It’s Wednesday… which means it’s publicity day!

It’s also ‘roam around the internet’ day, but that’s by the by.  I’m sitting here on the couch, catching up on everything that needs to be done to keep news of my book out there, but it’s also a day to sit and reflect on life as I know it. Angus is sitting up on the couch next to me, Tuppence is laying on the floor on the other side and the world is a happy place.  Well, other than the little farts from Angus which keep wafting up and trying to kill me.  Maybe I should buy a gas mask.

I was just checking my stats on HootSuite while I was setting up Tweets for the next two or three days.  This is one of the most time-consuming parts of publicity, but ultimately, incredibly important.  I’ve had such a great reaction from Tweeting, and I would imagine it’s running at about 80% of the interest in The Nememiah Chronicles.  It will be interesting to see my sales figures when they start appearing, but I’m hopeful they may have improved.  

I’ve mentioned on Facebook a couple of times how interesting it is to see where people come from who are clicking through from my Twitter page.  By far, the biggest response has been from Russia, which I find absolutely fascinating.  Second biggest response is America, but it’s running well behind Russia currently.  Singapore, Australia and the UK are running neck and neck, then Canada, Japan, Greece and Iceland.  The ‘others’ (whomever they may be are at the bottom of the list, but not lessened in their importance by not being given actual names by HootSuite.  If sales improve, perhaps I should consider having the books translated.  Anyone speak Icelandic?

This has been a wonderful week, after being so hectic for the past three months with directing ‘Death By Chocolate’, it’s been nice to sit back and relax a bit.  Well, actually, a lot.  I’ve spent the past three days wallowing around in the house, doing a lot of thinking and relaxing.  Mainly thinking.  I still think it would be wonderful if you could turn your brain off, but I have yet to discover the ‘off’ button.  Got some great ideas for future books and I’ve printed out a lot of ‘inspiration’, photos which have me thinking big and grand ideas for new novels.  It’s been a while since I’ve had time to think about writing new stuff, but the desire is always there.  I guess that’s what it means to be a writer.  There’s plenty I should be doing, but frankly, it’s kind of nice to sit back and vegetate for a little while.  The break won’t last for long, with another two evening performances and a matinee over the weekend, and then (crazy, I know) directing a Christmas pantomime, but I’ll take what I can get.

I’m really pleased with the reaction I’ve had to my new site on the web Nememiah.com – if you haven’t already visited, go check it out.  It’s a place to keep the world of Charlotte and her friends, with lots of information and photos.  Another place I’ll be working on today, adding some more information.  It’s funny, I have the characters in my head, they’re almost part of me and certainly I consider them close friends.  Finding their ‘look’ in the billions upon billions of pictures on the ‘net has been trickier than I imagined. Countless hours have been spent wading through various sites, looking for the one person who matches my imaginings.  It can sometimes be hours until I find what I’m looking for, but it amuses me because sometimes, I come across the perfect photo, the perfect person who matches the people in my head – and it’s usually someone OTHER than who I’m searching for.  As time goes on, I’ll be adding more and more information to the page, so everyone can see the basis of my characters and learn more about them.  

Not much more to report, at present, which, I suppose is partly due to my currently vegetative and very relaxed state.  Have a great week!



Publicity! Publicity! Publicity!




Today I’ve been thinking about publicity and wondering how much time other authors spend on this necessary evil.

It’s my least favorite part of being an author, but I understand the importance of getting my name out there, so people will discover my books and in turn, tell their friends about them so they might buy my books.

In recent weeks, I’ve gradually morphed my week into a situation where Wednesday is publicity day.  I check through my various sites (Blogger, Twitter, Facebook etc.) and tweak the pages, add information and think about how best to advertise to the widest audience available.  To that end, Wednesday has been completely taken over by this process – a situation which I both accept as necessary, and grumble about because it’s taking me away from what I really want to do – write and edit and produce new works.

I was sitting here  today and wondering –  what do other indie authors do to publicize their works?  What other forums do they use?  I have discovered one thing, throughout this odyssey – which is that many, many independent authors use a ‘blueprint’ which everybody else is using.  Looking through many blogs, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds – it seems like there is almost an ‘Ikea’ type feel to what people are doing – a repetitive nature to their advertising which I’m not entirely sure can be a good thing.  I’m pretty certain to capture an audience, you need to find something new and unique, something which every other author isn’t doing.  

