Tag: Self-publishing

It’s time for darkness!

Summer is here. For goths, misanthropes and dark souls, this is the worst time of the year. Sun, sweat, people. So many people. Yikes! So I decided to help you. I’ll run a promotion for the Theater of Dusk. Just 99c for the ebook and $4.99 for the physical book. Wowsers! Promotion will run from the 18st of June till the 30th. If you’ve always wondered what my writing is like, this is the perfect chance to discover it! And hey, visiting the darkest corners of my mind for just 99c… that’s a bargain, isn’t it? So grab your copy now!

You can find the book here:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/B00HV4584Q 

I’ll be more than grateful if you could share this information for any dark fantasy fans out there; forums, Facebook groups, anything. Sharing is caring and it costs nothing, but makes a world of difference to a self-published writer.

I hope you’ll enjoy the darkness (and the shade). All reviews, positive, neutral or negative, are very welcome. Thank you!

Brutally honest

Ladies and gentlemen and non-binary sweethearts, good evening to you. I trust you are all good?

I haven’t been here in a while. Truth is, I have nothing noteworthy to write. I got news from the Binge Watching Cure, and though they enjoyed my short story, they won’t be publishing it. I was really disappointed, because it brought me back to square one. The problem is simple. I can’t promote my published book, the Theater of Dusk. Or rather, no matter how much I try, I see no results whatsoever. There are some logical reasons I know and can refer to. 

  • The  book is a collection of short stories. Readers prefer novels.
  • The short stories don’t belong to one genre but many. This makes it even more difficult to pitch it to an audience.
  • There are tens of thousands of new books published in Amazon every month, so mine is buried under the sheer bulk.
  • I don’t have money for advertisement.
  • I am self-published, so I don’t have a publishing house to take care of promotion and advertisement.

As a result of the above factors, I was hoping to publish my second book in order to help the first one too. But I don’t have the necessary money for editing, so that isn’t going to happen. The Binge Watching Cure collection would have helped me reach a wider audience, but they don’t want my story after all. And every other method I’ve tried so far has failed. Here are some examples:

  • I’ve contacted dozens of reviewing blogs. I haven’t heard back from any of them. Two blog owners who contacted me and said they were interested, were probably abducted by aliens because after that they vanished.
  • I have organised three giveaways in Goodreads, in which I gave away a total of ten books. Three were lost in the post and I had to post them to winners a second time. In the end, all I got was one review and two ratings. Oh wow.
  • I’ve paid for Facebook advertisements. As I said in my previous blog entry, when I do that I get sales before the advertisement, which renders the whole endeavour surreal and pretty much useless.

As you can guess from the above, I got sick of struggling. I’ve been trying and pushing and racking my brains for three years now and haven’t achieved anything, so I will no longer bother. I’ll go back to writing and try to save money in order to publish my novel. If anyone needs to contact me, please use my Facebook page. I will update this blog when I have something book-related to say, which I hope will be sooner rather than later. Other than that, I really should devote my free time to writing rather than rambling.

I hope to have good news for you soon and thanks for reading this blog. I do appreciate every pageview I got. 

Magician

Art is a cruel mistress

Art is a cruel mistress… Source: http://brilandsurrounding.tumblr.com/image/153124857372

I don’t have the necessary money for editing my novel. So for the time being, it will be shelved, or rather, stored in my hard drive until further notice. I was hoping I’d be able to publish it in 2016. The editing costs are waaaay above my paycheck. This saddens me but there is nothing I can do. I need to accept it and move on with my life.

I have discovered a unique time/ space disturbance in relation to my published book. Every time I attempt to advertise it, I get sales before the advertisement runs. Not during, not after. Before. If the same thing happened to me with the lottery numbers before the draw, I would have solved my editing issues, together with most of my problems. It wouldn’t have made my heroes real so that I can have hot experimental sex with them (did I write that? Oh dear) meet them, but pretty much everything else would be covered.

