Summer writing and procrastination

I have been lazy about posting – some kind of summer doldrums, perhaps. I have not been idle, but have been writing more fanfiction than original fiction, and have been involved in beta work for other people. None of this activity ever seemed appropriate to write about for this blog, which is intended to be where I discuss original writing.

The novella I published on Smashwords – Silkskin and the Forest Dwellers – has not done well. Once I ended the free period (after a month) and set a price ($2.99), the downloads came to a complete halt. This made me stop worrying about applying for a US tax exemption for foreign writers, and also made me postpone reformatting for Amazon, though I should probably do that. The US tax forms look threatening, and I am dreading trying to work through them.

I have put a lot of effort into making the formatting as good as possible, and have been shocked at the low standards achieved in this respect by some professional publishers. The widespread criticism of self-publishing  for poor editing and formatting is not, I think, deserved, and seeking so-called professional help is not necessarily the way to go. There are good and bad examples on both sides.

My heart sinks at the thought of the different formatting rules for Amazon. It probably won’t be so bad once I get down to it. Lots of people manage it without problems so why shouldn’t I? Smashwords was an uphill struggle at first, but I now feel confident so Amazon shouldn’t be any different. And once I’ve done it all for one story, the others should be easy. Right?

My heart also sinks at the thought of needing to advertise. I don’t have (and frankly don’t have either the inclination or time to have) either a Facebook or Twitter account. I lean towards longer posts and conversations, and more personal privacy. But some researchers are beginning to suggest that too much self-marketing can be counter-productive. I hope they’re right!

What I do think I need to do is get my Amazon edition sorted and then format the other stories I have ready so that I have more chance of attracting attention. Research also claims that writers do better with a number of stories for sale. The stories are there – written, edited, and ready to go. I have some kind of publishing block which is as unconstructive as writer’s block must be.

Meanwhile, I continue to write fanfic, at least partly because I can post it easily (to AO3 – Archive Of Our Own) and get feedback. And yet I have a lot of original stories to tell!

Have any of you got advice or encouragement to offer?

14 thoughts on “Summer writing and procrastination

    • That sounds seriously interesting and I have bookmarked it for further investigation!

      I built my website using Webs – once Freewebs. It doesn’t require much use of code and is free, or very low-priced if you want extra pages or other bells and whistles. But I used it mainly for fanfiction and non-fiction (reviews, articles, etc.) and chose to bury any original stuff under passwords etc. to avoid problems of being already published. Now, I need to revisit the site and update it (another bit of procrastination coming up…) but still won’t use it for original fic because I want to sell that on Amazon. But you have made me think – perhaps I could put short pieces such as the ones we wrote for GFF on it, free. to inform or attract readers, and then link to it from here and from my personal journal. As you intend to sell directly from your site you will have different needs, though I do know Webs caters for business sites.

      Nice to know I’m not alone in finding reasons to put off the hard work. Actually writing is so much easier…

      • The main reason very successful e-book authors often sign up for the publishers who initially rejected them is so they can concentrate on writing and leave all the other stuff to someone else.

        I plan to sell on my web site and on Amazon and elsewhere. The web site will provide extra free resources for the reader. The cost of an e-book will be the same everywhere.

        I have bought some software to make generating my web site easy – but I just have to learn to drive it.

      • Well, I suspect it’s only this initial steep learning curve that is so time-consuming. And I gather publishers expect you to shoulder a lot of the marketing nowadays.

        I like the idea of your site with the extras!

  1. have been shocked at the low standards achieved in this respect by some professional publishers
    This. Seeing that 3 bucks is discouraging, when at the same time I have to part with five times more to get something what’s full of typos but comes from a ‘professional’ publisher, I grind my teeth.

    Lots of people manage it without problems so why shouldn’t I?
    Heh, you can’t know how many gray hairs have they gotten from that. I suspect that for some of them it was easier than for others, as in everything. And: once I’ve done it all for one story, the others should be easy. Right? Right.

    I lean towards longer posts and conversations, and more personal privacy.
    You’ve listed the most of reasons for I don’t want Twitter! I’m fearful at the thought that this can be the future of fandoms, and forums and journals can be forgotten.