Of course, that’s easier said than done.  I’m not a publicity agent.  This doesn’t come naturally to me.  So what can I do, which is different to what everyone else is doing, which will capture an audience, interest them and get them to feel enthusiasm about buying my books?

I wish I had the magic answer.  Unfortunately I don’t.  But I guess, like everyone else, I will plug away, looking for the ‘right’ formula. 

There’s only one certainty in my mind – I can follow the flow of others, copying their ideas (some of which most certainly work, others; not so much).  
 
Or I can believe in myself and the power of my own abilities, and try and use my talents to their best advantage, in an effort to capture a slice of the reading audience and try to entice them into reading (and hopefully enjoying!) what I write.  After trying a number of different marketing strategies, I’ve settled into a little routine.  I’m not following the flock, but trying to find my own way.  No doubt I’ll make mistakes, but in doing so, I’ll know I’ve tried my own ideas and found my own way through the marketing behemoth which is independent publishing.  I wish my fellow independent authors many success in their own endeavors and hope that everyone will find the ‘best’ way for them.



If you can’t find anything nice to say…

For any author, a review of their precious book is something they desperately want.  It’s the bread and butter for an author – giving an indication of how well their written work has been received and also providing the impetus for others to purchase their work.  A well-written and positive book review is an excellent way for readers to discover new authors and choose to purchase their work.
 
As an author who seeks Book Reviews, I also write them, for books I’ve read myself.  I think its only fair that if I’m seeking people’s opinion of my work, I should take the time to give other writer’s some feedback on their efforts.
 
My involvement in a local Writer’s Group has given me plenty of practice in the art of ‘constructive criticism’.  Telling an author ‘they suck’ is not constructive. Finding the positives in their work and providing feedback as to where a story failed, or where it could benefit from further editing is an important part in learning to be a writer.  I myself suffer from an overuse of adverbs, which my writing group regularly points out in my pieces.  I’ve also been known to be an over-achiever in the use of specific words – ‘but’, ‘that’ and ‘just’ – to name only a few.
 
Which leads to my point.  I’ve just finished a book which I downloaded from an independent author and I have to say, honestly, it was one of the hardest books I’ve ever attempted to review. 
 
Why?  I hear you asking.
 
Because while it was an interesting book, with a new idea I hadn’t seen used before and the premise was excellent…
 
…it suffered from a lack of editing and spelling checks.  Not only that, but the author chose to have her characters from the north east of America, speak with a fairly specific ‘twang’ to their voices, but failed in the continuity department.
 
And that just frustrated the heck out of me. 
 
I wanted to like this book.  It was an exciting and interesting concept, but it was a failure to launch from my viewpoint because of the abysmal spelling mistakes, the lack of continuity and the failure by the author to give her characters a consistent voice.
 
The strongest story line in the world will not draw readers in, if they are continually taken out of world being created by ridiculous spelling errors, or have to stop and read back, over and over again because of continuity problems, or a lack of cohesiveness in the characters.  (Another book comes to mind, which I read recently, in which a character started with one name, it switched halfway through the book, then reverted to the original name.  I kid you not.  That author deserved a smack on the hand!)  But I digress.
 
My point to fellow authors is this – check your work.
 
Check it, double check it and triple check it.  Join your local writer’s group and allow them to read your work.  You’ll be amazed by what they pick up, things you just don’t see yourself because you’re at the coal face, so to speak.  You know what your words mean – but it doesn’t mean other people will ‘see’ the same vision. Ask someone (a friend, a fellow writer; heck, PAY someone if you have to) to read through your work for spelling errors.  Use spell-check, over and over again.  Buy a dictionary.  Whatever you do, make sure you’re pride and joy is the absolute best it can be, before you publish.  You’ve spent months, maybe years writing your book – don’t throw all that hard work away by rushing through the publishing process and letting those mistakes get out to those you want to impress most – THE READERS!
 
