Published for a year…

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CoA post its

On October 17th, 2012, I clicked a button marked ‘Upload’ and sat back, nervously awaiting the delivery of a stream of electronic information to Amazon KDP. Twelve hours later, ‘A Construct of Angels’ was live and I realised that I had finally achieved my dream – to complete a novel and put it up for sale.

Thirty-seven years ago, I could never have dreamed that in this future age of flying cars, silver jumpsuits and daily trips to the Moon, my book would exist only as data and that it would be held in storage in a distant country. Readers would only have to tap it with their finger if they wanted to select, pay for and read it.

Cool.

I am still working to make the paperback version a reality, but with the recent bout of editing that I have subjected the poor thing to, that particular realisation has been delayed yet again. Configuring an electronic (Word-based) template with paragraphs, page breaks, chapters and the odd image isn’t as straightforward as it ought to be. *frowns* It’s now back with my new editor, Tara, after receiving some swathing cuts, including the complete removal of two characters.

In some ways, I hardly seem to have moved on at all. I am still editing and I really need to put A Construct of Angels to bed and pick up the sequel. But it will haunt me if my first book isn’t the best it can possibly be. Only when that’s sorted, can I let it go…

However, as I mentioned in a previous post, One Year On,  a great deal has changed for me in the last twelve months (plus I now have 300 followers - who’d have thought?) and I still can’t quite believe how much has been crammed into such a short space of time. I can only wonder what the next twelve months will bring, although I can’t imagine them being as crazy as the last twelve. The learning curve, I feel, is no longer as steep as it has been and for that, I am grateful. :)

Regular readers will know that my job sends me all around the UK. Well, by sheer chance, this week happens to have landed me back at the exact same desk from where I uploaded my book, one year ago. I am experiencing an eerie sense of deja vu – again.

It’s another reminder of what’s changed. If I could borrow Sandra Bullock’s time-travelling postbox (The Lake House), I would send my past self a message that says ‘hang on to your hat.’

Not that I wear a hat. I’m not Terry Pratchett. :)

Anyway, until Tara has finished looking over my new edits, I’m hoping to press on with the sequel,  ‘A Vengeance of Angels.’ I’d really liked to have completed it, one year on, but life has a peculiar way of rearranging even the best-laid plans of mice and authors.

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The genre system – is it good enough any more?

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digitalart, freedigitalphotos dot net

I’ve been browsing through the ‘Blogs I follow’, trying to keep up with all the discussions, concerns and new releases and I’ve been seeing a lot of posts where authors are grumbling (quite rightly IMHO) about the trouble they’re having with squeezing their novel into a genre category.

And it’s not surprising. For instance, on Wikipedia, there are currently 80 genres and sub-genres listed under fiction alone. Yikes! My own novel,  ‘A Construct of Angels’ would currently fit into the horror, romance, Urban fantasy, religious fantasy, thriller or mystery categories.

There are How-to-Write books on the market that happlily suggest that writers should choose a genre and write within its boundaries if they want to sell. But why should we have to work within such restrictions? We’re not aiming towards library shelves. Some of us aren’t even looking towards bookshops any more. The electronic age has changed all that.

In these days of indie eBook publishing, with sub-genres and even sub-sub-genres sprouting up, the whole idea of ‘genre’ feels overloaded and outdated. Of course, to declare that, an alternative is needed and here’s my (fledgling) idea;

Wouldn’t it benefit both readers and retailers if some sort of ‘tick box’ or a graphic system was introduced where the elements of the book can be highlighted (or illustrated) by a sliding colour scale such as we have with rated domestic applicances (in Europe at least)?

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energy rating

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I experimented with a few variations on this theme and didn’t find them to be flexible enough as I was still having to insert genre labels. It was colourful, but no better in terms of classification. Perhaps you could see a way to make it work.

