Thursday, 27 March 2014

Happy Two Year Anniversary, HYBRID

Two years ago, I published Hybrid on smashwords... and started blogging online via blogger.

It is amazing to think how much I have learnt and how much I have done since then. In celebration of the day, I have decided to recap the last two years... for all you budding authors out there wondering whether to self-publish!

27th March, 2012 - Published on smashwords!
My second ever blog post

"Well, I was going to wait some more... but then I thought "what's the point?" So I self published last night and I have sold 4 books cool... Whoever you are, thank made my day.  Let me know how you got on, did you like it?  Would you like to read more?  The sequel is written and in need of an edit... I guess I should get into that now.

For those of you who don't know me, a little sneak peak... I love to read paranormal romance and thrillers... so if you have any suggestions please let me know.

At the moment it looks like I'm about to sink my teeth into The Hunger might take the edge off my obsession with Twilight. (groan... I hear some of you say)  I will not apologise for this, if it have not been for an interview I saw of Stephenie Meyer I would never have started writing...I owe her one.  Since I started to escape into fiction I've been a happier person.  And I hope you like what I write as much as I enjoyed writing it...

Thanks for reading!"

So sweet and innocent... I had no idea what I had started!

Once I started on smashwords, I waited to try to get "Premium Status" ... eventually I did, but it is confusing if you are doing all the formatting yourself. I followed Mark Cokers' Style Guide to get it right.

I realised that selling on smashwords was not an easy task... SELF-PUBLISHING IS HARD!

I decided to branch out and joined the Beast => => => Amazon. I published there on May 8th, 2012.

It was at this point that I started to see the brutal side to selling books - FAKING REVIEWS!

It happens, there's no point lying about it - some people do rate a book without having read it, either to swap reviews with an author or to make the author look worse online - terrible, right?

If you look at my reviews, you will see that they are not extensive - I like to think they are genuine, from real readers. There are many books that have hundreds of reviews... I have no idea how they did this. The mainstream books will have them, because they sell thousands of books, but for the average author, I would estimate that for every 50-100 books sold, you might get 1 review if you are lucky.

Harry Potter in the UK has currently got 1554 reviews... think about how many thousands of books this has sold! In contrast, Fifty Shades of Grey (the masterpiece-NOT!) has 7049 reviews (2022 are one star!)... even though it was published only a few years ago. It is also in the top 100 of the charts - erotica (is this what these books are?) obviously sells. It's a shame I don't write it... I need to lower my standards!

For the record, I have sold several hundred books, and given away in the region of over 6000 books of Hybrid for FREE as an eBook and have 14 reviews on Amazon US, and 36 on Amazon UK! So, for FREE books the ratio is even lower, since most of the time they might not even get read!

I then joined GOODREADS in June, 2012. This is a great way for me to keep track of the books I read and occasionally I dip into discussions - the fun side of reading! :)

I decided to try out the Amazon KDP scheme, left smashwords, and worked with another author to run a joint promotion. amazing to think that in 2012 you could get 300 downloads in a day as an unknown author - this does not happen now to many of us without a paid promotion or excessive use of social media! I got over 400 downloads in a day for Hybrid, which rocked me up the charts last month - but that was because I was featured in a free magazine distributed in Gibraltar!

I then started blogging about other stuff... food, sports, personal stuff. I realised blogging was a great way to share photos with family. So I decided to start new blogs...

VANESSA WESTER, first blog started March 2012.

A READER'S PERSPECTIVE, April 2012. A place to vent about books I have read, or movies I have seen.

TIME TO ESCAPE, Oct 2012. Adult anthologies I have published for charity.

FESTIVAL OF WRITING, started Oct 2012. A one-off blog about my experience.

This one, THE EVOLUTION TRILOGY, started January 2013.

INTERVIEW OF AN AUTHOR,  links and some posts of the authors interviews I have done.

STORIES FOR ALL, June 2013. Anthologies that can be enjoyed by children & adults which I have published, raising money for charity.

A lot of my time over 2013 was taken up with the charity anthologies. This is a great thing to do in order to meet great authors, support a worthy cause, and to find an outlet to write about different genre's and try out new styles. I found the experience rewarding and even though it has raised some money for these worthy causes I have decided not to publish any more.

The reason for this is that it took too much time and I also felt a bit used. Most of the authors were fantastic to work with, but I found the process frustrating and made the decision to focus on my own projects. I will still promote them, and they do sell a few every now and again, but I think the market is saturated with these collections. I have seen a successful free one, where it is clear all the authors promote it since they have linked to the amazon page.

