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Why I’ll Stop Self-Pubbing (at least for now)

I’m lucky enough in my writing journey thus-far to have one book published with digital publisher, Escape Publishing (my debut novel His Brand Of Beautiful); and a novella (The Goodbye Ride) and a second novel (Fairway To Heaven) that I chose to self-publish.
978085799030311.jpgI’m always asked by writing friends, and reader friends about my decisions to opt for self-publishing. Mostly these have been to do with the timing of my books. For The Goodbye Ride, it was written for the June long weekend (the Queen’s Birthday long weekend) and it was ready in May. For Fairway To Heaven, it’s a summer book, written for January/February and I had it ready in December. So the decision for me was about timing. Unfortunately, it takes a long time for a publisher to appraise your book and decide if they will accept or reject or ask you to revise it, and it takes further months from any decision to accept it for publication, before it gets through the process and gets published.

And I’m impatient. Yes, there… I’ve said it. It is so nice having got to the end of the writing process, having bought a customised cover, to actually hit that ‘publish’ button and get your book out there.

Something I like about self-publishing is it removes the awful roller-coaster that is the path to publication. There’s no more ‘will the editor like it, will he/she take it… wait for that email, and wait, and wait some more.’ There’s so much waiting in writing.

And did I tell you I’m impatient?

So, having said all that, here’s my big news.

I’m about to tell you that Escape Publishing, with editor Kate Cuthbert, recently agreed to publish Fairway To Heaven, and this weekend I’ll be signing the Contract to let Escape do exactly that. It means I’ll be removing Fairway from cyberspace, hitting that ‘unpublish’ button that I pressed so happily about 9 months ago, and waiting another possibly six months before Fairway (or it may be called something different at the behest of Escape) again gets launched to the world.

It will have a different cover. It may have a different name. And it may not even be quite the same book, as it will go through another editorial process on the way. But given the lovely Kate responded to me with the words: “It’s great”… I’m hoping any changes will be minimal, captain.
So how did it come to this? Here’s what I can nail it down to.

a) Tax Time. This was the big one. July 2014 gave me a huge eye-opener. I had payment receipts from Amazon US (US Dollars and they have a different reporting year/tax year to Aus). Some of the payments were cheques. It cost me $15 per cheque to bank into an Aussie bank (NAB). The Goodbye Ride is $2.50 (AUS) and I get 35% of that from Amazon so you imagine how many books I have to sell just to pay to bank their cheque! Now at least Amazon pays me direct into my account but it was like pulling teeth to get that to happen. Tax Nightmare! Compared with this the Escape royalty statement that spells out sales and earnings for His Brand Of Beautiful was an absolute breeze.

b) Sales. Yep – that old chestnut. I believe in my book 100% and both Fairway To Heaven and The Goodbye Ride have excellent reviews, not all written by my mother or sister. (In fact, neither my mum nor my sister have ever written me a review. Note to self!) Could the sales be better? (Yes!) What might make the sales better?

c) Marketing. I paid attention to a few social media discussions with book marketers going back a while and they tell me that if reviews are solid, the next thing to look at is the cover. I love both my covers for Fairway To Heaven and The Goodbye Ride, but are they exactly right for the demographic? That’s the question I have to ask, and I’m prepared now to test it with the experts. What about the title? Fairway To Heaven works for me and it just felt right… but does it label the book a sport/golf book? And does that mean prospective buyers are looking at my book and thinking they don’t like golf, so they won’t enjoy the book? Have i missed sales because of either the cover, or the blurb, or the title? Probably. I have enjoyed being able to test promotions, such as the ‘free’ promotions with Amazon Kindle Direct. They are great fun to do because it’s so nice to think how many of your books are flying free off the ‘virtual’ shelves. But at the end of the day you’re giving your work away for free. So where’s the return in that?

d) Costs. I’ve spent about $600 combined on the covers for both my self-pubbed books. I paid $90 to lovely Marion Archer, Marion Making Manuscripts who beta-read Fairway for me – her feedback was gold and she’s worth every cent. I did the editing myself, but I’m an editor by trade. I paid $90 to get Fairway formatted for Kindle and for Smashwords (which feeds to iTunes/Nook/Kobo etc). With The Goodbye Ride I did this myself, but Goodbye Ride was only ever on Kindle. Smashwords is harder to get the formatting right. I didn’t ever spend money on things like Netgalley (I couldn’t afford it), or FB ads. That investment is gone now – I’ll never get it back. But if I stick with the status quo because I’ve sunk money into it, where does that leave me in another year? Still wondering what might have been?
e) Control: Lots of authors say to me: don’t you love being able to control everything? The blurb. The cover. The marketing. The title? They tell me: “I do all this marketing and promotion and my publisher expects that, and my sales are still lousy. So tell me what the publisher actually does for their cut?” Control is good. But remember – if you have all the control and your sales are still lousy… you only have yourself to blame. It’s human nature to find the grass greener on the other side.

f) Quality: I think self-pubbed books can get let down by the mass of badly (or non-existently edited) crap that is out there! It’s easy to get tarnished with the same brush.

