Reedsy – the one-stop shop for writers?

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About eighteen months ago I wrote a post about a new startup, Reedsy, who were looking to develop a marketplace to bring authors and publishers together with the best editing, cover design and book marketing professionals. At the time I thought it was an intriguing idea, as indie authors were realising that for their books to be taken seriously they needed to be well-written, well-edited and have a professional cover but it was difficult to know where to find the best possible support. At the same time, I was concerned that this was yet another service looking to earn income from authors (and publishing professionals) without delivering any real value in return.

Since my last post, Reedsy has grown, developing it’s services and website, so I thought it was time to revisit what they offer.

Full disclosure: Ricardo Fayet, one of the founders of Reedsy, has read and given great reviews of my books. This has no impact on this post and I have never been requested to write anything about Reedsy. I also have not used the Reedsy marketplace to find a publishing professional but my editor offers his services via Reedsy.

What’s new?

Where the old Reedsy was pretty much the market place, allowing authors to search for marketing professionals and professionals to promote themselves, Reedsy now offer a lot more.

Learning

They have a series of free Live Videos where industry experts talk about specific topic (e.g. cover critiques, how to go about your second draft), all of which are really useful for a novice or experienced writer. They also offer a series of free courses on topics as diverse as how to build your writing routine to getting the most from Amazon’s algorithms. The best thing about these services are that you don’t have to be registered with Reedsy to take part (although the courses are via email so you do have to give you name and email address). Even if you don’t use any of Reedsy’s other services, these are well worth having a look at.

Book editor

Reedsy have also created a book editor, free software for you to use to write your novel. Because it is online, you can use it to collaborate with your editor and once complete it can create the final ebook or POD file for you. My thoughts on this are mixed. In function it is very similar to Scrivener – which I love – and the fact it is free makes it very attractive. However I have two concerns. First, by using this service you are tying yourself to Reedsy in the same way some of us are tied over time to Google or Apple products. I’d want to know how to access my files if I change my mind. Second is around the files themselves. Where are they stored? Who owns them? What happens if Reedsy goes bust? It’s not clear from the promotional page and I would want clear answers on these points if I was ever to think about using the service.

The market place

The market place has developed since I last looked from being predominantly editors and cover designers to now promoting PR, Marketing and Ghostwriting services as well. You can filter your search by the type of service offered and the genre they specialise in to help find the right person for you. What is noticeable is that there hasn’t been a significant rise is the number of professionals offering their services. For me, this is a good thing. It shows that Reedsy aren’t just trying to pull in numbers to make a quick buck but are

One thing that’s knew is you can see the response rate of the professional, so you know whether your enquiry will be looked at or not. It’s a nice addition but I’d still like to have some form of rating or feedback where verified users of the service can give feedback of their experience. I would also like to have some indication of an indicative price range as it’s difficult to tell initially whether you would be wasting your (and the service provider’s) time with an enquiry.

Summary

As an author, I like what Reedsy are doing and the way they are approaching the market. They appear to be in it for the long haul and are choosing quality over quantity, and are building up a portfolio of services to support authors and offer real value. While I don’t think their offer is perfect, if they continue in this manner they could soon become the one-stop shop for authors they’re aiming to be.

At the very least, I would recommend anyone interested in writing to check out their learning videos and courses, whether you are starting out and looking to develop your craft, or if you are an experienced writer looking to learn move about the intricacies of the trad or indie publishing scene. They cover a wide variety of topics and are delivered by market experts. Also, they’re free, so what do you have to lose?

On a personal level I’m lucky that I already have an editor and cover designer I enjoy working with, but if I was ever looking for a professional service, I would definitely look on Reedsy on top of my other searches.

What about you? Have you used Reedsy at all? Do you have any feedback you would like to share with us? I would love to hear from you.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

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Genesis Redux is available to buy!

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I’m incredibly pleased – and relieved – to tell you that Genesis Redux, book 3 in the Transcendence Trilogy, is now available to buy as both an ebook and paperback.

I’d like to thank all of you who’ve waited patiently to find out what happened following the climax of Absent Souls. I think you’ll find the wait was worth it.

In Genesis Redux you’ll get to spend more time with Indigo, as her scheming skills are tested to the limit; watch O’Driscoll take on the might of Global Governance; see Nico Tandelli torn between protecting his family and bringing those that put them in danger to justice; and follow Stephanie Vaughn as she takes a journey beyond anything anyone has ever experienced before.

