Café novelist

Tips for indie authors

Freedom to write and publish

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Yes, free at last to pursue my passion. I’ve been pursuing it for the last few years though, but I feel that I’ve been hampered and shackled by factors outside of my control. My dedication to the art of writing has been tempered by my obsession with sales (or lack, thereof!) of my books. I used to get quite disheartened when I used to look at my sales graph and it resembled an ECG reading of a sloth! But I feel confident enough from reviews and feedback to know that I have a writing style that appeals to some. So, I don’t take any negative sales personally any more.

I’ve come to the realisation that no amount of social media activity will ever influence sales, and I’ve never been an active user anyway. I’ll hold my hands up and say that my sales for the last few months have been disastrous, but here’s the thing, I’m not affected by it any more. I used to think that I’d never be free of feeling disillusioned by the lack of activity. But when you know you have a good style and a solid product and you, above all believe in it, then that’s all that matters.

I love writing and the freedom and peace of mind it affords me. I’m writing this in case there are other authors out there in the same position as me. Sales are great, and each one I get I’m grateful for, but never lose sight of why you felt the need to start writing in the first place.

And before anyone berates me for my lack of enthusiasm about social media and the like, I haven’t given up on promoting my books. I just feel the need to expend more energy on writing and trying to stay positive.

Do you feel disillusioned about your sales success? Contact me and we can have a good moan together! :0

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Free advertising for authors on Amazon – well, almost!

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After having tried Facebook advertising with marginal success, yet paying handsomely for the privilege I thought I’d try another avenue. I have been aware for some time of the possibility of advertising through Amazon to promote one’s books. I just thought it was simply another way of throwing money down the drain so I ignored it initially. But after having another look at Amazon Marketing Services I thought I’d give it a try.

What I have found is that it is a really inexpensive way of getting more eyeballs on your products. Whilst it might not lead to bucket loads of sales it can run in the background, and you don’t have to worry about racking up costs unlike Facebook ads. For example, at the time of writing, the advertising campaign I’m running for my first book, The Shamanic Prophecy has been displayed 1,168 times at a grand total of $0.20! Now, where else can you run that sort of advertising campaign for such a low cost?

The way it works is that you can input up to 1,000 keywords which you think are similar to the keywords that people search for when looking for your book. Also, you can put in the author’s names of books which people have bought after buying yours. The process is that if you go to your author page (here is my page, Heath Shedlake) you will see on the left-hand side of the page, Customers Also Bought Items By. This is where you’ll find all the really useful information about other authors. And if some of the authors are successful, then so much the better. For instance, a couple of the authors listed on my page are Paulo Coelho, author of the international best-seller The Alchemist and James Redfield, author of The Celestine Prophecy.

It is totally acceptable to put this kind of information in, and in my experience one can be more liberal with keywords via Amazon Marketing Services than with the seven keywords one is allowed when downloading one’s book via Kindle Direct Publishing. So the lesson is this, why not research some keywords using Google Adwords or similar and start running an advertising campaign?

Trust me, you won’t spend a lot and it’s just an inexpensive way of trying to promote one’s works.

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Kindle ‘page-flip’ affecting author’s earnings

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You’ve heard me moan on here before about Kindle’s new ‘page-flip’ reading system. Well, I’m not done yet! After seeing my page reads go from in the thousands to just 1 this month, yes, you heard it right – just 1 page, I’ve decided enough is enough. Whilst Amazon are remaining very tight-lipped about this issue and are refusing to discuss the matter, I’m trying to heighten awareness.

I have recently read an interesting article online about a way to disable ‘page-flip’ by embedding a code in the files that one formats for the Kindle process. Now, it is quite technical and I’ll try my hands at most things, but this is beyond me so I’ve outsourced it to the guy who formats my paperbacks. I’m not sure if it will work yet, but once he delivers my files and I’ve uploaded them I’ll report back.

Anyone else had this issue? Please tell me I’m not alone! 🙂

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Amazon shafting authors!

