Café novelist

Frustrated indie author!

How to make your book more discoverable with Amazon’s keywords

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Are you frustrated by lack of sales? There could be many reasons for this, but if you’ve covered the basics such as good editing and a professional book cover there could be other reasons. Yes, your book is your baby, but just by pressing that publish button doesn’t mean that sales will just come flooding in.

After a period of very slow sales I was becoming very despondent by the whole process, I don’t mind saying. But then I decided to do a bit of research and use Amazon’s tips on how to use categories and keywords effectively. Then I came across a piece of useful information that I was not aware of before. I shall write this step-by-step as I did it.

If you contact Amazon support on your product page by scrolling to the very bottom, you will see to the left – Categories and Keywords. Click on this then you will see this line at the top –  What are some best practices for choosing keywords?

Click on this and you will see at the top of this page – Categories with keyword requirements. In this section you will see requirements for Amazon.com or Amazon.uk. Let me use the example that I used. I clicked on Amazon..com and used the following genre – Literature & Fiction. And this is where I found what I thought was really useful and never knew before. I’ll use the information that they have provided below.

“In order for a title to appear in the Literature & Fiction sub-categories below, the title’s search keywords must include at least one of the keywords or phrases listed next to the sub-category. These categories and subcategories are  specific to books listed for sale on Amazon.com; other marketplaces may not support these keywords.”

So if you want to refine your category and sub-categories it is useful to use keywords effectively. And to do so even further you can click on this link which will help you refine your other keywords more effectively – Make Your Book More Discoverable with Keywords.

My process was to use the keywords 17th century and coming of age to place my first book The Shamanic Prophecy in those following sub-categories. Then I used these keywords following Amazon’s tips, forgiveness, feel-good, strong male lead, Spanish conquest of the Americas. If readers cannot find your books then it will be well worth it to invest a little of your time to research categories and keywords.

You’ve got nothing to lose – apart from your sanity! 🙂

 

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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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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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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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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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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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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.

Image courtesy of https://uk.pinterest.com/pin/528539706238669122/

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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!

 

 

 
Image courtesy of
yourfreeart.blogspot.com

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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?

Image courtesy of: http://www.pinterest.com/brittanyjgarmon/color-treatments/

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Itchy and scratchy!

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Giving away your book to family members is a bit like the sweater that your granny knitted for you – let me explain! In your initial enthusiasm and joy at having written your first book, you long for the world to share your work of inspiration and genius. After all, who could be better to join in with the fun than your own eager family? I never thought that I was one to give away unwanted presents, and thought I had taste, so after having spent years on my manuscript and producing a paperback that I could be proud of and didn’t shout out “SELF-PUBLISHED AUTHOR!”, I was confident of receiving a warm welcome. But any mention of my book afterwards is a bit of a tumbleweed moment to say the least, so from now on I shall take comfort in the praise and welcome of complete strangers! I’m currently working on my sequel to The Shamanic Prophecy, so just to be irksome, I know what to give them for their birthdays! 🙂
Sorry granny, I wish I had worn your Christmas jumper after all now!
Image courtesy of : http://www.pinterest.com/linamohr4/things-that-make-you-go-ha/

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It’s all for a good cause!

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God, I’m such a miserable bugger! I was at work the other day and someone was walking round clutching a sponsorship form haranguing people for money. I don’t know if anyone was thinking like me but they all seemed glad to hand over their money for only the sparse information he gave that ‘he was doing a parachute jump.’ I did my best to avoid my colleague but he eventually cornered me, asking “Don’t you want to sponsor me then?”. It was as if the implication in that question was that I must be terribly mean and uncharitable for not giving to his cause – ‘after all it is for charity!’. Well I personally hate it when people force you to make that judgement there and then and disapprove if you say no. Surely it must be up to the individual’s own choice as to how much, when and what they give, and to my mind it is too judgemental and simplistic to form such an opinion. I have actually worked for charities full-time and given to them regularly. I suppose I am a bit irked that I didn’t stand up for my own convictions and just say no, but for the sake of harmony I did sponsor him.
And that brings me to the point of self-promoting one’s books. I think sometimes I have acted a bit like my colleague in hindsight in talking about and publicising my works. If not judged carefully it can be a little like walking around holding a sweaty sponsorship form.
“After all my book is really good, why wouldn’t they want to buy it, they promised me they would?!”
One can get very precious about the whole endeavour and take things personally. Just because you have toiled long and hard over your manuscript nobody is ever going to have the same kind of feelings and emotions invested in it. So if you don’t receive that promised sale just shrug it off and move on with your head held high. Nah, not really, just walk away from them if they ask you to sponsor them – just kidding! :0
I shall look on sponsorship forms in a new light and learn to be a bit more charitable from now on.
I’m not going to talk about my book for 24 hours from now – anyone want to sponsor me?!
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Short story