It has taken me a lot longer than planned to finish this final book in the trilogy but it has been an absolute blast to write. I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I enjoyed creating it.

 

Description

One person, two lives, and a challenge to the old world order.

With Tandelli and O’Driscoll on the run, Stephanie imprisoned, and the traditionalist faction of Global Governance vanquished, all Indigo’s goals are realised. Yet in her moment of triumph, victory is snatched from her grasp. Stripped of her patronage and with enemies on all sides, she finds herself in the biggest fight of her life.

In this stunning climax to the Transcendence Trilogy, nobody is safe as the once secret struggle to control humanity’s future breaks out into the open.

Who will win in this battle for ultimate power: the Investigator, torn between duty and protecting his family; the crime lord, wanting revenge on those who took his kingdom away; Global Governance, riven by in-fighting but still a force to be reckoned with; or the person who started it all, even though she’d rather be dead?

 

To buy Genesis Redux, click on the relevant link below:

Amazon.com ebook paperback

Amazon.co.uk ebook paperback

Amazon.ca ebook

Amazon.com.au ebook

Amazon.de ebook

Amazon.fr ebook

Amazon.es ebook

Amazon.it ebook

Amazon.nl ebook

Amazon.co.jp ebook

Amazon.com.br ebook

Amazon.com.mx ebook

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

5 Things you learn when writing your second book

There have been lots of articles written about writing your first novel, both on how to do it and the struggle and sense of achievement when finally completing it. This is understandable. You only write one first novel and you are one of a select few who having started, manage to get to the end. But what of your second novel? What should you expect when starting book number two and how is it different from the first time? Here are my top five things I learned writing my second novel.

1 It is just as hard as the first but in different ways

Writing your first novel is a struggle because it is the great unknown. It’s like having a child; you knew in theory what to expect but the reality was so much more. So writing your second book should be easy, right? Unfortunately the answer is both yes and no. Some things are easier. You know what to expect, how much commitment is required and what to do during each stage of the writing process. But at the same time, each book is different and how you get your story onto the page can vary wildly depending on the idea, the characters, your chosen POV and many other factors. Some writers say there is no such thing as a second book, just another first one, and I have a tendency to agree. Even though my second novel was a sequel to my first, it was just as hard to write. And then there is the pressure of expectation to add to all the other challenges you face.

2 You have improved as a writer

The good news is that you have improved as a writer. Yes, you have. It may not be noticeable as you oscillate between the wild creativity and frustrating inertia of your new first draft, but when it comes to editing you should see a difference in the amount of effort needed to pull your book into shape. This isn’t always the case, especially if your first book was an idea that had been germinating for years and your second came from an “oh, shit, what should I do now?” thought after your first novel was finished, but most of us find that there are things learnt when writing the first novel around pacing, phrasing and characterisation which naturally incorporate into our writing process, improving the standard of our first draft.

Then, when it comes to editing, most of us have a clearer idea of what we should be doing and to what extent. Like many people I over-edited my first novel

3 You still have a lot to learn

Writing a book doesn’t automatically qualify you as an experienced author. It makes you a journeyman at best, a novice in most cases. What you’ve learnt with your first novel is how to write that particular story. You’ve picked up many skills along the way – you can see this by how much better your later chapters were compared to your first – but you’ve still only flexed a few of the writing muscles available to a writer. The best writers are always learning, always looking to improve. And then there is the ever-present challenge of how to write without resorting to cliché or stock phrasing. The bad news is, you’ve not made it as a writer, you’ve just started. The good news is that’s a wonderful situation to be in.

4 There are certain typos you will always make

Muscle memory is a funny thing. Once an action is learnt it is very hard to un-learn. When editing your second book you’ll soon notice old friends making an appearance, those same typos that riddled your first book coming back to say hello. If you haven’t already made notes of which typos you regularly make, I suggest you do it now, because these gremlins are guaranteed (that’s one of mine) to visit every manuscript you ever write and a quick ‘find and replace’ (not replace all, always check placement and context) of your document can save hours of frustration further down the process.

5 Once published, you find out your true audience

On publishing your second book your assumption is that your second book will sell at least the same number as your first book, with a bigger launch, because you already have a group of dedicated readers who can’t wait to find out what you’ve come up with next. This may be true if you’ve a thriving mailing list and are releasing your book only a few months after the first. In fact this is the reason why many people suggest you don’t publish book 1 when it’s finished but wait until you have three ready to go and publish them either all at once, or quickly after each other.

