Firstly, Feng Shui Assassin is now free - available on Smashwords.
Secondly, the image for the front cover has a remarkable resemblance to the writer Neil Gaiman - at least a few people have emailed to say they think it might be either him or John Cusack.
The artist, Acid Lullaby, was given free reign to create something special for the front cover - and she did an excellent job! But the creator fo Sandman? Perhaps . . .
I started along the self publishing route with the idea to gain some understanding of the publishing industry (or at least the business model for publishing). Tee hee - how naive! The ‘getting the books printed into a physical thing’ is a simple enough process. Publishing is a whole other beast entirely! Still, I was intrigued at the power of self-publishing and, well, needed to get Feng Shui Assassin into book form and out of my bottom drawer.
There are many issues about self-publishing, and the whole subject can raise ire, contempt and undue indignation from both sides. Here I lay out a number of discoveries about self-publishing. (Publish and be damned? Self-publish and be condemned!)
Good for local projects and specialised interest books.
Bad for launching a career as a writer. Despite there being a number of good self-pubbed books out there - the majority are awful. It’s hard to sell a book. It’s harder to sell a bad book.
Good for mid-list authors with an established reputation in a defined genre and a healthy back catalogue. Especially with the rise of e-books and publishing online. Amazon & the Kindle have triggered popularity for reading on handheld devices.
Bad for thinking you will make money
Good for learning the system, the terminology and the route from screen to paper to shelf in the local bookshop.
Bad for gaining attention for your work. Write short stories and publish online with the plethora of e-magazines that are always seeking new content. All the while submit your manuscript to agents or whomever.
A little note on Publish-on-Demand books. Although I think that Amazon are likely to head towards POD production for their books (squeezing on those poor publishing houses) I would not recommend the POD as a way to self-publish. Better off to serialise your book on a blog (and monetise that way) than to lulu yourself. However, they are good for one off projects; designer photo books, family history and personal notebooks. Also, I would suggest they are particularly useful for editing your manuscript (reading your work in a book would help those repetitions and errors spring from the page :).
Feng Shui Assassin started off as a labour of love - and as the years went by became a labour of loathe until, with much gnashing of teeth, it was completed in 2008.
During the time of writing the urban fantasy genre exploded across the shelves of Ottakars (now Waterstones). Moody vampires, misunderstood werewolves and precocious witches in all their guises strained for attention and I thought that Feng Shui Assassin would fit snugly as a distinctly ‘different’ urban fantasy/thriller.
Reading into the world of book publication and the industry in general I was fascinated in the skewed business model that only gave a measly thin slice of the pie to the writer. An author would typically earn 7 - 12% of the cover price or a set fee (£4,000) for a brand book such as a Dr Who imprint. Why couldn’t a writer earn more from their work?
My thinking went along the lines of - if a writer could earn a living wage from their first book onwards, imagine the increased quality, output and all-round niceness that a writer can dedicate their full-time to their writing from the outset.
I reckoned that a writer should earn ‘around-a-pound’ for each book that s/he sold. A quid shouldn’t be too much to ask for - after everyone else’s cut.
To have a better understanding of the publishing business, and to satisfy my own ego (having started many projects that never saw completion) I decided to self-publish.
This blog was a year-in-the-life of a self-published book. Following Feng Shui Assassin through publication and onto the shelves (both virtual and physical). The end is almost upon us, and so over the next few posts I’ll be dishing up what I’ve learnt and pitching in with a couple of observations.
Amazon have seemed to have introduced a wierd pricing structure for their digital downloads.
Buy Feng Shui Assassin as a downloadable ebook from the USA and you will pay 99c. Buy Feng Shui Assassin as a downloadable ebook from the UK (or anywhere else) then you pay the inflated price of $3.44.
No explanation of this increase in price has been announced. At least not to me - or to the general DTP bulletin boards. I’m assuming that the increase in price assumes a cost for VAT (not applied to books, but definately applied to downloads) and other associated costs for getting the book to the ereader of choice. Although $2.50 extra onto any purchase is a hefty price to pay.
Amazon. Not just the friendly company. But as dangerous and as merciless as its namesake.
A great time for all booksellers - despite the glut of books released - only 5% of which will see the light of a Waterstones shelf front.
A particular marketing push required for the impulse purchase of a book - or an e-book - especially for the e-books that are priced sensibly ($3 or less) with the competition e-books being priced at pretty much the same as the physical book!
Over the weekend I’ll be responding to a few comments on some bulletin boards (positive and aglow reviews from strangers - how wierd does that make you feel?). Plus pitching the e-book for a few reviews on sites that specialise in the self-pubbed.
Feng Shui Assassin is available on the Kindle. Oh boy. A very big thank you to Andrew (friend of Quirkster) for his hard work in setting up the Amazon account stateside and allowing me to upload the thing for our American believers.
Next step was to give a little introduction and promotion on a couple of bulletin boards dedicated to the Kindle and other mobile readers. Kindleboards.com and Mobileread.com. Both of these boards are very friendly and open to newbie authors. I guess they like to experiment with their reading - and following the polite guidelines - you can pitch your book and cross your lil’ fingers.
Since posting on the boards I’ve had a couple of reviews (well sort of). The first is an honourable mention care of Lynn from RedAdept. She admitted to enjoying the book - though could only get through a third of the book as it wasn’t really her thing. However, she did give Feng Shui Assassin an honourable mention. It’s her way of publicising the book without a review - and very nice of her to do so too!
The second review is from Mrs Giggles. A great review - and my first real piece of feedback outside of the pub or the crushing adoration of my Mum. It’s interesting to get this cold point of view - and she makes some excellent points about the writing ‘nd plot ‘nd stuff. And I really like that she has reviewed many, many self pubbers (and POD’ers). Her site - along with others, will be an important filter in the coming ebook revolution.
Pity that Feng Shui Assassin didn’t rate higher but them is the cards. Thank you both!
Thank you very much to Andrew from the States - cos with his help we have enabled Feng Shui Assassin as a Kindle download. Yay!
You can have a Kindle gander here - Feng Shui Assassin.
Exciting stuff. And over the weekend I’ll draw up some thoughts on marketing and get down in writing a four month marketing plan to promote the Kindle.
The only sensible price for a self-pubbed book - offering Feng Shui Assassin as a downloadable ebook at 99 cents.
Reached the final step of the easy-peasy process for offering a book on Kindle - only to be asked for an American address and bank details. Doh!! So am asking around for a friendly yank who doesn’t mind going into a little shared Kindle publishing adventure.
Argh! But yes - frustration and what-not.
Uploading Feng Shui Assassin into Amazon’s DTP program. Simple enough so far with some tags and price and piccy and author thingummy. Some brief surfing even confirmed that the same ISBN can be used for the eleccy version as the hardback (though may need a bit more looking into). And even a painless process with the upload of the file. Amazon DTP converts the thing into HTML. Yay! But then the preview in their Kindle-clone. Ouch. Well - at least I can edit in html and stuff - but the thing just doesn’t look right - especially a few chapters in. Coupled with the choice to read in different font size and, well, Argh.
But hey - html gives so many options! But gotta get to the basics first . . .
Oh yeah - if it can’t be free then make it cheap. Dog cheap. So gawddamn cheap that it’ll slip into a shopping basket with a careless click and be swept up in the online purchase frenzy
Feng Shui Assassin is getting re-priced to the rockbottom bargain ticket of 99 cents. A quick mess around at Smashwords and the price is set. Have to sift through the other online sellers and then tackle a bit of Amazon Kindle upload.