I’ve admitted defeat. I’ve now spent too long trying to find a platform for my print on demand books that doesn’t use Amazon and I just don’t have the time to faff around with it for any longer. Consequently I’ve put them back up on there.
Well, it’s only taken me about six months, but I’ve sent the e-book version of Making Friends with the Crocodile out into the world once more. I expect you thought I’d never get around to it.
Actually, I expect you’d completely forgotten about it. I unpublished both my books from Amazon back at the end of February (this post explains why) and since then I’ve explored a number of platforms, and most of them came up short. I’ve gone with Draft2Digital for the e-books, since I can specify they do not appear on Amazon, although even now I’ve an issue with how my second book will be labelled. It means the e-book is now available on a number of platforms, such as Apple, and this link will let you choose one of them.
It seems impossible, though, to find a publisher that doesn’t automatically offer the physical books through Amazon. Much the same as anything one sells anywhere today, either online or offline, can reappear on Amazon and there’s nothing one can do about it. Short of becoming a publishing house myself, I don’t think I can avoid it.
And before you ask, no!
I’ll now have a last scout around the internet to see if I can find a platform for the paperbacks that don’t sell through Amazon, but I suspect I’ll be unlucky. In which case I’ll probably stick with Draft2Digital and ask you nicely, should you buy one of my books, not to buy it through Amazon.
About Making Friends with the Crocodile:
‘There is an Indian proverb: If you live by the banks of a river, make friends with the crocodile.
Set in India, this is a novel about the corrosive relationship between a mother and daughter-in-law, and the contempt in which that society still holds women. Siddiqa’s son has brought his new wife, Naira, to live with them, so Siddiqa is no longer the lowest in the household, for she now has a daughter-in-law to assume that role. But when Naira accuses one of her husband’s friends of sexually assaulting her, all their lives begin to spiral out of control.’
My thanks to those who commented on my last post. I have now unpublished both books from Amazon, although Amazon won’t delist them on the grounds someone might want to sell them second-hand through their platform. I can’t do anything about that.
I will shortly re-publish The Night Bus, probably on Lulu, although I haven’t definitely decided on that platform, yet. I’ll do a little more research, first.
As for Making Friends with the Crocodile, I am persuaded to have a go at finding a publisher for it. We’ll see how that goes.
And in the meantime? Writing…
I have three questions for everyone out there who has self-published a book or books.
If you used a platform other than Amazon, which one did you use, why did you use it, and how do you promote and sell?
I have published two books, both on Amazon, and I used that platform as it seemed the easiest and is obviously popular and sees lots of traffic. Yet I would now rather not use it. I actually avoid buying anything on Amazon if I can, feeling there is so much about it (and its founder) that I do not like. But equally I would not like to be a hypocrite, so I need to find another platform which will work for me.
What is the answer, good people of WordPress?
It’s a fight to the death!
Well, okay, not quite that, but bear with me for a bit longer.
The other week I gave a short talk to my writing group on reasons a writer should be on social media and, more importantly, why they needed a blog. I’m not going to go into this in any detail now, but I promised I’d summarise what I said in bullet points, and then thought it might be worth putting up here to see if anyone felt like adding anything to it.
- As a writer, you need to have a social media presence to sell books, to get known. Even if you are a published author.
- On a social media platform, you are aiming to get shares for your posts. The more shares, the more people will see them.
- It’s all about engaging with customers, fans and critics.
- There are a huge number of platforms, but just a few examples that I have experience of:
- Facebook is the biggest, and the most active, with a high rate of engagement. Having an Author Page is a good way to engage through backstories, questions, surveys and daily updates (yours or your work), ‘Behind the scenes’ articles.
- Linkedin has many users, but a low rate of engagement. A business page can be useful.
- Twitter is short and succinct. A sort of ‘Marketing Lite’. Posts appear fleetingly and then are essentially gone, though, unless they generate lots of likes and retweets.
- Goodreads is like ‘background’ media – people need to seek you out to find you.
- But the number one way to be found is through blog posts.
- Like all good social media, blogs encourage visitors to return. Unlike ordinary websites, they are updated regularly and the reader can be alerted to each new post.
- There are many other reasons to blog, viz:
- Teaches you to write more professionally – you have an audience
- Feedback from people outside your usual circle
- Networking with others
- You can upload links to other social media
- There is space to write more in-depth than on other social media
- To review work for other writers
- To explore ideas and get feedback on these
- A blog is simply a website with posts being regularly replaced, although the old ones are still on the website to read.
- There are many blogging platforms, but I use WordPress.
- One advantage of WP is the ease by which readers can see you have a new post.
