1. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States

    Berber's Self-Publishing Journey

    Discussion in 'Progress Journals' started by Berber, Jul 18, 2014.

    This progress journal will serve as the informal track record and accountability log for my journey into the world of self publishing.

    The Background
    I am a former fiction ghostwriter. I cancelled all of my current contracts with clients only two days ago, much to my husband's surprise. What began as dream job quickly gave way to disillusionment. I was being paid pennies on the word and making a laughable income (~10k a year).

    But it was still an income, right?
    Wrong. Try putting out high quality writing for bottom of the barrel prices, then being forced to sign an NDA on that work and watch as the client draws in profits while you can't even so much as brag that it's thanks to you. Perhaps if I had stuck with it I would've made the right contacts to start earning a professional rate. Perhaps not.

    Either way, I learned a few key things while ghostwriting. First, romance sells. Second, much to my initial chagrin, I have come to the conclusion that self-publishing is actually a viable career option for the prolific and market minded. Lastly, I received enough critical praise on my writing style to buy into the notion that perhaps I don't need to hide behind someone else's pen name.


    The Plan
    My focus is going to be on the serial novella. I will be writing in the largely untapped niche of new adult dystopian romance, with the goal of drawing in a female readership between the ages of 18-25.

    The plan right now is to publish exclusively on KDP to utilize free promotional days through sources such as those listed at: http://www.sarkemedia.com/free-kindle-book-promotion/. Marketing will be done through social media outlets as well as a webpage launched under my name. I also plan on opening up a blog to document the actual numbers behind this process.

    I have experience writing as a profession and not as a hobby. My goal is to kick out a 20-30k novella at least twice a month.


    Current Progress
    The Love Lost Diaries (a novella series)
    Premise: Almar is a dystopian society in which entertainment reigns supreme. The government relies on a "bread and circuses" philosophy to keep the overpopulated and underfed public happy. The circuses are a series of violent and gritty TV shows created for mandatory viewing. All citizens are eligible to be cast in the shows. The Love Lost Diaries follow one such show: The Crucible.
    Books Completed: 1/4

    Book One: Samara's Song
    Pitch: Samara Pereo, a 23-year-old struggling house maid, is a mother of two living in the squalor of Almar’s lower district with her husband Troy. When Samara is cast as a contestant on the newest rendition of The Crucible, she must rise to the most difficult challenge in her entire life: pretending not to know the love of her husband and children to fool a country into saving her. Now Samara must decide if the facade is really worth it, or if she’s already accepted her fate as one of the lost.
    Progress: Complete - published

    Book Two: Piper's Peace
    Pitch: Original story shifts POV to Piper and continues the story line from her perspective.
    Progress: Still in outlining stage, 0% complete​
     
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2014
  2. NigeTheHat
    Offline

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    London
    Woohoo, more people joining the self-publishing crazy train!

    I'm doing something similar, though since you're publishing in an area with a sizeable number of readers you've got rather more chance than me of being profitable (my own's a flash fiction collection - hardly commercial, but it was what I had :D )

    I've been playing with ads and various marketing plans, and sharing the numbers on this thread, so you might find some useful info there.

    Good luck!
     
    Berber likes this.
  3. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Excellent! Thank you for sharing. I think that's my weakest point right now is the marketing aspect, so that info is definitely helpful!

    Progress Report 7/18
    I've been unusually unproductive today - my time was split between writing and baking/planning for a party this evening. An additional 1623 words have been added to Samara's Song, bringing the current rough draft up to 2156 words. Very happy with how the story is progressing. Also managed to hammer out a rough version the actual lullaby attached to the story:

    This is the story
    of the ship and the sea.
    They both think they are dancing.
    They both think they are free.

    One rocks the other,
    while the other one drowns.
    And the sea, she keeps on dancing,
    while the ship sinks down, down, down.

    Which is probably as much straight content I'll share on here of the story. Hears to being more productive over the weekend.
     
  4. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    This weekend has been dedicated to some investing. I purchased two domains: amberfeldkamp.com (for my personal, author page) and projectselfpub.com (a blog dedicated to the thorough examination of the self-publication process). I also picked up a nice, simple theme for my personal page, while just using a plain free one for the blog. In total, investments are at $54.

    On top of working on the first novella, I've gotten in contact with a graphic designer to do the cover work. I know next to nothing about graphic design, and having a killer cover is key to sales. So, I'm ponying up the investment of $95, with an eye for gaining a sizable return in the long run.