The reality for most of us (especially those of us self-publishing) is that the initial sales of our debut novel – especially at launch – came from friends or family either keen to support us or morbidly interested in what could be a car crash of a novel. Another segment of people who bought your novel are those who bought it because of the great cover, blurb, personal recommendation or reviews but found it not good enough to race out and buy the next one. That doesn’t mean they thought it terrible (although they might have) but it just wasn’t compelling enough that your next novel automatically pushed in front of every other book being released. Then you have the people who would be interested but you’ve failed to engage with so they’ve moved on to other things.

As with all these points, this may not apply to you, but don’t be surprised if your second book doesn’t initially sell as well as your first. It can be a frustrating lesson but the good news is that those readers that buy your second book are your true audience. They aren’t there for moral support (well, maybe a few) but they’re there because they’re genuinely interested in what you come up with next. As long as you continue to produce quality work, this group should remain with you every step of the way (although a mailing list helps), becoming the foundation of your (hopefully) ever growing readership.

So what about you? What lessons have you learnt that I’ve missed? Or is there anything I’ve written you strongly disagree with? I’d love to hear from you!

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

KU pages read stats – a new obsession

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image source: bookriot.com

When Amazon announced they were changing their Kindle Unlimited payment scheme from ‘flat rate per loan’ to a payment for each page read there was a lot of debate about its impact on publishing. One thing missed, however, was its impact on authors themselves, specifically being able to ‘see’ people read your work.

When Amazon KDP launched their new scheme they also launched a report allowing authors to see how many page reads were captured per day, and like KDP’s other reports, this one is updated on a regular (hourly?) basis. For many authors, especially those selling at reasonable volumes, the report will show the thousands or tens of thousands of pages read per day in a steady stream. For those of us with more modest sales, the experience is very different.

It took a couple of days before I received my first KU download under the new system. I’d seen the sales rank bump – because I monitor my sales more often than is healthy – and waited with excitement to see the pages read appear on the new report.

And waited.

And waited.

Nothing happened. Perhaps the report has a few teething problems, I thought, or the reader is finishing another book before starting on mine. I tried not to let the lack of activity bother me, but the lack of activity needled me more than I wished to admit. Then, on the second day, the graph had changed. It registered 51 pages read from the day before. Somebody was reading my book!

The most logical thing to do at this point would have been to close the report and get on with my life, but no, I had to know more. So I tried to work out the exact point they had read up to. The Kindle Edition Normalized Page Count (KENPC) for Second Chance is 524 pages. The print book has 305 pages so at roughly 1.72 KENPC per print page I deduced that the reader had stopped at page 30 or the start of chapter 5. I was thrilled, it’s the point where the multiple threads of the opening chapters start to pull together. They were clearly enjoying the story.

At the same time, another emotion surfaced, one I hadn’t expected. Most authors will recognise the emotional rollercoaster when somebody you know reads your book. On the one hand you’re desperate to find out if they like it but you know it’s bad form to ask – there’s nothing worse than a needy author badgering you for your thoughts on the mine of their book to put you off a story. So whenever you meet your friend you deliberately don’t mention the book but at the same time you hope they bring it up in conversation to satisfy your need for validation.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, watching somebody read my book remotely elicited similar emotions, but this time I had both more and less information to go on. I believed I knew exactly where they’d read up to but had no visual signals, no reassuring smile to comfort me. All I had was the data, so being a story-teller I built my own narrative. In my head they’d loved the book so far and couldn’t wait to read on.

The next day I registered a KENPC of four, the day after that eleven and then a big fat zero. I was mortified. What had gone wrong? My imagination went into overdrive. When I’d first published Second Chance, a number of friends mentioned that it took four or five chapters to get into the story and then boom, everything started to fit together and they were hooked. Yet this reader had got that far and stopped. Did that mean they hated what I’d written? Had they given up and moved onto another book? Had they found it – god forbid – boring? It was torture. What had started as a wonderful new experience to remotely bond with my audience had turned into ego death by a thousand cuts.

Before the new payment process was introduced, all I had to worry about was whether I sold (or rented out) a book or not. Clearly I wanted the reader to enjoy what they’d bought as I had another book for sale and a third on the way, but once a sale was registered, it was a sale. It was a small piece of success, a balm for my ego.

Not any more.

