Tag Archives: novel writing

It’s almost time for a little NanoWriMo action…

pad-black-and-white

Its been a long time since I last posted and I have had a few adventures (crikey, many posts worth of stories to come…). I thought this was an opportune time to update you on my plans for November. You see I am planning to take part in a thing call NanoWriMo. Not heard of it? Well you should think about checking out their website (www.nanowrimo.org).

NanoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is essentially a competition or a ‘call to arms’ for writers. It challenges you to write 50,000 words in the month of November. It doesn’t have to be anything special (although we all hope our own contribution will be), just a first draft really.

I first heard about NanoWriMo after I’d started writing and I was actually too late to take part in it in 2012 as I didn’t get the writing bug until early 2013. Because I thought it was a cool undertaking I did my own 50,000 words in a month writing challenge and managed to punch out the first (albeit very rough) draft of the first three episodes of the Adarna Chronicles. It felt like an amazing achievement even though it took many more months to get ‘Empire Under Siege’ and ‘Phoenix Rising’ into publishable format and ‘The Great Bear’ isn’t out until the end of the month (over a year after the first draft!).

In November 2013 I had a young baby to look after and so it just happen that November (so no ‘official’ NanoWriMo).

This year i’ve decided to go for it, my project is entitled ‘Bird of Paradise’, it’s a full length novel and the follow up to my novelette ‘Paradise’ (which was actually the first thing I published). Will I make it to 50,000 words? Who knows (I have an hour a night in which to do it!) but it will be an adventure along the way.

If you ever thought about writing or if you are seeking some motivation, why not jump in and register on the NanoWriMo website? You never know, you just might discover that best seller that you always knew you had in you…

Good luck!

Do Amazon ‘giveaways’ increase book sales?

free

As a budding indie author I have spent the best part of the last two years researching how to go about self publishing my work. Purely and simply this is because I do not have the confidence (as yet, and frankly I don’t know if I ever will), to submit to a traditional publishing house. There are a plethora of posts on the internet from interesting and informative authors, who provide a wealth of information to a horde of avid readers that desperately want to get their work published and recognised.

One of the most discussed themes for getting more sales is giving your book away. To me this seemed like the silliest concept in the world.

Give my book away! I thought. You must be bloomin’ joking! I worked my ass off on it! Not to mention the fact that it cost a fortune to get a professional cover design and editing. That’s just an insane idea!

I maintained my initial view for a few weeks. That is until the sorry reality of the Amazon marketplace struck home. The truth is that it is really difficult to sell books, particularly in a genre like science fiction or fantasy (which I tend to gravitate toward). Believe it or not, far more romances are sold (not to mention the gazillion iterations of teenage angsty vampire books that are out there) than any other fiction. Fantasy and science fiction are by no means small genres, but there is another problem. It seems that a disproportionately large number of people (myself included) think that they should have a go at writing the next ‘Lord or the Rings’ or ‘Dune’. That has lead to a marketplace that is absolutely saturated. It is also a marketplace where it is very difficult to separate the wheat from the chaff. Not to mention the fact that if the Amazon algorithms don’t pick you up, your book, no matter how good, can sink to the bottom of the huge mountain of other wannabe Tolkiens.

Anyway. It’s difficult. Nuff said. To cut a long story short, I released three pieces of work (‘Paradise’, ‘Empire Under Siege’ and ‘The Bloody King’) and none of them were selling particularly well. Suddenly an Amazon giveaway seemed like a good way to go.

So, a few weeks ago, I posted a giveaway for my novelette ‘Paradise’. It is a piece of work that I am immensely proud of and it currently has ten reviews on Amazon with an average of 4.7 stars. These are real reviews from real people with no vested interest in giving me a good review at all (i.e. they are not bought on the internet or from friends and relatives etc).

There are two routes you can use to give books away on Amazon. You can reduce the price of your book to nothing on the other sales channels and then get people to write to Amazon, who should (eventually) price match the book. I used the second option, which is to enrol in the KDP select programme which gives you five days in any ninety day period when you can give your books away.

