Tag Archives: indie publishing

Dear Author reviewed Jade Yeo!

The-Perilous-Life-of-Jade-Yeo-by-Zen-Cho--187x300I’ve already done some bouncing about this on Twitter, but look at that! Dear Author reviewed The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo, and liked it! :D I am profoundly chuffed, and am making this post primarily so I can reblog the cover with RECOMMENDS on it and coo over it forever.

I emailed them ages ago when the ebook was first out, but since I didn’t hear back from them I figured they weren’t interested and forgot about it. So I was astonished to see a pingback from Dear Author in my emails when I was going home from work on Friday.

I dithered a little over whether I should read the review, out of a vague feeling that maybe it would be more polite not to? Maybe I would read it and it would hurt my feelings? (I realised this was unlikely given the link said it was an A minus review, but what can I say.) But of course I succumbed to temptation and read it!

A couple of points:

(1) In case it interests people to know how much difference something like this makes — I noticed after the review was posted that I’d made a couple of new sales on Smashwords, was pleased, and went on with my day. It’s just occurred to me to check Amazon, and there have been around 50 sales. To give context, there were all of 2 sales last month.

Keep in mind that this is a story that is free to read on my website, and the review says so. What this says to me is that you can trust readers to pay for books if they feel they’re gonna get some kind of value and the pricing is reasonable. I believe that readers on the whole want to do right by authors, and all authors/publishers need to do is make that possible — ensure the conditions that enable readers to do what comes natural.

(On a tangent, when I wrote that I felt horribly tempted to tweak the above sentence to make it clear that of course I do not count as an author. Impostor syndrome, my old friend!)

(2) The only thing I would take issue with in that review is the “infidelity” tag. I kind of get it, because I can see that as a reader you might decide that non-monogamy in a romance is not your bag, and you want to avoid that. That is fine, of course. But polyamory is not infidelity. Jade’s Romantic Interest #1 is not unfaithful to his wife in making advances to Jade, because his wife is down with it — he is acting in accordance with their understanding. It is possible to be unfaithful in a polyamorous relationship, but Hardie isn’t.

Anyway, I just wanted to say that! This all reminds me that recently I decided I wanted to write a sequel to Jade, and hopefully I will do that, and self-publish that too. (I want to do a series about Jade’s daughter and grand-daughter and maybe great-granddaughter even, if the dates work.) But this is all for the future. For now, I must focus on my book!

On a nice review of Jade Yeo

Coffeeandink very kindly sent me the link to this nice review of The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo by Aishwarya Subramaniam, and I wanted to say something about it. A bit awkward linking to reviews of your own things, but I wanted to flag it because it is such an enormous pleasure to — um — it is going to sound pompous to say “find readers who get what I am trying to do”, but I can’t think of a better way of saying it. It’s not like Jade is very hard to get like that, that’s not what I mean. It’s just that it’s nice when people who know and love exactly the sources you’re riffing off of — and who have similarly conflicted feelings about those sources — think you pulled it off.

For many of us who grew up on a steady diet of very light ‘English’ fluff, the lack of non-white people is something we very carefully do not think about — I’d rather not know what P.G. Wodehouse or Georgette Heyer would make of someone like me. But with this novella, Cho writes us into the period in ways that are politically astute, affirmative, and above all joyous.

*fists of determination* I shall keep trying my best!

Jade Yeo free again

Just a brief note that my historical romance novella The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo is now available again on my website, and can be read for free online at the following link: The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo. I private-locked the posts on my website and took the ebook off Smashwords while Jade was enrolled in the KDP Select programme (I enrolled it so I could make it free on Amazon, as I explained in this post).

I have no complaint with KDP Select in respect of sales (one person borrowed the ebook! That was exciting). But it was always my intention that the story should be free to read online as well as available for purchase as an ebook, and the KDP Select terms don’t allow for that. Also I am opposed to monopolies and like myself to be able to buy EPUBs of ebooks I want to read, so here we are again.

Malaysian science fiction and fantasy in English

Edited to add: From March 2015, this list will no longer be updated. Please check out the Malaysian SFF Directory instead for up-to-date details of the Malaysian SFF scene.

Following a Twitter exchange I drew up a list of all the Malaysian SFF writers in English I knew of. Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and Joyce Ch’ng asked me to post it, so here it is. It is by no means comprehensive, and I welcome suggestions for additions.

Also, super a lot of links, so give me a shout if any of them are broken ya.

Please get in touch if you would like to be included on the list, or if you have any names to suggest, or if you would like to correct any errors.

Authors

Angeline Woon has a short SF story in Futura (see Projects below for details): The Domed City. Further details about her work are available on her website.

