A funny and gripping story about a tyrannical alien invasion in a sleepy seaside town.
Chirpy YouTuber Nick and his cynical teenage daughter Natasha have their lives thrown into turmoil one afternoon when the walls inexplicably start swallowing people. Over the next week, more and more are snatched away, until the announcement is made: Earth is under new management. Aliens have taken control and they’re not happy with how humans have been behaving.
The new leaders introduce a series of increasingly oppressive rules. Make a single mistake and you’ll be taken away – to be transformed into an upstanding member of the community.
An upstanding, smiling member of the community with a brain like mashed potato.
As their town, and the world, are thrown into chaos, Nick and Natasha each find their own way to deal with the horror. Nick becomes a YouTube celebrity, convincing the public to behave. Natasha joins a makeshift rebellion working out how to dodge the alien demands. Each wants the best for the other, but they end up on opposing sides in humanity’s most vital and bizarre battle.
Will they ever be united against the real enemy? Will the human race become the docile drones that the aliens want? Or is universal niceness an impossible and undesirable dream?
The above is my blurb for my book, Supernice. I’ve mentioned many times that I hate writing blurb. I spent ages fiddling with it and I’m still not sure, so any feedback on that will help me out.
Also, yesterday, I sent out the last four chapters out to bloggers who wanted to read it and which feels quite momentous. To any of you who’ve been reading it, I’d really like to hear your views or if you have any questions. What did you think of Nick and Natasha? Do you think others would like the book?
My plan is to release it in a week or so on Amazon and Smashwords.
There is lots of information around the internet on self-publishing, but what I found difficult was that all the information seemed to start in the middle, assuming that I already knew what all the programs were, and terms meant. To try and help any of you new to this to avoid the same confusion, here’s a glossary.
Publishing programs and files
Ebooks can be published in a number of different formats, each of which can be used on different ereaders and devices. Other file types here . I’ve just referenced the ones I know.
Mobi – a file used on Kindle ereaders
Epub – a file for kobo ereader and Blackberry
PDF – a type of file often used for other documents, but sometimes requested from reviewers to play on Acrobat.
Kindle – refers to the electronic book reader made by Amazon or the type of file for that reader.
Calibre – a program that can be downloaded for free to convert any of the above files (or a word file) to any other of the above files.
Createspace – the program that can be used on Amazon to create a paperback. Most simply it involves downloading a template and then putting your book into that template and releasing it online. Once up, Createspace is the website you use to check your book, sort out blurb, price etc, and then shows you how many books you’ve sold. You can use this website to make changes also.
KDP – like Createspace, but for ebook publishing. Note: you can use KDP to publish paperbacks, but I have no idea how good that is.
Sellers of ebooks
Kindle Unlimited – a subscription to Amazon ebooks that allows readers to download a few at a time for free. A little like an online library that you pay a monthly fee for.
Kindle Select – you can choose to enrol in Kindle Select. The downside is you can’t use any other publishing platform, like those below. However you can get a higher percentage of the profits of each book you sell (but only if it’s $1.99 or above) People who are paying a subscription to Kindle Unlimited can download it for free, and you are paid for page views.
Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Ibooks, Gardners – I’ve not used these, because I’m enrolled in Kindle Select. There are more publishers, but these are the big ones. You can upload to each one individually, but it’s easier to use a distributor.
Distributor – InGram Spark, Smashwords, D2D. Each of these will distribute your book to multiple platforms, like those listed above.
Categories – a word to broadly describe the book eg ‘Thriller’ or ‘romance’. Used on KDP and Createspace (and no doubt on the various publishing platforms)
Keywords – More detailed words or phrases used to help a reader find the kind of book they’re looking for, can be titles/authors of similar books. Eg ‘Female protagonist’ ‘George Orwell’. When the reader searches for these phrases, your book comes up in the results.
Teasers – short quotes from the book or blurb, with a photo/image background. Used to advertise the book
Blurb – a description of a book’s plot, usually a paragraph or two. Focuses on being catchy, rather than complete.
Synopsis – a more complete explanation of the plot. May or may not include the ending (depends on who is asking). Usually more focused on being clear rather than being catchy.
Video adverts – short videos to promote a book. Often with music, pretty scenery in the background and with quotes or ideas from the book overlaid in text
ARC – author review copy, a copy of the book usually sent out to reviewers/promoters before the book is published.
