful check list. http://authormarketingclub.com/members/checklist/

There is a free basic service and a paid (not too expensive either) premium service.

My newbie novelist is determined to have the novel out in kindle and then paperback by year's end. Naturally she is eagerly reading all the advice she can find and agrees that the Author Marketing Club check list is the best yet.

Indies take note and go and read it.

Tuesday, 2 June 2015

Emails and the Book Fair

Why life gets in the way of writing is something we writers all moan about. I note that the men moan less. They usually have wives to do the cooking, cleaning and child rearing for them. I need a wife, or housekeeper or a good WWOOFer to do all the chores, manage the telephone and let me write. Life has been intrusive for months with that stupid neighbour, and the court case, insurance problems, medical problems, penguin protection problems and the need to do these water exercises to keep walking. I'd rather write, preferably on a desert island with a ready supply of fruit and nuts.

April and May have been extra hellish for trying to chase up the problem with my emails being blocked. I haven't heard from my Writer's Choice colleagues for a month. I know they will be cross. I have a possible new member with a novel nearly ready to go, but it will take a lot of thought and discussion to include her. Can't do that without email working. My invoices for next month's income never arrived. I missed the deadlines! Financially next month will be difficult. 'Fascinating' as Mr Spock would say.

Email problems can render one paranoid. Why does the normal stuff get through but every vital, important, financial or writerly email not arrive? Who is reading my email and destroying it? No idea. Which writer out there took offence at my review? At least I can laugh about it all.

It has been particularly difficult without email trying to get the Indie Book Fair organised. It is in Auckland and you have to book a table and space, pay for it and then organise a place to sleep, never mind about bouncing all over the internet trying to catch really cheap flights which are flashed up once a day. It has taken two months to make contact, pay and register.

Indies have to be active. I wish Kiwi Indies would wake up to the book fair. Last year I carried some twenty odd South island writers' books on my stand. The naiveties of most of those writers worried me. Sitting with 500 or 1,000 books in their garage you'd think they would welcome the Book Fair. Not if they had to pay money to go! Not if they had to pay a part share of the space. Not if they had to supply a couple of free books as a giveaway. Sigh.

Someone who sells a lot of his Indies books online and at fairs said that in order to sell a writer needs to be where his readers are. The Indies Book Fair is crowded with readers looking for interesting and different books. Surely it's a good place to be if you want to sell a few books. Wake up Kiwi Indies and start thinking.

Saturday, 16 May 2015

The joy of reviews.

Oh the joy of a good review for the Indie writer. I was fortunate enough to have The Review Blog read a copy of my historical novel, 'Tizzie' and then present me with this charming review. http://thereview2014.blogspot.co.nz/2015/04/louise-reviews-tizzie.html

Obviously I am pleased with such a thorough review but I wonder why so many so-called reviews do not discuss important aspects of a book such as the cover and formatting? And I won't go into the rants you can read littered all over GoodReads and even Librarything.
They reveal more about the person writing the review than the actual book. What can you make of a 'review' like the following:

'I hate this book. Don't read it. She's rude about vegans.'

or the review from the poor souls who one starred an Australian book because the writer had winter in June and everyone knows that June is summer.

Various people had a go at that reviewer and her pals, to no avail.

But we Indies need good reviews for without them we cannot get our books into the email book newsletters or persuade readers to read them. But how to obtain them?

Here is a list of suggestions gathered from other authors.
Put a plea at the end of your novel, in the back pages. Explain why you need reviews and ask nicely. Chances are anyone who finished your book liked it and will do so.
Look for reviewers who have reviewed books like yours. Try blogs and journals and readers' sites. Spend time researching the reviewer and write them a personal letter.
Use your mailing list. Offer a bribe in the form of free copies or something similar.
Use your social media but carefully. Don't wail or demand. Ask politely.
Search the blogs for blog reviewers. Send personalised requests, take time to speak to the bloggers.
Search for book reviewers on Twitter. Twitter has a good search engine and many reviewers. Search carefully. I tried this and ended up with a weird collection! Select your search words carefully.

Happy review hunting.

Thursday, 14 May 2015

May I recommend that all Indies and those snooty people who keep saying the e-book is dead have a look at this? I really appreciate what the Author Earnings people do collating all this information for us so that we may know what is really happening in the Indie world.

