Tag Archives: book launch

The top ten lessons I’ve learnt since indie publishing The Big Smoke

Today marks one month since I independently published my debut novel, The Big Smoke, so I think it’s a good time to give you an update of how it’s going and what I’ve learnt so far.

I’m sad to report that I’m yet to overtake 50 Shades of Grey in terms of self publishing success – but I live in hope ;-). As you would imagine, one month ago, I had some expectations about how my experience of independent publishing might go, based on what I’ve read about others’ journeys (both the stellar and not-so-stellar). Some of those expectations have been met, others haven’t. Here are my top ten learnings so far, in no particular order.

Learning 1: despite what everybody says, your e-book sales will not necessarily outpace paper book sales (at least not initially). 

Pretty much everything I’ve read has said that e-book sales are where it’s at for independently published books and that paper books are a ‘nice to have’ rather than a ‘need to have’. This hasn’t been the case for me.

So far, I’ve sold a total of 162 books (told you I’d be honest!) and 78% of those have paperbacks. Of my e-book sales, 75% have been through Amazon US. The rest have been through Smashwords (8%), Apple (8%), Barnes and Noble (3%), Amazon UK (3%) and Amazon DE (3%) . I’m yet to sell any books from Kobo, Diesel or other Amazon country sites.

However, this trend may be short-lived, considering almost all of the paper books I’ve sold have been to friends, family, acquaintances and friends of friends and family. If The Big Smoke is going to be commercially successful, it will need to spread beyond this circle, and I still think that’s more likely to happen online than through paper book sales. I’ll keep you posted as things progress…

Learning 2: a big online book launch doesn’t necessarily equate to big online sales.

As my regular readers know, I put a fair amount of effort into my online book launch. I held a blogfest which included a reasonable prize ($20 Amazon gift voucher) and had a 15-stop blog tour which included interviews and guest posts on a variety of topics. I have no idea how many people this tour would have reached, but I imagine it would have been quite a lot.

But as you can see from my figures, it didn’t produce mountains of online sales. Why? There are probably a number of reasons for this. Here are some that spring to mind:

  • Most people who read blogs are other bloggers, and while we all want to be supportive, we hear about so many books, we can’t possibly buy them all.
  •  The blogs I posted on were all over the place in terms of writer genre (for example, I posted on blogs that primarily discuss science fiction and fantasy, while The Big Smoke is contemporary realism). If I was looking at things purely from a marketing perspective, I’d say this wasn’t the smartest move.

I don’t regret doing my blog tour by any means because I love the writing blogosphere and get so much out of it other than sales. I really enjoyed sharing my experiences with the people who have supported me since I started this blog. Next time I launch a book though, I will have different expectations about what a blog tour might achieve.

Learning 3: don’t rely on advertised shipping times

Apologies to those who have read about this already in interviews I’ve done, but it’s too big of a learning not to share here. One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced on my self-publishing journey so far involved having to confront the possibility of having a book launch with no books. Createspace’s website says that you can ship books to Australia within three working days, but when I tried to place my order on Tues 16 October for my book launch on Sat 27 October, the estimated arrival date was Wed 31 October. Um, excuse me?! I knew that the three working days didn’t include printing, but I didn’t think that printing could account for the extra seven working days Createspace was saying it would take for my order to reach me.

I sent an e-mail to Createspace explaining the situation, and they essentially said there was nothing they could do because they don’t guarantee timeframes for wholesale orders. What the?! Where exactly does it say THAT on your website?! Panic stations!

And, of course, because Australia and America’s time zones are so different, I received this email at 2 a.m. Naturally, I woke Mark (my husband) up so we could try to figure out what to do. We discussed postponing the launch, trying to find a local printer who could print the books within the timeframe, going ahead with the launch without the books (Mark’s crazy idea), but eventually we discovered that if we placed several orders of smaller quantities, it would bring the delivery date forward to Fri 26 October — the day before the launch. Cutting it very fine, but that was our best option. So, at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, we placed four orders and went to sleep. One of those shipments arrived on Fri 19 October and the rest arrived on Mon 22 October (much earlier than Createspace predicted). Crisis averted! Thank goodness!

The lesson? Don’t rely on advertised shipping times. Be on the safe side and order as soon as you possibly can.

Learning 4: book stores finalise their Christmas purchases in late October to early November. 

