Saturday, 29 December 2012

A Year in the Life of a Writer 2012


What a year 2012 has has been! After spending many years planning and writing my 13 part Urban Hunters series to 90% complete, this has been a year of publishing and consolidating my business.
 

I finished writing books 3 and 4 in the series: Walkabout and Budgie Smugglers. And I put a collection together of books 1 to 3. 

Finishing Budgie Smugglers was a real milestone for the series because it established Amber into the story, my other main character. Billy has been great and much loved but the series needed a female and Amber nails it. Importantly, she brings a balance from all the testosterone of Billy and his clan. Not forgetting the pups: Larry, Curly and Moe. 

Writing about Billy and Amber together has been a joy and I cannot wait to get back into the story. Unfortunately, I can't just write, write, write. This is a business and I have to treat it as such.  


To me, I think the first port of call for publishing books these days is to get them out in eBook format. It's the quickest and easiest and is the future. I taught myself XHTML formatting which gave me the freedom to format my own books. So as soon as my book is finished, it's selling on Amazon and Kobo and other places within a day. Building eBooks from the ground up with XHTML is essential.


Not only does it save me time and money on formatting fees, but it also provides another important source of income- formatting other people's books. So this year I formatted three of my own books into mobi, epub and pdf, and two books for clients. Yee Hah. 


I also compounded the value of this new skill by turning it into a training course. I hold one day one-on-one training days where my client ends up with their book published on Amazon and goes home with the skills necessary to format their own books. It's working spectacularly well with my first client publishing her second book on her own the next day, and scooping a sale from the first. She now has seven self-publsihed books selling on Amazon.

It was also time to turn my books into print. eBooks are just one part of the equation. Another skill had to be learned. I used Createspace's Print on Demand services to print them. So that ended up being my 5 books plus two for clients. Phew. Big job. Print books are popular. You read that right. After spending a surprising amount of time getting listed with print book distributors, I'm now averaging two orders per week. That's big distributor orders not individual retail orders. What a relief. 

Now to audio. I also did a filmakers course and set up an audio studio. Can’t wait to get my books into audio.

Marketing, marketing, marketing- big job! I mentioned getting listed with distributors, which is all marketing that leads to sales but there is a lot more that a writer has to do: Twitter, Facebook and a website at the very least. Well by 2012 I already had them set up but this year has made all the difference. I started with 500 Twitter followers, now I have over 10,000! Basically, I use Twitter to draw new people into my website, which exposes them to my books and leads to sales. In 140 character Tweets I taught what I had learned about writing and challenged people to try it. My website started getting hits straight away and conversations with strangers all over the world began. It’s been really exciting.


I took it a step further and began Skinny Fiction. That's where I challenge people to write stories in 10, 25, 50 or 100 words. They submit their stories on my site and I offer those stories to Skinny Fiction Hosts who pick the stories they like and post them on their own Skinny Fiction page, with a link back to my main Skinny Fiction page. Hits are going through the roof and lots of people who wouldn't normally see my books are now seeing them. Some are even buying. Yee Hah! Skinny Fiction is a great way for authors to showcase their writing skills and to draw free hits to their site for evermore. Works a treat.
 

I also began a Lucky Dip. I offer a free eBook formatting service to a lucky bi-monthly winner. That and Skinny Fiction has seen my name in newspapers all over the net almost daily since it began. That's when I really get the hits. The thing about the Lucky Dip is the only thing it costs me is time and I get great marketing.
The final big thing for me this year was to produce another website- Bunya Publishing. That's where I sell my books. Wholesalers, retailers and consumers can order my books from that site. 

Go through a traditonal publisher and you're lucky if you take home 15%, usually 12%, eBooks off my Bunya Publishing site are bringing home 100%! Plus it gives me somewhere to offer any or all of my eBooks for free.
Being a writer these days is very different to the way it used to be. In the past, all you had to do was write and market yourself and your books, now you have to run a professional publishing business. It includes editing, copyediting, formatting, blurb creation and cover design, to name just a few of the things you have to manage. I have the business skills to self-publish and earn 100% royalties. And my books are selling now. I'm incredibly proud of what I've achieved this year and I hope it inspires you to give it a go too. 

