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Editing for authors: because every writer needs a good editor.

MarlynnOfMany

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Hello, all! I’ve finally jumped onto the self-publishing train, and as far as I can tell, it’s going well! I was planning to wait until I got my first paycheck before posting about the experience, but I’ve got plenty to talk about now. And as I understand it, Amazon should be sending in their statement soon.

After much research and hand-wringing, I settled on self-publishing through BookBaby. I know there are several routes that would probably give me higher percentages in sales, but at this point in my life I needed a central place to do everything from, since I don’t have the time to keep track of a half-dozen different things. BookBaby does it all — POD, ebooks, cover design, even webhosting — and I must say it’s been a good experience so far. My only caution to others is to triple-check everything for errors, both yours and theirs. It’s on you if the book gets printed with a goof. But as I’m an accomplished proofreader, it appears that I’ve managed to send the book out into the world without any glaring typos! At least none that I’ve found yet. Here's hoping.

This is the book:

400pixels.jpg


Sweeping Changes is a fantasy novel about magic, memory problems, and broom-fu. It was originally inspired by song lyrics (“I used to rule the world / Seas would rise when I gave the word / But now I sleep alone / Sweep the streets I used to own”). I had a great time writing it, and readers are saying good things about it now! There are currently 10 reviews on Amazon, and they’re all positive — most are high quality reviews, too, not just “it was good lol.” This is a great relief to me, because of course I think it’s good, but other people seem to as well! And they’re not just saying nice things becuse they know me and don’t want to hurt my feelings. :)

I’ve been as busy promoting it as I can be. I got it stocked in local bookstores and the library, I’ve done public readings and even a TV interview (woo!), and I’ve told everyone I know. When I placed the order with BookBaby, I got 100 physical books to give away and sell by hand, and I’m just now coming to the end of those. I’ve given them to friends and family, sold them at a mini comic con, and even gotten permission to set up a little display on the counter at my day job. I’m always delighted when people buy them. I’m not making any real money, buy I’m getting the word out, and I daresay that’s more important, especially now when I’m just starting out.

I had bookmarks printed, which I highly recommend as a marketing tool. I used OverNightPrints.com, which has both good quality and good prices. (“Spend three times as much on the next batch, and get eight times as many? Yes please!”) They turned out great:

photogenicbookmarks3.jpg


It’s hard to go wrong with classy bookmarks. They’re business cards that people will want to keep and look at regularly! A visible reminder to look up that book that sounded promising! Something that can be hidden around one’s alma mater like a literary Easter Bunny was there! (My college may have bookmarks in strange places now. I regret nothing.)

What else have I learned? Goodreads! I’ve learned that Goodreads giveaways are excellent, while paying for a sidebar ad is a waste of money. I paid months ago to put my ad into the rotation, which really means I gave them money to use up in 50-cent increments whenever someone clicks on the ad. It's a great system, to be sure, except no one pays attention to the sidebar ads. I’m pretty sure only one person has added the book to their to-read list as a result of such a click. Ring-a-ding-ding. The giveaways, on the other hand, are a whole ‘nother story!

I ran a giveaway in October, and nearly 1200 people entered to win a single copy. 500 of those added the book to their list, and these were people who’d never heard of it a few days earlier. All it cost me was a physical book that I already had, and the shipping fee to send it to the winner. Definitely worth it.

I’ll be doing another giveaway on the first week of December, and we’ll see if more or fewer people enter. Those 500 will be notified, and the Goodreads members who frequent the newly-posted giveaways may recognize it. The question is whether they’ll react with an “Oh hey, I should enter this time,” or a “Nah, I already saw it.” I shall report back with my findings!

And if you or someone you know would appreciate a book with furbirds, fight scenes, and a snarky talking reflection, then feel free to enter yourself! You may even win. :)

Oh, and one other handy thing about Goodreads that I’d recommend is the book club forums. There are “Read to review / R2R” threads, where authors can offer free ebooks in exchange for honest reviews. It’s a good system, provided you don’t mind if people are actually honest! (It’s a good way to get “I got a free copy and it was a waste of storage on my smartphone” responses.) (Thankfully I didn’t get any of those.) And since emailing someone a digital copy doesn’t cost a thing, I’d say it’s well worth the effort.

I’m sure that there’s more I can say about my adventures thus far, but I can’t think of it now. I’ll add more when it comes to me. Or when that first paycheck comes to me! Here’s hoping it’s bigger than I think it’ll be! :D
 

WriterBN

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Congratulations, and may your paycheck be ever embiggened!

Getting 1200 entrants for a GR giveaway is great. I haven't found them particularly useful (a lot of entrants are freebie chasers, these days) but it doesn't cost you anything except shipping and the book.
 

scott123

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Congratulation man. I hope everything goes as planned
 

M. H. Lee

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Congrats! Sounds like you're off to a good start.
 