- Whichever platform you choose, it should have clear instructions and / or tutorials to help you set up.
- It should also allow you to block spammers, remove adverts (by upgrading), monetise your site, and change the layout. In other words, have as much control as possible over its appearance.
- It can be really helpful if the platform provides diagnostics on data such as page views, visitors, likes, comments, and links to and from your site. This helps you plan and refine how you run it.
- Purchase your own address! It is not very expensive, but it makes your blog more personal, more professional, and the address more memorable. And the host cannot arbitrarily close it down, which might happen with a free site.
- Start by going and looking at other blogs, to find what you like and might work for you. then use your Site Builder Tool to create your site.
- Once you begin writing your first post make sure you are using a clear font that stands out.
- Keep the post around 500 words, certainly under 1000. When you have a decent following, you may get away with more, but new readers will be put off by longer ones. (As a guide, this post has 945 words).
- Add a picture or two to help it stand out and look less daunting, but not too many. And not just dozens of selfies, unless you are an established celebrity. It’s a real turn off.
- Make the post interesting! Put some good stuff in first, to get the readers’ attention. And don’t save all the good stuff until the end, as readers might not otherwise get there.
- Use categories and tabs on each post to help new readers find them.
- Don’t feel under pressure to post to a fixed schedule.
- Don’t be afraid to change the subjects you post about – it’s all under your control and there are no rules on it. Let it develop organically.
- Don’t be afraid to take a break if you need to. It’s very easy to get into a mindset where you think you need to do all these things to a rigid schedule.
- Don’t obsess about the number of followers you have or likes / comments you get. Chasing them is counter-productive.
- Find some blogs YOU like, and follow them, commenting when you have something to say. That way you will begin to get visits in return and then, hopefully, follows back. It is pointless following a blog that doesn’t interest you, just hoping to get a follow back. You want followers who will be interested in what you have to offer.
- And on that subject, if a new follower has a site that doesn’t interest you, there is no obligation for you to follow them back.
- And don’t feel obliged to comment on / like / or even read every post on blogs you follow.
- Do remember that copyright law applies exactly the same on the internet as it does in the real world. If you copy a photo or article from the internet without permission and post it on your blog be prepared for possible legal unpleasantness. I always use my own, just to be safe. I think it looks better, too.
In today’s alternative ‘Alice in Wonderland: ‘When I use a word,’ Trumpty Numpty said in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less’.
Lewis Carroll obviously saw this fellow coming.
Just thought I’d share that with you. Anyway, back to the task in hand. After two ridiculously hectic weeks, I now have to do my best to catch up with everything. Onward!
I don’t have a business brain.
I look at my clutter of short stories and paintings, my carvings and photographs and think ‘I should be able to at least make a bit of a living out of all of these.’
But I don’t. And then I wonder ‘how on earth I am going to do it?’ and go ‘aaargh!’ and run off into the distance.
It really doesn’t help.
And so, if I had to have made a New Year’s Resolution this year, it would have been to sort all this out. I didn’t, but that doesn’t mean I can ignore it for any longer.
To begin with, then, how about attracting new blog followers?
Dressed in a loincloth and brandishing a spear (not a sight that sensitive readers should try to picture in their minds), I go charging out onto the lightly wooded WordPress plains, hunting new blog followers.
‘Aha, there’s one!’ I think, spotting a potential follower grazing harmlessly beside the River of Inspiration. I sneak up on them, then hurl a ‘follow’ at them, hoping that they will respond in kind.
It’s just not me, unfortunately. As I have mentioned in the past, I find it incredibly difficult to blow my own trumpet. And I will not ‘follow’ someone just for the sake of getting a ‘follow’ back. I do understand that anti-social media make up the platforms I have to work with, but for some reason I have not yet got my head around using them properly. So for blogs, I shall carry on as I always have. I don’t hunt for followers, I let them find me. Then if they follow me, it is presumably because they like what I’m writing.
Of course, they might simply be after a follow in return, but that won’t happen unless I like what their site does.
I do need to be more professional, though. For a start, then, I have begun to properly update the information on each site I use – such as the ‘Author Profiles’ on Goodreads, Amazon and LinkedIn.
I shall sort out the prices on the paintings and photography websites.
And I need to find new ways to promote my novel Making Friends with the Crocodile.
And then, there is this blog. I must regularly update the information on the ‘About’ page and the ‘My Writings’ page.
Do I need to simply be bolder in my approach to all this? Should I put a ‘shop’ on my blog?
I don’t know. But, learning how to properly use the limited anti-social media I reluctantly and sporadically do take part in (other than blogging), is a priority for me.
But I’m damned if I will ever use Twatter, though.