Tag Archives: paradise

My book ‘Paradise’ is free on Amazon right now!

PARADISE Jason K. Lewis

PARADISE Jason K. Lewis

To celebrate the upcoming release of the third book in the ‘Adarna chronicles’ I am currently offering ‘Paradise’, my science fiction novelette for FREE! Please do feel free (pardon the pun) to pop over to Amazon and pick up your copy as the offer ends on the 31st October…

The Great Bear Book three in the ‘Adarna Chronicles’, ‘The Great Bear’ has been a real trial for me (surprise, surprise, each book is harder than the last!). It differs from ‘Empire Under SIege’ and ‘Phoenix Rising’ in many respects, the biggest difference is its length (it’s as long as the other two put together). I am pleased to announce though, that it will be out on the 1st of November at the latest ūüôā

 

Thanks to everyone for all of your help, support and advice over the last three months, I couldn’t have done it without you. I hope that you enjoy ‘The Great Bear’ when it is released. In the meantime, why not grab a copy of ‘Paradise’ while you wait?

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It’s almost time for a little NanoWriMo action…

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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).

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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…

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Why I no longer use Evernote for my writing (How to find your lost Evernote notes in Android)

Frustrated and confused

I had an issue the other day that frightened the hell out of me. I spend a lot of time on the train these days and when I am not on official ‘work’ business (i.e. earning a crust), I like to write on the train journeys.

*NOTE* If you have found this post through a search engine and you want to know how to get your lost ‘Evernote’ note back, please feel free to skip my ramblings and go to the end of the post, where hopefully the solution awaits you ūüôā

In a previous post I have outlined¬†my writing tools¬†and I thought it was important to provide an update. You see the other day on the train I decided I wanted a break from writing and editing the ‘Adarna chronicles’. To be fair I was getting a little tired of the first novella ‘Empire under siege’ (for those who have read previous posts, the project used to be called ‘Hope’, but I realised that the name meant nothing to anyone…. Now I know some of you will think ‘What the hell, if Hugh Howey can sell a book called ‘Wool’ then why not have an abstract name that has little meaning until you have read the book?’¬†But I just wasn’t convinced, so the name has changed).

Anyway, back to the point. I was a little tired of ‘Empire under siege’ and when this happens I tend to work on a short story (which is how my first published work ‘Paradise’ came in to existence) to get over the writer’s block. I have a long list of short story synopses that I hold as ‘Evernote’ ‘notes’, and I will continue to use Evernote for this purpose. The mistake I made was to use ‘Evernote’ as a cut down word processor.

You see I started writing a short story called ‘The hunger’ on the train in Evernote as it seemed easier than trying to use a word processor on my Android tablet. I’ve done this before with great success.

On the day I hit a seam of inspiration that enabled me to polish off the first draft of the story (5,000 words or so) on the journey to London and back. I was ecstatic. Rarely have I been able to finish something in a day, and although there are many rewrites ahead for the story before it goes to the editor, I have to say that I was very, very pleased with it (which, to be fair, probably means it is the worst thing I have ever written!).

I finished the story just as the train got in to my home station and I didn’t have time to sync ‘Evernote’ to the cloud, so I closed my Android tablet and went home, secure in the knowledge that the work would be preserved (I had pressed ‘save’ quite a few times) until I got home and could sync to the cloud and transfer the story to ‘Scrivener’ (which is my writing platform of choice).

Sadly, when I got home and opened Evernote on my iMac, only the first half of the story was there. I didn’t panic, going instead to the Android tablet and checking the ‘note’ on it (surely,¬†I thought, it must still be on the tablet?). Sadly, only half of the story was on the tablet too.

Any writer, I think, will sympathise with my plight. I had been hit by a moment of inspiration and hurled words onto the page in a frenzy. There was no way that I could recapture the lost words. I knew the story, sure, but it would never be the same (plus it would be a pain in the arse to write it all down again). I was utterly, completely, dejected.

I scoured the internet for a solution (after moping around for an hour or so), but couldn’t find anything. To make matters worse, the Evernote website help section was about as much use as a chocolate fireguard.

After much head scratching (and cursing), I reasoned that because I had pressed ‘save’ in Evernote the file must be on my Android somewhere. It turns out, thankfully, that I was right.

Here’s what I did:-

1) I opened up my Android tablet and went to the file manager app.

2) In the file manager app (there are many available, all you need is something that will let you browse the files on your Android) I located the ‘Android’ folder (if you have an SD card or similar inserted you will have to search this too).

3) Within the ‘Android’ folder I opened ‘data’ and scrolled down until I found a folder called ‘com.evernote’ and within this a folder called ‘files’

4) Within files I opened a folder called ‘unsaved notes’ (be aware that the structure of the file system in Evernote is such that you may have folders with these names on any storage device connected to your Android and they may have different content. So make sure you look through them all). It did strike me as a little bizarre that my saved files would be in a folder called ‘unsaved notes’ but I found them, so who really cares?

5) I found some ‘.enml’ files that had a date and time stamp that coincided with my train journey.

6) I emailed one of the .enml files (the latest) to my iMac.

7) I tried to open the .enml file. It opened but was mostly nonsense.

8) I did a search on the internet and found out that if you rename a .enml file to .html then it can be opened. So I did this and then opened the .html file in my browser.

