My experience with a NetGalley co-op by Patchwork Press

If you’ve seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Websites, then you may have noticed my moaning about the $399 NetGalley signup fee. That’s just so you can give your book away for free to book bloggers and other professionals, in hopes that they will post a review on Amazon or Goodreads. Needless to say, I was in no mood to take that big of a financial hit, until I came across another author mentioning Patchwork Press and the NetGalley co-op service they provide. Basically, instead of paying $399 to list one of your books for six months, you get to try the service for much, much less – in fact, a year-long listing through the co-op would cost only $360. You can try NetGalley for one month for just $50. It sounded too good to be true, but I can spare a fifty, so I was willing to try it.

I listed Shizzle, Inc for one month from late July to August. To simplify things, I’ve decided to break my review into two parts: my experience with Patchwork Press and my opinion of NetGalley.

Patchwork Press:

  1. First of all, the co-op is not a hoax! Yay! Shizzle, Inc was listed on Netgalley as promised (the listing is now archived). The reason you pay less is that (I assume), Patchwork Press (PP) pays a publisher fee and gets to list a large number of titles, at a fraction of a cost for each.
  2. PP has a responsive customer service – all my emails were answered promptly. There was a glitch when Shizzle, Inc was not posted on the day I wanted, but I got a prompt apology and the listing was extended as a bonus.
  3. Great customer service continued throughout, not just until I paid the bill – something was wrong with my epub file, but PP offered to sort it for me. I was given an option to provide a Word file, which they converted.
  4. PP did all the assessments of requests and chose who should or shouldn’t get a copy of my book. You may prefer to have control over this aspect of the service, but I was happy to let them use their experience and judgement.
  5. Every time a review was posted, I got an email from NetGalley asking if I wanted to have it added to the book’s page. I had to forward this email to PP if I wanted the review to be added, and they did so very quickly (in less than a day).
  6. There’s no option to use NetGalley’s marketing services, but I’m about to ask PP if that option exists but is not advertised by them.

NetGalley:

  1. I don’t know how many requests Shizzle, Inc had, but I got 5 reviews in the span of a month – 4 positive and 1 negative.
  2. Turns out that people have the option to vote on the cover. This was an added bonus, as I’ve designed the cover myself and continuously worry if it’s good enough. The cover got 9 “thumbs up” and 1 “thumbs down.”
  3. I can’t weigh in on the marketing option (which is an additional $200 for your book to be included in a newsletter). NetGalley claims to have 30,000 subscribers to the newsletter, so I would imagine it would be a huge difference in the number of reviews.
  4. You may choose not to add the negative reviews to your book listing (as I did). However, you can’t control what gets posted on other platforms, so I got one negative review as a result. Bummer. But I did get four positive reviews, including one after the listing was archived. That’s an average of $10 per review, via an acceptable and perfectly legal platform.

Overall, I would recommend trying a co-op service. Apparently, there are others out there, such as Victory Editing for as little as $40/month. If you know of any others, please let me know!

May the positive reviews be with you.

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Shizzle Inc. Wonderful Screwball Humour

What a wonderful reminder that I should keep on trackin’ – thank you, Roger, for helping me to punch through the writers block. Isa is not done yet!

heroicallybadwriter

shizzle-inc

I read this back at the turn of 2015/16 and belatedly  reviewed on Amazon in May; this matters needs addressing WP, to….so….

I’ll try to avoid doing a review without a dissertation on the nature of Humour, all that needs to be said is that Humour comes in many forms and traditions. That’s it. I’m done.

Now onto Shizzle Inc.

The folk in Shizzle Inc would be familiar in the worlds of Brining Up Baby, Hellzapopin,Soap and its film partner Soapidish. The extraordinary images which spring out are those which beg work by the MAD magazine artists of the 1950s. All is chaos, unlikely twists and turns, comic folk and situations leap out with little warning. Characters who have no business being in our Reality stride the pages with wonderful and improbable invulnerability. The logic which we have thought must be the only sort just withers in the hands and minds of…

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Happy belated birthday to Shizzle, Inc!

With all the recent health drama going on, I completely forgot that on 4 September was the one-year anniversary of Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1) hitting the Kindle “shelves.” My brain is slowly returning to its usual programming after I finally heard the three sweetest words in the English language – “it was benign.” While I’m facing several more weeks of tough recovery – I still can’t stand up straight or walk for more than a few minutes at a time – it’s nothing compared to the agony of anticipation and anxiety.