Now I had the agony of watching somebody dump my novel for something more interesting. It took me back to my youth, bringing back feelings of dating the most beautiful girl in high school only to lose them to the football team captain the very next day.*

I woke the next morning and immediately checked my report. I had a KENPC of 485. Woo hoo! The football team captain was clearly a jerk and she loved me all along. I knew it. I’d always had faith in the wonderful, anonymous reader. Doubts? Pah!

Since then my KENPC graph has taken along the look of the Himalayas, with high peaks of many hundreds of pages read to low troughs of none. And it makes sense. For a start, many people don’t read every day, and even if they do they may not necessarily connect their Kindle to the internet until they’re ready to download their next book, only then passing on the data of where they’ve read up to. At the same time I’ve picked up more KU downloads, so it’s become almost  impossible to build a narrative as I’ve no idea whether I’m seeing one person reading 300 pages or one hundred people reading 3 pages (actually, I know it’s not one hundred people at a time – I wish – but you get the point). The point is, my short-term obsession has waned, settling down to monitoring my KENPC score as often as I do my sales (which is still far too frequent than is healthy).

Although it’s early days, I’m finding the new KU payment scheme is much better for me than the old one. I’m only halfway through the month, have had similar downloads than previous months but have made over three times as much money (if the $o.oo6 per KENPC figure widely publicised is correct). I’ve no doubt things will change as the scheme settles down but for the moment I’m happy.

The best part, though, was seeing my first reader, having enjoyed Second Chance so much they’d read it in three days, move on to Absent Souls and do the same thing. At least, that’s the narrative I’ve built in my head and it’s one delusion I’m happy to maintain.

So what about you? Are any of your books in Kindle Unlimited and have you had similar experiences? What are your thoughts about authors being able to remotely look over your shoulder and see what you and other readers have read? I’d love to hear from you.

*This never actually happened in real life, but I’ve seen enough movies to empathise.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

The Kindness of Authors

Kindness

Image Licensed by Creative Commons: source https://www.flickr.com/photos/sweetonveg/

As some of you may know, my background is in business. I spent over 25 years making money for some of the world’s largest corporations. Unlike some, I never found it as a soul-less existence. I enjoyed what I did and I especially enjoyed working with so many great people. When I decided to leave to concentrate on my writing, I knew I would miss my colleagues. It’s a wonderful feeling being part of a group working towards a common goal. Becoming an author, I expected my working life to be more like one man against the world.

Instead I discovered a wonderful community of authors.

 

The best part of writing has been the care and support shown by many hundreds of authors. It was such a surprise. In the world I’d just left, you never spoke to your competitors. You studied them, sure, but only to find weaknesses in their offer to exploit for your own financial benefit. Yet I had so many fellow authors, competitors of mine, offering help and advice, whether in the craft of writing or how to generate more sales.

And some not only gave advice, they actively promoted my books. How was this possible? Surely these authors telling readers to buy my book meant those same readers wouldn’t buy the books of these authors? But I learnt very quickly that publishing is not a zero sum game. There are enough readers to accommodate all of us. Yes, many of us would love to sell more books, but the issue isn’t a lack of readers, it is a lack of awareness, and as us authors help promote each other, we help ourselves too.

Yet I think there is more to this than a simple “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours.” I’ve had authors I’ve only ever met through blogging and social media give up hours of their time to beta read my books. Not only have they done so willingly, they were thrilled to help. In my recent promotion, many authors shared and promoted what was happening. One author in particular sent out regular tweets to their followers informing them of my promotion, all unasked.

There was even one writer, knowing how much I loved cricket, who offered me tickets to see England play a test match at Lords as they had a ticket going spare. This was a writer I’d never met in person but purely through blogging. I am still bowled over by the kindness of this gesture, and how much fun that day was.

While not all authors are supportive, as not all in life take time to think of others, I’ve encountered so many examples of authors offering help and support to each other and celebrating the success of their peers – from multi-award winning authors down to those just starting out and every level in between –  that I believe there is something in the psychological makeup of writers, possibly linked to our ability to empathise with others, that encourages this warmth and support to each other.

And the best part is, it’s more enjoyable to give than receive. Over a year ago I started my Pay it Forward campaign. It was a little thing, really. I read a lot of books, so it was no hardship changing my reading habits to read more works by either self-published authors or those published via small presses and promoting this I liked, yet the longer it has gone on, the more I’ve enjoyed doing it and offering just a little exposure to those books I feel deserve it.