So I tried a pie chart instead. This is a simple chart, created using ten subjects that are most relevant to my debut novel  ‘A Construct of Angels’;

CoA pie chart

Note that I said the ten most relevant subjects – there are others that I could justify adding in there, but ten is plenty. Perhaps ten is too many and five would suffice. Who knows? This is all hypothetical and open for discussion.

BTW, for you with your magnifying glasses against the screen, there’s only 0.5% sex in the story. :D

In an ideal world, the catergories would be listed from most relevant to least relevant, top to bottom, thus;

CoA pie chart sort

This arrangement should make it easier for the potential buyer to interpret. They would be free to scan the top two or three subjects and decide if the story is for them or not. They might still be swayed if their favourite genre was listed as number four or five – something which wouldn’t happen if the book had been listed under ‘Thriller’ when they prefer to read about religion- or horror-based stories.

I don’t think it would be too difficult for an algorithmist like Amazon to feed the percentages into their version of Deep Thought deep in the heart of Amazonia and begin to categorise the books in this way.

As I said, this is all hypothetical.

Do you think the time has come for the library shelf-based genre categories to be given a shake-up? Perhaps you have a fledgling idea that leaves my suggestion eating dust.

If so, please share! I would be happy to eat humble pie chart. :)

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keep calm plus author inside

One year on from my first post – and look what’s changed!

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100th post

A few days ago, WordPress sent me a reminder that I’d just published my 100th post – and I was taken aback.

I suddenly realised that it has been almost exactly one year since I first created my first ever post; The best rejection letter ever?

And what a lot has happened in those twelve months – just look at the stats;

Last July                                      This July

1 post                                            100+ posts

2 WP followers                             235+ WP followers (update?)

20 Facebook followers                 900+ Facebook followers

no Twitter account                        475+ Twitter followers

No eBook published                      eBook self-published

No paperback                                 Paperback very close to completion

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This is all part of spreading the word, of building an author platform – and it’s looking quite good, IMHO.

Along the way, I have met some very talented people. Some of them are constantly beating a path for the rest of us to follow, whilst others are still following their aspirations to publish. Many are very, very close to that first eBook or printed book.

Then there are the non-writer bloggers who post recipes, amazing photographs or offer philosophical insights that leave me thinking ‘wow…’

I have learned a great deal since last July. Back then I had just exhausted my 102-strong list of UK-based Literary Agencies and whilst I’d received some encouragement along the way (notably The best rejection letter ever?), I was no closer to being published.

At that time I was on a knife-edge, wondering if I ought to begin querying US-based agencies – but electronically. I could never have afforded the postage costs. I was already several hundreds of pounds down (I still am) and further investment would have crippled me financially.

And then I began hearing, via Facebook and WordPress, about self-publishing. I was (at first) curious – and then intrigued. I wanted to know more.

The seed was sown. As the rejection letters continued to trickle in, I decided to learn all I could about creating and publishing an eBook, just in case none of the agencies picked up my book. They didn’t – so I launched myself into the world of ePublishing. The rest, as they say, is history. Very recent history – and something I could not have done without help from fellow bloggers.

Capture

Sharing – it’s the best part of blogging! It makes the lonely business of writing feel a lot less…well, lonely. We all get to read about other people’s experiences on a daily basis, both the good and the bad. Most notable is Ryan Casey’s runaway success with his short stories and novels and Michelle Proulx’s difficult journey with the publisher iUniverse. Both authors have flourished, but their experiences contrast greatly. But even bad experiences can teach us all something. Thanks for sharing, Michelle!

What’s most encouraging is the great feedback that I’ve received. Every comment makes me want to post again…and again. I love seeing that little orange star at the top of my dashboard. It’s encouraging to know that someone had read and ‘liked’ my words. But even more heart-warming is that little orange speech bubble. Whatever I was about to do, whatever words I had in mind…they get sidelined as I click on the bubble to see the message that has been left.

A blogger once remarked that comments are addictive. They were right. I love them! They have delivered support and encouragement in so many different ways. Thank you to everyone who has taken the time to leave me feedback.

I wonder if my second year of blogging will be as fascinating and thrilling a ride as the first?

