Tuesday, 31 December 2013

5 things about writing you don't know but maybe should



 
Once upon a time you thought of a story that involved a character, setting, and plot. You went into your writing cave and you wrote said story. Emerging months or even years later, you copied said story onto a floppy disc, took it to a printer and got them to print the manuscript for you, then you posted said story to an agent or a publisher. After which you went back into your writing cave to write another story while your first story sat on a publisher's desk for six months.

When I started out writing, it was very much like this. The internet was only new and no way would a publisher let a piece of technology dictate how it ran it's business. Every manuscript had to be posted. And I had to send a return stamped envelope if I wanted the manuscript back! Sometimes I had to send a standard stamped envelope if I wanted a reply. Some agents wanted a phone call first so you could pitch your premise to them and if they were interested they'd invite you send in a query. It was all very exclusive and at times rather pompous. No wonder it took me so long to learn about publishing when I had to wait six months for every manuscript to come back. It was a long, drawn out process and the publishers liked it that way.

But things have changed. And whether or not we think this change is for the better, we must learn to embrace change if we are to succeed in the future.

Where has this change come from? Well, not so much from the art of writing. Writing a novel hasn't changed so much over the decades, but everything after the novel is written has. For a start, most homes have their own printer and for a few hundred dollars an author can and should have a laser printer capable of printing good quality query letters and manuscripts. However, it is becoming more and more prevalent that agents and publishers are only accepting emailed queries and manuscripts which is negating the need for a printer once more. And with the world wide web, authors can submit to agents and publishers anywhere on the planet.

I thought I'd take a look at my top 5 tips that I think every writer maybe needs to know to help them write into the future.

1. It's a numbers game

How many books have you written? How many books have you published?  How many followers do you have? How many stars do your reviews get? How many? How Many? How many?

It seems that whenever I tell people I'm a writer I'm asked many questions around quantity. How many books signings have you done? How many rejections letters have you received? How many years have you been writing? How many? How many?

Human beings have an insatiable appetite for numbers which is understandable considering we live in a consumable world. Even I consider numbers when it comes to writing a guest post for a blog or doing a giveaway. How many followers does that blog have? How many visitors to the site do they get? How many people will my post reach? How many? How Many?

The day I released my third novel Little Red Gem, I was asked if I was writing another book. It's hard not to give that incredulous look and scream at someone that they haven't bought any of my other books, why are they so bloody concerned whether I'm writing another one or not. But the truth is, it's a numbers game. Readers don't want to invest in a writer that has a short life span. That's why it takes 3 to 4 books for an author to really start to gain some traction.

So how do you get numbers? Here's what works for me on my top 4 social media platforms.

Twitter - I follow fans and authors and then they follow me back. I've read that it's considered taboo to follow more people than you have followers, but who gives a toss? It's rude not to follow people who follow you. I'm still getting up to speed with how Twitter works so it's not my biggest fan reach but the simple follow them and they'll follow back seems to work.

Facebook - Ads work. For as little as $1 a day I can get around 20 Likes per week. If I increase the dollar commitment of course I'll increase the number of Likes. But I have a budget. Anyway, over a year those 20 Likes a week will add up to 1,040 followers. And because it's a numbers game I target my ads to countries that have a high population. You can pause the advertising at any stage and you can also boost any post. For example, if I have something important to tell my fans, I boost the post. I still limit this to $5 because it can get be a bit like playing with imaginary money and the bill can rack up.

Blog - The tip to getting people to your blog is to write articles people want to read. You're reading this, aren't you? What brought to this site? Most likely the title. Top 5... How To... 5 things... You need to think in terms of what people will type into a search engine and title your posts accordingly. Another tip is to write articles in a style featured in newspapers and magazines. Think about your intros. Think about your transitions from paragraph to paragraph. Look back over the stats of your posts and analyse what reached the highest number of readers and what didn't.

Newsletters - Every time I do a giveaway, even for something as simple as a bookmark, I collect emails so I can create a database. I make certain to put in any giveaway terms that I will be collecting emails. People have the option to opt out or unsubscribe, but the point is that newsletters are a great way of generating repeat business.


2. You can have your digital cake and eat it too

Too often I hear the cry that ebooks will replace print books. Quick print books, take up arms against your digital cousins and claim the throne that is rightfully yours. What nonsense to think that only one format will rule them all.