So the one piece of advice I would give to any new writer is to reach out to other writers. Don’t just read what people have to say, write a comment, get in contact. For the most part I believe you’ll be pleasantly surprised with the reaction you’ll receive.

So what about you? What support have you received from other authors? Is there a particular act that stands out or is it more the ongoing encouragement you find helpful? I’d love to hear from you.

 

Do you like intelligent thrillers? If so, join my mailing list and get one of my 5-star rated near-future dystopian thrillers absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

My writing journey on writing.ie

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Yesterday I got an email message asking if I’d be interested in writing an 800 – 1000 word piece about my writing journey for writing.ie, the home of Irish writing online.

“Sure,” I replied. “I’d love to.”

“There’s only one thing. We need it for tomorrow.”

I had a million things to do last night but these are the types of opportunity that don’t come around very often for us indie authors, so I dropped everything and wrote my heart out.

I’m delighted to say the piece was accepted and is now live on the site, along with a teaser on the front page. For those interested, you can access it here.

In the post I get to describe the madness of self-publishers, talk a little bit about how I started writing, as well as pass on a little piece of advice for those thinking of starting on the journey. I hope you enjoy it.

Many thanks to Rebecca and Andrew at Design for Writers for putting the opportunity my way.

A Year of Paying It Forward

Pay it forward

A year ago almost to the day I had an epiphany. At the time I was spending an awful lot of effort encouraging people to buy my recently published book, Second Chance, but realised every book I’d bought myself up until that point was published by one of the major publishers. I’d not bought, or read, an indie book, yet here I was trying to persuade others to buy mine.

The reason for not buying indie wasn’t snobbery but laziness. I bought books from authors I knew. I rarely tried anything new, and it was even rarer for me to read outside of my favourite genre comfort zone. Yet I’d received lots of support from the indie writing community, both how to write and publish a book, as well as lifting me up when my spirits were down. I knew I wanted to do something to pay the community back and support my fellow writers. This was when Pay It Forward was born.

The concept was, and is, simple. I buy books from my fellow indie authors. I started with those that supported the writing community (although not necessarily me specifically), giving them a much needed sale and chart position boost. As a bonus, I would promote those books I really enjoyed on this blog as well as leaving reviews on Amazon (.com & .co.uk) and Goodreads.

In the year since I’ve bought sixty-one indie books and been given another three for free. Of those I’ve read all but seven. They have varied in genre and style from thrillers to chick-lit, cosy mysteries to literary fiction, along with a number of books from my beloved fantasy and science fiction. Most have been novels but I’ve also discovered a love for the short story form I never knew I had.

There isn’t a single book I’ve regretted purchasing.

That doesn’t mean I’ve enjoyed them all, but I know each purchase has given a boost, if just a small one, to writers who deserve it. Pay It Forward has been a wonderful experience and one I recommend for any indie author. I’ve not only enjoyed some wonderful books and broadened my reading palette, I’ve also got to know some of a number of those writers along the way and consider some of them as friends.

Out of the 54 books read, I’ve loved 32 of them enough to recommend them on this blog, which in my eyes puts paid to the nonsense that all self-published books are rubbish. In fact, as time’s gone on my criteria for recommending a book has tightened, and while I stand by every recommendation I’ve made, there are books I’ve recently read and haven’t recommended that may have made the cut when I first started this process, which shows just how good many of these books are.

The other thing that’s changed is that I now also Pay It Forward to books by supportive authors that are published via a small press as I’ve learnt in the past year that it’s just as difficult for these authors to get noticed as it is for us indies.

So if you’re an author who’s benefitted from the wonderfully supportive indie community and would like to give something back, I cannot recommend Paying It Forward enough. All you need to do to get going is purchase one book. Start with a book an author who’s supported you in some way, either directly or indirectly, and then broaden from there. Don’t be afraid to try genres you wouldn’t normally read, you might be surprised. I’m not guaranteeing you’ll enjoy every book you buy, but I’m sure there’ll be many you will, and if you do, don’t forget to let the world know.

My favourite Recommended Reads from the past year

Below are my favourite indie books from the past year. This doesn’t mean I enjoyed them more than any of the others that I’ve read but they are the ones that have somehow stuck with me and that I’ve thought of most often. I heartily recommend you give them a try.