9) Hey presto! My entire story popped up in my browser. I copied and pasted it into ‘Scrivener’ and the job was done! I slept soundly that night.

So that, dear reader, is why I will never write anything (other than notes) in Evernote again. I have to state that ¬†there is a function on their website that allows you to ask for support. I did send them a request for help but by the time they got back to me I had solved the problem myself. ¬†I should also note (pardon the pun…) that Evernote is an extremely handy and powerful tool if used correctly and I will continue to use it in the future for many other things.

So, that’s the end of a rather different blog post for me. I hope that someone out there finds it useful at some stage. At the very least, I hope that it will help others avoid the mistakes that I made.

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The thing about book covers

PARADISE  Jason K. Lewis

So, I have learned a lot in the last year. When I look back and think how little I knew about self publishing when I started down the road in March 2013, it is astonishing how much has changed. I have to admit that I am still a relative newbie though and as such can make mistakes (No! I hear you cry, surely not?).

I published my first novelette ‘Paradise’ just over two weeks ago now, having spent what felt like an age getting everything right (I think). I edited, re-edited and then sent it off to a professional editor and then edited it again myself before deciding it was ready for release. I then did something very, very dumb. I decided that a book cover¬†concept that I had been working on, which was really rather quirky (check it out for yourself here) was suitable for use when the book was released.

I pressed the publish button and congratulated myself on a job well done. I got really lucky on the first day when a reviewer purchased it and gave it a great review (check it out here). I was stupidly happy. Someone else bought the book the same day. Then…. nothing. I decided to take action and forwarded the book to a couple of reviewers. One agreed to review it and posted another great review (check it out here), again I was delighted and then…. nothing.

I know that it’s hard work to sell books as a self published author, so I took a few days off my ‘Paradise’ project and returned to the other, much larger work, I am writing called ‘Hope’ (working title).

I revisited the Amazon web page for ‘Paradise’ at the weekend and realised something for the first time. The cover I designed looks amateur in the extreme (in fact it could be described as more than a little bit naff). Could this be what is putting people off buying the book? I thought. Whilst it is only one factor amongst many (discoverability being another very important one), I decided as a point of pride (deeply embarrassed that I had been unable to make an objective assessment of the cover) that I would have to do something about it.

There followed a mad search of the internet as I looked for a design solution. There are many companies offering off the shelf book covers that you just add your own title to, but I wanted something unique and special.

I had seen the new book by author Lindsay Buroker, ‘Balanced on a blade’s edge‘¬†and absolutely loved the cover. I searched using the ‘look inside’ feature and couldn’t find details of the cover designer. On a whim, I Googled it and stumbled upon a discussion board that mentioned a company known as Deranged doctor design¬†(DDD). In retrospect this was like striking oil on the first drill. I had no idea if they could be trusted, but I did love the cover for Lindsay Buroker’s book so I thought I would take a risk.

DDD have a system where, if they accept a commission (and they don’t accept them all), they send design concepts without charging you up front. They only charge you when you have approved a design. In my case it took them a couple of days to give me a concept that I was absolutely delighted with (see the cover above, what do you think?). I would highly recommend them for their professionalism and patience (not to mention their artistic skills). I have to state here that I have no financial interest in their company, I’ve never even met them.

I have now uploaded the new cover to Amazon, but sadly (and I hadn’t realised this) it takes them a¬†few days to change the book cover in the Amazon store.

So for the next few days my old, crappy, cover will remain. I cannot wait, however, to see the new cover go up, for (I think) my pride will be restored.

What I hadn’t realised initially is that people really do judge a book by its cover. Whether it makes a difference to sales or not is another matter, but really, honestly, I don’t care. I have something I think I can be proud of (you may have noticed I have festooned my blog with banners and images of the new cover!)

The moral of this story? Get a good cover! (and don’t, ever, ever, think you’re a designer, because the odds are you aren’t!).

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My first two weeks as a published author

Paradise tweetSo it’s been two weeks since I published my Novelette ‘Paradise’. This is pretty much how it went down:-

1) Spent the best part of a month polishing the text, rewriting until I was sick of it (not really, but you know what I mean. If you’re a writer you probably¬†do know what I mean).

2) Sent text to editor. Got back many helpful comments, most of which I agreed with (yes, I know I am sentimental and verbose, Mr Ed, thanks for reminding me…).

3) Got corrected text back from the editor, went through text and accepted most of the changes.

4) Realised whilst going through the editors comments that there were still areas of the book that needed work. Spent the next week completing the work (something strange happened when I got it back from the editor, I was somehow more detached, more objective, more able to criticise it).

5) Set a date for release on Amazon.

6) Procrastinated for two days.

7) Published on Amazon (really rather easy, particularly if you use Scrivener).

8) Broadcast the release on this blog and through twitter.

9) Got two (count them, that’s two) sales on the first day.

10) Felt very happy for the first day (woo hoo, two sales!).

11) Got first review of the book (she loved it!), felt even happier check it out .

12) Checked Amazon sales figures every day, at least once, praying every time that more sales would appear.

13) Repeated number 12.

Do you see a pattern? Checking for sales has become an obsession, but the thing is that if no one knows the book is out there then no one will buy it. So the next major task is to market the darned thing! Hey ho, back to work then…..

Eat, sleep, write, edit, social media, market, repeat (is that a song lyric?).