Posts Tagged ‘smashwords’

hurts
I don’t often reveal much of my personal life. Please don’t be offended by this, I was raised to believe that showing any of your vulnerable underbelly was a weakness should be avoided at all costs. My family taught me that I had nothing of value to say and that none of my emotions were valid.
Perhaps this is why I ensconced myself in books. In their worlds I got to see what it was to have a parent who asked a child about their day or hugged them, something that I didn’t get at home. Fiction was a safe place where anything could happen because it was pure fantasy.
As embarrassing as this is to admit, it’s only really been in the last few years that I’ve realised some people out there do reveal themselves to others. Sadly, I have been conditioned for three decades and so my learned behaviours are fully engrained; opening myself to anyone in person won’t be happening any time soon.
Please don’t feel sorry for me, or laugh, at how pathetic my upbringing was. My father left when I was a child and I lived in a cold environment with my mother where feelings, or discussions of them, were bothersome. You do what needs to be done and that’s it. You get up in the morning, go to work, eat and sleep – that’s about it. There is nothing more to life. At least that’s what I spent my childhood believing.
All of my pitiful ramblings above are the prelude to how I feel this evening, which is why I am chattering. Sometimes I do feel alone. Being estranged from my parents was nothing in my youth when I had a million friends (rather superficial acquaintances) and a frantic social life. But I don’t have that mask disguising the truth anymore.
As luck would have it – or not – when I did find a man to settle down with it turned out that man was an abusive alcoholic who thought only of himself and not of me or our child. Eventually I freed myself from him and now I have a lot to be proud of in my life. My son is smart and beautiful and keeps me going every day. I built a business that I run from home so that I can be there for my son when I need to be and never miss a school show – even if it means working until the early hours when he is asleep.
Writing has been in my life since I was a child, as I said before it offered me an escape and let me explore the emotions I felt but was not allowed to express. But it was my grandmother’s death that prompted me to publish. The woman was a tower of strength, the most incredible person that I have ever known, and one who would give her last to those in need. I’ll admit that she was from a different generation and wasn’t exactly the tactile, warm and fuzzy type, but she cared for my sister and me in a way that no one else ever did and she never made us feel like a burden.
Through the years I have loved and lost in relationships of the romantic and platonic variety. I’ve stood up in courts to defend what is right, even when it broke my heart. What family I did have left I lost when I defended my niece and nephew against the only sister I have, in order to prevent them being subjected to her abuse.
I’ve proved to myself that I have integrity and I have proved that I can, and will, work hard and do what it takes to care for the children whom I love so much. I imagine sometimes that my grandmother watches over them, as she watched over us, and that I have to do for her what she no longer can, because she is not on this earth with us anymore.
But it’s hard, oh god, it’s hard. Tonight I’m feeling blue, as you may have guessed. Having struggled all of my life with depression and anxiety issues I recognise that this will pass, sometimes life slaps you down just to remind you of the strength it takes to stand back up.
Why do I bother? No one in my real life knows that I publish. I was taught to never expose my emotions or inner thoughts, and there isn’t a place more personal or revealing than the words I put onto paper. No one would understand. If they read and saw just what went on within me I’d never be able to look them in the eye again. I’d be embarrassed and ashamed, not because of the explicit content of my novels, but because then they would know that I feel.
But when no one in your real life knows that you publish and you have no one to share your frustrations and triumphs with online either the whole experience becomes so isolating. There’s no one there to say, “Wow, look what you did…” Only writers know how many hours (see months and years) it takes to hone your craft enough to publish. Only writers know how invested we become in our characters and their worlds, and how much of yourself you pour into them.
Spending all of that time writing is one thing. But to publish is a whole other ballgame. You have to learn how to make covers, write your own blurbs, and fill out acknowledgements. Believe it or not, those are the fun parts. Learning the ins and outs of formatting was fun (not) and each platform has its own rules, so getting the hang of KDP means nothing when you head over to Smashwords.
KDP, there’s a laugh. You think you know what that’s about? No one does. And they keep moving the goal posts. Should you give Amazon exclusivity and enter KDP Select? What the hell is KDP Select? Right, ok, so I can’t publish elsewhere and they let me choose promotions from either free days or Kindle Countdown Deals… wait, what? What the hell is Kindle Countdown and do I want it? Ok, pick your dates and how many increments, and fill out all the—pop-up box, “Your book must have been…” and there’s a list, the same price for thirty days, and then you can’t change the price for two weeks after it’s done and… forget it, let’s go with the free days.
I could write a novel on my experience of self-publishing alone. I can’t even count the number of hours I’ve spent reading blogs and Googling terms I’ve never heard of before in my life.
Learning how to publish is a steep curve, but the promotion racket is worse! Then you have to build a website, make teasers and banners, and adverts. You have to run all your own social media, even when you know no one, and have no clue what you’re doing. You sign up for everything that’s going, and never use half of it again, but you sign up anyway.
After all those hours writing the book, formatting and publishing the book, then promoting (making a nuisance of yourself everywhere) the book – all the while wearing your cheery, plastic smile – you look up and realise… it all means absolutely nothing and has gotten you nowhere.
The truth is, the world is too big. It doesn’t matter if you write the best novel in the universe, if you can’t get it out there then no one will ever see it. For the girl who was taught that every time she opened her mouth and uttered a word she was an irritation, it’s very difficult. I am proud that I’ve worked hard and learned so much. I am a grown woman. So why do I still feel that I should apologise for existing?
“This too in time shall pass…”
“Ours is not to wonder why…”
The clichés mount up until you find yourself sitting in the dark at four in the morning wondering why on earth you bother. No one can take writing away from me, but why do I work so hard to do the best I can? I can’t answer that.
I’m a strong person, but I’m not a social person, I’m an observer. I was sent here to watch the world, not to participate in it. I love to watch and to wonder. The trouble is, I’ve spent so many years learning to be invisible that now I’m in a situation where I want to be seen, I don’t have the first clue how to do it.
Anyway, sorry for taking up your time. I’m sure that most won’t get this far in my blether and I’m sure that I’ll be embarrassed tomorrow for writing this. But getting it out there, freeing these words, somehow makes me feel less alone. So thank you, it might be feeble and pathetic, but gratitude is all that I have left.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

