Sunday, 30 December 2012

Publishing Strategy 2013 - Part 2

So, here are more questions that I will ask myself and answer to build my publishing and business plan next year, which is only a couple of days away. Eek.

How many ebooks did I produce this year? And was that a comfortable pace for me? How many would I like to do in 2013? In 2012 I published 4 short ebooks and 1 short story. I did feel this was a good pace for me, but next year I want to release more short stories to go inbetween publication of my two series to keep readers happy. I want to also release two YA short ebooks as well as an anthology of the first 3 in the series, and maybe publish it POD with Createspace. Something to learn to do.

Which series will I continue to write? Any I won't continue? New series? I am continuing with both my YA and adult romance series, as both seem to be selling now (in the last few days I have sold 6 copies of my Xmas romance on Smashwords, and am a happy bunny). I have in the pipeline to write a series of short stories based on a small village with magical secrets. Can't wait to start that. I also plan to publish e-articles about living with Asperger's Syndrome, expanded from my blogs this year.

Has my production team continued to work well with me in producing high quality ebooks?Yes. Both my editors have really helped me learn more about writing, grammar and sentence structure. My cover designers have given me great cover designs from basic photos that I choose.

Real Sales Numbers and Financial Review:  OK. Until recently my YA series seemed to be selling more than my adult romances, but they seem to be levelling off now. Numbers are quite low but I feel they are slow burners and will reach good levels soon. Finances: this year I ordered postcards and posters for my adult romance series and cards for my YA series and visited libraries, but I don't know if I actually did any good or not. So, next year I am saving money by creating my own with some coloured cards I have. I started to create flyers promoting my first two adult romance stories on this month, so I think I can do it for both series and any new stories forthcoming.

What major milestones have I hit? My new milestones? I hit one year in my indie journey. And I hit the coveted amount of $10 on Smashwords enabling me to apply for that ITIN next year, which will let me have my royalties without them withholding 30pc of it from me. So next year, my new milestone will be to earn at least $100 across all platforms from my ebooks. I also want to sell a few more of Rosie books.

Last question for this week. How did my indie epublishing buzzwords work for me? What will they be for next year? Well, magical realism and angels mostly, with Asperger's Syndrome chiming in near the end. Next year I want it to be more magical realism with romance, and Asperger's matching it. I plan to release my blog series about being an Aspergirl out into the open world so people can understand where I am coming from.

So that is all for now. Next week I will answer the rest of the questions, and hopefully have started writing up my new business and publishing plan.

Friday, 28 December 2012

An Aspergirl at Christmas - being social or not

Christmas is time for families to get together and have a fun and social gathering, but for someone like me who has Aspgerger's Syndrome it can be more anxious than fun. So I thought I'd give my take on how my Christmas went this year (last year was a disaster but this year was lots better). Christmas Eve and Day my mum and I were on our own and it was really nice and pleasant, in that we could do want we want and not have to worry about timing meals etc. Boxing Day was the day we were expecting my brother, my two teenage nephews and my brother's new girlfriend who we hadn't met yet. Mum was nervous as she didn't know what to expect from her and she hates doing meals for company. I did start to make an effort by asking my oldest nephew how he's getting on at college (he hates it cos he doesn't like the course he's doing and wants to train to do something else). Other than that that was all I really contributed talk wise. I listened mostly and let the others do all the talking. That is how it is for me at family gatherings. I sit there listening, and ask or chat now and then. This is just an example of how my Asperger's comes in to affect at these times.  I shall blog next year about how I have been at other family gatherings.

Watch out for these blogs to appear as e-articles next year, as I plan to release them as a set before eventually putting them altogether as an autobiography.

Saturday, 22 December 2012

My publishing strategy for 2013 - Questions I will ask myself

2013 is approaching fast for us all, and I am now thinking over the last year of my indie journey and what I want to keep the same and what I want to change. So here is my strategy for next year, or part of it. The questions are also what DD Scott of WG2E fame has asked herself on the blog, and I have nicked them from her.  Here goes:

1. Am I happy? Am I still enjoying the Indie publishing journey? The answer is a resounding yes. I love having the control of writing and publishing what I want and not have anyone else say that it won't fit any genres or it's too short to publish. I also like the immediacy of indie publishing, instead of spending time sending out ms after ms to agent after agent and then if you are accepted (it's a big if these days) then having to wait months and months for it to be published and out there for the readers. With indie publishing of ebooks, once you have got your ms ready and formatted then it is full steam ahead and you can download it onto the relevant websites eg Amazon, Kobo and Smashwords. Smashwords only takes an hour or so for it to be up there, Kobo and Amazon a day or two. Much faster than trad publishing. So, I am sticking to epublishing for now.

