What A Difference A Year Makes
a rookie writer looks back over 12 months
I’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.
This 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.
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!
Along 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.
Tall Dark and Kilted: http://t.co/jKpB4WMM4F