Monthly Archives: March 2015

Confessions of an Indie Publisher – Marketing (2)

One confession I ought to make is that my marketing is oriented towards finding readers rather than towards selling books to make money. It is, of course, a fantasy of mine that one day I will be able to support myself through my writing, however, for now, my focus is on enticing readers aboard. It is possible the latter will lead to the former, but I am not convinced.

Out of interest, I’ve just done a ‘on the back of a fag packet’ calculation to see how many books I would have to sell to make a living wage. If I say a book takes me a year and a half at nine hours a week, and I want to be paid £15 an hour, then I need to earn £10,530. Add on £1000 for proof-reading and sundry resources/expenses, that’s £11,530. On average I earn about £2 per book I sell, so I have to sell 5765 for my fantasy to become true. It’s not going to happen any time soon.

So back to reality. I didn’t plan properly for the publication of my first novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect’. I intend to do a better job with novel two, ‘The Art of Survival’. I have discovered certain reviewers and websites want pre-publication copies and I will fold this into my strategy.  There is some excellent advice here:

Social media, does it work as a marketing tool?
My honest answer is, I have no idea. One ‘indie’ author I met through Twitter answered one of my tweets with the rather sharp comment, ‘Twitter doesn’t sell books, Kindle does.’ I’m still trying to fathom out what she means. I can tell you that since posting my blog posts on Twitter and Facebook, the hits on my website have increased (from a low base) four-fold. Whether this has translated into sales, I do not know. My evidence is slight; the only thing I can say with certainty is that I have garnered several reviews through Twitter and Facebook (book provided for free) and one sale through Facebook.

There’s a lot of scare-mongering about social media. Personally, I have only ever met people who are generally sensible, polite and interesting. However, I am a very tiny tadpole in a very large pool, and I am sure the more well-known you are, the more likely you are to attract people who think it is clever or funny to be abusive or worse.

What to tweet/post? Be yourself, be authentic. I’m a firm believer in authenticity sells and if it doesn’t, well, maybe I don’t want to be a part of the market. And only reveal what you’d be happy to tell a coffee shop of strangers. Be bright, don’t moan too much, pass on information/tips in your chosen area, re-tweet/favourite and re-post/share.

Most importantly, don’t make your presence on social media be all about marketing. I have met some lovely people and gained some good advice from Twitter and Facebook. I try to make my posts interesting and useful to others rather than just about ‘look at me and what I’ve done’. On the whole, I have found it a positive experience even if I don’t gain any more readers through it. Though I think I probably will gain some.

Blog tour
One person I did meet through social media is the lovely Kate M Colby After reading a few of her blog posts and having a few exchanges, I suggested we embark on a blog tour together. She readily agreed and we put out a call for fellow ‘indie’ publishers to join us. There were 22 of us in the end. We all answered the same interview questions (set by me and Kate) and had the opportunity to promote one book. The resulting posts were posted on all our blogs according to a schedule drawn up by Kate C.

It was great fun and again I met some people who I know I will keep in contact with and learn from over time. I also got an enormous buzz from doing something with another Kate who hails from Kansas, plus others from around the world – that truly is the magic of the internet. Hits (especially from the US) and followers on my blog increased during the blog tour and some of that rise in readers has been retained. Did I sell any more books? Looking at the sales for that period, I would have to say, no, certainly not immediately.

Traditional media
In the hype around social media, it’s important not to forget traditional outlets: newspapers; radio; journals/magazines; TV. I paid a PR consultant to write a press release, send it out and follow-up. I did this mainly because I felt over-whelmed by the idea of marketing and this was something discrete I could hive off to someone else. I enjoyed the process and he wrote a press release I would probably never have written.

I did get articles in local papers and also an interview on the afternoon show of the BBC local radio. Given the therapy theme in my novel, I did contact some specialist journals. I’m still waiting to see if they will review it as they have a much longer lead-in time.