In mid-November, I approached a number of book stores in my local area to see if they would be interested in stocking The Big Smoke. They all said that they’d finalised their purchases for the Christmas period well in advance, and they asked me to come back in January.

This means that, unfortunately, I’ve missed out on the casual bookshop browser choosing to buy The Big Smoke for a Christmas present. Obviously it’s hard to know whether all stores work to the same timeframe but I thought I’d share it in case you’re interested in publishing independently around the Christmas period in the future.

Learning 5: the waiting time to get into local libraries (in my area) is 6-12 months.

Another time-related learning. When I approached my local council library last week, they told me that they have one reader who assesses every book to see if it’s suitable for their shelves and that the waiting time can be 6 to 12 months. I’m assuming this is only for independently published books (can’t see them holding back best sellers for 12 months!), but had I known about this earlier, I would have approached the libraries as soon as I received my first shipment of books.

Learning 6: Australia Post is ridiculously expensive compared to similar services. 

As some of you know, I’ve set up an order form on my blog for Australians and New Zealanders to order copies of The Big Smoke. One of the reasons I did this was because I thought it would be a lot cheaper for customers if I had books shipped to me in bulk numbers and then I mailed individual orders within Australia/New Zealand. However, would you believe it costs $13.50 to post one book from Brisbane to New South Wales (a neighbouring state), while someone in New South Wales can order my book direct from Amazon US for $9.98 shipping. Where is the logic in that?!

Granted, if someone orders it direct from me, it will get to them faster and I will get more royalties, but it still seems pretty nonsensical to me. So now I only recommend people purchase the book direct from me if they would like it signed or want it in a hurry (or they live in Brisbane and can collect it from me).

I’m interested to know whether this is similar in other countries or whether it’s just an Australian thing (I wouldn’t be surprised because we’re pretty expensive compared to other countries for a range of products and services).

Learning 7: You can get a refund on an e-book seven days after purchasing it from Amazon. 

I don’t understand the logic behind this one either. I think it’s good that Amazon has a return function because it’s easy to accidentally purchase an e-book with their one-click functionality, but I don’t get why you would give people up to seven days. If you were so inclined, you could read an entire book and then ask for a refund. You certainly can’t do this from a physical book store or practically any other store I can think of. Even if you didn’t like the book, is that grounds for a full refund? After all, you can’t go to the cinemas, watch an entire movie, and then ask for a refund because you didn’t like it.

So far, eight purchases of The Big Smoke have been refunded. This concerns me. I’m very happy with the content of the book so the only reason I can think of (other than people buying the book by accident or being cheap and nasty) is that my marketing material (cover, blurb etc) is giving people the wrong impression of the book, so their expectations aren’t being met when they start to read (you’d think the lengthy free sample would alleviate this, but perhaps not everybody looks at that).

If you have any thoughts about my marketing material or other theories on why people might get a book refunded, let me know.

Learning 8: casual readers are much more likely to rate your book on Goodreads than write a review on Amazon.

Initially, when readers told me how much they enjoyed The Big Smoke, I would thank them profusely and ask them if they would be so kind as to write a review on Amazon. While a lot of people said they would, few actually did.  From what I can tell, there are two main reasons for this:

  • To write a review on Amazon, you must have purchased a product from Amazon in the past. This may be common in other parts of the world, but apart from those with Kindles, not that many Australians have bought Amazon products. I didn’t realise this initially because I have a Kindle and even before then, I’ve bought books from Amazon to feed my reading habit.
  • Writing a review on a site like Amazon can be confronting for people who don’t regularly post online. Those of us with blogs don’t really bat an eyelid over it, but if you’re not used to writing stuff that is available for everyone to see, it can be a little intimidating.

Recently, I’ve changed from asking people to write a review on Amazon to simply rating the book on Goodreads. Here’s an example of my reply to a comment on my Facebook author page:

“Woohoo! So glad you enjoyed it! If you have a couple of seconds, it would be awesome if you could rate it out of five on Goodreads. You can sign in instantly with your Facebook account. I’d really appreciate it! 🙂 http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/16037996-the-big-smoke

That is so much easier and so much less confronting for people, so it’s no wonder they’re more inclined to do it. I’ll definitely continue to take that approach from now on. 

