Monday, 31 January 2011

Interview with famous author Lexi Revellian :o)

You can find out all about me and my writing at Sandra Patterson's blog today.

Discover how I went from rejection by all the best literary agents in the UK to becoming an indie author who has sold more than 12,000 ebooks in less than six months.

(And note I don't use the expression 'roller-coaster ride' once in the whole interview.)

The cartoon is by my daughter.

Friday, 21 January 2011

THE AFRIKA REICH rolls off the presses

The very first copies of Guy Saville's soon-to-be-released hardback, The Africa Reich emerge from their production line. I think this is one of the most exciting clips I've ever seen, and it's not even my book!

It will be available to buy on February 17th 2011 - or you could get your order in now ahead of the crowd.

Tuesday, 18 January 2011

10,000 e sales of Remix

Forgive my boasting - it's just such a landmark.

When I published Remix on Amazon in August 2010, I had no idea that my sales for the Kindle would take off the way they did. In the first six weeks, I didn't sell many; eleven on Amazon, and seven on Smashwords (never have equalled those first Smashwords sales!)

Then I lowered the price to 86p hoping to persuade readers to try an author they'd never heard of, and the book started selling - 81 in the last ten days of September. In October I sold 669 copies, in November 1,559, and in December 4,281. So far this month, I've sold 3,398. Remix has spent 97 days in the UK Kindle top 100.

One of the best things has been connecting with readers, and knowing that people were willingly spending hours reading a novel I wrote - and enjoying it. Some have emailed me, asking about my next book, which gives me a real kick. Without the Kindle, I wouldn't have been able to prove there was a market for Remix. (The paperback has had modest sales, because it's not possible to compete on price with POD, or get into the bookshops.)

After a year of fruitlessly submitting Remix to literary agents, it's great to feel vindicated; to suspect that had an agent and a publisher taken the book on, they'd have made a tidy profit.

N.B. 1) Alan, you were right.
N.B. 2) Victoria Strauss, if you don't believe these figures, email me for proof :o)

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Why wouldn't you epublish?

So you've finished writing your novel; you've gone over it dozens, if not hundreds of times, till it is as polished as you can make it; you've sent it out to beta readers, and used some of their suggestions. If you need it (and it's a myth that every author does) you've paid a professional proofreader.

Now what?

If you buy lottery tickets each week in the hope you will win - after all, someone has to - and enjoy banging your head against a brick wall, your course is clear: submit your novel to literary agents. The publishing industry moves at the speed of a sloth with a hangover, so while you are waiting, as well as writing the next novel, why not publish for the Kindle on Amazon? Because:
  • You will get some experience of marketing, always useful.
  • You will find out what the paying public thinks about your book; on Amazon, you can expect slightly less than one review per hundred books sold.
  • You will start to make money immediately.
  • If your book sells well, this may impress the literary agent of your dreams; in fact, at some point agents are going to wake up to where the good non-contracted authors hang out these days, near the top of the Kindle chart, and start prospecting there.
Is there a downside? I think not. Some say you should not give away your first publishing rights, as publishers will not touch your book if you have. Frankly, if a publisher believes he can make money from your book, he won't give a damn about that. Suppose your ebook doesn't sell? If you've made every effort to promote it, and your price is right, you may have to face the fact that it's not as good as you'd hoped; or that it's a minority taste.

And you still have the agent lottery to try.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

How to publish for Kindle on Amazon

NOTE: since KF8, I no longer use this method. See THIS POST for my latest.

To anyone who hasn't done it, publishing for the Kindle on Amazon can seem a formidable task, so this post is to share my tips on how I published Remix. There are other ways - and you can always pay someone else to do it. JA Konrath recommends the person he uses. Allow about a day to do it my way.
  • Prepare your book as a Word document. Remove page numbers and headers. Make a title page; I'd advise condensing the usual front matter to one page. Put the indents to three characters, and start each chapter on a new page using Ctl and Enter. I used a tilde (~) between scenes, as the conversion process can remove line spaces on Kindle for PC. [Update: to add a space between paragraphs use Shift-Return at the  end of a paragraph. Unlike Return on its own, all the Kindles respect these - except the Kindle Fire if the blank lines follow a page break.] N-dashes with a space either side allow the text to flow better than M-dashes. Consider if you should put a bit about another of your books with a link, or a link to your website, at the end.
  • Click on Metadata to the left of the page you are now on, and fill in your book's details and cover. You will need to use Ctl and V to paste. You no longer need to include your cover image at the front of the text - Amazon's KDP now has a box you tick and your cover will be added as the first page of your ebook.
  • Click File and Save As, and the document will be saved in HTML form where you choose on your computer.
  • Go to Amazon's Kindle Direct Publishing. Register, go to your Bookshelf and click Add a New Title. Follow the instructions carefully.
  • Once your HTML file is loaded, you get to the most important part of the process, Preview. Preview gives you an approximation of what your text will look like on a Kindle (don't worry that the page has no margins - it will on the Kindle). At this stage, go through every single page looking for formatting flaws which have popped up, such as passages in bold or italic or incorrect indents. Put these right on the HTML document as you find them. You don't need any knowledge of HTML to do this; it's easy to work out which bit of code is wrong, and replace it with a sound bit of code from a correct passage. Remember to change the code at the end as well as the beginning of a paragraph. Warning: this painstaking process may take hours, depending how much extraneous concealed formatting your original Word document had. But it's essential.
  • Reload the improved text, and check again.
  • Repeat until your book looks the way you intended.
  • Fill in the rest of the details.
  • Publish! If you have a Kindle, download a copy to check; if you don't, download Kindle for PC and check on that.
  • Sell lots of copies.
For tips on print books' typography, see my post Typography and the self published novel.

Saturday, 1 January 2011

REMIX in today's Times newspaper!

Paul J told me Remix was on page 31 of today's Times; I rushed out and bought a copy, and here it is. The article is about sales of romance titles booming, because if you read on a Kindle, no one can tell whether your taste runs to Tolstoy or Katie Price.

Mark you, their definition of a romantic novel is pretty loose, as is Amazon's. I wouldn't call Remix a romance as such, and it's been near the top of the Romance chart for months. Jane Austen's collected novels are there, and she said,

"I could no more write a romance than an epic poem. I could not sit seriously down to write a serious romance under any other motive than to save my life; and if it were indispensable for me to keep it up and never relax into laughing at myself or other people, I am sure I should be hung before I had finished the first chapter."

I'm dubious about the romance status of one or two others; Erotic Tales? Surely not. But it still gives me a buzz to see the cover of my novel in the Times.