I am a bit disappointed not to get more coverage. But I do think I did well given I’m a complete unknown and it was from a standing start. I do think the media could be more innovative in its arts/culture offering. To me, it always seems to be the same people who get the coverage, the people who don’t actually need it. And if five minutes of that coverage was taken away from them and given to someone like me, then it would make no difference to them and it would make the world of difference to me.

Rant over!

Next week more on marketing …..

Meanwhile check out my novel at: Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough,

Confessions of an Indie Publisher – Marketing (1)


I realise as I write that this should have been my first ‘Confessions …’ post, because marketing starts way before publishing. I knew this vaguely before, but four months following publication of my debut novel, I now know it for certain.

For me, at times, the idea of marketing has become overwhelming, practically paralysing. The thought, ‘I can’t do enough, so what’s the point in doing anything?’, has inveigled its way in and almost brought me to a halt. I am, therefore, going to try and break things down here into bite-size points. I am hoping this will assist me (especially in the run up to the publication of my second novel this Autumn) as much as it helps my readers.

Your author platform
Unless you have massive dollops of luck, your book won’t sell itself, YOU have to do it. YOU have to be visible and out there. This is scary for some and exciting for others, I find it both by turns and sometimes both at the same time.

It’s never been easier to build an author platform through blogging and social media. I’ve had a website and have blogged regularly for years. Prior to launching my novel series, I gave both a bit of an over-haul. I chose to move to this wordpress website/blog as I find it easy to use and it is essentially free (though I pay annually for my writingourselveswell domain name). There are, however, loads of website/blog packages out there, plus many skilled people in design and all-things web, if that’s what you decide to spend your money on.

My prime purpose in life is to write and I want to keep the amount of time spent on marketing to a manageable level. I have, therefore, decided to stick to one website and one identity. I haven’t, for instance, set up a Facebook page for my book on top of my own personal page. Every aspect to your author platform has to be kept fresh and up-dated. Updating my website, writing a blog post once a week and keeping up with my Twitter and Facebook are enough for me.

I also think it’s about preferring quality over quantity. I’d prefer to bring people to me because I have something of worth to offer, and I know I can only do that if I restrict my activities.

There’s loads of advice out there about building an author platform. Here’s a starting point I can recommend:

I have found Kate M Colby a great source of wisdom and advice, we also did a blog tour together (more on that in later posts). I wish I’d read her post on pen names a little earlier: Kate Evans is a ridiculously common name, and perhaps if I’d read Kate M Colby’s guidance before publication, I might have gone for Kate H Evans. I’m still wondering if it is too late to change.

Next week more on marketing …..

Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough,

Confessions of an Indie Publisher (part 7)

You’ve got a beautifully crafted, clean manuscript. You’ve worked out the best ‘indie’ options for you and you’re ready to publish. I found this next bit incredibly tedious, but at the same time I had to stay focused and I had to learn an awful lot with my formatting ‘hat’ on. It was tough being bored and maintaining concentration at the same time. 

Each e-book and print-on-demand company or printer (depending on which way you decide to go) will have its own guidelines for how they want the manuscript delivered to them. They will often also offer formatting services for an extra cost. I decided to do it myself, and if I can do it, anyone with a working knowledge of MS Word can do it too. Before you start, make sure you keep one copy of your manuscript on your computer untouched and also back it up in various ways. Then if you really mess up, at least you have that to return to.

 Kindle and Createspace have excellent guides for their systems and it’s just a question of working through them. What I’m sharing here is what I learned which didn’t seem to be in the manuals.

 Firstly formatting for Kindle (and possibly any e-book). I had created my manuscript in MS Word and the initial step was to rid it of all the formats MS embeds in its Word documents. I did this by cutting and pasting it into notepad and then cutting and pasting it back into a Word document having turned off all the ‘autoformat’ functions using the ‘format’ tab. This wipes your document of certain aspects of its layout which you now have to put back using the ‘styles and formatting’ function. The Kindle guidebook tells you how to do this.

