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‘A Cheery Surprise’ – repost with comments

Only a few people have paid for stories since. But I still say: give people the option! I’m nine dollars richer than when I started and that’s nine dollars better than nothing.

A Cheery Surprise (Aug 28, 2014)

It has been a tumultuous time since my last blog.

I’ve been sick, as has my husband and both kids. Apparently flu is doing the rounds because many people I know have been enjoying this change of weather sickness too.

Yesterday my eldest child started nursery school. I took her in and she was immediately swamped by the other kids in a mob. Charley Ruth is tiny for her age and I was terrified. When my vision cleared, I realised that the bigger kids love little ones and are protective of them. They led her off, hand-in-hand, to show her swings and slides and the classroom. Charley was fearless, as usual, and for that hour seemed to have the best time. I, of course, wanted to howl.

I’ve been doing my best to keep on my stepping schedule with getting the Innerone formats ready (focusing on on the InDesign for print version), as well as doing some work on the AmaZizi 2nd Edition and pushing some marketing for my authors, who are all such lovely people with excellent texts and deserve the best I can give them. I also spent a couple hours on Goodreads, where, a month ago, I became friends with Ellie.

Ellie liked Susan Woolf’s Taxi Hand Sign book, so I wrote to her. And when she liked a blog post of mine, I wrote again. In our correspondence, it turns out that not only has this American met South African Susan, she is good friends with Susan’s sister, Lesley, who lives in Atlanta. I could hardly believe it.

And then, today, somebody paid for a copy of Cheery Red. In other words, someone actually paid real money for a short story that I had written. It’s taken me a while to get over the shock.

Now, I’m a publisher. You would think I was used to people buying books from me; and it’s different when the work is your own. It’s a milestone for an author when someone you don’t know pays good money for something you wrote. So I’m having a little celebratory dance inside my head.

However there is a marketing gem contained inside my cheery surprise that I want to share with you. A week or so ago I was reading Steven Trustrum’s blog:

http://trustrum.com/self-publishing-marketing-mistakes/

One of the things he said was that, if possible, rather use the ‘reader-sets-the-price’ than the ‘free’ option when putting up works. This means that if somebody wants to pay you, they have the option (he said a lot more – I recommend reading the article). I wondered if people would stop downloading at the story if it wasn’t marked free but, after 81 downloads, I decided to try it. The downloads did slow down – but that also could have been because it was no longer on the Smashwords home page, or because people who know me and who wanted to support me by reading the story ran out. Today, I am $1.39 richer ($2.00 minus fees) because I chose to give people that option.

Once I had uploaded Innerone for pre-release on Smashwords, I now had the opportunity to do something I had wanted to do for a while – create a coupon code for Innerone and put that code into Cheery Red, both as a marketing tool for Innerone and as a thank you for choosing to read Cheery Red. I put it in the ‘Thank You’ section at the end of the story and re-uploaded it. I like getting coupons for books so I hope my readers do too.

And maybe the marketing ideas in this blog can help aspiring authors too. Now isn’t that a cheery thought!

‘A Giant Leap’ – repost with comments

I did get all the versions ready in time… and I didn’t publish. I just wasn’t ready to publish. I’m still not ready to publish Innerone. Not all of the endorsements have come in (note to self, I need to write a blog on endorsements) and I haven’t built up a big enough following for the release that I want. Moreover, I will need to create new e-book versions, because there have been small changes since the last upload. So what looked like a giant leap was rather something that felt like one.

I have also realised, as I reflect on the the earlier blog posts, that I was again remiss in providing information. I was so busy thinking about the nuts and bolts of publishing books that I never gave descriptions of the works I was talking about. How is that going to attract interest in those books? Seriously, I sometimes wonder what is going on in my head. It would be too much to describe all of them now, so I’ll just give the blurb for the one that I’m experimenting with. This book, Innerone, is the one I’m using to learn how to publish in the US, so that I’m much more savy about the process when I publish my authors there.

Here is the blurb for Innerone:

How deep would you go to reclaim yourself?

A contemporary myth of courage and healing,  Innerone is an extraordinary narrative in which the protagonist meditates to her mind’s underworld to find the younger self she betrayed.

Although she thinks she knows what to expect, the surprises keep coming. Her  expectations dashed and new-age ideals thwarted, she discovers she is neither alone nor in charge. Her spunky inner-child, her esoteric higher-self, her unconvinced inner-scientist and others—all of whom hold different beliefs, values and desires—converse and argue, travel and shop (not your usual mall).  