I’ve been a published author for just over a year. How crazy. I have a bottle of champagne in my fridge, which will pop as soon as I’m off the cocktail of painkillers. Too bad I can’t have a sip right now, because I do have quite a few reasons to celebrate. I transitioned from a decade of dreaming about being a published author to having two books self-published. I took a massive five months off work to pursue this writing dream. I started #ComedyBookWeek and saw the inaugural event soar with 117 participating titles. I have made lots and lots of connections with other authors, have learned from them, and shared my experiences in turn.

Speaking of experiences, few things compare to the joy ride of getting your first book published. The high of seeing it on Amazon. The low of pathetic sales. The high of doing something about the low sales, be that paid advertising or trick after marketing trick. The low of realizing this is one of the worst ROIs you’ve ever had. The high of the first 5-star review. The low of the first (and second, and third) 1-star review. It doesn’t end, and it doesn’t get old, and eventually you learn to accept it for what it is. The learning curve is very steep in that first year, and I have learned lots, namely:

  1. I have improved as a writer as I continued to work on the second novel, so it’s been difficult (but necessary) to let go of the first book and stop trying to fix it. I did hire the fourth (!) editor to clean out Australianisms, but will not worry about it again. I will move on and write more, because Ana’s opus is yet unwritten.
  2. I have learned A TON about marketing a book. From cover design to launching, to which paid advertising sites work, and which don’t. If you haven’t seen my Super-Duper List of Book Advertising Sites, check it now. It may save you a few bucks. I haven’t hit NY Times list yet, but while Shizzle, Inc sold 12 copies in it’s first week, Indiot sold over 100 in the same amount of time.
  3. Speaking of sales, Shizzle, Inc sold a total of about 800 copies in its first 8 months, at $3.99, then $2.99, and finally $0.99. Its permafree now and thousands of free copies have been downloaded (I wish I kept a better eye on the numbers, as I can only look back at the last 90 days). It was hard work to push these sales along – I have not made my money back on all of my paid advertising experiments, and even the free downloads have withered down to nothing over the last few weeks, without ads. Just for fun, here are the last month’s charts: Shizzle, Inc free downloads shizzle-on-12-sept …and Indiot paid sales indiot-on-12-sept
  4. Going permafree was a difficult, but exciting decision, and one I still stand by. No, it’s not helping to pay back the investment, but Shizzle, Inc now has 73 reviews, and I am inching my way towards that elusive BookBub promo. Indiot is not doing too shabby, either, with 12 reviews in its first two months of existence.
  5. Speaking of reviews, I’ve learned to accept them as they are. At first, the 1-star reviews hurt so much that I’d even written A Simple Guide to Overcoming 1-star Review Grief. Now I just make sure that I read those bad reviews only once. The 5-star reviews, however, I read again and again. Kid you not, some of the early positive reviews I’ve read at least twenty times, and will undoubtedly read again. They have been a healing balm and a fuel to keep me going.
  6. I’ve learned that moving a book in a brick-and-mortar store is practically impossible. It was a thrill to see my book on a bookstore shelf and then into the bookstore’s front window, but I sold just two copies that way. From now on, I will concentrate on electronic book sales, until one of the big publishing houses offers to take this chore off my hands.
  7. Social media. Oh, boy, what have I not tried with social media? I went wide, and now there are dead accounts on just about every platform. My main lesson there was not to spread myself thin and to concentrate on just a couple of venues, which are this blog and Twitter for me. I did learn a lot about Goodreads, but Found Instagram and Facebook to be too much of a chore with little return.

This was an intense year, and I could probably go indefinitely with the dot-points, but I think the most important thing is that I’m still here and still kicking, despite now being well aware of the realities of self-publishing. It’s difficult, it’s often discouraging, expensive, time-consuming, and confusing. Good thing that it’s also liberating, empowering, educating, and inspiring. I’ve been a self-published author for one year, which is both a long time and not nearly long enough to count any chickens yet. I like to play this game sometimes, where the future me has something to say in terms of advice or encouragement. I’d like to think that Ana 2020 would thank me for not giving up on this dream the way I gave up on sculpture or breeding rare fish (okay, that one was a doozy).

Happy Birthday, Shizzle, Inc. I’m so glad to have you in my life.

 

 

 

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You’ve got to trust your instincts. And get three quotes.