Welcome to the May 2015 Author Earnings Report. This is our sixth quarterly look at Amazon’s ebook sales, with data taken on over 200,000 bestselling ebooks. With each report over the past year and a half, we have come to see great consistency in our results, but there is always something new that surprises us. Often, it’s something we weren’t expecting, like the massive shadow industry of ISBN-less ebooks being sold, or the effect Kindle Unlimited has on title visibility. This time, we went into our report curious about one thing in particular. But we were still not prepared for what we found.

If you’ve been shopping for ebooks on Amazon lately, you may have seen this new addition to many ebook product pages:


Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Useful Advice for Indies about Twitter.

I am always grateful for places like IndiesUnlimited because of the sound, practical and useful advice I find there. I am nearly sure these extracts come from there. I am now thinking more kindly about Twitter. See what you think.

'Why would Google want tweets? Twitter has become the first line of communication in breaking events. If an event occurs on the other side of the world, tweets are relaying that information in nearly real time. If Google has access to that information (called the Twitter Firehose) then it can include it in search results immediately and it doesn’t have to rely on crawlers to acquire info.

What does this mean for us? Well, first off, it’s probably a good idea to get on Twitter if you are not already. Does this mean that if you tweet about your book fifty times a day, people will start to see you book show up on Google? No. However, if you are active on Twitter, and you can align yourself with good content, there is a better chance that Google will lend credibility to your tweets.'

Makes sense doesn't it? And Google certainly is aiming to take over the internet world.

Another consideration is current events. If you write spy novels that involve stolen information from the government and today a rogue agent is busted for that in real life, then start tweeting. The more you connect your writing to current events (if possible) the better chance you’ll get visibility. The other day I saw an article about human trafficking in our region and thought of DV Berkom and her book Bad Traffick. With a few tweets and a link to the article, bam, you’ve just brought awareness to this tragic scourge on society and linked yourself to the cause. Meanwhile, you just might end up in a search as people turn to Google for more information.

I’m not suggesting spamming Twitter with tons of promos for your books. I’m suggesting that you now have a chance to connect yourself to issues that are important to you through means that might not have been available before. Please don’t take this as a holy grail.

Nice example and worth thinking about fellow writers?

We struggle every day as authors to get the word out about what we do. It’s important to be firing on all cylinders. The agreement between Google and Twitter might help us in that endeavor. So, if you aren’t active on Twitter, maybe now is the time to reconsider. It will take a few months before the effect is noticed on Google, as the best estimate of the functionality taking place is sometime in the first half of the year. Happy tweeting!

Reviews. We Indies really need them. This advice is simple, easy to follow and comes from one of those nice author marketing groups whose name I cannot remember!

Here is how to find book reviewers on Twitter:
1. Load up Twitter, and using the search form, search "book reviewer" "book blogger" "(your genre) reviews" and other topics like that. Be creative! I don't want everyone contacting the same exact reviewers!
2. This will show you a list of Tweets. Scroll and find the "People" box, and click "View All". You will then find all profiles related to your search topic.
3. Click on each profile and make sure they are a) active with a fairly recent tweet and b) they have at least 100 followers (the more the better).
4. Then, identify possible matches, click through the Website listed on their Twitter profile, and find their rules for review submissions.
5. If your book is within the confines of their rules, then submit your book for review!
That's it! You should be able to find quite a few people willing to review your book! They will have some reach on social media, and they will increase exposure of your book!

The Writer's Choice members are split between those who use Twitter and those who won't. I've found it useful for spreading the word about eco and political things I care about and for sharing markets and tips for writers. I do not spend time there. I cheat. Most sites I visit, or the emails which groups send me, have a Twitter button and a ready made tweet to send. I use those to keep my presence out there. And I limit any marketing to things like Hurray. My novel Tizzie made the short list in the M.M. Bennett Historical fiction comp.

Thursday, 26 March 2015

indies forever. Our celebration on March 25th.

The Indie party is over. Another group of people have been informed about the ease, absence of expense, and sheer delight of being an Independent author. The hour rapidly became two, thanks to our local library's generous gift of a comfy space and the time to use it.