To state that a new format will replace the old is not only ludicrous, it's narrow sighted. The bath was not replaced by the shower. The stair was not replaced by the escalator. The pencil was not replaced by the pen. I have a microwave and a standard oven in my home. I have an acoustic and an electric guitar. I have a car and a bicycle. I have a radio and a CD player.

Remember what I said above that human beings have an insatiable appetite for numbers. They have an insatiable appetite for technology too. Take a look around any home and you'll find android tablets, smart phones, landline phones, laptops, PCs, iPods, digital clocks, watches, DVD players, CD players... the list goes on. Ask anyone these days to choose between two items and you wouldn't be surprised to hear them ask, why can't I have both? I'm not condoning this hunger humanity has for collecting things, I'm just pointing out that it's there.

An author can use this insatiable appetite to their advantage. Package the ebook and print book together by offering an ebook for free with the purchase of a print book. Incentive local schools or bookstores with a free ebook as consideration for purchasing the print book for their library or store. There were quite a few takers for The Bird With The Broken Wing and Feedback, my first two novels. Note that these 'free' ebooks form part of a strategy which I'll discuss later on. 

Ebooks might eventually replace print books, and that's not likely for another few decades yet, but the digital cake has changed, and will continue to change the way people purchase their cakes. 

3. Pumping your own gas

20-30 years ago, you drove your car into a service station (gas/fuel/petrol/service whatever you call it), and an attendant came out to you. He topped up the car with fuel. He checked your tyre pressure, cleaned the windows, topped up the window wiper tank with water, checked the oil level. When the tank was full he took your cash, dashed inside and returned with your change. 

Today, you drive into the service station, get out of the car, pay up front by swiping a credit card machine at some places, pump your own gas, spill it on your favourite leather boots, wait in a long line, all the while your shoes reek of fuel, and the person in front takes forever to choose a chocolate bar. Then, you go outside, clean your own windshield and wave apologetically when someone pulls up behind you and sits on their horn to tell you to move so they can get to the pump.
Writers totally are equally, if not solely, responsible for pumping their own gas, or in non-analogy terms, marketing their own books. Writers are now web masters/mistressess, bloggers, and market researchers. We stay up on our computer long into the night sending query emails to other people who stay up on their computer long into the night, so that someone out there may review our book. Or maybe they’ll want to interview us. Maybe they’ll do anything, anything, anything in the hope that someone out there notices all our hard work and says “gee, I wanna buy that book”.

Editors from publishing houses have openly admitted that the writer who is not willing to self promote, is not going to sell any books. A writer needs to learn, not only how to write their book, but how to sell and promote their book. And with the competition increases tenfold daily, it's more important than ever that authors read marketing books as well as fiction.

 
 
4. Technology isn't going to go away

We'll do what it takes to get our books out there, right? Of course. Yet, secretly we hope that all this technology and social media and whatever goes away as soon as possible so we can get down to the business of writing. Remember the final scene in the movie 2012, the world has been destroyed and has to be rebuilt, and there is only one author on the surviving ship. Woo hoo, we're all thinking to ourselves. Oh, to be a sole author in the new world, to have a captive audience, to be rid of the competition, to be rid of the annoying presence of technology. The problem is that the annoying presence of technology isn't going away and neither is the need to come up with inventive ways to promote our books to newer audiences.

Book trailers are something new that authors are learning to put them together. Pinterest is something I don't get but it's popular. Social media sites come and go, but the concept of ever evolving technology will never go away. Humans have embraced it. And until the day where we have no electricity, we will have to suck it up and learn new things.

That's not to say that we need to invest time and money into learning every new piece of social media or software that is ever invented. We still have to be realistic and do what we can reasonably do. But we can't pretend it's going to go away and leave an opening for us to return back into our writing caves.

Get out of your comfort zone and if you need to learn it, learn it. Trust me, it won't hurt. Much.

5. You don't get something for nothing

It frustrates me to see so many authors just giving their hard work away for nothing. If it forms part of a marketing strategy, then for sure, give stuff away, but the point is that the recipient shouldn't just get something for nothing and the author shouldn't give something for nothing. Just throwing your hard work away is pointless and sets up an unrealistic expectation from readers that all authors should do this. And if all authors did this, then we'd all be in a sorry state in a few years time.

