Saturday 29 December 2012


Took a break from writing today to hit the slopes for the first time this year and the views were spectacular.

These are all from Suginohara, Myoko, in Nigata Pref, Japan.  The first few are all from near the top of the gondola, looking out towards Shiga Kogen, I believe.

And then I started to use my Vintage Cam iPhone app!  The big mountain on the right is Mount Iizuna (1917m).

A great day.  Hopefully they'll be a few more before the season's out.

29 Dec 2012

Wednesday 26 December 2012

Tube Riders free promo early results

The Promo

I previously ran a free promo on Tube Riders in October that saw it reach #76 overall in the free rankings with just over 3700 downloads in the US and another 600 or so elsewhere.  The result was roughly 60 sales/borrows (I count borrows in with sales as I receive more or less the same amount of payment for them) over the following month, before it fell off a cliff at the 30-day mark.

In the previously seven months Tube Riders had sold roughly 30 copies, so a bump of 60 was significant for me, even though my highest number in a 24 hour period was just 4.

I scheduled my next free run for December 20th to 22nd, hoping that my book would hit the Also-bought lists on Amazon around Christmas Day (last time, I had maybe just one sale in the 48 hours post-free).

My promo was again moderately successful, getting picked up on one biggish site (Freebooksy, the same as last time) and it shifted 3300 copies overall, just over 3000 of those in the US.  I'm fully aware that a book such as mine has only limited mass market appeal - it isn't in the romance genre, doesn't feature good-looking vampires or angsty teenagers, for example, plus there is a scary guy on the cover - so it's unlikely to ever go really high up the free lists.  Still, it topped a couple of genre lists (including one in Germany) so I was relatively happy although not expecting a big post-free sales peak.

Factors against me were -

a) I had less downloads than last time

b) ebook numbers are growing by roughly 1000 a day

c) it's Christmas, and more people than usual will be doing promos

The Results

After Tube Riders came off promo I was hoping for about 20 to 30 sales over the coming month.  Possibly a couple more because of Xmas.  However, after just under four days I've already beaten the total from the whole of October.  Considering that up until December 22nd I'd sold 12 copies total in the whole month, that is a significant bump.  I've reached my highest rankings ever in both the US and the UK.

Obviously Christmas has played its part.  However, considering there must be far more books all vying for the same sales, in addition to the fact that I gave away less than last time, my ever-analytical mind has turned to considering other possible factors that may or may not have had a significant impact.

a) obviously it's Christmas

b) Tube Riders has more reviews than before - 13, compared to 6 when it did its last free run.  The more reviews there are the more popular a book appears to be.

c) Some of the reviews are negative.  I don't really worry too much about reviews because everyone is entitled to their opinion and reviews are not really for me but for other readers, but I think a couple of negative reviews actually provide a bit of balance.  I'm always suspicious of a book that has ten or twenty straight five-star reviews.

d) I had already given away a bunch on a previous promo so perhaps they were logged into the system somewhere, giving it a higher bump this time around.

e) it's dark and cold outside and the book has a scary cover.  I don't know, but I seem to get a lot of sales around midnight!

f) I've kept the price the same.  Last time I juggled it a bit - moving it up to $5.99, putting it down to 0.99c for a bit.  This time I've kept it at a steady $3.99 in the US and whatever that translates to elsewhere.  I'm pretty much an unknown writer, however I think anything less makes it look cheap for what it is (it's 600 pages) while anything more would cause people to hesitate longer.  I don't know.  It's selling at that price so it's staying at it for now.

I can't prove or disprove any of the above, and I won't make any predictions on future sales.  What it does do is give me confidence in knowing that with enough visibility there are people out there that will buy my book in decent numbers.  I'm certainly not giving up the day job any time soon but as I intend to publish many, many more books over the next few years this is certainly a stepping stone in the right direction.

27 Dec 2012

Thursday 20 December 2012

Writing Update - Six months

I didn't post an update on November 20th (five months since the Great Reboot) mostly because around that time I had some computer issues and frustrations were getting the better of me.  Unfortunately I've had a similar problem this month to go with lots of formatting issues with older work, so this month is the first I haven't actually hit my monthly target.  In any case, here's a stats update on what I've written since June 20th this year.