Learning 9: Getting low ratings without reviews is frustrating 

While we’re talking about Goodreads ratings… The Big Smoke has received a few two-star ratings in the past month (four two-star ratings out of a total 27 ratings No one-star ratings so far!). I know that people have different tastes and so I always knew to expect some not-so-favourable reviews, but I hate not knowing why someone didn’t enjoy my work. What was it about the book that didn’t click with them? The characters? The plot? The overriding themes? My curiosity overwhelms me and I have to stop myself from writing them a message to ask. (I’m assuming that wouldn’t be cool…)

Learning 10: I’ll never get sick of hearing people say how much they enjoyed my book.

Okay, so this one isn’t too surprising, since I probably would have guessed before publishing that I’d continue to enjoy hearing from people who like my work. Who doesn’t? But still, it’s nice to know that the warm fuzzy an unprompted reader compliment gives you doesn’t diminish after you’ve received a few of them. I think it’s pretty safe to say that comments like this will always bring a smile to my face:

Thanks for a great read. I have really enjoyed “The Big Smoke”. Loved the Characters (even the not so nice ones!) and I even had a tear in a couple parts of the book. Well done!  [This comment was made on my Facebook page by someone I went to school with twelve years ago and haven’t seen since.]

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So there you have it. My top ten learnings from my first month of having an independently published book on the market. If there’s anything I haven’t covered that you’d like to know about, please don’t hesitate to ask. I know many of you have been curious to hear how it’s all going and I’m more than happy to share. 🙂

Next week, I’ll post what my next steps are for marketing The Big Smoke so keep your eyes peeled for that.

Your turn

Does any of what I’ve learnt surprise you? Did you know that you can get a refund from Amazon up to seven days after you purchase an e-book? Any thoughts on why people might be getting a refund on The Big Smoke? Are you surprised that my paperback sales are currently outpacing my e-book sales?

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Filed under Marketing, Publishing, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing

Nick Earls interviews me about new adult fiction; Mental Health Monday; and writing from the perspective of the opposite sex

Tonight’s post is the finale of my blog tour for The Big Smoke, and let me assure you, it ends with a bang!

STOP ELEVEN

Stop eleven was an unexpected, but extremely welcome, detour from my scheduled route. I received an email over the weekend from one of my all-time favourite authors, Nick Earls, to see if I’d be interested in answering a few questions about New Adult fiction on his blog. Naturally, I agreed! Here’s a taste of the post…

Away from the internet, the NA market is still in its infancy in terms of connecting books with buyers (in my opinion, at least). There’s a strong opportunity to establish a relationship between NA authors and universities/colleges because so many students in higher education are part of the NA target market, but I don’t believe this has been explored much at all yet.  Read more…

STOP TWELVE

In my twelfth stop, I’ve been interviewed about The Big Smoke by Laura Diamond as part of her Mental Health Monday series. Want a preview? Here you go!

What’s your technique for drawing out authentic emotions in your characters?

I don’t know if my technique is anything ground breaking – it mainly involves taking my hands off the keyboard, closing my eyes and imagining what it would be like to be in the situation my character is experiencing. What would it feel like? What thoughts would be running through your head? What would you notice about your surroundings? Read more…

LUCKY STOP THIRTEEN

In my thirteen and final stop, I’m guest posting over at Arlee Bird’s Tossing it Out about writing from the perspective of the opposite sex and whether or not that’s a good idea.

Here’s a taste for you:

When I decided to re-write my New Adult novel, The Big Smoke, so that it was told from the first-person perspective of my two main characters, I knew it would be challenging for me (a 29-year-old woman) to create a realistic and engaging teen male voice. Seb, my main male character, is 17 at the beginning of The Big Smoke and comes from a different background to me, but I was determined to get into his head somehow and use his words to tell the story. Read more…
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SIGNING OFF (FOR NOW)
Thanks for following me around the blogosphere! Hope you’ve enjoyed my guest posts and interviews about all things The Big Smoke. 🙂
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Filed under blog tour, New Adult fiction, Nick Earls, The Big Smoke, Writing, Writing craft

Does romance equal happiness in fiction? Plus two interviews with two Lauras!

