Saturday, 29 January 2011

First Magazine Review

A little while ago, I sent a copy of the book to a local magazine. Today I got my copy and, I will admit, flicked straight through to see if my book was reviewed in there. It was, along with complimentary lines such as:

"...hidden twists and turns paving Folland's well-laid path of adventure all the way to a thrilling conclusion."
James McAlpine, CR5 Magazine.

The book got a very good review, and they even took the space to mention Arrival.

It made my weekend, I can tell you.

Friday, 28 January 2011

Local Author Adventures - Part One

I've run a few unexpected events into since I took on the dread label "Local Author" and started promoting my book. The pseudonym preserves a lot of privacy, but even so there have been quite a few surprises. I might write a few more in this series - depending on how much is worthy of blogging.

I hadn't actually considered that being a local author means forging a business relationship with stores you've been frequenting for years. Suddenly you are a supplier as well as a customer, but also a customer at the same time, which can lead to some very odd encounters.

Walking into your local bookshop as a known author for the first time after they've ordered your book, the staff seem strangely on edge as you walk towards the counter. The thoughts are on their faces: are you going to ask about your book, the display, whether it will get an end cap etc. They must get that a lot - the stories of authors turning books face out, putting them on end caps and even reverse-shoplifting their books into the store are legion.

"Hello," I said "Do you have [biography of sportsman]?"

There was a interesting moment of confusion and relief and then a broad smile and directions.

I may write, but it doesn't mean I gave up reading.

(It also doesn't mean that when my book comes in I won't go and buy a copy - just so I can add the receipt to my scrapbook.)

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Arriving in second place

I suppose I should be upset Arrival is currently at position #2 on a Smashwords anthology search.

On the other hand, looking at number one...

...what chance do I stand against Justin Bieber?

Friday, 21 January 2011

Yougottaread Trailer Contest Open

The Fire Season Trailer was entered in this month's yougottaread contest.

Voting is now open to all so, please take a look and vote (and to shamelessly drop a hint you vote in the sidebar and Fire Season is Option 19) .

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Books on Shelves

A very short update with some good news: Fire Season will be making an appearance on Waterstones shelves shortly.

I did a full post about what it took to get listed on Waterstones system some time ago (see here). While the publisher and distributor are handling the main stock, I screwed up my courage and asked my local.

I didn't have high hopes they would take any: Fire Season is a small press book from a new author. However as I found out, if the book is already on their ordering system stores can be very happy to help.

So several copies are now making their way to Waterstones. Once they arrive in-store, I may pay a visit with a camera, just to get a shot of them on the shelves and convince myself it's real.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Using Feedbooks for promotion

Since I put arrival up on Smashwords, several people have suggested I should look at Feedbooks:

Similar to Smashwords, Feedbooks allows you to post short stories and novels in e-book format for download. However unlike Smashwords, all self-published books on it are free, making it useful for promotion or bonus content but less suitable for commercial use. I decided to put Arrival up, both to test out the system and to reach a wider audience. What follows are just my views.

To upload the story, you first set up metadata: name, description of story, and a few more details including choosing your licence. The licence options are interesting - No licence, public domain and a full range of Creative Commons. If you are trying to use Feedbooks for promotion the Creative Commons licence, allowing users to distribute and share but not alter the content, is a useful option.

Preparing the story for upload took some time, largely getting used to the Chapter/Section/Text setup. However, once you get a feel for this it is compatively easy to structure your work. Directly copying and pasting from Word produced some odd line breaks, and the edit HTML option in Feedbooks didn't work (I tried IE and Firefox, and both loaded a blank overlay screen, then hung.) To get the story formatted properly, I pasted it into Notepad, then the editor and then manually formatted it. This was fine for a short story like Arrival, but I could see it being time consuming for longer pieces of work.

Cover was an odd one. I tried to upload a few versions of my cover but the system hung every time I tried. No error message was given. As other users have covers on their stories, this could be a temporary glitch.

You can preview your book in any format while working on it, which is extremely useful. Once you are happy with it, a simple click of the Publish button will put it live.

The stats and anayltics are very well done, and extremely useful. Feedbooks shows downloads per day, but also shows the format and country of the downloads and the platform it was downloaded to. It also shows anyone who has favourited it or added it to their bookshelf.

I'm still new to Feedbooks, but it made a good initial impression and I will be interested to see how well the story does.

Saturday, 8 January 2011

Using Smashwords for promotion

Since I put Arrival up, I've had a few questions about Smashwords, most asking about how easy it is to use. As I only have one story up, there are better people to ask, but this is just my opinion.

It's pretty easy to use, taking a standard .doc Word file. No real technical knowledge is required. As long as you make sure that you follow the style guide, paying attention to things like paragraph formatting and breaks the results are pretty good. It took a couple of hours to get Arrival into shape, but if you aren't aiming for the Premium catalog, you can be less precise. However there are a few snags that came up which it didn't cover.

Some characters don't go through the conversion process e.g. I lost my en-dash character. Also, smart quotes and apostrophes appear OK on most formats but play havoc with .txt. If you don't want .txt it's not an issue, but if you do, make sure you've removed them all. They offer a very good range of formats including .epub and .mobi through to .txt and .html.

Overall though it's quick, fairly simple, and free. I used it for a giveaway, so I don't know how good it would be for commercial publishing.

Once it is up you can submit the book to their premium catalog, which puts it in places like Kobo and Amazon's Kindle store. To be accepted you have to make sure the formatting is correct or it will be rejected. They will also assign an ISBN for some stores, so you will have to opt out of these if you don't want the book to have one.

The analytics ae fairly simple, showing how many people have downloaded the book and how many people viewed the book's homepage per day. I'd have preferred slightly more detail, e.g. download format, but there is enough there to tell what effect promotions have on downloads which is useful.

Overall I'd have to say it's easy, free and reaches a wide audience. For promotional purposes at least, Smashwords is very useful.