Prices rises and general warnings

As of the 1 August, The Glasgow Grin will be going up in price from 99p/$0.99 to £2.99/$3.99. The lower price point has obviously assisted sales that are creeping towards the 3,000 barrier in the UK, and helped shift numerous copies of my other novels and novellas, but I feel now is the time to raise the price. I’ve been selling GG cheaply for far longer than I ever planned (it was originally only going to be 99p until the end of March), and all good things must come to an end.

Will this decision affect sales? Undoubtedly, and for the worse. However, I don’t think £2.99 is an unfair price to pay for several years of my life, and something that will give readers many hours of enjoyment (I hope). It will, I suspect, negatively impact sales of my other books, too. But I’ve been worrying more about my sales recently than I’ve been doing actual writing. I check my sales figures with depressing and monotonous regularity; in fact, I’d even go so far as to suggest that it has become a complusion. So, come August, I’ll be avoiding my sales figures like they’re some sort of life-threatening disease.

The other thing I plan to do is put bad language and violence warnings clearly within the product description/synopsis of my books. I’m getting tired of the prudish, and those of a weak disposition, giving me one-star reviews because they can’t handle bad language or sex or strong violence. Frankly, I’d rather warn them from the start that my work is hardcore crime fiction, so they don’t make the mistake of buying my stuff and complaining about it later. A clear warning (PROBABLY IN CAPS, SO THERE’S NO MISTAKE) at least gives readers a chance to make an informed decision about my work (although the current synopsis for my latest novel states clearly: The Glasgow Grin combines intense, fast-paced plotting, ferocious ultra-violence, snappy, foul-mouthed dialogue, and a rogue’s gallery of twisted villains…).

So there you have it!

Half-term report

At the end of last year, I set myself an annual target that was intended to ‘steady the ship’ after disappointing sales in 2013. I sold a lot less than I did in 2012, and there were signs that this trend might continue. A Kindle freebie at the end of the year did poorly, and I feared that 2014 would be a worse wipe-out than 2013 had been.

I set my target as a new high water mark; designed to be considerably higher than 2013’s total and only slightly higher than my sales in 2012. I believed it to be a realistic and achievable figure, so long as I worked hard at marketing my books. I even made it one of my writer’s resolutions.

Of course, I had a specific reason for setting my target: It was to determine whether or not I remained a self-publisher.

If I reached my target, I would continue as a self-publisher; and if I didn’t, I would start working towards ending my self-publishing adventure. The options were to write something a bit more mainstream, with an eye towards getting an agent, or to give it all up completely.

I didn’t really want to think about the second option, but I knew that if I got dejected enough, and ended things, I could at least say that I tried and failed.

January wasn’t a great month – I did okay in the US, but in the UK I was already down on the average I needed to ensure that I hit my target. In February, I released The Curious Case of the Missing Moolah, and had my (until then) best ever sales month. Then at the end of the month, I decided to make The Hunters permanently free on Amazon via their price matching function.

It was a calculated decision. The Hunters had been out for a couple of years, and sales were okay, but I still hadn’t finished the direct sequel to that book. That made it the right candidate as a freebie – to get people salivating for The Glasgow Grin, once it finally makes an appearance, and to possibly shift copies of my other Stanton brothers books. As it turns out, making it permanently free has been the best decision that I’ve made as a self-publisher. In March I shifted several thousand copies of The Hunters, which had a real knock-on for my sales. That month I smashed February’s sales record to pieces, and April sales were almost as strong (falling short by only nine copies). I also reached my annual sales target towards the end of the month. May has seen a drastic drop in free downloads, but sales – although down – have been solid, which means that everything I do now just makes 2015’s target a little larger and more ambitious.

So, that’s me happy – at least regarding sales.

The Glasgow Grin is still dragging on a bit, through a combination of slow writing, a lot of freelance work, and a desire to make sure I get the story right. Another couple of Stanton stories (a novella of about 30k words and a long story of around 10k words) that I’ve been writing concurrently are also going very slowly. My muse just isn’t firing on all cylinders at the moment, but I’m not worried – it’ll return. Some other stories that I have percolating in my head, or in various stages of completion, are currently stalled. At this point in time, TGG and a story that I’m writing for Ryan Bracha’s anthology 12 Mad Men are my main priorities. All other writing work – including book reviews – will have to come a distant second, for now.

Right, I suppose I better get back to it. The Stanton brothers, Mark Kandinsky, and Eddie Miles are waiting for me out in the woods, and they’re getting very, very impatient…

Advertisements for myself

Advert for The Gamblers

A couple of examples of posters that will be seen around London pubs and cafes during the end of 2010/beginning of 2011.

I’ve also slipped a few into The Metro and Evening Standard when I’ve been on the tube mornings and evening

They use pithy snippets of dialogue from the novel, to give a flavour of its essentially hardboiled noir nature. Basically, if you like the dialogue then chances are you’ll like the novel too.

Sub-dividing my time

I’m currently sub-dividing my free-time between my second novel (which is an unconventional murder-mystery thriller) and trying to generate publicity for The Gamblers.

It’s not an easy thing to do. Publicity for a self-published work relies on a lot more work for the author than it does for an author who is represented by a publishing house. Posters, leaflets, flyers, sample chapters etc., all need to be overseen or designed by the author. Then comes the legwork, putting posters and leaflets in pubs or cafes that will allow such things, finding other suitable locations for posters, putting professionally designed sample chapters in public places (where people might be tempted to pick them up). I’ve also got in touch with a few contacts who might be able to review the work, and others that I have agreed to write articles/reviews for in an attempt to generate sales.

If anybody can think of any novel (pardon the pun, ha ha) way of generating publicity then please do leave a comment below. I don’t necessarily guarantee I’ll do them all, but if you leave a good idea I may very well give it a go.