Category Archives: Distribution

Marketing and distribution issues for the self publisher

Done


4:10pm Pacific Standard Time. ‘A Falling of Angels’ pocket paperback is now ordered for printing. Can’t say I’m overly impressed with the end price of CAD$22.50, but that’s print to order I’m afraid. No economies of scale. The eBook version just went out for distribution at CAD$4.99, so I’m much happier about that.

Tweeted. Sent. Links will be posted here and at my Authors Den page when approval for distribution comes through. The latest Paul Calvin adventure has all been quadruple checked and I can go and deal with my Citizenship Interview with a clear conscience. Now I’m going for a lie down in a darkened room.

Up the Amazon


This is proving an education in so many ways. ‘Head of the Beast’ is now available on Amazon, and I shall be adding the heavily revised editions of ‘Sky Full of Stars’ and ‘Falling Through the Stars eBooks in the next two weeks. They’ll take a week to ‘go live’ on the major Amazon web sites.

In addition, last night I revisited Lulu.com for the first time in months and was delighted to find that their eBook distribution now covers both the Kobo and Kindle platforms as well as the Nook and iBookstore. All I need is to double check what’s available and tick two boxes. Hooray.

On the downside, what this means for me is a lot of administration. Creating and updating author pages and profiles. I’ve had one on Amazon.com some time, now the task has to be repeated for Amazon.co.uk. Authors Den and other promotional profiles need to be tidied up and improved. Adverts added to sidebars and a whole host of other time consumers. Not sure whether I want to become an ‘Amazon Associate’ though.

Also I’m writing again. Last nights contribution was a dark little tale of techno-convenience gone wrong. A 2500 word piece I’ve been struggling to finish called ‘Blink’. Today I have some domestic tasks to do before doing the weeks shopping. After that, while I’m in the mood, I’ll revise another 5000 word tale I’ve given the working title ‘the Immortality bug’. Thence another go at ‘A Falling of Angels’. It’s going to be a busy week.

Publication schedule


The updated Paul Calvin eBook ‘Head of the Beast’ has (finally) been submitted via Amazon to their Kindle Direct program. Paperback and Hardback versions have been withdrawn from Lulu.com for the moment, but new editions will be available shortly with updated text and better cover art. Link to Amazon Kindle format will be added to my Authors Den page and this blogs ‘Published Works’ page around ten am Pacific Standard Time, Saturday 23rd August.

Per previous blog post, work on its sequel, ‘A Falling of Angels’ continues. Less than 12,000 words and a denouement to go. First eBook edition should be available shortly before Christmas.

To close, I must say it isn’t easy being a one man writing, publishing, and marketing band. I really do find these final submissions quite stressful so I’m off for a quiet lie down now until my hands stop shaking. Many thanks in advance to everyone who likes my work enough to spend the price of a cup of coffee and a cookie on it. Enjoy.

Back in action


It’s been a rough few months since March. A lot of profoundly distressing things have happened, including getting cleaning fluid on both hands which caused the skin on my fingers to break up. This halted typing for over three weeks with predictable consequences. For six weeks thereafter it was one wretched thing after another, meaning I didn’t write a word. Therefore all my good intentions lie shattered at my feet. Transatlantic travel and jet lag are not good for study or the creative writing process. Neither is multiple bereavement. Nor is being handed post mortem revelations about close family. None of which I intend to share on a public forum. Although I think I will miss my dog Amos most of all.

Today the clouds lift. Since we returned from the UK I’ve been working on the Kindle edition of “Head of the Beast”, cleaning up text errors and minor glitches in punctuation, even rewriting certain passages. Forcing myself to re read and rewrite until I thought my eyes were going to bleed. The story remains the same, but it reads much better. There’s also new cover art, which is one of the low resolution examples below. A volume of short fiction is forthcoming, which is a work in progress. Maybe in late November, maybe not. Recently the sound of self imposed deadlines whooshing overhead has been deafening. There’s a number of back catalogue stories I intend to include, including some published over ten years ago. Rewritten, extended and improved. No title as yet, but I have a number of possibles.

Artwork and poll for Kindle edition of the Paul Calvin supernatural sci-fi title ‘Head of the Beast’ below.

Head of the beast cover Version A
Head of the beast cover Version A

Head of the beast cover version B
Head of the beast cover version B

Good advice from Goodreads


Pleased to say I’ve been accepted for GoodReads as an author.  As a matter of course I spent a few minutes going through their ‘Author Guidelines’ and found this solid little gem;

From time to time, Goodreads authors have responded to readers who gave their books negative reviews or ratings, and the results have been disastrous for the authors’ reputations. Goodreads is not private; other readers will see a hostile reaction from the author, and a single negative interaction is often enough to turn a reader against an author permanently.

Couldn’t agree more. Don’t engage with hostile forces unnecessarily, and you’ll never lose the fight. Make the trolls punch smoke. Sound thinking there from the Goodreads team.

There’s also a mechanism for flagging, downgrading and even removing pointlessly hostile reviews. Splendid stuff.

I have a feeling we’ll get on famously.

