Last Sunday, after an amazing week in Edinburgh, we crashed. We don’t mean a car crash but a crash that will be recognised by everyone who’s ever suffered from a mental illness. One moment you’re euphoric, happier than you’ve ever been, the next you’re locking yourself away, ranting, screaming and sobbing until your eyes swell up and you resemble a hideous creature only found in the depths of Lovecraft’s imagination.
The day before leaving for Edinburgh we’d received 2 rejections. One was for a ghost story set in an asylum and one was our take on The Slender Man. The Slender Man one hurt more because the editor had emailed us asking if we’d be interested in writing a story for the anthology, so for it to then be rejected…it wasn’t just a kick in the teeth, it was being strapped to a rack and having each nerve shredded with a cheese grater. But then we went to Edinburgh and forgot about it. Until we came home and checked sales figures. 1 book in 4 days. And that’s good for us. Amazon don’t like you disclosing sales figures but the likelihood of them reading this blog post are slim, so screw it. They didn’t read the one where we likened them to a protection racket, so we think we’re safe. We sold 5 books in March. April wasn’t much better. We made £160 in our first year of Indie writing and that gets split between us. We probably spend more than that on Red Bull alone. Everything we submit gets rejected. We can go for weeks without selling a single book and we have 4 out there. We’re failing. And we don’t like failing. Especially when we’re failing at the only thing we’ve ever truly loved, the only thing we’ve ever wanted to do. The only thing that dragged us through the dark times and gave us a reason for living when we couldn’t face it any more.
These crashes we call The Darkshines. They’re pretty normal for us and 99% of the time we hide them. No one but us knows when they’ve pounced. After a while you get good at putting on a mask. On Sunday we got sick of fighting them and unleashed that ugliness that dwells inside us. *Note to selves – NEVER let anyone see that inner ugliness. Just because you have to live with it, doesn’t mean others should.* Basically, we spent all of Sunday in tears and seriously considered the possibility of quitting. We know what some people are thinking ‘why don’t you then?’ At least 90% of writing is rejection. Most of time we can deal with it. We shrug, remove the smiley face from the short story list and look for somewhere else to submit. But quitting writing would be like quitting breathing.
So a couple of days later, after the demons were captured and shackled back in the dungeons of our minds, we got productive. Last time this happened, we signed up for library readings. (Considering only friends and family came to the Cathays one, that was a failure. We’ll probably cancel the Roath one.) We set up a website for formatting ebook and print books – Pink Cow Formatting. We can’t make money from writing but we might from formatting; we enlisted our books on Indie Book Bargains and we enrolled Soul Asylum into KDP Select.
We’ve never enrolled our books into KDP Select – Gunning Down Romance and Bad Romance were too cheap. People aren’t going to borrow books that only cost 77p. Mind you, they don’t buy them either. Plus we don’t like the way Amazon forces you to be exclusive to them for three months. So even thinking about it felt like we were selling our souls. But the main incentive was being able to make it free on Amazon. When we’ve done free promos before, Smashwords let us make it free but Amazon won’t. People tell tales of having thousands of downloads when their book was free, propelling them up the Amazon rankings to the coveted #1 slot, regardless of how good their book is. The point is, when it’s up there, people see it. Our books are currently languishing so far down they’re on the Pity Graph. But Amazon wouldn’t play ball with our promo. GDR had 25 downloads in a week of being on Smashwords. That’s terrible. Soul Asylum had 14 on the one day it was free. That’s a little better.
May 22nd is World Goth Day and we thought we could make Soul Asylum free to celebrate. What could be better than spending World Goth Day with a gothic novel in a haunted asylum? But for this to truly work, it had to be free on Amazon. And there’s only one way that will happen.
So from May 20th-24th, Soul Asylum will be FREE. Hell, we can’t sell it, we might as well give it away. Though people don’t usually want our free books either…If you want signed print copies, we still have loads left. Yes we ship worldwide. They make great door stops, coasters, draught excluders and can also be used to brain burglars. Failing that, they’ll keep your fire going in winter.
So come May 20th, we’ll be opening the doors to Ravens Retreat and releasing the ghosts of the patients and staff still trapped inside. If you listen carefully, you might just hear them scream…