The cover of the book Duck, showing a picture of a bomb on an orange backgroundDuck by Stephen Parolini

“Duck is a short story about Thomas Lingonberry, a young boy growing up in 1950’s USA who’s life changes when a bomb lands on his desk. We follow Thomas on his journey of love and discovery, as the fallout from that day resonates through. It is a wonderful and warmly written coming-of-age tale. Stephen Parolini draws you into a world which while alien to someone of my age and nationality was also strangely familiar. He brings to life beautifully the memory of young love and my only complaint was that it ended.”

You can buy Duck from Amazon.co.uk here and from Amazon.com here.

othellasmallerOthella by Therin Knite

“This book works on two levels. On the one hand it is a fast-paced, science-fiction thriller, on the other a treatise on the moral grey area of the good of the whole over the good of the individual. Knite’s writing style is tight, hard-edged and uncompromising; as if Raymond Chandler decided to have a go at re-imagining Hunger Games. I was hooked from first page to the brutal finale.”

“I’ve read and enjoyed many self-published novels but this is the first one I wish I’d written. I cannot wait for its sequel.”

Othella by Therin Knite is available from all major ebook retailers. To buy click here

yesterday road small-coverYesterday Road by Kevin Brennan

“This is a beautiful book. In Yesterday Road, Brennan has created a unique tale that is warm-hearted and generous in spirit. As the story progressed it became very easy to form a bond with each of the main characters: Joe Easterhouse conveys the warmth and love like so many people with Downs Syndrome have, and Ida Peevey is the person we all hope we would be in a similar situation. But the true strength of Brennan’s writing comes is shown when we travel with Jack and see the world through his eyes. This combination of childlike wonder and regret at what he has forgotten, gives the story it’s warmth, humour and poignancy.”

To buy Yesterday Road from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Yesterday Road from Amazon.com click here

The Me You See largeThe Me You See by Shay Ray Stevens

“Stevens has successfully pieced together a compelling narrative based around the memories of Stefia’s friends and family. The timeline jumps back and forth, covering important events from Stefia’s life, each a step along the path to the opening shooting. What would be confusing in the hands of another author flows effortlessly due to Stevens’ skilful handling of both plot and characterisation. Each new character’s perspective feels real and unique, not an easy thing to do. It was very easy to become engrossed in the mystery of what happened. As new aspects of Stefia’s personality and life were revealed, I found myself racing through the pages to find out more.”

To buy The Me You See from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Me You See from Amazon.com click here

gzcoverfinal-smallerGreen Zulu 51 by Scott Whitmore

“Green Zulu 51 (and other stories from the Vyptellian War) is listed as a set of short stories set in a future world where one of old Earth’s colonies finds itself embroiled in a war with a relentless alien aggressor.”

“Whitmore has a wonderfully natural style, clearly bringing in a lot of his own military experience to the fore in painting the very ancient experience of life on the front line in a futuristic war. Each character has their own perspectives, are well rounded and immediately draw you into their world. While the battles (whether in space or on the ground) are well written and compelling, it is the human stories that make this book a stand out.”

To buy Green Zulu 51 from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy Green Zulu 51 from Amazon.com click here

The Whisper of StarsThe Whisper of Stars by Nick Jones

“With The Whisper of Stars, Nick Jones has combined detective, espionage and near-future dystopian thriller genres to produce a cracking story that is both compelling and makes you think about the challenges we face in the future. Each chapter draws you into the world Jones has created, one that is both futuristic and very, very real, with neural implants rubbing shoulders with a night down the pub with friends. As the story progresses Jones gradually reveals a dark vision of the future, where those in power are forced to make difficult decisions which in turn become further corrupted by the desire to manipulate and control.”

To buy The Whisper of Stars from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy The Whisper of Stars from Amazon.com click here

On hearing of my mother's death six years after it happenedOn Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened by Lori Schafer

“A heart-wrenching look into life of the author, as a teenaged girl, being raised by a mother with mental illness, written plainly but beautifully, with no embellishment or self-justification. By the end you feel in awe of the author for having survived the ordeal, although as is made clear, it’s not clear if the effects of the experience have ever actually ended.”