See you all in July 2014!

Keep blogging (especially Shay Starcaller)!

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Post Script;

What I hadn’t expected – and this came right out of the blue as I was preparing to post, was this;

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I really had NO IDEA that I’d been with WordPress for so long.  It’s true that I’ve chronicled my writing endeavours as far back as 1999 (see The Homeworld Saga), but that was all retro-written just to document where my modern writing began to coalesce properly.

But four years?

Wow…

Time does fly when you’re having fun doing what you love the most!

CreateSpace – Part IV of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback

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CoA post its

Isn’t this is the BEST justification EVER for ordering a Proof copy of your Print on Demand novel?

I used nearly three packs of Post-it strips marking out typos (not too many), weird spacing issues (loads) and missing or shifted text (scores – mostly at the bottoms of pages where text had been moved to fill the silly gaps).

I also took the opportunity to have one last crack at polishing the prose as I went. Who says a writer is never done editing?

Anyway, Big Lesson learned here; Never assume that because it looks fine on the screen, it’ll be fine in print. WRONG!

And don’t order TWO copies in the naive hope that the print will be fiiiine *casually dismisses problem with a wave of his hand* and you would be able to send one of them to…for instance…your mother.

So glad I didn’t…

Unless you are planning to use an editing buddy, someone who will be reading the second copy, don’t waste your money. Order ONE, fix it, THEN order another proof – just to be certain.

Sure, it all takes time…an interminable period during which you are champing away, desperate for the process to be completed. But as I’ve posted before, patience is most definitely required in this self-editing game.

So, now that I have completed my read-through, I only need to update my electronic version and re-submit the document to CreateSpace…and order another proof copy, which must come all the way from the US… by snail mail..and then read through THAT…and identify any remaining errors.

*drums fingers in agitation*

How long is the average human lifespan?

Muse; Patience, Mister Toynbee, patience.

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CreateSpace – Part III of my anticlockwise journey towards a paperback

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Construct paperback

It’s heeee-re! It’s really here!

I’m as proud as George McFly when HE opened his box in 1985;

A Match made in space

(George McFly is a fictional character and wannabe author who was featured in ‘Back to The Future’ in case you don’t remember the 1980′s)

I can report several parallels with George’s story…we’d both been writing since we were at school, we’d both suffered similar abuse from our peers and we’ve both been accosted by time-travelling versions of our own sons. Except that mine hasn’t happened yet…but I’m sure it will. :) It’s bound to. That’s how time-travel works, right?

Ahem.

Anyway, back to the main event – the paperbacks. Actually, they were so large, I thought CreateSapce had accidentally sent me hardbacks. At 500 pages long, ‘Construct’ is no lightweight – but it would have weighed in at 700 pages if I hadn’t made the decision to lose the last three chapters from the original draft and recycle that ending into the (proposed) third book.

I can report that the print quality is top-notch. The cover is of good quality, printed on at least 200gsm card – possibly thicker.

(You’ll guess from the above that I’m not an expert in this field!)

However, it feels as good as any ‘real’ paperback and doesn’t feel as if it’s going to disassemble itself the first time it’s opened. Quite how they put such a small number of books together so well, I’m uncertain. I imagine that there is a large workshop beneath one of Amazon’s warehouse, complete with chutes and steam-driven conveyor belts manned by elves who sing jolly tunes as they lovingly construct the books.

Perhaps I’m wrong – but can anybody prove it?  :)

When I was populating the CreateSpace template with my MS, I went for a 6×9 layout, black text of cream paper and a size 11 font – Book Antiqua – which was the default font of the template. This resulted in a pleasant and easily readable text.

Even the image file that CreateSpace  flagged up as too low-resolution (less than 300 dpi) turned out to be fine. Since it was only an image of a character’s shaky handwriting, it didn’t concern me. I’d have shows it to you, but it’s a major spoiler. I imagine that a photograph of a similar resolution might have turned out poorly, but as someone commented recently on a previous post, ‘if it looks fine on the screen, it’ll probably be fine in the book.’

