Showing posts with label Authors Electric. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Authors Electric. Show all posts

Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Seasonal wishes to all of you

Whoever you are, where-ever you are, whatever you believe, I hope you have a happy, healthy and trouble-free start to 2014.  And ..... psssssst........ remember to read lots of books!!!!

Authors Electric and Awesome Indies both have post Christmas book deals to save you money and give you a great read!

Thursday, 17 October 2013

Worrying times for digital authors

There's been a bit of upheaval on the internet over the past week.  Amazon had their Seller accounts hacked and all sellers had a notification from a 'fake' Amazon telling them that their money had not been paid and they should update their bank details.  Fortunately, being a suspicious character I didn't click any links and signed into my Amazon Seller Account in the normal way, to be told that, yes, someone had infiltrated their accounts and all our bank details and payments had been frozen.  Several frantic emails from Amazon to me followed, saying that fake emails had been sent, to be ignored and that 'we are fixing the problem, be patient'.  Then emails saying I'd been paid by mistake and that they were taking money back, then emails telling me the problem was fixed. What was fake and what was genuine?  No idea - they all looked the same.  I changed my passwords and hope now that it's all sorted.

At the same time, Kobo Writing Life suspended all 'indie' published books ostensibly  because of the fear of abusive content.  I've no problem with books being  vetted for abusive material, but it seems that they have taken this much, much further.  Small 'micro' publishers are also affected.  My partner Neil publishes four authors, including myself and all our titles are suspended.  It could be said that mine are 'self-published', but the other three are definitely not and this is very harmful.  Also, all four of us are published by the Big 6 (whose books are not suspended) and several of the books concerned are E-editions of books published in paperback by Penguin, Robert Hale and Constable. Most of mine are literary biography - a genre not renowned for its erotic content!   It could be said that Kobo are deliberately targeting Independent publishing of any kind, not just 'self' publishing, and this is a very worrying tactic for a company owned by WH Smith.

The internet is a dangerous place and Indie authors seem to be more vulnerable than most on its dark streets.  We need to make sure we keep up to date with the technology.  Cyber Censorship is an even more difficult issue.  I believe passionately in freedom of expression, but I don't want extreme violence and porn of any kind to be freely available to people innocently browsing the pages of the Kobo catalogue.  But what about all the other outlets? Are they going to follow suit?  Will we have to declare explicit content when we publish?  Will the rules be more stringent for independent authors than the Big 6?  What is clear is that there's more need than ever for Indie Authors to belong to groups that will help them out and give them more clout when it comes to challenging people like Kobo and Amazon.  I belong to the Alliance of Independent Authors, Awesome Indies and Authors Electric and it's quite comforting to be part of a tribe.

Friday, 5 July 2013

Confessions of a Word-aholic

A Writer's Life is not all swanning around in the Piazza and drinking wine on the terrace ......

I'm blogging over at Author's Electric today about the downside of being an Indie author - self-inflicted, of course!

A few weeks after I had my second child, short on sleep and high on anxiety, I woke up one morning and when I opened my mouth to speak, found that only gibberish came out.  The link, between what I was saying in my brain and what came out of my mouth, was broken.  I was utterly terrified.  Exhaustion - the doctor said - what you need is sleep.  So, a couple of pills were swallowed, baby, feeding bottles, and toddler were handed over to a panicky 'What do I do now?' father, and then I slept for 14 hours straight, woke for a drink and then slept again.  The following morning, my voice was back in its normal place, the tongue articulating what the brain dictated.  But I've never forgotten what it was like not to be able to communicate.

Since then, I've been a compulsive communicator.  And compulsive is the word.  In fact, there's a label for it and I think it ends in 'aholic', and has nothing to do with the amount of wine I drink (though, on the other hand . . . .)

Kathleen, swanning around in the Piazza

If you'd like to read more, please click this link.


Monday, 15 April 2013

Five Things I've Learned About E-Publishing

It's the London Book Fair this week and I'd love to have gone and supported other Indie authors on the ALLIA stand, authors such as my fellow Electric Author Roz Morris,  but it couldn't be fitted in this year.  However, I'm there in spirit and thought it might be useful to others thinking of E-publishing, if I shared some of the things I've learned in the last 3 years.

What have I learned about e-publishing?

