My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

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Leila
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Leila » June 4th, 2011, 8:03 am

I second Mira's wow. It's great hearing about your journey and getting a real feel for what's involved. Thanks for sharing.

I wish you the best of luck going forward and I'm so happy you're really enjoying the learning. That's nine tenths of the battle.

Polymath - I would also love to see your work in print. I hope that light at the end of the tunnel is a big, bright, shiny one.

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polymath
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by polymath » June 4th, 2011, 9:44 am

dgaughran wrote:Hi Polymath,

One of the frustrating things about the Amazon system is that they only let the reader sample 10% (and I think that is 10% of the file rather than the word count), so for a short story, a reader isn't given enough to be hooked. I'm sure that has an effect on sales....

P.S. The Art of Fiction by John Gardner is excellent. I have only read certain sections so far (and keep meaning to read the rest) - but the parts on "psychic distance" are superb. Someone once told me that you should't read it until you have written a couple of books, as you need to be able to argue with him. I think you will do just fine.
I can frequently tell within ten words at what depth I'm going to engage. "If You Go Into the Woods" sample, and I did read your website excerpts, didn't throw me out nor draw me in any deeper than usual for digital digest reading. I'd rate it in a 95th percentile for struggling writer openings though. Traditional digest publication percentile, oh, I don't know, probably if given a choice of what to publish out of a monthly unsolicited manuscript haul I would consider it in the running for a debut slot. It might get bumped but held over for a subsequent month. Though it was only a small sample, an opening's every word counts.

I didn't quite feel as strong a sense of dark foreboding promise as the title, cover, and sample hint at. My wariness warred with my curiosity about entering the woods (the all-important narrative distance--a Gardner writing topic--closing close on the participation mystique--a Tolkeinesque writing topic) as much as my wariness and curiosity warred over whether to buy. My wariness won out on both accounts. I think a little stronger foreshadowed dark foreboding of what's going on in the woods would have won my curiosity. With a ranconteur type narrator, the ability to express strong commentary, dark commentary is an awesome and liberating power. Interestingly, that warring wariness and curiosity is a battle every writer seeks for readers to experience from an opening. In the words of one of my writing mentors, upsetting emotional equilibrium is a paramount attribute of an opening.

I do critically dispute with writers writing on writing. A few are pure knuckeheads. I've not found one, and I've read hundreds, who I don't have one or two points I disagree with. Even the most insightful. Sometimes it's off the mark, overshot or shy. Sometimes it's just awkward diction. Sometimes it's thematic incoherence. Sometimes it's too much imperative how-to telling. Sometimes it's too much showing without the unequivocal clarity of telling. One delight is rarely do they say up front what their focal themes are. Figuring that out makes my day. I'm well-versed in psychic access and curious about Gardner's take.
Last edited by polymath on June 4th, 2011, 8:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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dgaughran
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » June 4th, 2011, 10:23 am

"Upsetting emotional equilibrium is a paramount attribute of an opening."

Superb advice. And thank you for your comments. Thought-provoking.

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by polymath » June 4th, 2011, 8:13 pm

Just getting into Gardner's The Art of Fiction. Hilarious and a powerful voice. A bit heavy handed in the high brow department but nothing much else with which to disagree yet. Nor anything new yet either.
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Quill » June 4th, 2011, 9:00 pm

I read the sample of "If You Go Into the Woods" on the website (rather than on Amazon) and found a few copy-edits I'd make, but other than that I liked the voice and was intrigued.

I don't have an e-reader, but that's okay.

More power to you, David. Woot woot.

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » June 4th, 2011, 9:11 pm

@polymath - It's been a while but I think I only read a chapter or two in a bookshop - can't remember - but it was definitely the section on psychic distance which was excellent. Must get it again.

@quill - thank you very much.
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by longknife » June 5th, 2011, 12:16 pm

Quill wrote:I read the sample of "If You Go Into the Woods" on the website (rather than on Amazon) and found a few copy-edits I'd make, but other than that I liked the voice and was intrigued.

I don't have an e-reader, but that's okay.

More power to you, David. Woot woot.
You don't need an e-reader to read e-books!
Both Kindle and Nook have apps you can download to your PC or Laptop.

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » June 5th, 2011, 12:28 pm

lvcabbie wrote:
Quill wrote:I read the sample of "If You Go Into the Woods" on the website (rather than on Amazon) and found a few copy-edits I'd make, but other than that I liked the voice and was intrigued.

I don't have an e-reader, but that's okay.

More power to you, David. Woot woot.
You don't need an e-reader to read e-books!
Both Kindle and Nook have apps you can download to your PC or Laptop.
I don't have an e-reader (yet), and I own quite a few e-books now - mostly titles that you couldn't get in print.

The Kindle-for-PC app is quite a nice reading experience. My only problem is I have a very short attention span, and it's hard to keep focused with the internet a click away. It's great for short stories, but I find longer work a struggle.

For people who aren't as chicken-brained as me, they will probably enjoy it.

I guess that means when I do get an e-reader I should stay away from iPads and the like and stick to something that does nothing else!
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by D.T.Roberts » June 15th, 2011, 12:57 am

My first novel, Irrefutable, has been on Amazon.com as an e-book for about three weeks, since 5/24/2011
So far I have only sold 13 copies and 1 copy on Smashwords.
It has received good reviews so far but the visibility is still minimal.