A quick flick through the book revealed that all was well, although one of those irritating spaces had managed to make an appearance at the bottom of one of the pages. *Fumes quietly to self at having missed it.*  I also felt that having chapters begin on the left-hand rather than the right-hand  page looked wrong. Unfortunately, this was the way that the text fell, so I will have to make some changes in that department.

My bio, now that I see it in print, reveals more about me than I’m comfortable with, so I’ll be trimming it slightly. Once I’ve had a chance to read the rest of the book, I may find other aspects that I’d prefer to adjust, but that’s something for another day.

So, a few minor tweaks required, but not a disaster by any means, but this all goes to prove that it was a wise move to follow CreateSpace’s advice and order proof copies and not just trust that I had everything right first time.

If you’re thinking of using CreateSpace, I’d be happy to report that it’s been a straightforward, happy experience – aside from my shenanigans with the formatting, although that is an issue with Word and may possibly have been a left-over from using Word to assemble my story in the first place. Those wise writers who utilise Scrivener may not have this problem.

So…off I go to a dark corner where I can read my 500 pages without interruption.

Yeah, like that’s going to happen! :D

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In the meantime, whether you prefer pixels or pages,

Write On!

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Becoming a Scrivener-er…a new adventure.

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Mattox MS

On Tuesday 21st May, I finally decided that I’d had ENOUGH of writing in Microsoft Word and took a long, hard look at Scrivener.

But why, you might ask, when more than half of the writers I’d spoken to said it was the best thing ever, had I waited so long???

Well, (long story short) I’d always been happy to use Word in all of its incarnations since before Office 95 was ‘the latest thing’.  But now, as I began to use Office 2010, acquired in March 2013, my heart sank. The darn thing seemed to have a mind of its own.

From paragraph formatting to bullet points it suddenly felt as if Word didn’t want me to be there any more.

I use *   *   * to separate paragraphs – have you tried to type that in Office 2010? It turns into bullets!!

Still, I persisted and wrestled with it for another four weeks, working around the peculiarities as I assembled articles, short stories and…my CreateSpace version of  ‘A Construct of Angels.’ Huge gaps between paragraphs and page breaks that refused to undo became the final straw. For three nights, I was forced to cut and paste sentences in order to get around this idiotic formating problem and when the time came to begin my next project, my brain cried ‘ENOUGH! I can’t go through all that again!’

So, in desperation to soothe my addled mind, I Googled the best price for the latest (or even the previous, for I am not proud) version of Scrivener.

Not so easy, for here in soggy England, we’re unable to take advantage of the NaNoWriMo offer price on Amazon (unless you know of a way around that…) as it’s only on Amazon.com…and we poor Brits aren’t allowed to download from there in case there’s none left for everyone else. We’re quite a ravenous bunch over here – we have been since WW2 rationing ended.

But I managed to uncover a trial download from PC World – priced at $40. Why dollars? Well the download linked to Literature and Latte dot com who seem to have no problems with feeding us hungry Brits.

And so I went for it, desperately hoping that this shining light, this gift from the Gods (they are there…they’ve just retired) was everything that it had been purported.

All right, Toynbee…don’t oversell it!

So far, so good. It downloaded (49MB), installed (even on my stone-age Windows Vista Netbook) opened and allowed me to explore. The tutorial looked daunting, but because it’s interactive (‘try this…see what happens; now try this…isn’t it good?’) it’s more kinesthetic than cramming.

I think that Scrivener and I are going to get along just fine. My ex (Word 2010) will still  be allowed to visit at weekends, but that relationship has definitely cooled.

I will let you know if romance blossoms with the new girl in town.

So, with Scrivener in mind, Write On!

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To CreateSpace…or not to CreateSpace?

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hbrinkman bookseller

Over the past six months I have introduced ‘A Construct of Angels’ (using my bookmarks) to hundreds of people. In that time, a clear pattern of responses has emerged from my endeavours.

