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Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Writing A Christmas Novel - Part 3

Okay - so I'm still working on the dreaded blurb for Single by Christmas and I got so worked up about it, I've just let it alone for a while. I did send the blurb to a beta reader who thought it was good - so, Yay!
But I think it could do with a few tweaks which I hope I can run by you soon.

In the meantime I was working on the book cover concept.

Now, I'm no artist and had to ask for the services of a graphic designer who loves to design book covers - result!

So I'm daring to show you my own concept first of all:

Well I did tell you I was no artist!

But here are a few of the stages the graphic designer went through until I was happy with the end result:

And this is the winning cover:
Let me know what you think.

Credit for all the concepts go to:

Rima Salloum
 Graphic Design - Illustration - Conseil

Wednesday, 22 June 2016

Writing A Christmas Novel - Part Two

I'm making good progress with my Christmas novel, Single by Christmas! but still feeling the pressure of trying to get it to book reviewers sooner rather than later.

I'm happy to say that I have written it and completed three edits. I'm definitely not a fan of the editing process but I know it's a necessity. The next stage is to get it to my editor. I've ticked that box and I'm waiting for the feedback so I can go in for the final edit. Once that's all taken care of, I can do my happy dance.

But while I'm waiting to hear back from the editor, I've been in touch with a couple of beta readers who read Natalie's Getting Married and I'm hoping they will want to read Single by Christmas, too. Fingers crossed. All good feedback helps with the final product.

My next gruelling task is writing a blurb. Yeuck! I hate writing those. They're so hard to get right. I recently noticed one author doing a poll on her blog in which she asked her readers to pick from a choice of two. Usually I send my blurb out to a few writer friends and try to get some comments and opinions. After a few days of my blurb going backwards and forwards, I'll end up with a something I'm happy with.

Some good advice I picked up when writing a blurb is to look at what the bestsellers in your genre and try to 'borrow' from their examples. Because I believe that blurbs should have the writers voice and the same tone as the novel itself, it might not be easy to adapt someone else's way of writing blurbs to suit you needs. Be selective if you're looking for examples but most of all, be yourself, I say.

But really I'm stalling a bit, I need to get on and write this blurb because sadly it won't write itself.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Writing A Christmas Novel - Part One

Last winter I was at an author event and one of the attendees talked about a romance writer friend who managed to pay her mortgage by producing two novels a year, one of them being a Christmas novel. I was impressed. I didn't have a mortgage but I did have rent to pay. Could I follow in this writer's footsteps and actually be able to pay bills with money I earn from writing books? Anything was possible, I thought to myself, but at the same time I baulked at the idea of writing a Christmas novel.

I wondered if it was for me. It's not that I don't like Christmas, I just realised I hadn't read a single Christmas novel in my genre! Something I remedied very quickly as it was that time of year. And very quickly I started to warm to the idea of writing my own.

Early this year an idea for an Xmas story title popped into my head and then a list of characters, followed by what I hoped would make for a really good story.

My biggest barrier to writing the Xmas novel was time. I'd already had other novel ideas brewing and I'd have to drop them, pick up my jingle bells (to get into the Xmas mood) and write my Xmas story.

I decided to write Single By Christmas.

Because I'm me and because I never do things by halves, I've taken on two writing projects. The first, to finish the Xmas novel by early July (that's edited, proofread, cover and everything) and the second, to write my next book which is now going to be a book series! A trilogy to be exact.

So operation, Manage My Time began.

I gave myself a 2000 a day word count (weekdays only) which means that after the Xmas book is finished I immediately start to write the series. With a 2000 a day word count I could write all four books at an average of 90,000 words each by early 2017!

Single By Christmas - Progress So Far...

I am at a word count of about 62k words and the ideas are still flowing. I am no longer averse to writing Xmas stories. In fact I'm loving it!

What Comes Next?

I've already got the book cover ideas in the form of some dodgy sketches and written notes and I've managed to find a fantastic book cover artist to work with after a search on Goodreads. That bit is going to be fun. Next I'll be lining up some Beta Readers, calling on my editor and my proof reader and asking for some book reviews. But I'll keep you up to date on the progress. I suddenly have a craving for mince pies. Do they sell them in June?

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

Good Reviewer V Bad Reviewer

Book Reviews - Every author needs them and every author dreads the big bad review. But if you're going to put a book out there, you have to be prepared to be judged, right?