2. Is my Indie epublishing goal still the same? No. I wanted to reach as many readers as I can but it seems that my adult romance ebooks aren't selling as much as my YA ones. So my new goal is to find a new audience for those ebooks. Which leads me to the next question.

3. What strategies have advanced the goal and what haven't? Well, one strategy that I feel has advanced my goal by getting my name known is being involved with the Writers' Guide to Epublishing blog and the new street team. Another strategy that has worked, I only did the other day and that was promoting and selling my books at a library Xmas fayre. So I want to do more of those. The strategy I feel that has let me down is visiting local libaries and giving them postcards and posters advertising my ebooks and stories. I don't think I have got any sales from this, so won't be doing much of that next year.

So that is my 2013 strategy so far, which I have written down in my little black book for my business plan. Next time I will blog with more questions to ask myself about this,

What new strategies have you decided to do next year to help your goal in writing? Let me know.

Thursday, 20 December 2012

An Aspergirl at a libary Xmas Fayre

One of the things that published authors need to do these days is to get out there and make yourself known. For someone with Asperger's Syndrome this can be filled with anxiety and worry, due to difficulty communicating with others. Well, this is what I did last Saturday,but not filled with anxiety but with excitement. I had phoned up one of my local community libraries to ask if I could promote my books and stories at their Xmas Fayre. It was agreed. So last Saturday off I went with a backpack full of postcards, flyers and a few books (Rosie) to promote and sell. One of the other stall holders bought a Rosie book from me and it went slowly. An hour later children started to come in for the singalong, and things picked up. I decided to do what I did before and take bookmarks and pens and give them out free to children. I approached the children friendly and gave out a few bookmarks and pens. I also gave out a few flyers about alfiedog website which I now have two squirrel stories on. And like last time, just as I was packing up to go home, someone approached me with interest about buying a book, she was another stall holder and was taking over my table when I left. I got chatting to her about publishing books, gave her my flyer for my Geraldine ebooks and she said she wanted to buy Rosie. She needed to wait for a boy to come back with some money for her, and when he did, I signed the book with my name and gave her the change from the money she gave me. Two books sold. Hurray. One other thing that was interesting. I got chatting to another stall holder (I gave out my cards to them, as you never know what opportunity might come from networking with other sellers), and this lady asked me if I had done school fetes. I said not visits because of budgets. She said, no school fayres/bazaars. I said no, but will look into it next year. So that is another opportunity to get myself known and out there locally. Will certainly investigate this idea.

All in all, I had a great time chatting to other stall holders and promoting my work. I broke even as I had to pay for the table, and the amount I got for both books paid that back.  Can't wait to do more of those sort of promoting. Watch this space.

This post is part of my 'Living with Asperger's as a writer' and will appear as an e-article sometime next year.

Sunday, 16 December 2012

Conference last day - Author branding and performing

On the last day of the conference, which happened to be my birthday, first we had a regional network meeting. Anita Loughrey our leader told the group what has been set up for the group and what has been going but stopped. I offered to set up the London Write In again as it had stopped last summer. The first meeting will be in January. After that it was off to author branding with PJ Norman and Justin Somper. Here is what I learnt and did:

Author branding has to be consistent in all we do. Know what our core message is. What makes you distinct. Connects to readers. Brands can evolve with each book. Then we had to work out the brand for an author. My group had Dan Brown, and it was decided he was boring and gave the same answsers to interviews. I said his brand would be religious buildings and religion.  Then we had to work out our own brands based on what we had just learnt. Work out the brand on your books and yourself. I practically knew mine: Magical realism with gentle warm humour. I also put magical powers, shining and glowing objects, purple. For myself I put friendly, approachable and Asperger's Syndrome. Then once we had done that, we had to go to someone we'd not spoken to and say our brand. As per school days, I was the last person to be paired up, so was with PJ. He told me that it was a good idea to add Asperger's in with my brand. So, I might do that in future. 

After that we had lunch. I had moussaka with rice and tomatoes which was nice.

The afternoon session was with Steve Hartley and Mo O'Hara, and was all about being the performing author eg at school visits. We had to bring with us a few pages of our ms that would be entertaining. Steve showed us how he did his visits and told us how we could perform. Then it was our turn. I was nearly last. I ended up showing off my socks, as they were magical. We were sitting on the floor for most of the session, and my bottom took a couple of days to recover from that. I felt that after that, school visits and being a performer isn't for me.

The day ended with presentations of prizes - I didn't win anything. I left a bit early to get a taxi back to the station, and ended up sharing with four others, which was good cos we shared the cost of the fare and only paid a pound each.

All in all it was a v informative and helpful conference - I came away with ideas how to improve Billy and knowing my author brand and what I wanted to do with it.