CathleenT

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Hurray for good reviews! I know we're not supposed to pay too much attention to them, but it really means something when somebody likes your book.
 

raelwv

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Congrats!

Getting 1200 entrants for a GR giveaway is great. I haven't found them particularly useful (a lot of entrants are freebie chasers, these days) but it doesn't cost you anything except shipping and the book.

I was pleasantly surprised that both the winners of my last GR giveaway actually wrote reviews (albeit very very short ones). The last time, neither did. :Shrug:
 

ASeiple

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Bookbaby, huh? I'll have to look into that...

Congrats! Welcome to the club, glad it's going well!

Sweeping Changes sounds like a book my wife might like. Might be time to get her a Christmas present... :D
 

Glyax

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Congratulations!!! I was unaware of GoodReads before I read this post. As I am nearing the final product on my latest story to be self published, I will be heading over there very shortly to see what results I might get. Might I ask how you went about the public readings, getting your local bookstores to sell copies of your story, and the interview???
 

MarlynnOfMany

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Sweeping Changes sounds like a book my wife might like. Might be time to get her a Christmas present... :D

Yay! I hope she enjoys it. I certainly did. :D


Might I ask how you went about the public readings, getting your local bookstores to sell copies of your story, and the interview???

It was mostly a matter of researching what's available in my area, then following up on anything remotely helpful. There's a chain of bookstores with a section for books by local authors (Copperfield's, in Northern California). I called each store and asked for the consignment person -- most said to bring in a few copies and sign a paper so they could sell them and give me half later, while a couple just said it sounded good and they'd order it directly from Ingram, without me having to bring any in. It was all easier than I expected.

The public reading opportunities were things I heard about through a local writer's group (Redwood Writers). I went to an open mic that was open to anyone, and while I was there I learned of the other opportunities: I was a featured author at Dining With Local Authors Night at a restaurant, I paid a bit of money for filming costs of the interview, and I got my books on consignment at some non-bookstore locations (which is arranged by the same lady who does the interviewing, a local author herself).

All of this was really just a matter of (1) finding out that it existed, (2) asking to be involved, and (3) having my book approved as something worth promoting. And that part wasn't as strict as I expected either! There's a lot of support for local authors in my area. There may be in yours too; I certainly had no idea all this was going on before I started looking! *thumbs up* Good luck!
 

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Marlynn

Good tips. I just published a short story and a novel on Amazon and I'm diving into marketing mode. (which I hate)
The first book in my trilogy of the zombie war in Georgia has a broad scope but drills down to the fight for at the river line at Roswell. (northern Atlanta suburb) It's the anti-Walking Dead - Georgia would never roll over without a fight but the story is about the eccentric mix of men and women who made it happen.

I did a lot of research and have the idea of conducting video interviews with people who were involved in saving the town at the different locations: the river, the courthouse, the governor's mansion, police station etc.. I have a should patch design for the 'Whispering Death' battalions of the State Defense force which I plan to have printed as stickers and then produced as velcro patches. Thinking also of giving away the Excel tool I created to use because I don't like outlines.

This novel was derived from a musical I originally created but lacked the resources to produce. I'm sure there is an angle there but I only got three of the songs recorded so not sure how to play that.

Bookbaby looked like a good idea when I scoped it out but Smashwords seemed cheaper and sort of similar - perhaps I'm wrong? Guess I'll revisit that.

Thanks for the input
Michael

-------------------------------
In the midst of a Zombie apocalypse and nuclear horror the libertarian governor of Georgia must impose martial law and act against her personal beliefs to enable the people of her state to survive.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B018FFAMR2/?tag=absowrit-20

ref=sr_1_1
 

MarlynnOfMany

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That all sounds like some fun promotional stuff, and extra content for fans! I wish you all the best of luck with it. I've been keeping an eye out for more to offer on my own website -- I know there'll be art when I get around to drawing it (after I've figured how to avoid spoilers). The other book that I originally planned on publishing first had a nifty alien species that I was going to make sculptures of, but there's not a perfect thing like that for this one.

Maybe the furbirds, but then I'd have to settle on an exact concrete visual for them, and I kinda like the different ideas that people are coming up with. Even though I describe them pretty clearly, people are thinking of details that I didn't include, and I don't want to break any hearts. :)

And Smashwords is probably cheaper, but they only do ebooks. BookBaby makes physical copies too.
*thumbs up*
 

Interfaced

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Congrats on the release (great cover!) and thanks for the tips.

GoodReads is definitely something that I need to delve into more deeply. I had similar poor results from paid advertising on there, but I really like the idea of the giveaway and R2R. The threads there have always had excellent information on them for a new author, so it's about time I gave something back too.

Onwards and upwards - may you find great success!
 

MarlynnOfMany

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Giveaway update: it's looking like the second go-round will be less successful, sadly -- tomorrow's the last day, and I've barely cleared 700 people. That's a far cry from the nearly 1200 of the October giveaway. I guess we'll see if there's a crazy rush last-minute! That's certainly possible, since the about-to-end listings are the most popular, so who knows.
 