To buy On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened from Amazon.co.uk click here

To buy On Hearing Of My Mother’s Death Six Years After It Happened from Amazon.com click here

 

Everybody fails, it’s how you deal with it that counts

sochi ringsWe all fail. All of us. It could be a small thing or it could be an enormous, publicly humiliating failure in front of a global audience, like when one of the rings failed to open at the Sochi Winter Olympics this year. Failure is a natural occurrence. It’s what you do next that’s important.

sochi closing ringsIf you believed the press at the time, after the Sochi opening ceremony Vladimir Putin either sacked, imprisoned or executed the person responsible. After the bad publicity the Sochi Games had received about gay rights (and quite right too) it was another humiliating embarrassment. The press was full of pictures of this ‘catastrophe’ for days. So how did the organising committee deal with the situation? By making a joke of it at the closing ceremony, embracing their failure and dispelling a few Russian stereotypes at the same time.

The publishing rollercoaster

When you publish a book there will always be ups and downs. Maybe it doesn’t sell as well as you would like, maybe it doesn’t sell at all. Maybe a promotion flopped, or you received one or more 1-star reviews. These things will knock anyone’s confidence, especially when it involves something you’ve spent months, or even years, pouring your heart into, and our first reaction is to either curl up into a ball or rage at the sheer unfairness of it all.

I’ve seen many posts and tweets by authors complaining about this or that aspect of their career. We’ve all felt like it at times. I’m an optimistic person at heart so I always expect things to go well. An old colleague of mine was the complete opposite. When I asked him why he had such a bleak outlook he told me “because then I’m never disappointed.”

I don’t suggest you all become pessimists overnight but at the same time, without trying to appear heartless, moaning about a particular situation is a pointless exercise. When you do this, the only person you’re hurting is yourself, not only by gaining a reputation of being a complainer, but because you’re doing nothing to change what’s happened.

A successful author is an unsuccessful author who never gave up

new-mrs-d-cover-design-smallerOne of my author friends, Heather Hill, wrote a wonderful book called The New Mrs D (you can read my review of it here). She tried for a long time to get it published but was turned down because the subject matter “would put people off buying the book”.

She managed to find an agent who believed in her but not a publisher, so the two decided to self-publish. This went incredibly well – at one point The New Mrs D was at no.1 in Amazon Australia – mostly through the work Heather did to promote the book, build a mailing list and following on her blog, as well as utilising twitter and instagram to spread the word. She hadn’t taken no for an answer and proved everybody wrong.

For various reasons, Heather and her agent parted company and Heather retained the rights to her work. Unfortunately, her book was then unpublished, vanished from the Amazon store losing all the sales ranking and visibility. It was devastating. All her hard work from the previous months had disappeared, all of the time and money she’d invested, gone. At this point most of us would have given up.

Not Heather.

She re-published the book, organised a campaign of social media promotion and spent what little money she could afford on a bookbub promotion. Her book was downloaded 29,000 times and at one point she was in the top 10 free books on amazon.co.uk and top 20 on amazon.com. Since then she has remained flying high in the paid charts, all due to how she reacted to adversity. And it couldn’t have happened to a nicer person.

This is what it takes to be a successful author.

If you would like to buy Heather’s book, The New Mrs D, you can get it from amazon.com by clicking here, or from amazon.co.uk by clicking here.

I can also recommend her blog, Hell for Heather, and following her on twitter @hellforheather. Say hello, she’s very friendly.

What every indie author wants for Christmas

Christmas Present

I was going to write a long post on the best things to buy an indie author this Christmas but I hit writers block. It wasn’t that I’d run out of ideas, it was because one gift idea completely swamped the others in terms of relevance. What is it that most indie authors would like for Christmas?

That a book of theirs was given as a gift to somebody else.

Most of us are too modest – or think the idea too crass – to give our own work out at Christmas. We hate self-promotion at the best of times but even for those of us who have reluctantly grasped the marketing nettle, giving out our own work as presents to friends and family is a step too far.

However, this doesn’t stop us from gifting the work of our peers that we’ve enjoyed to our friends or family, or from you for giving our work as gifts to your friends either.

So if you have a writer in your life and you wish to give them the best Christmas gift ever, buy a book of theirs for somebody else. If you are a writer who has particularly enjoyed another indie writer’s book this year, why don’t you give that out for Christmas. It’s a double whammy, making both the recipient, and the author, very happy.

 

E-books

how-to-give-away-kindle-booksIf you live in the US you can simply click on a button, add the email address of the person the gift is for, add the date you wish the ebook to be sent, and it’s done.

Sadly this option isn’t available in Europe (please fix this soon, Amazon), but you can still give an Amazon gift voucher and email the recipient a recommendation of a book to purchase.

