Tag Archives: getting published

And now … this!

It’s a bit of an amazing thing that having spent the last four years or so writing posts on my blog that were, basically, excuses not to write, I’m now having to write posts apologising for not talking about the stuff I normally talk about because I’ve too much writing news to impart. Yeh, here I go again, because this week this happened.

Unlucky Dip Audio Book

Yes people, that is an audiobook cover and Unlucky Dip is now live and available for pre order on Kobo. Swoon!

It’s ready to publish on Findaway Voices too but I haven’t dared press the button yet, just in case. Naturally ACX, an Amazon company, is a whole different kettle of fish.

Gareth and I are both on a bit of a learning curve with this audio gig so when I uploaded the book to Findaway Voices, first, I discovered that there was a problem. An error message popped up informing me that the file was qqwe[ru09025jbm’ ytopqq09t574qyhgwa – or at least whatever it was it said, it made as much sense to me as that does. So I carefully cut and pasted it and sent it to Gareth, who knew exactly what it meant and fixed it.

Kobo, well, clearly everything went without a hitch there because we’d fixed the qqwe[ru09025jbm’ ytopqq09t574qyhgwa problem we discovered at Findaway. So with a little trepidation, I decided I’d submit to ACX which is an Amazon company. I’d forgotten why I deal with Amazon as little as possible. This reminded me. I uploaded all the files and when I tried to click the submit button which is labelled funkily, ‘I’m done’ I discovered it was greyed out and when I hovered over it this illuminating message popped up.

‘cannot submit production because there are issues with the uploaded audio.’


I had a look at the submission guidelines to see if it was anything I’d done. It might be that the name is different. On all outlets the book is called Unlucky Dip but Amazon may want the series title given. This is where the problem will arise, because, if it does, it will not be looking for K’Barthan Series, instead it’ll be looking for K’Barthan Trilogy, because Amazon refuses to change the series name – unlike like every single other site on earth. Thanks for the blistering two star review that invoked, too, Amazon.

I tried to find help but ACX help was about as useful as a chocolate tea pot, thousands and thousands of help pages that tell you nothing and basically tell it to check it your fucking self! Mwahahahrgh! I clicked on their help pages and then on contact to ask their help desk. The link took me to Audible. I tried to contact the Audible help desk and explain. Chat didn’t work just tried to load again and again and asked for my log in details occasionally. Email did nothing either so I clicked on the button that would get them to phone me. A very kind fellow gave me the email address to write to but warned me that ACX help is only open from 12.00 to 9.00pm on Monday through to Thursday. It was Friday.

I emailed them, anyway, and got the standard canned Amazon response that they didn’t like my mail forwarding. So I emailed them again from the ‘right’ address. They replied. Had I published to ACX from Findaway? No. I replied but I had published to Apple, or at least I was going to but I hadn’t actually clicked publish on Findaway yet, in case something went wrong with ACX. Prescient of me eh? That’s as far as we got before 8.00pm.

Despite being officially closed, or maybe that’s the phone line, ACX support have emailed me today as well. Go them. I notice their version of the qqwe[ru09025jbm’ ytopqq09t574qyhgwa problem that we had at Findaway is slightly different. Possibly. So I’ve passed that on to Gareth, who must be doing his nut with all this. Especially as it’s the same as Findaway on the ACX guidelines you download. It’s only different on the help pages you see when you are trying to work out what to do if you have some unspecified error and the boilerplate bit of the support email that says, have you checked this? It’s like querying publishers or agents, they all want the same thing only each one is just that tiny, tiny bit different, and mistakes bar entry!

The little bit I’ve learned about Audiobook publishing so far

What I know about audio could be written on the back of a teaspoon. All I knew was that I wanted to go wide because I want to get my books into libraries if I can, hoping to start that process soon so I’ll let you know how I get on. Here’s what I’ve gathered so far.

You’ll need an ISBN and that means you have to add the record to Nielsen book data here in the UK. I found I needed to do the long form so that I can stipulate that the book is in audio format. (I was only allowed to choose an ebook imprint or a paper imprint so I have emailed them about that but in the meantime, I’ve logged the isbn as an ebook and then chose audio format later on in the form.) Yeh. I know. Counter intuitive or what? Or maybe it’s just me being really dim.

Kobo allows you to upload finished books, direct, but you may have to contact their support and ask them to add the audiobooks tab to your dashboard. I did and they added it swiftly without fuss. Kobo will pay you a 35% royalty for audio books under a certain price and a 45% royalty above it. They distribute to Walmart, Indigo in Canada and something called BOL in the Netherlands.

Findaway pay from 30-50% depending on the model you are using and distribute to over 40 outlets and libraries, including Apple, Audible and Amazon.