Other than that, I submitted a story from my published book the Theater of Dusk to the Binge Watching Cure. If you read their very interesting disclaimer, they want to cure your Netflix (or Amazon, Google movie, or Hulu) addiction and help you return to your first love, reading books. The editor told me he liked my story and he is considering it for publication. I will know for certain around the beginning of next year. If someone keeps in mind they receive 20-30 stories per day, I am immensely proud for the fact they are even considering it. It means I am doing something right (hopefully).

I am no longer sure what I’m doing right. At least I haven’t given up. I want to write books and publish them, though it seems harder than ever. It reminds me of something I read in the book Letters to a Young Poet by Rainer Maria Rilke. The book is the correspondence Rilke kept with a young poet. In one letter, Rilke asks the poet to try and imagine his life without writing. Let me quote:

“Go into yourself. Find out the reason that commands you to write; see whether it has spread its roots into the very depths of your heart; confess to yourself whether you would have to die if you were forbidden to write. This most of all: ask yourself in the most silent hour of your night: must I write? Dig into yourself for a deep answer. And if this answer rings out in assent, if you meet this solemn question with a strong, simple “I must,” then build your life in accordance with this necessity; your whole life, even into its humblest and most indifferent hour, must become a sign and witness to this impulse.”

Well, I’ll go insane if I don’t write, so it is not a matter of choice. We do what we must, regardless of how difficult it may be.

Keep Calm and Drink Tequila

Murder doesn’t sound so bad

Spoke with two different editors concerning my finished SF Romance novel. Gave them the word count and details. Asked for an estimation for a full editing service. Both quoted the same amount: 1100 to 1200 British pounds. Which translates to eh, about 1500 euro? Which translates to a number of possible scenarios.

1) I murder someone and harvest their organs. Pay the editor and got money left for advertising the book too. I celebrate the publishing of my first novel behind bars.

2) I sell one of my kidneys. Humans can survive with one, right?

3) I start eating my cats to save money on food. Nah, I don’t think I can do that. I mean the hairs will be the end of me. Death by indigestion.

4) I feed my cats less to save money for editing. They eat me alive.

5) I summon a demon and offer my soul in exchange for money. The demon takes a look at it and leaves disgusted. He won’t even tell me why.

6) I summon Cthulhu. He eats me. Mission definitely not accomplished.

7) I ask for a raise. The population of the entire continent laughs so much that the tectonic plate wobbles violently, collides with its neighbouring one and is hurled into space. Finally it smashes on the moon that breaks in two. No more full moons, ever, and millions dead. The orbit of the Earth changes randomly. Days last for seconds or years. Future generations curse my name forever. I am named Lizbeth the Accursed One, Earth Destroyer, Bringer of Celestial Doom. I did dream of posterity, but not like that.

8) I hire a dock bruiser to make the editor take my manuscript for free. The editor obliges, but I am found beaten within an inch of my life when I attempt to pay the bruiser with cats due to lack of funds.

9) I study occult until my final days trying to discover a way to become disgustingly rich. I die as confused as ever, with ten different nonsensical honorific titles, an army of useless disciples and with the book still unedited.

10) I let scientists study me in exchange for $$$. They commit mass suicide. One of them is found having swallowed his own tongue, with both feet somehow firmly wedged inside his ears. He was the one I was reading my stories to. They lock me in a dungeon, throw away the key, and I gnaw my way towards freedom. Eventually I become a feral, if toothless, underground troll. Perhaps an improvement, but still unedited.

11) I persuade readers to buy my published book, the Theater of Dusk. I’ll only need to sway, let’s see, more than three thousand people in order to acquire the necessary money. I’ll probably have better luck farming cicadas. I think in some country they eat them. Not sure.

12) I shoot porn. With my cats. It consists of me in sexy lingerie rubbing my face on their tummies and blowing  raspberry. And getting my eyes clawed out. Probably wrong effect for porn. Damn.

13) I pray feverishly to dark deities and sacrifice ice-creams. I develop carpet burns from kneeling and nothing changes, except for the aforesaid deities becoming sick of my nagging and making sure I die in a freak accident. They turn my head into a vase for frogathons. (Frogathons are similar to frogs, but they use them in, um, er, marathons and black metal bands. They are really nasty when they bloom. And when they gestribulate.)