stars

Something a little bit different today folks. While in the melee of getting ready for my book launch, a topic which I started a discussion on here was also addressed by a fellow blogger here.
Let me say right now that I have no answers. I struggle with the issue myself but it’s worth further thought. I’ve used Amazon for years, since it started, since before it was the Amazon we know today and their only business was books – physical books. So I have to admit that I have an affection for the company.
But recently there has been so much controversy surrounding them that it is difficult not to sit back and think. Should we be loyal to Amazon? They provide us with low cost goods, they offer a service in delivering those goods, and I have to say that in my dealings with Amazon through the years any frustrations were – for the most part – dealt with successfully.
But it’s bigger, stronger, and much more aggressive than the cosy friend it seemed to be in years gone by. Why do they get away with it? They’ve been partly to blame for the closure of smaller bookstores, there was a time I practically lived in Borders. They don’t pay their taxes, the rest of us have to. Last but by no means least is their conduct regarding pricing, publishing, and their increasing control over an ever shrinking competitive arena.
I’m a writer. I publish on Amazon. I’m not fool enough to be ignorant to the platform they offer. I would never have been able to reach the customers I have through my own privately run website, or even through a smaller online retailer. I’ve used Smashwords too and though they distribute to various dealers their sales numbers are nothing on Amazon’s. I have readers in all but one continent. I would never have achieved that on my lonesome. Surely I must be grateful to Amazon for that, and I am.
But I find myself experiencing Amazon in different ways. As a writer I am ecstatic to have the reach they provide. As a reader I am thrilled by the vast choice they offer. But as a citizen and a consumer more generally, I am dismayed at their lessening morality.
All of this I suppose comes down to one unavoidable truth, life isn’t fair. It should be fair. Amazon should use best practice to ensure that the reader, writer, publisher, and distributor are given equal voice. It always vexes me that I have no control over the pricing of my own work on their website – you wouldn’t find that in many other product driven sales contracts. Fine, if they want to set the price then they buy from me wholesale. I give them a number of novels to sell, then they pay up front, after that do what you want Amazon.
Amazon should pay the appropriate tax, they should exist in an equal society with the rest of us. But that’s just it, we’re not equal and in this world size means power. It means making your own rules, and the rest of us have to lump it. Life isn’t fair.
So while Amazon continues to steam ahead the rest of us have little choice but to follow. In my discussion post I likened Amazon to a drug dealer. If your drug is reading books, then in this day and age there is one place you will keep coming back to in order to obtain your drug of choice. It doesn’t matter how much you like or dislike the dealer you still need a fix. Life isn’t fair.