So what's next for 2013? Well I plan on getting out at least another 3 books. And I have the film industry knocking on my door wanting to turn the series into film. It's gonna be a big one. Happy New Year folks. Hope it's big for you too. 
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Tuesday, 25 December 2012

All my books are FREE for Christmas

Just a quick note to let you know that all my books are free for Xmas. Download them here http://bit.ly/ZU0Qhy Enjoy :) Best Blogger Tips

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Jessica B Reviews Urban Hunters Collection Books 1 to 3

Books: A True Story has become the goto place for the inside scoop on all the good books. Jessica writes amazing reviews and I am deliriously happy to say that she absolutely loves my books. Phew! She's written another stellar review of one of them that I thought you'd like to see: Urban Hunters Collection Books 1 to 3. Don't forget to follow her blog while you're there because if it's worth reading, she'll let you know.





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Monday, 15 October 2012

Amazing Reviews by Jessica B.



Thought you’d like to see these amazing reviews by Jessica B of @BooksATrueStory

1. On Twitter to squillions of followers:
Just finished Budgie Smugglers by @urban_hunters . It was AWESOME. Norm eating liver had my sides splitting :) Well done.

2. On Twitter again:
@urban_hunters Reading Budgie Smugglers right now. LOVE the glossary. Makes it so fun to read. Wish Harry Potter had done the same thing!

3. Posted on GoodReads
I loved the glossary in this book. I know that sounds weird, but let me explain. Gary talks about how there's a "rule" in writing that you shouldn't use colloquialisms and you should change the spelling to suit whatever country you're selling it in. Gary says the heck with that because he thinks readers are smart - give them a glossary so they can learn and be entertained. I agree 100% (why didn't Harry Potter do this!) The Australian flavor of this book is immensely entertaining. As a non-Australian, It's pretty easy to follow the slang throughout the story.

This episode was just as laugh out loud funny as the other books. The whole book was charming yet brutally honest and raw at the same time. The contrast between the two is so interesting. Like Billy talking about eating kangaroo pups and Amber being horrified by it. Then Billy explained it was to keep his grandfather fat so he can stay warm. See! They ate baby kangaroos and it's disturbing and cute at the same time. And there were just enough gross-out scenes to make you squeal. Billy roasting a cat in a straight-forward way made me squirm. It was awesome. No way would I ever want to see Billy cook something, but I love reading about it in all it's gory detailed glory. Billy slowly learning about girls and falling in love for the first time in his innocent way was just plain adorable. I can't get enough of these characters and their adventures.
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Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Lucky Dip - Prize: eBook Formatting Service

Enter your name and go into the draw to have your story or your branch/club’s anthology formatted into an eBook. You will be able to upload your mobi or epub file to distributors like Amazon and Kobo and have it selling around the world immediately. Entries close on 29th November 2012(AEST). Fill out the form here to enter and be sure to read the conditions of entry. Good luck. 

Gary Taaffe
Great Lakes FAW (Fellowship of Austalian Writers)


I know you have a story that you’d like published. Perhaps you’ve even sent one off to publishers only to have it rejected, for no apparent reason. You’re not alone. Many of the latest best sellers have all been rejected. The truth is it’s not the author’s fault, it’s the publishers. They have narrow-minded agendas that are only interested in the next big thing. What they won’t tell you is they don’t actually know what the next big thing is. Neither do I. No one does. But what I do know is it could be your story. Don’t wait in vain hoping to be published. Do as I, and so many other incredibly successful self-publishers have done– self-publish. It’s not looked upon as vanity press anymore. It’s entrepreneurial. And the royalty is up to 80% instead of the 15% traditional publishers give you. Publishers have been fighting the tsunami of eBook technology only to be left behind. It’s now relatively easy to publish your own book and once it’s proven successful on the market, publishers will then offer you a deal. The thing is, self-publishers are now rejecting those deals because publishers are still offering the same old antiquated 15% deals. 

All of the professional book production services that traditional publishers use are now available to self-publishers. Editing, copy editing, cover design, formatting. You can learn to do most of it yourself, with the exception of editing- always get your work edited by someone else! I learnt to format my own books and I found I loved it. So much so that I now offer those services. I even hold 1 day one-on-one eBook formatting classes. At the end of the day your eBook will be uploaded to Amazon and you’ll be able to go home and format your other stories. 

