“Your Title Here”

Life is hard.

So are titles.

To a writer, titles are like Death and Taxes–unavoidable. So when we find one that fits perfectly (aka, The Precious) like Gollum, we cling to it with all the desperate fervour of a drug addict.

When that title is based on an excerpt from a favourite song, this is a great mistake. Because no matter how precious it is, it’s someone else’s Precious, and we all know how that turns out for Gollum. (“We hates it, Precious, we hates it!”)

What I mean by all of this is that it’s extremely unlikely I’ll be able to keep the tentative title of BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU. I’m still waiting to hear back from the copyright holders as to whether or not I can use it, and when I find that out, it’s still quite unlikely, judging from the prices quoted for use of the excerpts as chapter headings, that I’ll be able to afford it anyway.

But the most pressing problem is that I need to know soon. In the self-publishing business, schedules are important, and I’m already a couple of months behind mine. If I don’t get permission by the end of January at the latest, I need to be ready to go with an alternate title. If the licensing cost turns out to be too much, I also need to be ready to go with an alternate title.

In other words, I need an alternate title.

I was brainstorming ideas with a fellow author friend (who made me snort chai latte up my nose in my local cafe by suggesting “Smart as the Pants of You”–thanks for that, Intisar!–and was otherwise immensely helpful) and came up with a few possibilities. I’ve put them below for you guys to look at: please take a minute to let me know in the comments which title you like the best, especially if you’ve read BRIGHT AS THE EYES OF YOU. I still want your opinion even if you haven’t read it, though, so fire away!

***ETA a new personal favourite, #6***

1.) The Weight of Dreams in the Waking

2.) A Song of Waking Dreams

3.) Bright as the Wakeful Stars

4.) A Star Distant and Bright

5.) Bright as the Distant Star

6.) To Dream a Star, Distant and Bright

What’s your favourite? Don’t be shy! Let me know!

Self-Publishing and Early Birthday Presents

How exactly is Self-Publishing related to early birthday presents?

Allow me to explain. I’m sitting here with a 3-cd box set of the Monkees that was a birthday present from my sister. It is not, however, my birthday for another week. So why do I have a birthday present already?

Monkees

Mostly cos I love presents and have a really cute puppy-dog expression going for me. And as I sit here with my fantastic 3-cd box set of the Monkees, it occurs to me that my approach to publishing is much the same as my approach to presents.

I want it all, and I want it now.

(I also really like guessing what wrapped presents are, which isn’t at all helpful to this analogy but I think is telling as to my character.)

Self-Publishing is the instant gratification of the publishing world.

I mean, it isn’t really, but it kinda is. Think about it. If you’re traditionally pubbed, there’s roughly a year spent in finding an agent (if you’re not amazingly talented or amazingly lucky). Then there’s something like a 6 months-1 year while your agent finds an editor who wants to buy your book (again, unless you’re amazingly talented or amazingly lucky). Then there is the year or maybe even two years while your MS is sent to structural-editors, line-editors, proof-readers; put in line for the publication catalog, switched around a bit; has its pretty little cover designed (which you probably won’t get a say in).

Once I know the present is there and wrapped, I WANT IT.

I’m not a patient person. I’ll work until I’ve made things as good as possible, but when I know my books are finished and ready, I want them out yesterday. I don’t want to wait for an agent to give me the ok. I don’t want to wait for an editor to give me the ok. I want to be able to make decisions about what characters are cut (or not cut) and what POV my MS is written in. I want to be the one with last say on what my cover looks like.

And I love being able to set my own publication dates.

I know Self-Publishing isn’t for everyone, but as I sit here with my 3-cd box set of the Monkees, I’m feeling pretty good about it.

monkees 2

Maybe it’s just that I’m in the happy post-MS haze for THE FIRST CHILL OF AUTUMN, but I don’t see myself losing my love for the Indie form of Publishing.

Maybe one day I’ll be a Hybrid author, but for now, I’m happy just sitting here listening to my Monkees box set.

Getting the Most out of Your Royalties

I’ve been doing some nitty-gritty work this past week.

Mostly it’s been stuff like (finally!) getting the new cover of MASQUE onto a paperback version (after updating the inner to have pretty graphics and a new font). I got the proof back a couple days ago, so I’ll be able to approve it today (yay!) and you’ll all be able to purchase the new paperback!

Apart from that, though, I’ve been trying to find a better way of managing Amazon royalty payments.

If you’re not a US or UK citizen, you can’t get payments via EFT. In other words, we Aussies (and several other nationalities as well) were finding that we had to wait months on end for a cheque to finally arrive in the mail. But, yanno, they finally did arrive, and hooray!

