The Price Isn’t Right

We were going to do a blog post about how it feels to be published novelists, now Soul Asylum’s been out a week, but something else has cropped up, so we’ll just sum up the feelings now. Nothing’s changed. The paper spread hasn’t increased sales AT ALL and we were in two papers with a combined circulation of 50,000 and online. So that hasn’t worked. We’ve had fun doing a mini blog tour that stretched from England to America to Spain. You can read them all in our shiny new section, Visiting Times. Has our life changed? Not at all. Have we been stopped in Tescos? No. We usually are – old ladies love us and always stop us to tell us how fantastic we look ūüėÄ Have we been given star treatment? No. In fact, we received rather shoddy treatment in Cardiff Library by one member of staff who felt the¬†genealogy¬†she was helping a woman with, was more important than helping us. She didn’t even ask us what we wanted and we were standing in front of her for a good few minutes. At one point, she looked up then went back to her project. We were brought up not to interrupt, so we waited. In the end, a guy from another desk at the other end of the floor, saw us and came to help. All we wanted was some newspapers which were only four feet away from the woman. It wouldn’t have taken much for her to get up, fetch the papers and hand them to us. Then when we had the nerve to ask for another one, she made us wait then summoned the guy to fetch it for us. Thank god she wasn’t wearing a ‘happy to help’ badge, or we could’ve sued her under the Trades Description Act.

On to the real topic – Createspace. On Thursday, we received our proof print copy of Disenchanted. We were so excited, we immediately photographed it and texted it to our lovely cover artist, Lizzie Rose. We couldn’t stop hugging it all day. We read it to check for mistakes then approved the proof. But our issue is with the pricing. Createspace tell you the least you’re allowed to sell it for, which for Disenchanted was ¬£4 odd then they calculate your¬†royalties¬†depending on the price you set – the list price. If you sell directly through the Createspace store, they only take a 20% cut off your list price. Amazon takes 40%. If you opt for Extended Distribution, which is some bookshops and libraries in the USA, they take 60% and you have to pay $25/¬£15 for the¬†privilege. We opted out. Especially after the¬†announcement¬†that Barnes and Noble won’t stock books by Amazon and we would’ve only received 8 cents. We’ve set the price for ¬£5.99, which is higher than we wanted to charge, but it only gives us a royalty of 60p per copy. We weren’t too bothered, as we figured if we were with a traditional publisher, that’s the price it would be in bookshops and that’s the royalty we’d receive.

The problem is Soul Asylum. In bookshops, novels are ¬£7.99. However, Createspace say the least we can sell it for is ¬£7.77. Setting the price for ¬£7.99 earns us the princely sum of 13p per copy. That’s not even 10%. Quite frankly, it’s insulting. However to get a¬†royalty¬†of 73p per copy, we’d have to set the price at ¬£8.99. Which is higher than you’d pay in a bookshop. We don’t feel comfortable about charging this much.

Createspace work out your royalties like this: list price – cost to produce book + their share = your royalties. Their share includes a fixed charge + a price per page charge, which varies according to book size. Obviously they have to make money too, but really, where’s the harm in splitting it as list price – cost to produce book then split the remainder 50/50? After all, we’re the ones who’ve done all the work. They’ve done nothing except provide the templates. Ryan and Lizzie have done the covers and we’ve typeset the interior. Soul Asylum’s was a pain. They only provide you with ten chapters. Soul Asylum has 50. So it screwed up all the page numbers and took us hours to correct it. We deserve more than 13p for that stress alone.

But we have a way around this. Most of our readers/Facebook & Twitter friends are in America and several have said they want signed copies. ¬†So we’ve ordered a batch of Disenchanted that we can sign and ship over. As authors, if we buy direct from Createspace, we only pay the cost of producing the book, plus shipping fees. The more you order, the cheaper per copy it is to ship. So we figured if we do this then sell the books ourselves, we can then sell it cheaper than the list price, yet earn more than the royalty we’d receive from Createspace. Is this making sense? Also the bigger royalties are in ebooks, providing you set your price above $2.99 then you earn 70%. There’s no reason why Createspace can’t do this. After all, we’re basically just using them to print the books and sell them on Amazon.

So do we set Soul Asylum at ¬£7.99 to gain readers, yet only earn 13p? Or do we overcharge at ¬£8.99 to earn 73p? If the jump in royalties wasn’t so great, we’d happily set it at ¬£7.99. But it’s a hell of a leap. After all, as much as we love writing, we want to make a living from it. Yet we also want readers. We think we’re going to have to go with pricing it at ¬£7.99. We don’t want to apologise to our buyers¬†for pricing it higher than a bookshop would. We can make up the difference by selling the books ourselves. As for making a living…does anyone need seating arrangements for meetings? We also do buffets, parties and funerals.

Edge of Insanity

Today will be our last day of being unpublished novelists. Soul Asylum will be released tomorrow and from that point on, we’ll be able to call ourselves published novelists. It’s been our dream for years and it still doesn’t seem real. Usually, when most people dream of having their debut novel published, they imagine that phonecall or email from a publisher, telling them how much they loved it, that they want to sign it. Fast forward 18 months/2 years and the book is finally on the shelves of bookshops. We’re not going to lie – this was our vision too.

But this isn’t how it’s going to be for us, because when we had that dream, we weren’t indie authors. We are now and we wouldn’t have it any other way. Yes there’s never going to be that phonecall/email and we won’t see our novel in shops, unless we want to risk making a loss, but we’ve done it our way – we’ve chosen our gorgeous cover (thanks Fireclaw Films) and we’ve been able to commission our wonderful trailer (thanks Fireclaw Films) check it out here – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qKUWT7rr_FU¬†and we’ve been able to choose our own release date.

