Is it January …

… or is it MUD? Anyone?

Seriously … I can’t see because there’s thick goo weighing on my eyes and brain; moving forward is really hard work and I have a distinct sense of needing to fight against a strong downward pull just to stay upright. So: is it mud (maudlin, unwieldy and dark)? Or January?

Despite feeling like I’m walking through sludge, outwardly nothing seems any different. There has been progress – it just doesn’t feel that way. Maybe because it’s been a fortnight of two halves, with most forward movement and arrow-sending having happened in the first week. But that can’t be blamed on January (or mud) because there have just been other things to get done. Still, book-wise this is what has been going on:

– The Chatterbooks event took place on January 10 at Chelsea library. Only two kids (brother and sister) showed up but that was ok because I’d been worried nobody would come. Turns out it’s hard to get bodies through library doors – especially in mud, I mean, January. The library bought 5 books plus one copy sold on the day.

– Had a book reading and “author chat” at a local school for one class of Year 5s. Great fun – and I was blown away by how SMART and engaged the kids were. No mud (sorry, fleas) on them. One boy was close to finishing UMA & IMP and was really enjoying the read, which is encouraging. Left feeling like I’d fluffed my “closing” because I didn’t explicitly say where the book is for sale. It wouldn’t necessarily make a difference but still worth getting into the habit of swapping the Author Hat for the Publisher Hat at some point during a visit.

– Booked a one-day event for World Book Day at a Cambridgeshire school – woohoohoo – and have had great fun dreaming up a theme for the day. Having learnt from the “author chat” event, I’ve broached the subject of book selling ahead of time – once the workshop ideas had been approved with enthusiasm.

– Registered with Skype In The Classroom. Will be speaking to the organiser on Monday re logistics, etc. This is about experience and exposure rather than sales.

– Heard back from the two independent bookshops approached early Jan. No go from both.

– Have started snooping for school Spring and Summer Fairs where I might get a space.

– Contacted a local hospice with a view to getting involved in their summer fundraising event as an author.

– Sadly none of the independent reviews that are in the pipeline have come through as yet. Guess I’m not the only one wading through mud.

– So far this month 9 books have sold. Not Jacqueline Wilson, but pretty good bearing in mind ‘nobody’ knows my book or me.

Written out like that, things sound more ‘flow’ than ‘sludge’ but it’s taken a ridiculous amount of time to write this very short post. So maybe I can’t blame January … ah well, they say mud is cleansing …

Next time (in February!!) I’ll be posting an interview with Krysten Lindsay Hager talking about promoting her indie-published book TRUE COLORS.

Thanks for reading!



New Year’s Dissolution

As someone who is more Stalin than St Nikolas in the personality stakes, the challenge of juggling work, family life and now the many and varied bits of a writing life can prove a particular, well … challenge.

My basic nature is to be organised and compartmentalized. Sound a little rigid? Well, just call me ‘plank’. On top of that, like many writers, I really just want to be left alone to scribble and dream. Add those together and you get an approach to writing that involves carving out and religiously guarding “writing time”, then getting really stressed (and resentful!) when this time is encroached on by something else – and there are always plenty of something else-s, right?

The thing is, by publishing UMA & IMP I’ve opened a door. One that leads onto a long corridor of promotion, school visits and, perhaps most importantly of all – more books. That is, books I’m supposed to WRITE. But how? And when?! There just aren’t enough compartments in my life to fit in a whole new book!

So the compartments have to go. And I’ve come up with my New Year’s Dissolution, which is to melt the boundaries and see everything as a whole. I’m no longer a mother and a writer and a translator and a sister and a friend and a … Nope. I just AM. Sometimes I write, other times I cook, or translate, or … Spot the difference? No?! Well, in my mind’s eye, I see myself sitting at a big wooden table spread with a (non-food) smorgasbord of all the different bits of ‘doing’ in my life. And I see myself calmly taking up separate bits then setting them down – as needed – to move on to something else.