Payday!

Not quite. You see, after that, we would have to take it to the bank. The bank would then offer you a rate of conversion (which was guaranteed not to be anything like as good as the actual rate of exchange); after which they would charge you $15-$40 for the trouble of receiving your deposit (depending upon which bank you patronise).

By this point, your $100-$150 cheque is now looking an awful lot smaller. Still, payday, right?!?

Not quite. Because now your bank will make you wait anywhere from 4-6 weeks (?!?!) before you get your money.

What can you do about this if you’re an Aussie like me?

Up until today, the short answer would have been ‘Nothing’. You’d just have to accept the fact that the royalties you earned half a year ago won’t actually be accessible as money until half a year after you earned it. Or, of course, you could go through the insane annoyance of setting up a US based bank account (Payoneer or the like) and accept the fairly hefty charges that apply (for ex. $30-odd per year to keep the account, a fee of 1% of every deposit, a fee of 3% of every withdrawal, at the very least). You’d get your money faster, but you’d still be paying through the nose for it. And when you start making real royalties, that 1% and 3% that doesn’t seem so much now? Yeah, it’s gonna hurt.

It was mentioned recently on the ALLi FB group that there has been a slight change in the KDP payment options. I, of course, went to check it out and found that it was quite true–there is now an option for Aussie authors to receive wire transfers directly to their banks for amounts of over $100.

You heard that right, my fellow Aussies. We can get our royalties in mere days instead of months. I checked on Commbank’s website to see what sort of fees were associated with receiving an international wire transfer, and found that it was just $11. ELEVEN BUCKS. Less than it takes to deposit a foreign cheque and I get my royalties almost straight away?!?

Honestly, it seems like the best of both worlds!

Okay, so it’s early days yet. I still have to find out if there are any hidden fees/costs attached, but in the mean-time, I’m tickled pink! Keep your eye on the blog over the next couple of months, and I’ll update you with my findings when I have some to report.

If you already knew about this, move right along now. Nothing to see here…

If you want to know how to change your settings, read on!

*Go to your KDP dashboard

*Select [Awesome Self-Publisher]’s Account from the top right-hand side of your window

*Scroll down to Amazon Marketplaces

*Select Wire from the first drop-down list

Screenshot (92)

*Select your home currency from the second drop-down list

Screenshot (93)

*If you’re already set up with a bank account in your home Amazon store, it should auto-populate. Just make sure you check that it’s all fine.

*If you’re not already set up, you’ll have to enter the details from the account you would like your royalties wired to

And that’s it. That’s seriously it. Go ahead and enjoy your hard-earned royalties!

I’ll update this post when I’ve confirmed that the fees are exactly what I’ve been told they are.

Self-Publishing vs Trade Publishing

All right, hold onto your hats, people.

Hold onto your hat

Things are about to get serious. (Not really. I just like to wind people up.)

Last week I saw a blog post on self-publishing by Agent Janet Reid. As with every other time Janet talks about Self-Publishing, I disagreed totally with almost everything she said. I find Janet a great source of wisdom and fantastic hints, but I think she’s completely off when it comes to self publishing. What she says simply doesn’t match up with my experience or with the experiences of most of those self-publishing around me. That’s to be expected: she’s an agent, not a self-publisher. Her expertise–and it’s a vast and immensely useful expertise–is in an entirely different area. I didn’t comment on the blog post because I didn’t want to waste my breath or annoy Janet by disagreeing with her on her blog. I simply had a bit of a chuckle and moved on.

However. I got an email this evening.

It was a nice email, a thoughtful email from another reader of Janet’s blog, mentioning the blog post and asking what I thought of it. He added that not many self-publishers had commented upon the post. He then linked to another blog post on the subject and asked my opinion on it. This is the blog post: it’s great. Thoughtful, questioning, and interesting. It brings out some fantastic points.

It made me think again about why I self-publish, what I think of the self-pub vs trade-pub question, and what battles I think are worth fighting. I’ve spoken before about why I love to self-pub: things like control of my own work, rights, and author brand; plus a (much!) better cut of the profits; my own publishing schedule (that means I can publish 4-6 times a year instead of once every 2 years); etc., etc….

But most of all it got me thinking about one thing.

In this quickly changing and vast world of publishing, I have noticed one thing happening again and again. Self-pubbed authors working hard, making it big (to either a great or decent extent), and taking a trade-publishing deal along with their self-pubbed work. Then I see the exact same thing, but in reverse: Trade-pubbed authors who have already made it big (or who have been midlist and want more) going self-pub on the side, and making it rich. So in the end, it really makes me think that the best thing to do as either a self- or trade-pubbed author is to be flexible. There’s no one way to do it, and Hybrid-pubbed authors are beginning to spring up everywhere.

