Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Pippa's Journal - June 2012

Wow, what a month it's been!

First up, I have to say a huge congrats to Laurie for signing with an agent. Also congrats to Donna on getting requests for both of her novels. Hopefully we'll soon have news of another contract and upcoming releases for the crew of Spacefreighters, woo hoo! And the count down to the release of Ghost Planet continues for Sharon, with it not only available for pre-order on Amazon, but also at the Book Depository with FREE worldwide delivery here. Needless to say, I've already got mine on order. :)

In the meantime, Keir has been out for just over a month, and I promised an update on how the tour went overall. So, some stats and general findings:

During the tour, the number of people marking Keir as to-read on Goodreads rose from 22 to 73. I was hugely impressed with this...until I saw another author tweet that her upcoming release had some 500+ mark it as to-read. However, she's a well-established author with several titles to her name and apparently a huge following. So something for me to aspire to perhaps. :)

I had three requests from reviewers for copies of Keir. I also requested for Keir to be read and reviewed by the site I've worked for on and off for the past year. One reviewer told me she couldn't finish the book having gotten 30% of the way through, but otherwise, the feedback I've had has been great. Keir has been receiving good reviews - five and four stars - by independant reveiwers and friends. I have to say there's nothing quite like the buzz of someone telling you they loved your book!
I've also seen the comment 'a friend made me read this' or someone had read it because of the reviews. To me, this suggests the best advertising is still word of mouth and/or reviews. I also know of at least one person who has bought Keir  because they'd read my free short story - The Bones of the Sea. So again, I think having something like that out is a worthwhile project. The short has been out for a year now and had over 500 downloads. I've just updated it to include an excerpt, blurb and buy links for Keir - one of the benefits of a self-published digital work is being able to instantly make adjustments to it whenever you need to. :) However, as a side note Smashwords refused to include it in their Premium Catalog Distribution (to send it to other outlets such as Apple, Sony and Kobo for example) because of the sales links in the back. I had to remove those and settle for having the blurb and cover, with links to my blog site. Ah well.

Not only did all the peeps I asked to host me seem more than happy to do so, but I was overwhelmed by the generosity of those who offered to host me out of the blue, or to promote my tour by posting the listings. Many of these were SFR Brigade members, many of whom I also consider friends. To all of you I owe a huge debt of thanks and appreciation.

Using the Ebook Giveaway group and posting in the SFR Giveaway Group on Goodreads didn't seem to produce any direct results, perhaps because it still required people to go to the blog posts and comment. At some point in the future I may simply put up a copy of Keir to anyone commenting on Goodreads itself.

I put a request on Facebook asking if anyone would be willing to take a few of my bookmarks into their workplaces to leave. I received more than a dozen offers of help to place said bookmarks in book shops, coffee shops, libraries, swag bags and entertainment centres in the US, UK and Germany - so much so that I actually had to order in more bookmarks! A huge thank you to all of those who took part.

There was little change to my blog stats during the tour, and my Twitter following continued a very gradual increase. My Facebook page continues to hover around the 130 followers mark. My Wordpress site gained a couple of new followers, as did my main Blogger site. There was no significant change on Google+ or my Facebook profile, although I now have more friends on Goodreads. :)

As for sales, well... I had about twenty people tell me they've bought Keir. According to NovelRank - which tracks your sales via Amazon (but which didn't start it's tracking of Keir until three days after Amazon released it for sale) - I've sold less than that, so I don't think it's that reliable an indication. I have no idea how it's sold elsewhere, except for the fact that on the Lyrical Press website it's now saying beneath Keir that 'people who bought this book also bought...' which I assume means I must have sold at least one. I won't know for sure until I get my first statement in a month - and the Amazon sales aren't likely to register until the following month. I will not be posting official numbers at that time due to confidentiality.

In terms of comments, I felt the blog posts generally got a good response. Obviously I've nothing of my own to compare this to, but judging by tours I've followed or hosted before I think mine was reasonable. With hindsight I think could easily have stretched the tour out over a month rather than the two weeks I settled on. However, I originally only planned to do a week - I think that's definitely too short a time to tour!

On a personal note, I finally got over my hangup about calling myself an author and formally stated myself as such on youngest's school registration papers. My daughter seems determined to become my marketing manager by informing all her teachers, including her headmistress, about my book. Funny, since for the last two years my family have referred to my writing as 'mummy's stupid book stuff'. How things change! :-D

In the meantime...

 The first SFR Brigade Midsummer Blog Hop is taking place on the 22nd June! Yay! There will be prizes up for grabs on every step of the tour, and a grand prize of a Kindle or Nook Touch, with a runner's up prize of a whole library of sfr titles and a goodie basket! Anyone commenting on any of the posts on the tour will be eligible for entry into the grand prize draw (only one comment per blog post will count - no multiple comments). Please pass on the news so we can make this a huge and fun event, and hopefully an annual one if all goes well.