A great blog I wrote which has had over 700 views is HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK - MY JOURNEY! Worth a read, I think...

I blogged about editing (the pain of it all), negative reviews (the first one I got was weird!), publishing Complications (the stress involved), interviews, the first time I sold paperbacks via a Fair, skiing, FoodChocolate Muffins, Easter fun with kids, pets, the completion of my trilogy - I did it!... and recently, I have started to interview authors I have read and enjoyed. I have set up a Facebook page to keep track of these a few weeks ago.

The world of blogging is immense.

Tools like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google, FREE promotion sites, authors groups (like ASMSG), and Goodreads help you to create a profile and network with readers and authors (and family of course! Do not underestimate how helpful family & friends can be at spreading the word when you first start out).

You should also set up an author profile on the amazon sites, as recommended by Amazon when you publish via KDP or createspace. This also helps you to "fine tune" your book description.

Along this arduous road, I have learnt how to format an eBook and paperback, self-edit, create a cover, create a You Tube video (this was fun - I used windows movie-maker).

BUT, I have not gone alone... I did have help from friends & family who proof-read and suggested recommendations for all three books, and recently HYBRID underwent a thorough proofread & edit via Susan Buchanan.

Might I add, that since Hybrid has been free I am actually selling books - the fact the trilogy is complete has certainly helped & I got my first review for RETURN via Amazon US yesterday! Yippee... someone in Texas rated it as a 4 star and said they wanted another one - I could kiss them! :)

For my next project, I will know a lot more and I will actually try to get an agent (I think... on the fence about whether it's worth it!).

Truth, in order to sell paperbacks to the masses, I believe you need to have a mainstream publisher behind you. Also, to translate your work worldwide, it's easier to have help. If you are lucky enough to come up with a break-through idea the advertising that will go into it will make it big (regardless of quality, might I add!)

However, in the main unless you are known or famous, the chances of selling thousands of books are slim. So long as you accept this fact, you'll do great!

Happy 2nd Anniversary to Hybrid, I hope you enjoyed reading my rambles.

All the best,


  1. This is really interesting - oh yes, the things we learn! And a deep sigh about the free promotions of the past - I think they stopped being really successful, on the whole, around the end of 2012. My first one scored me nearly 18,000 downloads - I'd whoop if I even got 1,000 these days!

    I definitely agree re the anthologies - I've only ever done one and no-one else much promoted it at all, and the bloke wanted to use his own editor on my story - no way! So I thought, what the hell, and published my story in my OWN collection, where it's become one of the favourites.

    Here's to the next two years!

  2. Thanks, Terry... I wonder if I'll have written another book in that time or not! Either way, author friends like you make it all worthwhile :)

  3. Enjoyed this. I didn't expect e-book publishing to be easy, but it's been harder than I thought. I belong to a wonderful writers' group, and we've tried different things. A few have tried small publishers, but they still have to work their fannies off to promote themselves. Some went straight to indie publishing. More of the same--trying to find ways to promote yourself. Our group has had a horrible time finding agents (not easy these days), but I have a wonderful agent at Dystel and Goderich, and she wasn't too enthused about letting me try e-books. Dystel and Goderich format all of books/novellas/bundles for me, so I don't have to do that, but I have to do all of my own promotions. If you go that route, you'll still be doing a lot of marketing yourself. I think unless your agent can sell your book to a decent-sized publisher, you won't get any promotion unless you do it yourself. Another friend of mine went with Harper Collins e-book division, and she's doing all of her own promotions. Lauren asked me to write a romance so that she can try to find a publisher for my work. Romance is still the best way for a new writer to get her toe in the door, I think. I just turned in the rewrites, so hopefully, that will work, but who knows? I haven't done that yet. Good luck with whatever you decide.

  4. Thanks for your comment, Judith. In my case, I had no idea what I was letting myself in for. I was very naive and just wrote & published for fun! Then I got sucked into what I sometimes think is a black hole.

    If you write & publish to make money, you might be disappointed with results now as an indie. BUT, if you play your cards right and belong to a book club or have lots of friends who are willing to support you then your book will shoot up to the top. I have seen this happen and the deviance in the reviews always makefor interesting reading. Then again, if you are selling who cares, right?

    I think... wrong! If readers do not like what they read, they will not come back. So, like in a music, a one hit wonder will not make you a successful author - but you might really enjoy the ride!

    Writing is a form of expression... I love reading & thinking! I can not imagine my world without the use of words! :)