So there you have it.

I’ve decided absolutely nothing. Self publishing is best for me, and I fully expect to be writing full-time within five years, but that’s not going be the path for everyone. Some authors are going to be more comfortable trade publishing. Some of us aren’t. I could do with a little less of the smug attitude and pitying glances from the direction of trade publishing, but in the end, who really cares? So long as I’m making a living, they can look down on me as much as they choose. Officially, I recommend self-publishing, but you have to go into it with your eyes open, knowing what to expect. It’s going to be a lot of work, and you may or may not succeed. On the other hand, I could say the same of trade publishing. So again, I’ve not really decided anything.

What do you guys think? Self-Pub? Trade-Pub? Hybrid? Which are you?

Experiments (Of The Kind That Don’t Go Boom)

I’ve been doing a few experiments this week (and last). Unfortunately none of them involved high explosives, but ya can’t have everything, right?

Mostly my experiments have been with ads: Facebook ads, Twitter ads, Goodreads ads, etc. I wanted to see which (if any) provided bang for buck, and which (if any) would provide hard sales. I began with Goodreads ads, which I’ve had some success with in the past. I ran an ad and a giveaway for my new book Wolfskin. Those are still running, but my conclusions from this and past campaigns is that Goodreads, although providing a few scattered sales, is mostly good for name awareness. It gets my books out there for the notice of readers. And that’s not accounting for the slow burn of sales: each of my books on Goodreads is on a couple hundred To-Be-Read shelves. I’m hoping that will mean sales in the future.

Facebook ads. Well, I tried. I got no further than using my book cover as an image. Initially, the ad was approved. Five seconds and two click-throughs later, it was disapproved. Why? Apparently it had ‘more than 25% text’. It’s a book cover. It has a title and an author name. What you gonna do? Until FB ads allow book covers, they’re going to be pretty useless to me. I canceled the ad and won’t be bothering again.

Twitter ads. Huh. What can I say? Oh, I know: don’t bother. Not unless you love being retweeted and faved by fake accounts. I don’t know whether it’s a dodge by Twitter themselves, to earn easy money, or whether it’s just a whole bunch of fake accounts that love retweeting and faving random stuff, but it was next to useless. I got a heck of a lot of click-throughs, but since all the retweets and faves were from fake accounts, I’m not holding out much hope that the hundreds of clicks are from real people either. I guess the next couple days of sales will tell. At this stage, I don’t think I’ll be bothering with another Twitter ad, though. It’s too much to pay for fake interest.

Pic from http://www.seosmarty.com/how-to-create-twitter-retweet-bot/

Pic from http://www.seosmarty.com/how-to-create-twitter-retweet-bot/

have been doing other things these last couple weeks, though, so All Is Not Lost. I’m very close to being able to start final edits on Spindle, I’ve written a guest blog post over at Tiger Hebert’s Blog (entitled The Problem With Self-Publishing– check it out!), and I’m having lots of fun on Twitter apart from bogus ads and fake followers. Oh, and I just sent off the review copies for my Xpresso Book Blog Tour of Wolfskin! It’s a week long from July 6-10, and will have 2 Guest Posts, 2 Author Interviews, and roughly 10 book reviews, so YAY! Also keep an eye out, because There Will Be Excerpts!

Maybe next week I can start with the kind of experiments that do go BOOM.

All About Wolfskin

Just a quick note to let you all know that Wolfskin is Finished, Done, Kaputt, Uploaded, etc, etc. It will be available May 1st, and if any of you out there on the interwebs are interested in getting your hot little hands on a review copy of Wolfskin, send me a note via the comments, the Contact tab, or email (gingellwrites AT gmail.com). Reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Blogs, and Kobo are very greatly appreciated 🙂

Wolfskin will be going on blog tour from July 6th, so reviews are welcome any time from May 1st through to July 26th. Later is fine, too, but I’d love to co-ordinate everything together if possible. If you’re interested in having me as a guest on your blog during this time (guest post, interview, excerpt, etc) feel free to contact me by the above methods.

I will also be setting up a Goodreads Giveaway mid-May.

See below for a blurb of Wolfskin, and if you’d like to check out an excerpt, click on the Excerpts tab.

Have a lovely week, all!

“If you want adventure, you have to march right up to it and kick it in the shins . . .”

At fourteen, barefoot and running wild, Rose is delighted to be apprenticed to Akiva, the witch of the forest.  She thinks it will be all enchantment and excitement, and not so much fuss about baths.  The reality is much more sober and practical- that is, until she meets a mysterious wolf in the forest and is tricked into stepping off the path . . .