Any comments on my cover are welcome.

Dale

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052GFSIG
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Margo » June 15th, 2011, 5:49 pm

D.T.Roberts wrote:It has received good reviews so far but the visibility is still minimal.
I ran into a similar problem at around the same time. Several variables outside your control are in play right now.

--Summers are, apparently, rather slow for a lot of writers, because the weather has many people outside being active instead of inside reading.

--Amazon's Sunshine Deals put a lot of big name authors on sale for indie prices. The promotion ends today, I think.

--Amazon has been experimenting with how titles are ranked in searches. When they temporarily took tagging offline, for instance, a large number of indie authors lost their visibility and sales tanked. Amazon seems to also be experimenting with other aspects of ranking that might be making it harder for your book to show up in searches that aren't specific to your name or title.

All of it should be temporary. If you still have a sales problem a few months from now...maybe be concerned.
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » June 20th, 2011, 6:56 pm

Hi Dale,

I'm sorry I didn't see your post before - my notifications aren't working very well - I just got an email now to say you had posted. Is that happening to anyone else?

Anyway, it's tough to give advice without knowing what you are doing already to promote your book.

However, you can always break down the key elements, and examine how you are doing.

COVER

I think this needs a bit of work. First off, you should remember that must readers will see your cover on listings that are really small, maybe an inch by a half-inch. Shrink your cover down to that size then look at it again.

I'm guessing the first thing you will notice is that your taglines are unreadable. Get rid of them. They are doing nothing for you. The place for them is in your product description.

Now, you are following the basic rules of a good cover. You have a striking image, and clear author name and title. However, I think you could work on the quality of the typeface a little. Take a look at the bestseller charts. Copy the guys at the top. If it's something you can't do yourself, consider hiring a designer.

Covers are the #3 most important factor in a book-buyer's decision (#1 is having read something by the author before, and #2 is trusted recommendation), and it's the only factor under your immediate, direct control.

You don't go into a fight with one hand tied behind your back, give your book the best possible chance by making it look just like a book published by New York. Look at what they do, copy them.

I don't think this is a BAD cover, but I do think it could be a lot more effective with a few simple tweaks.

BLURB

Your blurb is way too short. It sounds like you have an interesting story but I don't think you are selling it as well as you could.

You should have a paragraph or two that really really makes the reader want to buy it. Again, look at the bestsellers. Find the blurbs you like. Copy them.

There are some good tips on blurb writing here: http://www.publetariat.com/publish/how- ... -your-book

SAMPLE

The formatting is fine (I just did a quick scan for errors), but you might want to make "Prologue" a proper chapter heading.

The front matter could be worked on. I would suggest moving the dedication and acknowledgements to the back to give your readers more story. The more story in your sample, and the less pages they have to flick through to get to it, the greater chance they will be drawn in and purchase your book.

I would suggest just one title page (aside from the cover), including the copyright notice, then straight into the prologue. Don't waste any time in trying to hook the reader.

PROMO

I don't know what you are doing here, so it's hard to advise. Reviews are important. You have some good ones already, so people who do get to read your story are clearly enjoying it.

Submit to some book bloggers. Also, consider posting on sites or forums giving away free review copies.

Do you have a blog? Twitter account? Facebook page? You don't need them all, but you should have at least one of those, and then you can do things like run competitions and giveaways etc.

Overall though, I would say don't sweat it too much. John Locke made $47 in his first six months - your sales are way ahead of average. However, if most of those were to friends and family at the start, and they have just died now, then maybe consider looking at your whole presentation in line with what I said above and just seeing how you can make it better.

Good luck,

Dave
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Holly » June 20th, 2011, 7:33 pm

D.T.Roberts wrote:My first novel, Irrefutable, has been on Amazon.com as an e-book for about three weeks, since 5/24/2011
So far I have only sold 13 copies and 1 copy on Smashwords.
It has received good reviews so far but the visibility is still minimal.

Any comments on my cover are welcome.

Dale

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0052GFSIG
I second what DGaughran said -- good comments.

The cover looks way too dark to me. The white type is so small I can't read it. Since you're not a bestselling author, you could reduce the size of your name, which would give more room for the design. I would spend a few hundred dollars and hire a professional. Your book looks really interesting and you want to do it justice.

You can also contact book bloggers, as DGraughran says -- find out who reviews your type of novel (Google "suspense blog reviews" or "thriller blog reviews," for example), follow their submission guidelines, and ask for reviews. Good luck.

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » June 20th, 2011, 7:43 pm

There is a great list of indie book reviewers here:

simon-royle.com/indie-reviewers/

P.S. I thought the cover might be too dark, but it actually looks better on Amazon. You could play with washing it out a little and see what that looks like. Experiment.
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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by Holly » June 20th, 2011, 8:27 pm

I'm about to put two ebooks online this summer. Here are covers designed by Stewart A. Williams, http://www.stewartwilliamsdesign.com. One is a sci-fi novel, the other nonfiction. Stewart was affordable, prompt and professional.

Haunted Ground has a hand-drawn, historical map of the Gettysburg battlefield behind the title, but the image is too small to make it out here.


Image

Image

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Re: My Self-Publishing Experiment - Initial Results.

Post by dgaughran » June 20th, 2011, 8:45 pm

I love those covers.
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