An interesting possibility of a book, art and photography, sprang up and everyone was keen to explore the multimedia aspects of digital printing.

Seems to me that there is new world out there for writers, musicians, artists and photographers and even technophobes like me can see ways to use it.

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Why be an Indie author?

1. To have your work read, and read by as many readers as possible. Self-publishing is the best way to achieve this.

2. You can publish a book that looks professional and compares well with a traditionally published book. So do it!

3. You can update, correct and add to your books very quickly.

4. You earn more of the money. 40% -70% is a lot more than trad publishers offer.

5. You can privately, and definitely behind closed doors, cock a snook at the agents and trad publishers who 'loved' your book but couldn't sell it, especially when it is selling nicely in both e-book and print forms.

Gloat privately, but just sometimes it does feel good to see that 5 star review and know some kind reader admires your writing skills and story telling ability.

The New World of the 21stC Novelist.

Now isn't that a grand title? Alas, being a 21stC novelist means hours spent doing P.R.
It goes like this.

I am still a bemused technophobe so when Simon at Readersintheknow.com drops me an email telling me about a gadget I have to have and it's a Read Excerpt widget I have visions of a little robot that crawls around books finding extracts for me. I haven't signed up yet, need the money, but this is the sort of gadget I need for readers on my website. Then I am struck by an awful thought! Is that what it is?

I could waste hours of writing time finding out. But I won't. I am waiting for some clever reader or writer to tell me. I still prefer real word of mouth for information.

Just when I thought I had recovered some writing time by not doing that bit of research into my inbox comes an email from Indiesunlimited.com. I like Indiesunlimited for its useful articles and list of resources for Indies. It is real source of information for me. This time I have to sign up for BookLikes. Apparently it is different from Goodreads, is set up like a blog, and users of Tumblr will love it. More time is wasted as I look up Tumblr, and try to work out how to use a dashboard page that functions as a timeline.

But back to Booklikes, it seems I must trot round the site liking and following other peoples’ blogs. There’s also a discussion section, but having had some nasty experiences at Goodreads, I will probably avoid those unless I know some people from my kiwi reading groups are chatting there.

It has a section for authors and authors can giveaway e-books as well as print copies. This makes it better than Goodreads. You can also list your book release dates under Events.

I shall cogitate but probably join up as the more one's books are out there, being visible, the better the chance of a sale. But all this PR research eats into my writing.

This is the new world for this 21stC novelist.

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

Now this is a magazine of the future.

Indie Writers rejoice. Here is one of the many new zines out to get those gadget driven readers and save the short story. It pays writers too!

‘Cracked Eye’
‘Cracked Eye’ and magazines like it are the future of magazines and the saviour of the short story. The editorial team understand that ‘busy lives force us to squeeze our relaxation and entertainment into small pockets of personal downtime’ People need a different way to read and ‘Cracked Eye’ offers it. ‘Every issue of ‘Cracked Eye’ has ‘stories, illustrations, cartoons, videos, audio-books, graphic novels and serials’ which sounds normal until you realise that all these things are ‘at your fingertips on all devices across all platforms, every month.’ Brilliant and beautifully put together. Have a look at the website and see what the team are doing. Readers can finish an entire story on a commute, view an episode of a graphic novel during coffee break, or listen to an audio-story at bedtime. This is the future.

The editors need short story submissions, 3,000 to 6,000 words for ‘Cracked Eye’. The team ‘welcome submissions from new and established authors, the only proviso is that we are seeking stories that are the best.’ Follow the editorial team’s suggestion and ‘download and read some of our current stories to get a feel for the type of material we like.’ The editors seek compellingly well written stories which entertain, excite and enthral Send a finished and well edited story as an attachment. In the body of the email include all contact details, a brief bio, any Twitter, Facebook or other platforms. Don’t forget a word count and put full name and contact email at the beginning or end of the story. No reprints or sim subs please. Use a standard publishing format, standard fonts such as Courier, Times, Georgia, Arial, or Helvetica and save the work as an MS Word or MS Compatible file.
Response time is 6 to 8 weeks. Payment ‘we pay fees to writers for stories we publish subject to contract.’