    Oh, I also made a twitter account (@amberfeldkamp) for the first time in my life. Yeah, I'm a little behind on the social hemisphere.

    I've also got a few, roughly outlined SEO blogs lined up to begin kicking out this week. If all goes according to plan, the first novella will be live on Friday.

    Total expenses: $149.
    Return: $0.
     
  5. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Up at 6:30am, on my birthday, to get a head start on writing and put in a full work day on this thing. I am dedicating myself to making this a job and not a hobby.

    I have some exciting news. The cover art came in this morning, and I am thrilled! But I would love your feedback on it as well. The goal was to create a cover that sets the story for a dystopian thriller revolving around the watchful eye of Big Brother. The next cover will be a little softer with more of a romance angle, but the first novella is more geared towards action. Thoughts? Opinions? Might you buy?

    Also, if there are any beta readers out there interested in the dystopian genre, please don't hesitate to pm. I would love to set up a trade or just have a fresh pair of eyes on my work. If not, I'm looking into affordable line editors.

    Based on my research (which I feel like I spend every waking moment indulged in), I've decided direct advertising is not the way to go as far as pushing the series. How often do you purchase a book off of a direct ad? Never, right? I think the better way to go about building a fan base is through blogging/tweeting relevant, interesting, and useful information pertaining to writing.

    Today's goals: Priority - surpass the 10k word mark to keep on track for weekend launch. Secondary - Finish personal website design with polished About Me page and at least one post. Launch and polish blog. Remember to tweet. Launch facebook page.


    Cover design!
    [​IMG]
     
  6. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Well that was a successful birthday. Accomplished all of my goals, except for getting the Facebook page up and running. It's made at the very least. :oops:

    I have not shared any of my pages with family and friends yet. Projectselfpub.com is up to 4 followers with today's launch (hey, it's a start since they're all strangers to me) and 27 hits. My author's site is up to a measly 9 hits. Hurray, lol. Put in 8.5 hours of work today. Word count for Samara's Song is up to 10760 words. Have a few blogs outlined and ready to tackle. Hoping to get at least one up a day this week. All in all, I am pleased with today's progress.
     
    NigeTheHat likes this.
  7. NigeTheHat
    Offline

    NigeTheHat Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2008
    Messages:
    762
    Likes Received:
    580
    Location:
    London
    I like the cover. It definitely looks professional, and when I look at it I think 'I'm about to read a thriller', so you've got the right feel.

    I'm planning on trying a few direct ads when I've got the paperback ready. I'm not expecting them to be profitable, but I'm willing to spend a bit of money to see how badly they do. I have bought books off direct ads in the past, but only when they're cheap, usually with some kind of time-limited deal on. I have a theory that people are more likely to pay attention to the blog and social media stuff if they've seen some adverts for your books around - you look far more like a Real Author (TM). I have no idea how I'd go about measuring to find out if that was true, though.

    Whereabouts did you launch your self-publishing blog? I am both curious and jealous that I didn't think of picking up projectselfpub.com :D
     
  8. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Thank you!

    I am very curious to see how your direct ad campaigns turn out. Based on my own market research, I don't see it panning out as a profitable investment (with the possible exception of facebook ads), but I'd be happy to be proven wrong. I launched both of my websites through wordpress and have not advertised them anywhere but here. I wanted projectebook.com, but I'm satisfied with the unused domain name I was able to find. Content on each site was only launched this morning, and as of yet I haven't shared my websites with any friends/family. I've also only had a live twitter account for less than 48 hours, which I am clearly awful and awkward at managing. In this period I have generated the following reach of complete strangers (many sincere thanks to anyone from here who may be of one my new followers):

    twitter - 10 followers
    projectselfpub.com - 6 followers signed up by email
    ambefeldkamp.com - 1 follower signed up by email

    I am eager to see if/how these numbers increases with subsequent blog posts, but overall this feels like a successful launch to me. I am willing to bet that quality, relevant, and frequent blog posts are a more valuable investment than direct ads, even without author recognition. It would be awesome to compare tactics as we progress to pinpoint what is and is not working.

    Side note - I have hired an editor to clean up the first chapter as a trial run, bringing up my total current investments to $169.
     