The problem I had was that I waited so long, that when I wanted to post my giveaway, my ninety days were almost up. I promptly panicked and visited a great website called authormarketingclub.com that lists a load of websites that will post your free book up to their readers (and include your free book in their newsletters). I listed ‘Paradise’, on all of the websites I could, as free from the next day. In retrospect this was a big mistake as many of the sites have submission deadlines and so did not feature ‘Paradise’ on their sites.

Over the next four days I tweeted like crazy about my free book and (probably mostly through this) managed to get about 400 downloads (although I must have driven my followers mad…). This does not compare well to the thousands that other authors claim to get, but it was better than nothing (I thought).

file000309115268

The result of my massive giveaway? Was there an enormous boost in sales? Did I recoup all of the expenses generated in publishing my works? Do I now have a huge following of fans who are desperate to read my next book?

I saw a fifty percent increase in sales. Did they all result from the giveaway? Probably not (my sales were growing slowly anyway and I released the second book in the ‘Adarna chronicles’, ‘Phoenix Rising’ recently). Essentially, it was a small increase on a small number.

Finally. In answer to the question ‘Do Amazon giveaways work?’ I would have to say that, for me, the jury is still out. For this reason I am going to run another giveaway for ‘Paradise’, but this time I have done everything right. The postings have been submitted in advance. The giveaway starts on the 25th August and finishes on the 27th. Why not pick up a copy and see what you think?

I will report back on the results of the second giveaway in a few weeks. Until then, would I recommend that you try it yourself? Hmmm…

If you like this post why not ‘like’ it below or share it on twitter or something like that. You could even follow my blog (button on the top right).

‘The Bloody King’ is FREE! (Everywhere except Amazon!)

The Bloody King final3last one for Marinbookworks

Hi All,

Just a quick note to let you know the my short story ‘The Bloody King’, a dark thriller set in London, is now free to download until the end of the month.

Rather amusingly, the only place it isn’t free to download is Amazon (sorry about that but I don’t want to make it perma-free as yet).

Please do help yourselves to a copy as a reward for tuning in to my ramblings for the last year or so. But please do be aware that it is very different to my other works.

I am doing this as an experiment to see whether it helps with attracting readers to my work. This is a slightly strange experiment because ‘The Bloody King’ is a thriller and my other work is fantasy or science fiction, but hey ho, it is all I have to give away at the moment 🙂

If you would like to help me with this experiment please do tweet about the free offer. I will then report back at a later date with the results!

Not sure how this will go as the market is absolutely saturated with free books at the moment, but you never know!

Here are the links to all the sites you can download from:-

‘The Bloody King’ on NOOK

‘The Bloody King’ on KOBO

‘The Bloody King’ on iTunes

All the best

Jason

Guess what? My book just won an award!

ECDA-GoldStar-Jun-2014   Ok, so, as the title of this blog says, my book ‘Empire Under Siege’ won an award today 🙂 In fact it got a gold star (I haven’t had one of those since I was at infant school!). It’s absolutely brilliant news for me as it is the first official recognition that the book has received. I have to confess at this stage though (and the eagle eyed amongst you will know already- as it’s written on the badge above) that the award is actually for the cover, rather than the writing, but you know what? It doesn’t bother me too much as I haven’t entered the book for any literary (or otherwise) prizes. I am just chuffed to bits that the excellent cover designed by the guys over at Deranged Doctor Design has received the recognition that (I think) it deserves! I have put a copy of the cover below just in case you haven’t seen it yet.The award is actually a runner up prize in the fiction category. For those of you who aren’t familiar with Joel Friedlander’s book cover competition, I would advise that you check it out (see how I put the link in there to the June competition results? Crafty, huh?). You may also want to check out the rest of his site, it’s full of great resources and advice for writers. I’ve written about the importance of good cover design before, when I had a bit of a crisis over my first publication, ‘Paradise’. Essentially, I think it is important, in the thumbnail picture led world of the Amazon store et al, to get a good cover for your work.