Having reached the second round of The Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award recently I was just pleased to have made it through to the last two thousand. I didn’t make it through to the quarter-finals though. I wasn’t disappointed at all and was surprisingly pragmatic about it, life goes on and all that. It’s like actors going to auditions and receiving constant rejections. That’s what the world of a writer is like, it’s an almost masochistic existence in fact, waiting for the ultimate accolade or being the next big discovery!
To quote Jerome Kern, you have to:
“Pick yourself up,
Take a deep breath,
Dust yourself off.
And start all over again.”
So that’s exactly what I did and published a short story that very same evening in a bid to show my resilience, it was either that or the wine!
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00JOZEHKQ

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Holding your own counsel

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I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I just don’t have the attention span or interest to contribute to forums. As self-published authors there seems to be a lot of advice ‘out there’ to contribute to writers’ forums and build up relationships which will help promote one’s brand. That’s all well and good and I see no problem with this, and of course I want people to know about my work. Now call me an old cynic but I can’t help but think when I read the posts on those forums that there are a lot of thinly-veiled attempts at self-promotion, wrapped up in words of advice or simply points of view. When I have looked at one of those forums in particular you see the same names crop up all the time and one contributor always has a short tag-line and a link to their work on every post. I think it has the opposite effect, for when I see their name I don’t even bother to see what they’ve written.
One contributor’s post made me laugh as they had written an in-depth answer to someone’s initial question. In that response they had mentioned about how many books they had written and how well they were doing on Amazon’s sales charts. Nearing the end of this lengthy reply they said that they had no time for self-promotion as they were too busy writing books! Hmm, I thought, you don’t seem to be doing too badly. Another forum which I initially started reading when I made my first foray into self-publishing was full of such angry people dishing out large doses of abuse to people who strayed even slightly from the rules that I don’t even go anywhere near it now. If you are a self-published author I think you know which forum I am referring to! I know there are a lot of authors out there who are embarking on their first foray into the self-publishing world who need advice. Don’t get me wrong there are a huge number of people on those forums who are knowledgeable and generous with their advice. If you are looking for advice on technical issues such as formatting for Kindle and CreateSpace then they are an invaluable tool. I for one looked up all the information on my own and taught myself what I didn’t know and only started reading forums later on.
We all have a style of writing, unique to the individual author, so I would say revel in your own personal style of writing and believe in it like only you can. I have seen people asking for reviews on forums but I would say, be patient, for if your work is truly any good then the reviews will come. After all someone who has bought your book has already liked enough about it to part with their hard-earned money and if you’re lucky will leave an honest review – these unsolicited reviews are the ones which you should cherish – good or bad. I’ve decided to leave forums alone now as I’m quite happy doing my own thing and just read the blogs that I have chosen to follow. Each to their own.
See, look at that, I’ve written this lengthy post without once referring to my book, The Shamanic Prophecy – whoops!
Image source http://www.pinterest.com/bossfan1965/

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My first book signing

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I am writing this post sitting in my local café on a glorious sunny winter’s day, looking out to sea with a big grin on my face. The reason for this is because I have just conducted my first book signing. This is one of the cafes in which I sell it and I was just discussing with the manager how humbled I felt that so many people have been buying it. After deciding to leave the money I have accrued for a rainy day (perfect weather by the way for writing!) I paid for my tea and set off to find a table. Then by chance I walked past two gentlemen who had picked up my book and I mentioned that I was the author. He just smiled at me politely thinking that I was having him on and wondered who I was! But after convincing him it in fact was me he asked me to sign it for his wife Jennifer. I didn’t think that he was going to purchase it, I just thought he was perusing it, which is fine with me, but even if I do say so myself it does have a rather compelling cover. So when he went to pay for it and then asked me to sign it I felt so happy and thrilled by that moment; it felt complete vindication for all the hard work and effort I have put into it. Fame at last- well at least a little, but it made my day!
Happy reading Jennifer! 🙂
https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00CND7K3W

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Graffiti?!