It’s like juggling but without the panic. There’s nothing to keep in the air, there are no balls to drop, it’s all just a continuum of Being sprinkled with various types of Doing. So far it’s working and I feel much less fractured and torn than usual. Let’s see if it holds!

On the subject of Doing, there was almost no book-selling or promoting going on over the Christmas period. After the flurry of launch, a smattering of publicity and all those Christmas fairs, this phase has felt like a strange dead zone. And my Amazon number has tanked to the levels of someone who isn’t selling any books because, well, I’ve shifted only two copies in the last few weeks. Oops. Still, it isn’t all bad news because some excellent reader feedback has filtered through, and a first piece of fan e-mail (from an 8-year-old girl, addressed to Uma and Imp) plus an awesome review posted by the girl’s dad on Goodreads.

And it’s January now … time to start sending out more arrows.

“Stuff” so far this year:

– A phone chat and photo-taking with a local magazine was scheduled then cancelled because of a post-code issue of just not being ‘local’ enough. Ah well.

– Sent a press release to a properly local magazine to see if I can get something in there. Let’s see. Never heard back from the other properly local magazine approached in November.

– First library visit is on Saturday. Need to prepare. Thank you Dawn Finch for your awesome (and, for me, timely!) post on what School (and other) Librarians hope to get from an author visit.

– First class visit on Tuesday. Need to prepare!

– Penciled in a school visit for World Book Day. Fingers crossed Senior Management will approve my fee!

– Did a start-of-year books-sold tally: smidgen over 200 copies flogged between the launch on November 6 and December 31! Awesome.

As I get down to the nitty-gritty of sales and marketing over the long term, this blog is reverting to a bi-weekly affair: hopefully there’ll be news a-plenty to share!

Thanks for reading – and Happy 2015!!


5 Shades of Green

Every (almost every?) author wants the validation of a publishing contract – an affirmation of talent from industry professionals willing to invest in their career. Since starting this self-publishing process one of those niggling, shadow parts has expected me to wake up one fine morning … covered head-to-toe in green, unable to hold back that twisted, Gollum voice any longer: “why not me?”; “I want one too”; “is it too late?”; “what must I do to get one?”. Yep, green with envy at other authors who’ve managed to secure those contracts that seem to be ever more difficult to come by. Bizarrely, the exact opposite has happened. One of the rationalisations I used for self-publishing was a vague awareness that publishers’ investment in authors doesn’t necessarily extend to a marketing/PR input. I told myself that if promotion was going to be left to me anyway then I might as well just get on with the job. But that was a vague awareness. Since going down this road I’ve come across SO MANY more stories of traditionally published authors getting little (or no) sales support. A week ago at a school Christmas fair a lovely YA author and parent bounced up and told me how she had zero marketing support and barely sold any copies of her book at all – then was dumped by her publisher a year in for not making enough sales. Grim. Because despite having three new manuscripts and the support of an outstanding, enthusiastic agent after twelve months of looking she still didn’t have a new publisher. The grass is far from greener on the published side. Another reality check has been this whole Zoella thing … not the fact she used a ghostwriter (how is that new and different from what has been happening for years and years?!) but the fact of once again witnessing that if you have an existing media profile getting a publishing contract is no biggie. A point further confirmed by a friend working in a creative industry where a string of publishing contracts for celebs are currently in negotiation. It’s enough to make any struggling writer who has spent years developing his/her craft turn Hulk green with rage and frustration! More … yesterday, I got round to reading an interview in Publishing Talk with Kit Berry, self-published author of the STONEWYLDE series. Having built up a huge fan-base Berry changed tack and signed with a traditional publisher. The article is a great insight into one self-published author’s marketing strategy … in it she also says: “Having spent so much on acquiring Stonewylde, I’m amazed Gollancz has invested so little in promoting the series.” So are publishers just getting lazy about marketing? Or has marketing become overly difficult and expensive? Personally, I have no doubt that publishers are doing what they can – while simultaneously trying to stay afloat. Publishing margins are tiny. Breaking even on a debut author is very hard. It might seem logical that promoting a book will increase its chances, but it costs bucks to promote a book – bucks that will make it even harder to break even. Conversely, publishers need the big hitters to keep the company going because otherwise they would sink. Or am I being overly naïve and green? As well as cash, good PR and marketing needs creativity. “Author Writes Book!” isn’t exactly an attention-grabbing headline. So every time a book is published (trad or otherwise) to stand out you need some kind of media ‘in’. Or a lot of hard work … which is where, I’m afraid, the author comes in. One of the biggest rationales I hear from authors who have shied away from self-publishing is “I want to spend time writing, not promoting”. Even though I’ve found the process incredibly liberating, in no way would I recommend self-publishing over a trad publishing contract … it’s just that these days anyone who wants to make a living as an author won’t be able to get away from the graft of a large amount of marketing work. Where in the past school visits were an important way for new authors to make ends meet, they are increasingly becoming a key means to getting your book out there, as well as social media – or any other tactic an author can come up with. But you will be expected to come up with something. If there are any trad published authors reading this, thinking ‘oh no, that’s not my experience at all’ – I would LOVE to hear from you!! Because I’m sure there are exceptions – and can think of a couple of books in the last months that seem to have had a lot of publisher instigated PR … In terms of UMA & IMP’s progress, this week I was at two Christmas events and sold a total of 27 books. Even though according to IngramSpark none sold through Amazon, my number did have a big spike so … go figure! Otherwise, the Wimbledon Guardian sent round a photographer to get a pic for an article due to run this week (next??), and I’ve sent out more school visit and review arrows – no hit so far! So, this is my last blog before Christmas as there probably won’t be much happening – but I’ll be back in January. Have a great holiday and best wishes for 2015! Thanks for reading, Larisa

