Warning! This Blog Post Contains Discussions about Trigger Warnings.

Are more warnings needed in book descriptions?

Is book censorship in danger of limiting creativity and freedom of expression?

 

 

 

I recently watched a discussion unfold on Facebook about whether The Abattoir of Dreams should have trigger warnings in its description. The person who started the discussion stated they had finished the book, thought it was good, but that ‘there really should be a statutory warning on book covers and blurbs, if a book deals extensively with child abuse’.

This comment then led to a debate about the pros and cons of trigger warnings. Trigger warnings are defined as: a statement cautioning that content (as in a text, video, or class) may be disturbing or upsetting.

As the discussion was taking place in a crime fiction group, many people didn’t see the need for warnings as they’d expect topics such as murder and abuse to be included anyway. The overall opinion was that the book description should make the content of the book clear, so that readers are aware of anything they’d prefer not to read before buying the book. I think that this approach is easier for both publishers and indie authors to implement

I asked best-selling crime thriller author, Peter James, for his opinion, and he told me that he never would put warnings on any of his books. His personal belief is that we live in an age where there are far too many warnings anyway. Continue reading

Interview with Author Social Media Strategist, Frances Caballo.

Today I’m delighted to be joined by Frances Caballo. If you’re an author who is struggling with social media, and how best to use it to help sell your books, then I highly recommend you visit her website and read through her posts. I’ve learned a lot from Frances, and am now looking forward to this interview. Lets begin:

Just like Joan Stewart (The Publicity Hound,) you were involved in journalism before moving towards helping authors. What was it that made you decide to focus on author social media?
After working as a reporter and then as an editor, I decided to use my skills in the non-profit sector. After working in that industry for 16 years, I decided to become a consultant. To promote my business, I knew I needed to learn social media. In the process of learning social media, I changed the course of my career and decided to specialize in social media to help authors. You see, I’d been a literature major in college, was writing a novel, and was a member of two writer organizations. So the transition felt natural. Authors had always been my favorite people.

 

You have written a number of non-fiction books. Have you ever thought about writing any fiction, and if so, what genres would interest you?
I started a novel in 2000 but haven’t revised it sufficiently to turn it over to an editor. The book is a historical fiction novel. In terms of reading, I like literary fiction, historical fiction, and thrillers. Continue reading

How authors can make the most out of social media.

If you’ve never had an account on social media, you’re probably wondering what’s the point and how you can make best use of these sites. Some focus on text, some on sharing images, and it can look like a lot of extra work on top of writing your next book. In this post, I’m sharing some articles I’ve found useful when trying to get to grips with author social media – because to ignore social media is to miss the chance to be where the majority of your potential readership is.

One of the best resources for authors, and especially for helping with using social media, is Jane Friedman’s blog. She has written a number of articles, and in So You’re an Author Without a Social Media Presence: Now What? she discusses the benefits of testing the water and discovering how useful social media can be for authors. There are also links in this article to other posts about selling books through social media and how to build an author platform. Continue reading

5 Things I’ve Learnt as an Author.

Today I’d like to talk about some of the things I’ve learnt since I’ve been writing. I hope sharing my experiences will help other authors.

Don’t pay for things you don’t need to.
There are many people out there who claim to be miracle workers when it comes to marketing books, or getting more book reviews. Most are not, and should be avoided. I had many people approach me when I started writing trying to market my first book, claiming they could send the book shooting up the Amazon charts with no proof of any previous successes.

Book marketing is a steep learning curve that I’m still on, but much of what is offered by these ‘services’ can be done yourself. Offering your book for free on Amazon, for example – you can set this up yourself and make social media posts telling people about it. Book reviews shouldn’t be paid for – Amazon will remove reviews if they believe they’ve been bought, rather than given by a genuine reader. You can approach book bloggers with your book description and cover and ask if they’d be interested in reviewing it for you. Make sure the bloggers you ask read the same genres you write in, to ensure you get more positive responses.

 

Write your book how YOU want to:
What’s the best way to write your book? On Word? With Scrivener? Plan every detail, or just have a rough idea of the story? It’s all up to you – whatever works best. I write in Word because that’s what I’m used to, and I don’t see any benefit from changing to Scrivener. The most important thing is that you’ve got an idea and you want to write it. Don’t feel as though you need to use everything that is suggested to you. If you’ve read books telling you how to write a book and you get something out of it, then great, but it isn’t necessary to read them. You can help yourself though, by reading a variety of authors and picking out what does and doesn’t work in their writing. Continue reading

Self-Publishing Myths

Today, I thought I’d talk about some of the common myths I’ve come across in the self-publishing world.

typewriterYou can write a book by yourself.
Selling platforms such as Amazon and Smashwords have given a large number of people the opportunity to publish their books. This has allowed many more writers the chance to showcase their abilities, but as the old saying goes, ‘no man is an island.’ A writer needs to have a team of beta readers and an editor to point out what needs improving or changing. Extra pairs of eyes may see things you have missed, and they can give an impartial opinion on the plot, flow and character development.

Then there’s making your book look as appealing as possible. The general consensus regarding book covers is unless you are a talented graphic artist, then you should seek help with designing a ‘look’ for your book. The interior appearance of a book is also important. Formatting a book for Kindle can be a complicated and frustrating process. Unless you want your readers getting annoyed with chapters starting half way down the Kindle screen, or too many spaces between words, find some help. JJ Marsh and Jane Davis discuss this myth in their blog post ‘Self Publishing Myths – Busted.’

 

partner_logosYou can upload your book and people will find it.
The majority of indie authors upload their books to Amazon, along with other platforms such as Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, and KOBO. Just uploading your finished book doesn’t mean it will sell. Yes, the occasional reader may come across it and download it, but that won’t lead to many sales. As I found out, you have to do A LOT of research about book publicity and marketing.

Just because someone, or a company, say they are book publicists, doesn’t mean they do the job well. Unfortunately, there are many ‘publicists’ who receive payment from authors for their marketing services, and then deliver very little in return. Again, research is needed. Drill down into what a potential publicist can provide in terms of visits to your Amazon page and book sales before paying for anything. Ask for recommendations from other authors who have had successful promotions. Who did they use and why? You can find some excellent advice about finding a publicist and working with them in Jane Friedman’s blog post ‘How to Find and Work With a Book Publicist – Successfully.’ Continue reading