So far, so bloody brilliant!

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Writer’s Blog: Stardate: 02.06.2013

I’m going on holiday tomorrow. I’m going back to the UK for five weeks. I heard that. Before you say anymore, I’m a teacher. I deserve it. Don’t believe me, try it for yourself, or ask someone you know in the job. Flipping energy-vampires. I’m knackered. And don’t forget I’m an author too. And a dad of a two year old with so much enthusiasm for life he makes Forest Gump look like a couch-potato.

This will be my last blog-post until I return to Istanbul in August. I’m having a break. I’m making that decision now so that I don’t have to suffer the self-imposed pressure to churn out another instalment in my spluttering attempts to be an author of note. (Yeah, I’ve cranked it up. I want to be an author of note now [whatever that means. Some other woolly term to trouble my sleep patterns.] not just an author. One thing that I’ve learned: in this day and age anyone can be an author.)

So this seems like a good and timely opportunity to look back on my first six monthish as a self-publisher. A bit of stock-taking as in taking stock. And please remember: this blog is essentially an on-line diary of my experiences as someone trying to make it as an author (now of note), so a six month review of how things have gone so far doesn’t seem too self-indulgent. If it does to you, you know where the delete button is.

It all started here

In early-December, 2012. I uploaded Rope Enough to Amazon and Smashwords. At the end of that month Making a Killing went up on both and in mid-January of this year Joint Enterprise joined them.

The following figures are only for Amazon UK. (The books just haven’t taken off at all across the pond. Perhaps British police-procedurals aren’t their thing. Perhaps Amazon was kinder to me in the UK by putting my books on some lists to get them noticed.) I’ve already established that I don’t do much self-promotion. Smashwords, as I have blogged, could not hold a cheap tallow taper to Amazon for me. I’m sure Smashwords works better for others.

So, through Amazon UK, Rope Enough has been downloaded over 56,000 times. (Before anyone gets too excited for me, over 55,900 of those were free downloads – list price for the sold copies netted me @35p an ebook. You can laugh.) Making a Killing has been downloaded over 4000 times. (A good number of those were through Amazon’s KDP free days. Not so funny.) Joint Enterprise has been downloaded over 2000 times. None of those were freebies. (Now who’s laughing?)

It’s really worth repeating that if Amazon had not price-matched Rope Enough – The First Romney and Marsh File to free then in all likelihood I would still be getting download figures each month in the tens. To illustrate that, February was a typical month for me for downloads: Rope Enough 8, Making a Killing 4, Joint Enterprise 2. March was a little more encouraging but the figures were influenced by my KDP free lisiting days for Making a Killing, which I had enrolled in KDP Select. After the price matching in April things really started happening. The vast majority of the downloads have come in the last three months.

The cover art cost me £100 a book. And that’s the only financial outlay that I’ve had to make.

I’ve got into blogging, something that I’ve really enjoyed. I’m as fond of my blog as I am any of my books. I tweet, but I’m less enthusiastic about that – too much noise. It’s like whistling in a summer dawn chorus.

I failed to win a place on the CWA Debut Dagger shortlist, something that I’m not embarrassed to admit I really wanted, had set my heart on and truly believed that I had a chance of.

I haven’t been idle. I have not been resting on my Romney and Marsh Files’ laurels. I have three other full length novels that are in various stages of the editing process. I have a hard-drive of ideas. I’m soon going to start the fourth Romney and Marsh.

WordPress stats tell me that my blog has been accessed by people from seventy five different countries, or places on earth that have their own flag. (See image above with a magnifying glass. I did my best.) That is an amazing stat. A great number of those people, I know, have either read a Romney and Marsh File or been scouring the Internet for information (let’s be honest, probably pictures or videos) on ‘Female Ejaculation and Gay Men’, one of my more popular blog-post titles. Were they disappointed? How I laugh every time I see another hit of that gem on the stats.

So what’s been the best thing about this good start that is my foray into self-publishing? People actually. Or more precisely readers. Or more specifically readers of the Romney and Marsh Files who have taken the time and trouble to get in touch and let me know what they think of the books. It hasn’t all been good. But it’s all been valuable and gratefully received. Amazon comments, comments on the blog and private emails. I have been truly bowled over by the number of readers who have contacted me to say something about the books. I’ve had some wonderful, meaningful, and useful exchanges. I’ve learned a lot. I’ve made some virtual friends. (Anyone who actually knows me is going to think that I’m either drunk or dying after reading that. I have more in common with DI Romney’s misanthropic side than I might have previously owned up to.)