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Do you notice anything different about the two graphs I’ve included with this post? It’s hard not to miss. I’m referring specifically to the blue line which reports on ‘pages read’ as reported by Amazon for Kindle Unlimited. I had been fortunate enough to have well over a couple of thousand pages read every month for several years. And while not earth shattering for some I was comforted knowing that my books were being read on a daily basis.

And then – bam! Overnight the pages read graph plummeted to only a handful of pages read (refer to graph below). Initially I was flummoxed and disappointed and I began to investigate online, and that’s when I found other authors in the same position as me. But when contacting Amazon to notify them of this discrepancy I received the same pat response as others.

I don’t believe their reply that everything was correct and there was nothing wrong with their reporting system. I also don’t accept that one day I was having thousands of pages read and then just by chance it disappeared overnight and forever. It so happened that this anomaly occurred when Amazon introduced their ‘page-flip’ system on Kindle, which has accounted for reporting issues. It seems strange to me that the ‘higher-ups’ have not become aware of this problem and that authors are opting-out of KDP Select. If anyone has had the same problem then please get in touch with me. We, as authors need to pile on the pressure until they admit that they have in-house issues and that they can’t treat their authors in such a cavalier and casual manner.Screenshot 2017-03-26 14.34.29

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Rewriting an old story

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I am currently working on what will be the trilogy to my first two novels, which are currently published. It is quite a task knowing how much back story to tell without the story becoming bogged down. But readers are clever creatures and don’t need to be spoon-fed erroneous details. But as an author who would cringe if I published a novel with any mistakes I thought I’d go back to my first novel and brush up on certain facts.

That was when I realised that in the ensuing years I had learned a lot more about the writing process and I saw certain things that I could change. I still felt strongly that it was a powerful book with a strong tale to tell. But I had a nagging feeling that I could do it better justice. Initially, I was just going to fiddle around with the opening chapters, but being the perfectionist I am I went through the whole novel. After all, one has to have the same narrative voice throughout. Reading through the first book I find that I now have a better connection with the trilogy.

Why am I telling you this?

Well, I constantly read that when one has published a novel to leave well alone. Yes, that is true to a certain extent. But if, like me, you feel that a rewrite is in order-then, why not? One is always learning the craft of writing and (hopefully) we get better all the time. You know the expression that, ‘a change is as good as a rest’?  Well, if you’re becoming bogged down in a certain project, why not have a go at rewriting an old book?

 

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New Year’s writing resolutions

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I normally don’t hold much store in New Year’s resolutions as I have self-control bordering on being monastic in its nature. If I say that I will do something then I can be as reliable as the Japanese railways timetable! Equally, if I say that I’m going to give up something then I’ll do it, I don’t need a special date like New Year’s Day to achieve it -don’t get me started on the grief I’ve gotten from friends and family on giving up wheat recently.

But one thing I’ve realised is that one can be slightly obsessive about the whole self-publishing arena. I have recently joined several self-publishing forums on FaceBook, but after a couple of weeks I deleted them because all the posts from other authors seemed slightly desperate in the content of their posts. Now, we all want more exposure and would love to sell more books, but it can lead one into becoming distracted and demotivated.

So, as from now I’m just concentrating on writing for myself and let things happen as and when. I think there’s too much emphasis on being busy all the time on social media and the like, but really, where does that get you? I believe that it drains one’s creative energies, which can otherwise be utilised more creatively.

So, be bold and do absolutely nothing but write for a while, and see how liberating it feels.

 

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The power of social media

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As some of my followers might be aware already, I have become an over-excited new convert to Instagram. I have only recently discovered how very effective it can be. There is a social platform for everyone, I believe. As I have stated before, you never know who’s browsing on the internet and looking at your content. With hundreds of thousands of self-published authors out there it’s hard to get one’s voice heard.

Increasingly I grow tired, thinking of new ways to promote my books, which can quickly drain my creative energy. So, that is why I have taken to Instagram, whereby I can design my own images to pique people’s interest, and hopefully engage with me on my page. It allows me to post original content and exercise my creativity at the same time. This gives me a break from writing and allows  me to connect with people from all over the world.