STOP EIGHT

In the eighth stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting over at The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective about whether romance equals happiness in fiction (and whether it should). Here’s a taste of the post…

I’m a sucker for a good romance. Twilight is one of my favourite books and movies like Ten Things I Hate About You never fail to make me smile. But as much as I love stories like these, they make me slightly uncomfortable. Why? Because they seem to equate romance with happiness, and I’m not sure that’s a great message, particularly for young (and new) adults. Read more…

STOP NINE

In my ninth stop, I’ve answered all of Laura J Moss‘s burning questions about self publishing, including why I decided to self publish, what factors I had to consider, how I chose my publishing mediums and what advice I’d give to people considering self publishing for themselves. Want a preview? Here you go!

Be aware that you will need to commit a great deal of time to the [self publishing] process to do it justice. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed my self-publishing journey (except for the 2 a.m. crisis!), but it has consumed a LOT of my time and energy. You need to be prepared to not only be the author, but to also be the typesetter, the proofreader, the accountant, the distributor, the publicist… and the list goes on. Read more…

STOP TEN

And in my tenth stop, it’s my turn to answer Laura Howard’s famous six questions over at Finding Bliss. I’ve revealed my top three favourite books (for now), my editing process for The Big Smoke and my inspiration for writing. Here’s a little sample for you:

When it comes to editing, focus on the macro issues first – look at the forest rather than the trees. With earlier iterations of The Big Smoke (then Entwined, before I decided to completely re-write it), I spent countless hours perfecting the prose of certain scenes, only to decide later that the entire chapter needed to go. Read more…

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Filed under blog tour, The Big Smoke, Writing, Writing craft

The best writing-related decision I ever made AND blending fact and fiction

STOP SIX

In the sixth stop of my blog tour, I’m guest posting over at Seeking the Write Life about the best writing-related decision I ever made. Here’s a taste of the post…

Writing (and subsequently publishing) The Big Smoke has been an incredibly long journey – eleven years to be precise. It’s been a fantastic learning experience, and I feel that my writing has improved so much over that time. But the main reason for that rests with one important decision I made many years ago. Read more…

STOP SEVEN

In my seventh stop, I’ve written about blending fact and fiction in The Big Smoke on Steph Bowe’s blog.  Want a preview? Here you go!

Many people have asked whether my debut New Adult novel, The Big Smoke, is autobiographical. I always answer with an emphatic, ‘NO,’ but that’s not 100% true. While the vast majority of The Big Smoke is fiction, there are parts based on my own experiences. Read more…

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Filed under blog tour, The Big Smoke, Writing, Writing craft

Blog tour stop number 5 and the winner of The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest!

Blog tour

In the fifth stop of my blog tour, I’m been interviewed by Melissa Maygrove. Here’s a taste of the interview…

Do you have a favorite character or a favorite scene?

This is a tricky one because I have a lot of favourites. As much as I love my main female character, Ceara, she’s a little too much like me (worries way too much), so I think my main male character, Seb, wins out. He’s a bit hopeless at times but his heart’s in the right place, and he’s quite funny. I laugh at all his jokes – we must have the same sense of humour. 😉
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To read the rest of the interview, head on over to Melissa’s blog.

Blogfest wrap-up and winner announcement

Thank you to everyone who participated in my blogfest, The Year I Turned 18. I really enjoyed reading all of your entries and hearing about your eighteenth years. There was so much variety: round-the-world trips, marriage, fights with close friends, beginning to live a Jewish life and many more fascinating experiences. If you missed any of the entries, I’ve included the links below for easy reference.

What Else is Possible?

The Warrior Muse

Teresa Coltrin

Trisha @ WORD+STUFF

Anything Imagined

Pivot Coaching

Rachel Morgan

Clare Dugmore Writes

Words from Sonobe

Cally Jackson Writes

Carrie-Annes Magick Theatre

Write Here, Write Now

Charitys Writing Journey

Paper, Ink and Coffee

Martin Knox

Each blogfest participant (except for me) went into the draw to win a $20 Amazon voucher, and I’m sure you’re all waiting with bated breath to see who took out the prize. I shall keep you in suspense no longer. The winner is…

Rachel Morgan!

I haven’t contacted her to tell her that she won yet because I thought it might be fun to see how long it takes for her to discover the news herself. So do me a favour and don’t tell her! 😀

Once again, thanks to everyone who participated and to everyone who visited and commented on the blogfest participants’ entries!

And don’t forget to check out Melissa Maygrove’s interview with me!