If I hadn’t taken the decision to self-publish and be damned my three Romney and Marsh books would be still be skulking in the bottom of my wardrobe, under the bag of odd-socks, and I would have denied myself one of the most truly enjoyable episodes of my life.

Regrets? Not a one. I’m looking forward to the next six months.

Here’s wishing all the Romney and Marsh Files’ readers a great summer. Thank you one and all. (Even you Suzi.)

10 thoughts on “So far, so bloody brilliant!

    • Thanks. I’ve been lucky. I was lucky that when I decided to self-publish I had three books already written. I was lucky that Amazon price-matched me to zero. And I think that I must have ended up on one of Amazon’s lists by great good fortune and got some attention from downloaders. Best of luck to you.

  1. Well done – its great to see that you have no regrets. The line in Joint Enterprise by Grimes came to mind when I was reading this blog post; I refer to his comment about making a small impact on the world that would be recorded for future generations. Final comment, while we may be small in number, you have a reader base, and a fan base, I’m the latter!

    • Thanks, Dan. I’m kicking myself that I didn’t think to put that quote in the blog-post. I’m laughing about it. It’s actually bloody funny. Of all the people, it’s the words of wisdom of DC Grimes that sum up my literary achievement. I am a smudge on the face of Amazon history. Well, maybe not its face. Maybe its backside. Maybe just a blackhead. Gross. Cheers.

  2. Hello Ollie! I’ve just spent a most interesting hour or so reading your blog. I enjoyed your first book very much and am soon to embark on the second.
    All best wishes to you! Ann Stark from Littlestone.
    P.S. Your mater is sitting next to me!!!

    • Hi Ann,
      Lovely to hear from you.
      Is mother really there?! How wonderful. Please could you ask her what happened to the money from the Amazon royalty cheque that I asked her to cash for me. I got her postcard from Spain but there is nothing in my account. (I didn’t even know she had a holiday booked.)
      Glad that you liked the book and found something worth looking at here. My blog means more to me than…is she still there? Never mind.
      Best wishes and please let me know how the second book grabs you. If you hate it, ask mum for a refund.

  3. Congrats on being brave enough to self publish and having faith in your writing and yourself.
    I had been looking for a few new authors as the books I have been reading of late were becoming more and more incredible (as in losing credibility:) ). It seems to me that some authors sign away their lives when they are signed up with a publishing house and ‘told’ they have to write x number of books in a short time. The books start off well and then as each new book is published the writing, characters and plot start falling off the cliff.

    I have read Rope Enough and thoroughly enjoyed it. No loose ends, no ‘in’ jokes, no main character constantly whining and whingeing about their other half or lack of it and endless self analysis and angst. I do agree with what others have said with reference to use of surname for the Julie Carpenter and lack of character for Marsh but then let’s face it in the Inspector Morse novels – if you can get past the author’s self conceit and patronising manner to the readers – Sgt Lewis lacks character and his character only came alive when the novels were televised.
    I have one spelling criticism – the things that pull out of cupboards are called drawers not draws (probably not noticed in the proof reading) and the phrase is “I couldn’t care less” not “I could care less” . Sorry for sounding petty and pedantic but they were niggles albeit minor ones! No, I can’t recall the page or chapter numbers for them either now.

    Looking forward to reading the next two in the Romney and Marsh Files!!

  4. Hi Lynn

    Many thanks for getting in touch.

    I quite understand your remarks about how some authors’ output can seem to deteriorate with the pressure generated by their publishing-house commitments. I’ve had similar thoughts. Not something I have to worry about, of course.

    I’m naturally pleased to see that you enjoyed Rope Enough. There are a few typos in each of the books. Part and parcel of being a self-reliant self-publisher. Maybe you’ve seen me say it here already but it’s always worth mentioning again: one just cannot possibly see all one’s mistakes. I’m compiling a list of errors that readers have been kind enough to point out and I will correct them in a future edit. Many thanks for your suggestions. I’ll locate those no problem.

    To my shame, I have never read a Morse novel. I really should. I enjoyed the TV series very much.

    I fully acknowledge that Marsh’s character was lacking real depth in this first book. On reflection probably all the main characters were. I hope that this is gradually rectified to some extent over the course of the three books, but I freely acknowledge that I have more work to do with all of them.

    If and when you get around to the next in the series, please let me know what you think of it.

    Best wishes and thanks again.

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