You may wonder what sort of rating I gave this particular book – and I’ll tell you.  I gave it three stars and constructive criticism, pointing out the positives in her story-telling process and explaining what things didn’t work for me.  I’m not one of those people who throws out a one star review and just says the story stinks.  I think the actual effort which goes into writing a book, a WHOLE book, is worth a minimum of two stars and I take my hat off to everyone who can manage it.  
 
But be warned – if you write a book and don’t edit, and edit carefully and put it out there effectively half-done – be prepared for a three star maximum review from me.  Be proud of what you’ve done and make sure it is absolutely the best you can make it before you launch it into the world.

 

Get an Amazon Store on Your Facebook Page

After my post yesterday, I’ve had queries from people wanting to know how they can link a store with Amazon to their Facebook page – it took a bit of searching to find out how to do it, so I’ve included a link to ‘The Indie Times’ below – where it’s explained.  Admittedly, it’s none to clear about how to go about it, but with perseverance, it an be done.  Click on the link below to discover how.

Just as a point of interest, when you get to the part where you need to use “Static HTML: iFrame Tabs” – that’s actually a FACEBOOK page you search for and go to, which then allows you to create the page.
 
And finally… Facebook are particularly anal about the size of the picture you can use on your link – it has to be exactly 111×74 pixels, no more, no less.  To help you out, because that’s the kind of generous girl I am, here’s a copy of mine below which you can copy and paste 🙂
 
 

Editing is the bane of my life…

I haven’t been around much, I know.  I’d love to say that it’s because I’ve been busy editing for Book Three of The Nememiah Chronicles, but the honest truth is… I’ve been doing just about everything but editing.

Part of the problem is that while my  answer to the question “What do you do?” is to respond with “I’m an independent author.”, the fact of the matter is that I don’t really believe it myself.  Not really, truly, in my heart.  It feels like a role I’m playing, something I’m pretending to myself and those around me.  Part of that comes from years of being told being an author is not a ‘real’ job.  Part of it comes from my own insecurities.

And part of the problem, is that it’s incredibly hard to be ‘an independent author’ when I have so many other caps to wear.  

I’m a wife, a mother.  I’m the household cleaner, chef, accountant, taxi service.  I’m the school liaison officer and the social services officer.  I’m the counselor and social organizer.  I’m the nurse, the laundry, the gardener and the shopper.  I organize menus, homework, appointments.  

Add into the mix my involvement with the Ellenbrook Writers group, where I have made good friends and keep an eye on things to see that they’re running smoothly.

And the Ellenbrook Theatre Group, where I am the Secretary and I’ve taken on directing the mid-year play and the end-of-year pantomime.  (Nobody said I was sensible.)

Then add family and friends, and that fills in just about any spare time left.

The one, single, indisputable thing that makes me keep going – makes me believe I may one day be able to say I’m an independent author and not cringe?  

My husband. 

Even when I’m utterly overwhelmed with everything I’ve taken on, his steady, unwavering belief in me is a panacea to any doubt I may be struggling with.  His utter dedication to convincing me I can do ‘it all’ and his complete faith in my abilities is an example of the unconditional love he’s showered me with for nearly thirty years. 

So despite the doubts, the worry and the anxiety, I can honestly say that I can do it all and I will one day announce to people that I’m an independent author proudly, knowing  the one person most important to me in the world believes it.  

That’s a pretty cool place to be.

I should have my hand slapped…

…it’s true, I know.

I am a bad, bad blogger.  The lack of spare time notwithstanding, half the time I arrive at my blog with not the slightest clue of what to write.  Which sounds strange, coming from a supposed author.

Writing is what I do.  I love it, I’m passionate about it, and I go crazy without it.  The difference is, when I’m writing a novel, I’m writing the exciting and wonderful adventures of fictitious characters.  When I set foot on the Blogger site, I’m going to write about… other stuff.  And that’s where it gets tricky.

What do you, the blog reader, want to read?  What will you find interesting?  I’m sure famous authors, such as J.K. Rowling, Charlaine Harris and Stephen King lead far more interesting and exciting lives than I do.  They’d have heaps to write about.

Me?  Not so much.