1.  Not to be snobbish about indie publishing

As a traditionally published author, I’d been brought up to believe that any kind of self-publishing was vanity publishing.  Then as a creative writing tutor, I watched some of my students putting very sub-standard work out through firms such as Author House, claiming it as genuine publication, and it horrified me.  I was a very slow convert to Indie publishing and came into it initially just to put my back-list into print. This seemed a legitimate use of the POD and e-book capability - after all, those books had the gatekeepers’ seal of approval so there was no shame attached. What a lot I had to learn!  

2.  What fantastic things are on offer out there!

That was the first thing I discovered as I began to explore the Indie-book jungle. Not only were there lots of exciting new writers, victims of the recession in publishing, but some of the best-selling writers were putting their back-lists out, and they were publishing new books too.  I went to a London Writers’ Club event where an author publishing main-stream romantic novels with Random House gave a talk on her experience.  In four years she had gone from having big advances (around £80,000) offered for her books, to a miserly £10,000.  There had been complaints that her books weren’t selling as well as expected.  She complained that they weren’t making much of an effort to sell them.  So she decided to do it herself using Lulu and Amazon.  She’d sold almost £8,000 worth of books in the first two months with very little effort. Her experience with her publishers was fairly common among the writers in the room.  We’d all seen reduced advances, books that were still selling taken out of print, been victims of conscious decisions not to promote our work. It was soul-destroying.

3.  That it’s the only way to go now

When I sent my last manuscript to my agent - a lovely person and very over-worked - she simply didn’t have the time to read it.  The reader’s report she commissioned was glowing, but my agent warned me that it was not ‘in genre’ enough to fit marketing slots.  The process of submission and response took months and months and months.  In the end we agreed that I would publish it myself.  The current system of agent submission (always supposing you have one), reader’s report, (often around 5 or 6 months) followed by approach to publishers (who can take more than 6 months to respond), simply can’t be justified with today’s technology.  Even if your book is accepted it will be at least another year before it hits the bookshops.  With e-publication and POD I can have a book edited, proof-read and on sale within 3 months of finishing the manuscript - just like it used to be in the old days.  And most of the money it earns is mine.

4.  That it’s not enough to write - you have to learn how to be a publisher

That’s been a big learning curve.  Once upon a time I would have been rung up by an enthusiastic young girl with a media degree working as an intern, and she’d send me a questionnaire, followed a few weeks later by a list of talks, bookshop events and literature festivals.  Not any more.  Now I have to do my own editing, proof-reading, publicity and arrange my own author events.  And it is hard!  Most literature festivals aren’t even looking at Indie authors, even if they have a long track-record with traditional publishers. 

5.  The importance of friends rather than competitors.

I found the traditional literature scene very competitive and, though I have met some kindred spirits, I’ve also witnessed, or been the victim of, petty rivalries and jealousies, often conducted in the press under the cover of honest reviews.  In the indie world I’ve discovered a friendly, supportive group of people, all anxious to help each other navigate the maze.  We’re sharing information, rather than guarding it, with the kind of generosity I’ve rarely seen in the marketplace. This is completely new and probably the best thing I’ve learned from the two years I’ve been in Indie publishing - the importance of cooperation, not competition.

Sunday, 5 August 2012

Talking to Sophie Nicholls about The Dress

Sophie Nicholls has achieved the E-book equivalent of  an Olympic medal with her novel The Dress.  I'm talking to her about her success over at Authors Electric today.......

And wasn't Super Saturday fantastic?  I'm not sporty, but here in England you can't help being caught up in the atmosphere!

Sophie Nicholls: The Dress - an e-publishing Fairy Tale

Today I'm blogging over at Authors Electric - an interview with the lovely Sophie Nicholls whose self-published novel The Dress was one of the e-publishing sensations of 2012.  I was very anxious to find out how she'd done it.  Curious too, to know why, as a poet published by Salt (one of the best of the UK's independent publishers), she had chosen to put her first novel out as an E-book without even bothering to offer it to agents or publishers.  Her answers surprised me. . . Read more

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Reading My Mother's Reading Diaries

It's the 5th of the month and I'm blogging over at Authors Electric about the reading diaries my mother kept for almost 60 years, from 1948 until she died.  They're a fascinating record of the books she enjoyed and the changing fashions in literature.   They were also a poignant reminder of a lovely woman who just happened to be my mother.

   "I sporadically keep a log of what I read.  I always start off with good intentions, write them all down for a few weeks and then get caught up in other things, leaving the pages blank.  Only a few out of the thousands of books I’ve read since I left school have been recorded.  But, when my mother died a few years ago I discovered among her things a series of little notebooks that were a record of her reading from 1948 until the week before she died, with very few gaps.  She was a voracious reader and had a book in her hand when she slipped into her last coma......."   Read More .....