I haven't had a bad review so far (nothing below 3 Stars) but I have had two very bad reviewers!

I call them bad reviewers because they don't give other readers anything to go on. I had a bad reviewer for Sleeping With Your Best Friend. The reviewer gave me 3 Stars because one of my female characters did something that she thought was not very nice and did not show a female in a positive light. For that reason she did not like the character.

But the reviewer missed the point. I wanted you to not like what my character did. She was not a nice person - she wasn't supposed to be positive female character. Therefore, didn't I achieve what I set out to achieve?

Another bad reviewer of Natalie's Getting Married (also a 3 Star review so not bad) criticised me for getting something wrong about the 80's. My book starts in 1990! Ho hum.

I thought this post was going to be a rant but there's not point in ranting and raving. Everyone is free to write a review in the way they think a review should be written but here are a few things that might be helpful to other readers and to writers:

Monday, 13 June 2016

Update: Giving Books Away Free

Should writers give their books away for FREE?

Well I never thought I would and I always wondered, when I saw other authors do it, what on earth possessed them to. But, as I said in this post today's consumer wants to try before they buy, or they want a BOGOF.

Freebies seem to be the order of the day for some products to entice buyers and, sadly, books fall into that category. While that sucks for people who put everything they have, body, soul and hard earned cash, into producing a product, unless you are a bestseller or a celebrity, you may well have to give your art away in order for people to take a chance on you.

Anyway. I made the decision and the results seem to have paid off.

Firstly, let me say I am mainly talking about the ebook version of Natalie's Getting Married which is on KDP at the moment, so these results are all based on Amazon sales.

Before either of my books were free (one is perma free now) my ranking on the Amazon BestSeller List was way down in the high millions and I must have sold about a handful of books since the book came on the market in March of this year.

Helping to Promote my Free KDP Days

  • I did a bit of research on the above and discovered that people on the prowl for a free ebook tend to do so on a weekend, Sunday in particular. So I chose the Bank Holiday Weekend (here in UK) to promote Natalie's Getting Married as free for four of my five day entitlement on KDP.
  • During my research I came across the idea of advertising with sites that advertise free kindle books to generate a wider knowledge of my generosity. I found this site which listed sites that advertise your free Kindle ebooks and this one! (Please note: Some info is a little out of date on these links and not all links work - but it's a start).
  • As luck would have it, because of my surname, I was able to take advantage of getting tons of re-tweets on Twitter because of a group I belong to on Facebook.
  • I also Tweeted like mad about the #giveaway. 

The Results

During the free period my book entered the top 100 in the Free Kindle Rankings and in a few categories it got as far as top three! Then, after the free period was over the book quickly shot up thousands of places in the paid rankings. I've checked from time to time and noticed it got into the 3000's at one stage. Since then it's been luxuriating in the 4000's and never lower than 10,000. And while that might be laughable to some writers who are always top 100, I've been doing backward flips because I never thought as a new comer who can't market her books for toffee, that I could ever get that high up the rankings. In some categories like Humour and Women's Fiction, I've been in the top 100! Also I've had a few more reviews on Amazon, most of which were 5* and only one stinker who still gave the book 3*

So, I'm a long way from becoming a bestseller but I know I have to bide my time. I need more books and I'm working on that. I've almost finished writing my Christmas book and I've already got outlines and an opening few pages for my trilogy. More on what I #amwriting to come!

My next adventure in KDP promotions will be a price drop. I'll keep you posted!

Monday, 6 June 2016


I recently read a great post by writer Ana Spoke in which she addresses the problem writers of funny or comedic humour come across when trying to promote their books. So her idea was for writers of 'funny' to help cross promote each other!

Read the post by Ana Spoke by clicking here!

So #ComedyBookWeek is coming soon and I will be taking part by promoting posts, book reviews and info about all the participating authors.

In particular, lined up for that week, I will be featuring on my blog an interview by the Comedy Book Week founder, Ana Spoke, about her books, Shizzle Inc and Indiot which make up part of the Isa Maxwell Escapades series.

I will be hosting guest posts by author of It Started With a Snub, Bernadette Maycock and Susan Daffron who is the author of the Alpine Grove Romantic Comedies

And that's just for starters. Look out for #ComedyBookWeek on all the social media platforms and Share, Retweet and Like as much as you can. You'll be helping writers and you may discover a few you didn't know!