Thursday, 15 November 2012

Adapt or flounder?

Adapt or flounder. As a writer we have a choice: to keep going on with our plan no matter how unlikely it is that it will come to fruition, or to take a step back, accept where we are going wrong and adapt our ways.


This week I have adapted my plan, as it was just not going to work. Briefly, my long-term plan is to make money from my books, and as the money increases I'll work less at the day job, hopefully increasing my writing output and thereby getting to a day when I might finally be able to call myself a full-time writer. And why not? After all, I have about 15 more books to write, which should take me - roughly - a life-time!

Doverlord? One word or two?


I had been planning to write and publish 5 short stories based on my police experiences under the title The Rozzers. The first is out there (see here), the second is close to publication and the other 3 are planned out. The idea being that this would teach me all I needed to know about epublishing, marketing etc, leading me on to my first full-length stand-alone novel Filthy. Then, and only then, onto my baby - my big series The Dream Makers.


However, I was holding back from the finishing touches to my second short story. Why, when it is so close to being published? The truth is, I couldn't face having to go to the trouble of creating yet another ebook cover. I was also concerned that there would be no continuity with the second book cover as the original program I used for book one was bought up by Google and changed slightly. I realised that I needed a book designer.


I have had my eye on a book designer for a while, since I like her work and she is UK based. But then I couldn't really justify the cost of an ebook cover for a .99c short story which is not main-stream and is unlikely to sell much. And the amount of investment needed (5 professional covers) was not a financial gamble I was willing to take for such a series. And it was then that I realised my plan needed adapting.

I need to be selling books - at least enough to cover the cost of the covers, or to seriously reduce the impact of such a financial commitment. Sure, the new covers might help me to sell more copies but that is unlikely, as the book is all but invisible. Obviously I can't quit on this series now either; it needs to be published sooner or later. Also, the follow-up stand-alone novel is unlikely to be a big game changer.

New cover

So what I have decided to do is upgrade my first book with the new cover, have book 2 ready for publication and to publish it when its cover is ready, then put The Rozzers series on hold for a while. The third professional cover won't go to Filthy, but instead will be used for book one of a new series that's burning in my head. I have to write it out or I might go insane, and it has the potential to be a decent series. This is Doverlord.

As soon as I thought about it I knew it was my way forward.  Let's get Doverlord 1 and 2 out there, then go back to book 3 of The Rozzers, then another Doverlord. Then add a bit of Filthy, and then reassess...

Doverlord, you came along at just the right time for me.

How about you? Happy with your long-term plan, or do you need to adapt it slightly?

Saturday, 3 November 2012

Why I'm giving all that hard work away - for free!

End of the Road took me several months of hard work to complete. It was also my first ever self-published book, so the learning curve was sharp. That was six months ago and that milestone was trumpeted across my on-line platforms loud and clear. I was dead chuffed. Cops Don't Run, part two of The Rozzers series, is begging to get the same treatment, and I hope to publish that soon.

Free? Yeah, like that is gonna change anything...

Dismal sales

Looking back at the dismal performance of my first ever book worries me not. End of the Road has been on sale for 0.99c and in that time it has been downloaded just 22 times. You see, it was never in my plan - nor did I expect - to sell this short story just yet. I'm laying the foundations for future sales.


I plan on publishing 15 more books outside of The Rozzers series - from adventure and high fantasy, to children's books among others. I'm sure that that number will increase over time. Part of my planning has always been to give this first book away. Why? So that it reaches a wider audience, increases reviews of it and leads to sales of the follow up book, Cops Don't Run.

Tonight, I changed the sale price to zero on Smashwords, which will filter through to Amazon shortly.

Big jump in page views!

Nothing to lose

What do I have to lose, after all? Over the last six months my book was 'viewed' on Smashwords, on average, once every two days. Just viewed, not bought, although it made a hand-full of sales on Amazon. Within hours of giving it away, those viewing figures jumped to 35 views. Effectively, two months worth of views in a few hours.