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Filed under blog tour, Blogfests, Competitions, The Big Smoke

Launching The Big Smoke and The year I turned 18 Blogfest!

Book launch

Drum roll… The Big Smoke is now available for you to read and enjoy!!

You can:

  • purchase a paperback from my buy page (Australia and New Zealand) or Amazon (rest of the world)
  • purchase an e-book from Smashwords (preferred digital supplier), Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, Diesel and other e-stores.

Yesterday, I had my first-ever, real-life book launch, and it was such a wonderful day. More than 60 people came along to buy a copy (or collect their pre-ordered copy) of The Big Smoke and celebrate the release of my novel into the world.

My mum introduced me, and we had some readings from the novel – I read parts from my main female character Ceara’s perspective and my husband, Mark, read parts from my main male character Seb’s perspective. That led into a Question and Answer session, and, to my surprise and delight, there were stacks of questions from the audience, including a question from six-year-old Ella, one of the event’s youngest attendees!

You can see more of the photos from the book launch on my Facebook author page. Video of the Question and Answer session will be coming soon!

The year I Turned 18 Blogfest!

Today also marks the starts of my blogfest, The year I turned 18!

Blogfest badge

Seeing as both Ceara and Seb (the two main characters) turn 18 throughout The Big Smoke, I thought it might be fun for us all to post about the year we turned 18. Your post can be about anything from that year – something momentous that happened, what your hopes and dreams were at that time, diary entries, anything that comes to mind. If you could include photos of you at 18, that would be doubly awesome! And if you haven’t turned 18 yet, you might like to post about what you hope will be happening for you in the year you turn eighteen.

What are the finer details?

  • The blogfest will run from 12:01am (AEST) Monday 29 October to 11.59pm Friday 2 November (EST). (Yes, the start and finish time zones are different. I’ve gone with an early one for the start and a later one for the end. Hopefully  nobody will be caught out that way.)
  • Post your entry on your blog and then add a direct link to your post using the linky tool below before the finish time.
  • Enter the competition to win a $20 Amazon voucher by entering your blog link into the rafflecopter below.
  • All entries will receive a coupon to download an e-copy of The Big Smoke from Smashwords for 99 cents (down from $2.99).
  • To be eligible for the prize and coupon, please include a copy of the blogfest badge (above. To download, right click and select ‘Save image’) and The Big Smoke cover and blurb (below) in your post.
  • Once you’ve posted your link, you will be able to earn extra points in the rafflecopter by tweeting about the blogfest (which you can do daily – feel free!), following me on Twitter, liking my Facebook author page and adding The Big Smoketo your Goodreads to-read list
    The Big Smoke.
  • Come back on Monday 5 November to see if you’ve won the $20 voucher!

Anything else I should do?

Glad you asked. These aren’t mandatory, but they’d definitely be appreciated.

  • Throughout the blogfest, check out as many other entries as you can and give the participants some comment love!
  • Include the badge in your sidebar for the duration of the blogfest.

Can’t wait to read all of your blogfest entries! My own entry will be posted in the next couple of days. 😀

The Big Smoke blurb and cover 

The Big Smoke by Cally Jackson

The Big Smoke cover. To download, right click and select ‘Save image’

Ceara’s desperate for love; Seb’s desperate to get laid. Ceara adores reading novels; Seb hasn’t finished a book in years. Two strangers, both moving from small country towns to Brisbane – the big smoke. As they prepare to attend the same university, their paths seem set to collide, but they keep missing each other. Maybe fate is keeping them apart, or maybe it’s just chance.

When the semester starts, things get complicated. Ceara’s best friend withdraws from her, Seb’s closest mate turns into a sleazebag, and the relentless demands of university make their stress levels soar. Before their first semester is over, both Seb and Ceara will be forced to question who they are and what they want from their lives. Will they have the courage to find the answers, or will they crumble under the pressure? And when they finally meet, will it be love at first sight or a collision of headstrong personalities?

Linky List

Once you’ve written your blogfest post, add it to the Linky List!

Rafflecopter

To enter the competition, fill in the Rafflecopter!

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Filed under Blogfests, The Big Smoke, Writing

Less than a week till The Big Smoke book launch!

I can’t believe that The Big Smoke launch date has come up so quickly! I’ve got so much planned that I’m beside myself with excitement (and perhaps a touch stressed as well)!

