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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