'Free' should be part of a marketing strategy, not something done out of desperation. I don't care what anyone thinks, I don't think it looks good or professional unless it forms part of a strategy.

If giving away your book forms part of your marketing strategy here are a few suggestions:

  • If you do a giveaway through a blog tour make sure that YOU do the giving away, not the blog host. That way YOU collect emails to add to your newsletter database. 
  • You should request an honest review from any reader who receives a free book. Period. Readers are fast becoming used to being asked to write reviews in return for free books to read.
  • You can use a 'free' book as a thank you to current followers. For example, I once invited all my newsletter subscribers to take up an offer of a free ebook as a thank you for signing up and staying on  my newsletter database. The point of this exercise was to make the 'free' offer exclusive so as to keep my readers from unsubscribing. It also makes them feel special because they are.
  • Give away a free ebook with every purchase of a print book. You can link do this easily with Amazon but you might need to use some creative means of capturing this data for other retailers.


If you simply must give away something for free without any type of rationale or marketing strategy to support it, please, please, please try give away something other than your novel. Here are few suggestions:

Short story anthology - dust off those short stories you've been writing for years and create an anthology. write a forward about your writing journey and what these short stories mean to you. Don't forget to put links to your books and website in the back pages.

Multi-author anthology - there are many other authors in the same boat as you, and if 10 authors each submit one 2,000 word short story, you have a 20,000 word anthology. That's about 70 pages and is a great 'free' tool that 10 authors can promote.

Novella - tying in a novella that relates to your novel is one way of giving your readers something free that isn't your hard work.

SWAG or promotional items - bookmarks, laminate passes, key chains, mugs, postcards, there are many items you can give to readers that will help promote your book. Readers like unique promotional items. I prefer postcards, bookmarks and things that can fit into a standard envelope to reduce postage costs. Make sure that you put your website address on whatever you give away.



I hope you enjoyed reading through this post. Agree? Disagree? What sort of tips do you think might be useful as writers go forth into the future. I'd love to hear your comments.

If you'd like to sign up to receive these blogs please enter your email address in the feed session at the top of the page or you can email dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com with your email address and I will add you to my database.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.


Contact information

Email                   dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com 
Blog           www.dlrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com
Website          www.dlrichardson.com Facebook      http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1

Monday, 23 December 2013

All my characters want for Christmas is...


 
I’ve written a list. I’ve checked it twice. I sent it to Santa, and then I realized I’d forgotten to get presents for some very important people in my life - my characters from my books. So I sent off emails to each of them and asked them what they wanted this year for Christmas. I'm not sure I can give them what they want, but here’s what they said anyway.


Jett Jones (The Bird With The Broken Wing)

“A car. I know there’s a fat chance of getting one, but I’m asking for a car anyway. If not a car, then a moped. Maybe the one like Audrey Hepburn rode in Breakfast At Tiffanys. I’m dying to be able to go somewhere on my own.”
 


Ethan James (Feedback)

“Now that I’m fit and healthy I’m making a comeback into ice hockey. I need new gear. Hockey stick. Skates. Helmet. Gloves. Protective gear. Everything. Championships, here I come!”
 
 

Rachael Messenger (The Bird With The Broken Wing)

“Angels don’t give or receive Christmas gifts, but if I had to choose something, I’d ask for some nice bath oil.”
 


Florida Bowman (Feedback)

“A plane ticket to audition for So You Think You Can Dance. I put my dancing career on hold while I waited for an organ donation. Actually, my mother gave it my sister and I got her painting lessons. I'm taking my life back. Look out world, here I come.”

 


Leo Culver (Little Red Gem)

“World peace. If I can't have that I don't want anything."
 






Jake Inala (Feedback)
“A skateboard. Video games. Replica guns and knives. Ninja stuff. Just don’t get me clothes.”



Ruby Parker (Little Red Gem)
 
"I have everything I want already. Hah, I’m kidding. Handbags. Shoes. Scarves. Sunglasses.”




 

Audrey Adams (Little Red Gem)

“A puppy. I wanted a puppy last year. I want a puppy this year. I'll never give up wanting a puppy. Arrgh, when will someone get me a puppy?”




