Tuesday, 21 February 2017

I wonder if there’s a boxed set?

My current Achilles heel with respect to buying books is asking myself,  ‘I wonder if there’s a boxed set?’
It makes sense to me. Why would I buy just one book if I can get three with a discount? Or more! *squees*
Sure, it’s a risk if it’s a ‘new to me’ author. What if I don’t like the first book? What if I hate the author’s writing style? But I can read a sample on Amazon. I can check the Goodreads reviews from my friends and people whose opinion I respect. Sometimes I disagree with them, but it’s rare.
So let’s call buying a boxed set a calculated risk. With audio books it’s a super bonus to use my monthly credit to buy more than one book that counts, to Audible, as one credit.
What I don’t get is why traditional publishers seem to have no clue how to market titles in the ebook trade. Seriously, this IS their day job.
Over and over, I see rookie mistakes. They publish a sample with an ISBN number and a separate listing- the whole shebang - when anyone who actually uses Amazon, Kobo et al at any depth knows that you can open it and have a look inside on the sale page, or you download a sample of the full book to your reading device and read it, or hear a sample for the audiobook.
Making a separate version is unnecessary. It duplicates listings, confuses readers, clogs up sites like Goodreads, and makes more work for everyone without adding any value. Doing it this way makes it look like a short independent work by that author.
But for me, it makes me annoyed. I get what I think is a short story only to read it and find out it’s actually a sample of a longer work. Do you think I’m going to give it five stars in my review?
Nope. It isn’t written like a short work. It doesn’t have a beginning, a middle, and an end so it’s an unappetising read. Angry me doesn’t buy the whole book.
But, back to boxed sets. Why the heck would a publisher box together three works in the same series and then have the price almost exactly the same as if I had purchased them separately?

I get that you can download them in one file. See also, the price of ebooks in Australia… sighs. $13 for an ebook times three is $39. So a HUGE saving of $1.01 to buy all three.
For that price I can buy the paperback on bookdepository and get it posted from the UK to Australia for free. Sure, I’ll have to wait a few days but I can do math, why can’t the publishers?
How dare you suggest that cheaper boxed sets would just mean more books for me! *grins*

Thursday, 16 February 2017

Falling at the first hurdle

This week I tried to be a pro, and I hit a snag. I followed the 'simple' steps to set up a domain name and a webpage so that I can then do what seems like the thousand steps that follow to be a professional author, you know: the mail list, the popups to join the mail list, the auto-responder when you join the mail list etc.
And I messed it up at step one of ten.
I don’t speak this language and it makes me feel stupid to not be able to work out where I went wrong. Then I get anxious about having to try and explain what is wrong to a helpdesk. Writers are generally introverts and the whole process is scary to me.
Kid extra, who works at a tech helpdesk, just said, “I don’t listen to people when they try to tell me what’s wrong; they don’t know what’s wrong. That’s why they’re calling the helpdesk.”
Oh, yeah.
Sadly, kid extra can't help me with this issue but I’ve done things like this before and I’ve worked it out. I set up this Blogger page and it’s not amazing, but I can change a theme or add in a side bar link.
I’ve got a tumblr page and I can change the theme or add special hotlinks.
I’ve got a Goodreads account where the reviews use HTML to make text bold or italicised, and to add in images and set the size, and I’ve learnt how to do that, too.
I can upload and edit posts in fanfiction.
I’m not stupid. I’m just swimming in unfamiliar waters.
It’s exactly like working out how to make the canva covers I blogged about earlier.
Jeez, AM, stop being so hard on yourself.

Tuesday, 14 February 2017

Making covers with Canva

I was tooling about on my Pinterest page and realised that my fanfiction list is missing an awful lot of entries. I don’t have Photoshop skills, I failed with Gimp - I needed another degree to work that one - and most of the banner makers I know from ages ago aren't doing it anymore.
But in the spirit of learning things from free videos, I was watching one where the person was making a printable book for Amazon. She’d upload it and if it sold, fine - if it didn’t, it had taken less than one hour of her time to make it. With print on demand, it cost her nothing other than time to produce a journal. And she could get weirdly specific: things like migraine journals and so on. She was selling the way to make these journals in more detail.
She used Canva. I had looked at it before, but needed some more guidance and watching the talk helped me see how to use it. It’s a lot like the old Microsoft publisher - yes, I’m showing my age. 
So I had a go with some of the prompts from the Anon twilight one shot contest from years ago. It took me about an hour to make five of them, using the pre-loaded formats and inserting the picture prompts from the contest. The pre-loaded images are also set to the correct sizes for various formats from Facebook headers to Wattpad cover sizes. Neat.

What do you reckon?
It’s a little dark, but it’s way better than this attempt where I used Word to make a cover.

I mean for heaven’s sake… I am so used to seeing the pilcrow - that backwards P that shows formatting marks - that I didn’t notice it was visible in the cover I uploaded to Pinterest. Facepalms.
Why didn’t you guys tell me?

