What’s going on at Casa Stanley

On the off chance that you’re interested in my work, and interested in how it’s coming along (if you aren’t, I won’t be offended, please click away now), here’s a rundown of what I have been doing with my days/evenings recently.

Since stopping all promotion of work that’s more than two month’s old, which is currently everything, I’ve found that I have more time for writing and reading and reviewing. I’ve finished a couple of shorts that are both based around the theme of revenge, with several others on the go, to be included in a short collection that will probably see the light of day sometime in 2014.

Standalone Stanton brothers novella Bone Breakers is out on submission, though I’m not holding out much hope for this, to be honest (It’s been over three weeks since I sent it, and I can already see sections I want to tweak); I’m making good progress on the sequel to The Hunters, The Glasgow Grin, (even though it has changed from its initial incarnation in the redraft process – first and third person narration, for a start – and has consequently got bigger); I’ve also got several Stanton shorts on the go, including one that works as a sort of prequel to Bone Breakers. There are also two other big Stanton projects that I have simmering.

Other projects include three novellas/novels that have either been started, outlined or are close to completion (Cry Tomorrow, When Word Came Down and We Bring The Darkness).

I’ve realised that I write best with multiple projects on the go. If I get bored or stalled with one project I can move on to another and so on until they are completed. I now have so many projects on the go I expect to be tied up until at least 2015 (assuming I finish them all). It’s not a method I recommend; partly because writers who tell other writers WHAT TO DO and HOW TO DO IT bore me bloody rigid, but mostly because you need to be able to thrive within a maelstrom of organised chaos.

And I like organised chaos, so there.

Since ceasing my dull existence of relentless book-plugging I’ve been much happier, much more creative, and I’ve realised there’s more to life than gnawing at my fingernails whilst I check my KDP figures for the umpteenth time that day. However, I did check my sales figures recently and it’s as I expected: during my pimping embargo (now about five weeks) I’ve sold exactly four books, all of which have been in the US. Not good, but I’m not sure the figures would have been that much better even if I did use my usual relentless pushing tactics.

However, I have a two-day sale of The Gamblers coming shortly (partly because I had two free days left before it reverts back to not being in the KDP free program), but you won’t see me plugging it on this blog. In fact, I’m not even going to bother telling you the date.

Why? Well, I figure most regulars here have either read it or have it on their Kindle (to be either read at a later date or not at all), and I hate preaching to the converted. Instead, I’ve paid an organisation about £30 to punt details of the freebie to all the major free book list websites, saving me many hours of work and getting word out to some websites that I didn’t realise existed. I’ll let you know how this experiment goes later in the month.

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Happy Kindle birthday, The Gamblers

This slipped past me almost unnoticed (partly because The Gamblers was first released on paperback in November 2011), but I thought I’d say a few words to mark the occasion.

This last year has been an interesting ride on Kindle. Sales were marginally better than I hoped upon release, though it’s never troubled the best-seller charts (not counting the occasional chart place in the hard-boiled hit parade). And in that time I’ve managed to release another book, making me almost prolific, haha! I’ve learned a lot about this indie-publishing business too during the last year and I thought I’d share these thoughts with you (feel free to click away when you get bored):

1) There’s a vibrant hard-boiled crime and noir community out there. I didn’t realise just how vibrant it was until I joined Twitter and noticed that not only are there lots of people doing what I’m doing, but they’re doing it a lot better too. What this means is I know I have a lot more to learn. It also means that it’s not a lonely place, and there are a lot of great writers to chat with online. That feeling alone is marvellous.

2) I’ll never make my living as a full-time writer. This isn’t some whiny point declaring woe is me, it’s more a simple statement of the facts as I see them. Getting noticed is incredibly difficult and involves more effort than I can manage if I’m to keep earning a living as a graphic designer and pay my rent. I can only do it to a minor degree, far less than I would like, which means minor returns. But I’m cool with that. Sales might take off to a degree over time, given a more substantial back catalogue, but I’m pretty certain the best I can hope for is something that can supplement my full-time job income rather than replace it. Regardless of this, I’ll keep writing. I love doing it, because it’s not about the money, it’s more than that… I don’t want to sound all poncy and pretentious, but it fulfils me in a way that I can’t quite explain – whether that’s spiritual or what have you, I don’t know, but there’s a sense of contentment I feel when I’ve finished a project that I don’t get from any other aspect of my professional life.