So, there was I last night, creating my own version of a famous quote by Eckhart Tolle  ( see above ) and I posted it off into the ether, chortling away to myself. I had quite a number of comments and likes from that post, which was very satisfying. Then I literally had to do a double-take as I spotted a ‘like’ from the very man himself. This is a man who has sold million of books, most notably, The Power of Now. These are thought-provoking books and quite empowering; but it just goes to show that he is not without a sense of humour – luckily for me!

I couldn’t believe it. He has 166k followers and he still managed to spot my post and take the time to like it. It just goes to prove my original point that you never know who’s looking. I’ve posted a little screenshot below just to prove my point 🙂

Thank you, Eckhart!

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Eckhart Tolle

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#Hashtagging with Instagram

 

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Until recently I’ve eschewed utilising a lot of social media platforms, considering them a bit of a waste of time for me personally. But one can’t ignore it and live in the stone-age, especially if like me, you have to maintain an author profile. But I find Facebook uninspiring, and I just can’t think of what to say. And as for Twitter, well, let’s not go there!

But then I rediscovered my Instagram account, which had lain dormant since I absently signed up for it months ago. After putting up a few random photos I had stored in my phone I wondered where else I could go with it. Then through a friend’s recommendation I signed up with Canva.com. With recommendations such as “Canva enables anyone to become a designer.” – I’ve since found that to be true, as I have no experience whatsoever.

Well, I must admit, I’ve become hooked! This has allowed me to redesign my own take on famous quotes that people share and repeat, which quite frankly get on my nerves! I’ve now found my social media niche as it allows me to be creative and use humour, and it is almost immediate. Take a look at my Instagram account and see if you agree! Heath Shedlake on Instagram.

After seeing a few other posts, I noticed their use of hashtags, and was intrigued. After all, I’d never really been aware of how powerful they could be. See this article on their usage – Instagram Hashtagging. Since utilising them in my posts I’ve seen a marked increase in the number of likes and followers I’ve received. Which is most comforting to my #fragile ego!

Here’s a nice comforting one to end with 🙂

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#PoweredByIndie – Why I love being an indie author

 

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I just received an e mail this morning from Amazon informing me about their celebration of great self-published writing in the month of October. They said to share via one’s blog why you love being an indie author, using this hashtag #PoweredByIndie. Click on this link for more information #PoweredByIndie

The thing I love about being an indie author is the feeling of complete freedom it provides.

Freedom to spend weeks not writing anything, without an editor breathing down your neck. Freedom to dream about being discovered as ‘the next big thing’. Freedom to publish books that nobody reads. Freedom to write content on social media that nobody comments on. Of course I’m jesting! 🙂

But sometimes it feels like it, doesn’t it? Being an indie author is a bloody hard slog and very lonely. It can also be very frustrating when, like me, you’re not so fond of social media, and then you read of someone who says something like, ‘Oh, I just posted a picture of my cute little kitten sitting on my laptop on FaceBook and I got 100,000 followers and my book became an overnight sensation!’

Where’s a kitten when you need one?!

But I do the best I can and I live in the hope that my books will finally reach a wider audience. That is why I am determined to remain an indie author as one never knows what could happen. But the thing is not to get caught up in the future and just keep on writing for today.

And to my fellow authors, remember to use the hashtag #PoweredByIndie so that Amazon might share your experiences of being an indie author. And just in case Amazon are reading this I LOVE being an indie author. Got it?! 🙂

 

 

 

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How to maximize your book sales

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As everyone knows, the largest player in the e-book industry is the mighty behemoth, Amazon. They offer indie authors the fantastic opportunity to self-publish their own books, thereby cutting out the middle man. Indeed, this is a great opportunity, and you press that ‘publish now’ button with great enthusiasm – me included. Thereafter follows the little known misery of being a self-published author – how to maximize your book sales.

Amazon have a clever marketing strategy of allowing you to enroll in KDP Select, whereby readers are able to borrow and read your book and even lend it to others for a period of time. I have been reluctant to change the status quo as I have been sucked in by the allure of Amazon’s KENP service. KENP stands for Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read. This means that an author receives royalties for this also, and it affects one’s sales rankings also. But the payments really are peanuts, unless you are one of the lucky authors who are seeing thousands of pages read every day.

