Sunday, June 19, 2011

Self publishing (the view from the trenches)

Since the upsurge in ebooks, self publishing or indie publishing is the latest hot potato. Now anyone who self publishes or is thinking of self publishing has probably heard the success stories of people such as Amanda Hocking and JA Konrath, but for every success story there are thousands and thousands of struggling authors that might sell a handful of copies a month if they’re lucky. And I’m firmly in the latter camp.

To put this into perspective, I’ll share my details and my story for those interested, or for those contemplating going this route.

To start at the beginning, I had my first novel published in 2003, but it wasn’t until 2009 that my next one appeared in print. Since then I've had one novel adapted for film, which is now awaiting release. I put my first self published work up for sale in December of 2010 and I now have 4 works available (3 of those were previously published in paperback and I received advances and royalties). The 4 books are Dead Man’s Eye, The Kult, Deadfall and Evilution. Now I won’t go into individual sales as it’s not really relevant, just the totals from, and Smashwords on these books. They are priced low (some may say too low, others might say too high) between $0.99 and $1.49: sales from December to May this year have totalled 164 copies, which resulted in royalties of $75.42 (£46.58) sales for the same period totalled 90 copies with royalties of $45.81 (£28.30)

Smashwords sales are more erratic to work out as they include copies that I’ve given away for free, but paid sales, which includes sales from Barnes & Noble, Sony etc, came to $60.70 (£37.49)

So total money earned from December to May = $181.93 (£112.37)

When you take into account the hours put in writing the books (on average each book took me about 6 months to write), and then the many more hours promoting them, you can see that in this case, it’s not paid me back. Also take into account that I paid for promotion at various places such as Kindle Boards, Goodreads etc, which totalled more than $125 and total profit falls to less than $55 (£33.97). And that’s for 6 months solid promotion using message boards, forums, paid adverts etc! So that’s hardly enough for a meal and a few drinks on a night out. Not much return for all the hard work. And this is for books that have received some excellent reviews at various places which you can check on Goodreads and Amazon.

Luckily my paperback sales before the publisher went bankrupt and before I withdrew one book were far better, so I made more money on the paperback books. I won’t list advances or how much these paid, but just let me say that even the lowest selling one made far more in royalties after earning out the advance than I’ve made in the last 6 months through ebook sales.

Now to be honest, I used to dream of making a living as a writer, and the embers of that dream are still there, but the realist in me knows that it doesn’t look as though that is going to happen. But I’ll continue writing because I love writing. Being paid is icing on the cake.

So for those contemplating taking the indie road, good luck. Because believe me, no matter how good an author you are, you’ll need it.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Book versus the film

I guess deep down it’s every author's dream to see their work made into a film, so I feel extremely lucky that The Kult has been adapted. Now most people always say that the book is better than the film, so I’ll be very interested to see if that holds true this time.

The reason why most people prefer the books probably comes from that fact that a film is a condensed version. Also, a film doesn’t allow you to get inside the characters heads as much as a book. I recall being excited about seeing Stephen King’s Misery on the big screen as I’d loved the book, but I walked away very disappointed as it didn’t compare for me personally. Another example was Dennis Lehane’s Shutter Island, where again I much preferred the book as it allowed you to ‘walk in the characters shoes’ while reading. I think part of this is because reading is a much more personal thing, and at times we come to feel that the characters we are reading about are real people, and that sometimes they become people that we know and so it can be quite a wrench to have to finish a book and realise that we’re going to lose the good friend that we’ve made along the way.

Anyway, here are some examples of books that I felt were better than their adaptations: The Beach, Christine, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Day of the Triffids.

Examples where I preferred the film include: Fight Club, Lord of the Flies, Trainspotting, The Bourne Identity and the television series, Dexter.

So what are your thoughts? Do you prefer the books or the adaptations? Have any good examples? As for The Kult, only time will tell …

Links to buy the book:
Barnes & Noble:

Film trailer:

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Summer Holiday and The Kult movie

I’ve just arrived home (well at 4 a.m.) from a holiday in Lanzarote. Had a great time chilling in the sun (now I know why they call Lanzarote the windy island though as the wind never stops blowing.) The only disconcerting bit was while waiting for the plane to take off on the way home, and the civil aviation authority wouldn’t let it go. People were getting on and off and talking animatedly with the captain. Eventually the captain announced that there was a minor technical problem that would be fixed soon. An hour and a half later, after a succession of engineers appeared on the scene, we were told it was because there was a screw missing from somewhere underneath the plane, and they had had trouble locating one to replace it with. I’d hate to think what would have happened and how long it would have taken if it was something ‘really’ technical.

I’ll post some pictures when I sort them out, but for anyone who’s never been to Lanzarote it’s certainly got a unique landscape, and resembles the surface of the moon in places. Aside from lazing by the pool, we had a trip to the Timanfaya National Park We also dived underneath the ocean in a submarine, which was great fun. Now I just need to get rid of the excess weight I've put on as I guess I gorged and drank too much, making the most of the all inclusive package!

Anyway, now that I’m refreshed I hope to get back to writing as I've let it slide a lot as of late.

Also while I was away the trailer for The Kult movie was posted. I hope you’ll all check it out, and that if you enjoy it, you’ll click the ‘like’ button and hopefully share the link. And just in case you could have forgotten, the book that the film is based on is still available ;)

Anyway, here are the obligatory links: