Interviewed by The Indiscriminate Critic

After posting a wonderful review of Ascension Point, The Indiscriminate Critic himself got in touch with me, and we had a pleasant chat. He mentioned he sometimes posts author interviews alongside his book reviews, and asked if I’d be interested; naturally I was, and we had a long email exchange earlier this week.

You can read the transcript here. We had a wide-ranging chat, covering writing from a foreign country, the editing process, the inspiration behind the Ascension Point universe and its technology, and where the series is headed. I thoroughly enjoyed doing it, and it made me think hard and articulate some thoughts and decisions which had been almost subconscious before, which was very interesting.

I hope you enjoy reading it.

Successful Indie Author Lindsay Buroker on E-book Pricing

questionLindsay has a great post on her blog where she gives her views on how indie author-publishers might want to price their books.

Her rationale for pricing a novel happens to be exactly the same as mine, though I’ve never quite managed to express it this succinctly:

“I personally think about $5 per full-length novel is a fair price all around. It gives you far higher per-book earnings than traditionally published authors are receiving (even those whose ebooks are selling for $10+), it gives the readers a deal when compared to most traditionally published ebooks, and it’s often considered a fair price by those who feel that digital books should cost less than the dead-tree variety since paper, ink, and shipping aren’t a part of the equation.

“Lastly, it separates you from the legions of indie authors charging $0.99, $1.99, and $2.99 for their novels (often on the belief that they won’t be able to sell at a higher price because they’re not established names — I started out at $2.99 for just that reason). A lot of readers still walk warily around self-published books, so it can only help if you’re not giving obvious clues that your book was never vetted by a gatekeeper.”

Yup.

Achievement Unlocked: Choose Title for New Book

Thanks to everyone who commented and gave your thoughts and suggestions for a title. I’ve given it a lot of careful consideration, and the winning entry is…

VENUS RISING.

I love it. It’s got the obvious SF implication from the word Venus, the ‘rising’ is dynamic and interesting, and the cadence of the two words flows really well.

The book’s coming along very nicely, too. I’ve been quite ill this last week, which has stalled things a bit, but I’m nearly there with the first draft. Midway through chapter seventeen (of twenty), 57.5K words done with only another 12-13K to go. I might even get the draft done before Christmas. We’ll see.

Exciting times!

Dean Wesley Smith on ‘How To Get Started Selling Fiction in 2013’

I don’t always agree with the advice DWS gives on his blog. And that’s fine–he wouldn’t want me to. He wants writers to think for themselves, make informed decisions, and take control of their careers.

Today’s advice, though, I think is absolutely spot-on. It’s ‘an article on the good stuff and the bad stuff you face in getting to a solid career as a fiction writer‘.

Here are some snippets.

‘Examples (not all by a long ways) of some major myths in 2013 are:

  1. You need an agent to sell a book.
  2. You need an agent to sell a book overseas.
  3. You need an agent to sell to Hollywood.
  4. Traditional publishing gives you better quality in production and editing.
  5. If you lower your price to 99 cents on your novel, you will make more money.’

And the paragraph that really resonated with me, because it perfectly chimes with how I feel about writing:

The solution to [being in a hurry] is take a deep breath, focus on the writing and learning to write better stories and put the books out either indie or to editors or both and leave them alone. If you get a few buyers, great. If not, no big deal. Trust the audience and the editors to decide when you have graduated to professional-level storytelling.

I know ASCENSION POINT is a good book. I wouldn’t have published it otherwise. I had a professional editor tell me what was wrong with it–and there were a lot of things wrong with it. We fixed them.

Is it ‘professional-level storytelling’? Maybe. My readers so far have really enjoyed it. And I’ve got a few buyers, which is great.

Is it the best thing I’ll ever write? Not by a long way. And that’s fine. I want the last thing I ever write–at the age of ninety-two while living in a bubble city on Mars–to be that best thing.

But I’m getting there.

November Sales Report: Solid First Month

December has rolled around, which means I’ve reached the end of my first month as a published author. As many of you who follow this blog are writers as well as readers, and might be considering taking the self-publishing route yourselves in the future, I thought it might be interesting, and maybe useful, if I shared my sales numbers along with info on what promotion I did to get there.

So, without further ado…

Sales and Earnings

  • Copies sold:   34        (Kindle – 16, Paperback – 16, Kobo – 2)
  • Earnings:        $92.70
  • % to Profit*:    8.0%

(* How much I’ve earned back so far of the cost of producing the book.)

Now for some caveats:

  • These figures aren’t for exactly one month: the e-book edition of ASCENSION POINT was available from October 21st, while the paperback wasn’t out until November 7th. Close enough for my purposes, though.
  • I’ve recently discovered that it takes Smashwords up to two months to report sales from the retailers that it distributes to (Barnes and Noble, Apple, etc). I could have sold a few there, but I won’t find out for a while.
  • A LOT of these sales were to friends and family, probably as many as half. That isn’t going to happen every month, of course, so it wouldn’t surprise me if December’s numbers were lower as a result.

Promotion

Not a huge amount, to be honest. Here’s a breakdown:

  • I talked about the book a lot on this site, of course, which I think generated a few sales.
  • I posted to my private Facebook profile that the book was out, which got a lot of interest from friends. I sold ten copies in the two days after that post which I can directly attribute to it, I think.
  • I bought an ultra-cheap five-day run as an ‘Indie New Release’ on Flurries of Words for $5. Hard to tell what impact this had, as it overlapped with the bump from the Facebook post.
  • Every time the book got an Amazon review, I tweeted it, e.g. ‘Another 5* review for #AscensionPoint’ then the link to the review. No idea if these prompted anyone to buy a copy.

So all told, a decent start to my writing career. I’m very happy, and I’m looking forward to seeing what December brings!

How e-Publishing Saved Me

An inspiring piece from Kealan Patrick Burke on how self-publishing kickstarted a writing career he’d thought dead.

“In September of 2010, I put The Turtle Boy and some short stories up for sale. I followed it with The Hides, and eventually the other books in the Timmy Quinn series. By the end of the year, I’d managed to sell a grand total of 101 books, and made $134.00. And I was pleased. My expectations going into it had been grounded and realistic, because if my almost a decade in the small press had taught me anything, it was that lightning in a bottle is usually something that happens to other people. Try to duplicate it and you’re setting yourself up for disappointment. And this was alien territory for me. So when I started, I expected nothing to happen, that my books would remain just as forgotten in their digital box as their physical counterparts had. When the books started to sell a copy here and there, I was delighted. The sales were just enough to cover the gas bill every month, and I thought that was pretty damn cool.”