Enough. I can go on all night. It’s in the description, really. Bloody writers. Fumbling with a keyboard a lot, accomplishing nothing. I need 1200 British pounds. Any ideas how to find that money while remaining alive and intact? (You do notice I didn’t say sane.)

Gimme five!

This photo depicts my mood. I recently got two reviews for my short story collection. They made me smile, because both readers seem to understand what the stories are talking about. Here is the first:

The Theater of Dusk (Paperback)

“In its entirety this book is a book filled with darkness. Each individual story contributes a little more to the depth created within the darkness and each story brings the reader further from the light and deeper into the whole that the book becomes. We become each character, however horrific that thought is, and we remain there throughout the book only to realise through each tale that the element of love does not exist. We reach the final curtain of the book to be shown that darkness doesn’t have to be all there is.

This little read takes the reader by surprise. Each short story takes you along a road of self-discovery in some ways and the reader can almost recognise some elements of the darkness within the self. At the end of the last story we are shown that not all is as it seems – light and darkness co-exist but each individual has to open up and allow the other in.

These stories certainly can make a person think deep thoughts. If you aren’t a lover of depth and darkness then this probably isn’t the read for you but I would recommend it to anyone prepared to brave the deep.”

Amazon review link:
http://www.amazon.com/gp/review/R1O7BT233OT85V?ref_=glimp_1rv_cl

And here is the second review, translated from French. If there are mistakes in the translation please blame my very basic French aided by Google Translate.

“An author to discover!

In these 13 short stories Lizbeth Gabriel depicts with skill and talent human beings in all their complexity and plurality. These stories are often imbued with a dark and strange ambience. Sometimes on the border between reality and dreams, they will certainly not leave you indifferent and open your minds like doors to worlds, feelings, new desires. Thank you to the author for this book and for sharing her imagination.”

Amazon review link: 

https://www.amazon.fr/review/R3BBKBH52NPOZL/ref=cm_cr_dp_title?ie=UTF8&ASIN=1505867517&channel=detail-glance&nodeID=52042011&store=english-books 

Thank you both so much for your kind words on my work, and for taking the time and trouble to write reviews. I appreciate it more than I can express.

If you too would like to see for yourself what the fuss is about, you can find my work here: 

Both ebook and paperback are very reasonably priced, and every book you buy means I can keep on writing. Every review I receive is that extra push that keeps me going. Thank you in advance.

(Photo source: 

Show me love!

From my published book, the Theater of Dusk. Wonderful picture/ word combination by Katherine. 🙂

Do you remember the SF romance I told you about? Well, I’m almost done with editing! Soon I’ll send the manuscript to my editor, and I really, desperately, urgently need all the help I can get. What do I need? I need all the sales and reviews you can give me. If you planned on buying my book, now is a good time. If you felt like writing a review, this is an excellent time to do it. I don’t mind negative reviews if they are honest opinions on my book and not personal attacks on me. The latter is not reviewing; it’s slander. It doesn’t help other readers decide and doesn’t paint a flattering picture of the reviewer either. 

If I want to be honest, it is not a coincidence I haven’t got a single negative review so far. It’s not because my friends are reviewing me because this isn’t the case. I owe it to two facts. The first is pretty straightforward: I haven’t had enough exposure to get negative reviews. I do have in mind a list of possible negative reviewers if I hit a bigger audience. Homophobes will bash me, the overly religious will throw fits, the women-hating crowd will get their panties in a bunch… Well, I’ll live. I mean the world is a big place and there’s space for everyone. Live and let live.

The second reason is even stranger. For some reason, people like my writing. Believe me, I am surprised. When your friends like your writing, there is always a nagging suspition at the back of your head: they say they enjoy it because they are your friends. They don’t want to hurt you. It’s vastly different when random strangers enjoy your book. I casually browse my Goodreads Author page and a complete stranger has left a four or five star review for my published book, the Theater of Dusk. It wows me completely and utterly. It mystifies me. It doesn’t surprise me because I consider myself a bad writer, but because my subject matter isn’t easy. I write about loss, deceit, self-doubt, betrayal, suicide, killers… My writing is intimate, unusual, sad and weird, and what do you know, someone else out there, a person I’ve never met, read it and liked it. They identified with my stories and my heroes and got something out of it. I don’t know what and it doesn’t matter. I hid a message in a bottle and threw it in the sea. The bottle reached a shore and someone found it and read it. The bottle could have been lost, broken, and yet… it wasn’t. It’s a small miracle.