Buzz and Bust

This week I have sold zero copies of UMA & IMP through Amazon. Yep, zero – and that’s not to mention the sorry state of my Number. It’s quite distressing in an overly ambitious, megalomaniac sort of way.

On the other hand, I’ve done two sale/signing events so between those and other ‘flogging’ efforts, a grand total of 47 copies have been sold. And that’s what this week’s blog post is about – the other hand …

… the buzz of getting a Chatterbox reading event at Chelsea library two weeks ago – supported and organized by a super-enthusiastic team of librarians … tempered by the bust of getting less than the tiniest miasma of interest from Battersea library.

… the excitement of getting a mention in the local paper (again a couple of weeks back) … contrasted to the flop of not having any other print publicity success despite getting a few seemingly interested (well, a little bit interested) journalists on the end of the phone.

… the grind of calling, then writing to, numerous schools about the possibility of doing author workshops only to get NO response from ANYONE … balanced by the breakthrough success of scheduling workshops for next term at my daughter’s school.

… the thrill of knowing that a couple of copies of UMA & IMP found a (temporary?) home in my local independent bookshop … followed by the reality check that, at best, they will take a couple of months (!) to sell. Cripes.

… the fantastic opportunity of being able to get into school Christmas fairs to sell the book … juxtaposed against the dawning realisation that Christmas madness has officially descended and this is a terrible time of year to try and approach people about something as tenuously positive as a self-published book by an unknown author who has not even the faintest claim to fame.

And such is life. Good and bad. Positive and negative. The last ten days seem to have been more bust than buzz but hopefully the balance will shift the other way soon too.

Last week I noticed a slow down in my marketing efforts, and this week things have ground to a near halt. The run-up to Christmas isn’t a great time for the stimulation-challenged and I’ve felt myself retreat … because (buzz!) it is a great time of year to hunker down and relish staying snuggled and still on cold, dark nights.

My instinct is to pull back on contacting reviewers, newspapers/magazines, bookshops until January descends. Everyone has their plates full. But all is not lost because I still have a few sale/signing events lined up – four to be exact. Two of those are more about exposure than sales, but I’ll take what I can get!

This week, apart from the sales, I have:

– Put out feelers for some more independent reviews and managed to secure one (yey!).