Pretty much everyone is initially startled by my ‘Do you read much?’ query, but they soon settle when I hand them a free bookmark and ask them if they’d care to try my book. Most stare at the bookmark, then at me and I can almost hear the penny drop as they say; ‘This is YOURS? You actually WROTE this?’

It always surprises me how people change when it dawns on them that they are standing next to someone who has (self) published a novel. Having had six months to get used to the idea, the shock and awe of finally completing a book has worn off, and I often forget how humbled I always felt in the presence of Jenna Burtenshaw, the author of Wintercraft and Blackwatch. Last year, I attended her book signing in Darlington and there she was - a published author and there I was, a newbie wannabe unpublished speck of nothing. I wasn’t fit to stand in her shadow…and so on.

It’s very strange hearing people using words like ‘honoured’ and ‘amazed’ when they talk to me – words that I try to shrug off. I’m not a movie star. I’m simply a writer who managed not to succumb to the depressing idea of never having a book see the light of day – nothing more.

Generally, the people I talk to are quite receptive to the idea of the bookmark and most will assure me that they will have a look at the free chapters available via Amazon. Of those who tell me that they don’t own eReaders, most are surprised that Amazon will offer them free software, ‘Kindle for PC’ that allows them to read Kindle books on their PC, Laptop, Netbook or Tablet. I’ve probably been responsible for a few dozen non-Kindle readers now being able to buy and read Kindle eBooks. :)

I also point them towards Smashwords, where ‘A Construct of Angels’ is listed in ePub, pdf and several other formats.

With the remainder, I have hit a stumbling block and I feel that the time has come to address that problem. Some readers, for various reasons, remain committed to paper books – something that I am currently unable to supply for sevral reasons. For one, I have been rejected by every genre-relevant agency in the UK, which is one of the reasons that I decided to self-publish. The other reason for my remaining entirely electronic is that the cost of a paper book was so far above that of an eBook, it seemed prudent to sell my work at the lower cost rather than try to push the more expensive paper version.

But I have seen so many faces registering disappointment when I admit that my book doesn’t exist in physical form, I am now reconsidering my decision to remain purely and unshakably twenty-first century electronic.

CreateSpace seems, for the moment, the best option for me. My book is already uploaded to Amazon, so having it available on the same site would appear to make sense. I’m currently using Amazon, Smashwords, Kobo and Scribd to shift copies (some with better success than others), so a fifth site would just complicate things – unless of course that new site was far better than CreateSpace.

If you’re also in the position of thinking about offering a paper book, Karen Inglis has posted a huge amount of information on the subject. As a UK-based children’s author, Karen is favour of using a combination of CreateSpace and UK print-on-demand company LightningSource to save on shipping costs and delays.

*One day later;*

A couple of my blogging friends (thanks guys) have advised me that CreateSpace may now be advanced enough to be able to use for distribution on both sides of the big pond.

Sounds like a plan…although the goalposts are constantly shifting.

Watch this space…I might be entering the twentieth century once again. :)

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keep calm plus author inside

Honoured to receive the Dragon’s Loyalty award

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Love that picture!

I was very pleased (not to mention surprised) when Briana Vedsted nominated me for the Dragon’s Loyalty Award!

This was an award I’d not seen before so I was delighted when Briana chose to nominate me and my blog.

The rules for this award are:
1.         Display the Award Certificate on your website.
2.         Announce your win with a written post and link to whoever presented your award.
3.         Present 15 awards to deserving bloggers.

4.         Drop them a comment to tip them off after you have liked them in the post.
5.         Post 7 interesting things about yourself.

So here goes!

