Tag Archives: Marketing

Having second thoughts


About Patreon. I’m seriously concerned that my tiny account will be terminated if they find some of the very non-PC stuff I’ve written under various pseudonyms over the years. My first ever article is a case in point. It was meant to be an amusing tale written for a motorcycle magazine, nothing more. Bends, Sun and Hedges was written in the late 1970’s and shared some of that era’s social mores, which were far more loose and easy going than nowadays. Writers now are under ever more pressure not only to debase the language we use as part of our communications toolkit, but some commentators are being actively muzzled for having the ‘wrong’ opinions by some very sinister people. Yes. By all those so-called ‘Trust and Safety teams’ who no-one should trust and whose scrutiny is to be avoided. Stalin would have loved them.

Now this is something that might ultimately hurt me, as I am not very happy with the censorious nature of a number of silicon valley platforms. Ergo I am creating a Subscribestar account and will not be posting any further links or content to Patreon because they demonstrably can’t be trusted. Besides, I like the look of Subscribestar’s interface. It’s a lot less user-fiendish and transparent, surprise Windows 10 updates (Don’t ask) notwithstanding.

So if anyone wants to show this mendicant scribbler some financial love, that is where my online begging bowl will be.

Apologies….. #VATMESS


… To anyone in Europe who wants to buy an eBook via Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.de, Amazon.fr, Amazon.es, and Amazon.it.

The 20% UK price hike from 1st January 2015 is not due to publishers and authors getting greedy. Far from it. Collectively we’ll be taking a sizeable pay cut. Because in the New Year (2015) eBook downloads and similar are being subjected to Value Added Tax. This will hit anyone who is an ePublisher, both coming and going. Especially the small independents.

As a Kindle Direct Program Author I received an email containing this bombshell;

On January 1, 2015, European Union (EU) tax laws regarding the taxation of digital products (including eBooks) will change: previously, Value Added Tax (VAT) was applied based on the seller’s country – as of January 1st, VAT will be applied based on the buyer’s country. As a result, starting on January 1st, KDP authors must set list prices to be inclusive of VAT. We will also make a one-time adjustment for existing books published through KDP to move from VAT-exclusive list prices to list prices which include VAT. We’ll put these changes into effect starting January 1st; you may always change your prices at any time, but you do not need to take any action unless you wish to do so.

One-time Adjustment for Existing KDP Titles:
Starting January 1st, for any titles already published in KDP, we will make a one-time adjustment to convert VAT-exclusive list prices provided to us to VAT-inclusive list prices. Subject to minimum and maximum thresholds, we will add the applicable VAT based on the primary country of the marketplace to the VAT-exclusive list price provided. For example, if an author had previously set £5.00 as the VAT-exclusive list price for amazon.co.uk, the new VAT-inclusive list price will be £6.00 because the applicable VAT rate in the UK is 20%. Please note, if an author had set a consistent VAT-exclusive list price for all Euro based Kindle stores, those prices will now be different due to varying VAT rates for the primary country of each Kindle store. For example, if an author had previously provided a €6.00 VAT-exclusive list price for amazon.de, amazon.fr, amazon.es, and amazon.it Kindle stores, the list prices including VAT will be €7.14 (19% VAT), €6.33 (5.5% VAT), €7.26 (21% VAT), and €7.32 (22% VAT) respectively.

Minimum and maximum list prices for the 35% and 70% royalty plans will now also include VAT. For books published before January 1st that would fall outside these new limits after VAT is included, we will adjust the list price to ensure the book remains in the same royalty plan that was previously selected.

I have only one title available on Kindle alone and that’s ‘Head of the Beast’ special Kindle edition. Which has me thinking of withdrawing said ‘Kindle only’ eBook and producing a new edition for general distribution on all the main platforms.

In the interim, there is a way around the EU’s tax grab, which is to surf Amazons listings via a VPN service like TunnelBear. Avast! antivirus also offer a reasonably priced VPN solution for subscribers. Or go to your chosen author’s offshore web page and purchase a download directly from their US or overseas publisher. In my case Lulu.com (See sidebar). This is a win-win for both independent author and reader, as the author of a chosen title will probably get a bigger royalty than if purchased via Amazon. In my case that works out at CAD$3.46 (About GBP1.90) from Lulu.com out of a CAD$4.99 priced title (Currently about GBP2.75) or CAD$1.92 (About GBP1.05) if the same title is purchased via Amazon and the reader can duck the EU’s tax hike. Currency conversions are based on the current rate of 1.82 Canadian Dollars to one British pound.

We should have seen this coming like a twister on the horizon. Staring at this dark cloud but not quite believing it was heading our way. A tax on eBooks? Surely not. Too late. If you can’t use technology to duck the extra tax, buy all the eBooks you can before the 1st January 2015 deadline. For my part, I’ll try to work out how to trade direct to consumer with a virtual currency like Bitcoin.