– Got my Associate membership for the Society of Authors through ( … today. I still need to go through the ‘bumpf’ so that I make the most of it, because at the moment apart from liking the sound of being a member, I’m not too sure what the tangible benefits are.

– Written an Imp interview as ‘guest blogger’ on Victoria Addis’ The Hermit’s Progress. It was fun!

Despite selling a decent amount of books (just call me Zoella!), I’m a little panicked and feeling like I’m not doing enough … saying it will be a long haul seems to be easier than actually being ok with it being a long haul!

Thanks for reading,


A Numbers Game

Apparently EVERYBODY looks at Amazon Sales Numbers … and yet, until three weeks ago I had – somehow – managed to wander through life without ever having heard of them. What ignorance! And how times have changed.

My (traditionally) published brother-in-law, Gregory Murphy, opened my eyes to this magic figure and since then I’ve been following UMA & IMP’s Number with the fervour of a WAG hunting down Hermes’ newest handbag.

Officially called the Amazon Bestseller Rank, the Amazon Number is basically an indicator of how well a book is selling (through Amazon). The lower a number, the more people are buying a book. Writer nirvana is to reach the top 100 …

UMA & IMP’s post-launch Number was incredibly (strangely) high. At one point the book was ranking around 7,500 though that was just for a fleeting moment. The low was around 325,000 and at the moment the book is trolling around 260,000.

But who cares? At least (sorry Greg) that was my thought when I first heard about all this.

But care … because it can matter.

Two weeks post launch I applied for inclusion on a register of authors available for school visits … and was rejected … not for being self-published (as I’d expected) but because my Numbers were too low … grrrr, gnash …

Up until that point, I’d been very happy that most of my book sales had come through either the ImpPrint Books website or direct. Suddenly I was wondering whether it might have been better to encourage everyone to buy through Amazon – even though the revenue margins are, of course, way lower. This storm of madness passed. If someone’s getting the book I’m (more than) happy, regardless of how it’s bought.

And then I realised something else … nobody really understands HOW the Numbers are set. Well, ok, someone must know, but not anyone I’ve spoken to. One sale can bump UMA & IMP’s number from over 200k to 50k but yesterday, randomly, 16 copies sold through Amazon and the Number hardly moved AT ALL.

Ah well. I’ve never been a numbers person, so no change there!

So, apart from number-tracking, this week I have also:

– Got some independent book reviews following the Goodreads giveaway. Two 5* raves and one 3*.

– Had a meeting with my daughter’s school and been signed up as their Writer-in-Residence (unpaid but will give me experience and confidence to approach other schools for paid work).

– Had a moment of publicity glory in my local newspaper

– Had a meeting with a local charity about doing a workshop for local kids. They found me through the newspaper article, so that worked!

– Visited an independent bookshop and was told a gentle ‘no’, though the owner said UMA & IMP’s production quality is very high, so that was good.

– Written to a few more local papers and magazines to see if I can get more print exposure.

– Signed up to do a couple of readings at a Santa’s Grotto for a high end London private members’ club. Not sure how many books will sell, but it’s all worth a go.

– Sold a surprising 30 books. I’m thinking the 16 that went yesterday must be one of my more flush friends getting books for every child they know – ?

Although that sounds like a lot of stuff done, my impression is that I’ve sent out less arrows this last week. Maybe it’s just in the last few days. Still, I’ve got a few book signings/sales coming up now ahead of Christmas so hopefully will shift some copies that way too. The first is tonight – wish me luck!

Thank you for reading,


Microting Strategy

A funny thing happened. At my first book sale/signing event about ten days ago I noticed someone hovering a few feet away from the table. She stepped closer then further away, squinting at the cover. Then she said, “I know your book”, which was about the last thing I was expecting to hear. Actually, I was so surprised the next words out of my mouth were something like, “that’s not possible, it just came out”. Guess the ‘Self-Promotion 101’ didn’t rub off as much as you’d think. Anyway, turns out she is a friend of a friend who had (thank you!) shared news about the book launch on her FB page. The lady now in front of me had seen the post and recognised the cover. We chatted and she bought a copy.

