I recently read a blog about a relatively successful English author and how hard he’d been hit by the “decline in traditional publishing”. He’d resorted to chucking in his rented South London office and building a writer’s den in the attic of his multi-story house. The enormity of this tragedy can’t be under-estimated. The poor bastard has to go for the cheaper caviar and the Bentley needs a polish – for God’s sake, is he expected to do that himself?
Then we read about David Baldacci and his “working day”. This entails walking his dog, before a leisurely commute to his downtown office in Virginia where no less than three assistants have been beavering away at his latest best-seller.
Okay, I’ve got an office – but it’s under the house and I built the bloody thing myself. I also have to walk three dogs (Hah! I win there, Baldacci!) No assistants, I’m afraid. And aside from my writing, I’m also required to clean the house, do the shopping, feed the donkeys (yes, donkeys), cook dinner… and that’s daily chores before getting to anything specific for that day. I’m what is known in Oz as a “house bitch” while my wife has a “real job” in town. Apparently, I don’t have a “real job”. When people find out I’m a professional writer working from home (bearing in mind that freelance journalism is my bread and butter above my novel writing) they look at me like I don’t actually do anything at all. My life is one long, endless holiday with the occasional tap at the keyboard.
I’m blaming that whinging sod in London and Baldacci’s assistants, since apparently the man doesn’t do anything for himself anymore. Perpetuating the myth that a writer’s life is so idealic.
Of course, I have it pretty lucky – honestly. Hell, my office could be invaded all day by children, rather than the four-legged miscreants above (actually, it’s 3.666667 recurring legged, if you look closely). How the hell do people with children ever write books?
In fact, I’ll guess that some of the best writing today is created by authors who don’t have the resources to do it. They’re cramped in the corner of a house filled with family, on a junk computer because that’s the only way to stop every bastard from borrowing it to use Facebook and surf the net… no one believes they’re “serious” about writing. They’re doing it the hard way. Sound familiar?
I’m only saying that comparisons to “famous” writers with South London offices, three assistants and only one dog aren’t helping.
But keep writing anyway.
I’ve been doing a lot of reading, research, study, surfing… you name it – into self-publishing novels and the benefits to be had. I’m more than happy with my “traditional” publishers, Momentum Books (Pan Macmillan) and – well, the damned bankrupt Weltbild in Germany are in my bad books at the moment, but I’m guessing that’ll sort itself out. However, these publishers are limited in what they can do each year, they can’t put out everything I write, and I’ve got stories and manuscripts that simply won’t fit the picture anyway. Self-publishing these is the option, risking only my own time and, I suppose, reputation if these books completely suck.
Actually, publishing these books is relatively easy. Getting them noticed among the daily deluge of books that hit Amazon every hour is the real challenge. This needs self-promotion, which isn’t easy.
With this in mind I’ve enrolled one of my books, called “Ghost Tales, Four Stories Of The Dead Among Us” in the Amazon KDP Select program. In a nutshell, in return for various advantages, I get to give away completely free this book for five days during a ninety day exclusive contract with Amazon – the free ebook market being particularly voracious with a much higher profile. I don’t have to use all five days in one go. I can select five different days over that ninety day period. The idea isn’t so much to sell “Ghost Tales…”, but to attract readers to my other published books, which they’ll pay for.
The jury is kind of out on whether KDP Select works, but I can say that I’m in the bracket to see some level of success, because I have other titles to sell. If you’re a new author with only one book, it may not be so good.
So if you’re into writing, self-publishing and self-promoting I’ll be more than happy to share how this experiment goes. I expect in this first instance – meaning the first free day – not much will happen, because I’ll need to do other things to make the world aware the free promotion is available, but you never know… In fact, I don’t know exactly what Amazon will do.
Interesting times ahead. “Ghost Tales, Four Stories Of The Dead Among Us” will be available as a free download from Amazon for approximately 24 hours on March 12th – and if that makes you think “crap, I’m too late”, don’t forget Amazon is on Pacific Daylight Time (PDT) and a full 15 hours behind us here in Western Australia. Wherever you are, just Google PDT Time and you’ll find out the time of day according to Amazon.
Wish me luck. Get in touch or leave a comment, if you want to know more.
Because it was my birthday last week, plus I did a heap of work for the Blues Festival (earning a bit of cash) I decided to treat myself to a new Blu-Ray DVD player/PVR HD Recorder. Of course, once it was all plugged in and set up, the first thing I did was go down to the video store and look for a Blu-Ray title that would show off the high def’ picture and all that… and I found The Hobbit.
Now, I read The Hobbit a long time ago, but I still remember it as more of a fairy tale rather than the epic saga that’s LOTR. And the main villain is a dragon sitting on a pile of gold — albeit a dragon that bears no resemblance to the one in Shrek.
Two and a half hours of gratuitous sword-slashing, Orc-stabbing and lobbing-off-heads later the movie kind of ground to a halt without actually sighting the bloody dragon and… we’re only half-way through the damned book!
Okay, I know that The Hobbit was always going to be split across two movies and after LOTR I shouldn’t be surprised — but the novelty of LOTR helped you get through the long movies. Now I’m starting to suffer Hobbit Fatigue. No doubt I will watch The Hobbit PT II, but that bloody dragon better turn up early and be nothing short of f##king spectacular.
God help us, if Peter Jackson ever gets the film rights to The Silmarillion.
Maybe you’re like me. You’ve got a Kindle or an iPad (or something similar) and you’ve launched yourself into the world of ebooks. They’re cheap, plentiful and available on-demand within seconds- awesome! The trouble is, after a while, you discover that GOOD ebooks aren’t so easy to find. First of all, there is a tremendous amount of shit out there that’s promoted as the best-ever, most brilliant and entertaining books ever written… except those endorsements are written by the authors’ mums. Every unpublished man and his literate dog have embraced ebooks as a means to self-publish, even if they can’t spell- let alone write a decent novel. The really good stuff (or the new releases anyway) isn’t cheap at all, thanks to the publishers being in chaos about pricing. And a lot of backlist titles from famous authors you’d expect to be available… well, aren’t. Maybe the publishers are hanging on to them, maybe they can’t confirm the digital rights… who knows?
The reason I’m suggesting my ebooks are good- depending on your reading tastes, of course- is their track records. Of the eight I’ve now released seven titles have been published in Australia and around the world. Between the original publishing, subsequent reprints and licensing to Readers Digest (for one title) there are about half a million copies of my books on bookshelves somewhere. That’s got to stand for something. Only “Ghost Tales, Four Stories of the Dead Among Us” is a brand new title released by me exclusively as an ebook and is, I guess you’d say, unproven.
Yes, this post is a piece of blatant, unashamed self-promotion… which is where the publishing industry is heading, so you’d better get used to it. Look at the good side- you get to read a great book at $1.95 (Ghost Tales) and if you don’t like it, you can hurl abuse through the comments section below. Brilliant.