Blog Tour – a service an author signs up to. The book is sent to various review blogs, who write about it. It is also tweeted about, and plugged on Facebook, Instagram or any other social media platform.
Author spotlight – Attention paid to one author, often with an interview, review, photos of the author. Used for promotion, usually on a review site.
AMS – Amazon Marketing Services. A paid for promotion. The author chooses ‘keywords’ that will lead to their book being inserted into searches by a reader. The author pays a set amount for ‘click’ (every time someone clicks the link to their book) although this doesn’t guarantee a sale.
KDP Rocket – a program you can use to help you get AMS keywords. Since you need a thousand keywords, this program is invaluable.
Click rates/click-through rates – how many times a link to the author’s book is clicked (but not necessarily bought) on a site or in an email.
Countdowns – a promotion whereby a book is cheaper, or free, for a limited time. Mostly an Amazon thing.
Giveaways – a promotion whereby a select number of people get free books and/or other goodies. An Amazon and Goodreads thing.
Kindlepreneur.com – a very helpful set of videos with information about publishing
Beta readers – people paid or unpaid who read through a book specifically to look for flaws, whether grammatical or structural. Like an amateur editor.
Goodreads – a very informative site. Primarily created for readers, but has become a place for self-published authors to discuss the trials and tribulations of getting their book finished and read.
Anything I’ve missed? Let me know, the more information the better.
And if you found this helpful, then please share or reblog!
As promised, here are some further tales of my adventures into self-publishing, I hope you find them useful. I’m pretty atrocious at self-pubbing, I’ve made mistake after mistake, and the different programs and websites I use all clash and crash and do totally nonsense things. I don’t know if that’s just me being hopeless, or it’s a corporate plot, but either way, I’ll list a few of the problems that I’ve had, with solutions that I’ve come up with.
You don’t need them. If you publish a paperback you can get an automatic ISBN generated by Createspace. Ebooks don’t need them at all. And ISBN’s aren’t cheap. I paid £160 for ten (I thought you needed at least two, one for ebook and one for paperback) and ten is cheaper than two. They say you absolutely can’t get a refund, but I hadn’t assigned them, so they refunded me anyway which was much appreciated.
Don’t trust Word. Don’t trust Mobi. Don’t trust Createspace. Don’t trust KDP. Each program will take your careful and consistent formatting and throw it up in the air, letting it fall randomly. Problems I had – pages disappearing (although they reappeared again). Page breaks working in only some formats (in one, the dedication became the first paragraph in the story.) Page numbers being at one height on some pages, then at a totally different height on others (fixed this by making the left and right pages the same). Often I would find that a problem with formatting only occurred on some uploads, so it was possible to just reupload and the issues would go away.
Doing everything the way the programs requested didn’t help at all. You need to check through the book each time, all programs do have facilities for doing this, they are mostly slow, but essential. Once the book is published, download it and CHECK IT AGAIN. TRUST NO ONE.
I set my price in the UK at 99p and my price in the US at 99c. I then went to Amazon.com via their link to check the page and found my book to be at $1.31. Once I’d checked I’d completed everything right, I wrote to Amazon. They wrote a vague confusing email telling me that the extra money was tax. Which: a. Seemed like a lot of tax and b. Didn’t help me put the book at the right price. After checking on Goodreads to see if anyone had the same problem (Goodreads is excellent for solutions like this) I learned that the price probably IS 99c in the US, but costs more when seen from the UK. Then Amazon wrote me another vague confusing email that sort of confirmed this.
Searching the title
When I first put the book up, I could only find it via a direct link. If I searched the title it insisted that I had misspelled ‘Paddling Doomsday’ (wtf? That is a scary paddling pool) and that there was no such thing. I thought it would take a few days to right itself. It still wasn’t showing up after a week, so I wrote to KDP. I got a nice clear email saying they didn’t know what the problem was, but would have it fixed in ten days. When I checked again the next day, the title could be found. So I guess they fixed it.
I had a promotion running from the 7th of June. When I was first planning this, I figured I’d publish the book on the 5th, just to allow for any problems to show up, so I could fix them before the promo started. DON’T DO THIS, A FEW DAYS IS NOT ENOUGH TIME. In the end, I didn’t do this, luckily I published about a week before. Firstly it takes up to 72 hours for an ebook to be available. Then there are all the problems I’ve described above, that each take up to 72 hours to change. The paperback version takes much longer, I think it was another week before that was up, but I reckon that’s ok. The paperback is maybe for people who have an interest in your book specifically.