Good luck on your adventures,

Scarlett

tigger

I’ve had a good day today, and now that terrible confession is out of the way I suppose I should reference my title. We are all unique. Don’t panic I’m not about to draw us into an existential discussion. But in being unique individuals, it then follows that every writer is unique.
I’m bringing this up because I’ve been talking about marketing today. As far as my novels go I’ve given up. Well not entirely, but I did start this blog with the declaration that I would discuss such matters.
Here are the conclusions that I have reached thus far. KDP Select comes down to a decision about exclusivity, if you don’t want to only provide your work to Amazon then don’t choose it – it’s as simple as that. Other avenues such as Smashwords will allow you to keep your work permanently free if that’s what you’re looking for. But, it’s not as well-known, or as easily marketed – for various reasons.
When using KDP Select promotions such as free days (and in my case without KDP Select keeping your work perma-free as in the case of Mistake Me Not) then it’s easier to market. Various sites will feature your novel when it is free, and lots of people will snap it up for that very reason. But then comes the problem of who will market your novel when it’s not free? Rather, who will market it without it costing you an arm and a leg?
The internet allows us all access to such a vast amount of information and choice that I suppose it becomes difficult to understand why anyone pays for anything. I’ve done it myself. How many times have you found something that you like and want to buy but put it off in the interests of trawling the web first? Even then if we find the item cheaper we can still spend time on discount voucher sites looking for (at the very least) free delivery codes.
So I begin to wonder, does it really matter if your work is better, more deserving, or so unique it could tempt kings? The sad truth is no, probably not. How many internet sensations have their been, viral videos, that have made stars of folk overnight? Quite a few. Not all of them have reeked of talent.
Standing out from the crown is increasingly difficult because that is effectively all the internet is – a large crowd. Anyone, and everyone, can get in here. This statement isn’t meant to dissuade, I’ve had a good day, and I’m feeling great. I’ll get to my reasoning in a minute.
I take pride in my work. I’ve been a writer since I was a child. It’s always been a part of me (as I may have mentioned once or twice, lol). I’ve thought books and writing were cool since the days that talking like that would get you beaten up in the school yard :p
I have my own set of ethics about my rules and motives for writing and those are what I’ve always worked by. The fact that there are novels being self-published that I think are a discredit to actual determined and lifelong writers is only my opinion. No doubt there are others who would say the same thing about my work.
The greatest writers of all time are still debated, it is not up to one person to make the rules for everyone else. In the same way that my opinion doesn’t have to be the same as yours or vice versa. I could be madly in love with a book that you wouldn’t use as toilet paper. It’s like movies, and music, and everything else on the planet. We have our own values. We have our own likes and dislikes – we are all unique.
Don’t see the internet, or self-publishing, or the marketing mountain, as a hurdle, don’t be discouraged as I was for so many years. If you put your work out there someone will find it eventually, someone will love it, and that will be your legacy. Don’t write to get famous or to make money, do it the best you can, and how you want to, with your own ideas and passions woven through it. Don’t mimic others, don’t get bogged down in technicality, let your creativity lead you.
When you log onto your computer, when you open your web browser, take a moment to be awed by what you have access to. The internet is a blessing. So what if it’s one big crowd? All that means is that you are part of a wider family. Humanity can now share with each other things which would have otherwise been lost. Your work on the web no matter how popular, and no matter how often accessed, is a piece of you out there in the world. A piece of you that will always be out there.
You can connect with readers who you may never meet, and who may never know your face, but you can make people smile, make people cry, reach out and touch people with your words, and that’s powerful. A piece of you has the chance to live forever if all it does is exist on a Kindle to be re-discovered by technology-archeologists in hundreds of years :p
Don’t be discouraged, embrace it, and realise that you are so very lucky to be doing something that you love whether it’s from the point of view of the reader or the writer. Be kind to each other and be grateful. A piece of that author is there in the words that are read, and that reader has chosen your work above all else, feel blessed, be positive, and don’t ever forget that books are cool.

Good luck on your adventures,

xSx

Mistake Me Not – Free!

I actually mean it this time :p it turns out that not everything is quite how it seems. But in an attempt not to disappoint this is a link to Mistake Me Not – free for real and for all.