Thinking back later, it dawned on me that this experience was a valuable lesson in sales/marketing. Although my friend had gushed about my book (she read it during the editing stage), this lady hadn’t bought a copy based on recommendation. It was only when she’d seen the book again that she was tempted. Sure, the fact I was standing in front of her, wielding a pen ready for signing, and that we have a mutual friend, will likely have made a difference, but it got me thinking about what makes people actually buy something – as opposed to just thinking about reaching for the wallet.

Exposure, I guess. This isn’t a big reveal but somehow the things subliminally learned about Sales and Marketing suddenly feel very real. People might hear about/see your book (car, film, face cream, whatever) but it’ll only really have an impact when they’ve come across it a few times. Unless they’re actually looking for exactly your product at the time they come across it, presumably.

As the days passed, I started to think more about how I’ve been going about selling my book. Because my personal efforts have been pretty restricted to my bit of South West London. Not as part of a MegaMind master plan but just because it’s what I know and there’s plenty here to keep me busy, if you see what I mean.

The fact is, very few authors (even the traditionally published) are going to have the benefit of a marketing budget big enough to plaster ads about their books on the sides of buses and in newspapers. And with the usually zero-budget of self-published authors, what hope of exposure?

Maybe sticking to a small area is a good way to start. It gives UMA & IMP the best chance of being seen in different contexts by the same people so, in theory at least, the best chance of sale. Maybe?

Now if anyone doesn’t have the answers … that’ll be me. But it sounds like a good theory. And because it’s not proper marketing unless you make up a word, I’m calling it Sales and Microting!

This week, predictably, sales dropped radically down to 16 books. My next event is on November 27 and I’m unlikely to sell many copies until then. I can feel the chill of sales wilderness closing in around me … but this was expected. Apart from spikes that come from the Christmas Fairs, here on out it’s going to be a slooow and looooong process. So, I’ve kept sending out arrows.

This week I’ve:

– Sent off 10 copies to people who ‘won’ the Goodreads giveaway. None of the copies went to people in London so it felt really good to have the book spread its UK wings a little.

– Spoken to two local libraries about doing a reading/author chat. I’m now booked at Chelsea Library for January 10. It’s so great to have something in the diary for post Christmas but I am going to have to promote the event beforehand, ‘cos otherwise I may end up just reading to myself …

– Spoken and written to two local newspapers who seemed open to the idea of running something – let’s see how that pans out in reality. It involved writing my first ever Press Release and it’ll be interesting to see the response (if any).

– Written to a local glossy magazine and another local magazine. They’re a long shot but worth a try.

– Posted Uma’s first blog, also announcing a drawing competition (!blog). Now I just need to spread the word so that kids actually send in drawings!! Deadline isn’t set until January 30, so hopefully there will be time.

– Left four signed copies of UMA & IMP at a local kids’ store. Apparently, books sell better if they are signed – even if you aren’t known. Let’s see.

And that’s where I am so far …

Thanks for reading!


Ghosts and Goals

One week in. It feels incredible to write that out loud. A lot has happened in the last seven days – mostly internal stuff … the ghosts …. waves of feeling completely overwhelmed by this process I’ve started – a process that has triggered memories of past feelings of drowning. The definite impression of having been here before followed by the question: WHY do I take the hard and (mostly) solitary road? I’m saying this as someone who became a single parent pretty much straight after conception. This followed not so much from a choice as from a series of choices. Pretty reminiscent of how I’ve come to be in the self-publishing boat. Because much as the market for debut authors is very tough right now, I totally feel I’ve ‘done this to myself’ by sending out my manuscript too soon – BE WARNED!! ONLY send out your manuscript when it is 100% ready for publication. If you’re not sure then get semi-professional and/or professional advice from either a critique group and/or an editorial consultant. If you’re serious about writing, a one-to-one editorial consultant (I used Bella Pearson) is the best money you will ever spend. It’s probably also a good idea to stay clear of men who say they don’t want to have children (if you do). Ah well.