Uploading the paperback from Createspace to KDP
Ebooks are created in KDP, and paperbacks can be KDP or Createspace. I used Createspace. Once the book was ready, I set the price of the paperback (the minimum is $9.99 wtf? That seems awfully high), then pressed the button to send the book to KDP (you can create a paperback in KDP, but rumour has it, it doesn’t do a great job with paperback formatting). It came up with a little box saying Your book is uploading to KDP and will be ready in a few moments. It said that for a few hours, then I left it running over night, it still said that. I wrote YET ANOTHER message to KDP and they replied asking for a screenshot of the uploading page (although I told them exactly what it said, and it’s their screen, they must know what it looks like). I gave up trying. Anyway, having looked, the paperback is available online, which is the main thing.
Any problems and/or solutions of your own, I’d love to hear them 🙂
This guy knows how to write blurb, just look at him, he BREATHES blurb
Blurb sometimes gets muddled up with teasers, so I’m using the definition that makes sense to me. Blurb is a short, enticing description about your book, up to four hundred words long. It’s not a synopsis. Guides on how to write blurb often have a long list of information to include, such as description of main character, setting, events, all finishing with a question. I disagree with most of that. Although it’s fine as a formula, the description is so ubiquitous that everybody is writing blurbs that look the same. If you have a captive audience (ie people who know your writing and have at least some interest in it) then that’s ok, because those people are paying enough attention to actually read the few paragraphs you’ve written. However, if your blurb is on Amazon, alongside thousands of other blurbs, then it won’t stand out.
My theory (which may prove to be totally wrong) is that blurb only needs to contain one idea that captures something about your book and is interesting enough to draw attention to itself. It shouldn’t misrepresent your book (that will only annoy your readers) but it doesn’t need to capture the whole book either.
I was inspired by this blurb on the back of Before I go to Sleep by SJ Watson
Memories define us.
So what if you lost yours every time you went to sleep?
Your name, your identity, your past, even the people you love – all forgotten overnight.
And the one person you trust may only be telling you half the story.
Welcome to Christine’s life.
I think that’s brilliant. In five short lines it’s got me thinking, I want to know what happens in this story, and it only took a few seconds to take it in.
Then I wrote my blurb for the back of my book and my Amazon page
‘Listen to me. Humanity is in trouble. You know that, right? The wars, the greed, the waste. We’re heading for disaster.
They tell us that’s just the way the world is.
But they’re lying.
I have the truth, and I can teach you the answers to the two most important questions.
Who is really running the world? And why are they doing it so badly?’
Myra, Prophet 2018
I was worried that was too nonspecific, so at the bottom I added the line
Peddling Doomsday is a tense psychological drama about a cult run by a charismatic female leader.
My hope is that the first part will get people’s attention and then the final line will provide enough information for people to decide if they want to read or not.
At the moment I don’t know if this will work or not. We’ll have to see.
What are your thoughts on blurb? Have you written any? Any feedback for mine? What does it take to persuade you to read a book?
Hello fellow blogeezers, I’ve missed you! I haven’t been around for a few weeks because I’ve been up to something.
For the last three weeks I’ve been melting my brain trying to fathom the twisty-turny world of self-publishing and now I’m ready to tell you my secret:
On the 6th of June I’m going to release my new book
It’s the story of a Deirdre who joins a doomsday cult led by the charismatic preacher, Myra. But once inside Deirdre learns that good and evil are not as clear cut as she’d hoped.
I think at least a few of you have or will self-publish, so over the next few months, I’m going to be sharing everything I learn, the mistakes I’ve made (so you can avoid them) and what works and what doesn’t with promotion. It’s a scary process, but people on here and Goodreads and been extremely helpful, so at least we’re all in this together.
I’ll still be posting stories and thoughts, and I still welcome your comments.
If you want to sign up at the side for email updates, then I’ll be using emails to send out additional information that I don’t want to make completely public. Today’s email is going to have the cover reveal. If you do join, I won’t spam you and will keep emails relevant and interesting – if you don’t want to be sent self-publishing emails, then let me know on petra_jacob at outlook dot com and I can put you on a stories-only list.
I’ve also got a lot of catching up to do with all your blogs, so please be patient.