In young, naive Rose, Bastian sees a way of escape.  Cursed to remain in the shape of a wolf after running afoul of a powerful enchantress, he has lived many decades under a spell, and now he is both desperate and ruthless.  But by breaking part of Bastian’s curse, Rose has caught the attention of Cassandra, the enchantress who cursed him: and Cassandra is by no means ready to forgive and forget.

Meanwhile, wardens have been disappearing from the forest, one by one.  Rose is certain that Cassandra is behind the disappearances, but can she and Bastian get to the bottom of the matter before Akiva disappears as well?  And are Bastian’s motives entirely to be trusted?

Sometimes the little girl in the red hood doesn’t get eaten, and sometimes the wolf isn’t the most frightening thing in the forest.

WOLFSKIN - 2000

Busy, Busy, Busy

It’s been a busy week. And now that I’ve written the word ‘busy’ five times, it’s looking really weird to me. Maybe I need a nap.

But I digress.

It’s been a busy week. My proofs for Wolfskin came in (finally!) but since they’re late arriving I have only a week and a half to check and correct. So there’s that. Then there’s the last 5000-odd words of Spindle that need to be done by next week if I want to keep on target with that particular deadline. And then there’s Memento Mori (the second volume in the Time-Traveller’s Best Friend series). I’ve only just begun it, and though I know roughly what the story arc for the collection will be, and have a few titles and ideas for a few of the stories, I still need to write the thing. By August at the latest.

With all these deadlines, you’d think I’d be madly at work on one or all of them. No such thing. I also got a new idea for a Short Thing for Weekly Fiction’s Open Call For Submissions. Naturally, I started work on that, with a little bit of editing and proof-reading around the edges. Fortunately, Wolfskin is proving much less complicated than Masque was. I seem to have caught most of the errors and inconsistencies and missed words before this point (does that mean I’ve advanced a level? New Power! Error-Free Gained!) and it’s really mostly a matter of a tiny change here and there.

Added to all the above is a busier-than-usual week at work, coupled with an annoying surge of my favourite companion, Meniere’s Disease.

I may just quietly go mad for a while. Don’t mind me. It’s a self-chosen madness after all.

What about you guys? Who else has a murder of deadlines? (Well, what is the group word for many deadlines, anyway?) And are you actually working on them?

All The Lovely Stuff

When I first decided that I was going to go with self-publishing rather than traditional publishing, there was no doubt in my mind that it was going to be a long, hard slog. I knew that I’d have to work very hard for potentially very little reward, and that success – if it came – would most likely come slowly.

I was prepared for the exasperatingly finnicky adjustments and bug fixes of preparing different formats for different platforms. I was prepared for the necessity of promoting myself (not an easy thing for an introvert). I was even prepared for the arduous gauntlet of GST, ABNs, EINs, ITINs, and every other taxation-related acronym. I knew I’d have to do a fair bit of leg work to get my books into the local bookstores, and that this would involve a lot of stammering, ums, and daft half-sentences that would lead the most patient store owner to wonder how an idiot ever managed to publish a book.

I knew, in fact, that there was a very good possibility that I would publish to very little reception, and that I might never write to an audience of more than three or four people (not counting mum and sis). I figured I could live with that, because let’s face it, I write because I love writing. Getting paid for it would be a plus, but it’s not the reason I write. Becoming famous would be awesome, but it’s not the reason I write.

I was pretty well prepared for most of what I’ve had to do. A few things have taken me by surprise: been harder or easier to do than I expected, etc. But I find that I neglected to think of one thing.

It didn’t actually occur to me that someone, having loved what I wrote, would write, email, tweet, or contact me in some way, to tell me how much they’d loved it. It seems a bit stupid of me not to have thought of it. But the first email I received, telling me that the writer loved Masque and that they were waiting eagerly for my next book, was a complete surprise. The second left me stunned and a little dizzy, and inclined to stare into the middle distance with a fatuous beam on my face. Then there were the lovely tweets, comments, and emails that followed.

So to everyone who has contacted me in some way to tell me how much they enjoyed my book/story/excerpt, etc: Thank you! You’re part of The Lovely Stuff about being an author. When you tell me that Thing you particularly enjoyed about my book, it delights me to know that someone noticed that Thing. Odds are, I worked very hard to make it right.

It can sometimes feel like I’m shouting into an immense void, and the occasional human touch from across the internet is very much appreciated. Thank you for reaching out and becoming a part of my life.

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2

Jim Carrey in The Mask, sourced from http://giphy.com/search/thank-you/2