Swallows & Amazon : The super summer of 2012 and what Saffina Desforges did next

They say hindsight is a wonderful thing.

I say:

Who needs hindsight when you have the internet?

These days, I am very careful about what I write. Always. I know several authors/bloggers that have quickly come to regret comments on facebook or twitter or had to backtrack on statements made six months ago on the barely-still industry we have the pleasure of being involved in.

Abraham Lincoln was a wise man indeed when he warned us:

Better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.

No, nowadays, it really is best to listen and learn. What was true yesterday might be ridiculed a week on Friday. Publishing changes quicker than Ussain Bolt running a bend and what you really need is a crystal ball.

That, or cahones as big as shot puts and the nerve to write and publish whatever it is you like – and to hell with the rapidly becoming redundant gatekeepers! ;-)

Speaking of balls of steel, what a summer it’s been eh? For Great Britain especially. We have had a wondrous summer of sport and music; Diamond Jubilee, the Euro’s and the unforgettable Olympic games.

The Paralympics has recently started and in a few days the closing ceremony will lower the curtain on a season that will be remembered by a generation for many, many years to come. I for one am dreading the imminent post-summer hangover that will start as the nights pull in and you watch the last swallow take to the skies for another year…

But panic not! After Summer comes Autumn, which means Halloween.

Halloween gives way to Bonfire/Guy Fawkes night and no sooner have the sparklers fizzled out and the embers died on the bonfires, then the countdown to Christmas begins…

And so we do it all again.

We find ourselves another year older (you have no idea how much dread the thought of my next birthday celebration fills me with! I cannot be forty, I CANNOT be forty) and hopefully, wiser and the seasons continue to change.

It’s been that way always.

What you do with it is another matter.

Since I last posted on this official blog (for a weekly dose of  my hugely popular Banning the Bullsh*t blog, go here) quite a few things have happened, not least, in the publishing industry.

The already-mighty ‘zon joined forces with the weedy-by-comparison (in the digital publishing stakes) Waterstones in a huge one-eighty that left lots of people frantically stuffing their ill-thought words back in their mouths and going back on previously professed declarations of abhorrence for the Kindle (see earlier statement about thinking before you speak/type/tweet) and with more than a smidge of egg on their faces. Still, it will no doubt have a huge impact on digital publishing in the year to come.

Enter the only other (but slightly battle-worn) worthy opponent into the digi-arena to have one last crack at the ‘zon with its patched-up sling-shot.

Barnes & Noble have just announced that the Nook will be gracing our shores come October and not only has it got software giant Microsoft in its corner, but it’s had a make-over too and the new-look-Nook has a trick up its sleeve. A secret move that may just catch Amazon square on the jaw and leave the ref pounding the canvas in a ten-count.

It glows.

Yes. Not only does it have up-to-date eInk technology, but it allows you to do the one thing that the Kindle can’t without performance enhancing asssitance. You can read it in the dark.

B&N aren’t stupid. Rumour has it that they have hand-picked three MONSTER retailers in the UK to help them in the war against Amazon, John Lewis and Argos being their best-equipped allies.

You can read all about it here.

So what does that mean for us mere minions? Well, as writers, it can only be good news, right? What with Kobo allowing us to directly upload to their sites and these two beasts fighting it out for supremecy it only provides more ways for us to get our books in front of readers, wherever they decide to download them from and whatever device they select to read them on.

So everything’s groovy and being a writer now is the best time ever to earn your millions?

No. Not unless you wrote ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ and didn’t tell anybody.

Why? Precisely because of the above.

There are more books than ever before digitally available and more places to get them from, so unless you are already very well-known and have the rights to a massive backlist and want to stick them out there for twenty pence a pop or have a huge publisher with an even bigger marketing budget behind you, you’re gonna have to work harder than ever to get your books noticed. And then some.

So how do we do it?

Sorry, I don’t have a draft ready to stick on (insert your preferred digital platform here but discount others at your peril) entitled ‘A guaranteed best-seller in forty eight hours without paying for reviews or writing mummy-porn or your money back’…all I can tell you is what Saffina Desforges is doing next. The rest, you’ll need the aforementioned crystal ball for… and a big dose of luck!

