Continuing Personal Development…

A while back I was feeling pretty unsuccessful.  I don’t sell a lot of books and for some reason I equate the number of books that I do sell with my personal sense of achievement. That hasn’t changed… I have.

Since we moved to this town, I’ve been feeling very low and trying to write when my brain refuses to focus and co-operate with my muse is almost impossible. I started doing various art & craft courses – mostly to get myself out of the house and talking to adults more. I was also trying to keep my hand in with the techniques so that I could teach them if I ever went back to work (I’m a Design & Technology / Art & Design Teacher remember?)

One thing that the courses have done is give me more confidence in my own abilities. Writing is a very solitary pursuit and I had thought that doing the courses would stop me writing, but  practising my other creative skills and socialising with people face to face, other than just with Writers and Artists online,  I found it revved up my writing muse and I found that I was managing to write something on my WIP’s every day.
Don’t get me wrong – I love my online friends; they stop me going crazy and make me feel better about myself, but the face to face interaction makes me feel less like a hermit.

So here I am nearly at the end of may, with over 50,000 words into Teacups & Time Travel. I’ve also written a flash story and a short story for two different anthologies (although I have no idea if they’ve got in or not) and I’m working on another one. I’ve also started looking at my blogsite here and my branding etc in the hope that I can improve my chances of selling my work, using the Panoptic Foundations Website Planner.

I’m not going to be going back into teaching for a long while – and when I do, it’s almost certainly going to be Adult Education rather than Secondary Education; it’s not that I don’t like teaching kids (I do) but I need the freedom to be able to teach what I want and how I want, rather than having to stick to the Curriculum that the Dept of Ed force on us and I find the other side of Secondary education (marking, reports, politics etc) far too stressful to enjoy the Teaching side.

So I’m going to continue writing and publishing. I’m going to continue taking courses, crafting and designing… and hopefully between the two, my sense of achievement will latch onto something other than my sales figures!

An Author’s musings on the Past and the Future…

I’ve been looking back at my publishing career to date, in an effort to decide how to proceed with the next few years. I started writing seriously in 2008 and had a few short stories published in various anthologies. I didn’t start publishing my own work until 2011.

One of the questions I get asked from time to time, is how many books I publish a year. I never actually knew the answer to that – once a book is out I tend to forget about it, unless I am actively promoting it.
I used to say that I made about £30 a year… putting me firmly into the “Hobbyist” section of Independent Authors.

I’ve got the new KDP dashboard now… doesn’t look like too bad a system, but I wish I could see which books have sold as well as in which formats / countries etc.
Using the historical tab and a bit of head scratching, I have figured out that I shifted a grand total of 319 books in 7 years. Only 110 of those were paid books. My best total year was 2012 but that was due to a free promo I did that year. The best year for paid books was 2016.

The most popular paid book is currently at an even heat between “Heir of The Dragon” and “Blossom and Kitsune” with “TTATE: A Beginning” close behind.
Kira Morgana is definitely the more popular of my pen names, but that’s probably because she’s published more books!

I’ve sold an average of 16 paid books a year (not including free books because they only occur in one year)… It’s positive that I have actually sold books… but I thought I’d sold a few more than that…
Doesn’t include anything sold on Smashwords though… hmm.

*wanders away to check figures on Smashwords.*

So, having deciphered Smashwords’ reporting system, I find that I have sold a total of 32 paid books in 7 years. Adding those to the KDP ones, I have a grand total of 142 paid books, giving me an average of 20 paid books per year.
Obviously the figures I’m quoting are all my self-published books. Anything published with the Small Presses I’ve been with or my collaboration with Maria K., I don’t have the figures for.
So, am I a successful author? Depends on the measure of success that you use…

What am I going to do?

Well I’m not giving up on writing; it’s often the only thing I can do that keeps me sane – my craft hobbies aren’t child friendly in the same way… and besides, I do have a few fans or I wouldn’t have sold 142 books in the last 7 years!
So I have a duty to get some more books finished and published.

However, this is where I run into a Catch 22 situation.

As an independent author, I am responsible for the whole process of publishing my books; there’s no publishing company vetting it or giving me an Editor / Proof-reader / Cover Artist / Illustrator / MS Formatter to work on getting it out to my Fans.

That’s a hindrance in a lot of ways, because it means I have to do or source all those things myself. Which means I have to have money to pay for (at the very least) an Editor and a Cover Artist. I’ve been incredibly lucky up until now in that I’ve got some incredibly talented and lovely friends who have helped me get this far. I also have a group of lovely people who beta read for me, which helps immensely.

Sadly, my current financial situation (in real life) is rather difficult. I don’t have the spare money to pay for the things I need to continue to publish my work, and the books I have out at the moment don’t bring in enough money to pay for it.

So I have some decisions to make.

I currently have 10 books that are complete first drafts in the Beta Reading Pile, 2 that are in the Formatting Pile and 5 that could be published as is, but that I am wanting to add to, so they are in the Re-Write Pile. There are another 9 that are in the Work-in-Progress pile.

I’m not even considering the ones in the Idea Pile.

So that’s another 26 books to add the 9 that are currently published.
Obviously the order I need to work on them is:

1) Formatting
2) Rewriting
3)Work-in-Progress
4) Beta Reading

Before I even CONSIDER looking at the Ideas!