And the subtle question swirls… how different would her actions be, what changes would play out in her life, if she flipped from believing she is broken to recognising that she is whole just as she is?

A Giant Leap (May 14, 2014)

If you have been reading my previous posts, you’ll know that I have been applying myself to the practical metaphor of ‘small steps’. Today I made a giant leap instead.

I have finally finished the Innerone e-book and am uploading it to Smashwords. I have set it on pre-order for a month, so that I have time to get the print,  print-on-demand and Amazon e-book versions ready and release all of them in early October. (That’s right – there are three versions of this book and each of them take a long slog to get right. It’s a good thing I’m doing all of this in my spare time. If I had to pay someone to do it, it would cost a fortune.) Apparently, putting a book on pre-order also generates a buzz and is good marketing. I hope so. (Tell your friends!) I’ve also given a larger sample of the book than usual – 25%.

Curiously, Amazon only allows big, favoured publishers to put a book on pre-order. That means that I can’t create and upload a .mobi file at any point – I have to upload it the day before the pre-order on Smashwords expires so that the book on Amazon is semi-synchronised.

One thing I don’t know how to do is reach the 81 people who have so far downloaded Cheery Red and give them a coupon code for Innerone, to say thank you and to help market the book. I’m going to put the word out on Facebook and my website.

So…let’s hope I get all the versions of this book ready in time 🙂

‘Watching the Stats’ – repost with comments

I have to admit it – despite how keen I was to collect and analyse data, after all the analytic setting up I did after this post, I never looked at it again. I have discovered that analysing data is last on my very long to-do list.

I need to treat analytics like a writing a book, something I’ll blog properly on later. In brief, you have to write the book before you edit it or you’ll never finish writing the book. I think, when all the rock climbing up the cliffs of communication and publishing are accomplished and I’m sitting flushed and triumphant on the plateau of maintenance, I will finally be able to turn my attention to analysing the data properly and making the adjustments that are necessary.

As for asking for reviews – of the many people who contacted me to say they loved the story and promising to put up a review, only one did. I’ve thought about why this is and it did not take long to understand why. It’s not about being better at asking for a review. The fact is, asking for a review is a lot to ask for. In a person’s busy life, they have to make time to think about what they want to say, write it down in a way they feel they can put in a public space and then go through the process of putting it on their favourite site. It’s a charitable act. Perhaps people need to be incentivised with a coupon for the next book or something. In any case, you can ask, but it is better to expect nothing to avoid disappointment.

Watching the Stats  (posted Aug 21, 2014)

At this moment I’m up to 64 downloads of Cheery Red. It’s exciting! I never hoped for so many.

It’s also a period of discovery. Aside from a journalist friend of mine, Jon, who wrote on Facebook that he enjoyed the story, there have been no other reviews. Two of the 64 people have put Cheery Red into their permanent Smashwords libraries. And I foolishly didn’t add Google Analytics to my new website before I published it, so I have no idea where visitors preferred to go on the site or any other stats at all.

What does this mean? Well, firstly, I’m going to have to get better at asking for reviews. They are important for both author and readers. I get to understand what people think of the work and readers can see at a glance what others thought of the story.

Regarding the permanent libraries, it’s a compliment every time someone wants to keep your work in their collection. So the story has been complimented twice. Of the 64 people who have so far downloaded Cheery Red, there is no way of knowing how what percentage have Smashword accounts, so I don’t know whether it is 2 out of 64 or 2 out of 2. I just don’t know. I also don’t know what the typical download of a free short story is within 48 hours, so I cannot say whether the download amount is good on average or not. I’m still trying to find out.

Finally, I must add Google Analytics to my site. I will never recover the first few days of stats, and I have lost the information it would have given me. Let that be a valuable lesson to my fellow writers who wish to share their creative output with a new website. Ensure you have statistical functions in place before you go live!

‘Cheery Red’ – Repost with comments

Sorry for the long wait! Life got in the way of blogging about it. Here’s the next repost, focussing on the the release of the short story, Cheery Red.

This was exciting to experience and write about. This moment is the one I think all authors anticipate, the release of a work and how it is embraced by others. It’s a mental holding of the breath – the work to get it out there is done – and now what? Either you slump, or there is a steady movement, or a whoosh of delight as the work streams from the distributor.

I marvel that, as an unknown author with no followers and minimal marketing, I had so many downloads for this work in those first few hours. To date, 291 copies have been downloaded.