I could let things roll along. I could change nothing, and I could continue to feel that my self-pubbed sales could be better, or that I could/should do more to promote them. I also know that having Escape select my book(s) for publication alone will not guarantee me improved, or even ‘good’ sales. They are taking a risk too. The entire business is a risk. My expectations are much different now, a few years along, than when I first got that wonderful ‘call’ that my debut book had been accepted for publication.

There’s no going back. Once I sign that Contract this weekend, Fairway To Heaven leaves my control. Pretty much forever unless sales are so abysmal, Harlequin decide in about 7 years, they don’t want it anymore.

NewFinalFair#2

Meanwhile I’m ‘writing the next book’. It’s a follow up to my debut His Brand Of Beautiful, not with related characters, but with the title, currently: Her Brand Of Bargain and because it’s back to the wine industry/vineyard-set books of both His Brand Of Beautiful and The Goodbye Ride. It has always been in my mind to write this book with view of offering it to Escape.
All this is just my opinion, and it’s only my view… but it’s been a long decision and not taken lightly. I can’t wait to see what Escape come up with for Fairway’s cover and blurb… and it will be fun to see what new readers might make of my book about Jenn and Brayden on a Busselton beach. Meanwhile, they’re waving goodbye, until sometime in the new year.
 
13 Comments

Posted by on September 20, 2014 in e-publishing, Marketing and promotion, News

 

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When Writing Friends Come To Stay: #WeekendAtLilys

 

It’s a weekend worth blogging about! I have writing friends coming for a visit. Two of them, my bestest beta-reading buddies, Jennie Jones and Juanita Kees. (Insert trumpet flourish here).
girls

Jennie Jones, Juanita Kees and Lily Malone at Juanita’s place. December 2013.

Jennie and Juanita both live in Perth, so for them, they face a three-hour road-trip a-la that great movie classic, Thelma & Louise. we’ve been having a bit of fun on the whole Thelma & Louise thing but so far, I still haven’t worked out who gets to sleep with Brad Pitt.
Although… my husband *is* away for the weekend… (No, Lily! Mental slap on wrist!!)
Juanita, Jennie and I last caught up in person before Christmas 2013 at Juanita’s house. Since then, Juanita has released a new book in the Tag Raiders’ series Under Cover Of Dark and moved house; Jennie has become an Australian rural romance writing powerhouse, as well as the driving force behind two writing groups, Australian Rural Romance, and HeartsnWined; and I have published my book: Fairway To Heaven, and I too, have moved house. (Sneak a peek at my writing room here).
So while we talk a lot on Facebook and Twitter and in our emails about HeartsnWined and just the writing life in general, it is rare to find us all able to snare a weekend that works. So I’m tickled as pink as my beanie to have them driving to Margaret River this Saturday to pay me a visit.
I’m planning an afternoon of nature walks, followed by an evening of wine and food (which includes white chocolate tart). I figured it would make them walk faster if I offered the wine after the walk… otherwise, we might never get home!
On Sunday, my 6-year-old (I’m ALMOST SEVEN Mum) has a birthday party to go to. The theme is movie stars and he tells me he wants to go as the snowman from Frozen. So Jennie and Juanita don’t know it yet, but ladies… you shall also be called upon for all those many years of motherly assistance in terms of creating costumes… which is something I completely suck at.
Oh, and while you’re thinking about that, my 4-year-old (I’m ALMOST FIVE Mum) says he wants an outfit as a Chameleon (not for the same party). So put your creative genius-ii to that please JJ & JK!
10615580_354985471319623_7960681465408251641_nNow… for some Thelma & Louise fun, I’m copying this from a post Jennie did on Facebook because it gave me all the warm fuzzies (no, Brad Pitt isn’t even IN this scene!)
If you want to keep up with our Margaret River weekend, you can follow the hashtags: #MargiesWeekend or #WeekendAtLilys on Twitter.
Or follow us:

 

 

 

WHAT MIGHT HAVE BEEN SAID IF THELMA & LOUISE HAD BEEN ON THEIR WAY TO MARGARET RIVER INSTEAD:

Featuring Jennie Jones as THELMA, Juanita Kees as LOUISE and Lily Malone as LILY MALONE.
Setting: Kwinana Freeway, Western Australia
7.30am

Thelma: You awake?
Louise: Guess you could call it that, my eyes are open.
Thelma: I’m awake too. I feel awake.
Louise: Good.
Thelma: I feel really awake. I don’t recall ever feeling this awake. You know? Everything looks different now. You feel like that? You feel like you got something to live for now?
Louise: We’ll be drinking margaritas by the sea, mamacita.
Thelma: You know we could change our names. I’ve always wanted to be a Jennie.
Louise: Wouldn’t say no to being some Juanita – living in a hacienda.
Thelma: I want to get a job, I’ll work at Club Med.
Louise: Yeah, what kind of deal is that cop going to have to come up with to top that?
Thelma: Have to be pretty good.
Louise: Have to be pretty damn good.
Thelma: How about we write a book and kick up some dust?
Louise: What kind?
Thelma: A romance. A road-trip. Three writers.
Louise: Who’s the third?
Thelma: Lily Malone. She lives in Margaret River.
Louise: Shit! That’s where we’re heading.
Thelma: I think she’s baking a clafoutis.
Louise: Well, hell—why didn’t you say? We’ve been idling along at ninety. We’re gonna be late.
Thelma: Floor it!

Don’t get any speeding fines girls… and if you see Brad by the side of the road… let him in, hey? You’ll make him famous.

 

xx

 

 
11 Comments

Posted by on August 21, 2014 in News, Uncategorized

 

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Guest Post: Susanne Bellamy, Lady Of The Rings

My lovely writing friend, Susanne Bellamy, has a new book out this month called Engaging The Enemy. It’s set in Melbourne, and it’s doing great things on the book charts. I’m very pleased to invite Susanne to my blog to talk about her new book, but first, a little education from the Lady Of The Rings.Ring5

 

“Marry me.”

“Will you do me the honour of being my wife?”

“Let’s get hitched.”

No matter the form of the question, it’s a signal that life is about to change for two people. Usually. What is so important about an engagement ring, aside from the evidence of a promise to wed?

It began as braided grass around a woman’s wrist/ankle/waist as a means of ‘marking’ her as her mate’s property. Early Roman women wore an iron ring in the home to denote the wife’s legal acceptance of being owned. Asian sheiks used puzzle rings to track their wives.

Diamond rings appeared in 1477 when Archduke Maximilian of Austria gave one to Mary of Burgundy, flat pieces of diamond in the shape of an ‘M’. But it was the discovery of diamonds in the Cape Colony in South Africa that led directly to the booming industry today.

In 1886, Tiffany & Co. introduced the “Tiffany setting,” a six-prong ring designed to maximize a diamond’s brilliance by raising it up from the band.

Ring1My favourite piece of trivia though, involves Cartier who created the Trinity Ring—intertwined hoops in pink gold (love), white gold (friendship), and yellow gold (fidelity)—for Jean Cocteau to give to his lover, poet Raymond Radiguet. It is still a traditional wedding ring in France. Love, friendship and fidelity—these are the cornerstones of marriage symbolised by the three gold types. Who could ask for anything more?

In the case of my latest release, Engaging the Enemy, the proposal doesn’t happen quite as expected. Matt Mahoney needs Andrea de Villiers to agree to a fake engagement. To give credibility to their ‘engagement’, Matt gives Andie an emerald ring. Reluctantly, she wears it—sometimes. Unable to tell a lie to save herself, Andie finds living this lie more challenging than even she expected. They are enemies but Matt brings out a side of her she never knew existed.

Here’s more about Susanne’s new book, published by Escape Publishing, called Engaging The Enemy.

One building, two would-be owners and a family feud that spans several generations: all relationships have their problems. 

Andrea de Villiers can’t lie to save herself. But when developer, Matt Mahoney, buys the building she and a friend have established as a safe house in the Melbourne CBD, she decides that protecting The Shelter is more important than her aching heart. She will confront Mr Mahoney, and she will emerge victorious. There are no other options.

But Matt has other plans for Andie, and she soon finds herself ensnared in a web of well-meaning lies and benevolent deceit. To protect the building and the families that depend on her, Andie agrees to play the part of Matt’s fiancée, and play it convincingly.

But lies soon bleed into truth, and what was once a deception starts to feel all too real. Can Andie accomplish her goals and protect The Shelter, without losing her heart to the charming Irish developer?