C L Raven, Soul AsylumWe also have exciting news – we’re in the Wales on Sunday today! Don’t panic, if you’re not in Wales, or the shops are shut, the article is also online – http://www.walesonline.co.uk/cardiffonline/cardiff-news/2012/09/30/spooky-sisters-cathryn-and-linsey-davies-release-their-debut-horror-story-91466-31933312/yes, the snake IS real, he’s our beautiful corn snake, Charlie. Who is camera shy and a little stroppy because he was dragged out of bed for a photo shoot. His words were ‘Naomi Campbell wouldn’t put up with this, why should I?’ We appeased him by telling him she’d never be as beautiful, talented or special as him. Snakes – so sensitive!

So don’t forget – Soul Asylum is out tomorrow in ebook format and out in print…when it comes. We’ll let you know.

Printing Press

We’d like to be bringing you news of another ghost hunting adventure, but season one of Calamityville Horror has ended and we’ve been forced to take a break. So instead of going ghost hunting on the weekend, we went to a hen party. We were more scared of that than being locked in the punishment cell with an executed prisoner. Luckily we passed our challenges and cheated our way out of doing any forfeits.

Anyhoo, for lack of interesting news, we’re bringing you…news. We’ve decided we’re definitely bringing Soul Asylum out in paperback. For years we’ve dreamed of holding our own novel and let’s face it, this is the only way that’s going to happen. We’re not going to get picked up by the Big Six, we’ll never make it onto the bestsellers lists and we’ll never break into the top 10,ooo ranking on Amazon. But by going solo, we WILL hold our own novel. Hold, stroke and if the mood takes us, kiss it.

We’ve been reading a great blog post by Sean & Dan Campbell, the guys behind 90 Days Novel¬†http://www.90daysnovel.com/2012/07/pod-v-offset-createspace-v-lightning.html¬†and they’ve convinced us to go with CreateSpace. At the moment we’re stumbling blindly through the labyrinth of information and trying not to fall into an oubilette of despair, but we’ve got until October to figure this stuff out. We’re not going with CreateSpace’s cover packages, not when we’ve spent so long designing our own. Yes, there’s that control freak streak again, but this is our novel and we want it done our way. And we don’t want to have to pay for it. One, because we’re skinflints and two, we won’t make the money back. We probably won’t even make back the money we’ve spent on editing, so we want to keep this as affordable as possible. ¬†So if you follow us on Twitter, you can expect a whole load of tweets ranting about our inability to work with Photoshop – much like the rants we posted about GIMP. There will probably be several meltdowns, threats of murderous rampages and us rocking in the corner, muttering about typesetting.

But like with our ghost hunting, the journey, however fraught, is sometimes more interesting than the destination.

Valentine’s Slay

We’ve been so caught up in all things ebook we’ve forgotten to blog. Yes, we are that unprofessional ūüėÄ We’ve spent so long reading up on formatting and e self publishing that our brains have reached full capacity and are now on standby preparing to hibernate. They’re also divorcing us for cruel and unusual punishment. We’re not going to contest it. We’ll just go our separate ways and look back on our fond memories of the past 28 years. *Tumbleweed blows past* They’re so full we haven’t slept properly for days and are now purely powered by Red Bull. If you put your ear against our veins, you can hear them fizzing.

We’ve discarded the idea of releasing Death’s Cold Kiss and hit upon another idea. Releasing a trilogy of bloody Valentine’s tales on Valentine’s Day. Which gives us a month. We work better when there’s a deadline because it stops us wandering off and getting distracted by shiny things. Anyhoo, the trilogy will be made up of Til Death Us Do Part (previously published in Dark Fire’s ezine), The Black Kiss, (previously published on Draven Ames’ blog) and a new story, Kiss of Death. We’ve redrafted Til Death Us Do Part and¬†added 500 words to The Black Kiss but because their original versions are available to read for free, we’re going to price the whole trilogy at 99 cents (Smashwords are American so we presume we’ll have to price it for the American market). We feel it would be unfair to price it higher for that reason.

And we are so close to being done the tingles have started. And that’s not because we’ve only had one small Red Bull this morning. The Black Kiss is polished so much we can see our faces in it *shrieking and running behind the settee.* Til Death Us Do Part needs to be printed and checked for hidden errors and Kiss of Death is being redrafted and redrafted and redrafted and having its ending changed. We’ve done the copyright notice, the licencing agreement, the acknowledgements page, the author page and the table of contents. Just got to put everything together and format it. Our mate Ryan mocked up a cover for us last night and it looks fantastic! He’s doing another version today. At least he said he is. If he hasn’t…*fetching jump leads and car battery* we know where he lives ūüėČ And today we’re going to start working on our book trailer. We’re currently downloading images of hearts from Morguefile. Though most of the hearts are all lovely and Valentiney. We want images of wounded hearts, burning hearts, the type of hearts that will never feature on Valentine’s card because the image of a shattered, bloody heart just doesn’t say ‘I love you’ in a commercially acceptable way.

Just got to find creepy copyright free music for the trailer. This is so scary. It’s so different from print publication in anthologies or magazines. Once they’re published our involvement is over, except for some promotion. We don’t get feedback on it. But this is all us. If the format’s wrong, that’s our fault. If people hate the stories, that’s down to us. If it fails it’s because we haven’t worked hard enough at promoting it. We’re preparing ourselves for bad reviews. There will be bad reviews, our writing isn’t to everyone’s tastes. It kinda feels like standing in front of a giant target on a shooting range and waiting for hotty soldiers to pull the trigger. Mmmm, hotty soldiers. If it all goes horribly wrong, we’ll go and live in a cave. And you’ve never heard of C L Raven. Then if anyone asks about us, shrug, mumble, look really embarrassed and create such an air of awkwardness they’ll stop asking. At least, that’s how we do it ūüėČ