Saturday, 30 January 2016

Vampire novels

People keep saying that nobody wants to read vampire novels - that they are so five years ago, when Twilight was all the rage.
I may have picked a bad month to buy a program called KindleSpy. It reverse engineers figures from Amazon pages; uses the number of sales and all the information about price etc. to generate sales totals. It is meant to give you an idea of what genres are selling well and which it would be hard to compete in. All useful stuff for self-published authors who are doing all of this stuff themselves.
This month the Amazon kindle charts have been OWNED by a self-published author named Bella Forrest. *eyes narrow* Is that her real name? Bella was the name of the main character in Twilight, remember? There is no author page so I assume that it is a pseudonym.
My friends on Goodreads have this in the ‘so bad its good’ category or are unimpressed. But clearly there are enough readers to be pushing a lot of sales in this series. They've got something right.
At any rate, Ms Forrest has seventeen of the top twenty titles in the Amazon category of paranormal vampire romance. There are twenty two novels in the series so far. The first ‘A shade of Vampire’ was published in 2012 and is set at 99c, the rest at $3.99. They are selling like hotcakes and Amazon literally has a big red ‘hot’ tag next to it. That can only increase sales, right? KindleSpy does the math for me and it pulls in at a total of more than two and a half million dollars. That’s just for the top twenty books and only for the month of January 2016.
And here’s the kicker - that’s only on Amazon US. It doesn't count sales on other platforms. Here in Australia we have to buy through a different kindle site and Amazon UK has its own sales tables as well.
Maybe you shouldn’t ditch that vampire novel you started? It looks like there is still plenty of life in that undead corpse.

Saturday, 2 January 2016

2015 in a nutshell

New Year resolutions don’t seem to work for me, but I like to look back to see what I have achieved. A week ago, if I had to pick a word for 2015 it would have been stagnate. But then I sat down to collate everything and had to think about my year. And I feel that stagnate isn’t quite appropriate now.


I read 236 books - 47,216 pages
The shortest 9 pages, the longest 846 - average 210 pages
My average mark was 3.3 out of 5 stars. But I still have a massive number of books in the ‘to read’ pile. I am a book hoarder… I confess.
I marked 23 of those as ‘did not finish’. If I do this, I write a review mostly to remind myself what was wrong, but I don’t rate it if I didn’t finish it. I aimed for 225 so that’s not bad. I’ve read more than that but I am waiting to finish my review on a couple. Sometimes you need to think about it - let it stew for a little while. It also doesn’t count reading articles and fanfiction of course!


I did 4 Udemy courses on story writing and understanding Scrivener - 88 lectures - 792 minutes of coursework. I did courses with Tim Grahl, and Shawn Coyne. I signed up for a Nick Stephenson course - your first 10k readers - hours and hours of videos and PowerPoint presentations. I’ve watched them all but the course also relies on a Facebook group to exchange comments and ideas. I hate FB and I have real trouble using it. My issue, not Nick’s - the course is totally worth the money.
I hate the way FB sends you a message to tell you X has changed their status - don’t you want to see what it is? Why can’t you just send me the status? It’s passive aggressive stuff … ugh.
I also signed up for a writing group with the Write Practice, in conjunction with nanowrimo, called Becoming Writer. (I know that is bad English - why do they do this?) I didn’t find it that useful. The writing group relied on the community members to read and comment on your work but everyone was doing twenty different genres, they were all at so many different levels of expertise, and also working on nonfiction and fiction. Plus, it’s your nanowrimo rough draft. It ain’t pretty.
I wrote an Aussie ghost story and one member told me off for having a Ouija board in the story when I also had ghosts, murder, kidnappings, sex and forced adoptions… seriously lady?
I have no idea how many people actually completed nanowrimo in the group. They don’t give us info like that. I also found the website clunky and annoying to use. Posts were made in daily work posts, so one story might be spread across 31 individual posts. It was a mess. I put all of my work on the same story in one post. Even though it was out of order (I don’t write in chronological order) but at least it was all together.
There were video conferences as part of the course as well but the time difference meant I had to be up super early to listen and the presenter had a particularly soporific voice. I’d just fade out halfway through; sitting up in bed with my Chromebook on my lap. I tried getting up and standing at my standing desk but that didn’t really help. I found the group unhelpful but it may be one of those things where I just need to spend a lot more time in there to get anything out of it.


I listen to at least six regularly:
·       The creative penn 
·       Sterling and stone 
·       Mur Lafferty - I should be writing  
·       Mur and Matt Wallace do Ditch diggers, too
·       The sell more books show with Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen 
·       Lindsay Buroker Scifi fantasy podcast 
Each is an hour or so and that adds up pretty quickly if they do more than one show a week. I still have to work out how to download them to my phone so that I can listen and walk. I usually listen while at my standing desk so it counts as a kind of a break.
The biggest problem is each interviewed author usually has a sign up or a free book on offer and I end up with a few MORE books in my ‘to read’ list.


39 blog posts, 57,849 hits
Most of my readers come from the US, and Russia. I get a lot of visitors from Seely James website - no idea why. I should post at least once a week and I will aim for that this year.

Words written

I confessed in an earlier blogpost that I stopped updating my word spreadsheet for a while, so I guess I wrote more than that. And yes, I’m kicking myself now… I was offered a joint project early in the year and did a huge amount of work on it before I got cold feet. I don’t like not having a legal contract when the final ambit was about 800k words and I didn’t know who owned them or how I would be paid. I don’t regret backing away. I had written a fifth or so, and done a lot of preparation for another big chunk of it. The work is mine, but every time I look at it, I just feel frustrated and angry, rather than excited and eager to work on it. I can rewrite it, and make it into something slightly different but it may take some more distance before I am able to do that.
I finished nanowrimo in November- only 14% of people manage that, so yay me! I also did camp nanowrimo in April with a total of 80k words and in July with 50k.


I posted a one shot and that was it. My page hits are still big on and slow everywhere else. I get a lot of messages from people telling me that they constantly reread my works. That’s a massive compliment.
My stats for the year are: 1,452,258 hits and 202,276 readers.
My total hits are 8,904,681… whoa… so, some time this year I should pass 8 figures?

Social media

Pinterest I have 54 followers, twitter 937, tumblr 281 followers. I don’t know what it is about twitter but I can’t go over 940 followers. Every time I do, a dozen people unfollow me. It’s weird.
My feedly gets super scary if I don’t check it every couple of days. It collates all the blogposts and articles from all the websites that I follow. More reading…

Personal stuff

I bought a garmin vivofit about a year ago- one of those bracelets - and it’s been super useful. I am determined not to let it down. So every day it makes me walk a few more steps. I’m up to 10k steps a day - or about 6-7km. I have linked it to a phone app myfitnesspal where I record what I eat. I am fairly honest and I find I won’t eat that cream biscuit if I have to enter it into the calories app. I make choices: I can have a glass of wine or dessert, not both.
I had a slow weight gain over a few years and have now lost almost ten kilos. I feel better and I have less back pain. Makes it easier to sit and write if my back is not complaining.
So, looking at all that, I guess my word ought to be educate or amalgamate?
What was your word for 2015?