I must admit that I have seen my royalty payments increase a little, but what could I be missing out on by publishing exclusively with Amazon? There are other players in the market, notably Barnes & Noble, Kobo, ibooks etc… Luckily there is a company out there that allows you to self-publish with them all, including Amazon.

That company is Draft2Digital. One can only register and publish with them if you are not currently enrolled in Amazon’s KDP select programme, otherwise you will fall foul of Amazon’s terms and conditions.

Now, I’m never one to follow the easy path and am more likely to follow the road less travelled. So that is why at the end of my KDP Select enrollment I will be giving Draft2Digital a try. After all, it’s all about how to maximize your book sales.

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How to get your blog noticed

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As I was driving back from town this afternoon I tuned into Jeremy Vine’s programme on BBC Radio 2. I listened with interest to two of his guests who had a lot of experience and success with blogging. Let’s face it, all of us who blog want to find out how to get your blog noticed. So I thought I’d phone in and ask for advice and hopefully get a little exposure.

Incredibly I got through first time as there are normally hundreds and hundreds of callers trying to get through. That was the first hurdle, and then they decide whether it’s worth your while to be put through to the studio. Well, for those of you who heard me, I did get through and I put my questions to their expert. She was very polite and helpful, and it all boiled down to the fact that I need to blog more.

Now, for those of you who have kindly followed me, do not fear, I shan’t be blogging every day! The purpose of this post is to keep an eye out for every opportunity you can to gain more exposure on how to get your blog noticed.

You never know who’s listening!

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Embracing solitude

 

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QUOTE BY OSCAR WILDE

“I won’t tell you that the world matters nothing, or the world’s voice, or the voice of society. They matter a good deal. They matter far too much. But there are moments when one has to choose between living one’s own life, fully, entirely, completely—or dragging out some false, shallow, degrading existence that the world in its hypocrisy demands. You have that moment now. Choose!” – Oscar Wilde

In my ‘day job’ I’m forced to fly around the world with people with whom most of the time I have nothing in common with. The one solace that I have at the end of a very busy day or night, flying to God know’s where, is that I’m supplied with a lovely hotel room in which to relax in.

I’m constantly amused by my colleagues when they gather at the front-desk on arrival, and then ask who wants to meet for breakfast and then go shopping. Now, why on earth would you want to subject yourself to such torture? Do you normally ask half a dozen people you hardly know to sit around your kitchen table at home and share breakfast together? When I reply, ‘I’d rather spoon my eyes out and suck them dry with a straw!’ I must admit I receive a few strange glances.

But, hey – I’m a grumpy old bugger and I freely admit it.

I’d be interested to know if other authors feel the same. For me, if there’s a crowd I’ll do everything I can to avoid it, and if most people are turning right, then I’ll go left. I know people mutter that I’m a bit of a loner and I just do my own thing. But if I just gave in to peer pressure, then I’d be wandering around the streets of Mexico City with my colleagues, getting more and more wound-up. Instead I’m sitting in a lovely little coffee-shop on a tree-lined avenue, working on my third novel and telling you what a miserable bugger I am! 🙂

But on a serious note, it’s taken me a while to have the self-confidence to ignore the comments and just get on with what makes me happy 🙂

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Updating your social media footprint

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Now, I suspect that I am not alone amongst my fellow authors and many others out there of being a bit of a technophobe when it comes to social media, et al. After all, there are so many platforms to choose from and so much chitter-chatter going on, it makes one wonder if all the effort really is worthwhile. It’s a question of identifying those sites where you can positively engage with your chosen audience and of getting the word out.

I must admit that I’m not one for posting endlessly about my daily going’s-on as not even my girlfriend wants to hear about my day! That’s a topic for another discussion 🙂 But there are sites out there that can actually drive traffic to increase sales of one’s novels.

One such website is booklaunch.io. I set up a page with them many years ago for my debut novel, The Shamanic Prophecy, and subsequently forgot all about it. Sorry booklaunch guys! But I have to admit that I’ve ignored it at my peril. As I was sitting at my laptop the other day I decided to have a visit. That’s when I saw that a lot of the information I had submitted I have subsequently altered since. So, in a cafe with a couple of hours free and a cup of green tea to hand I updated all the relevant information. That’s when I came to the pricing section of my book and I noticed that I had left it at a higher price than it has been for a number of years now.