I need more small miracles to happen. Miracles like a review, or telling a friend you enjoyed my book, or sharing one of my blog entries. Here are some suggestions:

 

Please give me a chance to continue writing. Help me get my second book out. I need a very handsome amount for the editor, and every single penny counts. I need reviewers and reviews for my work, and every review makes a difference. It’s been an uphill struggle with nothing to show for my efforts except for the books themselves. For me, that is a reward in itself. Please help me. I honestly, truly need it. And for those of you who already bought my book, reviewed it or promoted me, thank you so so much. I am deeply grateful. It means more than I can explain. You are my small miracles, and you give me the strength to continue. Thank you.

Here is my book:
http://www.amazon.com/Lizbeth-Gabriel/e/B00HVCOFMY/

Create Space: (an Amazon company)
https://www.createspace.com/5204932

Attention: This is for buying physical copies of my book, not the ebook version. For the ebook version please go to Amazon.

Waiting for reviews

I haven’t been very active lately. Life gets in the way. It’s a matter of tiredness and to be honest, also frustration.

For those who think that once you publish a book, you don’t have to do anything more, I have bad news. Once the book is out, your troubles have just begun. In the case of traditional publishing, the publisher will also promote you to some degree. If you are self-published like I am, getting noticed is tricky business. 

When I published my first book, I made some mistakes due to inexperience. For example, I didn’t know I had to find possible reviewers before I published the book, or establish my presence in social media. Here is a link to a blog with useful information:

 

As I said in a previous post, reviews are vital. Not only do they encourage possible buyers to invest in your work, but also serve as promotion and free advertisement when the reviewer posts them on their reviewing blog and any other social media they may be using. So I busted my behind looking for reviewers and reviews. I went through a list of reviewing blogs, located genre-related bloggers and sent more than thirty five emails asking for reviews on my book. I also organised two giveaways on Goodreads. (For those of you who don’t know, giveaways on Goodreads are a way to create buzz. Randomly selected winners get free copies they are expected to review. Strictly speaking, it’s not compulsory for winners to write a review, but this is why giveaways are organised in the first place; to offer the writer exposure and reviews).

So, let’s see what I’ve achieved so far. In the case of emails, I received five replies: three ‘no’ and two ‘yes’. The rest never replied. The two who said yes, they are interested, haven’t contacted me since September. I am still waiting to hear from them. 

In the case of Goodreads giveaways, out of eight books, three got lost in the post and I had to buy new copies and resend them. So far I’ve got two ratings and just one review. Five more members have copies of my book in their possession, some for ten months now, some for eight, and they haven’t rated it or reviewed it. I know better than pressure them; I only contacted them once, to make sure they got their copies safely. They will rate or review the book when they have time, which may well be in two years from now or never.There is nothing I can really do except perhaps organise another giveaway, and hope winners will respond more promptly this time and books won’t be lost in the post.

The thing about being a writer is that you need to have patience, lots and lots of it. Your book may be your number one priority, but other people have different priorities and problems. They have jobs, families, friends, pets, and everything else life entails, like sickness, heartache, accidents, divorces and plain, mind-numbing tiredness. That’s why you have to wait, and wait, and wait some more while trying to think of ways to promote your work. The real problem is that you don’t know what makes a difference in sales. Is it reviews? Is it advertisement? Giveaways? Word of mouth? Connections? Plain dumb luck? All these combined? So you have to try any stratagems you can think of, (in my case, with a very limited budget at your disposal…) and keep your fingers crossed. There are several internet articles on promotion, but they more or less say the same: I wish we knew what makes a difference to do it too. 😉 So patience, insistence and hard work. It’s discouraging, frustrating, even downright maddening in some cases, but no-one built a fan base overnight. As I said in the previous post, that’s how real life works, contrary to descriptions found in YA genre.

Here are four lists of reviewing blogs. Good luck! I hope it all works out.