EMPIRE UNDER SIEGE Jason K. Lewis

EMPIRE UNDER SIEGE Jason K. Lewis

In other news, work on ‘Phoenix Rising’, book two in the ‘Adarna chronicles’ is progressing well and it has now been sent to the editor. Once it returns it should (well, provided the editor doesn’t tear it to shreds) be only a week or so before it is ready for release! If you like this blog why not hit the like button below, or follow me on twitter, or do some other digital jiggery pokery? 🙂

Book cover reveal for ‘Phoenix Rising’ book 2 in the ‘Adarna chronicles’

Phoenix Rising

PHOENIX RISING Jason K. Lewis

Hi All,

See the book cover reveal for my new novella ‘Phoenix Rising’ above. The book is the second in my epic fantasy series entitled ‘The Adarna chronicles’. It is the follow up to ‘Empire Under Siege’ which is already out.

The book follows the fates of Conlan, Wulf, Martius and the other key characters as they come to terms with the aftermath of both the Wicklander invasion and the sinister developments within the heart of the empire itself. A storm is approaching, and only the strong will survive. (I know, looks like I ‘m rehearsing for the back cover blurb already…).

Would be really grateful for your thoughts on it. What do you think? Do you think it works with the cover for ‘Empire Under Siege?‘ (Below) Do they look like part of a coherent series? Would you click on this cover over the millions of others that adorn the pages of Amazon or Nook or Kobo?

EMPIRE UNDER SIEGE Jason K. Lewis

EMPIRE UNDER SIEGE Jason K. Lewis

The book itself is out at the end of the month. Those who purchase ‘Phoenix Rising’ in the months of July and August 2014 will receive a copy of my upcoming short story ‘The hunger’, for free when it is released as a thank you. All they have to do is sign up to my newsletter using the link at the end of the book.

I hope you like the cover (I know I do!). I used the guys over at Deranged Doctor Design (the same people who did my cover for ‘Paradise’ and ‘Empire Under Siege’) and they delivered the goods as usual 🙂

If you like this post why not follow the blog? (top right) or reach out to me on Facebook or Twitter? Cheers

Goodreads giveaway for ‘Empire under siege’

EMPIRE UNDER SIEGE Jason K. Lewis

Hi All,

Just a note to let you know that there is a Goodreads giveaway on at this very moment for ‘Empire under siege’. Please feel free to enter… What the heck, tell your friends as well. I am giving away a signed copy to the lucky winner.

I’m busy working on ‘Phoenix rising’, book two in the ‘Adarna chronicles’. Still doing the structural edit and think I wrote some OK stuff to add in today (as well as taking out some not so OK stuff). Should have a cover reveal in the next few days. The guys at Deranged doctor design have blown me away (again!) and are just putting the finishing touches to it 🙂

I also appear to have written a short story in a completely different genre (kind of a crime/thriller). Just got it back from the editor (he improved it beyond my wildest dreams), who has made some very pertinent comments, and reminded me through them, that I have a lot to learn… More on that in the next couple of days as I am hoping to release it soon.

Have a good one

Jason

My experience with Goodreads giveaways and some handy tips for posting your own…

goodreads

If you are an author and you want to get your book noticed then there are many ways that you can do it. There are thousands of articles populating the internet telling you how you should ‘build a platform’ and get yourself a ‘tribe’ in order that they can shout out about your book so that you can generate sales.

I can tell you now that all of the above is very hard work. I work (this is not my day job) for about fifty hours a week, I have a baby son and I have a life to lead. What this means is that I have one hour a night in which to write. Since I started trying to publish books this hour has been split between writing, editing, marketing and, perhaps most importantly, learning…

Of course many of you know this story (Oh woe is me, it’s so difficult to find the time, blah blah, etc). To be honest, I love the writing, but I also want people to actually read my books (because everyone needs feedback on their work, you know?).

Anyway, I decided that I should do a thing called a ‘Goodreads giveaway’. If you love books and you haven’t checked out Goodreads then I would highly recommend that you pop over and have a look. It’s a great tool for finding what we all want (that’s more good books to read, not piles of gold or Jennifer Lopez in a bikini by the way…).