Thursday, 9 February 2017

Listening to sales podcasts

Today I got up early to listen to a podcast. The eternal curse of living in the southern hemisphere.
I worked out pretty quickly that it wasn’t really for me, it was more for non-fiction books, but I left the tab open as the guy talked on - and sniffed too often - ugh.
One of the things he talked about was that writers think they can’t sell things because they aren’t sales people, they’re creatives. He gave some hints about how you can sell things, even if you think you aren’t good at it. One strategy was to show the buyer what failure looked like and then they will be more likely to buy your product.
About fifteen minutes later, he flashed up this scary looking list of all the things people had to do (and the lists below each listing of the smaller tasks required in each individual step) before they could publish a book. He was selling a product that will automatically list all the tasks, and the completion dates for you.
He basically showed us (the buyer) what failure looked like.
He did what he had just talked about to the same audience he had just told that strategy to.
I was checking my emails as he was talking and in the continuing story of the universe throwing stuff at me, there was a blog post from Stephen Barnes talking about how you can educate yourself on sales and marketing by watching these kinds of things and learning from them. There are a lot of people out there making money by selling courses to you on how you can make money.
At that point, I shut it down.
And no, I didn’t buy his product.


Tuesday, 7 February 2017

Sometimes mistakes add to things, sometimes they don’t make a lick of difference.

This week I made a huge lasagna; 12x16 inches. I confess it was to use up the milk which was close to the use-by date. [Jeez, you people know all my secrets.]
Kid extra took a slab to work and shared it with a friend. She said to tell me that if writing didn’t work out, I could become a cook.
He told me this and I laughed and then said I had a confession to make over this particular lasagna, it had a secret ingredient.
Things are tight financially, so I buy a lot of generic brands and they all look the same; same colour packet, same font, same packaging and often a similar size. Rolled oats are cheap and healthy for breakfast and I usually store them in a big glass jar. The remains of a bag were squished down, clamped closed and left on the bench. Someone thought it was the remains of the bag of grated cheese and put it in the dairy drawer in the fridge.
When I was making the layers I grabbed the bag of ‘grated cheese’, un-clipped it and poured it all over my pan.
I stood there and looked at the rolled oats and had a crisis.
I could scoop it all out but it would take time and waste some of the sauce. The bench was covered in various pots, pans, packets and implements. I’m constructing a lasagna, people. I don’t have time for this!
So I left it. I thought if anyone notices, I will come clean and confess. And of course, nobody did.
I’m not sure what the message is here: rolled oats will bulk up anything? Keep silent until you’re caught? Remember to put in your oats?
Sometimes mistakes add to things, sometimes they don’t make a lick of difference.
Yeah… that’ll do.

Friday, 3 February 2017

What you find when you aren't looking for it

I was cleaning up my internet bookmark folder while listening to a podcast today.
It started when my brain skittered off with some ideas from that talk that should go in some of my writing. I headed off to find that work, couldn’t find it, and ended up making a note in a different program [google keep] with a reminder to pop up later.
Then I saw a lot of my ‘how to use social media’ posts dated from 2012. Seriously out of date when social media changes daily, so I started pruning and tidying up. I made a new heading of ‘writing tools’ and was dragging bookmarks into it. Some I had to click on to see what they were, and why I had bothered to save them.
And I found a plot generator I had totally forgotten about. I LOVE these things. I love a challenge. And it sounds funny, but it is much easier to write within strict boundaries than it is to write with the freedom of choice of the entire world. Too much choice is paralysing.
There are a number of different genres. I picked paranormal romance (my jam) and let it randomise everything. And voila…

Hilarious. I really love the reviews.
But… I reckon I could write that.

The podcast - Jeff Goins
140: Stop Starving and Start Making a Living from Your Art: Interview with Cory Huff

Wednesday, 1 February 2017

What’s it called when the universe keeps throwing stuff at you?

No, not different stuff; the same thing - a name, a process, a song - that keeps popping up when you are sure you have never heard it before. Suddenly it’s everywhere.
Synchronicity? No, that’s not it… *
At any rate, the universe is throwing two things at me: Mata Hari and morning pages.
It seems like every interview or podcast I listen to, people talk about doing their morning pages. Successful people. People who are at the pinnacle.
Fine… I’m doing them, I’m doing them! **
Mata Hari has me confused though. I lived in Indonesia for many years so I had certainly heard of her. I was surprised to find she wasn’t even a tiny bit Indonesian. She was Dutch. Her story is seriously tragic and it is now suspected that she was falsely accused of spying and executed by firing squad.
Tragedy - the death of her child, evil husband, intrigue, world war, younger lover, execution by firing squad. It sounds like an opera libretto. (NO, brain!)
I’m not sure how I can use this but I’ll research some more and have a think about it. Maybe it’s the basic plot line for a different character? Wouldn’t be romance though, eh? No happy endings there.

*Google tells me it is called Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon. Frowns at google. Uh huh.
** morning pages are a daily ritual/habit from The Artist’s Way. Free-write three pages by hand. Reminders to call your sister, awful things you say to yourself, worries about your life, things that made you laugh… whatever. The idea is that if they are out of your head you can deal with them.