Saturday, 5 May 2012

25 Things you can't do with a Kindle!

Today I'm blogging over on Authors Electric on the subject of newspapers and Kindles and discover that there are some things you just can't do with an E-Reader.

Thursday, 3 May 2012

Authors Collectives and the Great E-Book Giveaway

As some of you will know I’m a member of Do Authors Dream of Electric Books?, a group of established authors who’ve branched out sideways into E-books because of our publishers’ reluctance to take a risk on anything unusual or publish anything that hasn’t got ‘instant best-seller’ stamped on it.  An alternative name for the group might be ‘the Revenge of the Mid-List Author’!    There are 28 of us - a mixture of children’s writers, young adult, crime fiction, mainstream fiction, poetry, general non-fiction and romance.  So far I’m the solitary biographer, offering up my back-list of out-of-print biographies.   Publishers haven’t yet woken up to the fact that E-books are brilliant for the back-lists of authors they want to keep, but can’t afford to keep in hard copy. 

Recently it was World Book Night, which still doesn’t have an E-dimension, and we thought it would be a great idea to change that.  So, we organised a free E-book giveaway for the event.  The advantage of being part of an author’s collective is that you can generate so much more activity because you don’t have to do it all yourself. It’s also much easier to approach people if you’re promoting a group rather than just yourself.   Some of the group wrote press releases, we all blogged about it, those of us on Twitter tweeted like crazy, we called in favours, approached contacts,  talked about it on radio and TV and in as many newspapers, local and national, as we could persuade to give us a mention.  From the Guardian to the Bangalore Times, from Irish TV to BBC radio we gave it our all.

The result was extraordinary.  Between us all we ‘sold’ more than 24 thousand books and several of our members got into the top 10 best-sellers on Amazon.  Jan Needle made number 1 with his political thriller ‘Kicking Off’, as did Dennis Hamley with his historical mystery ‘Of Dooms and Death’.   And I sneaked into the number 1 spot on Amazon USA with Christina Rossetti.  I was gob-smacked.  Literary biography is a minority form and Christina Rossetti not exactly a household name.  If only the freebies had been paid for, we’d all have been able to pay the bills for a month or so!

Since the giveaway we’ve all reverted to more normal ratings, but many of us have sold more books in the week since the promotion, presumably because Amazon is giving us more of a push, based on our downloads.  It seems so far to have been well worth doing, and it’s also got Authors Electric mentioned a few times in the press (most notably the Guardian Book Blog).

Authors collectives seem to be the way forward for self-published authors because of the support and advice they can offer and the possibilities of wider publicity. We are also better placed to take on the sometimes hostile traditional publishing/bookselling establishment and defend the position of the independent E-author.  Individually, we take every opportunity to comment on articles about E-publishing, and challenge some of the more outrageous assertions in the great E-debate currently raging in Book World.  Some of us have also joined the  Alliance of Independent Authors, begun by the indefatigable Orna Ross, which this year took a stand at the London Book Fair - the beginning of something much bigger I think.

This is all really exciting, but tremendously fragile.   It’s going to be interesting to see what happens. 

[Please note that all the opinions in this blog are entirely my own!]

Monday, 23 April 2012

The Great E-book Give-away for World Book Night

Lots of books are being given away free tonight to celebrate World Book Night (and the bard's birthday), and the independent e-book enthusiasts at Authors Electric decided that we should take part too. I'm offering my biography of Christina Rossetti - Learning not to be First  (currently at no 5 in the Amazon  UK non-fiction chart and no 1 in USA!) and there's a whole range of e-books on offer from award-winning authors, from children's books to self help, thrillers, romantic fiction and historical novels (check out Catherine Czerkawska's newly published Polish epic 'The Amber Heart').
If you would like a free read, check us out at  and follow the links to books available throughout Europe, the USA and beyond.  Books are availabe for free download until midnight on Tuesday.  If you don't have an e-book reader, we have links to free software to enable you to read the books on your computer, i-phone, and tablet.
This is all a bit of an experiment - according to the experts, giveaways boost sales by providing greater exposure.  I've no idea if this is true, but I'll be reporting back on the PR strategy.  
Meanwhile - dive in and get yourself a free read - you can't go wrong!