The most commonly used method for creating eBook files is to convert a Microsoft Word.doc file directly into a .mobi or .epub file. Unfortunately it’s plagued with problems that will frustrate your readers into writing bad reviews. Blank pages and italicized paragraphs will appear and readers may not be able to change the font size to suit. The list goes on. 

I use a much more complicated method but it’s bulletproof. Any eReading device, of which there are many and they’re all different, will be able to read it and present it to the reader beautifully. I build a XHTML document from the ground up. I clean the MS Word text, import it into a XHTML document and write every single skerrick of computer code to tell it exactly what to do. A bold word is written in code like this: <b>bold word</b>. This is the code for a quotation mark: &ldquo;. And that’s just the beginning. There’s code behind code. J.K. Rowling’s publishers, Hachette, even got her latest book wrong by messing up the code and causing an uproar. My books and the books I produce for others are beautiful. Yours will be too. I promise. In fact I give a 100% guarantee with all my work. Try it, I’m sure you’ll be more than happy. 

Services I provide are: 

On-on-One eBook Formatting
eBook Formatting
Print Book Formatting
Book Cover Design
Audio Book Production
Video Book Production  

In the meantime, enter my Lucky Dip. You may be up and published sooner than you think. But be quick, entries close on the 29th of November, 2012.

Conditions of entry:

* The winner will be picked randomly by Mr Chris Jones, Manager of Great Lakes Library, and notified via email and/or a phone call and also be listed on this webpage on the 30th November, 2012. The winner will have ten days to get their manuscript to me via this email address: gmt369@gmail.com, for formatting, or the runner-up will become the winner under the same conditions.
* One entry per person.
* One entry per branch/club to have your branch/club's anthology formatted. Enter as e.g. “Joe Blow, Great Lakes FAW Branch anthology”.  
* Your book must be format ready - i.e., all editing done and roughly laid out showing me how you want it to look (don’t worry, I’ll add a professional touch to make it look beautiful). 
* Your manuscript must be in electronic format and in English only.
* You must provide your own ISBN if you want to use one.
* You’ll need to provide a cover image as a .jpg that includes your book title etc.
* Standard fonts will be used.
* Three illustrations maximum.
* One chapter heading vignette style maximum.
* Three external hyperlinks maximum.
* You will own the copyright and all rights to your eBook.
* Ineligible books: guide books, how to books, illustrated books, ...
* We reserve the right to reject any non standard submission.
* Prize is not transferrable.
* This is a formatting service only. I take no responsibility for your eBook’s content. The eBook provided will be final. Best Blogger Tips

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Kindle Serials, Serial vs Serialized Fiction – What??



This is a copy of a comment I wrote in response to Claudia Hall Christian’s article on Serial vs Serialized Fiction – What?? Read it for yourself here.

Thanks for the clarity on a subject that has been twisting my mind, especially with Amazon's release of Kindle Serials. 

I'm 4 episodes into my 13 part Urban Hunters series. I wrote the lot and found it unpublishable via traditional publishing methods because it wouldn't have met any of their criteria. Then I realised what the real problem was - that traditional publishers had dropped the ball and were being left behind by technology. So I considered self-publishing and behold, a world of wonder opened up to me. 

I played around with the idea of breaking up my story into 10 to 20 thousand word parts and serialising it. It worked beautifully. It picked up the pace of the story and added the regular anticipation of, what will happen next?

With the shortened format I didn't want to be re-introducing each character over and over again so I began a cast of past characters at the beginning of each episode. It is also working beautifully. 
I have been wondering if I should jump into the Kindle Serials. But my series just doesn't seem to fit the format. Your explanation has helped to confirm that. Thanks. Besides, I am now a devout self-publisher enjoying huge royalties and Amazon are only offering this, for now, as a traditional publishing deal. I'm not interested. My series is taking off without them. Yee hah! Go the serials and serialised fiction. I believe they're going to launch writing and reading into a whole new stratosphere.  
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Monday, 17 September 2012

FREE this week only TRIBAL SCARRING, Urban Hunters #2

FREE for this week only so be quick. Here's the link.
TRIBAL SCARRING, Urban Hunters #2
Time to unleash the warrior within and grow up. The spirit of Billy’s mother wants him to go walkabout through the whitefella culture, to find some girls and a future for his clan. He doesn’t want to go. She can’t be ignored. Now he’s faced with the fight of his life against wildlife and a torturous initiation.