One thing I’ve been putting a lot of consideration into lately, is reader reviews and how to get them.  I know myself, when considering purchasing a book from Amazon, that the other reader’s reviews have a huge sway over whether I’ll buy a book.  If ten people have reviewed and five or more people hated it, I’m probably not going to buy the book.  If ten people have reviewed the book and five or more people loved it, I’m going to give some serious consideration to purchasing.   People’s opinions really do count.

The problem I have, is that I know quite a few people have read both of the currently released books in my series.  Very few have reviewed.
 
For some people, it probably seems pretty scary.  What do they say?  How do they say it?  I’m sure a lot of people have never written a book review.
 
The truth is, it isn’t too hard for the newbie.  And even if you haven’t purchased the book directly from Amazon, or Smashwords, you can still leave a review.  And it only has to have a minimum of twenty words.   All you have to say is why you enjoyed the book.  For that matter, you can say why you hated the book… although I’m hoping there are more of the former than the latter.  Did you love the characters?  Did you find the story moved along at a great pace, keeping you interested and turning the pages?  Was the style of writing easy to read and enjoyable?  Did you think the characters were well-rounded and realistic?
 
Why bother?  I hear you say.  What difference does my opinion make?
 
A lot, to those of us who are authors, is the answer.  Like myself, hundreds of people rely on other people’s opinions to decide whether to purchase or not.  If I discover a book on Amazon and it doesn’t have any reviews, I’m more likely to sit back and wait to see what other’s think, before I plonk down my own hard-earned cash.  When people are looking at my books on Amazon or Smashwords, they see an unknown author plying her work and a pretty book cover.  Sure, they can check out the sneak peek, read my title description and make a fairly accurate guess as to whether it is something they would be interested in.
 
But it’s the REVIEWS which will clinch the deal.  It’s the reviews, where people give their thoughts on my work, which will push someone to either buy, or move onto other books.  
 
So if you have read one of my books, whether you loved it or hated it – please take a little time out of your day to write a review.
 
On behalf of myself and other authors, I can assure you, we will appreciate it more than you will ever know 🙂
 
Till next time,
 
Deb

 

Sometimes, you just have to sit down and focus for five minutes…

Procrastination is one of my best things.  No, really.

Having gotten ‘The Nememiah Chronicles – Knowledge Revealed’, the first book in my series prepared and published, you would think that I might have gotten into the swing of things with continuing my working pattern.  The husband and I had discussed the fact that I needed to settle down into a routine with writing, editing and publishing – he suggested I need to consider it as my ‘career’ and set down time accordingly to work each day.

“Wonderful,” I thought.  “What a brilliant idea.”

And it would be, if only I could convince myself to do so.

Part of the problem, admittedly, is the fact that it is currently school holidays in this part of the world.  Having the Gang of Four home creates a certain increase in workload which shoots my concentration all to hell.  And the workload has absolutely nothing to do with writing… it has a whole lot more to do with housework.

For instance, the kitchen.  When the Gang of Four are at school, I clean up the kitchen after they’ve headed off for the day and it remains fantabulously neat and tidy until they return home at the end of the day.  When they’re home?  Not so much.  Despite the obviousness of the facilities – the dishwasher is the big white thing, the bin is the thing over in the corner and all you have to do is push your foot on the pedal and the lid opens –     the Gang of Four can’t figure it out.  Nor can they get a glass out when they want a drink and use it for a second time.  Consequently, by lunchtime, there is a delightful pile of used glasses and cups sitting on the benches.  Lunchtime brings it’s own nightmares – plates, knives (lots, because nobody can reuse a knife for the second time), empty tuna tins, the ties of the bread bag – nothing gets put anywhere but on the benches, ready for Mum to come and sort it out.  Yelling, grumbling, steam coming out of my ears… nothing seems to work to remedy the situation.

Besides that example, there’s the continual round of “Mum, can you take me….”,  “Can you give me a lift to….”, “Can I have….”, “Where is….” – it’s a never-ending cycle with no room for mundane little things like editing or even more fun, writing some new stuff.  Add to that, the organising for going back to school, preparing for the eldest two members of the Gang heading off to Tertiary education, the normal household stuff and there don’t seem to be a lot of spare minutes in the day.

