I just tried out another self-publishing experiment – the giveaway competition. This was organised through my publisher Feedaread. You post an extract which people are invited to read and then complete an entry form to win a free copy so it is very simple for people to do. You have to pay the cost of the prizes and postage and you choose how many copies you want to offer as prizes.I chose to run the competition for my new short story collection, Plotlands. I did quite a bit of social media advertising of the competition over a few weeks as the entry period runs for a month. Problem is to reach people without boring them to death with constant bombardment so I tried to stagger posts/tweets etc between different media over time.I was interested to see that each time I posted something, entries resulted, though there wasn’t a huge number of entrants. I also got more views on the page I had created on Facebook specifically for the book and even a few purchases, though whether that was due to the competition or just due to word of mouth/responses to reviews buyers, I don’t know. I enjoyed monitoring the competition and finding out who had won, funnily enough it was won by someone I know, so it was a good job I had nothing to do with the selection, which was done by Feedaread. So although I didn’t get a mega response it was a fun experience and made me feel more connected with potential readers. I’d definitely do it again and am planning to run a comp for my other short story collection in the near future.
Well, it’s now several months since my first venture into self-publishing with my short story collection Triple Death. Has it been worth it? Most of the copies sold so far have been print copies I have sold at writing venues and by word of mouth and to be honest, all the internet campaigns and online marketing I’ve done have not had much influence on online sales. I haven’t really gone down the path of paying for marketing agencies to promote my book. In comparison with my previous traditionally published book, I’ve actually made about the same amount of money because the royalty on the self-published book is much higher. And maybe because this book is a short story collection rather than a genre novel, it is less visible in the online marketplace.
I’ve also been told that it takes time to build up an online presence in the market and that when you have several books out, you are more likely to build up a following. I don’t know if this is true but time will tell. I have just published a second short story collection Plotlands which has sold out its first print order in two days. I plan to release a novel in the spring of 2017 but meanwhile Triple Death is available on kindle countdown for the next 24 hours at just 99p before reverting to its original price of £2.39.
Five members of Skelmersdale Writers’ Group, including myself went on writing retreat in two pine lodges sited on the edge of the river Wye the week before last.
This was our second retreat and it was so good I’m sure we’re going to make it an annual event. Last year there were four of us and we stayed in one lodge at Hay-on-Wye. This year there were five of us so we needed two lodges so that we could have a room each to ensure privacy to write.
We had a routine established from the previous year that we would write all morning, meet for lunch, then either go for a walk in the lovely surroundings or have a trip out to one of the local towns, then more writing before sharing dinner and a few glasses of wine before having a joint feedback session on the day’s work. We usually finished off by relaxing with a film or TV programme.
This worked very well as it is important to balance work with rest and leisure and time to think. A writing retreat is a fantastic opportunity to focus on a specific project. I took with me a completed novel that needed final editing and revision and I managed to finish that but I was also keen to do some new writing so I allocated part of each day to a partly-written novel that I had left hanging while editing and preparing other work for publication.
We did have to cook but we managed this by joint shopping trips, taking turns to prepare meals and making simple meals so that we were all able to relax. I think we all really enjoyed it and I was pleased to come home with a briefcase full of work and plans for the future. The seven days went over so quickly. Our hosts at Boatside Holiday Accommodation were wonderful and we had everything we needed and absolute peace to get on with our work. November is an ideal time because the holiday season is over so we more or less had this beautiful location to ourselves and the accommodation is more readily available and less expensive than earlier in the season.
I came home energised and refreshed and I can’t wait to go back again next year, perhaps even more of Skelmersdale Writers will be retreating next time!
Well, I’ve been away for a couple of weeks, hence no posts. First week was in Pwlhelli. Had a lovely quiet week with lots of walks for me and the dog and managed to get quite a bit of writing done. Second week was a coach trip to the Cotswolds with some friends. Again got quite a bit of writing done in between sightseeing trips. The chapter I’m writing is from the detective protagonist’s point of view, but I really wanted to put in some sections from the VP of the perpetrator but I couldn’t see how to do that without giving away her identity and I couldn’t get a clear idea of her voice. On our final day we went to Worcester, which is where I was brought up and the coach went past the house where I lived when I was very young, triggering lots of memories of my childhood
On Monday we had guest author Carys Bray at our writers’ group and Carys did a workshop with us based around our ideas of ‘home’. I started to write memories of my childhood, which had already been in my mind after the trip to Worcester and then I had one of those lightbulb moments as I realised that I could use these for my perpetrator’s voice, giving clues about her childhood and personality without revealing too much about the her involvement in the crime.
On Tuesday I was at a local antiques centre, attending an auction. I had some time to spare waiting for a lot to come up that I wanted to bid on so I went to the cafe and started writing a section in the voice of the perpetrator using some of the memories that had surfaced in the workshop. After that I had a walk round the stalls and spotted a Dr Barnardo’s money box in the shape of a cottage dating roughly from the 1950s. I remembered there being one of these in my classroom at primary school and it triggered yet another memory of an incident I could include in my writing. The notion of ‘house’ figures strongly in my novel and it seemed almost fated that I should see this house and get this memory just when I needed it. It made me think how tenuous is the chain of ideas that leads to the pen and what arrives on the page and how things just seem to fall into your lap sometimes if you are open to receiving them. I’d been in a sort of Sargasso sea with this particular character and now suddenly it’s all systems go. Let’s hope it continues this way.