 
 
 
 

Here is also some advice on review requesting:

I feel as if an alien horde has rampaged me.

 


As I’ve said before, I need reviews for my book. As a result, I asked a friend if she knew any reviewing blogs. She gave me several google results. I took a look at them and experienced terror. Hundreds of blogs and sites that needed to be checked one by one. I closed the tabs and went away to eat some ice-cream. It’s typical reaction when I am overwhelmed. “Yikes!” followed by “Not me. I was just passing by. You are looking for someone else” and walking away.

 

Today I was struck by the mood to check some of them out. Necessary in order to get reviews, but my head hurts. Let me try and summarise this experience.

Let’s say you have a list of blogs. Every blog needs to be searched to locate the submission guidelines. After you find the link, you need to verify that the specific blog does accept the genre your book belongs to, and that the blog owner does accept submissions at this time (some blogs are temporarily closed to submissions). Some blogs accept only hard copies, which means they won’t do a review unless you mail them a physical book. Others don’t accept self-published authors (that’s me, hi there.) If you pass that stage, you have to compose an email with everything the blog owner needs in order to consider your book for a review. This usually includes your name, title of your work, synopsis/ blurb (that’s the description at the back of the book), book cover, publication date, price, your blog, Amazon page, Goodreads page, and your ebook in a specified format. Every blog has different requirements. Some may ask for all those, but more often than not, they will ask for some of those plus a different ebook format so that you don’t get bored by doing repetitive work. And needless to say, you have to accompany the above with a polite personal message to the blog owner, explaining who you are, what you want and why you think they would be interested in reading your work. It’s called “selling yourself”. And yes, if you want reviews (and believe me, if you are an independent publisher through amazon like I am, you desperately want them), then you have to work for it. And no, you are not doing the reviewers a favour, they are. With 260.000 new books coming out in the last three months alone, you need those reviews in order to stand out. You need all the publicity you can get, and then some.

With all that said and done, after a day of sending such emails, all I can do right now is dive into my bed face first and not stir until tomorrow. I will publish a list of reviewing blogs after I am done, to help more writers get a headache. Why not share? It’s similar to having a hangover, but without the “drink and make merry” part.

Image source: 
http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=21690&picture=sleeping-in-the-car-seat&large=1

Maniacal laughter and book formatting issues on Amazon

Okay, here is some advice to all writers who publish or want to publish through Amazon.com, and can’t afford to pay a graphic designer for the book interior.

So, let’s say you are about to publish your book through Amazon’s kindle program. First of all, congratulations! It wasn’t an easy ride and believe me, I know it. Here is some advice I discovered through bitter experience, in the hope that you won’t have to go through the same. 

When you upload the book file to the Kindle Converter, download the converted file to your kindle and check it page by page BEFORE publishing it. Why? Because the online reviewer does not spot all issues. I did a very thorough checking of my book interior using the online converter and it seemed decent, so I published it. Yesterday that was the free promotion day I downloaded a copy out of curiosity. As soon as I started flipping through the pages I was horrified. All those pages the online reviewer had shown to be fine, weren’t so fine-looking on my kindle. The name was on one page, the title on another. The word ‘Dedication’ was changing place between the bottom of one page and the beginning of another one. The tabs in some of the stories had moved further inside the text. Those problems had been there all along and yet the online converter showed the text to be okay. Only after reviewing the text on my kindle page by page and re-uploading the corrected draft several times did I manage to get it right. There is nothing I can do about those copies with the wonky interior that have been downloaded already, and to be 100% honest, I am content with the fact there are no grammar mistakes or typos there (or at least I pray there aren’t). I hope readers can live with the fact there are some minor formatting issues, especially since we’re talking about something they downloaded for free. For those who are too picky with such matters, please cut me some slack and buy the paperback. They are no such problems there. 😉 (Nope, this isn’t shameless self-promotion, it’s an attempt to say something funny because I know some people WILL complain about it, so there.)