I look forward to monitoring this humble experiment and reporting back with details. If you'd like to get the ebook for free, then click on the relevant link below to take you directly to the book. If you're just interested in the experiment, check back in a few weeks time.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

Organising the disorderly: free writers' programs

Seen my laptop anywhere..?
I've epubbed one; have five in progress with nine others to write. Organised? No, far from it. But tonight I've got that irritating, self-assured smirk on my face that so annoys the wife. Why? Well, several reasons really. Despite not being able to write much of late, I have been planning for the day I become a full-time writer by organising myself!


First of all, a while ago I bought Scrivener*, the writers' program. I'm still not 100% comfortable with it, but each time I use it I learn a little more, and I'm sure it'll all make more sense to me if I go through the tutorial oagain, after having used it sufficiently to be familiar with the basics.

What I've done with Scrivener is create a project for each of my #wips, which means I no longer need to open word and figure out where I am before writing. Scrivener organises all of that for me, which means I can usually just read the notes and get on with writing. If you haven't tried Scrivener, I suggest setting aside some time to download it, running through the comprehensive tutorial and getting on with it. You won't be disappointed!


Secondly, I downloaded and installed Dropbox**. What a programme! Dropbox is a cloud storage programme with bells and whistles. The first 2GBs are free, with options of increasing the capacity simply by linking it to your Twitter account, Facebook account, viewing the tutorial etc. In fact, I'm only using 18.3% of my massive 4.4GBs, all of which I gained for free simply by doing the things they suggested I do to get the extra storage! If I want an additional 100GBs, it'll cost me just $9.99 US per month, but to securely back up my #wips and research, I have more than enough for free.

But what about the bells and whistles I mentioned above? Well, I do all of my writing on my creaky old laptop (with a missing 'L'). It'll give out on me one day, guaranteed. If it does, it's not a problem. Why?Because Dropbox has installed a folder on my computer, which is where I store all of my Scrivener files mentioned above. I simply open the Dropbox folder (just like any other folder), locate the Scrivener project I need to work on and open it. After I have finished for the night, I simply close the file - no back up, nothing.


The reason I get to sleep so soundly, knowing by babies are well-looked after, is because the file is automatically backed up to the Dropbox on-line storage server. If my laptop goes bang in the night, I can log into my Dropbox account from any computer and access my #wips. What's more - and this is the really amazing thing with Dropbox - I have downloaded it to my office desktop computer and my Smartphone. After the Dropbox folders synchronise, I can access my #wips fully; from the office via my desktop, or from my Smartphone anywhere in the world. Whatever I add, delete or amend automatically synchronises across all of the devices I have added Dropbox too.


Imagine sitting on the train staring out of the window, running through your protagonist's latest scene when an idea hits you. You no longer have to make notes! Just open the Dropbox file on your phone and enter the notes as you think of them, directly into the Scrivener wip file you are working on back home! The file in the office at work and on your creaky old laptop auto-updates too! Dropbox means that you can basically work on your #wips 24hrs a day and never lose track of your latest updates, whilst the whole book remains securely stored for you!


Finally, I also managed to set myself up with a sign-up newsletter, again for free! Despite only releasing one short story as an ebook, I have a lot of books in the pipeline. I know I need to gather the email addresses of people who might well wish to buy my next release. I have over 7000 Twitter followers, but they aren't going to buy my next book once I release it - I need a list of people who will, and a simple means of sending them a newsletter to prompt them to do so.


I've signed up to MailChimp***, permanently free if you have less than 2000 subscribers. If you get more than 2000, well you can jolly well start paying your own way. MailChimp suits me perfectly - I have added it to my blog (see above right), to my Facebook page and tweeted it. I can use this program for free until I have over 2000 subscribers! Then it'll cost you depending on the quantity of subscribers and quantity of monthly emails you wish to send them.

* Scrivener is one of those programs that writers toy with getting once they've heard of it, then swear by it once they've used it. It currently costs $40 US and is well worth the investment. Available for Mac and Windows, with a free trial! Just visit Literature and Latte for details.

** Dropbox will blow you away with its ease of use, functionality for writers and back-up security. Get yours here.

***MailChimp is free to use and a must have for any forward-thinking writer. Start collecting those emails now!

I hope my advice is food for thought for you? Is there anything else I should be using, or anything you need to know more about? Just leave me a comment below, thanks.

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