On the domestic front we had a minor panic last night. Around half past ten I was convinced I could smell burning insulation in the kitchen. Called Angie, who agreed; yes, that’s hot wiring, not my over active imagination. Called Mark, our landlord, who checked out the wiring and circuits, which were all running cool as frozen yoghurt. After he’d gone I checked underneath the fridge, which seemed to be the source of the hot insulation smell. Plenty of fluff on the evaporator coils, so I set to work with a long crevice nozzle on the vacuum cleaner. At one stage in a highly undignified posture with the fridge up on blocks and me scrunched up between it and the wall, straining to clear greasy dust off electric motor stators. This state of affairs continued until midnight, and I ended up sleeping with a fire extinguisher by the bed. Electrical fires, especially in frame built housing, are no joke.

It’s not like we don’t clean the kitchen regularly, but from what I could see, this was the accumulation of airborne muck from the day the fridge was installed. I’ve seen this phenomenon in old server rooms where the air conditioners were faulty or didn’t have decent air filters. Fine dust in the air builds up over time until you have motherboards that look as hairy as a Yeti in full moult, and there’s a growing smell of hot insulation. Even the odd soft ‘zipping’ noise of a static short circuit. No-one’s fault, but it can be quite worrying to see what people in ‘clean’ offices are actually breathing. Same for the fridge.

This morning; no smell, and the fridge is cool. We’re all good. The sun is shining and think it’s going to be a really good day.

Getting on to Goodreads


Struggling a little with Goodreads yesterday.  Spent a good three and a half working hours learning and navigating their Author program, and still no idea whether I will be listed.  Especially as I share an author name with a guy who writes spiritual and religious tracts.

According to one LinkedIn poster, I’m probably wasting my time as Goodreads is ‘Troll City’.  Frankly I’m not bothered.  There are few opportunities for the self publisher to get out there, and if a few whack jobs want to play bougres stupides , well that’s just fine by me.   In three years walking street patrol, getting verbal abuse every working day my skin thickened, and I can give far worse than I get, if it’s even worth responding.  My tongue and pen are honed to a razors edge.  If I really have to waste the time, there are ways and means to deal with mere abuse.  Bring it on.

It all goes back to the simple truth about self publishing in a niche market.   Getting your work into the public domain is all about networks.  Listing on Amazon, listing on Barnes & Noble, listing on iBookstore, on Kobo,  Authors Den, Goodreads.  Not to mention other distribution platforms.  They’re all networks with their own quirks and special requirements.  There’s a learning curve associated with each one.  Boxes to be ticked.  Procedures to be followed.  Teeth to be gnashed.  Hair to be torn out by the roots.  Pass the antidepressants matron, I’m just off to my padded cell to have a quiet little scream.

You get there eventually, but it takes time and energy better devoted elsewhere.  No wonder others prefer the Traditional Publishing route.

Writing, rewriting, repeatedly re proofing and editing a hundred and fifty thousand word novel is a piece of cake by comparison.  That’s just the third in the Stars trilogy.

Taxes, Grants and subsidies….


Here’s the good news; the government of Canada subsidises and gives tax breaks to publications. Can I or any other independent Canadian writer access these valuable tax breaks?

Sadly no. They only give funds and tax breaks to publishing companies, not individual self publishing writers. Application notes here.

Today I am going to talk to the local Chamber of Commerce regarding company registration. I know how it works in the UK, but not over here. I shall invest a little time today in business conversations.

Update: There’s a tax break for publishers in BC – From Income tax act, too. Probably doesn’t apply to independents, either.

Don’t forget the formatting


Just had notice from Lulu.com that ‘Falling’ has been bounced back from the distributors for a single formatting error. Easily corrected, and at least this time they didn’t just tell me the problem was in the ‘Metadata’. One word in the title should have been capitalised, and I missed it. Bummer. No matter, it’s all done and dusted and back to the Distributors again. Same price, same artwork, same everything but the one letter in the title that needed capitalising.

The word? Was ‘through’ which should have been ‘Through’. That was it. Two minutes later I’ve revised and put ‘Falling’ back into the publishing mill, which grinds exceeding small. I’m not fussed in the slightest because it was such a little thing after all the time and effort that’s been expended.

Currently chilling at the kids place in Stratford upon Avon, giving Angie the occasional shoulder massage before popping out for provisions and ensuring everyone gets fed. Have put in a little work on a couple of short stories whilst we’re here, and will be applying the latest lesson in Distribution to everything else that goes into the marketplace.

A big thank you to Kobo


I’d just like to say a big thank you to the support guys at Kobo.  For their sheer dogged professionalism when dealing with a troublesome nobody.  I.E. Me.  It may have taken a few days but they came up with the goods, and cynical old me is seriously impressed.

The royalty payments issue has a solution, which will be applied in the morning, UK time.  The uploaded Kobo eBook editions will follow, and other distribution processes allowing, will be available shortly. For the first time in what seems an age I’m feeling guardedly optimistic.

At present I’m having a suspiciously nice time.  Have just come back from a quintessentially British event called ‘The Pudding club‘ at the Three Ways Hotel, Mickleton, Gloucestershire, England.  Kind of a dessert lovers medieval banquet without the food throwing, off key singing, mock jousting or cosplay. Their Bread and Butter pudding is a smooth revelation to the taste buds, surpassed only by the flavour firework display on the tongue called Lemon & Lime Charlotte. Laura and Jo conjured a booking for this very popular weekly event, seemingly from nowhere, bless both sets of their tiny cotton socks, and a good time was had by all. We even bought the cookbook. Recommended for the more mature foodie.