Will Billy leave as a man or a boy? And what shocking gifts from the bush does Mallee and Pindaari come up with to send him on his way? Wicked!

About books 1 to 3 of the URBAN HUNTERS series
Where it all begins ...
‘Great Young Adult book!’ Dannie, USA
‘Really exciting!’ Holly, USA
Action Adventure #5 UK, #10 USA Amazon
The URBAN HUNTERS series follows the adventures and misadventures of Billy, an Aboriginal boy from the bush and Amber, a white girl from the back alleys of Sydney as they search for a new future. 
‘Love your Aussie setting.’ Linda, USA
Could a kangaroo foil Billy’s older brother’s attempts to turn him into a galah? Well, not alone it couldn’t, but add a blanket of bats, a mouthful of maggots and a crystal cave to the mix, and he just might stand a chance. Time to unleash the warrior within and grow up.
‘I was cracking up laughing. It’s really good!!’ Kris, Australia
The spirit of Billy’s mother wants him to go walkabout through the whitefella culture, to find some girls and a future for his clan. He doesn’t want to go. She can’t be ignored. Now he’s faced with the fight of his life against wildlife and a torturous initiation. 
Billy’s search for girls begins, if only he knew what one looked like and he had a decent pair of pants to wear. 
Could life get anymore difficult? Why yes it could, he could fall in love ...  
‘Love your writing. Vivid and visual. Every word created a picture in my mind and it was a joy to read.’ Jessica, USA 
‘Truly enjoyable! I can’t wait to check out the next in the series ...’ Cassie, USA

“I really loved Billy and his adventures. I can’t remember when I last read a story with such an original and likeable character. Billy is tribal but contemporary, he’s funny but seriously determined. Billy is all about outwitting his brothers with some hilarious pranks, and he’s all about saving his tribe by heading off to the big unknown city to find some girls.
I laughed with Billy, I cheered him on and I learnt so much about indigenous Australian culture and survival. After reading the first three books in the Urban Hunters series, I have a whole new appreciation for the Australian bush and Billy’s tribe.
This writer has done something rare – he’s come up with something so original that I can’t even compare it to other books. It stands alone. And his humour is really sensational – just when I think I can’t laugh anymore, he twists the tale just another little bit and notches the hilarity up even further.
Can’t wait for the next book in this series – hurry up Gary Taaffe, get it uploaded!”
5 Star Review by Jack Scribble, Australia
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Friday, 7 September 2012

Kindle Serials The Urban Hunters Series



To participate or not? I’m 4 episodes into my 13 part Urban Hunters series and Kindle’s news about the launch of their new program is exciting news, or is it? The possibility of it skyrocketing my series into the stratosphere is indeed inviting, or will it do that anyway without me giving away such a large piece of the pie? It’s well on its way now. 

I love the control and the vastly superior royalties I get from self-publishing. What Amazon is offering is basically traditional publishing which has had nothing but bad press lately, and for very good reason. Authors are treated badly and paid pathetically, which is better than nothing if you don’t have the nous to develop your own self-publishing business model. I’ve done all of that and more so why switch now? You never know what tomorrow will bring, and this news has certainly sent my day into a spin.
 
They’re saying you can buy the series for $1.99, which gets you all the episodes to date, with each new episode being added wirelessly to your existing Kindle ebook, at no extra charge. My whole 13 part series for $1.99?? You’ve got to be kidding me! How can an author make a living from that? And where is the incentive to continue the series? Granted, the $1.99 is an introductory price, so obviously the price will rise. Phew! But will it be enough? And what royalty can I expect?

I will look into it to see what the offer is, and what their plans are. I’ll also be listening carefully to what others are saying. The problem is, this is all very time sensitive. First in best dressed as they say. There are currently only 8 series on offer, getting in early will be critical.  


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Thursday, 6 September 2012

FREE on Kobo this week only- FOUR SMALL STONES


FREE for this week only through Kobo so be quick. Here's the link.