  9. A.M.P.
    Offline

    A.M.P. People Buy My Books for the Bio Photo Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2013
    Messages:
    2,030
    Likes Received:
    1,126
    Location:
    A Place with no History
    Hey, just wanted to say I am rooting for your success.
    It's always good to see people who are capable of doing such a massive undertaking by themselves and able to dish out a consistent flow of stories/books rather than spend years on a single epic novel (like me :p)

    The cover looks amazing, it looks like something that had time invested into it. I wouldn't be embarassed to hold that in my hands. I like the circle around her eye and the 'o' in 'song' being similar. Looks good.
     
    Berber likes this.
  10. Larissa Redeker
    Offline

    Larissa Redeker Active Member

    Joined:
    Feb 13, 2014
    Messages:
    131
    Likes Received:
    48
    Location:
    Dark elves lands
    Nice to see someone going into the self-publishing.

    I wish all the success for you \o/
     
    Berber likes this.
  11. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Thank you for the words of encouragement! :)

    Didn't get much actual writing done today. I did spend a lot of time negotiating terms with the editor. She did a fantastic job on the first chapter, and although she is a little pricier than I was initially hoping to pay, I think her insights will be of great benefit in the long run. I am also standing firm beside my theory that blogging is the path to success. I still have not reached out to family/friends, so the following figures are based completely on individuals who have found me either through here, google, or wordpress:

    Twitter: 14 folloers
    ProjectSelfPub.com: 10 followers, 52 hits, 3 comments, 4 likes
    AmberFeldkamp.com: 1 follower, 31 hits

    It's growth, even if marginal.
     
  12. Artist369
    Offline

    Artist369 Active Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2014
    Messages:
    166
    Likes Received:
    50
    Location:
    Pacific Northwest
    Good luck on your endeavors. Sounds like you've already got plenty of experience writing. You ought to do well, given time and hard work. I also like the cover. I'm surprised at how cheaply you got it. $95 would barely cover the cost of the stock photos- to say nothing of the time to be covered for design work. Looks great!

    Sounds like a hunger games type of genre you're entering. Actually, it reminds me of a Doctor Who episode, about everything you described- being pulled into a deadly game show to appease the higher ups. And the fact that one of the ships on Doctor Who is called 'The Crucible', I can't help but grin.

    If you can't tell, I personally like reading more of the sci-fi/fantasy type things, but I agree romance is where it is at. Romance and adventure. I'm in the middle of reading 'Among Others' by Walton, a critically acclaimed book, but I am cringing trying to get through it. It's supposed to be about fairies and magic, but the slow pace and 'memoir' feel are killing my interest fast. No romance or adventure and my interest dries up.
     
    Berber likes this.
  13. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    @Artist369 - Of course I had to immediately look up that episode, lol! You had me disheartened for a hot second, but I see that the Whoverse did the same concept with more of a satirical take on modern television shows. But I suppose killer tv shows isn't exactly a new thing anyway (oh hey Hunger Games), haha. Thank you so much for the support!


    So this weekend was too tight of a deadline for Samara's Song to go live. BUT the novella is halfway through editing, so that's the silver lining. The goal is to have it out there on August 1st. I've been writing a chapter a day and kicking it back to my editor who turns it around with 24 hours, so if we keep our pace, Friday will be doable. I decided not to rush my writing for the sake of publication, felt like I was cutting corners in key descriptions just to get a finished product.

    I'm feeling pretty good about marketing and promotion thus far. I'm trying to grow my following organically through quality content and following like-minded individuals. I wont be advertising any of my platforms to family and friends until the first book launches.

    Twitter: 34 followers
    Project Self Pub: 23 followers, 101 hits, 7 comments, 16 likes (This one gets me the most giddy.)
    Personal Page: 3 followers, 59 hits, 1 like
     
  14. Russo
    Offline

    Russo Member

    Joined:
    Jul 29, 2014
    Messages:
    46
    Likes Received:
    11
    I am quite inspired by your progress. I've visited you websites (and followed) and I'm thinking about following your progress in hopes to get inspired and jump into the self-pub life as well. I'm far from experienced, but it is a dream of mine. Thank you for sharing and good luck in your works.
     
  15. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Thanks so much @Russo! I truly believe if you put in the effort you will - eventually - reap the reward.

    That being said, the last couple of days have been exhausting. I am still fighting to maintain my deadline of August 1st for the first novel's publication. My editor and I have about 4 chapters left to polish, and then I need to master the art of formatting. So whether or not I can manage all of that in two days time is still up in the air. But I aim to be ambitious. As of right now, we have about 16,000 words polished and ready for press.