ACX accept publications from wide authors, with ready made books, and will pay 25% royalties. They publish to ‘a minimum of’ Audible, Amazon and Apple.

My cunning plan …

Publish to Kobo direct for 40% royalties. Go to ACX for Audible, Amazon and Apple for 25% royalties. Go through Findaway Voices for 40-45% of everything else, including Apple, again, but also libraries.

Knowing that ACX is run by Amazon, I decided that I would only claim the short story on ACX to start with and would see how it went before I committed to using them for everything. If ACX transpires to be as batshit crazy as Amazon, the reduced demands on my time and sanity, from not going direct, may be worth more than the reduced royalty rate in the long run.

  1. ACX does not allow you to opt out of Apple at the ACX end, more on that later.
  2. As I understand it, if you go to ACX through an aggregator you will not be eligible for their bonus system – so if you get someone go sign up to audible to buy your book, you won’t receive a ‘bounty’ unless you’re direct. Likewise, I think it precludes you from tokens to give away free books. This is why a lot of people go to both.
  3. The authors who I ‘spoke’ to have mixed results with the bounty system, some have done really well, some haven’t had a blip.
  4. At the moment, you can publish to Apple through Findaway and ACX at the same time, then you contact Findaway and they will contact Apple who will prioritise your Findaway, higher-royalty-paying listing. However, the support email I received said,‘Findaway distributes to Audible and Amazon through ACX, so if you already distributed you book with them you cannot submit the book through ACX yourself.Duplicate products are prohibited as per our legal contracts and agreements.’Which looks a bit worrying, although it doesn’t mention Apple specifically. I’ll have to double check the contract. I have demurred from pressing the go button at Findaway, anyway so I can deselect Apple if I have to.

So there we are … baby steps but yeh, audio is going to be a thing …


Filed under General Wittering

New stuff, has landed! Woot!

So, I have a new release.

Yep. That caught you by surprise didn’t it? It’s a 10k short and it’s in an anthology of other excellent stories for yes, now, once again, ’tis the time of year for Christmas Lites. In this case, Christmas Lites VIII.

You may or may not remember the story behind this because I shared it last year. Splitter, an author friend from way back, found himself in a women’s refuge, dressed as Father Christmas with a bunch of candy canes in a sack. He was supposed to be arriving at the office party but instead, ended up doing the whole Santa malarky where he was and giving the candy canes to the people staying there.

You may also remember how his boss asked him where he’d been and how she then called him into work the next day where he found she had loaded her car with presents and how the two of them went back to the refuge with them the next day.

It’s a brilliant story, it’s human nature at its absolute best, and now every year, a group of authors join together and release a new Christmas Lites anthology to raise money for a charity which helps domestic violence victims, and which, I believe, was the the charity behind that shelter, the NCADV. It’s all the more poignant to the authors involved, now, since Splitter died of cancer a few years back so as well as the charity element there’s a dimension of doing a kindness in memory of a lovely guy. I am incredibly proud to be involved.

I’ve made a page of links to places where you can buy it. Unfortunately, because of the logistics of getting the money made to the charity, the book is only available on Amazon at the moment.  Hopefully that won’t be too much of a pain in the arse for users of other platforms – I can recommend the Kindle app if you have an Amazon account.

Grab your copy of Christmas Lites VIII here.

On other news, I also have stumbled upon a rather excellent give away.

It’s a Strange World Science Fiction

This giveaway is running from 22nd December through to 22nd January. These are authors who’ve written sci-fi books that are planet-based, you know, either future Earth, parallel Earth or different planets in other universes. If you enjoyed my stuff about K’Barth I think you may find some things you like among these too. At the least it has to be a release from Christmas telly and turkey farts!

You can find the books and have a look at what’s on offer by clicking on the picture or clicking on this lovely link here.

That’s about it from me, I hope you had a wonderful Christmas or, if you don’t do Christmas, I hope you had a wonderful whatever it is you do. Incidentally, did you know that the whole thing in America where they can’t say ‘Christmas’ is actually just something that occurred because Happy Holidays catches it all and shops didn’t have to have loads of labels, cards etc printed to mention all the other celebrations around at the same time. Then, in order to disguise their laziness, they pretended it was altruism and said they were doing it not to offend anyone. So now everyone’s up in arms at the liberals when the origin may well be down to Hallmark trying to save printing costs! Mwahahahrgh a little Christmas-tastic trivia for you. Sadly, I have not been able to fact check it, but I am very much enjoying the idea.

Anyway, happy it, whatever it is you do and all the best for a fabulous 2019. Whatever the New Year brings, here’s hoping it’s good.


Filed under About My Writing, Author Updates, Blimey!, General Wittering

Publishing is dead: Long live… publishing?

