Good afternoon, all.
Just a quick update. For those who have emailed to ask if I’m doing a follow up to Christmas Past. Yes, I’m still working on it and I’ve had a bit of a confidence boost too. I’m actually planning a series of six more short stories making up a “season” of sorts that should be ready towards the end of this year. I’m very interested to see how it’ll go and with any luck I’ll have a bit more of an audience by the time Christmas 2012 turns up.
In other news, my Self Sufficiency blog is ticking along nicely. I’ve got some good little posts up including one about how to grow beans on a bamboo teepee and a much more quick and easy project, how to grow herbs in pots indoors.
These are all pretty simple projects, but they’ve been taking up a lot of my time and they’re great fun to write about. I love writing and I hope to make my living from it some day, but even if I wrote as much as I physically could in a day that still leaves plenty of hours to fill. It’s nice to have another focus, and thinking about self sufficiency means that hopefully when I am making some money from writing, I should need quite so much to make ends meet.
Anyway, check out those blog posts if you’re interested in growing your own food and I’ll be back with news soon.
In January I joined the community of self published authors publishing to the Amazon Kindle store when I published my short story, Christmas Past with KDP select. This was a pretty exciting thing for me, not only was my enthusiasm for writing at an all time high but I was taking it further than I ever had before. Since then I’ve had chance to calm down and little and regroup. I’ve been quietly working on a series of stories to follow on from Christmas Past and I’ve been able to play with Amazon KDP and the KDP select programme. I thought it was about time I shared some of my results, however if you’re looking for a stirring success story to inspire you, then don’t get too exited.
You couldn’t say that Christmas Past has sold well. Don’t worry, I don’t mind. The story was always intended as a device to test the water. A project to see if I had it in me to write a good short story, and a pilot for the science fiction series I had lurking at the back of my mind. It did grim sales though. In its first few weeks it averaged barely a few sales a week when not on a KDP select free promotion (I’ll get to that shortly.) I should mention however, that I wanted to see how well a book sells on the Kindle store under its own steam. After the initial publication I did very little in the way of promotion for the story. I posted to twitter when it launched, I told a few old friends and I shared it on facebook. With that in mind, the results were fairly pleasing early on. As time has passed however, these sales have mostly dried up.
What does this tell you? Books don’t sell themselves. Don’t expect them to.
What has surprised me is that crop of reviews my story has netted. These have come usually after free promotions, have been fair and positive but do not seem to generate sales.
Around the time of publication, I wrote up my thoughts on KDP select in an article for the writers’ website Xenith.net. In that piece I suggested that KDP select was a far better option than the exclusivity arrangements offered by Apple and others, but that one should not get involved without knowing the risks. Now I’ve been a participant in KDP and KDP Select for nearly six months, have my opinions changed?
I remain very positive about the KDP and Kindle store. As a platform the Kindle is unsurpassed and with Kindles becoming ever lower in price and Kindle for PC, Authors have greater access to readers than ever before. While I haven’t invested too much time in promoting my short story, the little promotion I have done has usually provided results quickly. KDP offers something that is missing from the writing industry at the moment, a niche that used to be filled by magazines. Authors need a place to cut their teeth. Publishers at the moment are only interested in novels, and even then only in the most commercially viable novels. While KDP still lacks a lot of the quality control, it also offers authors a chance to get working while they’re developing their skills. Something sorely missing from the publishing industry today.
My Kindle Select results are more of a mixed bag. I said in my previous article that Amazon’s exclusivity arrangement isn’t too bad a deal, when they ask for exclusivity they are asking you to stick to the best platform for authors right now. However, it’s fair to say that what they offer in return in minimal. For a short story author like myself, participation in the Kindle Lending Library is useless, who would spend their valuable borrowing privileges on a single short story?
The free promotions however are a bit more interesting. Generally speaking, I have had interesting luck with free promotions. There are a lot of people out there who just hunt down free kindle books, that’s clear. Kindle books are often perceived as being expensive for what they are whereas there are a lot of free books to load up on your device. Whenever Christmas Past is going for free my sales jump up and I’ll shift a couple of hundred in a couple of days without any extra promotion. Unfortunately, I’ve yet to see any sales carry on after the free period.
Overall, I think I’m seeing the culmination of a lot of different issues. The KDP select results are interesting but I think they speak less to KDP and the KDP select programme than to my book and my approach. As a pilot for a series, Christmas Past told me a lot about what I could achieve as a writer, but it’s hard to sell. When I have further stories in the series, I plan on making real marketing push but until then there’s only so much I can do with it.
Also, I think trying to sell a book called Christmas Past in May doesn’t help.