Name Type Word Count Status
1 The Ship Short Story 3793 Finished - to edit
2 Take me Back with You Short Story 2528 WIP
3 Take me Back with You Novel 35303 WIP
4 The Lost Train Short Story 4352 WIP
5 The Other Set of Feet Short Story 3749 Finished - to edit
6 The Hunter Novella 18783 WIP
7 Once We Were Children Short Story 2513 Finished - to edit
8 The Assignment Short Story 8802 Finished - to edit
9 Never Give Up Short Story 5111 Finished - to edit
10 Clones Short Story 1323 Edited
11 Beat Down 1 - Clones Serial Novella 19233 Published
12 Sunfall Short Story 1271 WIP
13 The Tube Riders: Exile Novel 90629 WIP
14 Beat Down 2 - The Heist Serial Novella 18533 Published
15 Beat Down 3 - Badassaur Serial Novella 19699 Finished - to edit
16 NaNoWriMo 2012 Novel 3714 WIP
17 Beat Down 4 - The Sneevla Serial Novella 4015 WIP
18 Undelivered Short Story 358 WIP
Started June 21st Word Count 243709
Pages (300w/pg) 812
6 month target (Dec 20th) (183 days) 250000
Ahead -6291
Total Month
One month tally: 33598 33598
Two month tally: 62217 28619
Three month tally: 119253 57036
Four month tally: 180097 60844
Five month tally: 217500 37403
Six month tally: 243709 26209

It could certainly be worse.  I missed my six-month target but 243k in six months is pretty solid going.  However, in October I had been hoping to break 300k by now.

The biggest problem I have had is with flash drives.  I learned the hard way to make sure I back up my work after breaking a flash drive in November.  However that was just the start.  I actually saved that one, but since then I've had two fail on me and while I've been backing them up more regularly I still lost a bunch of words both times, most notably on my effort at NaNo, which I lost TWICE.  In hindsight, taking on an entirely new project for NaNo was a huge mistake, because I overestimated the amount of writing time I would have, plus I tried to push my boundaries by writing in a genre I wasn't familiar with.  While this in itself was not a big deal, I spent a lot more time writing it than I spent on more familiar projects.  It all started well, then I lost six thousand words.  I rewrote it, then lost it again.  That kind of bummed me out so I abandoned it, although the whole experience left me feeling a little burned out and it took time to get back the motivation I had previously had.

Then there was the formatting issues I had with the paperback for The Man Who Built the World.  I struggled with it for weeks before finally outsourcing it and paying someone else to do it for me, which I should have done in the first place.  The sum result was that I failed to get the paperback ready for Christmas, although it should be available shortly.

In other writing, I'm plot-knotted again in Tube Riders, although I'm working through it now.  My novella series, Beat Down, suffered from the flash drive failures and I had to rewrite roughly 5000 words on part three, something that was very frustrating because it is very creatively spontaneous and I think a bit of the humour was lost in the rewrite.

Overall, though, I'm pretty happy with what I've got over the last six months.  In addition, after reading a blog by a pretty successful writer which encouraged us to get as much product out there as possible because you never knew what would strike a chord with the reader, I went back and took a look at a really old novel, one called Possession, which I wrote when I was 19.  It's little more than a straightforward horror story and I have never so much as reread it, but I found it was a lot better than most of the stuff I've read by indie writers so with a couple of solid edits it might be serviceable.  So I've started to work on that as well as the edit for a book called Head of Words, which is a (very) black comedy/horror/thriller/thing.

Right, back to it.  Have a good Christmas everyone, and I'd be happy to see any comments below.  And just a reminder that Tube Riders is currently free, until the 22nd of Dec.  Click the links in the sidebar and grab a copy.

21st Dec 2012

Monday 17 December 2012

The Tube Riders - Free promo 20th Dec - 22nd Dec

Tube Riders news

Back in October I issued The Tube Riders as a Kindle free promo on Amazon, shifting just over 4300 copies and taking it as high as No.1 in free sci-fi, No.2 in free fantasy, and No.76 overall.  If you missed out last time you have another opportunity to grab a free copy of this future masterpiece.

Read it, enjoy it, and if you like it tell your friends.  The sequel, The Tube Riders : Exile, is a little over half finished and  I'm currently shooting for a summer 2013 release.  I could push it through quicker but I don't like to rush these things.  Part three, and so far what I'm considering the final part, The Tube Riders : Revenge, will be a sci-fi epic on a scale you've not seen before.  Trust me.  It's already part drafted and it's just monstrous.