    You’ve mentioned interesting things about researches, have you any links at hand? I’d read it greedily.

    • I agree so much about paying for typos – and last month I paid for a corrupted file…

      And yes, I prefer proper long conversations, or the possibility of them, and I like to read long posts!

      I get a lot of my information from a magazine (print version) I subscribe to and then follow up links they give so I don’t have anything to hand but they have a web presence, too – – if you can access that, and they often give news of surveys, research, etc.

      Smashwords must have been reading my blog – ten minutes ago they emailed to say I had made one sale. So I suppose I ought to do the tax forms… though they won’t pay me till I earn $10 and even then they won’t pay for about two months so there’s no hurry!

      • Thanks, bookmarked!

        Congratulations, hopefully it’s only the beginning!

        Heh, yes, Internet companies and their wilingness for paying… I had considered once selling stock pictures via sites like Fotolia, but I read their commission rules for contributors and I was “Are you bloody kidding me???”

      • I believe Amazon generates more sales than Smashwords so maybe I will end up selling three books…

        The percentages are much better than from publishers. I should do a post about it. I think I’ve got my head round most of the information! And no, photographers don’t get good rates or good rules!! Some of your nature photographs are exquisite – they deserve to be more widely seen and appreciated.

  2. Ah, procrastination, I know the feeling well – it’s one of my most popular pastimes! Glad to hear that Silkskin has had a buyer, I imagine it’s like that after the first initial ‘free’ downloads, things would slow down a bit. I agree you do need to get more work up there so that the people who did download the free version have something else to come back to. Don’t envy you the form filling out though! It sounds both horrendous and time consuming.

    • I spent a bit of time working out the tax thing after I’d posted this. You have to have a copy of your passport certified by a notary… As this costs money, I did some maths and it seems it wouldn’t be worth bothering to get an exemption from US tax until I’d sold more than 80 copies – that’s 80 from Smashwords and 80 from Amazon because you need a separate exemption certificate for each. So there isn’t exactly any hurry…

      But the Amazon formatting isn’t too bad – format as for Smashwords then convert to an HTML document and it should all work, and anyway, there’s a preview facility. So I ought to go ahead!!

  3. I just remembered, another local friend of mine, Nadine Cooke has been selling too through smashwords/amazon. Here is her website: Maybe you could ask her for help. Say you know me in the email 🙂 She has also been giving copies of her books to bookstores and libraries to sell/lend. Maybe you could try this tactic too? Oh and Nadine does not use twitter either!

    I think a website is a good idea with some free things initially or some story excerpts. A facebook fan page is quick and easy and low maintanence too.

    I’m sorry I haven’t commented on/reviewed/or even finished your novella. I feel terrible but I have been so stressed with home stuff and thesis work it’s been impossible. I PROMISE to make it up to you somehow! (Preferably by reading said novella when I can and offering much love/praise etc)

    • I’m all too aware of how ‘real’ life interferes in plans! Don’t worry about it and don’t apologise – you’ve had enough on your plate recently! So far as reading my stuff goes, I’ll expect to hear from you eventually but there’s no rush!

      Posting this galvanised me into looking carefully at the Amazon requirements and you’ve already seen my next post on the subject… I have no more need of help on formatting etc, anyway! That’s all sorted. As for marketing, if I don’t publish, I don’t need to market…………… We shall see, but I won’t ask anyone for advice on that for now. I think when I get as far as trying to publish my YA stuff I might need to look further at marketing but that’s at least a year away if not more. I don’t think bookshops and libraries in UK are going to be interested in online m/m romance novellas in the meantime!!

      I had a Facebook account and had some bad experiences – family/friend problems – and cancelled it. I have no plans to start again as I hate the whole concept. That is probably very counter-productive of me and I might eventually change my mind but for now, that’s where I am! The website is probably a better bet. I should start revamping it or even start a new one.

      • You don’t need a personal fb account. A fan page for your pen name or book title is fine and people would not even know who you really are as all your details are kept private (unless you choose to provide them). Just a thought 🙂 Now I need to go write a short story for three days time!

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