It was exactly two months and one week ago when I climbed back into bed to ask Josh if he was ready for his life to change. Because at a ripe age of 43 and-a-half, I was pregnant. And that’s without any doctors involved. It was a miracle, and we were both elated; I’d say it was easily the happiest day in my life so far. With the wedding just a few months away, my biggest worry was that I now needed a new dress, one more suitable for a blushing knocked-up bride.

Today I’m in a hospital bed, typing this through a tramadol haze. I have a C-section scar, but no baby – the only thing that had come out was a 9cm (3.5 inches) uterine fibroid that had caused a miscarriage and more grief than I have ever experienced in my life so far. It was like boarding a flight, all giddy and happy, on your way to a new adventure, only to find yourself in a tailspin, with each new test or doctor delivering worse and worse news. I’d like to tell you that I was strong and brave through this ordeal, but it’s not true. When I was referred to an oncologist surgeon, because there was no way to confirm that the bastard is not malignant without cutting it out, I cried all day. When I got myself together enough to get a second opinion only to find out that I will need two surgeries because the bastard created a massive blood supply for itself, I pretty much lost it. There was an episode at home, when I screamed “I can’t do this!” and “Fuck you!” at the walls until I could barely breathe.

My family tried to help. I spoke with a psychologist. I took Valium. I went to work and tried to distract myself with strategic plans, or whatever. Still, I could not get a grip. Part of the reason was that I could not stop beating myself up for not doing something about it earlier. Cause, you see, I knew about the bastard for at least three years, and so did my doctors. It showed up on an ultrasound back then, but it was 4.5cm (2″) and I was told not to worry about it, because they are common, and they could shrink on their own. I did worry about it, because my mother and grandmother had enormous ones that almost killed them, but sighed with relief and put it out of my mind.

It turns out I had a lot of options back then, like laparoscopic surgery, medication, or embolization. I had very few options this time, and they were all bad, sort of comparing rotten apples to rotten oranges. I picked one which seemed to make more sense, took more Valium, and kept putting one foot in front of the other and filling one  form after another, until I finally woke up from general anaesthesia for the second time.

It has now been four days in recovery, and the worst is behind me, I hope. I have also found that grip I was so desperately looking for earlier. As a self-proclaimed Queen of Silver Linings, I found a few even in this miserable shithole of a situation. I managed to fall pregnant naturally, so it could happen again. I found out about the bastard before it grew to a size of a baseball (yes, they can do that) and required a hysterectomy. I didn’t need blood transfusion and the nurses keep commenting on how quickly I’m healing. Josh and I are more in love than ever, and we are still getting married, only a few weeks later than originally planned. I have six weeks of paid sick leave, so I will finish my third novel. I’m alive. I can, actually, do “this” or whatever else life throws at me.

I have also learned a lesson, and this is the one I wanted to share with you: trust your gut and get three quotes  or opinions on anything important. Bathroom remodel? Get three quotes. Manuscript edit? Well, I got about six quotes with sample pages. That persistent pain your doctor dismisses as “normal” and “nothing to worry about”? You get the point. You are the one who cares the most about your body, children, finances, and yes – your book. If you feel that something isn’t right, don’t let others dismiss you. Stand up for yourself. Be a brick wall – not aggressive or angry, just self assured and persistent.

I’d also like thank everyone who’d shown me so much support when I freaked out and asked for prayers on Twitter just minutes before the first surgery. It was amazing to see such an outpouring of support, well wishes, and even people contacting me privately, all worried about what was going on. Sadly, some of my real- life “friends” were not as caring. They will be fired. I needed to make some space for new friends, anyway.

Here’s looking at you, kid.

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Whatever you do, keep going

So, life has served me a curve ball, followed by an uppercut, and then a short left. I will explain later when I’m able to put it in words, but for now, I’d like to share a personal blast from a past with you:

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This is a 12-year old relic of my attempt to become a professional sculptor – note the date in the upper-right corner. The numbers refer to the two miniature sculptures pictured, the one on the left is “-4” because I numbered #1 the first miniature I’d sold on eBay. The one on the right is #22 and once I finished it, it had won an honorable mention in an international doll competition:

22goodfull

The reason I wanted to show you the first photo, was to remind you (and myself) that the most important thing we, creatives, can do is to keep going. With each sculpture or draft, we are getting better and closer to that all-important goal of producing something beautiful, something of value, and something that can make us proud. When I made that “-4”, I thought I was pretty darn clever and good to make something that cute. My sister loved it. I now laugh at that memory. Nobody saw it, thank God, and I continued making more and more miniatures until I became a self-taught pro at making realistic faces that are no larger than your thumbnail. If you don’t believe it, have a look at my Purelines website, which somehow is still up. Yes, those dolls have real eyelashes, and yes, that’s my hand in the photos.