I'm not planning to extend the series beyond three volumes for the simple reason that there is other stuff I want to write, and I'm not one of these writers who strings a series out just to get readers to part with their money.  There will be three books, all will be long, all will be non-stop action.


It's a big story.  There will likely be other Tube Riders stuff at some point.  I'm currently working on a spin-off novel, titled either Tube Riders : The Hunters or Tube Riders : Contraband, depending on what day of the week it is.  This features an almost entirely different set of characters, some of whom will feature in part three.  The plot is a lot darker (oh, how I love dark plots!) but it will probably be essential reading before you read part 3.  And one last thing - it's epic.

So, back to what I was talking about - Tube Riders is FREE from Dec 20th to Dec 22nd.  Tell your friends, tell people you don't like.

Get a free copy of Part 2

And one last thing.  I love reviews, but while they're not so important to me (I know the book is awesome already!) they're very important for visibility, attracting new readers and generally becoming successful.  Therefore, I have a little preposition for you.

Anyone who writes an honest review of Tube Riders on Amazon can have either a free ecopy of Tube Riders : Exile when it's released, or a free ecopy of either The Man Who Built the World or Ms Ito's Bird & Other Stories.  Take your pick.

Let me just emphasize the word HONEST.  I'm an honest writer and I like honest readers.  As long as your review is genuine then I'll quite happily send you a copy, even if you don't like the book (however, if you don't like it you probably won't want a free copy of part 2) and you only give me a star or two.  If you just write "this books sucks, now give me a free copy of part 2", I'll likely tell you where you can stick your free copy.  However, write a genuine opinion and you get a free book.  Tell me why it sucks.  That's it.

So, one more time:

Write a review of Tube Riders on Amazon and get a free ecopy of Part 2 or a free ecopy of one of my other longer works.  To prove you've done it, send an email to thetuberiders at gmail dot com.  That's it.  I'd love to offer paperbacks but I'm poor, so this is only for ebooks, sorry.

And here's that badass cover and the link -

And don't forget to sign up for the New Releases mailing list so that you'll know when the next book comes out.

Okay, over and out.

17th Dec 2012

Sunday 9 December 2012

New Covers!

As I get more and more adept at this whole self-publishing thing, I'm constantly trying to improve my products for my readers and to attract more.  What I decided to do this week was update all my dog-eared old short story covers to nice new ones.

I have an external cover designer for my novels and while I wish I could do the same for my short stories they just don't sell well enough to warrant the expense and I hope that sooner or later they'll all be price-matched to free anyway.

However, I'm getting a lot better at using designing software myself, so this week I got new high res images for several of my shorts and gave them a bit of a tart up, so to speak.

Here are the results -

For my collection I just used the original image (okay, the second one - the first one was just a line drawing of a bird) but I sharpened the colors and added a bigger, clearer text.

Forever My Baby has a completely new cover as the old one was one of my last surviving screen-print-from-Word jobs (can't believe I used to do that!).  I got a high res pic of a doll against a window and added a neon effect.  All of these were done using Picasa 3 Creative Kit, which is a free program I downloaded for iMac.  It's not the greatest program in the world but it's not too bad.

This is the original picture of the doll.  Very different, don't you think?

I think I posted about Going Underground's new cover the other day, but here it is again.  I think it looks awesome with the guy at the end of the tunnel there.  Again, just some cropping and colour effects on the picture you see below -
A guy at the end of a tunnel...

Death Depends is the same picture but for some reason I had one with a blue tint kicking around, so I just put some new titles on it.  You might notice that most of the fonts are the same - all part of branding! - in this case most of them are one called I Love You from Picasa 3 Creative Kit.  Going Underground is something else (I can't remember) while The Cold Pools uses one called Steak(!).

Fallen from the Train is the same as before but with a bit different lighting and font.

Joyriders is just some different titling over a really cool picture of a city.  I actually really liked the original picture and almost kept it, but this one is great.  I get all these off, by the way.  The highest res ones are $10, although I sometimes use a slightly smaller one which is only $4.  Smashwords' recommended cover size is 1600 x 2400 pixels so I resize all my covers to those dimensions now.

The Cold Pools too, is just a cropped picture with some text.  I love the colours, and judging by how many free downloads I got during my first two days on Smashwords, readers like it too.