Book launch

The first big event is on this Saturday 27 October –  my real-life, physical book launch! About 60 people are coming, and all of them have supported the creation of The Big Smoke in some way, whether they’ve been beta readers, members of my novel writers group, or good old friends and family cheering me on from the sidelines.

The launch is going to be pretty casual but I do have a few things planned, including some readings from the book, a question-and-answer session, and a giant cake with 11 candles – one for every year it’s taken me to produce the book!

Blog tour

Then, next Monday, the craziness really begins! Monday kicks off both my blog tour and my blogfest. From Monday 29 October to Monday 12 November, I’ll be guest posting or being interviewed on a different blogging buddy’s slice of cyberspace. Here’s the line-up:

  • Monday 29 October – Michael Offutt – mental illness in fiction
  • Tuesday 30 October – Rachel Morgan Writes – character interview with Seb
  • Wednesday 31 October – Rebecca Enzor – the joys and frustrations of beta-reader feedback
  • Thursday 1 November – Bailey is writing – interview about writing The Big Smoke, self publishing and my characters’ most irrational fears
  • Friday 2 November – Melissa Maygrove  – interview about my inspiration for The Big Smoke, my writing space and my advice for new writers
  • Monday 5 November – Seeking the Write Life – the best writing-related decision I’ve ever made
  • Tuesday 6 November – Steph Bowe – using real experiences as a platform for fiction
  • Wednesday 7 November – Charity: My Writing Journey – the soundtrack to The Big Smoke
  • Thursday 8 November – The Eagle’s Aerial Perspective – the link between romance and happiness in fiction
  • Friday 9 November – Laura J Moss – interview about my road to self-publishing
  • Saturday 10 November – Laura Howard: Finding Bliss – ‘six questions’ interview about the writing lessons I’ve learned and my top three favourite books
  • Monday 12 November – Arlee Bird: Tossing it Out – is it possible/advisable to write from the point of view of the opposite sex?

In case you’re wondering, I haven’t actually finished writing all of these posts yet – that’s partly where that ‘stress’ I mentioned earlier comes in! But I’m thrilled to be appearing on so many wonderful blogs and to get the opportunity to share my thoughts on so many interesting topics. I hope you’ll follow me around the blogosphere and visit the awesome bloggers who are hosting me!

Blogfest

Most of you would have already heard about this by now, so I’ll keep this part brief.  To celebrate the official launch of The Big Smoke, I’ll be hosting a blogfest called The Year I Turned 18 from Monday 29 October to Friday 2 November. Seeing as both Ceara and Seb (the two main characters) turn 18 throughout the story, I thought it might be fun for us all to post about the year we turned 18. All entries will receive a coupon to download an e-copy of The Big Smoke from Smashwords for 99 cents (down from $4.99) and will go into the draw to win a $20 Amazon voucher.

I decided that my badge for the blogfest was a bit boring so I snazzed it up a little. Here’s the new one:

To find out more about the blogfest, go to my The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest post.

Total craziness!

… So yeah, there’s a bit coming up in the next few weeks. Oh, and did I mention I’m 28 weeks pregnant?

Babymoon on Fraser Island

My dear husband Mark is getting a little antsy about when we’re going to get the nursery sorted, and I keep saying, ‘after the book launch’, so I can’t see things slowing down for me for a little while. But you know what? I love it! Can’t wait to share this crazy ride with you!! 🙂

How about you?

What are you up to? Which blog tour post are you most looking forward to reading? Are you already sick of hearing about The Big Smoke (I hope not!)?

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Filed under Blogfests, The Big Smoke, Writing

‘The year I turned 18’ blogfest

I’m writing  this post from my hotel room at Rainbow Bay on Fraser Island, where Marky (husband) and I are enjoying our “babymoon”. For those not familiar with the term, a babymoon is a holiday to enjoy your life before everything changes! Ours is going wonderfully. Tomorrow, we are going whale watching. I can’t wait! Hopefully I’ll have some great pictures to show you!