OK – enough navel-gazing and proselytizing. Moving from the ghosts onto goals, this week has been INCREDIBLE. So far I’ve managed to sell around 100 books, which does include a chunk gone to enthusiastic family members intent on distributing UMA & IMP across the East and West coast of America (thank you!). Even so, more copies have shifted than I could have hoped for. They have variously gone through the website (, Amazon, the book signing, and by order through bookshops (woohoo!). It was a huge buzz to wake up to an email with a four-book order from Nielsen BookNet (even if all I ‘made’ was 6p per book, ha!). Nielsen BookNet is the way booksellers know how to find you in the self-publishing wilderness. You automatically get registered when you set up your ISBN.

The book reading I was due to have on Sunday turned into a simple book signing because it was essentially a fund-raising sale at my daughter’s school and the logistics for a reading were too hard. But it was FUN! A slow stream of people passed my table, some stopping to buy, others stopping for a chat. It was great to speak to people about writing and the book. Better still, our (incredibly committed and enthusiastic) Head Teacher stopped for a natter and also bought five copies of UMA & IMP for the school. Subsequent to this I’ve had a call from the school’s Literacy guru to come and chat about doing some workshops. Also, my daughter has been busy on her own PR campaign, which has resulted in a date to do a reading for her class.

However, my next book sale/signing event isn’t until November 27 so following from the excitement of last Thursday’s launch and getting ‘out there’ on Sunday, I hit a panic. HOW do people sell books? And I don’t just mean people who have self-published, I mean anyone. Obviously it’s about exposure, PR, reviews, word of mouth, numbers … but still, HOW does it happen?

This question once again sent me through ghosts (overwhelm, can’t cope, too much) to goals. There is stuff I can do. Some of it will ‘work’, some of it won’t but it’s about sending out arrows. Lots and lots of them. My goal is to send out at least one arrow a day – something that might lead to something.

So far in the last week I have:

– Done one book signing/sale (above).

– Posted Imp’s first blog.

– Visited two independent bookshops, leaving books in one, Clapham Books. The other bookshop is somewhere I go past when I’m Walking but turned out to not be a good ‘fit’ (mostly travel books, almost no kids and not really paperbacks).

– Sent off a letter and book to Waterstones as part of their submission process for whether or not to stock. This felt a lot like sending off to a publisher. The best outcome at this stage is for them to agree to stock books in stores local to me because that is where my sales focus is.

– Phoned then emailed a bunch of schools about possible author visits. No luck so far (sigh).

– Sent off a letter and book to the SCBWI Spark Award, which is exclusively for self-published books. Again, a bit like sending off to a publisher – long shot.

– Arranged for a couple of independent book reviews. Very scary – hope these aren’t poison arrows.

– Booked two more signings/sales. Astoundingly, one school approached me: not sure how that happened, but guess it’s part of the magic of sending out lots of arrows.

Over the last seven days there has been a definite time-slip. And a passing through a vortex. It’s only been a week since launch but it all feels very different. For better and worse, I’m published and in a new groove. The ghosts will no doubt resurface but for today – I’m sending out arrows.

Thanks for reading !


Houston, We are ‘Go’

What a difference a week makes. Once again in life, I’m shown the difference between knowledge and experience.

I feel like someone who – having struggled up a rocky mountainside towards a distant, cloud-shrouded peak – suddenly breaks through the mist expecting to find the summit … only to discover that the peak still towers miles out of reach. Exhausted, I’m struck by the dawning realisation that I might not have the equipment needed to reach the top.

I’ve always known that self-publishing is a long road and have always seen book launch as the first, baby step towards selling but, wow, having got through the (pretty fun) part of getting UMA & IMP to print and now being faced with the task of getting the book into kids’ hands … it’s very daunting. I feel like one in a million – actually, a billion – self-published authors swimming frantically like a mass of tadpoles in a spring pond. I suspect traditionally published authors may go through a similar experience. Getting published may have been the ‘easy’ bit.