A few days ago we clinched our very first Amazon.COM category #1 with a book that is totally out of our comfort zone. Soooo un-Saffi’fied that unless you looked closely, you wouldn’t even know it was one of ours.

Anca’s  Story  is no-holds-barred, Young Adult, Historical, literary fiction. If you’re gonna stick a label on it.

Some time back, we were told by an uber-respected agent (not our current agent, I might add) that we couldn’t release anything  that ‘wasn’t a crime thriller’ and we were ‘risking literary suicide’ if we did so.

Anca’s Story has only been out a couple of months and is selling very well thank you, on both sides of the pond and will soon be available on all digital platforms and in paperback on Amazon.

For the next five days in the UK/Europe, you can get Anca’s Story FREE here (UK).

And here for France

And for Germany here.

Just a little thank you to our loyal Brit’/European readers and a final hoorah before we take it out of KDP Select. That is one for another day…

Within the next fortnight, the second book in our Rose Red crime thriller series, ‘Rapunzel’ will be available on Amazon and within the next month, Kobo, Waterstones and iTunes, plus a handful of other retailers. Book One, ‘Snow White’, plus ‘Sugar & Spice’ will also be available in paperback from Amazon in time for Christmas.

Look out on Amazon for the first in our new short story series, Rose Red Rhymes too.

‘Ring-a-ring o’roses’ will be out in October!

See? There is no magic formula. We just keep writing and writing what we think readers want to read.

And we make sure they are in as many places at possible.

Oh, and a couple of other things we have learned along the way and we might have mentioned before:

  • Get a great cover
  • Write an exciting blurb
  • Get your book proof-read. Upload a clean version of your book and if readers find mistakes, correct them and upload a new version until it’s as perfect as can be
  • Keep the price affordable

Other than that, just keep writing!

Write blogs, tweet, write posts on facebook, comment on other blogs.

Write short stories, write under a pseudonym, write local newspaper articles, write guest blogs, write goddam erotica if you’re good at it and you think your readers will like it (your current readers might not, but new readers might, then they might read your other stuff!) hell, write chic-lit or  fantasy if the mood takes you, as long as you’re writing!

Phew! Did I mention that you should be writing?

As we speak, one of our two preferred cover designers is beavering away on some new stuff for our late 2012/2013 releases (you can find links to Athanasios and Jeroen on this blog) and Jeroen has just shown us the fabulous new cover for Book three in the Rose Red Series, ‘Beauty & the beast’.

What do you think to this?

Print

 

Awesome huh?

2013 is hopefully going to be another great year for Saffina Desforges and a very exciting one too!

We can’t reveal too much other than what we have already given away, but we’re going to be putting some new stuff out there that will not be what you’re expecting!

More to follow on The China Town Mysteries, The Dark Halo trilogy and a few other surprises along the way.

So what does all of this mean for the shape of publishing over the coming 12 months? Truth? We don’t know. We don’t have said crystal ball.

There will be a next-big-thing. Shades of Grey will topple at some point, the erotica market will reach saturation point and readers will be looking for something new. No-one can say what that will be. The agents and publishers don’t even know!

But I’ll tell you this for free: If you haven’t got a book out there, it won’t be you.

AND, whatever it is, you can bet your bottom dollar/pound/yen/euro that it’ll have been an ebook first.

So what are you waiting for?

Saffi

Merry Kindle (*or insert the name of any other generic e-reader here) Christmas!

Wow! What a year 2011 has been for digital publishing and the growth of the digital/ebook!

I am not going to start sprouting stats and figures and predicting 2012/2013 growth (Mark does that here), we all know what possibilities 2012 will bring and can pretty much put money on the continued upward trend of digital outpacing paper. No, what I want to talk about is a bit more fun than that.

As a writer, you often have little visions/images/scenes/films running in your head; you all know what I am talking about. We’ve all had that character sashaying their way into your imagination whilst in the middle of Tesco.  My co-writer, Mark, takes it one step further and has full-blown night visits (but that’s a story for another day). Anyway, you get my drift.

If you’re a reader visiting this blog, then you may not know what I mean, but any fiction writer will tell you it’s true. Stories kinda write themselves, characters have a way of introducing themselves to you when you least expect it and taking your book off in a completely different direction, that is why we never plan our novels. It’s also why I LOVE writing. I have never had to sit down and think about a story, cool huh?