On the subject of books, I've read and reviewed two more titles this month - Heather Massey's The Watchmaker's Lady and Super Zero by Rhonda Stapleton. Both reviews can be found on the Critique de Book review site here, and on Goodreads. I also bought a couple of books on the craft of writing - Writing Fight Scenes by Rayne Hall and The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer's Guide to Character Expression by Angela Ackerman. As an accompaniment to the Thesaurus, there's also a free download here for the Emotion Amplifiers, which is great for expressing certain emotions via body language rather than 'telling' your reader. I picked up the fight scenes book after seeing it on special offer on Twitter, and being in the process of writing a duel between two characters in a current WIP. At first I didn't think I was learning anything new, but the more the book progressed, the more interesting I found it. There's also a comprehensive list of medieval armour and various weapons, as well as tips on large scale battles. I've been receiving a weekly email for the Emotion Thesaurus for the last few month, but the newly release book ties them all together with additional information. So far I've only dipped into that one. It might seem odd to be reading up on writing craft AFTER being published, but believe me, I still consider that I have an awful lot to learn. Being published isn't the end. Just another step up along the way. :)

So what's your news this month?


  1. Thanks for sharing your debut author experiences!

    >her upcoming release had some 500+ mark it as to-read

    You should definitely be impressed with your accomplishment! Think of how many books on Goodreads and other forums that don't have any marks at all.

    Comparing your path to that of other authors is a one-way ticket to the looney bin. Gaining an audience for your work is a gradual and sometimes painstaking process. Celebrate every achievement, large or small.

  2. What a great recap, Pippa. So interesting to read about your debut launch and all the particulars that went with it. (I may be asking you a few questions offline.)

    Hooray on a successful launch. Over 70 to-be-reads for a new author sound truly impressive!

    Looking forward to the Midsummer Blog Hop. Seems to be shaping up as a major event.

  3. @Heather - oh, agreed - making that kind of comparison is guatateed to bring on the 'I suck' demon and start yourself on adoeneard spiral. But I'm not going there. I think 70+ is damn good for a brand new, unknown author, although obviously there's no guarantee that all 70 WILL buy and read it. It's good to know that it's catching readers' interest. The stat I've seen quoted most is that new authors rarely sell over 100 copies. We will see. I'm happy with how it's going so fat, although I eorry slightly in the background about whether my publisher will be as happy.
    @Laurie - feel free! This is where I start learning if all the research I've done starts paying off. As always, it's been interesting! :P
    The blog hop is coming up fast and everyone had been very generous donating to the prizes. I need to work on promoting that - and getting some more titles out. :)

  4. urgh, and please excuse the typos. It's too early and I'm still mastering this new phone. It should say 'downward spiral'. :P

  5. What a month indeed! Well done you - it looked like the tour was a huge success :)

  6. Thanks, Chantal. It depends how you measure success really. I was happy with it, and with the feedback I've had so far (though of course I'd've LOVED for it to be an overnight hit, but I'm realistic). But I do feel a little under pressure to do 'well' for my publisher's sake.

  7. That was very interesting, Pippa!! Thanks for sharing.
    Funny isn't it, I've recently approached two authors I don't know but I liked the look of their books and asked if they wanted to promo on my blog. Neither of them bothered to even reply. I made it clear it wasn't something I was looking for a reciprocal deal on. I just was trying to be nice. Guess whose books I won't be buying!

  8. Wow, Barbara. Very bad move on their part, IMHO. New authors especially should appreciate their fans to the max. (Like you did!)

    Speaking of authors behaving badly, I once attended an author's panel where a pretty well know SFR author announced she would give away promotional items after the session. A big line promptly queued up when the panel was done. The poor lady in front of me got to the head of the line and told this author, "I'm not really here to get freebies, I just wanted to tell you how much I love your work!" And the author said, "Could you step aside? This line is only for free stuff." I think my jaw must have dropped to the floor. I was so shocked by how she'd brushed aside a true fan that I decided to step out of line and leave the room. I was really puzzled why any author would do such a thing. I often wondered how many more of that author's books the fan bought. I know how many more I've bought. Zero.

  9. Barbara and Laurie - I've never experienced that first-hand from an author but wow! I wouldn't buy their books again either. And it's not only unprofessional and rude, but you run a serious risk that it could snowball into a major disaster if the person you upset decides to do something more about it. I appreciate authors are busy people, and no doubt the bigger the following the more requests you probably get, but still.
    I got my first 3 star rating today, and I was a bit nervous about how I'd feel about that. But I'm still grateful that someone has taken the time to give it a mark. So many don't! I know I was just as guilty of that a couple of years ago.


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