    Aside from the actual writing, I've been doing a bit of research into forming an actually business for the tax implications, as well as finding the right price point, and various ways of utilizing my personal site. I've decided I will start posting free companion material to the actual series on my blog as a marketing tool.

    As far as price goes, I really want to set the book at $2.99 for the sake of royalties, but every bit of research points at that being too steep of a price point for a 100 page novella. Ideally I think I should be charging around $1.99, though the hit on profit margins makes me cringe. I need to sell 3x as many copies to make the same return.

    After publication, I plan to submit the novella to the Kindle Singles program. It'll be 4-6 weeks before I get a response, but if it manages to get accepted that will boost royalties back up to 70% and increase Amazon rankings (and I can feel a little sense of validation since Singles are a vetted publication).

    Still maintaining my platforms, though they've fallen a bit on the back burner for the moment.
     
  16. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    And, tomorrow's not going to happen.

    Just got home from the hospital.

    Doing fine now, but lost a whole day and a half worth of work. Which is a bummer, but I guess being healthy trumps being productive.
     
  17. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Happy 11 days ago birthday to you.

    Hope you stay well.

    I'm impressed by the ghost writer work.

    You make me wonder if I should ramp up the romance a tad in my novel. It has romance but I wasn't focused as much on it as I could be.
     
  18. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,604
    Likes Received:
    5,877
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    This is interesting, thanks for the information:

    Kindle Singles Program

    If I re-write my sci-fi short story it might be worth a try. It's a prequel to my novel and it could be a good publicity idea.

    Damn, I need to get busy.
     
  19. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    I was glancing through the kindle singles and saw that Dean Koontz just did exactly that with The Neighbor. Pretty awesome idea.

    @Berber I hope you're feeling better now, and really look forward to seeing how it all goes for you. The novella idea is a great one...
     
  20. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Thank you for the belated birthday and thank you both for the support!

    I took my time getting back into writing, which I'm actually thankful for. I can see now that I was not entirely effective in bringing clarity to my world for the sake of the reader. I have one and half chapters left to write, which will be done by tomorrow. Monday and Tuesday will be spent on rewriting some of the setting and final polishing. Wednesday I'll be tackling that enemy known as formatting - a little nervous about that one. Thursday Samara's Song will be published via Amazon (hurray!!).

    I've decided to stick with KDP Select for at least the first 90 day period. I'll be using my first promotional free day on Thursday to try and get as many downloads and reviews as possible, moving Samara's Song up Amazon's rank system. This will hopefully lead to more exposure for sales going into the weekend. I've also decided to set the price point at $2.99. I'll adjust it if I think it's severely affecting sales, but there's something to be said for perceived value.

    I've also joined Goodreads. Haven't actually gotten to navigating the site yet, but as far as I can tell it's a necessity. I will begin utilizing the site once Samara's Song is published on Thursday.
     
  21. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Samara's Song went live today. Feels like a huge accomplishment just getting it up, though sales have not come in yet. Today will be spent on getting a couple of well worded blog posts up and putting together the promotional plan.

    Total costs between cover and editor were about $300 to get the book published. The current price is set at $1.99, though I'm iffy on this price point. I would need to sell 400 copies just to break even, which is an intimidating number.

    I'm about halfway through the outline for Piper's Peace, hoping to get it published by late September.
     
    peachalulu likes this.
  22. vonzex
    Offline

    vonzex New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2014
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Tasmania
    As a fellow ghost writer, does the phrase "I'm willing to pay $1 per 100 words" piss you off as much as me?
     
    Berber likes this.
  23. Berber
    Offline

    Berber Active Member

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2011
    Messages:
    146
    Likes Received:
    28
    Location:
    United States
    Almost as much as "I want you to write whatever you want to write." Translation: you do the outlining too, but I'm not going to pay you for it.

    I just felt my blood pressure spike.
     
    vonzex likes this.
  24. vonzex
    Offline

    vonzex New Member

    Joined:
    Apr 26, 2014
    Messages:
    12
    Likes Received:
    8
    Location:
    Tasmania
    How about this: "Draft is almost complete, so you just need to add a bit of content."

    The draft is almost always nothing more than a few pages of disorganised notes. I could bitch about this all day.
     
  25. Trish
    Offline

    Trish I've been deleted.. again Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 12, 2011
    Messages:
    1,986
    Likes Received:
    224
    Location:
    New York
    Congrats!!!
     
    vonzex and Berber like this.

Share This Page