FOUR SMALL STONES
#1 in the Urban Hunters series
Growing up, finding girls and saving the Dreamtime will have to wait; Billy has other problems to deal with at the moment.

Could a kangaroo foil his brother's attempts to turn him into a galah? Well, not alone it couldn't, but add a blanket of bats, a mouthful of maggots and a crystal cave to the mix, and he just might stand a chance. Four Small Stones, a game only a bunch of bored brothers from the bush could dream up. 

Jaw dropping. Sickening. Hilarious. Don't miss it.

And NEVER, EVER, eat one of Billy's biscuits. 



About books 1 to 3 of the URBAN HUNTERS series
Where it all begins ...
‘Great Young Adult book!’ Dannie, USA
‘Really exciting!’ Holly, USA
Action Adventure #5 UK, #10 USA Amazon
The URBAN HUNTERS series follows the adventures and misadventures of Billy, an Aboriginal boy from the bush and Amber, a white girl from the back alleys of Sydney as they search for a new future. 
‘Love your Aussie setting.’ Linda, USA
Could a kangaroo foil Billy’s older brother’s attempts to turn him into a galah? Well, not alone it couldn’t, but add a blanket of bats, a mouthful of maggots and a crystal cave to the mix, and he just might stand a chance. Time to unleash the warrior within and grow up.
‘I was cracking up laughing. It’s really good!!’ Kris, Australia
The spirit of Billy’s mother wants him to go walkabout through the whitefella culture, to find some girls and a future for his clan. He doesn’t want to go. She can’t be ignored. Now he’s faced with the fight of his life against wildlife and a torturous initiation. 
Billy’s search for girls begins, if only he knew what one looked like and he had a decent pair of pants to wear. 
Could life get anymore difficult? Why yes it could, he could fall in love ...  
‘Love your writing. Vivid and visual. Every word created a picture in my mind and it was a joy to read.’ Jessica, USA 
‘Truly enjoyable! I can’t wait to check out the next in the series ...’ Cassie, USA
“I really loved Billy and his adventures. I can’t remember when I last read a story with such an original and likeable character. Billy is tribal but contemporary, he’s funny but seriously determined. Billy is all about outwitting his brothers with some hilarious pranks, and he’s all about saving his tribe by heading off to the big unknown city to find some girls.
I laughed with Billy, I cheered him on and I learnt so much about indigenous Australian culture and survival. After reading the first three books in the Urban Hunters series, I have a whole new appreciation for the Australian bush and Billy’s tribe.
This writer has done something rare – he’s come up with something so original that I can’t even compare it to other books. It stands alone. And his humour is really sensational – just when I think I can’t laugh anymore, he twists the tale just another little bit and notches the hilarity up even further.
Can’t wait for the next book in this series – hurry up Gary Taaffe, get it uploaded!”
5 Star Review by Jack Scribble, Australia
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Saturday, 11 August 2012

KOBO

Urban Hunters, Gary Taaffe, Aborigine, Australia
Urban Hunters is now available through Kobo, for all you Epub fans. And I'm delighted to say that sales started coming through before I even announced it! So go KOBO! Here's the link.



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Monday, 30 July 2012

NEW RELEASE!!! “Budgie Smugglers”


Book 4 in the Urban Hunters series, “Budgie Smugglers,” is out now.
Urban Hunters, Budgie Smugglers, Gary Taaffe, Aborigine, Australia, Tony Abbott, The liberal party, politics, the coalition
Kaz tells me this is easily the best yet with Billy and Amber making a great dynamic. Lots and lots of laughs.
Blurb:
Billy’s found a girl! Smack bang in the middle of the city, can he win her over with his hunting skills? Would Amber fancy a fat rump of rat for dinner, or perhaps some feral cat on toast for breakfast? And will his daring attempt at a comforting hug work out? Poor Billy hasn’t got a clue.
Threatened with eviction at the sharp edge of a shovel, the Urban Hunters strike a tasty deal with council-worker Norm to let them stay in the park. But when Norm’s about to bleed to death from a feral cat attack, can Larry, Curly and Moe save him?
And why is Billy so happy to be wearing a bikini? Will Amber be impressed with his budgie smugglers?
Tears, fears, love and guts, that’s Urban Hunters.
Get it here now -  http://amzn.to/QJhrNG
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