Cheery Red
(posted Aug 19th, 2014)

This morning, after weeks of five minutes here and five minutes there, I finally finished the Smashwords formatting for my first short story ebook, Cheery Red. I uploaded it to Smashwords and dashed out the house to meet a friend, Sedrick, and do some chores. I came back to discover that 22 people had downloaded the story!

I wanted to dance a celebration dance of happiness. I wrote on Facebook, something I have seldom done in the past and suspect will do more regularly in the future:

“I am so excited! I just published ‘Cheery Red’ on Smashwords and already 22 people have downloaded it! It’s free and it’s short, but there are now 22 people I don’t know who are reading my work. I’m so inspired… I’m breathless with it! https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/468557

The “so’s” and exclamation points get across my emotional state quite nicely, don’t you think?

‘A Little Step’ – Repost with comments

It takes so much to build a website and believe you me, a website is just like a book. It goes through editions. I’ve republished my website more than fifteen times since I first published it. I’ve re-written the ‘About’ four times alone, recreated the Home page three times, added pages and information and contact forms, all in the name of marketing; creating a site that intrigues, informs and attracts people who like what I do and who would like to be notified when a new work comes out. This new WordPress blog is a good example of changes I make to bring new people to the site.

One of the things I’ve learned is that if you want people to come to you, you need to go to them first. You need to follow people who write things relevant to what you do, comment when they post, congratulate them on their highs and empathise with their lows, all the while being yourself (i.e., being real. People spot falseness a mile away). Why reach out? People don’t know you exist if you don’t make the first step.

A Little Step (first published Aug 19th, 2014)

I nervously published my new website last night, let my friends know on Facebook and this morning continued with Smashwords, so that I can upload some free stories soon. What can I say? These are the little steps I was talking about. I’m focusing on the next steps now.

‘Little Steps’ – repost with comments

As a publisher, I get to do a lot of editing. As a sleep-deprived mother of two young children, I am very grateful for proofreading tools like spell check. And as I reread and repost my Tumblr posts, I am honestly amazed at how far I have come since I started, as well as how things progressed from what I hoped for to what actually happened. What did actually happen from the below? Did I join Lightening Source? What happened to the website? Do I continue to use food metaphors? Ha ha, you’ll have to keep reading to find out!

Little Steps (posted Aug 14th, 2014)

I’m at the beginning of a long tale. You know the one – unknown person (in my case, author and publisher), after thirty years of hard slog, becomes an overnight success.

The first fifteen years – that’s how old my publishing company is – have seen me do a lot of stuff, flitting from one thing to the next. That is the recipe for an interesting and vivid life, with amazing memories. I’m no longer interested in recipes. It’s a lovely metaphor and all, I’m just hungry for something else. Today I’m interested in alchemy – using the ingredients I’ve already prepared. I’ve prepared – now what do I make? To whom do I offer it? Things taste better when you share, and when you share it with someone who wants it.

I’m fifteen years in, and there’s awesome not-so-new technology that I can use to share my works with people who may enjoy them. I’m focusing on publishing right now and for the last few weeks have been wrestling with the options available to me in print-on-demand and e-book distribution.

Today I contacted Lightening Source for POD overseas. I have been working on my new website – perhaps you reached this blog from there. I have given my input into the Hatchett vs Amazon debate (in short: let there be competition!) and every so often I stop to add information to the “AmaZizi: The Dlamini of Southern Africa”  second edition book. I need to visit Goodreads and start following people as well as review more books.

Little steps.

You who read this, however briefly, are part of my story and I am part of yours. I don’t know how you got here, and I’m grateful. Perhaps we can inspire each other to take those little steps – some tedious, some exciting – towards putting the best of ourselves out there to nourish others and be nourished in return.

Hello hello hello!

My name is Alicia Thomas-Woolf. I own a publishing company called ada enup. I write stories, poetry, sing and song-write too. I have been blogging my journey as a South African publishing a book in the US, as well as my musings along the way. I first started blogging on Tumblr and have moved to WordPress to try it out.

I will begin by republishing last year’s blog posts on WordPress, in order, then adding some new pieces.

Below was my very first blog, written 38 weeks ago. Please note how it didn’t contain my name or what I was doing or indeed any useful information at all. It made me laugh, though, so I guess that is something.

A Reason to Blog (posted Jul 30th, 2014)

I have discovered, likely like so many bloggers before me, that blogging is a wonderful tool for procrastination. I should be working now, preparing some short stories for Smashwords, but here I am. Blogging. Dammit.

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