Details: ‘Cracked Eye’, website: http://crackedeye.com/writers;
email subs to: submissions@crackedeye.com;
guidelines at: https://crackedeye.com/writers

Monday, 2 March 2015

Start here, Indies, if you want to succeed in the Brave New Indie World.

When I started having to become a 'business person writer' and help to sell our Writer's Choice books I found the most useful collection of information, practical, doable, and easy to use at Book Marketing Tools, website: http://bookmarketingtools.com
Sign up for their free email newsletter and recieve helpful information like the following which is from their last email newsletter to me. They are a real boon to the Indies. Thank you, Shawn and R.J.

• eBook Submission Tool - If you have run a free promotion, you probably know how long it takes to submit your books to the free ebook sites on the web. Hours, right? Not anymore, our eBook Submission Tool allows you to submit to 30+ free ebook sites in just minutes by giving you just one form to fill out, and pre-filling the rest of the forms. Awesome, right?
• Reading Deals Book Promos - Last summer we launched ReadingDeals.com to help authors promote their free and bargain books. We have continued to grow and grow our list of readers who want to hear about your free and bargain book promotions! We have free (not guaranteed) and low-cost (guaranteed) promotion options available for authors like you.
• Ultimate Author Checklist - We sent this to you when you first joined our mailing list, but maybe you forgot about it. We walk you through step-by-step for setting up your book marketing engine, including the passive steps that you just need to set up once, and the on-going promotional things you should be doing.
• Reading Deals Book Reviews - One of the biggest struggles we know people have is getting reviews for their books. With our connections to readers through Reading Deals, we created a review club that you can take advantage of. Upload your book to our system, and readers can organically choose your book to read and then leave a review for. Readers get free books, you get real, genuine reviews from readers. The best part is, it doesn't cost an arm and a leg like other review services that are outside of the budget of most indie authors!
• The Author Hangout Podcast - Our podcast contains over 13 hours of interviews filled with book marketing tips, ideas, tools, best practices, and more. If you haven't listened to The Author Hangout yet, you should definitely get started today. We have interviews with over 25 guests!
• Getting Reviews for Your Book Guide - We recently created a new guide that walks you through the steps to help you get more reviews. We explore a lot of free and low-cost options that you can use to get more reviews for your books, which helps give social proof which will convert more people browsing your book page into buyers.
• Book Marketing Tools Blog - Our blog has over 75 posts, interviews, guest posts, and guides filled with great book marketing, writing, and publishing tips and ideas to help you.

Our goal is to equip authors like you with the tools, education, and community to help you to sell more books. The above list is our group of tools and resources to help you! Be sure to use these to your advantage to sell more books, build your list of readers, and become a bestselling author!

-Shawn & R.J. from Book Marketing Tools

Friday, 30 January 2015

Hah! Read this Indies and cheer.

Author Earnings.com is doing a great job in dispelling the myths put out by the traditionalists about e-book earnings. If you haven't met them before go and read all their reports. They will cheer up any Indie author. The road to making us respectable as 'Real Writers' with good books is made shorter with people like these to present facts and back them up.

Here is a short extract. Please go to their website and read the rest.

The January 2015 Report
This time around, we measured the size of the invisible "shadow industry" of ebooks without ISBNs... and discovered why all the official (ISBN-based) ebook market-size reports from Bowker, AAP, BISG, and Nielsen are so wildly wrong.
Back in February, our first report analyzed the top 7,000 e-books in three bestselling genres [link]. Then we followed up with a look at all 54,000 ranked bestselling e-books on Amazon in a single day snapshot [link]. We then turned our attention to Barnes & Noble [link]. In May, we returned to Amazon to run another quarterly report on 85,000 of the bestselling books across all genres to see what it could tell us [link], and took a deeper dive into how newer authors were faring compared to their longer-tenured peers [link]. In July, we took our deepest dive yet, and looked at the effect of DRM and of genre across 120,000 titles [link].
In October, we went back to the data well again and this time, examined the effect Kindle Unlimited [link].

Now, at the start of 2015, we return once again to the Amazon bestseller lists with another all-genres grab of 120,000 titles, and take a look at longer term trends.

And we took a look at which of those 120,000 titles had registered ISBNs and which didn't, answering two long-standing questions about the ebook market:

How to time your book promos to create the perfect campaign

How to time your book promos to create the perfect campaign
Readers in the Know - www.readersintheknow.com - is proving a very helpful site for Indies.

