Tag Archives: independent publishing

The 2014 Out of Time Blog Tour

In the third quarter of 2014, to support my new release Out of Time, I went on my first blog tour. This is when you do interviews or write posts for several different blogs and/or websites and schedule them so it runs like a virtual ‘tour’ to gain maximum exposure across a number of platforms. If done correctly, it can be a mutually beneficial arrangement whereby the owner of the website or blog gets some free content, while the writer gets some free publicity. It’s much more cost-effective than heading out on the road and meeting folk the old-fashioned way!

I’m not going to lie, it was extremely hard work, but I met some great people, discovered some new places on the net to hang out, and sold a few units, so all-in-all it was a worthwhile exercise.

Thanks to everyone who asked me probing questions, edited my long, rambling answers, let me post crap in their lovingly-crafted domain, or otherwise humoured me.

Here is a quick summary:

The Books of Blood:


The Horror Tree


Kev’s Blog:


Rainstorm Press:


Wag the Fox: Gef Fox’s Den for Dark Fiction:


Stuart Conover:

DeadPixel Publications:


Morpheus Tales:

Out of Time is out now:


Out of Time by C.M. Saunders

Joe Dawson is a struggling 41-year old writer battling a serious case of writer’s block. When he travels to Wales in a last-ditch attempt to reignite his flagging career, he finds himself staying at a mysterious seaside hotel, where nothing is quite what it seems.

As the secrets of his past finally catch up with him, Joe is thrust into a life or death situation where his every action could have terrible consequences. This is one problem he has to solve before he runs OUT OF TIME.

Out of Time cover

Out of Time cover

(Click on the image for more info)

“Considering how much I enjoyed this novella and Saunders’ excellent “The Elementals and I” that appeared in Grey Matter Press’ Dark Visions Vol. 2, it is evident that C.M. Saunders is an exceptional writer capable of crafting engaging horror tales that rely on atmosphere over traditional scares.”

– The Horror Bookshelf

Available on ebook and paperback.

Length: 91 pages

Price: £1.99 and £4.99

Artwork by Jeffrey Kosh

Adventures in Independent Publishing: Part 3

Launch Day

Market primed, you can finally hit ‘publish.’ The KDP service allows you to utilize various promotional offers, such as discounted pricing or offering your book free for a limited time. With X: A Collection of Horror, I opted for the latter.

Why would you choose to give the results of your hard work away for free?

To raise your profile, that’s why. You might also garner some favourable reviews from the buying (or free downloading) public, which will help boost sales in the long term. Some of them may like your stuff enough to swing by your blog, or even buy something else you put out.

Promotion, promotion, promotion!

I quickly learned that even if your book is free, you still have to promote it. Otherwise, nobody knows its available and it sinks like a stone amongst all the other free books. The obvious thing to do is bombard your Twitter and Facebook accounts with links and updates. This is a perfectly reasonable, but limited strategy, because unless you show a little initiative it’s quite difficult to reach beyond your existing circle of friends. A great way to make new friends (read: potential buyers) is to be active on Goodreads. This is the social networking site of the dedicated reader. And writer. So get involved – leave reviews, rate books, comment on threads. Engage potential readers. Of course, there are many other social networking avenues like LinkedIn and Instagram. Exploit these as much as you can but in my experience, they have limited marketing potential. The two biggest are Facebook and Twitter, so lets look at them in a bit more detail…


A lot of people are very selective about who they allow on to their ‘friends’ list, often preferring to keep it to people they know in real life. That’s fine. Unless you are a writer, then you have to unlock the huge marketing potential of Facebook and use it to your advantage. At the last count I had 1,168 ‘friends,’ only around 15-20% of whom I would consider actual friends. The rest are other writers or publishers with whom I have loose relationships, friends of friends, and random people with whom I share similar interests. Plus, if a reader ever emails me directly to say they liked one of my books, I invite them to add me on Facebook. These are the people that make up my target audience, and probably the ones most interested in my writing endeavors.

Don’t rely solely on status updates. Be aggressive. And no, that doesn’t mean threatening to pull people’s heads off if they don’t be your Facebook friend. It means being proactive. Facebook is like a worldwide meeting place. A bar without the booze (unless you bring your own). It has literally millions of groups, places where like-minded people flock together to exchange views and opinions. Find the ones that apply to your chosen genre and live in them. They are not difficult to find, just run a few searches. If your book is about Teddy Bears with Uzi’s, there’s probably a group devoted to that. This is your audience. Talk to them. They won’t bite. After that, target the groups about Teddy Bears, then the ones about Uzi’s, then the ones about guns in general. You get the idea. A word of warning; don’t simply repost the same book link over and over again, or you might find yourself losing friends rather quickly. At least try be a bit creative about it.