“Whoops!” I thought. “I’d better change that pretty pronto.”

All changes done I felt quite satisfied with myself and decided to visit the stats section. Thereupon I noticed to my satisfaction that I had quite a number of purchase clicks That’s when I realised that it pays to keep on top of those things.

Silly bugger! 🙂

 

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How to position your Kindle book in the right category

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With hundreds of categories and sub-categories on offer in the Kindle store, how can you be sure that you have yours placed in the right one? For quite a while now I’ve stuck rigidly to what I thought was the right genre for my novels. With a steady trickle of sales I didn’t want to upset the apple cart by changing tack.

Well, that is where Amazons’ ‘Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought’  section comes in handy. I looked up these books to discover what genre they were placed in, and I was surprised to find that they weren’t the same as mine. So that is where the habits of readers is a very useful tool. I’ve noticed that my novels are linked quite strongly to those of Paulo Coelho’s, and especially The Alchemist in particular.  That is where I realised that perhaps readers were experiencing a spiritual side to my books.

With a bit of research afterwards I decided that Visionary Fiction was the best fit for me. It took a while for me to notice any difference, but after a week or so I noticed an increase in sales. If you are experiencing a slight falter in sales, might it not be time to see if your books are in the right category? On its own this is just one tool in an author’s arsenal of achieving more sales. But with each little step forwards in self-promotion it all counts in getting the word out – does it not?!

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Should every author have a website?

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I’ve been struggling lately with the simple question of whether I should have a website or not. After all, I have a blog already don’t I? I mean, it’s not a huge dilemma really. But it’s one of those things that I have been putting off. Mainly due to the fact that I thought it would cost a lot of money, and who would I get to design it?

After putting a huge amount of work into my debut novel The Shamanic Prophecy and the sequel Hope Not Lost – I wanted a site that would do them justice, and any further novels. That’s when I decided to respond to the prompts I kept getting from wix.com. I had registered with them ages ago and subsequently forgot all about it. So, with a few hours to spare one evening, I thought “Why not?”. Well, I am pleased to report that it was sooo easy. You know that expression, “If I can do it, then you can.” ? Well, that is true in this instance. With only a vague knowledge of such procedures, I had a beautiful website at heathshedlake.com in only a matter of hours.

So, I’ve cut out the middle man and saved a ton of money as well. Go ahead, give it a try – you might just surprise yourself.

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Is bigger always better?

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If only I could write a book as big and all-encompassing as War & Peace. But I don’t think I have it in me. And that doesn’t really matter does it? Some people seem to churn out massive tomes time and time again, and I always wonder how they do it. My books always seem to end up at around the 50,000 word count and as much as I ponder about some kind of ‘filler’, I don’t think it would be fair to the reader. After all, that is all it would be – just fluff to make it seem bigger.

But if you’ve provided enough character development, suitable dialogue, story-line and twists – then you’ve done your job as an author. Many, many times I’ve picked up a book and read past the half-way point and given up in exasperation as I’ve become bored or confused – or both. I think the problem with the more famous authors out there is that they’re pushed by their editors and publishers to churn out several novels a year of about 80,000 words or more to fulfill their contracts.

Oh, please don’t let me win a contract with a famous publisher – I just don’t know where I’d find those extra 30,000 words!

So, I’m just going to keep plugging away with what I consider to be reasonably sized novels to provide entertainment and value for money. After all, I’ve never had any reader complain that I hadn’t taken them on a merry-go-round of superfluous characters, wooden dialogue and dead-end plots. Not yet anyway!

 

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How to turn negative book reviews into a positive

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Are you an author, and have you received any negative feedback?

Well, I’ve just recently received my first two-star review and I’m absolutely fine with that! Let me explain.