But, I digress. Where was I? Oh yes, Kindle Christmas.

Now, it is no secret that most of our 125,000 plus ebook sales in our first year have been through Amazon (and mostly UK), approximately 85% at a rough guess, although we have started to sell very well on Waterstones UK ebook site and currently have two books in the Top 20, but let’s face it, for us, this year, it’s all about the ‘zon. So we are very excited to see what happens over Christmas this year (it is really our first festive period of selling given that we only uploaded ‘Sugar & Spice’ at the end of November 2010 and didn’t do any promotion) when an anticipated 12 million Kindles will find their way to new homes.

 Awww, isn’t she purdy? (of course it’s a girl, she can do more than one thing at once!) ;-)

I have contributed to those sales, I currently have one in my cupboard for my mum for Christmas and when I racked my brains to remember where I had put it the other day, that is when I had my funny little vision.

All over the world, in drawers, attics, under beds, hidden in wardrobes, under trees and even in obscure places like behind the fridge, there are millions upon millions of baby Kindles just waiting to be set free! I can see them squealing and squirming in their little brown boxes, jigging about with excitement, counting down the days until some lucky wife, mother, father, brother, sister or the next door neighbours’ cats’ vet opens that package on Christmas morning!

It’ll be like a scene from Gremlins! As if they multiply when one person plugs them in, another one appears!

Tee hee. Made me laugh. It also frightens the hell out of me!

Will Amazon be prepared for the surge? Will their servers cope? What will happen to sales and the charts? Will there be a boom on other e-reader sites like Kobo etc?

Who knows… I guess we’ll have to wait and see, but one thing is for sure, the ‘zon elves are hard at work as we speak and I hope Ole St Nic had the foresight to tie Amazon into a ‘parts delivered’ deal, cos when most people open their pressies on the 25th, you can bet your life there’ll be a Kindle in there somewhere!

Happy ‘Kindle’ Christmas to all of our readers and fellow writers and publishers. I wonder what we’ll be saying this time next year! ;-)

Saffi

Sugar & Spice hits Number two spot on Waterstone’s chart

They say you shouldn’t brag about your achievements on your blog, or talk about your own books.

Yeah? They also said that the world was flat and that Father Christmas doesn’t exist! They’re not right all of the time you know! ;-)

Well, I’m sorry, but I have never been one for doing as I’m told!

This morning, 10 months after its proper release and after hitting number two in the Amazon UK Kindle paid charts twice and staying in the top 100 for almost 5 months (plus achieving over 130 five star reviews) Sugar & Spice hit the number two spot in Waterstones ebook chart.

Ok, great! That’s nice. But let’s put this thing into perspective:

  • We were told it was too controversial for the British market and that it wouldn’t sell (we just reached 100,000 copies sold since Christmas)
  • We were told it was too long (possibly)
  • We are STILL the ONLY true indie authors to have NEVER been traditionally published and reached the number two spot on Amazon.
  • We are THE biggest selling indie authors in the country with one title
  • We have no agent
  • We have no publisher
  • ‘The Sense of an ending’ by Julian Barnes won the Man Booker prize two days ago and we are still the most searched for on Waterstones
  • We did ALL of this ourselves
FACT!
So forgive me for blowing our own horn, we’re kinda pleased with ourselves! ;-)
Oh, and Snow White is currently at #14 in the very same chart! ;-)
Have a good weekend, we will!
Saffi
  • Buy Part One: JAX – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy Part Two: HADI – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy Part Three: STARR – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy Part Four: CECI – INDIGO KIDS from Amazon

  • Buy ROSE RED CRIME THRILLER BOXED SET FROM AMAZON

  • Buy Sugar & Spice from Amazon

  • Buy the French edition of Sugar & Spice (Paraphilia)

  • Buy Snow White from Amazon

  • Buy Snow White in PRINT from Amazon

  • Buy Rapunzel from Amazon

  • Buy Ring A-Ring O’Roses from Amazon

  • Buy The Night Before Christmas from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story from Amazon

  • Buy Anca’s Story in PRINT from Amazon

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