Wishing everyone a merry Christmas and a happy new year.

See you in 2014.
D L



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.


Contact information

Email                   dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com 
Blog           www.dlrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com
Website          www.dlrichardson.com Facebook      http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1

Saturday, 21 December 2013

Brinda Berry release - Watcher of Worlds (book 3 in Whispering Woods series)


http://www.amazon.com/Watcher-Worlds-Whispering-Woods-Brinda-ebook/dp/B00HEVPRQ0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1387458965&sr=8-2&keywords=brinda+berryNEW RELEASE SPOTLIGHT AND INTERVIEW
 
It's my pleasure to promote this latest novel by Brinda Berry.
 
Watcher of Worlds
By Brinda Berry
Whispering Woods Book 3
Novel
Renegade YA, LLC
YA Fantasy/Romance
$5.99
ISBN: 978-1-941133-00-2
 
Senior year should bring fun, friends and happiness. Not portals, treachery, and murder.
 
Seventeen-year-old Mia Taylor, gatekeeper to an interdimensional portal, wants nothing more than to heal from her romance gone wrong. Illegally falling for her co-worker Regulus had been a huge mistake. But when Regulus goes rogue to hunt down a murderer, Mia must forget her broken heart and use her unique abilities to save him. Traveling across dimensions, she enters a strange and hostile world where a rebel faction holds the key to their escape. Her gift of synesthesia is in high demand, and a secret organization of the otherworldly kind has her in their sights. But sabotage and murder may be the least of her worries. Her ex-boyfriend wants a relationship. Her dad wants her to act normal. Her friends want her to stop moping. Who knew faking happy would be the easiest part of senior year?
 

CAN'T WAIT TO READ THIS BOOK? THEN CLICK HERE TO BUY IT IMMEDIATELY. STRAIGHT TO YOUR KINDLE. START READING TODAY.
 


Watcher of Worlds (releasing December 20, 2013), EXCERPT:
Jingle Bells

I detested planned surprises.

I could read the expectation in the air from the shimmery orange vibe that glowed like a Cheetos binge gone bad.

A few months ago, my friends had discovered my secret. The secret I’d hidden so teachers and doctors wouldn’t treat me like an amped up sensory perception freak. So friends wouldn’t ask.

Synesthesia. The condition sounded like the name of an electronic punk band. I’d made the full round of emotions about my sensory perception and being able to find portals. First, I’d hid it like you hide an ugly rash. Later, I’d learned to trust my friends with my secret. I’d even embraced it.

Now, I was back to wishing for normal.

Working with Regulus and Arizona was like playing Pop Goes the Weasel—a surprise around every corner. And did I mention I hate surprises?

Give me predictable any day. Then I could be ready. It’s why I made sure I knew the contents of every box under the Christmas tree.
 


AUTHOR BIO:
 
Brinda Berry is the author of The Waiting Booth (Whispering Woods #1),Whisper of Memory (Whispering Woods #2), and  Watcher of Worlds (Whispering Woods #3). She also contributed a short story to the anthology, Wild at Heart, Vol II.

Currently working in higher education administration, she spends her days thinking of ways to improve education for college students. Brinda spends her nights devising exciting tales that involve teens who might be saving the world.

Connect with Brinda on the Web:

WEB     BLOG     FACEBOOK    TWITTER   GOODREADS    YOUTUBE

 
2011 INTERVIEW FROM BRINDA'S DEBUT NOVEL RELEASE:

In September 2011, I interviewed Brinda for my blog. I thought I would post some of the original interview today, and then you can ask Brinda in the comments box if any of these things have changed.

Tell me 3 things about yourself using words beginning with D  : 
I'm a daydreamer, deliberate, and durable.  I think these show the conflicting sides of my nature. From the time I was a kid, I would dream up stories. If I wrote down every scene I thought about, I'd be sitting in a room piled high with my own manuscripts.  On the other hand, I do have the practical side. I'm a list maker. I'm deliberate about what needs to be done to accomplish a goal, and then I set about doing it.  I'm also durable. I think of myself as a strong person.

