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

The Top 10 Facebook Groups for Indie Authors.

facebook-wordle

Facebook is an invaluable resource for indie authors. It enables you to connect to other authors, and to your potential readership. The following 10 Facebook groups are the ones I’ve found to be the most useful for finding help with all things publishing, and for engaging with my readers.

*1 Without doubt, the most useful group I’ve found is THE Book Club. It’s a secret group that currently has 6200+ members. It has a mixture of authors and readers, and everyone is very enthusiastic about books. If you need some advice about writing, book covers, or how to price a book, for example, then you’ll always get some help from other authors. Also, the readers and book bloggers of the group are always happy to spread the word about the books they’ve read – and leave those important reviews on Amazon.

*2 Turning Pages – Book Lovers Group, is a group where authors share news about their books, and where readers can share their opinions and reviews of the books they’ve read. I find this group useful, as it enables me to share news about my writing progress, my book offers, and the publication dates. I’ve also found some great books to read from other members recommendations.

*3 Great Reads UK is a group that focuses on books written by British authors. Authors can promote in the group, as long as they and their books are in the UK, and the promotion is done in a creative way. The readers of the group share their recommendations of books based in the UK. I’ve found this a useful group to be part of as it enables me to discuss my books’ settings/locations, and gather some interest in my writing from people who prefer books set in the UK. Continue reading

Interview with Booklover Catlady, Maxine Groves.

Maxine Photo 1Today I’m delighted to welcome Amazon and Goodreads top book reviewer, Maxine Groves, to the blog. Possibly better known by her reviewing name, Booklover Catlady, Maxine devours vast quantities of books whilst also offering publicity and reviewing services to authors. She’s also taking the first steps towards writing her first book. Without further ado, lets begin the interview.

 

 

After working for so long in recruitment and advertising, what made you decide to focus on books?
After a successful career in advertising, copywriting then recruitment, and human resources at senior management level, I injured my lower back very badly in the workplace. Despite extensive treatments and physiotherapy unfortunately my condition cannot be rectified nor is surgery an option. I tried working part time for a year with my back injury as a Job Coach to young adults with disabilities, which I loved, however it got too much for me as other serious health conditions impacted me and I had to resign from the job. I was facing never working again.

During an extended period of bedrest after the first of five surgeries I have had in the last 2.5 years, I started reading avidly to help get me through. This led to reviewing after discovering Goodreads and then on to Amazon reviews. To my surprise, I quickly started to rank highly as a Top Reviewer and Most Popular Reviewer on Goodreads, then Amazon and authors and publishers were contacting me with books to read and review. This was like a dream come true for a bookworm like myself.

A successful horror author contacted me (after another horror author recommended that I review his book) stating that he felt I would be really good at book publicity and could I do some for him? I took this on and it was really successful, at this point I realised that all the work experience and business knowledge I had plus my copywriting and advertising skills meant I could do this for other authors also. I saw a gap in the market for a quality book review service which is what I kicked off with. I am passionate about helping authors achieve their goals.

 

What has been your biggest:
(a) life achievement
(b) book/reviewing achievement?
Oh wow! That is a hard one. I think my greatest life achievement has been consistently rising from the ashes after a lot of very difficult situations in my life and somehow turning difficult times into opportunity. Having physical disabilities, then being diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome at age 42 plus chronic pain, was not going to stop me from doing something meaningful with my life. I think of myself as a tenacious survivor.

I am also super proud of my 16 year old son who has Aspergers and ADHD and how far he has come and the self-belief he has instilled in himself. He also believes nothing is a barrier to doing what you love. I run groups on Facebook for adult women with Aspergers and want to leave a legacy of making a difference in the lives of these women as well as all the other Autistic people out there who think they have nothing to offer. They do!

My greatest book related achievement has to be making it into the Top Ten Top Reviewers and Most Popular Reviewers in the UK on a regular basis as well as having some of my reviews featured in the Top 50 most popular reviews on Goodreads. Recently I hit number 94 in the Top 100 globally on Goodreads which just blew me away! I am also extremely proud of being a Top Ranked Reviewer on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk especially as my first book reviews usually read something like “I really loved this book! Highly recommended!”  Continue reading

Interview with Joan Stewart, The Publicity Hound

1Joan Stewart headshot 180 by 180Today I am pleased to welcome Joan Stewart, well known as The Publicity Hound, to the blog. Joan is a publicity, marketing and PR expert. She helps get products, services and books in front of as many people as possible. Many of the resources Joan offers are free and easy to implement, such as the hints and tips she suggests in her twice weekly e-mail newsletter.  I recommend you subscribe here. Thank you for taking part Joan, let’s begin the interview:

I see on your blog that you were a newspaper editor before a Publicity Hound. What was it that caused the job change?

By the mid-80s, it was apparent that the newspaper industry was marching toward the graveyard. I also disliked working in an industry in which customer service was always at the bottom of the priority list. I loved writing and editing the news. But eventually, by the 90s, that turned into a job in which I did little more than cut budgets and lay off reporters, and hear people who didn’t get their paper gripe that there was no one in the Circulation Department to take complaints on Sunday morning, when we sold the greatest number of papers.

 

Since starting your business have you always been known as The Publicity Hound and how did you decide on that name?

One of the first books I read when I started my own business was Marcia Yudkin’s book “6 Steps to Free Publicity.” One of her chapter titles is “The Publicity Hound.” I can remember thinking, “Clever.”

About a year later, when I decided to publish a print newsletter, I needed a name. “The Publicity Hound” popped into my mind one afternoon while I was walking. The print newsletter eventually bled red ink. It morphed into an ezine, and that morphed into twice-a-week snack-size email tips. People kept commenting about the name “The Publicity Hound” and how it was such a memorable name and a great brand. Media Relations Consulting Inc. (big yawn) became “dba The Publicity Hound.” I got a trademark for “The Publicity Hound” and now use it exclusively.

 

As an editor and publicist you write a great deal. Have you ever considered writing any fiction?

Never! I wouldn’t know where to begin. Besides, I know how much work book marketing is, particularly for fiction. I decided long ago to forego the print book and concentrate instead on much more profitable info-products.

Continue reading