 A few things to remember. (a) Kindle does not recognise a line space, this has to be created by formatting in a ‘spacing’ before or after a paragraph. (b) All my italics were wiped out with the move to notepad. I use italics a lot because they indicate internal thought and my characters do a lot of ruminating, so it was a pretty big job to put them all back in. I didn’t work out a fast way of doing this; it was simply a case of having an original copy open, finding the italics using the ‘find’ function, then going to the same place in the Kindle version to put the words into italics.

Once you are sure that you are happy with your formatting, you save into HTM. I had heard from other Kindle publishers that things like elipses and letters with accents on, such as café, go awry when you save into HTM. I did not find this, so maybe it depends on the version of these programmes that you have. The HTM version is ready to upload onto Kindle. Once again the steps for doing this are well explained.

I’m presuming you will have already set up a KDP account and filled in the bits about title, author, royalties etc and done the tax form. You can upload and delete your HTM file as many times as you like, which is good, because once you preview it on the screen you will no doubt pick up some mistakes which need adjusting. I was particularly struck with how long my first paragraph looked on a Kindle screen. I went back and put in some more paragraph breaks. One way the new technology has effected the creative process.

Even though I had already had my manuscript proofread, I got someone else to check through the Kindle version on line before I published. As soon as you start messing around with format, typos can creep in, so if you’ve got someone who can help (in my case it was my lovely sister) it’s worth doing.

Secondly, formatting for Createspace. On the whole, I found the formatting for the paperback more straight-forward. I’d been told I would need to save as a PDF before publishing, but this has changed and I could use my Word document. So it was merely the case of choosing the page size and Createspace pretty much did the rest. One issue I didn’t properly think through is indents; they may look fine on an A4 page, but on the smaller book-size page they look too big. It’s something I will remember for next time.

Cover design. This was something I considered spending money on, but in the end decided not to. There are plenty of designers out there (especially on-line) who will create a design which fits with the Kindle and Createspace requirements. Though, in fact, both Kindle and Createspace have perfectly good cover templates. In order to get the same cover for both versions, I created mine in Createspace and was able to transfer it to Kindle. There didn’t seem to be a way of doing this vice versa. I also got tripped up by the DPI of my photo. When Createspace stretched my photo over the whole cover, the DPI (quality) of the photo went too low for it to be accepted by the system. In the end I chose a design where the photo is smaller and this seemed to work.

Because I wanted to use the Createspace cover, I started my publishing journey from Createspace. This also means, in theory, that my Kindle version and paperback should have been linked on the and pages. In reality this took several emails to Createspace and KDP support. Though I will say, both help lines were very responsive, polite and helpful. Since I had already formatted my Kindle version myself, I did not use Createspace’s offer to format it for me, so I don’t know whether that works. Will investigate next time.

And then, dear reader, I published. After several weeks of trying to get everything just right, the publishing process is actually just a question of clicking on a button. A bit of an anti-climax. Maybe next time I’ll have some friends round for that moment and we’ll celebrate with hugs and tea and cake all round.

Once you’re published, of course, you’re not finished. There’s the marketing of your newborn. I will be tackling that thorny issue in my next blog. Meanwhile, do look at my novel, ‘The Art of the Imperfect, the first of a series of crime novels set in Scarborough,


The Very Inspiring Blog Award

Are blog awards like London buses, in that you wait ages for one and then two come at once? Of course if you’re outside London, you wait ages for a bus and then realise they only run on the 32nd of each month.

Anyway, the lovely Kate M Colby, bless her, has nominated me for the Very Inspiring Blog Award. Thank you Kate, read her blog here, it really is full of inspiring and interesting stuff for writers:

Award Guidelines:

  1. Thank the person who nominated you and add a link to their blog.
  2. Display the award in a blog entry.
  3. List the award guidelines so your nominees will know what to do.index-very-inspiring-blogger-award
  4. State 7 things about yourself.
  5. Nominate 15 other bloggers for the award.

Seven things about me

  1. I was once tear-gassed protesting against the National Front in Marseille, France.
  2. I love the sea.
  3. I need to write for my well-being.
  4. I love the Dixie Chicks.
  5. I am most creative in the morning but rarely write in my pyjamas.
  6. Forget the champagne, it’s tea and cakes any day for me.
  7. I once worked for The Women’s Press.