The Year I Turned 18 Blogfest badge

The Big Smoke by Cally JacksonMoving on to the topic of the post, I’m excited to let you know about the blogfest I’m planning to run to celebrate the official launch of my ‘new adult’ novel, The Big Smoke. Seeing as both Ceara and Seb (the two main characters) turn 18 throughout the story, I thought it might be fun for us all to post about the year we turned 18. Your post can be about anything from that year – something momentous that happened, what your hopes and dreams were at that time, diary entries, anything that comes to mind. If you could include photos of you at 18, that would be doubly awesome! And if you haven’t turned 18 yet, you might like to post about what you hope will be happening for you in the year you turn eighteen.

What are the finer details?

The blogfest will run from Monday 29 October to Friday 2 November.

  • At 12:01am (AEST) Monday 29 October, a linky list and rafflecopter will go live on this site.  Post your entry on your blog and then add a direct link to your post to the linky tool before 11.59pm Friday 2 November (EST). (Yes, the start and finish time zones are different. I’ve gone with an early one for the start and a later one for the end. Hopefully  nobody will be caught out that way.)
  • Enter the competition to win a $20 Amazon voucher by entering your link into the rafflecopter.
  • All entries will receive a coupon to download an e-copy of The Big Smoke from Smashwords for 99 cents (down from $4.99).
  • To be eligible for the prize and coupon, please include a copy of the blogfest badge (above. To download, right click and select ‘Save image’) and The Big Smoke cover and blurb in your post.
  • You will receive extra points for tweeting about the blogfest and adding The Big Smoke to your Good Reads list.
  • Come back on Monday 5 November to see if you’ve won the $20 voucher!

Anything else I should do?

Glad you asked. These aren’t mandatory, but they’d definitely be appreciated.

  • Post and/or tweet about the blogfest in the weeks leading up to spread the word.
  • Throughout the blogfest, check out as many other entries as you can and give the participants some comment love!
  • Include the badge in your sidebar for the duration of the blogfest.

Can’t wait to read all of your blogfest entries and to release The Big Smoke into the world. Please leave a comment to let me know whether you’re planning to participate. :-)

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Filed under Blogfests, The Big Smoke, Writing

Weighted (book launch) and Weighty (bump-date)

Weighted

Firstly, OMG! Have you seen the cover for Ciara Knight’s newest book, Weighted? If not, it’s on the right!

Here’s the blurb…

The Great War of 2185 is over, but my nightmare has just begun. I am being held captive in the Queen’s ship awaiting interrogation. My only possible ally is the princess, but I’m unsure if she is really my friend or a trap set by the Queen to fool me into sharing the secret of my gift. A gift I keep hidden even from myself. It swirls inside my body begging for release, but it is the one thing the Queen can never discover. Will I have the strength to keep the secret? I’ll know the answer soon. If the stories are true about the interrogators, I’ll either be dead or a traitor to my people by morning.

How awesome does that sound? Can’t wait to read it! If you’d like to know more, you can read an excerpt or just go right ahead and buy it from Amazon for $2.99!

Weighty

Yesterday was a very exciting day. I had my 19-week scan and learnt that the bub in my belly is a little girl. I can’t wait to meet her! Well, actually, as she’s only 300 grams (less than a pound) right now, I’d probably prefer that she cooks for a bit longer first! Want to see some photos of her? Of course you do!

      

And here’s some photos of my growing bump…

In my natural habitat

Dodgy selfy!

Your turn

Do you plan to read Weighted? Anything exciting happening in your world? Feel free to tell me how gorgeous you think my baby is! 😀

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Filed under Personal, Reading, Writing

Indie publishing update – and the seven p’s of marketing

It’s been a little while since I’ve updated you on how I’m progressing with my plans to independently publish The Big Smoke, so I thought I’d remedy that today! Things are slowly moving forward and although I’d like everything to be progressing more swiftly (because I’m impatient), I’m really happy with how it’s all coming together. Here’s a snapshot of where everything’s at right now, based on the seven p’s of marketing I learnt at uni (a number of years ago now!).

Product (the novel itself)
I’m investing in my book AKA the ‘product’  by paying for professional copy editing. I’ve found a fantastic editor (called Ken Spillman) who seems to ‘get’ my voice and characters. So far, he’s provided line-by-line edits for almost half of the book, and I’m expecting another installment later this week. The edits are definitely helping to tighten the prose and make sure everything is as realistic and plausible as possible at the micro level. We’re aiming for the copy editing process to be completed by early September so fingers crossed that’s achievable.