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

The thing about Goodreads is that they will only allow you to do a giveaway with a paperback book, you just can’t do it with an ebook. This presents a problem to many self published authors as they cannot or will not produce paperback versions of their work. This was a stumbling block for me too and it took me the best part of a year to pluck up the courage- and figure out how- to format and publish a book through Createspace (the alternative is to use Lulu or Lightning-source or Ingram-spark, but I chose Createspace because it seemed the easiest and was free to use).

It took me a while but using Scrivener (a truly wonderful piece of software) I was able to put together the files for a paperback and upload them to Createspace.

Anyway, I digress, I am going to post a blog about my Createspace experience soon, so you can read all about that process then 🙂

When I had my paperback version of ‘Empire under siege’, the first book in my epic fantasy series ‘The Adarna chronicles’, I posted a giveaway on Goodreads.

The process itself is quite straightforward, you fill in some fields detailing when you want the giveaway to start and finish, how many books you want to giveaway etc, and then you link it to your book (you must have uploaded it to Goodreads already to do this).

I posted my first giveaway for two days and gave away one book. During the two days 779 (forgive the use of numbers, it’s just so much blooming easier that writing out longhand, although actually by the time I’ve explained it all it’s probably about the same… ho hum…) people ‘requested’ it (they entered the competition). This means that at least this number actually saw the cover and blurb and liked it enough to enter the competition. In addition 314 people added ‘Empire under siege’ to their ‘to-read’ bookshelf (basically saying that they wanted to read it at some stage).

I was totally over the moon! Wow, I thought, there will be over 300 sales from this one little giveaway!

Well, actually, no… The fact is that in the last week or so since the giveaway ended I have sold about the same number of books as I sold before. I do think that about seven people from Goodreads have bought the book (as the number with the book on their ‘to-read’ shelf is now 307) which means that I have just about broken even on the giveaway. I could be wrong of course and seven people might have removed it from their shelves…

There may be more people over the coming weeks and months that buy ‘Empire under siege’ because of the giveaway, but I don’t think that it will be that many. You see, when you examine the statistics for the people who have put the book on their to-read shelf it turns out that most of them have several thousand books marked to read. Clearly the chance of most people getting around to reading ‘Empire under siege’ when it is one of thousands to choose from is virtually zero.

Am I worried? Well, no, actually. You see the thing is that the book got some exposure, and in my mind that has to be a good thing as it increases the discoverability of my work. I actually did another giveaway for my other work ‘Paradise’ with even more people adding it to their shelves (although bizarrely, even though it is only 99c, no one has actually bought it following the giveaway).

Meanwhile ‘Empire under siege’ has another giveaway scheduled for the 24th to the 29th June with the hope that more people will add it to their shelves.

So, in order to try to be helpful, I have added my top tips (using my absolutely vast experience 😉 – that’s a joke by the way, just in case you didn’t get it) for Goodreads giveaways below:-

1) Make sure you have a good cover. If you haven’t, then less people are going to stop and read your blurb…

2) Make sure that your blurb is good. Don’t just cut and paste your book cover blurb, you need to be more creative. I put extracts of reviews for my work and also offered the books as autographed copies.

3) Make sure that you spend some time working on the ‘tags’ as there are hundreds to search through and many of them may be relevant to your work.

4) Don’t expect to sell loads of books, it’s more about exposure. Unless you just wrote the next fifty shades of grey (which apparently took off because of a Goodreads giveaway) you ain’t going to make a profit.

5) Consider only offering one book. I don’t think offering more does anything other than cost you more. Although it should be noted that some people use giveaways to get reviews and if so, more books equal more reviews (potentially).

6) Try out different lengths of time for your giveaways to find out what time span works best (my first was two days and the next was three, the one about to start is five).

7) Perhaps most importantly, it takes a couple of days at least for the Goodreads team to approve your giveaway, make sure you start yours in the future so that it doesn’t finish before it has started (if you know what I mean).

Hope this was useful (wow, long post!). If you like it why not ‘like’ it below, or follow my blog (top right for the button) or tweet me or facebook me or do some other social networky thing. Cheers.