My nominees




I’ve been presented the Liebster Blogging Award!




liebster2It was a lovely surprise to receive my first blogging award. Thank you to Box Office Girl for giving it to me. Liebster is apparently a German word meaning kind or sweet. If I choose to accept the award the rules are:

  1. Thank the person who bestows it and link to their blog.
  2. Answer the questions posed by the bestow-er of the award.
  3. Give eleven random facts about myself.
  4. Propose five further blogs for the award and set questions for them.

So here goes with the questions posed by Box Office Girl.
When was the last time you went to the theatre and what did you see?
I went to see ‘Plays & Pinot’ at the wonderful Stephen Joseph Theatre. I think it important to support local talent.
2. Who would you most like to interview?
That’s a hard one because there are any number of women writers (living and dead) I’d like to interview. Perhaps at this moment, Anya Lipska to get some tips on where to go with my crime series.
3. Who would you most like to be interviewed by?
I fantasise about being on the BBC Breakfast red sofa.
4. Do you snore?
Depends on who you’re asking.
5. Have you ever stood up a date for no good reason?
I haven’t dated in so long, I can’t remember.
6. Have you ever worn the same clothes 2, 3 or more days on the trot?
Three is probably my limit. Though when we were doing up this house, I wore the same old clothes day-in, day-out, and my hair was stiff with brick dust.
7. If you were a T-shirt what colour would you be and why?
Purple and green, the suffragette colours.
8. Have you ever parked in a disabled spot when you shouldn’t?
No, absolutely not.
9. What is your best quality?
My creativity.
10. What is your worst quality?
My crippling self-doubt.
11. Which of your blog posts is your favourite and why?
I’ve enjoyed doing my Confessions of an Indie Publisher (more to come….) It’s given me an opportunity to vent a bit, share my experience and be of use to other writers.

11 random facts:

  1. I was born in Switzerland.
  2. I can wiggle my right ear but not my left.
  3. I love eating ice.
  4. I once swam in Lock Ness.
  5. I love going to bed really early, especially in winter with my electric blanket on.
  6. I had my first alcoholic drink when I was 24, it was a Malibu and orange.
  7. I hate to see litter.
  8. I once wrote an episode of Starsky & Hutch.
  9. I once did an illegal left-hand turn when driving in London (just the once).
  10. I can knit.
  11. I hate cleaning.

My questions to my nominees:

  1. What book are you reading?
  2. Who is your favourite author?
  3. What was the last poem you read which spoke to you?
  4. What is your pet hate?
  5. What is your best quality?
  6. What is your worst quality?
  7. Where would you like to travel to?
  8. If you were a piece of furniture what would it be?
  9. What era in history would you like to visit?
  10. What is your top tip to other writers?
  11. What’s your secret treat to yourself?

My nominees:


The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour – Archive

Thanks to Kate M Colby my co-conspirator on this tour. Thoroughly enjoyed the interaction with writers from around the globe.

Kate M. Colby

The 2K International Writers’ Blog Tour was a month-long series of writer interviews that took place in February 2015. The tour began when Kate Evans of Writing Ourselves Well asked me if I would like to exchange interviews for our blogs, and it quickly evolved into a fully-fledged blog tour. Our goal was to bring together writers of all experience levels and demographic backgrounds and share the beauty of their art with the blogging community.

Included in this post are links to all the original interviews for your reading enjoyment.

Kate Evans (my co-host)

Kate M. Colby (me)

Jonas Lee

Kylie Betzner

Kara Jorgensen

Renee N. Meland

Fia Essen

Elizabeth Hein

David Powning

Brittany Boyce

Amrita Sarkar

Amanda Richter

Lani V. Cox

Corri van de Stege

Steven Baird

Lauren Faulkenberry

Sabina Khan

Suzanne M. Brazil

Kimberly DuBoise

Jay Dee Archer

Cheryle Baker

Zachary Paul Chopchinski

Thank you to all the writers who…

View original post 40 more words