What A Difference A Year Makes

a rookie writer looks back over 12 months

coveryearI’m about to publish my second Romantic Comedy: Boot Camp Bride – romance and intrigue on the Norfolk Marshes. The manuscript has been copyedited, is with a formatter, the cover is ready and I’m raring to go. Rather than sit twiddling my thumbs, I thought I’d clear the decks – I’m aiming for a paper free office! – continue publicising Tall, Dark and Kilted and start getting word about Boot Camp Bride. This entailed a clean sweep of my office, resulting in four bin liners filled with scribbled-on draft manuscripts, numerous self-help sheets and posts downloaded off writers’ blogs. And it suddenly hit home just how much work I’d put into launching myself as an indie writer.

socyearThis time last year, I’d just sent off my ITIN to the US Inland Revenue so Amazon.com wouldn’t without 30% of my earnings. They did anyway, but that’s another story. I thought a W8-BEN was something to do with: Been there, seen it, got the T-shirt and worn it out. (sorry) I’d also spent over £100 buying ISBN numbers from Nielsen and registering on PUBWEB. I spent hours searching through royalty free photos to find an image of a man in a kilt that wouldn’t put me off my haggis, neeps and tatties. I finally found one it on  Dreamstime. I found the photo for my second cover via Google image and then sourced it back to ‘dreamstime’.

I had to set up a PAYPAL account to buy credits on the website and now use it to pay my website designer, proof reader and formatter. (I may have bought one or two non-writing purchases, but let’s not go there!) I didn’t fully appreciate what was involved in formatting a manuscript for kindle and Create Space but managed it anyway, using crib sheets provided by RNA members Freda Lightfoot and Amanda Grange. This time I’m paying someone to copy edit and format my manuscript – nuff said!

I enjoyed designing my front cover and writing the blurb but had to learn all about categories and tags on Amazon and didn’t realise how important they were. I’m better prepared this time, too, regarding having the shipment of my novels but wish that Create Space would print in the UK and save me postage.

Lizzieyear

On the run up to publication, I organised a tweetathon/giveaway to publicise my book. I replied to so many tweets in a two hour period that I was put in twitter ‘prison’ and had to continue on my ‘event page’ on Facebook. Since then I have become an avid tweeter and re-tweeter, which I think has really helped to sell my novel outside of the UK. I now sell more downloads on amazon.com than any other site. Re-tweeting can be tedious, but through it I have gained many lovely readers who are waiting patiently for number two. I’m fast becoming expert on #hashtags #favourites, tiny/urls and how to use them to my advantage.

I had a profile on Facebook before I became a writer and established quite a community of friends there. Many Facebook friends have downloaded and my books and supported me this year and I can’t thank them enough. Please ‘friend’ me if we aren’t already friends. I now have a Facebook Author page  but most of my readers like to ‘friend’ me on my main page as I talk about non-writerly matters there. I now realise the importance of  amazon reviews and how they affect the algorithm that determines my place in the rankings.

I now have a website with a blog and have purchased a domain name. I’m on my second website as I wasn’t happy with the first one; however, I need to spend some time launching it this autumn along with Boot Camp Bride (www.lizzielamb.co.uk) I am in the process of having a quarterly newsletter designed, too.  I have appeared on many blogs but now need to start repaying the favour. I have also established a presence on GoodReads, after other writer friends advised me to. Jury’s still out on that one!

photo-2Along with three other writers, I formed The New Romantics 4 and held book launches in pubs, clubs and hotels. We’re about to start Round Two and hope to hold a launch in London this year.

Finally, last December I offered my book as a free download and although I had a great sales spike afterwards I don’t think I’d do it again. My reason – well, that’s for another blog post. Instead, I keep altering my price as I find if you leave things to simmer, Amazon doesn’t seem promote my novel as much.  I have stayed on KDP select as the latest self-publishing seminar I attended said that amazon has 95% of the market, Apple 5% and the other outlets 5%. But I might consider KOBO when the three month deal ends.

That’s my retrospective. Is it getting any easier? Debatable. It’s certainly not for the faint hearted. It seems that as one climbs one peak, there’s another one to be conquered – and another book to be written. And if anyone tells me indie writers have it easy, I might forget I’m a lady.

kiltyearLizzie’s Links

Tall Dark and Kilted:  http://t.co/jKpB4WMM4F

Goodreads http://tinyurl.com/cbla48d

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About Lizzie Lamb

I write contemporary women's fiction mostly based in Scotland with hot heroes, feisty heroines and always a happy ending. Along with three other authors - Adrienne Vaughan, June Kearns and Margaret Cullingford - I formed the New Romantics Press under which all our books are published.

Posted on October 8, 2013, in Lizzie's Scribbles. Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Aha published authoress of nearly a year…there you are and congrats on what has been a total whirlwind of a 12 months, with more grit, determination and ‘let’s keep at it’ than you can shake a stick at! Very proud of you and all you’ve achieved, and proud to have been part of it all.

    Your blog did make me laugh and remind me of the mad trip to the US Embassy in London,.June’s bag and the angel disguised as a taxi driver, fishfinger sandwiches, Dave’s kilt, fizz and first-night nerves, literary lunches and late night phone calls…what a totally exhausting, mind-numbing, amazing year? You couldn’t make it up…and while all that was going on, you did it again. Boot Camp Bride waiting in the wings, another funny, funky, heart-warming read about to be launched. Can’t wait!

    Now I wonder when we’ll have time to pen, The Adventures of…, nah, no one would believe, too far fetched…here’s to the next 12 months and more!

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    • I couldn’t have done it without you other three New Romantics. In under a year we’ve got two books to show for our hard work and determination. (OK. blowing own trumpet(s) here). If I had a penny for every time someone said to me: “I could write a book, too.” I’d be very rich. Onwards and upwards.

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  2. Congratulations on a year of being a published novelist, Lizzie. Lovely to read all about it here. Best of luck with Boot Camp Bride (accidently typed Bridge there LOL) and I look forward to participating in your launch events.

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    • Hi Liz and thanks for taking the time to check out my new website. There’s just so much to do in order to promote anew book. Knowing that friends are rooting for me, makes a huge difference. As for your typo (says the Queen of Typos) getting Boot Camp Bride out there has sometimes felt like a BRIDGE too far. LOL. Your turn soon, looking fwd to commenting on YOUR blog on publication day.

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    • I type bridge every time !!

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    • Many thanks for commenting Liz. Only just seen this ost it ,must have slipped through the filter. Look forward to seeing yu soon and catching up with your writing news, too.

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