Building up a Twitter network is a long, laborious process that requires some level of dedication. Appropriate use of hashtags can help target specific groups of users, and some writers swear it has good marketing value. Others, like me, are yet to be convinced. It all seems rather disposable and lightweight to me. Whatever I think, with a reported 243 million worldwide users, its potential reach is immense. Utilizing it is another matter. Tweeting is very in vogue at the moment, especially amongst the celebrity fraternity. If you ‘follow’ anyone with large amounts of followers, especially other writers, it won’t hurt to send them a tweet asking for a retweet. Sometimes you’ll get lucky. I tried this approach when promoting X: A Collection of Horror, and was lucky enough to be retweeted by several notables with several hundreds of thousands of followers. My Twitter activity did garner me a few new followers but from what I could tell, this had absolutely no impact on sales whatsoever.

Blog Posts

If you take writing seriously, you should have a blog. If you don’t have one, get one. There are a lot who offer basic packages for free. I use WordPress. Presuming you already do, make good use of it. Post regular updates, and always try to include something of value instead of just random thoughts or book promos. If you are stuck for something to blog about, just write a simple book or film review. The best way to build on your blog following is to visit and comment on other blogs. You may also find that people you ‘meet’ in the blogosphere will very often add you on Facebook or follow you on Twitter.



There are numerous sites that list free books, and even send out newsletters to their subscribers, which often number in the thousands. Some charge the writer a fee, others are free services that are presumably sustainable through advertising. A Google search will throw up dozens. Have a look around, and find out which ones work best for you. Here are two that I used:



My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:


Part 2 of Adventures in Indie Publishing, covering advice on editing, cover art and priming the market, can be found here:


Part 1, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing, can be found here:


Adventures in Independent Publishing – Part 2

Up to Scratch

Once your book is written, it’s up to you to make sure the finished product is up to a high standard. It has your name on it, after all. The average buyer probably won’t be expecting the next Pulitzer Prize winner, but they will be expecting a professional job, and rightly so. Especially if they paid good money for it. Wouldn’t you? So make sure there are no gaping plot holes, silly typos, spelling mistakes, or continuity errors in your manuscript. This is where a good editor comes in. The spelling and grammar check on your word processing software alone just won’t cut it, I’m afraid.

Believe it or not, it’s quite difficult to edit your own work. You are just too close to it. Professional editors are not cheap, but there are numerous copyediting and formatting companies out there who will do different aspects of the job to for a fraction of the cost. Alternatively, you could send the rough draft out to one or more beta readers who will be able to offer a different perspective on things, or at least a fresh pair of eyes.

Cover Story

While it’s probably true that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, the reality is that people do. By nature, humans are very visual creatures. We are attracted to things that we think look nice. Fact. Getting the cover right is probably the single most important aspect of the whole independent publishing process. If you have any existing knowledge of Photoshop, or the time to learn, try doing your own. Especially if you are on a limited budget. There are some good tutorials available online, and some decent websites dedicated to book design. Otherwise, KDP has a ‘Create a book cover’ function but be warned, this is very basic. If at all possible, pay a pro and get the job done properly.

Having very limited capabilities I enrolled the help of one of my friends, Greg Chapman, who designed one for me.


He did a pretty fucking awesome job, too.

Click for more info

Click for more info

Be warned, some designers, high on their sense of self-importance, price themselves out of the market. I was quoted $500 by one graphics artist for a job that would take anyone worth his or her salt no more than an hour. Probably a lot less. No thanks.

Priming the Market

So now your book is written, formatted, and proofread so it reads smoothly and is completely free of errors. You have a cover and a KDP account all set up, so you are ready to go! Or are you?

Well, not quite. There are a number of things you could and should do before you put out your book. Firstly, tell all your family and friends. They will be your biggest supporters, your inner circle. You don’t have to tell them all directly and individually, just post a Facebook status update or two. If you have a blog, write a post about the imminent release and upload your book cover to your social networking sites before it goes live. People are visual creatures, remember? Try to draw comments by captioning it with something like, “this is the cover of my book. What do you guys think?”

It’s becoming increasingly popular amongst writers to make video trailers advertising their book, which is then posted on their website and uploaded to video-sharing sites like YouTube. To me, this seems like a lot of trouble. I’ve never done it. Possibly because I wouldn’t know where to start. If you have a big enough budget, you could pay a production company to do one for you. From what I hear the costs aren’t too prohibitive. You could also use a bit of initiative. One of my writer friends has a brother who is a musician, so she uses his tunes as background music in her book trailers. That’s a good bit of promotion for them both.

Another way to help prime the market for your book is to send out a press release, which automatically goes out to various media outlets and industry-connected individuals. Most outlets charge for the privilege, but there are some free services around. I used this one:


Party on, dude!

