Adventures in self-publishing, episode 2

over-the-moonI wrote Candle’s Christmas Chair for several reasons, not least of which was that I wanted to trial the self-publishing tools on a novella before I tried them on the novel, which is more than five times as long.

I also had two other reasons. I wanted to give readers a free chance to find out whether they liked my writing style, in the hopes that will encourage more of them to buy Farewell to Kindness. And I had Candle and Min telling their story inside my head, and writing it down was a way of moving on. Except that telling their story has started me thinking about two more. So much for reason number three.

Many people have Candle (and some have even read it)

Reason number two is working out well. Candle has now been published for three and a half weeks, and I’ve been stunned by how many have been distributed, and by the nice reviews I’ve had. At the time of writing, it’s ranked at number 269 in the Kindle Store for all free books, number 2 for Holiday ebooks, number 4 for Kindle Short Reads 65 to 100 pages, and number 7 for Regency historical romance. Wow! Unbelievable!

I’ve had 20 reviews on Amazon, with a 4.3 star average rating, and 28 ratings on Goodreads with an average of 4.18. And three Goodreads members have added Farewell to their to-read lists.

Many of the distributors don’t report numbers of free books downloaded, but the four that do report a collective total of more than 15,000 downloads. And I’ve invited people to share it. And it has been loaded onto at least three pirate sites that I know of.

Will this reception translate into readers for Rede and Anne’s story when I publish it in April? It remains to be seen, but meanwhile, I’m one very happy novice novelist.

The ebook tools were easy to use, and I’m now trying CreateSpace to produce a print book

So back to reason one.

I found the Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing tool easy to use, and I was happy with the results. Smashwords needed a completely different file setup, but that was fine, too. Their infamous Meat Grinder compilation tool turned my first paragraphs with no indent into unindented paragraphs one point size larger than the rest of the text, but I can live with indented first paragraphs.

I’ve been working on the other possibility today. I’m using CreateSpace to provide a print version of Candle’s Christmas Chair, which I’ll be able to sell at somewhere about US$4.00 (to cover the print costs).

I’ve created an account, laid up and tested the inside, and made a cover. I should be able to publish in the next day or two. Again, it has been relatively easy. This time, I’ll have to wait on international postage to see the results, but I’ll let you know how it turns out.

If all goes well, I’ll be able to offer Farewell to Kindness in print. While I don’t expect to make many print sales and (to keep the price realistic) I’ll need to shave the royalties to the bone, it’s another service to readers.

Now on with the hunt for reviews

I’m very grateful for the reviews and ratings I’ve had. You guys rock. But in the spirit of using Candle as a Kindergarten for Farewell and its successors, I need to get cracking on seeking some feedback from the blog and online magazine reviewers. I have a little list. I need to stop resting on my laurels (and chatting with people on Facebook), and start working my way down it.

Expect me to get very excited it if it works out!


5 thoughts on “Adventures in self-publishing, episode 2

  1. I nearly did the same with their Muse product but then decided it did too much for me and ways I didn’t like! But the subscription idea itself is a good one, I think

  2. Hi Jude, I have never had much luck with Smashwords and basically gave up using it a while back. I might be tempted to try again if, like you, I was distributing a short story intended largely for promotion, but not for a full length piece.
    Curious to know what you are using for the CreateSpace interior pdf? I switched to the online tool which is very versatile though quite geeky. But the layout warnings it gives are so similar to Amazon’s own that with a bit of work you can produce a text which passes Amazon’s validator first time

    • Hi, Richard. I thought about going through iBooks and Kobo directly, since they both have publications tools. I’d heard that they take ages to upload from Smashwords. But Candle was on iBooks in a little over a week, and on Kobo in a fortnight, which saved me having to do the whole thing more than twice. Smashwords, iBooks, and Barnes & Noble account for a fifth of my distribution. Smashword’s other resellers don’t give a daily report on free books, so I don’t know what’s happening with them, but I know Candle is on the shelves with all the other resellers that Smashword’s distributes to.

      I’ve used Word to create the internals for the print version of Candle. It isn’t too bad at layout, though I may go for Pages for Farewell to Kindness. I’m a power Word user, though, with around 30 years of using (and teaching it) to help me understand its quirks. My file passed Amazon’s validator first time, but threw up some unintentional page breaks that I fixed with a second file.

      I intend, if I sell enough novels, to move to an online subscription to InDesign – I used to use InDesign when I was a magazine publisher, and producing a pdf in InDesign would give me total control over layout and let me proof it at home before I put it online. It would also give me better control over fonts for covers than Pixelator, which is what I’m currently using.

      • Thanks Jude, interesting stuff. I have never used InDesign, not least because of the price, but it sounds a useful tool.

      • It’s quite a learning curve, and I believe they’re now on CS5 – I was using CS, so I’m well behind. But, instead of buying the software, I can now subscribe to a cloud-based service for a monthly fee. And they have a free trial period. So when I’m ready, I’m going to give it a try.

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