For further reading, try: http://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/the-history-of-engagement-rings/

 

Buy the book:

Escape:

Amazon AUS:

Amazon US:

iBooks:

Google Play:

Kobo:

 
11 Comments

Posted by on August 13, 2014 in Guest Posts

 

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Lily’s new writing room!

I’ve been quiet on the blog, but I’ve had very good reason. You see, we’ve been moving house. Our new house in Margaret River that we’ve been building since November 2013 is now finished… and I LOVE IT!

Because this is a writing blog, not a house-building blog, I won’t go into all the reasons *why* I love it, except to say this is the second house we’ve built from scratch, and if you count a big renovation we did on an 1890s cottage in Hahndorf about 10 years ago, then really it counts as the third time around. One would like to think one improves at the home building caper, just like one hopes to improve on writing… (notice the segue??)

The most wonderful thing about my new house (besides the Eastern Blackbutt floor which is just the best) is my new writing room. Yes! After about 5 years, I have dedicated writing space that is not a couch, nor a chair in a corner, nor the kitchen table, nor a bench outside, nor my lap, nor my bed.

A writing room. With an honest to goodness desk and my laptop.

P1020344Now do not be fooled by the guitar cases in the corner. Those are hubby’s, and from time to time he makes noise along these lines: “It’s not just your writing room you know. It could be my music room too.”

To which I say: “Ha! Fat chance, buster… find your own special space to be creative!”

I even have a view! And it will be a nicer view when I have cleaned the windows. (Or hired a minion to clean the windows).P1020345

And I have plants! Thanks mum!

One day I will also have paintings, and non-white walls. I’m thinking some kind of creative, relaxing green. Any suggestions on what colour I should paint my writing room for maximum recharge and creativity?

P1020346Now, I just have to get writing again! Today is a perfect day. It’s raining and there’s even been thunder, but it is so very still outside, it is magic. It’s like the whole world here (including the frogs in the nearby creek) are all waiting for me to sit down, and just do it!

So I just might!

 
12 Comments

Posted by on July 19, 2014 in News

 

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Procrastination: I’ve hit new heights (or lows)

I won’t be the first writer to wail about procrastination, nor will I be the last… but my procrastination just hit new heights.

I had every good intention of writing for an hour or so this afternoon, as Son Number 1 is at AusKick with his father, and Son Number 2 was quite happily watching a movie after playing with a friend for most of the afternoon.

I fooled myself with the obligatory: before I sit down with the laptop I’ll just check Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads and Amazon, oh, and my email. Twitter for me currently involves checking 4 sites that I take care of; and Amazon means (of course) US and AUS. Then I decided to update Goodreads with the new book I started this morning, ‘Mark of the Dragon Queen’ by Katie W. Stewart.

Lily is a founding member of Hearts n Wined, a group for West Australian authors, and readers who love West Aussie settings in their books.

Lily is a founding member of Hearts n Wined, a group for West Australian authors, and readers who love West Aussie settings in their books.

Then I discovered a bright glittery new logo on Facebook made by our own Jennie Jones to do with Hearts N Wined – the West Australian author and reader group that I’m part of. Jennie has made a gorgeous logo for HnW that I could upload to my page… so I did… and you can see it if you visit the ‘About Lily’ section of this site. Oh stuff that – you can see it if you look right here!!

Then, I learned that another group I’m part of, the very cool and wonderful, www.naughtyninjas.net are planning a mad nudie-streak at the upcoming Romance Writers of Australia Conference… so I had to have a bit of fun tweeting about that.

Then I thought about dinner for a while, but decided it was too early to cook dinner yet, and I really *should* get out the laptop. So out came the laptop. I opened it.  Turned it on. And then thought: I will sweep out the carport.

Because, I mean – that job hasn’t been done in 18 months since we’ve been living in our rental house, and so NOW is the perfect time to sweep it out? Yes?

See. It’s sad isn’t it.

Then, once said sweeping was finished, I had to blog about it.

Which means today’s wordcount… is ZERO! But the carport is very clean. And I do intend to do some writing tonight!

*Sigh*

And now it’s time to cook dinner.

 
8 Comments

Posted by on June 25, 2014 in Procrastination, Uncategorized

 

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Maths and Stats: Kindle Free Promotions

Last week I made a big decision. I took Fairway To Heaven off its Smashwords distribution, which included iTunes & Kobo & Barnes & Noble etc, and put it exclusively with Amazon in its KDP Select program for a 3-month stint. I did it because by far my most sales of my books comes via Amazon, and because I wanted to try the marketing packages that the KDP program offers, specifically the free promotion you can do for up to 5 days during that 3-month period.