However, before I can publish any of the books going through Beta Reading, I need to run them past an editor and get a cover for them…
Which brings me to the crux of the matter. I would be able to publish more if one of two things happened:

a) I sold a LOT more of the currently published books
or
b) Those of you who believe in me and like my work support me through the Patreon system.

(Or I win the lottery, but we all know the odds of that one!)

I’ll be working on getting (a) sorted out, but one of the best things that will influence it, is getting another book into publication. So the Formatting and Re-Writing piles are going to the head of the work queue (with one WIP at a time being worked on).

One of the best ways that you, the reader, can help me, is to write a review of my books that you’ve read (no matter where you got it) a review on Amazon, Smashwords, Goodreads, Apple, Kobo or Nook can help me to sell books.
Another way, is to recommend my work to friends who are looking for something to read, be that by real life conversation or virtual conversation on Social Media.

If you want to take route (b) and support me through the Patreon System, I will be incredibly grateful and shower you with perks…
This is my page is – https://www.patreon.com/KiraMorgana
Pop over and check it out!

Oh and if you got all the way to the end of the blog post, whatever you decide, I want to thank you for reading it!

Being paid with Exposure…

There’s a skirmish raging in the publishing industry at the moment… no, I’m not talking about two of the Big Six going head to head over something, or Traditional Publishing attacking Self Publishing.

I’m talking about writers waking up to a strange concept.

Payment.

When I started writing in the hope of making it a career, I was naive and hopeful. I’d followed an article I read in a Writing Magazine and started out by trying my luck with the Short Story market.

With every acceptance for an anthology I gained, my ego was given a boost. I was going to make it and in just a few months, I’d have accumulated a writer’s CV with enough stories published to wow an agent when I sent out my first book manuscript…

… or at least that is what I thought.

I was careful. After a few submissions paid for in “exposure”,  I went for anthologies and magazines that paid a minimal amount rather than the “for the love of it” publications. My plan was to get a few of those under my belt and then try for the markets that paid multiple pennies per word.
That went awry when I opened my own webzine and realised that unless I paid for writers, I wouldn’t get more than my friends submitting… and I had a sneaking suspicion that my friends were submitting to either shut me up or to make me feel better as my webzine tanked on the views.
*sighs*

I came out of that period a lot wiser. I learned that being a webzine owner / editor wasn’t as easy as it looked and that the stress of getting an issue out each month wasn’t worth the small moment of pride I got each month.
It also taught me that unless I wanted to starve my family, I was going to have to work harder at bringing money in.

(Yes, I know. I live in the UK – our benefits system is supposed to mean no one starves… *snorts*…)

Anyway. That was where I started my inroad into novel publishing.
I’d sent out a large number of novel queries at the same time as the short story foray. It hadn’t gone well.
Exposure wasn’t worth the paper it wasn’t written on after all, I had discovered. Agents weren’t interested in my publishing credits with magazines, even ones that were popular in the genre crowd. They wanted something that they knew would sell to a big publisher, so that they could collect their 15% commission on a large sum.

So now I’m here.

Self publishing is almost as bad as working for “exposure” but at least I get to set the prices when I publish a book. And at least I do get paid… sometimes it might be pennies per book, but at least all those pennies are mine and mine alone.

Chuck Wendig writes a superb blog. He has an entertaining writing style that brings people to his yard for more than just refreshment…  He’s one of my Writing Heroes because he seems to find time to write Books as well as blog pieces. He’s a genius in the art of grabbing his audience by the throat and getting his point across in a few, well chosen words.

He’s also a tad sweary… which I appreciate because I can’t do it properly. There’s an art to swearing that I have never mastered. But I digress.

I’d seen the blog that Wil Wheaton had posted on the subject of Huffington Post’s refusal to pay for his work back in October.  And at the time, I agreed with it wholeheartedly. I’d chuckled and agreed with The Oatmeal’s take on Exposure Payment and then in the rush of creativity for NaNoWriMo, I forgot about it again. Until this…

SCREAM IT UNTIL THEIR EARS BLEED: PAY THE FUCKING WRITERS

Chuck’s post on the 18th whacked me full force in the face with a wet Kipper and forced me to pay attention to something that I thought wasn’t happening any more.

I don’t know why I thought it wasn’t happening anymore. I haven’t been in that world very much, having been spending more time trying to work on my own novels, worrying about my partner’s back and my children’s  schooling.

But now I realise that the “exposure” payment never actually went away… and that I will never again write anything for just exposure. I will expect some kind of payment – whether that is in kind (so a guest blog post on another blog will always mention my own work somehow; aka free advertising)  or an actual monetary payment.

The only place that you will find my words for free is here – on my own blog. And even here, should you wish to support my writing career, you can. I have several e-books available for purchase on amazon and other places; just type “Kira Morgana” or “A. E. Churchyard” into your favourite e-book site’s search facility.

Just buy yourself something to read and thereby keep my cats in Kittynibbles and my kids in socks… it’s as simple as that.

PS: The only work that will ever be entirely for free will be either my Fanfiction (I don’t believe in profiting from someone else’s work and if the copyright holder objects to it, I’ll remove them from my site) or the stories that get published through Cake & Quill – Charity Anthologies are worth the work for an entirely different reason.