Time for some decluttering and in particular time to get rid of some old books. Now that I’m going in an electronic and self-publishing direction, quite a lot of tomes on my shelves are well outdated now.

This is the first to go. I’ve had this book fifteen years.  It’s aimed at the publishing scene two decades ago and has very little, if any, relevance any more. At least it’ll make a good few briquettes to keep us warm this winter. That’s the most use I’ll have got from it!

It was a bad buy. We all make them. I was sucked in by the 1001 aspect, thinking surely to goodness there’ll be something there that will help me shift a few more books. I wasn’t self-publishing at the time, but the publisher I did have wasn’t over enthusiastic in the marketing department so I wanted to see what I could do from my end.

Some of the techniques in the book smack of desperation. For example, there were the suggestions of selling your books door to door, sponsoring an award, organise a sweepstake, creating your own speakers bureau, sponsoring a library, putting up public posters (especially in New York!).  Many were neither practical nor affordable.

Live and learn. I shall replace it with a ebook aimed at today’s publishing scene. I have my eye on Sell More Books. John Kremer is co-authoring again, but he seems to be rather more up to date this time round. If I go for this one, than as usual, I’ll buy on Smashwords for 9.99 dollars and transfer to my Kindle myself. I’m not paying an extra 3.80 dollars unnecessarily to greedy Amazon!

 

Well, Oh Grandad! is up on Smashwords now.That’s my fourth book there. As I wrote the other day, I’ve finally got to grips with how to format files for submitting to Smashwords’ meatgrinder for conversion into the various ebook formats. The confirmation came today – Oh Gran, Beat the Hackers and Oh Auntie have all achieved Premium Status which means they’ll be accepted by Apple and Barnes and Noble, who are rather picky about the quality of the formatted texts they’ll take. Let’s hope I’ll see sales soar once my books hit their ebook stores. Ever the optimist!

I published Oh Auntie and Beat the Hackers directly to Kindle myself, but with the other two, I’ve opted to allow Smashwords to distribute them to Amazon for me. The advantage of doing this is that I save a little bit of work (although it wasn’t too tricky to upload the books) and that I’ll get paid my royalties via Smashwords. This is good because Smashwords pay via Paypal whereas Amazon will only pay overseas authors like me with a cheque, which isn’t at all convenient.

Do check out my Smashwords page and try one or all of my books!

 

 

 

Yoohoo! I’ve finally got the hang of Smashwords. I uploaded Oh Auntie! at the end of July, but it had some Autovetter errors that I couldn’t seem to sort out, and then life got in the way. But today I sat down at the computer with Mark Coker’s Smashwords Style Guide beside me on my Kindle, and worked through it all step by step using Oh Gran! as the trial this time. It all made sense this time, and my MS went through the meatgrinder and came out with no errors. That was a real accomplishment. So now Oh Gran! is here. And it’s free.

Full of confidence, I tackled Oh Auntie! again and soon knocked her into shape! Here’s the link for that book which costs 99 cents.

And I also got to grips with Beat the Hackers which I’ve uploaded to Kindle but was too intimidated to try and get through the meatgrinder. However, I rolled up my sleeves, and through it went, again with no errors. This is 99 cents too and you’ll find it here.

My tips, for what they’re worth: I followed Mark’s advice to paste the original word file into Notepad, which strips away all the formatting, and then repaste it into a new Word file. I followed the instructions on paragraph formatting to the letter, and this time put my chapter headings a ‘heading 1’ format. I used Times New Roman 11 point for the text, and 14 point for headings. And I even put in hyperlinks which work!

I am a complete techno dodo so I am SO PROUD of myself at the moment!

So, Waterstones is to launch its own ereader as a rival to Kindle and Nook. The MD of Waterstones, James Daunt, said he was inspired by the Nook, but he must also have had in mind the fact that Amazon sells more Kindle books than print ones these days.

Waterstones is ambitious. It’s a huge undertaking to come up with a piece of ereading hardware to seriously contend with the ones already out there.  Which will it be most like? Touch screen and back-lit like Nook, or fantastic e-ink technology but fiddly little buttons to press like the Kindle. If it takes the best features of each, then it will be quite an awesome machine.

And there’s not that long to wait. The device will be launching in Spring 2012, if all goes to plan. I’ll be very interested to see what arrives on the scene.

If you don’t like the thought of paying VAT on your ebook then sign this petition. if you’re either UK resident or a UK citizen living elsewhere. Dead tree books don’t have VAT charged on them, so it seems extremely unfair and inconsistent that electronic ones do. Apparently they’re a luxury, whereas paper books aren’t. Now the EU is OK about member states charging a reduced VAT rate on “any similar physical medium that predominantly reproduce the same textual information content as printed books”, and has been since January 2011. Spain has taken advantage of this to reduce its VAT on ebooks to 4%. Elsewhere though, a different story. In Italy VAT is 4% on paper books and 20% on ebooks, and in Germany the figures are 7% and 19% respectively. France shoves 19.6% TVA (= VAT) on livres electroniques. There’s a petition here to sign too to try and get this put to rights, so if you’re a resident in France, then please do sign this one too.

However, the economic climate in Europe isn’t one that’s likely to  make governments look favourably at reducing their tax income in any shape or form at the moment. But, we can at least try.