Book launch was surreal. Cycles of euphoria, excitement, dread and a definite sense of ‘OMG, what have I done??’ – as though it was all a sudden, freak accident. Financial limitations (to put it mildly) meant I opted for a ‘virtual’ book launch ( rather than a canapés and champagne version. It was very much about announcing that UMA & IMP is finally out there and available. Most of my friends, and even acquaintances, have had years’ worth of listening to me talking about how badly/well the writing is going. Some of the most important people in my life live overseas in the US, Brazil, Australia and Mexico. Budget aside, a time-and-place book launch was never going to work from that point of view, so going virtual meant I could reach everyone regardless of location and time-zone.

Of course, one of the major points of a book launch is to make a splash in the media. My ‘splash’ has been purely in social media – getting mainstream press interest is a self-publisher’s Holy Grail. Without a certain (large) number of sales in the bag – or excellent contacts – that isn’t on the cards.

So here I am – the morning after …

Looking back, book launch was amazing. Full of enthusiasm and good wishes from people, some of whom I don’t even know, who are now going to be reading UMA & IMP or passing it on to a child. That feels amazing. So far I’ve sold 2 kindle books and something like 54 hard copies. People have pledged to buy more, some by order through bookshops – it’ll be interesting to hear how easy that is!

Looking forward, well, I go back to the word ‘daunting’ … I’ve been saying to people that it’s ‘going to be a long haul’, but that doesn’t really describe how I feel. It’s going to take a lot of hard work to sell even a small amount of books and, like with everything else in life, it’s also going to take some luck. For this to work, somewhere along the line, magic has to step in – someone talking to someone who knows someone … or maybe (hopefully!) one small person talking to another small person who talks to another small person …

In the meantime, I’ve been lucky enough to catch the pre-Christmas wave and have arranged a few book signings in local schools. My first is on Sunday and will include a reading. I don’t know what to expect but am super excited to get out there, eye to eye with kids, sharing my story … which is, after all, what it’s all about!

Thanks for reading!

Larisa Shot 2014-10-02 at 11.49.49

Do My Margins Look Big In This?

If there is one thing that encouraged me to take the plunge into self-publishing then it is POD (print-on-demand). The no (or little) risk involved seemed to make the whole thing a no-brainer … and yet the further I travel down this jolly-old road, the further POD seems to recede into the distance. What happened?

If you read last week’s post (Is There Life Without Amazon), you’ll know that a gloss cover put me off createspace – but I still have IngramSpark, right? Well, yes.

But I’ve also ordered 200 copies through a printer.

From the start I’ve always had the idea of going down the offset digital printing route, but didn’t think it would be this soon. It was more of an ‘if things go well’ kind of option, but there are two things that have encouraged me to pull the plug now. Except it’s only one reason really … just bear with me.

Reason 1: although I have yet to receive a matte cover proof from IngramSpark (don’t ask!) I feel that no matter how much better it looks, a POD book is never going to look like a regular paperback. Maybe the whole point of POD is exactly that – it’s an alternative to traditional publishing rather than a substitute. People who do well through POD not only print in a non-trad way, they also sell through non-trad routes. And yet, here I am, matchstick girl-like gazing through the high street (book)shop window and hoping to get in. I do know getting stocked by Waterstones is a slim hope but (as with the rest) I want to give it my best shot. I could be wrong here but, in my mind, that means having a book that stands out in positive ways (hopefully), rather than in ways that define it as being self-published (size, paper type). Partly it’s a confidence thing. Probably big-partly.