A. M. Muffaz has a long list of publications including short stories at Fantasy Magazine in 2008 and 2009: A Foreigner’s View of the River and Into the Monsoon.

Cassandra Khaw has a short story in Issue 5 of Lackington’s Magazine. She’s also Media Reviews Editor for SFF zine Strange Horizons.

Eeleen Lee‘s writing straddles a number of different genres – literary, SFF, horror, crime and erotica. Fixi Novo has published a collection of her short stories, 13 Moons. She also has a story at Futura (see Projects below for details).

Eeleen also wrote a couple of overviews of local genre fiction in English for SFF Portal: The Rough Guide to Modern Malaysian Science Fiction and Fantasy and The Magical Roots of Malaysian Horror Fiction in English.

Fadzlishah Johanabas writes SFF short stories, and I think also writes slice of life. Examples: Kuda Kepang; Act of Faith. Also has a story in the Fixi Novo KL Noir: Red anthology, an anthology of noir short stories set in KL (many of which are SFnal).

Golda Mowe is a Sarawakian writer of Iban and Melanau heritage. A commenter alerted me to her YA fantasy novel Iban Dream, which draws on Iban mythology, and is available as an ebook and in print — click on the title to go to the Monsoon Books website, which has links to retailers.

Ika Koeck used to go by Ika Vanderkoeck and had a short story called Crossing The Waters in DAW anthology Ages of Wonder. I understand she’s been working on novels, and has self-published a short story: To Kill A King.

Jaymee Goh does a lot of non-fiction writing about steampunk and race, which includes blog posts for Tor.com. She’s also published a few steampunk short stories, e.g. Lunar Year’s End.

Julya Oui is a horror writer who has published a couple of short story collections: Bedtime Stories: From The Dead of Night and Here Be Nightmares. She has also collaborated on a horror comic: Nefarious Nights, Dreadful Days.

KS Augustin writes science fiction, fantasy and contemporary romance. Her stuff’s been published by Carina Press, among others: In Enemy Hands.

Megat Ishak has a short story collection featuring zombies and other horrors, Dark Highways.

Nin Harris created and co-edits Demeter’s Spicebox, a Cabinet des Fees spin-off fairytale/folktale retellings zine. She’s had speculative poetry published in Goblin FruitThe Domestic Sundial — and I liked her essay in Stone Telling on Malay poetry, Visions of Courtly Life Translated into Contemporary Meditations: Muhammad Haji Salleh’s Sajak-Sajak Sejarah Melayu.

Shivani Sivagurunathan had a poem published in Abyss and Apex a while ago. Unfortunately you can’t access it without a subscription, but presumably it was speculative! I enjoyed her short story The Bat Whisperer despite the weird formatting – it’s not quite SFF, but probably counts as slipstream. Shivani also has a short story at Futura (see Projects below for details).

Stephanie Lai is an Australian-Malaysian writer of steampunk: The Last Rickshaw.

I’m not sure if Ted Mahsun has been otherwise published, but he’s self-published a couple of SFF short stories as ebooks. One of them is the entertainingly titled Zombies Ate My Muslim.

Tessa Kum is a writer and editor who’s done a bunch of things, including editing Weird Tales and collaborating with Jeff VanderMeer on a number of Halo tie-in stories. She’s also had short fiction published — see her bibliography on GoodReads.

Tunku Halim has been writing horror for a while – I remember reading his short stories in secondary school. They were memorably horrible! Most of his writing seems to be in dead-tree form and only available in Malaysia, but you can check out his ebooks. He also had a short story, Biggest Baddest Bomoh, in The Apex Book of World SF.

Fixi Novo has released a collection of Tunku Halim’s stories which is available on Amazon, Horror Stories, as well as a novel, Last Breath.

Yangsze Choo‘s historical fantasy novel The Ghost Bride is a literary ghost story set in 1890s colonial Malaya and the Chinese world of the dead, about a woman who “must uncover her dead suitor’s secrets before she is forced to become his spirit bride”.

Yen Ooi has published a science fiction novel called Sun: Queens of Earth. Read a teaser here!

Zed Adam Idris wrote a lesbian robot story I liked called Batu Belah in ZI Publications anthology Malaysian Tales: Retold and Remixed. His story The Hunter and the Tigress in Clutch, Brake, Sellerator And Other Stories was also fantasy.

Projects

A collaboration between indie pulp press Fixi Novo, online mag Poskod.my, and arts festival #Word: The Cooler Lumpur Festival, Futura brings together six writers and illustrators to imagine Kuala Lumpur 50 years in the future. Click on the link to read the short stories and admire the art!