Seven interesting (I hope) things about me:

1.         Robin Hobb’s ‘Blood of Dragons’ might be the last paper book I will ever read…

2.        Writing has become my anchor in an otherwise chaotic life.

3.        I dislike the cold and grey of winter – but I love the snow!  How weird (S.A.D.) is that?

4.         I have a terrier who may have been an engineer in his former life.  He’s the smartest dog I’ve ever seen.

5.         I’m fascinated by sunsets and cannot stop taking photos of them.

6.         My biggest regret is having not pursued motor racing in my 20′s.  I still think I could have made a career out of it.

and…
7.         I can find peace and inspiration if I stop to watch running water.  Perhaps my Muse is a water-spirit…

And now for my nominees (I’m doing 10 instead of 15):

As it’s a loyalty award, I will nominate those who have been with me, who have encouraged me and stuck with me throughout my (and their) ups and downs…

Ryan Casey - without whom I may not have (self) published

Candace Knoebel - whose adventures have blazed a fiery trail!

Sonya Loveday - for her love, encouragement and inspiration here and on Facebook.

Jon at Jumpingfromcliffs - for keeping me going when things got sticky.

Michelle Proulx - for her zany (and often surreal) humour and for introducing me to the word ‘Woot!’

Pat at patwoodblogging - for her steadfast encouragement even when it snowed.

…plus a few newer followers with whom I have enjoyed much banter;

Karen Gadient - it seems we share much that is non-corporeal!

Daphnee at AnEvilnymphsblog - who is anything but evil (sorry, didn’t you want that known?).

Nightwolf aka KisaWhipkey - for encouragement via blog and Facebook

Fortyoneteen - thanks for your insight.

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Please pass this award on to those bloggers who are deserving of a loyalty award.  We gotta stick together!

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Are you a ‘Secret Identity’ Author?

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SP_AL_UK mask

Do announce the existence of your writing self to the world?  Do you tell all and sundry that you are proud to call yourself writer, or author?  Or do you hide your writing-ness under a bushel, hoping that sales will continue regardless of your introversion?

Despite being a quiet sort of soul, I tell everyone what (little so far) I’ve achieved.

Many years ago, when I was working within the world of MLM (multi-level marketing), I was taught to declare my presence to everyone with whom I conversed – it could only boost sales.

Now, as an author, I had to decide what was better – to hide in a corner and just hope that my books would quietly sell, or to promote them to everyone I met at the risk of being thought a pest.

bookmark

Back in November 2012, I produced a healthy number of bookmarks using nothing more than a colour printer, a laminator and a cheap guillotine.  The result was a useful ‘hand-out’ version of Ravven’s cover artwork. 

Whenever I met someone new, I would simply ask ‘Do you read much?’  If the answer was yes, then I would pass out one, sometimes two bookmarks to promote my work.  More often than not, the recipients were happy just to receive something for free.  In most cases, they were truly interested and asked all about the novel.

It’s still interesting to see the looks on my colleague’s faces when I tell them that I’ve (self) published a novel.  They look at me as if I’d just said ‘That song that’s at Number One..I wrote that.’

*Takes a moment to bask in adulation, then returns to reality*

If you don’t tell people that you have worked your socks off for ten, twenty years, applied your time to editing, reviewing, querying agents, sending out to beta readers before finally, finally, finally seeing your work in print, then why bother publishing in the first place?  True, you may not be worried about sales and are content to see your book sell just a few each month.  I count myself as a member of that happy group – at least for now.  But it cheers me every time I see another sale – it means someone else has downloaded that which I’ve worked so hard to achieve!  

On that last point, if you haven’t yet achieved that lofty and seemingly-unattainable goal, don’t ever, ever, ever give up on your dreams.  You are so close, and deserve it so much more that those who simply threw in the towel!   Don’t just take my word for it – ask anyone who has been published or is self-published.

There’s an old saying; ‘The only guarantee in life is this; If you give up, you will achieve nothing.’

But back to the main point of the post…if you have a book or a short story that is live, let as many people as possible know about it via Twitter, WordPress, LinkedIn, Facebook etc plus word of mouth.

free advertising

I even invested in a set of magnetic signs for my works van – something that has spurred many people to ask me about them.  As soon as that happens – they get a free bookmark! :)

Even if they don’t download a copy immediately, the bookmark will linger on a desk, in a drawer or pocket for a time and might remind them at a later date, or be found by a curious family member who could then be intrigued enough to search for the story.