What does a publisher do? Is there a point to having one? As a species are publishers dead?

I was just looking at this and even though I’m self published, I agree with pretty much all of it.

So… reading that kind of bears out what I’ve always thought. Ergo that a publisher is something akin to a venture capitalist. They see an idea and they invest. After a number of funding rounds etc, the ‘inventor’ of a product usually ends up with around 10% although I know people who have ended up with about 2%. When a company you started sells for several hundred millions and you get a ‘mere’ two it could be galling, if you looked at it the wrong way. But, in many cases, without the expertise of the Venture Capitalists – sorry I think they call themselves Business Angels these days – that hundreds of millions sale may not happen. Inventors invent something but as I understand it, where they make the money is sharing their know how with, and investing in, like minded individuals afterwards.

So what I’m saying, inarticulately as usual, is, writers have an idea, the publisher is the venture capitalist in that they pour thousands into the venture to get it to the stage where it will start making a return. The writer who has a publisher gets 10% rather than 70% but they will probably get to a break even point quicker than they might otherwise. Well… unless they live on benefits and spend all day every day marketing their work online and elsewhere. The other 60% absorbed by the publisher has probably been spent on design of the book and cover, some marketing, paid reviews in the right places and the kind of contacts and clout that no self published author will have. In short, if you’ve written, something, anything marketable, a publisher is the best bet (or acting the EXACT same way as a publisher – apart from saying no to yourself, obviously).

Unfortunately publishers are not like VCs or BAs, they’re much more cautious about who or what they invest in and there seems to be a lack of creative flair among the big ones. That means a lot of good stuff gets left on the cutting room floor… or the author may have some home life reason that precludes them from writing two books a year – which is what any self respecting publisher will expect (and need).

Those are the people who are going to have to do their own thing and those are the people whose books WILL get written, whatever the article says, and will get published. None of my stuff would ever see the light of day if I had to sell it to a publisher first. That’s partly because I’m bollocks at sales but a big bit is also because I have too much on in my real life to write a book in under 18 months. Even with an advance I couldn’t do that because the sticking points are people who need me, my time and my… well it sounds corny but… love.

So, if publishers could accept China Mieville’s view: “If we try to second guess readers, it’s a fool’s game. Our job is not to give readers what they want, but to make readers want what we give.” it would be great.

Unfortunately a lot of the big ones are trying to second guess what readers want and give it to them. The result is a huge restriction on choice and creativity.

Hang on though! Lots of small publishing houses have appeared in the last few years who are bang in line with Mr Mieville and have stepped into the breach. At this rate the publishing industry will re-invent itself… as it’s old 1960s forward looking, inquisitive, quality driven self.

Let’s hope so.

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Filed under e-publishing, General Wittering, Interesting

The Overnight Success Myth and Other Stories…

I’m not sure why this has come up now but I’ve found myself discussing the hard work aspect of becoming a writer quite a lot over the past week.

Also, with the attitude of some independent authors and the hardening attitude among readers it has caused, I am beginning to wonder whether self publishing is quite such a smart option. It’s definitely right for me at the moment, but long-term smart? I’m not sure.

Run with me on this, eventually the two thoughts will connect.

Reading the results of the Taleist survey of indie authors, I was interested to see that some ludicrously high percentage of independenly published books – about 75 I think – are fantasy. I’m not sure this reflects the number of fantasy writers out there so much as the number of publishers willing to take them on. Certainly there were very few in 2009 when I was looking at the traditional route and of the few prepared to read a fantasy manuscript, even less, would look at a funny one.

However, whichever way you cut it, it means that any fantasy writer who does decide to look for a publisher will have a lot of competition. In regard to my own work, the standard doesn’t worry me, but setting my talent (or lack of it) aside for a moment, there are a lot of aspects, beyond my control, that make someone like me an unattractive prospect to a publisher. So if you’re grappling with the self or pukka publisher question here are four reasons to think about self publishing over and above the usual ones.

If you take a long time to write a book.
Going on my own experience here, the way I see it is this: If I go on sending my work to publishers for long enough the law of probabilities states that it will click with somebody – but with my business hat on, I can’t help wondering about the other criteria. You see if I was a publisher, I’d be looking for more than just talent, I’d be looking for commitment and that’s where I fall down. Big time. I already commit most of my spare time to being a writer and it’s about… er hem… 10 hours a week. I have the odd weekend, too, so I could score a Saturday book signing every now and again but I would probably have to attend with a small boy (four tomorrow).