Reason 2: Margins. Waterstones state they are keen to support small, independent publishers and stock through Gardners (the UK’s biggest book distributor). In fact, they have a special ‘programme’ for indie publishers. The process is that you fill out a handy little form to sign up with Gardners, which takes about three weeks, and once that is done you can send your book to Waterstones who will consider stocking it in (probably only some) bookshops. The thing is, your best chance of having your book accepted is to match industry standard retail discounts. That means giving Gardners/Waterstones a 60% discount off the retail price. Six-ty per-cent!!! So, here is the maths: my book retails at £6.99. 60% of 6.99 is (a stonking) £4.19. My POD print costs are around £3, which means … oops! That would put me £0.20 in the red per sale. And that’s not taking into account any delivery costs, which little problem I haven’t even factored in yet. By having 200 copies offset printed, my per book print costs go down to around £2.30, which means a net per book revenue of a stellar £0.50 per (hypothetical!) book sold via Waterstones (not taking into account delivery). Now I haven’t lost sight of the fact that getting into Waterstones is not that likely but, let’s face it, even if that never happens I’m still increasing my per book revenue by £0.70. So long as I sell those 200 copies! And one way or another I always wanted a stash at home to take round to independent bookshops and sell through schools (if possible).

So my two reasons are really only one: getting into high street bookshops. It’s a long shot, but I seem to be giving everything a go …

For anyone interested in the nuts and bolts I found the printer while snooping typesetting info on the back of books’ title pages. Not all, but some will state the printer used. I went with Clays because they are huge and print all my favourite books. They have a dedicated department for independent publishers (doesn’t everyone?) and have proved to be very helpful.

The lead-time for offset printing is something like three weeks … so now I’m waiting for my (200!!) books to arrive. As soon as they are here, I will go for ‘launch’, which should be sometime next week. Finally.

In my next post I will report back on how ‘launch’ went and then will change gear to look at marketing and whatever happens once the book is ‘out there’. By now I’m really looking forward to this next bit!

If you want to be amongst the first to hear about launch then either Friend me on Facebook (Larisa Villar Hauser), like the FB book page (Uma & Imp) or follow Uma & Imp on twitter (Uma_Imp).

Thanks for reading!


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Social Media Muppet WLTM

A year ago I filled out a customer survey and when it came to ticking details about social media membership, I totally flunked out. Although this blog was already up and running I wasn’t on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn or anything else. All part of a pattern when you consider that I was one of the very last people in the world to get a mobile phone (no kidding).

But lately I filled out the same survey – and ticked every social media box going. Have I finally joined the modern world? The jury’s still out, methinks. I’m just not a natural social media type, mostly because I have a very low stimulation threshold. Crowds, lots of noise, too much input make me hyper-ventilate and run for my duvet.

First off, I dipped my toe into social media by joining Twitter, gaily following friends and contacts, scrolling through new tweets in the evenings. But it didn’t take long for my head to explode. I literally couldn’t cope. The only way I managed to stop the very strong urge to shut down the account was by un-following almost everyone. The tally almost a year on? 28 following, 23 followers, 22 tweets. Oh dear.

Facebook works better. It’s gentler. But I’m still rubbish and go days without properly checking the feed. At least when I don’t check in I feel I’m missing something though, which gives me hope that I may, after all, have a social media pulse.

LinkedIn is good too – but I never do anything there, especially not (god forbid) add my latest translation projects or anything sensible.

So where does this leave me when it comes to marketing my book? Well, clueless is the first word that springs to mind …

In a moment of compassion a PR friend of mine put me in touch with his company’s enthusiastic and bright social media guru. We met for coffee and – yes – my head did explode. In principle I was all up for having a Facebook Book page, and getting a Book twitter account. And the idea of writing a book blog was something I’d thought up all by myself and was finding quite appealing. But when I heard that to do it properly I should have started months ago, and that I would have to FB every day and tweet a few times a day, it all got TOO MUCH. So I had another twitter-flip and seriously thought about giving up on social media and just sticking to a nice, safe blog. But that really would be lame – so I’ve decided to just do what I can and take it at my own, somewhat Victorian, pace. If that means my book Twitter account only has 12 followers who hardly ever hear from me, and my Facebook page is mostly about letting people know a new blog is up or I’ve managed to get a book event, then so be it … Apparently you can take a horse to social media but you can’t make it drink.

Still, with book launch only two weeks away, I’ve taken the first, baby, steps and set up a Facebook Book page (Uma & Imp) and a Twitter account (@Uma_Imp). If you are social media literate, please follow! I’ll get onto ‘building my audience’ after I’ve had a lie down …

Thanks for reading,