3) The Gamblers wasn’t a one-off. I was worried that I might return to my pre-Gamblers routine of starting projects that remained unfinished, but this hasn’t been the case. The Hunters, the first of a series of hard-boiled and blackly comic crime thrillers featuring two dysfunctional criminal brothers, made an appearance and will be quickly followed by three other books later this year and into 2013. Also, I have another noir that is on schedule for late 2013! The floodgates are well and truly open.

4) I’m going to stop trying to sell my wares all the time on Twitter. I’ve been scaling this back, but unless I have a specific deal going (two-for-one deals, a price drop etc.) I’m going to cease with the Twitterbombs. To be honest, Twitter is an abysmal selling tool and I find that I get more sales through providing interesting content on this blog, or links to interesting content on Twitter, than I do by saying, ‘Oi! Buy my books’. If I slip with this promise at any point, feel free to pull me up about it 😉

5) I won’t be doing any more KDP Select giveaways. Initially, KDP Select kickstarted sales of The Gamblers again after they went dormant for a while, and it’s given The Hunters an initial boost, but repeated freebies have done nothing more for me in terms of sales and are probably detrimental in the long run. And what’s the point of giving away my work to hoarders who don’t read it? It’s a waste of my time and theirs – they’ll only end up deleting it unread anyway. Better a tiny audience of devoted readers than a larger audience of those who couldn’t care less. So, I have a few ideas of my own to boost sales in the summer months, involving a slightly more structured giveaway of my own devising (I’ll reveal more another time).

6) It’s been fun, thus far. I’ve enjoyed having all three of you visit my blog from time to time and read my work, and I hope to keep you entertained for many years to come. And if the standard slips do let me know. I’ll come back stronger and better for it.

Adios!

My ‘Free Weekend’ experiment updated

On Friday evening I enrolled The Gamblers in the KDP Select program. This allows publishers and self-publishers to make their work available for Amazon Prime users to borrow for as long as they wish. More usefully, however, it also allows you to ‘promote’ your work for free during a 90 day period.

I decided to use 2 of my days over the last weekend. Why, you might ask?

Firstly, The Gamblers is dead in terms of sales. I haven’t sold jack-shit over the last six weeks and no matter what I try and do nobody wants to buy. I’ve tweeted, I’ve Facebooked, I’ve used forums, I’ve used this blog, but nobody is interested in buying it any more – despite the fact that it is a very reasonable £1 or $1.99 a book. So, I figured that giving it away puts it on a number of Kindles and other devices capable of viewing Kindle ebooks.
>>The Gamblers has started selling again and the number of visitors to my site has increased. Not sure if this is the ‘halo effect’ or something more pronounced. The coming days and weeks will confirm one way or another

Secondly, I decided that The Gamblers may as well serve as an advert for my future work. Most of my readers have enjoyed the novel, and of those a number have since expressed an interest in my next work, The Hunters. My hope is that enough people read The Gamblers between now and January (the new Hunters release date – more on that later) that they swoop and buy my latest work.

Thirdly, thinking about how well The Gamblers did over the weekend gave me a promotional idea for The Hunters – one I intend to implement. When TH is finally released in January I intend to give away the Kindle edition of The Gamblers for free to everybody who buys an ebook of The Hunters. All I will need is proof of purchase and an email address that I can send your ebook to. >>I’ve realised that I won’t be able to give The Gamblers away for free as promotion for the Kindle version The Hunters. One of the downsides of KDP Select is you have to give Amazon exclusivity for 90 days. I will have to come up with something else as a promotion. But I do have some clear ideas about what that will be. I think you’ll like it.

So, how did I do over the weekend, you might also ask?

Over the weekend 362 UK copies of The Gamblers were downloaded; 257 copies were downloaded in the US, and (oddly) 2 copies were downloaded in Germany.

That’s 621 potential new readers in total. On top of those who had previously bought copies of The Gamblers – either on Kindle or as a paperback – that’s a fair base upon which to launch my next pieces of writing: The Hunters and an as-yet-untitled short story collection featuring the Stanton Brothers (the anti-heroes of The Hunters).