None of us like the same things in life – be it films, food, drink etc… So, it is the same with books. I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t go anywhere near a book or any product with all glowing five-star reviews. That’s not real life is it? As authors we can be precious and protective about our work. After all, we’ve spent many hundreds, if not thousands of hours honing our manuscripts. But if one is to publish a novel and put it out there into the big wide world, then it’s only common sense that some readers won’t like it. I think most people are driven to write reviews because they either really love a product or don’t. I don’t think many of us would take the time to write that we thought a product was just okay. So when I receive a new review my heart skips a beat or two.

I must admit that my first reaction was to feel a bit embarrassed and somewhat miffed to receive such a review. But on contemplation I feel that it has balanced things out somewhat. Saying that, I was relieved though, to receive two rather glowing reviews ( I blush as I write this! ) a few weeks later within quick succession of each other.

All is right with the world.” I thought afterwards!

I look upon my two-star review as a badge of honour, along with all the others. After all, it is recognition that I made that huge leap to present my work to the wider reading community.

Thank you to all of you who take the time to review authors’ works – be it good or bad.

I’m just nervously awaiting the first reviews of my second book now!

Keep on writing, and  be brave 🙂

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The finishing line

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Having just completed the sequel to my first novel I thought I would feel an enormous sense of achievement and well-being. After all, I had proved to myself and the wider-world that writing one book wasn’t just a fluke. I did feel happy for a while, but it was soon replaced by a feeling of despondency.

Let me explain.

This book had been a part of my life for almost two years. Yes, I’m a slow writer! After having written my debut novel, and featuring some of the same characters in the sequel, I felt like I had got to know them quite well. I carried their hopes and aspirations around with me and thought about what their next steps would be. Upon nearing completion, and after numerous edits I felt a growing excitement at what I was about to accomplish. As I worked with my designer to create a book cover it started to become real, just like it did with my first book. The story was written, the last few rounds of self-imposed editing complete, and a book cover created.

That was it, I had finished – tah dah!

But there it was, a huge void in my life had suddenly appeared and I must admit I wasn’t ready for it. I knew how much I had always enjoyed writing, but I must admit I wasn’t fully aware of its importance in my daily life. Yes, I have other activities like kite-surfing, paddle-boarding, running and yoga, which I enjoy. But nothing can replace the feeling of creating a story and becoming fully absorbed with one’s characters. I realised that the reason why I felt so bereft was that I had no future writing plans and no ideas as to how to move forwards. However, I have learnt a valuable lesson from all of this angst, and that is not to fret about your future writing prospects. No matter how hard it feels at the time, ideas will flow and soon you’ll be wondering what all the fuss was about.

So now I have started work on what will become a trilogy. And those around me can breathe a sigh of relief !

Happy writing 🙂

Image courtesy of : https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/431853051738208762/

 

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Kindle Scout campaign

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Hope Not Lost – submitted by Heath Shedlake

Well, this it – I have submitted my second novel, Hope Not Lost, into the Kindle Scout programme. This is the sequel to my debut novel, The Shamanic Prophecy. Luckily I have passed the first hurdle, which was to be accepted after fulfilling all the right criteria. When I started writing it two years ago I wasn’t aware of its existence. I haven’t been too bothered about finding a publisher or agent before as I wished to remain in control of the whole process.

I did dip my toe into the water a few months back, and I was offered a publishing contact with the first publisher I approached. Although my initial enthusiasm was dampened by their less than transparent ideas as to how they would promote my work. Coupled with a ten-year contract I decided to pull out and continue merrily on my own, without even a moment’s hesitation.

And then I read about the Kindle Scout programme and I knew it was a ‘no-brainer’. What with $1,500 up front, 50% royalties and a five-year deal, I personally think it’s the best deal out there for self-published authors. Coupled with the fact that readers nominate one’s work, I feel that it would be a huge pat on the back from my peers if I was nominated. After all, that is the only thing that I care about – the opinion of my readers. I personally don’t bother with forums and the like as there are too many opinions and people who always think they know best. So this is the best platform for me to see if all my hard work has been worth it.

There is a thirty-day period over which readers can nominate my novel after reading a percentage of the book. Regardless of the outcome I am still pleased to have taken part in such an author and reader-friendly ‘competition’.

Any self-published writer who is looking for a publishing deal could do a lot worse than submit their work on this platform.