 

I’m in a quandary and temporarily disheartened. I really don’t know what to do regarding promotion and marketing. I’ve been spending hours on Twitter and various author platform websites such as Author Outbreak, Goodreads, Library Thing etc. But I’m seriously starting to wonder what’s the point. It seems the only other people out there are other authors. I’ve bought some of their books, and a couple of people have bought mine – but if we only ever sell to each other, I don’t think we’ll do very well. Writers don’t get much time for reading on top of self-promoting and writing, and they’re not the wealthiest folk either.

How do you get out there to the readers? Maybe through reviews on Amazon and Smashwords? However, people will only find those if they look you or your book up i.e. they still need to know about you first. But how to get them to that stage?

I’m guessing that the personal website is the key starting point. If you can build up followers to your website that will hopefully turn into buyers for your books, then at least you’re spreading beyond the fellow indie author market.  So I shall cut down the time I spend on social media for a while and put more time and effort into my websites. And my writing. I still think it’s best of all to keep writing and fit the marketing activities around that, and not the other way round.

A new month – time for a new challenge. I want to make it a tough one, so my aim this month is to get 10 books up on Kindle and to have worked on 10 books in my new ebook editing business (nearly-finished website is here).

Here’s a glimpse of what the next Kindle book will be in the form of the brilliant cover. Roger Fereday is the illustrator and Caitlin Dagg is the typographer. What a team!

What’s your September challenge?

 

I’m busily extending my author platform on a daily basis, signing up to forums and groups here, posting about my books there.

I came across a free listing opportunity on Author Outbreak, a promising looking indie author website. However, the offer ends on 31st August so you need to get motoring, if it appeals. You’ll find the details here:

I’ve sent my details in so we’ll wait and see what happens.

I’m also currently considering joining the Independent Author Network http://www.independentauthornetwork.com/join-ian.html. There’s a fee for this, so I may wait until Heads Above Water is ready to launch. I think I’ll stick with free promotions for my rereleased children’s books.

Is anyone else having problems with logging onto yourbookauthors.com? I’m having a terrible time.

Finally, I need guinea pigs. Human ones. My ebook editing service is very nearly ready to roll. The website is in its final stages of being tidied up. You can take a quick peek here  (please remember, it’s still a WIP!). To help me firm up my pricing structure, I need to work on a few projects to get a feel for the level of work that is generally required and roughly how long it will take me to tidy up 1,000 words of electronic manuscript. No charge of course. So, if you’d like some free editing on your ebook, then please contact me via the comments below and we’ll talk!

Perhaps one day I'll be as successful as JK ...

Now that I have two books on Amazon for Kindle, and many more in the pipeline, I’ve been working hard on building my author platform. So far I have signed up with the following. I thought it might be useful to share my list in case it provides you with a few more ideas for your platform-building. And of course I’d welcome any suggestions of other places where I should be putting in an appearance.

The story so far: 10 day book club; Articlesbase; Bite Size Edits; Bookbuzzr; Booklending; Digg; Ebookling; Expatfocus; Facebook – own page plus in four groups; Feedbooks; Filedby; Free-ebooks.net; Goodreads; Independent Authors; Independent Author Network – thinking about this v seriously (free till 31.8 for one book; Jacketflap; KDP; Kobo; LinkedIn; Livejournal; Library Thing; Lulu; My Writer’s Circle; Pontnoir (local Creuse thing); Pinterest (crafts thing); Reader’s Favorite; Smashwords; Shelfari; Shewrites; Survive France (local); Technorati; Twitter (3 accounts); Wattpad; Your Book Authors*

* = joining fee

I also have two ongoing websites (this one and www.bloginfrance.com) and two more waiting in the wings to accompany my two big adult projects that are coming soon.

Three very helpful books I’ve read on the marketing and self-promotion side are:

How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks – All For Free by Jason Matthews

The First Ten Steps by M R Mathias

How I Sold I Million Ebooks in 5 Months by John Locke

 

Hope the above helps. I’m convinced it will help me!

 

Increasingly frustrated at the elevated prices on Amazon.com for Kindle books due to the sales tax they add for whatever reason to books going abroad, I’ve now started buying more from Smashwords. I’ve downloaded the Kindle app for PC onto my computer so I can read books in Kindle format on it. It’s not as good a reading experience as on the Kindle, but since I can get 99 cent books for 99 cents, and not 3.74 dollars which is what Amazon charges for them, then that’s a saving worth making. I’m not cheating the author out of royalties, as they receive their payment based on the official 99 cent price.

It’s puzzling. Some books advertised as 99 c are available to me here in France at that price, but the vast majority aren’t. Also, some books advertised as free also aren’t available. I had to buy my Kindle from Amazon.com, as all French customers still have to, so it was a blow to then discover that there were strings attached in the form of this onerous tax, for which this apparently no justification whatsoever apart from greed. It doesn’t cost any more to send the whispernet to France than to anywhere else. It’s ridiculous and is the one bad thing about Kindle from my point of view.

But I’ve found a way around the problem (which is what living in France trains you to do with all problems!) so I can read well-priced books without being financially penalised simply because of where I live. Amazon will be losing out from me from now on, and if the trend is repeated by enough other Kindle owners affected by the tax, then maybe they’ll start taking notice and revise this unfair system.

Good for Smashwords.