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Tired of blogging and getting no traffic? Have you sat at home smirking to yourself thinking of all the witticisms that you’re going to write which will leave people in stitches and follow your blog in droves?! It’s really hard isn’t it trying to find different ways in promoting your blog and what you have to talk about. I use my blog to ‘hopefully’ inform other Indie authors and other people who are interested, ways in which I have tried to promote my book and what works and what doesn’t.
I was talking to some colleagues the other day and probably boring the socks off them talking about my book. One tip by the way, if you see their eyes glazing over is to steer the focus away from yourself and ask ‘So what did you think of my book?’-hah! Now where was I? Oh yes! My colleague came up with a really original and simple way of promotion which he had seen whilst on his travels. He kept coming across a website written in chalk on the pavement (side-walk for those of you in the States!). With his interest piqued he went home to look it up and still remembers it to this day.
I thought to myself that is so simple and brilliant, so when I got home I couldn’t wait to rush out and deface every pavement with my website! It is all done in chalk remember so there is no chance of being locked-up for graffiti- hopefully! I live by the sea and luckily we get a lot of foot traffic along it so I wrote out my website several times, trying to ignore people staring and wondering what that nutter was doing! And do you know what? The next day I got the most traffic that I had in weeks and if I sold a couple of books along the way, then even better. Did I tell you it is called The Shamanic Prophecy by the way?! Whoops, sorry I can see your eyes glazing over- ‘What do you think of my book by the way?!’
So get the chalk out if you want some cheese 🙂

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Overcoming nerves

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I was reading an article in the ‘Writing Magazine’ the other day with interest(https://www.writers-online.co.uk/). It was about using the power of radio in which to promote your self-published novel. It gave great tips on ways in which to secure a slot on the radio station of your choice, and it spurred me on to give it a go. It always helps to have a ‘local angle’ to your pitch, otherwise it would just be a straight forward plug for your work. That would be ok for a well-established author who has a loyal fan-base, but for us unknowns (so far!) it has to some appeal to the local audience.
So I contacted BBC Radio Sussex and found out the name of the editor and the producer so that I could personalise my e-mail. I didn’t really expect much to tell you the truth, but two days later I received an e-mail from the presenter, asking if I would like to come on her afternoon programme. I was so excited I can’t tell you! Unfortunately a while later those self-doubting gremlins took root in my mind and I imagined all sorts of worse-case scenarios. Chiefly among them was if I accidentally swore on air (not that I’m in the habit of swearing by accident!); the more I thought about it the more concerned I became. Also I worried that I might just dry up in the middle of the interview and flee the studio in a state of panic. Luckily though I subdued these doubts and no matter how nervous I became I knew that it was a golden opportunity for me.
I therefore researched everything I could find about the station, the interviewer, audience figures and statistics. I also went over the key facts in my book as it is set in seventeenth century Venezuela with a lot of historical detail. There’s nothing more disconcerting than being wrong-footed. Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance 🙂 So after finding out exactly where the station was I turned up in plenty of time and went through some relaxation techniques in my car!
Suffice to say my doubts were unfounded and the interviewer (Allison Ferns) put me at my ease and was a skilled interviewer. The interview lasted twenty minutes and they literally flew by and I was disappointed when it came to an end as I had so much more to say! As I was leaving the studio I was pleasantly surprised when Allison asked if I would like to come back and be their newspaper reviewer on air for a while. Now my interview might not have placed me at #1 in the Amazon bestseller charts but if I had given into my gremlins then I would never have been offered the opportunity to return. I was reminded of the title of Louise.L.Hays’ book ‘Feel The Fear and Do It Anyway’.
Image source http://www.pinterest.com/pin/139048707219092374/

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Book promotion

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Promoting your work as a self-published author is a bloody nightmare – truth be told! I have spent many hours searching on the internet of ways in which to increase the visibility of my work. To be honest a lot of the advice is useless and most of the articles include links to books which profess to teach you ways in which to sell shed-loads of your books. Well, if it was that easy then everybody would be doing it. Forget advice telling you to use social media to promote your work such as Facebook and Twitter. It would soon become tedious to the potential reader to be reading all about your book ad nauseam! It’s an energy-sapping waste of time, unless you are famous and have a huge following, and if you were then you wouldn’t bother with these kinds of platforms as people would be buying just from your fame alone.
Unfortunately for most of us authors we are not in that position, so we have to be constantly positive and come up with original ideas for self-promotion. Like most authors in the beginning I was hungry for reviews and who wouldn’t?! I have been very fortunate to have received some glowing reviews as of late due to a free promotion of my book I participated in on Goodreads. Some authors decry the use of participating in free giveaways of ones’ work, but if it’s your own then I say do what you feel is right. I have tried using peoples’ services on Fiverr to promote my book but that is only good for free books otherwise don’t bother as for the paid version nobody seems to be as enthusiastic – hmm, I wonder why?! In my humble opinion don’t bother too much with finding the right keywords on Kindle to describe your work. People don’t really browse for books in that manner in reality. It would be nice if we could all include our favourite authors names in the keywords and hope that would work but you would soon get in trouble with Amazon. So don’t fret too much with keywords such as murder, mystery, suspense, love, romance etc as you would just be in competition with thousands of others. Of course use your keywords to the best of your ability but I do think too much attention is paid to it as opposed to the sales that it generates.
I have paid for press releases and produced a Youtube video, been in the local paper, appeared in ‘Writing Magazine’, had an article written about me in our in-house newspaper at work which has a large circulation, been on Radio 2 to promote it ( a national radio station in the UK, for those of you reading this in the US! ). But do you know what REALLY works and is the best piece of advice I can give you? WORD-OF-MOUTH! I sold a number of my paperbacks in just one day just by talking to colleagues and now I always make sure I carry spare copies with me. I have been reticent about banging on about my book for fear of boring people, but I am forever humbled by the genuine interest that people show in my endeavours. So my New Year’s Resolution is to keep shouting about it from the rooftops – well, within reason!