If you are a writer, here is what to do in order to download the converted interior of your book. After you have uploaded the book interior and it has been converted to kindle format, go to ‘Preview your Book’ section. Go to ‘Downloadable Previewer’ and choose ‘Download Book Preview File’. Then transfer it via USB to your device and read the file there just like you would do with any other ebook. If you spot any formatting mistakes, you need to make corrections to your original book interior file and re-upload it. Then download it and check it again. I’ve lost count of how many times I have done this. Good luck and patience. You’re going to need both.

If you are interested in self-publishing, here are some articles that can help you. They had helped me a lot when I started out. If you want my opinion, don’t feel sorry for money spent on an editor and a decent book cover. It makes a huge difference.

 


  
Mrs. KJ Charles also offers some VERY good and funny advice on writing:


I hope this helps! My (corrected) book is here: 

http://www.amazon.com/Lizbeth-Gabriel/e/B00HVCOFMY

Now that WAS shameless self-promotion. 😀 See the difference?

Some thoughts on Amazon’s free ebooks

I recently checked Amazon’s list of free ebooks to see what’s available. I really enjoy reading, and having an e-reader of any kind means you can carry an infinite number of books with you without the bulk and weight. So I skimmed through the list to see what catches my fancy. Observations follow below.

One: every fourth book had a set of male abs as a cover. Not even a face. Just a set of abs. Pleasant as that may be, it gets old very soon. Usually the book indicated something wild going on, as in ‘cowboy’, ‘shifter’, ‘bad boy’, etc. Lots of strong words too, like ‘possessed’, ‘taking’, ‘owned’ ‘bitten’ etc. Imagine being bitten by a cowboy that shifts into a gorilla and owns you, but he loves you even though he’s a bad boy and dabbles in drug dealing in between riding horses and you. But golly, just one look at those smokin’ hot abs and you’re willing to forgive him everything, from stepping on discarded banana peels to finding his old friends from jail at your doorstep. (I think I skipped all the ab-covered ones. May have downloaded a couple for research purposes. Just to be sure, you know.)

Two: every tenth book had the word ‘billionaire’ in its title. Those ones had no visible abs. No, men of that category wear suits and ties. I mean, if you are a billionaire, abs come with billions just like malaria comes with specific mosquitoes. I wonder for how long bad copies of Fifty Shades of Grey will be floating around. Probably until the time their writers realise that the success of the Fifty Shades trilogy is a one time occurrence and they try to copy the next best seller. I think my next book should be about a billionaire who shifts into a broke guy with a flabby belly every full moon, disgracing the young lady he seduced and now owns. Or even worse, the young lady discovers that the billionaire she has been bitten by and now belongs to, exists only every full moon! In reality he’s an ordinary pizza delivery guy without THOSE ABS and THE BILLIONS and now she’s locked in the basement of an unimportant someone who wears the same pair of socks for a week. She was taken in by the suit, you see. She didn’t know he was (gasp!) a were-billion. (That sounds a lot like vermilion and what I had in mind was werewolf). Oh, the tragedy and human sorrow! Oh, the angst and the deep meaning of this unique literary work! I am going to go and prepare my Nobel acceptance speech immediately.  

Three: the summary of some books is so bad that it makes me wonder what the writer is hoping to achieve. The summary (also called blurb) at the back of the book serves as an advertisement and ‘bait’ to attract buyers. If you can’t describe what your book is about without making mistakes, I am sure the contents won’t be any better. And that discourages people from buying your work. In my case, I won’t download it even if it is free. (But I did download some of the ones with the abs. Now shush. You don’t understand. It is a sacrifice for the sake of knowledge.)

Four: some of the classics can be found on the list. I picked Joseph Sheridan Le Fanu, Edgar Allan Poe, Guy de Maupassant, Oscar Wilde and other such old loves of mine, for free. Yep.

Five: there are SO MANY books (and so many writers) out there. There’s just so many of them. The fact I may spend the rest of my life reading and I won’t do more than scratch the surface never ceases to amaze me. It is just wonderful and scary at the same time. 

To be completely honest, one of the reasons I go through that list is to try and discover writers that exist outside my comfort zone. Bearing in mind that most free ebooks I have come across are terrible, this might not be such a good place to look, but hey. I too gave my book for free a few days ago and I honestly hope I am not terrible.

Now, back to editing. On the count of one, two, three: AAAARGHHHH!