My campaign begins on December 9, 2015 12:00 AM EST and lasts for 30 days.

This is the link to click on if anyone is so inclined! 🙂
https://kindlescout.amazon.com/p/3OQP4N8QUT4F6

This is the cover to look out for!

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If anyone has any comments on this post or any experience of the Kindle Scout programme please feel free to contact me.

And good luck to all other authors out there who have submitted their work.

 

 

 

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Turning down a publishing contract

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When I tell people in conversation that I have written a book and have a sequel almost finished, the refrain I often hear is – “Have you got a publisher?”

The thing is, I have never even thought about seeking a publisher, and like a lot of authors, I self-published on Amazon. People are often heard to say, somewhat unkindly, that to follow this route is for the vainglorious or talentless. Yes, there are some books out there in the self-published arena, with their badly formatted manuscripts and typos. But the publishing world is changing at a fast pace and this platform gives authors more freedom.

No longer do writers have to spend years trying to find an agent or a publisher willing to take on their work. One reads of many authors receiving rejection letter after rejection letter. I decided from early on that that was not the path for me. The only viewpoint I respect is that of my readers.That being said though, I read a few months ago in ‘Writing Magazine’ that a major UK digital publisher was seeking submissions and I thought, “Why not?”

I submitted my manuscript and a few weeks later I received an e-mail saying that they would like to add my novel to their portfolio. However, my initial feelings of excitement were quickly replaced with ones of disappointment when they failed to state as to how they would effectively market my book. I looked up several of their authors’ works on Amazon and found that their sales rankings were well below mine. It seemed clear to me that they were volume publishers with no individual attention paid to each separate novel. Also, the fact that I would be tied in to a ten-year deal became quite unappealing to me.

But the process has left me feeling justified in continuing with the self-publishing route and I feel vindicated in my actions. I never thought that when I started out on my writing career that one day I would turn down a publishing contract, but I went with my gut feeling.

If I was to offer any advice to any self-published authors, it would be to think long and hard about agreeing to a publishing deal. Read the small print very carefully and seek professional advice if still unsure.

Who knows though, I might just change my tune one day if a major publishing house offers me a deal that will allow me to pay off my mortgage!

Have any other authors reading this had a similar experience? I’d be interested in hearing your story.

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I’m addicted to Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count!

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As if it wasn’t bad enough that I have become obsessed with checking my sales figures on a daily basis, now Amazon Kindle have offered another way of driving my obsession. That is the introduction of seeing how many pages readers have read of your book via ‘borrows’ from the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library. I was confused initially as to how it worked and how to read the data, but it really is very simple.

I was rather pleased the other morning to see that over 800 pages had been read overnight. The great thing for authors is that one gets paid if the whole book has been read, but with several of my works out there it’s difficult to know. One just has to wait for the royalty cheque at the end of the month. But anything that helps to drive sales and those all-important reviews is no bad thing for authors.

These seemingly innocuous looking little graphs are like a drug that feed my desire to feel validated as a writer. I haven’t discussed this with those closest to me as I know they wouldn’t be interested and it has become my guilty little secret!

‘Well, don’t look!’  I hear you cry.

I know, you’re right of course. But just a little peek can’t hurt can it?

 

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Me and my big mouth!

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I thought it was a good idea when I walked into my local newspaper’s office last week and boldly asked if they would like to run an article about my novel. One quick phone call upstairs and a moment later a reporter arrived and began to ask me all about my writing experiences. Having a number of my own books under my stairs, I suggested that it would be a good idea to run a limited give-away with the article. I walked away promising to send appropriate photos and to finalise the piece and the practicalities of giving away the free copies.
I discussed this some time later with a friend of mine who has just refurbished a local bar, and he said I could hold a book signing event there. Emboldened by all my positive work in promoting my book I sent these details to the newspaper and eagerly awaited its publication.
Now the article is published and I have posted promotional material in the appropriate places, I have this sick feeling in my stomach – what if no-one turns up? 🙂 Of course, I know this is only a natural reaction and there is no way I’m backing out. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all that. But these are the self-imposed traumas that we inflict upon ourselves as self-published authors in order to promote our work. I am supplying free tea, coffee and bubbly though, so I’m sure that at least one person will turn up, if only for that enticement alone! Just imagine giving a little welcome speech to one person – I’ll feel like I’m hypnotising them!
If anyone has held a book signing and has any advice to give me, I’d be glad to hear from you 🙂

