Café novelist

Tips for indie authors

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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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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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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I want to be alone!

Desert island
We all know writing is a lonely business as you can’t undertake the process with immediate company present. Many authors write at different times of day in complete solitude, no matter the weather and are very strict with their word count. I envy these writers as they manage to fill many pages with their self-discipline. I tend to do most of my writing during the inclement months, which is pretty much all-year round! I find that when it is sunny and hot it is easy to get distracted by outdoor pursuits.
My routine is to exercise in the morning to get in the right frame of mind, then I go to one of the many cafes in my town and write there. I find that the perfect time is around 15:00 onwards as you’re not likely to find children running around and ruining the creative flow! I have learnt over time though to pack a pair of ear-phones to drown out people’s overly-loud conversations! I was in a café once where there was a particular gentleman who couldn’t have spoken any louder if he had a megaphone. No amount of annoyed and serious glances thrown his way had any affect on his monologue. Suffice to say I didn’t manage to get much work done and I found out everything about his life that day. That reminds me I must send his Auntie Doris a ‘Get Well Card’ as “she suffers terribly with her lumbago!”

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Flying the nest

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Well, I have now finished my book and my characters have left the nest to find a home in a land called Kindle. I have fed and nurtured them for the last two years, and without a word of thanks they have flown the coop! I visit them every now and then in hopes that they have grown fat from my efforts to tell people of their existence in even stranger lands called Facebook!

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Book editing

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I have been working on my book, The Shamanic Prophecy, for almost two years now and I feel it is almost time to let it out into the wide blue yonder. It has consumed me for all this time and I worry about my characters, does it sound crazy to say that they have become good friends?! I have found it to be fulfilling and frustrating in equal measures, but I have learned so much along the way.
I have been busy dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s and now there is not much more I can do. So I say farewell to my characters and hope that they survive in the big, wide world! I just hope they don’t come back at weekends with loads of dirty washing!

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