I went on to make more sculptures, with a burning desire to become a portrait sculptor. One of my favourites is of a famous actress I hope you can recognise:

Angelina in clay

I finally gave up when it became too obvious that people did not want to pay for sculptures, or rather to pay for the hundreds of hours it takes to make one. I hope to pick it up again one day when I have more time and less pressure to make a living. Until then, I will write books that don’t sell with the hope of one day becoming so damn good at this writing thing, my new release will become an instant success.

Even if it has to be a #22.

 

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#ComedyBookWeek Banner Design Competition is open!

#ComedyBookWeek

As we are getting ready to open doors for the Winter 2017 #ComedyBookWeek, it’s time to spruce up our image. We were lucky with the last event to have Kirsty McManus, author of Zen Queen, volunteer her time and design skills to create the current banner.

humor_book

By default, this banner is now the first entry in the design competition, winner of which will be judged by you, authors and bloggers. What will the winner receive?

  1. The fame of having designed the new image for an international event;
  2. Exposure during the competition, voting, and a dedicated post announcing the winner, which will be shared on social media to an estimated 500,000 followers (via shared author and blogger networks);
  3. $50USD prize;
  4. Ad banner of their choosing in side panel of this website from the day of award until the close of the next event on 22 January 2017.

Entries for the competition are…

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Quick How-To: get 1,000 Goodreads followers with 5 minutes of effort

Have a gander at these here numbers: I now have 1,020 Goodreads friends!

Ana Goodreads stats

How did I manage this, you ask? Well, about a week ago, I had 200 friends, as a result of a year of giveaways (total of 8, which are also responsible for the staggering 2,424 of my books on people’s to-read shelves) and also because of two months of madness advertising #ComedyBookWeek. Then I discovered something most of you probably already know.

Goodreads lets you connect to your friends on other social platforms  en masse.

So, if you already knew that, then why didn’t you tell me? For those that didn’t, here’s how you can connect to thousands of your Twitter or Facebook friends with a few clicks (assuming you have thousands of Twitter or Facebook friends):

  1. On Goodreads, hover over your picture in the top-right corner. When a menu appears, click on “Friends.”
  2. Find this in the top-right corner of “Friends” page:                                        Ana Goodreads stats
  3. Click on each platform’s icon and send out invites by clicking on “Add Friends” button.

That’s it. Now they all will see your general updates, comments you’ve made in groups, and you can invite them to your groups or events. Like, I dunno, you can invite them to #ComedyBookWeek group. Just sayin’.

You’re welcome.

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#ComedyBookWeek is changing for the better – we need your ideas!

Whew! How’s everyone feeling after that rollecoaster ride? Due to popular demand, #ComedyBookWeek is coming back sooner than originally planned – in January. It will be even better, but…

Source: #ComedyBookWeek is changing for the better – we need your ideas!

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Vote for the best 2016 #ComedyBookWeek Review!

Nominations for the People’s Choice award are in! In the order submitted, the following book blogger reviews were submitted: Books, Books and More Books nominated by Portia Porter because …

Source: Vote for the best 2016 #ComedyBookWeek Review!

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2016 #ComedyBookWeek Blogger Awards

Nominate your favourite review for the People’s Choice award!

#ComedyBookWeek

The event is over and the results are in!

In addition to 117 featured books on this website, an incredible 74 reviews, interviews, guest posts, and Facebook Q&As have taken place on 28 blogs and other platforms across the week and the globe. I’m not sure of all the locations, but it’s a fact that bloggers and authors from the US, Great Britain, Australia, and India have participated. Let’s all take a moment to shake hands and slap each other on the back, as golden confetti drifts down to the sounds of “We are the champions!” (Or whatever music makes you feel like a winner. I will be cranking up DMX’s “X’s gonna give it to ya!”)

On behalf of all the participating authors, I would like to extend a heartfelt thank you to each and every blogger that took the time to read and review our books, cared enough to…

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