These are my thoughts for now, I’ve not been too disheartened. The story isn’t selling, but honestly it’s performing better than I had expected and I’m learning a lot about using KDP and KDP select to publish. My new short story should be ready next month and it’ll be very interesting to see if that gives me a bump in sales.
This is just a quick update you let you know, if you’re at all interested in Self-sufficiency, energy efficiency or even just a passing interesting in gardening, cooking and crafts, then I’ve recently started a side project that might interest you.
The Good Blog (named for a certain vintage British sitcom) is a blog all about my growing interest in self sufficiency. Of course, I currently live on a cramped terrace with nothing you could realistically call a garden, but I’m hoping to move to a house in the country one day. Until I get there, I’ll be trying out lots of different projects involving growing, reducing ones bills and making your own goods.
Right now I’m writing all about growing your own herbs. Check it out if that floats your boat.
One of my biggest shames when blogging, and I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before, is how often I seem to start posts with apologies. Apologies for a lack of updates, apologies to my largely non-existent audience and in some respects, apologies for my blog not being better than it is. I don’t want to start that pattern again, particularly since it feels more silly the older I get. I am under no delusions about this blog and its very small amount of traffic. I know when I write these posts that I am speaking mainly to myself, and yet when I really think about it, this blog is so important.
If I am ever to make real progress with writing as a career, if I’m ever to make a living from it, I’ll need some sort of hub from which readers can find information and news. I’ll need a place to talk about my upcoming books, to promote them and to promote myself. At such a time, this blog will no doubt be overflowing with information, but at the moment it all seems sort of silly.
You see, I’m going through a rough time with writing. I’m probably being too hard on myself, but the truth is that things aren’t moving forward as quickly as I would have liked. I wrote my first story over December and push to get it out in early January. The results were mixed, but the experience was thrilling from start to finish. Since then, however, it has been like someone applied the brakes. I’ve written, sure, but never enough. Never good enough, never long enough. And the problem isn’t that I’m incapable, it’s that I’ve lacked the motivation. I seem caught between five or six decisions, and eventually I get turned around. Do I want to write the next Timewasters short story, I start and get halfway through before deciding the story I’m writing isn’t fit for so early on in the series. Instead, I decide maybe a bundle of several short stories is the best way to go next, but then I feel like I’m not prepared for such a massive undertaking. Maybe, I tell myself, I should work on something completely different. But the end result is always the same, I feel like I’m not moving forward. I’m just writing round and round in circles, achieving nothing.
And so, I suppose I do have to apologise. Not to you, my non-existent reader, but to myself, for failing to stay focused and really make something of my writing.
I know I need to get a grip on things, but I’m just not sure how.
Watch this space.
I just wanted to post a quick update on a few important changes that I’m going to be making to the blog. Firstly, I’m going to be splitting the blog into two. I started this place so I could write about my development as a writer and hopefully promote my work, but as it’s gone on I’ve been writing more about skepticism and religion. These are interesting topics, and they generate most of my traffic, but it’s at odds with my posts of fiction and the occasional “Buy my book” post.
With that in mind, I’ve made a new blog:
The new blog will be for all my posts on skepticism and religion in the UK while this blog will be for personal updates, writing and info on the Timewasters books.
Also, for anybody waiting for an update on the Timewasters short story collection, I’m really sorry I’ve been keeping you in the dark. Things have been really busy, I’ve been writing a lot and there stories are building up, but I’ve been finding myself going in unexpected directions with it. It probably won’t be until the end of the year now, but I will be publishing one or two more individual stories before then.
Lastly, I know we’ve had a bit of a problem with spam comments lately. I’m doing my best to keep on top of it.
All the best.
I told you yesterday that I had been planning on blogging about Baroness Warsi’s speech to the Holy See, but that got dropped because of the woman who told Fox News how expensive it was to help women who’ve been “raped too much.” Suffice to say, Warsi’s usual rhetoric sounded almost rational against that so I went with bashing Fox New instead. After all, every little helps.
I’d catch up on the Baroness now, but everyone has said all there is to say about it now. The important thing to note is that asking the religious not to trample over the rights of others is not the same thing as militant secularism.
Anyway, since I did blog on Fox’s rape apologist, I had the pleasure of inhabiting Reddit’s feminism subreddit for a few hours yesterday and spreading the word a little. Most people seem to be as outraged at Liz Trotta’s bile as myself, which is reassuring but there were a few comments along the lines of “well that’s just Fox News.”
I’m not quite sure why that excuses them really, is this the way we look at things now? If you have men and women working together then rape is just going to happen; if you watch Fox News then you’re going to hear vile and biased reporting etc. Too bad if you’re a victim, too bad if you’re offended, too bad if you disapprove. It serves you right for participating in the world around you, and it serves you right for expecting better.
Well I’m sorry, the world might be a shitty place sometimes, but I refuse to stop expecting better.