Looking at the early Pratchett model, I reckon you have to be able to write a decent book every 6 months at the outset to keep up momentum and to keep your readers – not to mention your publisher – interested. It costs a lot of money to publish a book and until you have written a few of them, the Publisher isn’t going to get much back. So, if it takes you longer than 6 months to write one I reckon you have two options. Publish them yourself or stockpile a few manuscripts that are ready to go before you approach a publisher. Think about it from their point of view, if they like your work that’s good but if you’re prolific you will deliver a return for their investment more quickly. That might be the difference between their giving a contract to you or to someone else.

If marketing your book will get in the way of writing the next one.
One of my author friends is doing a book signing somewhere in the UK on all bar 4 weekends this year. That’s seriously impressive. If anyone deserves to be an ‘overnight success’ it’s this guy but that’s the level of commitment it takes. It’s the level of work I would aspire to if my circumstances were different, in fact I’m kind of envious of him. Oh alright, I’m very envious, positively seething, but I digress.

If you do have a publisher, marketing your book is almost more important than when you self publish. How so? Because they have put their faith in you and if you have any scrap of self respect or honour in you, you won’t want to let them down. You will have to be involved in a very hands-on way with selling your book. So there are two things to think about there. First, even if you want to put in that kind of commitment, can you? If you can’t, will you feel bad about letting your publisher – or yourself – down or feel pressured that you’ve found a publisher and shouldn’t waste your opportunity. This is one of the big factors in my decision to self publish. It’s also why I believe I will have to demurr from chasing establishment endorsement for a couple more years.

Do you need to balance the proportion of your time you spend positively?
Getting said ‘no’ to on a semi-professional basis can be soul destroying. You are probably different to me but going on the vast difference between my ability get a job and my ability to actually do one, I should think it will take me well over 100 rejections before I get a reply from anyone – let alone a yes. I might be able to handle that if I send out my applications in batches. However, there’s a catch. Sure, most publishers want the same kind of things but each one wants them presented just differently enough to ensure that a merge file won’t cut the mustard.

Publishers are getting hundreds of letters from people like you and me every day. Jumping through the hoops the way they want you to is very important. Do it wrong and your application will be filed under ‘B’ straight away. So by the time M T McSpacker, here, has checked and re-checked each application, that’s going to be my 10 hours for the week, and probably my 10 hours for the next week, too. What I’m trying to say is that right now, that’s a daunting amount of work to put into a very negative process. Yes, getting politely and repeatedly slapped down – even if the eventual outcome might be positive – is grim. It’s self indulgent and whimpy of me but I just don’t have enough spare time or confidence to use that much of it, that way, at the moment.

Don’t be afraid of getting left behind.
Kind of an about turn after some of the things I’ve been saying but still important. The hardest, hardest thing to do but very important or you’ll burn out and go mental. You have to take this stuff at your own pace. If you aren’t able to achieve something right now, for whatever reason, relax and concentrate on the things you can achieve.

For me, the publisher question will not go away. It’s good to have the endorsement of a gatekeeper and it’s good for your confidence as a writer. I believe in my stuff or I wouldn’t ever have found the balls to publish it myself. However, I see a little gap in my confidence, a tiny doubt, that will never go away without establishment endorsement. And I see the headway I make trying to get it into brick and mortar bookshops. And I think. Ah.

Hopefully, anyone who does the self publishing thing properly, me included, is going to learn things in the process. Things that may well increase their marketability to a publisher. After all, if you can show some empathy with their viewpoint and the challenges they face, it’s got to help. Maybe, if I understand a bit more about what publishing is about it will make up for the lack of time I have for both writing and marketing.

So, I’ve set myself a realistic target. When the next Writer’s and Artist’s Yearbook comes out (2013). Then, if the publishing world is still the way it is now and if my world contains more time, I will spend one day a week on getting a publisher. And I will write to every British Fantasy publisher in that ruddy book until I can bludgeon one of them into saying yes to me.

Until then? Well, I’ll ignore it and hope it’ll go away. I never said I was brave did I?

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Filed under About My Writing, Finding a publisher, General Wittering


I’ve had a bit of a pip tonight.

My first freebie short story, Is This Heaven? has had 108 downloads on Smashwords and is linked in two other writer’s profiles. It’s had about 350 hits on Freado/bookbuzr and Scribd but I’m not so sure of the accuracy of their stats… but I digress…

My point is, I put the second short story – Bog Man – onto Smashwords at about 6.00pm last night.  I hoped to get a few hits, I thought that if I did it would mean that the people who’d downloaded Is This Heaven liked it and had been waiting for the second one.  Well, by the end of the evening 75 people had downloaded it, by 6.00pm today, 86 people had downloaded it, even better, two of them were new readers who liked it so much they downloaded Is This Heaven, too… 7 Smashwords authors have linked to Bog Man in the first 24 hours, too.

Mmm (says a very smug M T). Isn’t that a pip?

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Filed under About My Writing, Blimey!, e-publishing, Encouragement