Package (cover)
The front cover is done and looks totally awesome, in my humble opinion. My cover designer, J Matthew McKern, is putting the final touches on the back cover (for the hard copy) and then it’ll be ready to rock and roll!

Placement (publishing)
I’ve been doing a lot of research about the best way to actually publish said book, including who to use to produce it and where to sell it. I’ve looked into a number of ‘self publishing service providers’ but for the amount they charge and the services they offer, I’ve decided I’m better off DIY-ing it. If you’d like to know the companies I researched, email me and I’ll let you know.

For my e-book version, I’m going to publish through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing and Smashwords, which will make it available on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble, Diesel, Kobo, and Sony.

For my paper book (p-book), I’m going to publish through Createspace’s print-on-demand service, which allows me to order small quantities (e.g. 25) for reasonable prices. Although it would be a lot cheaper per unit to print with an offset printer, their minimum quantity is in the thousands and I don’t want to outlay that much initially nor take on that much risk (or garage space). I weighed up the benefits and drawbacks of Createspace versus Lightning Source, who offer a similar print-on-demand service, but I decided the ‘hand holding’ (and free ISBN) that Createspace offers is something that I appreciate at this stage in the game.

I’ve also investigated some local print-on-demand companies, but unfortunately they don’t seem able to match Createspace’s cost and quality offering (yet. Hopefully this will change in the future).

The p-book will be available to buy through Amazon. Due to the high cost of shipping books to Australia (where I live) and New Zealand, I’m also planning to set up a page on this site where Aussies/Kiwis can order a copy of the book directly from me. This will save in shipping because I will buy in bulk (25) from Createspace (which lowers the shipping cost per unit) and then on-sell the book, so readers will only have to fork out for domestic mail charges.

I’m also hoping to make the novel available in a few local stores around Australia, which I will do by contacting them individually, providing them a free copy of the book to read and seeing if they would be willing to stock it. Can’t hurt to try!

Price
The price between my e-book and my paper book will vary quite a bit, mainly due to the differences in production costs, publisher margin thresholds and customer expectations. Obviously, all of this is subject to change depending on further research, but at the moment I’m planning to price the e-book at $2.95 and the p-book at $16.95 + postage. My profit margin will be quite slim at each of these price points, but I’d rather sell more (and have more people reading my work) than make more for each individual sale.

Positioning 

How do I want The Big Smoke to be positioned in the market place? My blurb and cover are probably the biggest tools I have at my disposal in this respect. Other ‘positioning tools’ include the categories I choose to list it in on Amazon etc, and the way I present the book and its characters in interviews, guest posts etc. Perhaps I also need to work on a very short description of the novel too…

Promotion

The fun part! In order to promote The Big Smoke, I’m planning to do the following about six weeks before the launch date:

  • reveal the book cover on this blog and others
  • send out Advanced Review Copies to people interested in reading and reviewing the book
  • set up an author page on Good Reads so eager beavers can add The Big Smoke to their ‘To read’ lists
  • set up a pre-order page for hard copies for Aussies on this-here blog.

And I’m planning to do these activities once the book is released (which will hopefully be end of October):

  • hound random people in the street to buy a copy
  • tweet incessantly that people MUST buy my book
  • tour the blogosphere, guest posting and/or being interviewed on a number of different writing or reading-related blogs
  • host a blogfest where people share memories about the year they turned eighteen
  • continue to send out review copies to interested peeps
  • contact local media in the vain hope that some of them might be interested in interviewing me
  • have a MASSIVE book launch party with all of the family and friends who have supported me during the writing process.

People

In traditional marketing speak, ‘people’ are all of those “inside and outside of your business who are responsible for every element of your sales and marketing strategy and activities.” So, I guess that’s… me! But I’m hoping it might be you too (see how I sneakily worked that in!). Yes, this is the part where I recruit you see who might be interested in helping me spread the word. Feel free to choose as many or as few options below as you like.

Obviously, you’ll have plenty more opportunities to indicate that you’d like to be involved but it would be great to get some early interest!

Your turn

I’m planning to post in more detail about each topic that I’ve covered in this update at some point in time, but is there anything you’d like to hear more about sooner rather than later? Is there anything you think I’ve missed? Anything I’ve said that you think is a bad idea? Let me know!

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Filed under Editing, Marketing, Progress update, Self publishing, The Big Smoke, Writing