The UK’s Daily Telegraph is not impressed. Neither am I. It’s hard enough trying to make a little money in the writing game without being subject to daylight robbery.

Pass it on.

Profiles and marketing


Over a lunchtime coffee yesterday I was explaining to my long suffering wife about what it means to be an independent author. All the hoops that have to be jumped without assistance and the sense of never actually having caught up with yourself. It’s not just the writing, it’s the marketing and self promotion. How even with a mainstream publisher you’re still going to have to do a lot of this. Especially if you’re like me, a modest man with much to be modest about. The whole practice of self aggrandisement goes against nature. Sometimes I can feel my body cringing at the very thought. Friends, family and employers may congratulate you on your turn of phase and ability to communicate in prose, but from the depths of childhood there’s always this awful insidious doubt. Like fluffing your lines at five years old and having the whole class laugh at you. It’s a little like dying.

Nonetheless, accepted wisdom is if you want to sell, you are your own brand and this can get in the way of actually producing anything for a possible reading public. I hear this a lot on the forums I lurk around and get automated emails from. There’s just so much to do, if like me you’re an Independent with limited resources to pay for visibility. With another million (and then some) voices out there, clamouring for attention the task of getting noticed can seem impossible. Even if you do manage to get your work listed in all the right marketplaces. Then you’re faced with the last hurdle that most bookstores won’t stock independently published work. Everywhere there are mountains to climb with a great deal of sometimes contradictory sounding advice on how to scale those vertiginous heights.

So here’s my ten cents worth; there are ways of attacking this issue. Send it out to get reviewed, if the reviewers aren’t swamped or simply aren’t interested in your genre. Wait for a third party to check it out and see if they like your work enough to pen a couple of lines about it. Quite frankly I find the whole business of reviews a little scary. I try not to read them anyway, as I’m more likely than not to disagree with the reviewers. To quote the Latin; De gustibus non est disputandum. For example, in the past I’ve tried to read past Man Booker prize winners and found myself going to sleep after the first three pages. Same for many ‘critically acclaimed’ works. I’ve heard friends say exactly the same. It seems to me that critics and the public rarely concur.

Bearing this in mind, what I’m going to do over the next week is to work down the list of online distribution outlets and marketplaces checking my listings. Post a couple of short stories on genre web sites. This is time consuming but critical. Check my author profile is correct, confirm as much of the work as the distributor has listed, ensure they’re the right editions. Check the ISBN’s, iBookstore ID’s, Amazon references and other reference numbers. Confirm on at least three of the Amazon sites; .com, .co.uk, .ca and more because they’re all separate entities. Apple Author ID (Which I knew nothing about until today) Then there are all the promotion links; all forty six of them. Even logging on using my standard Facebook profile is a lot of duplication of effort and that’s only the beginning. Did I mention iAuthor? Then there’s the site admin updates by the providers coming up with the next big thing. You almost need another person full time to keep track of it all, never mind doing any writing.

My solution to keeping track of everything is to create a spreadsheet and make a list of tasks or I’ll never keep up with all the necessary site updates. It’s like eating an Elephant. You have to do it one sandwich at a time. Not to mention that after a while you can get heartily sick of Elephant Sandwiches.

Still, it’ll keep me gainfully occupied on the run up to next Monday and our Canadian Citizenship swearing in ceremony.

Royalty


Got my first royalty notification via email half an hour ago from Kobo. I’m not saying how much for, but let’s just say it’s not enough for the tax man to get excited about. This will not be catapulting me into the upper tax bracket. The deposit on the Lear Jet will simply have to wait.

Still, it’s nice to have sold something. I hear about other people claiming to have made thousands, but I’m sceptical. There are many sellers, but only a finite number of readers. The mathematics are not encouraging. Even the best-selling authors find it tough. For my part I hardly do any marketing, as I spend most of my time creating something to market. Let the dice fall as they may.

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

Popping the Kobo question


I’ve just submitted a question to the Kobo guys regarding getting existing ePub formatted titles with existing ISBN’s listed on the Kobo marketplace. I’m sure it’s not as complicated as it looks. It’s Friday, and I’m not expecting any kind of reply until at least midweek next week. About the same time the proof paperback of Head of the Beast drops onto my doormat. Should Kobo work out that makes three large market places with product placement.

Note to self: must check out the listings to make sure sufficient excerpts and tasters are available to sufficiently whet reading appetites. As soon as proof is okayed and listed on Amazon, I’ll cut and paste a taster on the Amazon page.

Money is tight right at the moment, and I’ve no spare cash to spend on marketing. So it’s head down and keep on punching keys, preparing product for release into the public domain. Keep the day job and keep throwing things at the wall. Something is bound to stick sooner or later. Although I’d rather it was sooner.