Thursday, 13 December 2012

A Money Saving Tip for Christmas

Want to save some money this Christmas when it comes to wrapping presents? Here is my one tip that I have done for years. Do you buy gift tags each year to put on presents? Well, I have found that you don't have to do this. Buy lots of gift BAGS that have tags on and use those. Card Factory are currently doing offers on these. I got 3 large bags for £1 and 4 middle-sized ones for £1. They are also doing jumbo bags for 2 for a pound and 3 square ones for a pound. I bought some more the other day so I have a good stock for next year. If you are like me and have a small family Christmas and share presents on the same day, then you can get your bags back and reuse them the next year. You don't have to give it to the same relative, you can always buy a cheap pack of tiny Xmas cards and stick them on to the handle with a new name in it. This is what I do. It saves a lot of time and money, not having to buy tags each year.

I might do another money saving tip for Xmas next week. Will have to think what it can be.

Saturday, 8 December 2012

Conference - Saturday (Part 2)

Also on the second day, Saturday, were two more talks. The first was an Industry Panel consisting of Mara from Walker Books, Sarah from Hot Key, Janetta Otter-Barry and Kate Wilson from Nosy Crow. Mar publishes teen and younger fiction. She looks for voice, good story, writing and characters. Sarah publishes from 9 -19. Is enthusiatic about ebooks. She publishes both e and print books together. Looks for what she wants to read. Janetta only publishes books by her old authors from Frances Lincoln. Kate publishes from 0-12. Looks at transmedia.  Has to be child centric and mum friendly. Has to be sure they can do something for you.  Both Val and Viv work with illustrators, so I didn't take many notes about them being a writer.

Question time

Do you accept submissions and how? Kate: Yes. Sarah - Yes. Janetta - yes but shorter text picture books. Val - Yes, do research online and in bookshops. Viv - yes. Accepts PDFs of imaes. She will Google you. Mara - yes, even though the website says no. editorial@walker.

Mind if the ms goes to agent first? Mara says they let me have by -. If with agent then work is good. Kate said some agents she trusts. Vic said down to personality. Kate thinks that publishers offer more. Sarah said agents can get you into conversations you wouldn't get on your own. Kate never looks at agents who don't offer world rights.

If already published, mind? Sarah said no, submit idea. Kate also said no. Janetta only has established authors. Are you accepting fiction? Her area only. New editor to arrive.

Dream submission? Mara - strong junior fiction 9-12 like David Almond. Kate - not in this world, fantasy. Janetta - pb. Develop on list. Illustrative non-fiction. Work with other writers in other countries, so yes. Kate - author promotion - is cost factor overseas.

Trend for PB for older readers - No. Had to sell abroad. Historical fiction revival? Didn't realise that was dead. Has important place. Kate thinks it's interesting time for writers.

Later was State of the Nation where various people involved in the industry had a discussion, from bookseller, library to publisher. Childrens' Writers in South London was mentioned, something I'd not heard of and am interested in. The main thing said was It's not you, it's the bottom line, when talking about rejections. Publishers tend to put marketing to one lead author and the others have to fend for themselves. In the US, midlist authors are struggling. They look at low track records. US take more chance with new authors who have no track records. Looked at generate a bit. Come marketers. Claire agreed that easier to help debut authors.
Relentless Revolution (Digital) - Melissa said it's interesting time to work on. Wants to inc all authors. Think there's a plan to sell ebooks, too. Strategies in places. Claire said contracts, watching and waiting and figuring it out. Potential in ebooks for increasing readers. Wanting it to work for you. Matt said there is confusion in libraries about Amazon Prime. In libraries you can borrow as many books as you want for free but Amazon you have to pay for just one. Lin Oliver said we should embrace it all, and is excellent for all. Think of ourselves as creators. We have win Amazon. Issue of discoverability. Missing the gatekeeper. That we can read. Beverley said 1 in 6 books bought b y adults for kids by reader request. Should adapt. Don't forget story is at heart of it. Lin said we don't have to worry about gamasitation. Others can do that. Danger for kids to sustain reading text.

Endangered (libraries) School libraries aren't compulsory. Digital review - if that goes then public have no one that can check for them if councils are doing right. Matt got rather emotional about all this as he is a librarian. Candy wonders if libraries should fit in with what's going on. Matt said that libraries are for people who can't afford books, and are first contact with council. Lin said that libraries in the US are the same. They are using libraries more for functions such as homework, to learn and gather for the communities. Less likely to close then. Children can phone central library for tutorial help.

Merging of the giants. Claire thinks it's good news but fewer people to sell to. Problem is evaluation of books. Costs - if book is usual £12.99, then ridiculous now considering ebook prices being low. People now think that price of book is right.

And that is is for talks. Next time I will talk about author branding and performing and what I learnt.