I have a couple more to do but I think these are a lot sharper. What do you think?

9th Dec 2012

Tuesday 4 December 2012

General tinkering and stuff

Of late I've been doing a lot more non-writing than writing, which while frustrating at times is sometimes necessary.

After a month of flash drive failures and feelings of general burnout I've managed to get writing again, but I've also found myself having to do a lot of non-writing writing-related stuff too.

One of the things I got done just today was to create a mailing list for new releases.  This is something for the casual fan who might not want to listen to me blathering on about how many words I've written this week or whatever, something I will put a link to in the back (or probably the front) of each of my ebooks so that people who like them can find out easily when I put out a new release.  The email box on the blog should be directly to the right of this paragraph, but in case it's gone walkabout the link is here

Click it, put in your name and email, and that's it.  Just to clarify, I will be using this only to send out a notification of a new release, nothing more.  The absolute maximum number of emails you'll get per month is one, because I'm running out of short stories to publish and there's only so fast I can write.

While there is another email subscription box further down that one is for this blog, but I have no clue how many people have signed up for it (or any way to find out) so I'm thinking to can it altogether.  It's in the consideration phase...

Something good that happened this week is my short story, Fallen from the Train, which was my first published story on Smashwords, has been price-matched to free by Amazon.  The whole point of putting my short stories on Amazon in the first place was to advertise my novels, and I'm hoping that this way it'll get lots of downloads and people who like it will want to buy Tube Riders, which is connected to the story.

Free now forever - click pic to download

I had to hassle the hell out of Amazon to get them to do it, sending in about 20 or so notifications of a lower price, but now I know they'll do it I'm going to start shifting my short stories out of Select and onto Smashwords.  It's easier to have them free all the time rather than go about the hassle of putting them on promo and all the messing about that comes with it.  Plus, if it's free all the time there's no need to worry about getting your downloads in a certain period of time.  It's easier all round, and since I've probably made $30 total across 13 short stories since January I have more to gain than to lose.

As part of the process, Smashwords requires higher res covers to make a book eligible for its premium catalogue (going to Apple, Barnes & Noble, etc) so the shorts getting moved across will be getting an upgrade.  First to get the treatment is The Cold Pools.  While I quite liked the old cover, I liked this one more -

I got the high res pic of and added the text using Picasa Creative Kit.  The font is a wonderful one called "Steak".  Yeah, I know it has "cold" in the title but the story is set in a world ravaged by global warming so the deep red is kind of appropriate.  While I have a couple of awesome people who design my novel/novella covers for me I tend to go it alone with my shorts just to save a buck.  They can be a bit ragged but I think this one is great.  In an ideal world I would like to get them all professionally done but I don't have the money for it at the moment.  One day.

The Cold Pools is now on Smashwords and available for free download (click the pic), and once it's up on the premium catalogue I'll be going gung ho to get it price-matched.  I think this one would do well as it already has six reviews on Amazon (four 5s and two 4s) so will get a lot of notice.  I didn't put any sample chapters in this one but I think if people like it they'll check out my other stuff.

And the final thing I've been up to is trying to get the paperback for Man Who Built the World ready.  I have a wonderful cover courtesy of Su Halfwerk just waiting to go but after several weeks of wrestling with the formatting I've finally had to send it for external assistance.  I thought I had all the issues resolved, but checking the PDF tonight I see there are still one or two problems, namely some of the pages are shorter than others.  Very strange.  I've already put the poor formatter through hell so I hate to keep hassling her.  I really want it out by Christmas though.

So, with Christmas coming up, I'm closing in on a year of self-publishing.  I'll of course be doing a first year summary in January when the anniversary comes up but just to let anyone who thinks self-publishing is easy know, it really isn't.  I've broken my back on it this year, but while I've made almost no money I've made a lot of wonderful friends and learned more than I could possibly have imagined.  I always knew I could write and that hasn't changed, but there's so much more involved.  I don't like to think of the hours I've spent on things that many people might view as meaningless, or all the nights I've stayed in to write when I've wanted to go out drinking with the boys.

The first year is always supposed to be the hardest.  I really hope so.  But anyway, it's late, and so I'll leave you with a picture of what I really want to be doing right now...

 Miffy knows where it's at.
4th Dec 2012