Paperback books

There is something about receiving a paper book that’s very special. If it was down to me, the only gifts I’d give are books*. A paperback is a great option as a gift, especially if you know the author (hint, hint to my friends and family) as you can also ask them to add a personal message to the recipient, making the gift extra special.

*It’s not down to me.

If you’re interested in finding out more about my writing, going my mailing list and get one of my books absolutely free. The mailing list is guaranteed spam free and I will only contact you if I have a new book launch or an exclusive short story to share. To sign up, please click here. 

4 activities to avoid as a newly published indie author

11.07.15-ast_ft_decision-signs-421913814_582_387 Congratulations, you’ve made it. You’ve uploaded your ebook and cover, entered a sales blurb and selected your product categories. You’ve decided on a price, agreed to the terms & conditions and finally, with no small amount of trepidation, pressed publish. Within a few hours an email arrived to confirm your book is live. You are now a published author. The next thing to do, of course, is let everybody know. So you spend a few hours promoting your launch on your social media of choice, phoning friends and family, sending emails and mentioning it to everybody you meet. This is great. Enjoy the moment. But then what? What should you do next? Well here are five things I recommend you don’t do.

Constantly check your sales stats

While the sensible advice is to write the book you want to read, in reality most of us write books we hope others will read. When you publish your first book the natural urge is to check your sales stats, an easy thing to do if you’ve published via Amazon KDP. Checking your sales once a day after launch is a perfectly healthy thing to do. Having the sales report fixed to your computer/smartphone on permanent refresh is not. If you do ignore my advice and continually refresh the sales report page you will learn that 1) not everybody who says they will buy your book, does buy your book and 2) most people don’t drop everything they’re doing and buy your book as soon as it becomes available. This is not a reflection of you, your book, or your relationship with others, but more to do with people living their lives and having priorities other than your book launch. Yes, your book is not as important to them as it is to you. This is a marathon, not a sprint. Over time people will remember to buy your book (especially if those who have read it tell them about it). There are many options open to you to try and stimulate your sales but ‘checking one last time to see if the numbers have gone up’ isn’t one of them. You will ignore this advice.

Compare your book’s performance to others

Another really tempting thing to do is compare the performance of your book to others. It could be a book published around the same time as your own, a novel from one of your favourite authors or somebody you know, or one in the same genre of yours that you read and hated. Whatever the reason, you will find yourself looking to their sales ranking almost as much as you look at your own. Don’t. It’s a pointless exercise. You have no control over how well their book is performing, so stop worrying about it. After the initial spike at launch, your sales will drop off.  This is normal, but it happens at different rates and on different timescales for each book. Then there is the promotional activity the other author is doing, how big a platform they have, whether this is their first book – and not forgetting lady luck. Whether another book is selling at a better or faster rate than yours is of no consequence to you. Just focus on your book and the many things you can do to build an audience.

Chase reviews

If you’re organised, you will have some reviews ready for launch (either through book reviewers or friends who have read the book prior to publication). After that the reviews will slow or stop altogether. This is a tough time for an author as a hundred questions run through your mind, fuelled by our familiar friend self-doubt. Are people reading your book? Have they stopped? Why have they stopped? Do they think it’s awful? Of course they do. I’m a terrible writer. Why did I bother publishing in the first place? The temptation here is to chase reviews. Try to resist. It takes time to read a book. Many people only read at night before bed, some not even that. You will be amazed how many people don’t read except on holiday. As long as you left a polite request for reviews at the end of your book (you did do that, didn’t you?) the reviews will come. By all means remind occasionally remind people but don’t pester. Plus, you shouldn’t really be looking at reviews anyway…

Stop writing

If you follow the advice of most indie authors they will tell you one of the biggest mistakes new authors make is to publish and assume people will buy the book. You need to promote, they say. You need to have a marketing plan, a promotional plan and you need to take every opportunity to mention your novel (here’s a link to mine by the way, Second Chance – it’s had loads of great reviews in the UK and some in the US too). I would argue that the biggest mistake is to stop writing. It is very rare for people to build a career from one book. Those more experienced authors (Hugh Howey, Sean Platt) argue that you should concentrate on your writing until you have published at least three books. That doesn’t mean launch and ignore, but your priority should be writing, not promotion.

And what should you be doing…?

Writing your next masterpiece!   So, these are my top four but I’m sure you have others. What have I missed? I’d love to hear from you.