MarlynnOfMany

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So, about that crazy last-minute rush! There are currently 4.5 hours left, and it's passed 1000 people.

I am somewhat surprised! 0.0

What will happen in those last 4.5 hours?? :e2cheer::popcorn::banana:
 

MarlynnOfMany

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Less than 2 hours left, and it's past 1100 people. Wow. This is gonna be close! Looks like I may have to wait until morning to find out the total, though. *drumroll*
 

MarlynnOfMany

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End total: 1138 people entered the giveaway. That's a couple dozen less than last time -- which is a little disappointing, but given where it was a couple days ago, I'm not complaining.

Also interesting: the total number of people who've added the book is currently at 710, which is less significant than last time too. Not sure what to make of that.

But oh well, people are interested in the book, and that's a good thing!

Now to ship the winner's book to Canada. :Thumbs:
 

Interfaced

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Well done - you've absolutely inspired me to run my own, thank you for the prod! :)

Quick question: does GR do the random selection process for you, or do you just pick one out?

(Great author pic btw!)
 

MarlynnOfMany

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Yay! Good luck!

Goodreads chooses the winner for you, probably to make sure there's no temptation to be impartial. It's interesting to see who wins!

Thanks; I like that photo too! I'll probably put up something more Industry-Standard And Dignified eventually, but that's the best one I had on hand. :)
 

MarlynnOfMany

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I just got my first paycheck! *confetti* It's not much, but it's a start. And it's a little more than I expected, so hallelujah!

I have Direct Deposit set up with BookBaby so that they send me money whenever the royalties add up to $50. I thought I'd get a payment of exactly $50, but instead I got $65.39. Yay!

Now to keep meticulous records of my earning like a good self-employed taxpayer, then spend time scrutinizing the listing for where the sales came from!

I was surprised to find that there were two different orders for 10 print books each, which were ordered months ago but are only being reported now. I thought at first that all this happened yesterday as a result of the phone calls I made to different Barnes&Noble stores to ask them to stock the books. But no, these things only get reported well after the fact, so I won't know until the next payment how many they ordered. That gives me time to call some more stores!

Now what to spend my hard-earned money on... (Other than exciting things like groceries.)
 

MarlynnOfMany

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There are physical copies in Barnes&Noble! Not all locations by any means, but a couple close to home. I've signed the copies at the nearest, and someone will be getting back to me about doing a reading/signing there. Woo!

Oh, and I started a Twitter account. Apparently that's where all the pros hang out. *shrug* We'll see if anything comes of it! Fun so far.
 
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MarlynnOfMany

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After getting a decent tax refund, I've started looking into ways of getting the word out via money. There are plenty of recommendations to sift through, and some are bit out of my price range (Bookbub looks great, but I could self-publish the sequel for that price).

For now, I'm starting with these guys for a reasonably-priced month, which amusingly enough starts on 4/20 (hurr hurr). I will be keeping an eye on the sales record as much as I can -- I may not know until three months later if much comes of it, but it's worth a try. And I expect this will do more than the Goodreads ad of the same cost. We'll see!

In other news, I'm actively working on the sequel. This month is Camp NaNoWriMo, which is fine motivation to keep plugging away at it. I'm not managing anywhere near normal NaNoWriMo pace, but as long as I'm getting somewhere, it will have to be enough.

And the sequel is exciting to read. :snoopy:
 

Tavia

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Good luck with the promo! :) One question -- why won't you know about results for three months?

In other news, I'm actively working on the sequel. This month is Camp NaNoWriMo, which is fine motivation to keep plugging away at it. I'm not managing anywhere near normal NaNoWriMo pace, but as long as I'm getting somewhere, it will have to be enough.

And the sequel is exciting to read. :snoopy:

And exciting sequels are fantastic news :D I'm doing a fairly sedate Camp NaNo too. It's nice getting words down, however many they are!
 

MarlynnOfMany

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Most of my sales are through Amazon, and it turns out that they report earnings on a bit of a delay. It was a couple months before I got my first paycheck. I'm still figuring out the exact details of how that works, but I don't expect a new sales boom to be immediately accessible. (Ha, sales boom. Sales pop? Sales squeaky-mallet-noise? No delusions here.)

And hooray for Camp NaNo at any pace! Progress is progress.

Now off to write about a training exercise that involves dangerous magic beasties. Excitement!
 

Tavia

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Most of my sales are through Amazon, and it turns out that they report earnings on a bit of a delay. It was a couple months before I got my first paycheck. I'm still figuring out the exact details of how that works, but I don't expect a new sales boom to be immediately accessible. (Ha, sales boom. Sales pop? Sales squeaky-mallet-noise? No delusions here.)

Huh. Does Bookbaby not tell you your sales immediately, then? I can see my Amazon sales and royalties update from hour to hour.
 

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