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“So” is the new “um”

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Conspiracy theories have abounded for decades about the cover-up of alien beings walking among us. We have all seen pictures and films of wide-eyed skinny green men with laser guns that vaporise innocent bystanders in a cloud of atoms. But what if their appearance was more subtle than that and to all intents and purposes they looked and acted just like us. How could you tell them apart? Could it be that innocent old Doris working in the photocopying room is one of them?
Well, fret not. I have discovered a sure-fire way of spotting them, and once you notice it they will stand out like a sore thumb. I’m not sure when this invasion started, but once they established their presence their numbers swelled. Slowly I became aware of the strange way in which they talked, and no matter how hard they tried they could not master the subtle nuances of the English language.
What was the tell-tale giveaway?
Starting their answers to direct questions with a conjunction – an unforgiveable and deadly sin and one which can damage the sensibilities of any unsuspecting listener!
It goes something like this…

Imagine an everyday mundane situation like ordering a coffee.

“Can I help you?”

“So, I’ll have an almond latte.”

“Any pastries?”

“So, no thank you.”

So bloody irritating!

 

 

 
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♫ Let’s get jiggy with it! ♫

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I’m not too sure if you’re aware of it yet, but there is a growing phenomena out there. Once you become aware of it, you’ll be searching for it everywhere. At the moment it seems to be only confined to coffee shops, but it’s only a matter of time before it spreads. What am I talking about?
JIGGLY LEGS!
Yes, that’s it. Is there anything else more annoying whilst you’re trying to work? At least with people yakking away on their mobiles you can plug in your music. But what to do with a jiggling leg or foot in your peripheral vision? Once spotted you just can’t ignore it. Now, I know it’s my choice to write in coffee shops, so I should just stop my moaning and put up with it – right? Wrong! 🙂 Why can’t people just sit still? I have been writing in coffee shops in New York, Toronto and Dallas in the past couple of weeks and it seems all-pervasive.
There was a gentleman sitting next to me today who was jiggling his legs so much I’m surprised he didn’t spill his coffee. I suppose this goes to prove how intolerant I am of other people’s habits, but surely I’m not alone – or am I? I’d be interested to know what you think 🙂

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Top ten tips for aspiring authors

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These are only my humble interpretation of writing tips for aspiring authors.
TIP ONE: There are no rules in writing! Don’t write in to berate me just yet, I’m saying this on the understanding that good grammar, punctuation and layout are a given. I believe that you have to be free to write what inspires you and if readers enjoy it, then it’s as simple as that.
TIP TWO: NEVER listen to anyone around you who tries to dissuade you from writing, whatever the reason may be.
TIP THREE: Just write – no matter what. I meet so many people who say that they have always wanted to write a book. Well, what’s stopping you?
TIP FOUR: Try not to think about the book in its entirety; otherwise you’d never even start.
TIP FIVE: Write about what excites you and not what you think will sell well. It’s all about the process of writing from the heart, that’s what will shine through from the pages.
TIP SIX: Unless you need the company don’t waste your time on forums. There are always people who think they know best and have all the answers. Controversial, I know!
TIP SEVEN: Try not to think about what you are writing, there will be PLENTY of time for editing later. And editing, and editing….
TIP EIGHT: Tell yourself you are a writer right from the start, if you think that way you’ll give yourself an enormous confidence boost by that simple action alone. You don’t have to sell any books to consider yourself a writer.
TIP NINE: Write wherever and whenever you can and don’t be concerned about word count. Even if you only write 100 words in a day, then you’re closer to your ultimate goal.
TIP TEN: Understand that even best-selling authors have days of self-doubt and self-loathing for their writing. Never ever give up. You’ll be so pleased with yourself that you didn’t. What better feeling to hold a paperback in your hands that has your name printed upon it – hmm?

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