There are also ‘Countdown’ offers, but I haven’t tried these yet.NewFinalFair#2

My novella, The Goodbye Ride has previously been free before, and I wrote about the downloads this achieved in a post about a year ago. You can read that here. Given the only time I can tolerate maths seems to be when it relates to book sales, sales rankings, or free downloads, I thought I’d update that post with this weekend’s results.

So, my promotion was from 30/5/2014 to 2/6/2014 (3 days). In total over that period, 8255 people downloaded Fairway To Heaven. This is more than double the downloads of The Goodbye Ride when I first used the ‘free’ option at Amazon last year.

I am having many thoughts about this entire self-publishing caper at the moment, but one thing I do love about it is – you get access to your own statistics, and you can see exactly where the sales are coming from. So here’s the breakdown: amazon.com (7773); amazon.uk (162); amazon.de (50); amazon.fr (1); amazon.esp (6); amazon.it (4); amazon.in (29); amazon.ca (90); amazon.br (4); amazon.au (36).

My biggest surprise, the sales of Fairway To Heaven in the US. 7773!!

My second biggest surprise, the sales in Australia. Seriously! Only 36 Aussies wanted to read a contemporary romance set in Australia? I thought we were the sport-loving country!? I wish I could claim it’s because thousands of Aussies have already bought my book, but (sadly) that wouldn’t be true. Although certainly some have. (Thanks Mum)

Sometimes having this data gives you more and more questions. Why is the Aussie interest not there? Is it the title? (Too golfy). Is it the cover? (Too risque/trying to be too clever?) Maybe Australian readers want their romance covers with a woman on the front, a man on the front, or a woman and man on the front. Or a cat.

See! It does a girl’s head in, and it completely messes with an author’s brain!

My goal in providing Fairway To Heaven for free is to expose more people to my work. If they won’t take a chance on a new author with their hard-earned cash, then hopefully they’ll try my work for free. If they like it, they might tell their friends, or mention it on a forum somewhere, and/or buy my other books.

Until the weekend I had only 4 or 5-star reviews for Fairway To Heaven, most from people I know in the writing community (bless them) – and all of these were wonderfully positive about the book. I’m very proud of Fairway, but it is different for ‘a romance’… and this might be part of my problem. Don’t people say that there’s a formula for romance, and break it at your peril?

By making the book free, I now run the risk of finding opportunistic readers, who clicked my book only because it was free, even if they don’t read romance or have no interest in an Aussie book. It may languish in their Kindles forever unread. It might be read, and loathed, or not finished. (And that too is something they could tell their friends). Double bad whammy.

So there are pros and cons all the way, but I tell you – one thing about doing these type of promotions – it makes the weekend a good fun ride, and it gives a girl some very small numbers to look at on the rankings. And for me, that makes a nice change.

The best I saw it on Amazon.com (US) during the promotion was at No. 35 Free, & No. 2 in ‘sport’. That’s pretty special.

If you picked up Fairway To Heaven over the weekend, thank you for giving my book some of your time. I hope you enjoy it. I’d love you to drop me a line and tell me what you thought: lilymalone@mail.com

Cheers!

 
11 Comments

Posted by on June 3, 2014 in Marketing and promotion

 

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Kindle readers: Fairway To Heaven is free this weekend

It’s a long weekend this weekend in Western Australia where I live. That seemed as good a time as any to make my golf romance, Fairway To Heaven free at Amazon for Kindle. I hope you get the chance to snap it up, and if you enjoy it, please tell your friends.

lily2When Jennifer Gates drives to Sea Breeze Golf Club to kick off date-night with her boyfriend, the last thing she expects is to find Golf-Pro Jack giving one of his lady students a private—and very personal—lesson in bunker-play.
Lucky for Jenn, her best friend gives her the keys to the Culhane family’s beach shack on the white-pepper shores of Western Australia’s Geographe Bay. Jenn hopes a weekend on the coast with her young son will give her the space she needs to rebuild her confidence after Jack’s betrayal.
But she’s not the only person seeking sanctuary by the sea. Brayden Culhane is there too, and Jenn can’t look at Brayden without remembering the tequila-flavoured kiss they shared on the shack steps years ago.
As long-buried feelings are rekindled, and a friendship is renewed, Jenn knows it is more than lazy summer days bringing her mojo back. Romantic sunsets, ice-cold beers and the odd round of golf can only go so far, because this time, trusting Brayden with her heart won’t be enough. Jenn has to learn to trust her body, too.

Buy links:

Amazon US

Amazon AUS

Amazon UK

 
1 Comment

Posted by on May 30, 2014 in Marketing and promotion

 

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