Not long ago Simon ran articles on a sales campaign and then analysed it to show what succeeded. Very helpful.

Now here's another useful article for Indies. Last week Simon presented a list of good book promo sites as determined by the campaign.

Go and read them if you want to be part of the successful Brave New World of Indies! Any knowledge about what succeeds in a sales campaign is vital to the new Indie writer.

Tuesday, 13 January 2015

A Good Start for the Indie publisher/author in the New Year

Oh cheers.

Here is encouragement for Indie novelists. The new world many be tough but look at these figures garnered from British sources.

'Self-publishing and Ebooks on the rise
What the 2013 figures do show is that self-publishing in both ebook and paper book formats is really taking off. Paperback sales through Lulu rose 38% and CreateSpace sales were up a massive 161%. This is bound to send shivers of fear through the boardrooms of the publishing industry. Half of all book sales (both traditional and self-published) in the UK are now through Amazon.'

I call that definite encouragement for us Indies.

'Rumours that ebook sales are flat-lining are untrue. Obviously they aren’t soaring at the goldrush rates that happened in the beginning, but they’re now climbing at more realistic levels. According to Nielsen, ebook sales across the industry were up 20% overall in 2013 and readers spent more than £300m buying at least 80m ebooks. This accounted for more than a quarter of all book purchases. One in five of these sales (12% of all sales) was an ‘Indie’ book. Early figures from the first three months of 2014 show that the moment when ebook sales will overtake paper book sales is very close and the percentage of ‘Indie’ books is also rising fast, particularly in the USA. In the UK Tesco have just launched their own ebook platform Blinkbox Books with a reading tablet called the Hudl (who thought that one up?). It’s too early to tell where this will go, or whether this is a significant opportunity for Indies, though they’ve apparently sold 500,000 Hudls so far.'

Come on Indies. leap into the new market and put your books out with Blinkbox.

'Ebook Fiction up from £4m to £200m
The Bookseller also released some interesting publisher statistics that give a bit more information about what is really happening within the genre divisions. In 2013 paper book sales of fiction were down from £561m to £400m, but ebook sales of fiction are up from only £4m to a whopping £200m in the same period. Non-fiction suffered less, with only a minor shift from paper to ebook, but children’s paper book sales dropped £35m without any compensation in digital sales – bad news for children’s authors. But many children are reading on i-pads – particularly i-pad minis. My 4 year old grand-daughter reads a lot on her i-pad mini and loves interactive books. Her mother (a publishing professional with one of the Big 5) reads on the i-pad when it’s not otherwise engaged. Authors need to think about Apple much more seriously as a market for books. It may well become bigger than Kindle.'

This is great news. A good start to the New Year and great that Apple will be giving Amazon a run for its money. We need them to be in competition.

'What does it all mean?
The future for ebooks is bright. This doesn’t mean that they’ll replace paperbooks entirely, but there will be more of an even balance between E and paper sales. It also means that there will be more opportunities for Indies, but we’re going to have to be more pro-active in marketing ourselves against increasing opposition from the traditional publishing sector. The problem of visibility also increases as there are more and more authors clamouring to sell themselves in the self-published arena. We’re probably going to be forced to buy in marketing as well as editorial services if we want to be seen, but there are lots of refugees from the Big 5 offering their experience freelance.'

Note the Marketing call Indies. We have to do a good job for ourselves. Get that support group going and growing.

'The rosy dawn of self-publishing is over – it’s now a serious business and we are in competition with traditional industry professionals who won’t necessarily play fair. They see themselves as the legitimate land-owners and ourselves as the barbarian hordes. Naturally, they want to protect their commercial interests from the self-published invaders. We will have to think about how we organise ourselves to cope with a probable book war in the near future. The Hachette/Amazon conflict, recently settled, is only the beginning. But history is on our side – the mighty Roman Empire fell to the Barbarians eventually!'

It seems to me, oh new world novelists, that we have a golden opportunity here to stop worrying about advances, royalties and the nasty tricks of traditional publishers. Let's start the New Year with confidence, there is evidence that we are going to survive as novelists. Indies of course!