But having blamed the Gang of Four and a lot of other things for my indiscretions, I have to admit to my most cardinal sin.  Procrastination.  Even when I do sit down, thinking I’ll do some work, I manage to fiddle-faddle around to the point where I don’t get anything done.  Editing is not my favourite thing.  Granted, I don’t think it is any writer’s favourite thing.  Consequently, when I sit down to do some editing, I manage to do lots of other things.  The number one procrastinating enabler?  Facebook.  I’ve been known to work through a paragraph… go and check Facebook… work through the next paragraph… go and check Facebook… make a cuppa… go and write some comments on Facebook… type a couple of amendments .. go and play a quick game on Facebook…

You can see a pattern developing, can’t you?

Add to this, my love of reading.  And research for books to be written in the future.  And watching antique shows on Foxtel.  And daydreaming about the characters in my head, whom are (im)patiently waiting for me to get around to their stories.

I’ve been editing the second book in the series for some time now.  I have to have it ready for my beta readers by the beginning of February, in preparation for publishing in March.  I had eighty pages left to do on Monday, seventy eight pages left to do on Tuesday, the same amount to do on Wednesday (yeah, it was a bad day!), fifty pages left to do by last night (yesterday was a good day!).  And here on Friday evening, I still have a grand total of fifty pages to get through.

On that note, I should go and do some editing…  hmmm, haven’t checked Facebook for a while….

Facebook and Twitter and Blogger….oh my!

Okay.  One of the things I have to get my head around, on this journey to being a self-published author is publicity.  The question I asked myself?  How do I publicize myself in the best possible way, reaching as many people as possible?

Obviously I’ve made the first step with a Facebook page.  (Which is coming along quite nicely, I might add – thanks!)

What is the second step?  It was one question I didn’t rightly know the answer to, so of course, I reached for my trusty ‘I have a question and I don’t know the answer’ fall-back position.

Google.

You know, it occurs to me that there isn’t a question Google can’t answer.  Oh, of course, the obvious fault is that the answer you get might not be a true answer.  You can’t always believe what you read on the internet.

But for myself, starting out on this journey, it’s proving to be a lifesaver.  The two most highly suggested ways of publicizing appear to be Facebook and a blog.  I already had the Facebook covered… now I needed a blog.  For some of my friends and family on Facebook, they may well be delighted that I’ve discovered blogging; more than once I’ve had complaints regarding the size of my status updates being more like a small book than an update.  For that I apologize, but I find it nearly impossible to write a small update.  And I don’t want to bore people with the ‘I had sausages for dinner last night’ updates.  That just isn’t my style.  If I’m going to give people an insight into my life and times, it’s going to be on my terms.  I, for one hooted with delight when Facebook removed the maximum sizing on Facebook status updates, which had been the bane of my life when posting.

So here I am with Part ‘B’ of the publishing journey – a blog.  A lot of the time, it will likely be a rambling prose as most of my updates on Facebook have been.  But I hope it will help to get my books out there into public view as well.  

As for Twitter?  Nah, not so much.  Probably because you have that word limit thing again, which puts a serious dent in my updates.  Can I tell you everything I want to in short and sweet little 100+ odd characters?  Not likely.  But who knows, I never say never, and if I get my book published and sell all of two copies, maybe I’ll be forced to add the Twitter path to my arsenal…. 🙂

Well, here I am….

 
Settling into the idea of being a self-published author is not the easiest thing to do.  Two days into the madness and I’m trying to figure out what will be the right amount of publicity.  How much is too much?  How much is not enough?
  

It’s the equivalent of walking blindfolded through a room filled with mousetraps.
Consequently, I’ve decided to start slowly and work my way up to brilliance.  As my own editor, publisher, copywriter, agent and publicity officer – I figured I’d start with a Facebook page and a blog.  See how that pans out.

The reaction to the Facebook page has been brilliant – family and friends have come out in droves to support me, which I greatly appreciate 🙂
   
Now I’m gonna try and figure out the rest in the countdown to publishing in January 2013.
If I don’t think about it too hard, I’m sure I’ll probably be just fine…