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Basic punctuation rules

punctuationBefore I started writing seriously I never paid too much attention to punctuation. Like most people I thought I knew how to punctuate properly, or did I? See there’s a good bit of punctuation! Ooh, and another one! So long as I put commas and full-stops in the right place I thought that was all there was to it. But when I started to look into it further I realised that it was a minefield of potential errors waiting to be exposed by any punctuation expert.
Being a perfectionist I wanted to make sure that my work was free of errors, so I searched through many forums and bought a book on punctuation. Surprisingly the biggest chapter was on commas and how they can catch, you out- see I just got caught out there. That was deliberate by the way, just for comedy effect. I was going to put an exclamation mark at the end of that sentence but one doesn’t want to overdo it, does one?!
As I read more and more I became a slave to punctuation, and you can imagine my joy when I came across ellipsis’s. Before I found out their true meaning I thought they were in reference to the different phases of the moon! And then comes the correct use of the n-dash and the m-dash. Once discovered, one can be tempted to use the m-dash over-zealously as you have your characters speech interrupted all the time.
And little did I know that after using a question mark it is not always necessary to use a capital letter.
Example: ‘Oh Heath, don’t you think it’s a little patronising, telling everyone how to punctuate properly?’ his girlfriend asked.
DISCLAIMER:
All grammatical errors are the sole responsibility of the author. No offence was intended towards the sensibilities of professors of the English language!

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Amazon Kindle

High five
So, you’ve written your book, spent hours fretting over the story line, edited and re-edited, then as I have done, self-published on Amazon. You’ve pestered your friends and family over the years with your plot lines and sub-plots, until they dread the thought of you mentioning your book ever again. But to you, your book is the most important thing you’ve ever done. You think about it from the time you wake, in the car, having lunch, watching tv- you get the idea!
You’ve done your research into what keywords best describe your book for people to find your book effectively on Amazon. You agonise over which categories to place it into, which price to set it at, too low and people will think it’s not worth it, too high and you price yourself out of the market. So everything is set, your heart races as your finger hovers above the publish button; this is the moment, everything you’ve been working towards for the last couple of years. You press the magic button- ‘Wow, I’ve finally done it- woo hoo!’ You go to bed expecting to wake up to untold riches and glowing reviews and major publishing houses beating down a path to your door.
You click on your sales figures the next morning and there staring back at you is a big fat ZERO! Disappointing, yes. But Rome wasn’t built in a day so you are patient and wait a week or so as you fiddle with pricing, categories and keywords and still nothing. This is where the real doubt starts to creep in- ‘Maybe it isn’t very good after all’- ‘Who am I kidding?’
Well this is where you have to start being creative and look at ways in which to promote it, because the uncomfortable truth is that this is where the real hard work comes in- like it or not! Luckily a good friend of mine forwarded to me a podcast which was helpful in so many ways (link at the bottom.) I listened to it and heard the guy talk about a company called FIVERR where you can get people to promote your book for like it says, a Fiver (US $). It offers a lot of other products but for this purpose I’ll focus on book promotion. I followed his advice and I couldn’t believe it as I saw my figures rise up and up on a daily basis. I offered a free promotion for five days as per Amazon’s services and it just exploded.
This might sound counter-intuitive, giving your precious work away for nothing but it works. The reason is because you are now linked with ‘customers who bought this also bought…’ Also one important thing is to have reviews, as people are less likely to buy without one. But that’s a subject for another day! I hope this might be useful for people who were in the same position as I was in and not patronising!
http://www.internetbusinessmastery.com/ibm-193-internet-business-amazon-kindle/

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