It’s also worth thinking about holding a launch party. It doesn’t have to be a big deal, you could just invite a few friends over to your house, get them drunk and persuade them to buy your book. This is a great way to start a bit of word-of-mouth, the best kind of marketing there is. If throwing parties isn’t your thing, an increasingly popular alternative is to get involved in online chats and hang-outs. The wonders of modern technology means you can hold a party on your computer and invite anyone with an internet connection.

My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:


Part 1 of Adventures in Indie Publishing, featuring an overview of the industry and an introduction to Kindle Direct Publishing can be found here:


Adventures in Independent Publishing: Part 1

The New Punk Rock

Last month, I finally joined the swelling ranks of the independently published. I’d thought about it long and hard, but in the end it was a pretty easy decision to make. I was tired of greedy, clueless, often unethical publishers telling me what to do and how I should do it. Even calling them publishers is being kind in some cases. Too many are just wannabe entrepreneurs with no background or experience in the publishing industry, who simply want to jump on the bandwagon and make a few bucks. What they don’t realize is the bandwagon left years ago. In the modern world, publishers, like record companies, are becoming increasingly redundant. Both were only ever middlemen, reaping dividends from both sides hand over fist. As soon as musician and fan, or writer and reader, found ways to connect directly, their days were numbered.

I always found it difficult dealing with publishers. Most of them seem more intent on exploiting current trends rather than starting new ones, and were far too keen to jump in and tell me to make massive changes to my books seemingly on a whim. I often got the impression they were requesting changes just for the sake of it. Just because they could. I wanted complete control over the work I put out, from the editorial content, to the cover art and pricing. Under the traditional publishing model this would have been an impossible dream, unless you are a very rich writer who can afford to buy his own publishing company outright. But the power of the internet changed all that. Now writers can bypass publishers completely and make their work available directly to consumers. In 2012, a quarter of Amazon’s top 100 best-selling books were independently-published. At its core, this DIY attitude is the ethos of punk, when many bands spurned the advances of the major labels and chose to go it alone, sacrificing fame and riches in order to preserve creative control and perceived integrity.

Much Too Much

I decided the pricing issue was the main reason why most of the books I had with publishers weren’t exactly threatening the New York Times bestseller lists. At £6 or £7 each for 50-60 page novellas, they were woefully overpriced. I’m realistic enough to admit that my name isn’t that well known. As a reader, I wouldn’t part with that much money on a book by someone I’d never heard of. I raised concerns more than once with the publishers, but my protestations were quickly snuffed out. They said something about having to cover costs. Evidently, the notion that if the books were cheaper they would sell more copies, and therefore increase their profits, was completely lost on them.

The thing that held me back from ‘going indie’ for so long wasn’t a lack of self- confidence, as is no often the case. I’ve always thought that if you don’t believe in yourself, how can you expect anyone else to believe in you? It was more a lack of technical know-how. I knew millions of writers all over the world were forsaking the traditional publishing model and going independent. But how the fuck do you do it? I’m not particularly tech-savvy, and didn’t have much of an existing platform to work from. But other people were getting sales. A LOT of sales. So one day, I decided to bite the bullet and go for it. I would learn through trial and error. This series of blogs will document the experience. The good, the bad, the ugly, the stuff you probably know already, and the stuff you never wanted to know. I hope you enjoy the journey.

Nothing to Fear

As it happens, publishing an ebook turned out to be a lot easier than I thought. I just joined Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), filled out a few online forms, uploaded the content in a word document, added the cover and description, and hours later my first solo offering was online worldwide. I can set my own price, and get to keep 70% of the royalties on sales, much higher than any actual publisher has ever offered me. Most digital publishers offer 35-50%, while due to the increased costs, print publishers routinely pay as little as 10-15%. Amazon deduct their cut, then deposit the final sum, minus tax, directly into my bank account. Easy peasy. If you have a problem with Amazon, there are other options out there. Smashwords springs to mind. You don’t need one of those crowd-funding sites to help you. I always thought that route was a bit presumptuous, anyway.

Hey, I wanna be a writer, like, soooo bad. I have an idea for a book and everything. If you pledge $6000 I’ll write the book and it’ll be, like, totally AWESOME!

Nope. Don’t need it. If you are one of the people who dream about being a writer, then stop thinking about it, get off your ass, show some dedication to the craft, and write that fucking book. The art of creation should be all the incentive you need. Writers write, whether they get paid a load of money for it or not. If you are in it just for the pay day, you are probably in the wrong game, anyway.

Part 2 of Adventures in Independent Publishing looks at the importance of cover art, and priming a market.

My first indie offering, X: A Collection of Horror, is out now:


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