Other authors have produced fridge magnets and keyrings – other items that can last for years and subsequently trigger a sale.

So, don’t be afraid to put your name out there, display your cover and spread the word.

What other items of ‘swag’ have you created as a reminder that your book is ‘out there?’

Place your answers on the side of my fridge, please! :)

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Bookmark – this page.

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bookmark

A little while ago, I was asked by Ryan Casey for feedback on how well my (home-made) bookmarks were being received.  Well, I can tell you that since November – a period of four and a half months - I’ve given out every one of the 500 I made in those first exciting days.

 Last Thursday I had to open up my next batch of 600, which I’d made back in January.  Five days later, I’ve already given out thirty or so.

I mentioned a while ago that my day job keeps me busy, sending me (randomly, it seems) to all parts of England, Scotland and Ireland.  This gives me the opportunity to meet a great many people, from engineers to office workers, and allows me to (tentatively) offer my book to those that seem receptive to the idea of a supernatural romance novel.

The conversation, always a work in progress, usually opens like this;

‘Do you read much?’

‘Me?  Yes.’

‘Well, can I give you one of these?’ *Hands over bookmark.*

‘Oh, what is it?’

‘Just my little contribution to literature.’

‘You wrote this?’

‘I did.’

‘What’s it about?’

And so the conversation begins.  For my thoughts on how to best describe a book, click here.

Today, I hit gold.  I asked one lady if she read supernatural romance and her reply was ‘My Kindle is absolutely stuffed with it!’  If I hadn’t intrigued her with a bookmark, she wouldn’t have gone on to BUY IT!!!  Woot, as so many people are fond of saying. :D

My job also, as I circle the country and begin to pop up in places I haven’t visited for months (or even years),  allows me to chat to old friends who automatically ask me ‘what have you been doing?’  What a gift!  Immediately, I drop a bookmark onto the table and tell them that I’ve been writing a book.

‘You wrote this?’

‘I did.’

‘What’s it about?’

and so on…

The point of all this reminiscing is that swag – even home-made swag – is a conversation starter, an ice-breaker, a way of introducing the fact that the person opposite the conversationalistee (IS a word, so there!  And if it isn’t, it ought to be) is a bona-fide author and that the said conversationalistee (I’m not so sure it is a word now) ought to be bowing and scraping and muttering ‘I’m not worthy O Great One.’

Or at the very least, they should say ‘Sure, I’ll buy your book. I realise how difficult it must be to have applied that much dedication to your art and produce something of worth.’

‘Oh, thanks,’ is nice too, although not often productive in a salesy way.  I DID get my hand shaken in a congratulatory manner not so long ago (for getting published), so that was a boost for me and my oft-perforated ego.

Anyway, enough of the self-worship.  I’m not worthy of it.  But you are.  If you have spent a lot of time creating a complete story or poem and want to publish / have published it, then why on Terra shouldn’t you advertise?  There are other methods of introducing your work to people.  Mine is a simple free giveaway that starts a conversation.  It’s a must for me…someone who’s essentially a non-people person.

And it’s captured a few extra sales along the way.  The product of a bit of graphic manipulation, a colour printer, laminator and a cheap guillotine, it’s a low-budget method of shifting a few extra books. 

Don’t walk amongst potential punters in silence – be interesting, be something a little bit special.  One day you may just introduce yourself to a literary agent or publisher.  Or Steven Spielberg. 

Okay, that last one was a bit of a stretch, but you don’t know who his friends’ friends are, do you?

Tell the world that you’re out there – and write on!

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P.S. In the interests of balance, I feel that I should say this;  I may have handed out over 500 bookmarks – but I have yet to sell 500 books.  Not every one strikes gold.  However, the bookmarks might lie around for months or even years before triggering someones curiosity – whereas a fleeting memory is pretty much gone for good and is very unlikely to result in a sale.

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