Publishers & other languages

There’s also a thriving Malay-language SFF/horror scene, which I am not remotely qualified to go into – I mean, if you’re both able to read it and interested in reading it, you probably already know more about it than me lor. But e.g. a quick review of local indie pulp press Fixi‘s catalogue will turn up a number of SFF novels (zombies in Putrajaya! Aliens invade KL! Weretigers! I think there’s one about robots in the Golden Age of Melaka???). They’ve also got a new imprint for English-language pulp novels and anthologies, Fixi Novo – no SFF so far, but it’s only a matter of time.

ETA: Jaymee has pointed out that publisher PTS has an extensive Malay-language fantasy catalogue.

Self-publishing sales figures: half a year of Jade Yeo

I haven’t been keeping too close an eye on the sales figures for The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo ebook, but fairly recently I ventured into the jungle of Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing earnings reports and was intrigued by what I discovered.

As you probably noticed if you were reading my blog then, I self-published Jade as an ebook at the end of May this year and also published the novella for free as a web serial on this very blog, posting a new section a day for 20 days. Even though all the content was free on my blog, I set a price on the ebook of US$0.99 — I figured the different, more portable ebook form was worth something even if its innards were on display for all to see in blog posts.

What I thought would happen

What I figured would happen was that people would buy the ebook within the first week of publication — mostly my friends, and perhaps some people who didn’t know me personally but had read and liked my short stories. Sales might continue as long as I was posting new sections and tweeting about them, since that might draw more attention, and then sales would tail off and eventually peter out.

What actually happened

Contrary to my expectations, my sales haven’t yet died a natural death, and they haven’t been decreasing steadily as I expected. Sales went down after the first two months of publication — but then they went up again, to my great surprise. Apart from the first couple of months (when I sold about 60 copies), I’ve been selling about 20 copies per month, with the ratio being about 15 on Amazon and <5 on Smashwords per month.

I’ve now sold 140 copies in total — 47 via Smashwords (through which ebooks are available on Kobo, Barnes & Noble, etc.), the remaining via Amazon. Now 140 is obviously rather a small number, but given that Booker shortlisted author Tan Twan Eng’s Garden of Evening Mists shifted a grand total of 174 copies before the Booker effect kicked in, I’m rather pleased about it!

The marketing

Continue reading

Self-publishing an ebook

East Asian girl holding a mirror

Photograph by Panorama Media/PanoramaStock/Getty Images

 

How to self-publish an ebook

1) Write an unsellably self-indulgent story at an awkward length. (The jabs at colonialism were as much self-indulgence as the swoony romance.)

2) Fail to sell story to romance e-publishers.

3) Self-publish as web serial and ebook.

4) ????

5) PROFIT!!! –> Note: I haven’t actually profited.

Why I did it

I wanted a “proper website” mostly because my bibliography was getting too crowded and messy on my blog sticky post. Also, I’d self-published a couple of short stories which I wanted to make available as ebooks, and I thought having an FTP I could keep ’em on would probably look slightly better than using a free file-sharing site. I figured there was no real reason for people to visit the new website unless I offered something new to look at, and Bloomsbury Girl (previous title of The Perilous Life of Jade Yeo) was just sitting around on my hard drive doing nothing, so why not publish that as a web serial?

I also decided to publish the novella as an ebook, on the basis that in the current publishing environment “knowing how to self-publish an ebook” is probably quite a good skill for a writer to have, like taking constructive criticism and refusing to comment on reviews.

I decided to charge for the ebook instead of giving it away for free just to see if anyone would pay for it. I thought people might, because there’s actual value in having an ebook even if the story is free to read online — I mean, I’d pay US$0.99 to be able to carry a story around in my Kindle.

I set the price at US$0.99 because my aim was to get new readers. I’ve seen arguments that books are undervalued at US$0.99, but if you think about it from the perspective of a reader in a world bursting at the seams with books, an unknown book by an unknown author is worth less than US$0.99. Heck, even if it was free I’m not sure it’d be worth the effort of hitting a button so it’ll download direct to my Kindle. That would mean I’d have get up and turn the wireless setting on my Kindle back on! I haven’t even started reading the book I bought yesterday by a massively well-known author whose stories I know for certain will give me pleasure!

So I set it at US$0.99 based on what I’d do if I’d never heard of me.

How I did it

I prioritised a) decent formatting and b) a cover I found aesthetically pleasing. I succeeded on the second point and think I succeeded on the first, but do let me know if you notice anything wonky with the formatting or typos or anything like that.

The formatting

Producing an ebook was no more difficult than uploading a story to ff.net. Continue reading