 

Tell me 3 things about your novel using words beginning with L  : 
Three L words come to mind when I think about The Waiting Booth: loyalty, laughter, and love. The main character, Mia, is very loyal to her family and friends. This is one of her best character traits. Personally, I enjoy being around people who make me laugh. Mia has several upbeat friends who each have a great sense of humor. Last, Mia's not the type who falls for every guy who comes along, so she’s not experienced in the love department. As a matter-of-fact, she’s never even had a boyfriend. So, romantic feelings are a new thing for her.
 
What is your all time favourite YA novel? 
That is truly a difficult question. I think my answer might change every year. Last year, I loved Beautiful Creatures by Garcia and Stohl. Last month, I read Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver.  I cried like a baby over that book. Sorry…I can’t pick just one.
 
How long have been writing for? 
Fifteen years ago, I wrote a romance book and began querying agents and publishers. I became disillusioned with that process and gave up. Two years ago, I decided to do it right. I took classes on the writing craft and business and wrote The Waiting Booth.
 
 
Do you plan your novels? If so, do you use an existing formula or did you create your own style?
Yes, I planned The Waiting Booth on a spreadsheet and outlined each chapter. For Book 2, I didn't outline to the same detail. I'm evolving and learning about what works for me. I need a little structure, but I don't want to feel guilty if I stray off course.
 
Did you do any creative writing or editing courses prior to writing The Waiting Booth? And if so, did the course/s help? 
Yes, I'm a course junkie. I belong to several writers’ groups, and they all offer wonderful courses. I've had to stop myself from signing up for a course when I don't have enough time to do it justice. Did I mention that I taught English in the past? No? You would think that qualifies anyone to write stellar fiction, but it doesn’t.
MORE BOOKS BY THIS AUTHOR
http://www.amazon.com/Waiting-Booth-Whispering-Woods-ebook/dp/B005D7F7US/ref=sr_1_5?ie=UTF8&qid=1311039388&sr=8-5
 
 
 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.


Contact information

Email                   dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com 
Blog           www.dlrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com
Website          www.dlrichardson.com Facebook      http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1
 

 

 

Friday, 6 December 2013

Voting begins for Paranormal Cravings Battle of the Books

Little Red  Gem is up for nomination for Best Book of 2013 in the Paranormal Cravings Battle of the Books
 
http://www.paranormalcravings.com/best-of-2013-stand-alone-ya/
“Discover the Best Fiction 2013 in the Paranormal Cravings BOOK AWARDS (Reader’s Choice), the book awards decided by readers.  Support your favourites by voting!"
 It's easy to vote. All you have to do is Agree that Little Red Gem is the best standalone paranormal romance book of 2013.
 Click on the link contained in the images to go to the voting section. Remember, it's as easy as clicking on Agree.
 
 http://www.paranormalcravings.com/best-of-2013-stand-alone-ya/
 Voting ends December 20, 2013. Please vote.
 
What does it mean to win an award? A lot. it means a lot. I'm one of those people who rarely wins anything, but that's okay. If I can save up all of those opportunities of winning "best and fairest at the sports field", or "fastest this or that" and I can use up all of these missed winnings for something like this...well, I will be one very happy and very grateful author, because this is a Reader's Choice award.
 
 
 
ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.


Contact information

Email                   dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com 
Blog           www.dlrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com
Website          www.dlrichardson.com Facebook      http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1
 
 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Girls With Books: Author Spotlight/Interview: D L Richardson

In this edition...

Interview, review, and giveaway for Little Red Gem,
Girls With Books: Author Spotlight/Interview: D L Richardson: Author Bio.:  Music first captured the creative interest of young adult author D L Richardson. From choir, to her first acoustic guitar a...



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

D L Richardson is the author of speculative fiction. She has three teen novels and one short story anthology published. Her first novel reached number 2 at OmniLit and number 38 at Kobo Books. Her second reached number 1 at OmniLit. Little Red Gem is her third novel and recently won 2nd place Best Books of 2013 Paranormal Cravings. She lives in Australia on the NSW south coast with her husband and dog.


Contact information

Email                   dlrichardsonbooks@bigpond.com 
Blog           www.dlrichardsonwrites.blogspot.com
Website          www.dlrichardson.com Facebook      http://goo.gl/560JXl  
Twitter              www.twitter.com/#!/DLRichardson1