Thursday, 6 December 2012

Having food intolerances at a conference

It is not too bad when you are going to a conference and have food intolerances. The two I have been to over the years, you are asked about dietary needs on the application form, so they can cater for you at the main meal times. For instance. At the recent SCBWI-BI conference I went to, the first main meal was on the Friday night at Pizza Express. They did have non-dairy options. I had dough balls to start with, chicken and pancetta salad for mains (which did have bits of cheese on - didn't know if it was dairy or goats) so didn't eat those, and for dessert I had a gorgeous raspberry sorbet, which I thought was made from real raspberries cos I tasted v raspberry.

The second day, at lunch time, I had tomato-based chicken curry with rice, and a few bits of tomato. This was v nice and quite healthy. The party in the evening was quite good, too. They had sandwiches, I had ham and branston, salad and chicken wings etc. OK for me, but my friend, Scarlet, who has gluten intolerance, it wasn't that good. I managed to eat a piece of the amazing cake and a couple of yummy biccies there. And I had no effects after that.

Sunday - At lunch time I had a moussaka with mushrooms and aubergine in, with rice. I didn't eat the mushrooms cos I don't like them. The aubergine to me tasted of nothing much. Overall it was good. But I had one niggle. I wanted to eat a bit of cake during coffee break in the morning, seeing at it was my birthday that day, but was told they all had milk in. Boo. Luckily I had my own free from biccies with me, which I ate, but I would've liked to have had something the others were able to have just for that day.  I also had bananas with me and dried dates, which I ate during the weekend as snacks to keep me going.

Apart from the snacks at coffee breaks, I thought I was catered to quite well.  I hope others, esp Scarlet, were too.

Sunday, 2 December 2012

Conference - Crit Night and Day One

This time last week I was catching a train from Winchester to head back home from the SCBWI-BI conference. Can't believe it was a week ago now. Anyway, here is what I learnt at the crit night on the Friday night, and Saturday.

Crit Night: I emailed off the first few chapters of Billy to be crit'd by the others. The chapter structure was right for the age range (6-9), but some of the sentences needed to be restructured. The magical socks was loved by all, yay! Liked the idea, too, of the mother being magical, so will keep that in and add it back from the original version to the current one. But Billy seemed more average than boring. So made me think I needed to change the title to something like Average Archie.
This was followed by Pizza. I had dough balls to start with, then a main meal of chicken and pancetta salad with warm dough sticks. It had chilli bonnets in, which I didn't realise it did until I bit a bit and went, hah. My mouth took 10 mins to recover from that.


First it was the talk by Celia Rees. This is what I learnt. You  need to have a really good idea, and make it watertight. Have real characters. A plot that works, no weakness. Celia collects things relating to the current ms she's working on eg magazine images, photos and sticks them on a board for her to see. Gave me an idea to collect photos of things relating to my mss when I'm working on them. Write about real places as it makes it more believable. I made a note of this, because that is what I've done in my latest YA short ebook. Follow your heart and what your passionate about. Celia was a great talker.

Then came Lin Oliver and her Write Humour with Heart. For Middle Grade readers, which she inc 7-9. Be aware of the age range. Readers that have just started reading. Make it more comic adventures of plot.
Her thoughts on writing comedy are:
1. Involves taking risks: Follow your weirdness. Nothing is safe. World has to be consistent in itself so you can write what you like. Keep pushing boundaries.
2. Has to come from the truth. Something we can all recognise. Mine your own embarrassment. Best laughter comes with little empathy. Tinge of another emotion.
3. Involve empathy.
4. Don't try to struggle uphill. Don't make life hard for yourself. Examine the premise.
5. One purpose, one audience. Yourself. Write it to amuse yourself.
Her tips:
1. Think of funny titles
2. Character names (Lin reads obituaries). Made me think I have to have characters with funny names in Billy.
3. Character quirks or professions. Eg things they say or do repeatedly.
4. Use surprise. Banana
5. Incongruity - Think of Arnie in Kindergarten cop where he is big muscly man and is a kid cop
6. Discomfort. Laughing with tears and not out loud. Esp with a baddie.
7.Reversal of roles. Expected role - see scene of it. Eg gourmet chef has to judge a junk food comp.
8. Exaggeration. In langauge and plot. Start with something real.
9. Nonsense.
10. Specifics. Make words more specific. Eg floppy flander. Describe as funny,.
11. Attitude. Way they speak
12 Funny sounding language eg weedwacker.
Make it have rhythm, and be snappy and pacy.

I know we had lunch, then I had my one-to-one appointment. The editor made some of the same comments about Billy that I had the night before. Billy being average more than boring. I was asked if I would be willing to change the scene of school if an editor asked me to  and I said yes. I have since had a really good idea to make it more exciting.

I think I will carry on this blog later in the week, as there is so much more to say about Day One.