A rare photo of the reclusive author trying to work out how to turn on his laptop
ABOUT PAUL SAMAEL
Paul Samael writes fiction, all of which is available free (in ebook format). I also review free fiction by other self-published writers and write a blog (see below). Paul Samael is a pen name. He doesn't really live anywhere, except cyberspace. The real me lives in London, UK. On this site, you can find:
- Fiction: all my fiction, including my novel, "In the future this will not be necessary" (all available free of charge as ebooks)
- Blog: my blog, "Publishing waste", which is mainly about books and publishing, but occasionally goes off topic
- Free fiction review: reviews of free fiction by other self-published authors (my attempt to demonstrate that "free" and "self-published" don't always deserve the stigma that's sometimes attached to them)
- All book reviews: a list of all my book reviews (both free and paid-for books) arranged by category
- Self-publishing: a brief guide to self-publishing based on my experience of it so far
- Links: links to other websites that caught my eye and might catch yours (not necessarily websites to do with books or publishing)
For anyone eager to know more (surely you have better things to do?), here are some links that may or may not satisfy your curiosity (see also the timeline below):
- a not very truthful summary of my life to date
- an interview I did for Tom Lichtenberg's excellent blog, Pigeon Weather Productions
- another interview I did for my Smashwords profile page
- why I decided to go down the self-publishing route and why (with hindsight) I think it was the right decision (for me, at least) - and here's a longer and more considered piece on the same subject from 2019
- why I decided to use a pen name
Jul 2011 - started this website, having decided (after much dithering) to self publish my novel. Had been writing the novel on and off for some considerable time (another process that involved much dithering). At the time, I feared that self-publishing it might well turn out to be something of a futile gesture - but I've been pleasantly surprised by how it went (see below).
Aug 2011 - put excerpts from novel on peer review site YouWriteOn. This was partly with a view to getting some reviews (click here for my take on whether it's OK to use the good ones to publicise your book) - and partly just to convince myself that it really was worth putting it out there in front of the wider world.
Nov 2011 - published short story "The Hardest Word" on Smashwords. The idea was to get some get some experience of the self-publishing process before publishing the novel. I also thought that if I had a few shorter pieces available, people could try those before embarking on the novel. Not convinced this strategy has actually worked though. Generally speaking, shorter pieces seem less popular with readers - I wish it were otherwise (personally, I rather like short stories), but there we are.
Jan 2012 - published short story "Agricultural Production in the Sudan."
Feb 2012 - started doing reviews of free fiction by self-published authors on this site.
Jun 2012 - after quite a bit of rewriting and some more dithering (there's a bit of a theme here, isn't there?), finally published my novel.
Nov 2012 - novel pirated on Amazon. Can this really be considered a publishing milestone? Well, conventional publishers may not have been interested, but some very discerning Chinese pirates obviously saw its enormous sales potential....
Jan 2013 - novel reached over 1000 downloads on Smashwords.
Mar 2013- published short story "The Pick Up".
Sept 2013 - published novel on Obooko (another ebooks platform)
Oct 2013 - published short story "The King of Infinite Space."
Dec 2013 - "The King of Infinite Space" featured in short story compilation "Free Indie Reader No.1."
Mar 2014 - published short story collection "The Hardest Word and Other Stories" on Obooko (features all the short stories listed above, plus an extra one called "Gadara").
2014 - 2018 - haven't written much fiction during this period, partly due to illness, but have kept on with the website, writing about self-publishing, continuing to do reviews of free fiction by self-published authors and occasionally reviewing conventionally published fiction (click here for all book reviews). Also made some valiant attempts to persuade people not to vote for Brexit in 2016. These failed miserably.
May 2018 - started doing more book reviews, covering conventionally published as well as self-published fiction.
Oct 2020 - published the novel on its own dedicated website, so that people can read it on any web-enabled device (without needing to download it as an ebook). Personally, I think it makes for a reasonably pleasant reading experience, especially if you're using a device with quite a high res screen like a phone or tablet. Alas, judging from the visitor stats, it's far from clear that anyone else thought this website was a good idea - so if I were you, I'd think twice about whether it's worth bothering to make your book available in this way. But if you're interested, it also includes a collection of poems (quite a few of which appear in the novel, although the longer ones don't).
March 2021 - managed to persuade Amazon to make the novel available for free. Hoping this might enable me to improve upon the pitiful number of downloads it has garnered to date via Amazon...
June 2021 - finally got around to doing a paperback edition of my novel.
July 2021 - over time, my novel has garnered a reasonable number of positive reviews and now has over 9100 downloads on Smashwords. The short stories have had between 600 and 2388 downloads to date (depending on the title and how long it's been available), together with some positive reviews as well. I've probably had a few thousand more downloads in total via other sites such as Feedbooks (now defunct) and Obooko, plus downloads in the low hundreds via Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble and Kobo (but these sites have not been great for me). Of course, it's unlikely that all those people who downloaded my stuff have actually read it - but it's a lot better than I expected when I started out (and making it free has meant that I haven't had to invest loads of time in promotion).
As for downloads via Amazon, this has been more of a struggle, as it's hard to get any visibility on the site (even though its potential reach is obviously way better than Smashwords or anywhere else). Recently I decided to spend a bit of money on submitting the novel to various book promo services - as a result of which it has now had almost 2000 downloads (hurrah!). So whereas in November 2020 it was last seen languishing at number 2,768,252 in Amazon's bestseller list, in May-June 2021 it enjoyed a brief stint in the top 200-300 in "Free in Kindle Store"; it has also made it into the top 50 in "Metaphysical & Visionary Science Fiction ebooks (free)" and "Literary Fiction ebooks (free)". That has at least given it a bit more visibility, which seems in turn to have produced some more downloads, even on days when it wasn't being promoted in emails from book promo services (not sure how long that will last though...).