Friday, 31 January 2014

Comments welcome, unless it's SPAM

Just a quick rant. When I say comments welcome, I don't mean SPAM.

If you are a spammer refer to my post titled SPAMMERS DIE

Please go find the nearest bridge and crawl under it.

That is all.

Thursday, 30 January 2014

Book tour. Book tour. Book tour.

Book tour. Who'd have thought having the words "book tour" and "win free ebook" in the title of a post would generate over 1800 page views in three months. That's what happened when I recently titled a post announcing the book tour I'd organised for my latest novel Little Red GemSo why did this particular post generate so much traffic? 
In this new and evolving digital age, an online presence is both fast and easy to achieve. Authors are keen to promote their books, and where there is demand there is supply. This means that book tour sites are popping up everywhere. I can't help feeling there will be some tour hosts who are only too happy to take an author's money for unknown yet promised value. I'm not saying these tour hosts don't work hard for their money, because it is a lot of work organising a virtual book tour. But is there any real value? Does a book tour equate to book sales? I don't profess to know the answer but I know this:

"If the answer to selling books was to simply throw money at it, then more writers would take out loans and throw money at it."
It's not just bloggers getting involved in hosting book tours. Many authors are finding that they've done all the hard work of establishing a relationship with bloggers and have an extensive list, so why not invite other authors to share the benefit of their knowledge and experience. In some instances, blog book tours have become a sideline income for authors.
The dilemma I'm wrestling with at the moment is this. Are book tours worth it? I guess that depends on what an author expects to get out of it.

Here is an article on Huffington Post about one author's experience with book tours. I'd recommend you read this before you book a tour because you do need to go into this with your eyes open, even if it is just to read the hundreds of comments the author received. For example, one of the blog tour sites on the below list sets a price of $1,000. That's a bit extravagant.

Another thing that makes me cautious about this exploding area of promotion is that it's now the norm to give away a voucher with many book tours.

Does this mean that readers don't even want our books for free? 

The problem with vouchers is that they may not be redeemed for books. The voucher may be redeemed to buy shower curtains or stuffed animals or soap. We just don't know. I for one refuse to give away a voucher. And if I'm giving away my book I want the reader to receive my book.

I'm in no way saying that book tours aren't good promo. It's a virtual world and an author needs to be willing to explore it. But I am saying that authors need to weight up and determine the value of ANY and ALL promotion activities they undertake.
Having said that, book tours are convenient and they do take the hassle out of an author contacting hundreds of blogs to organise a spotlight, cover reveal, review, giveaway, guest post, or interview, which are the most common events featured on a book tour. But convenience comes at a price. Authors need to make sure they can afford to spend money on a project where they have no control over which blogs accept the call out for tour hosts.
I've done three book tours. Two I paid for others to organise, one I organised myself. I found that when I organised the tour myself I could target the blogs I wanted to appear on, i.e ones with higher traffic and membership numbers, and ones more in tune with my books. I didn't get this option with the paid tours, and there were some blogs that were new and building their business and they had so few members that I wondered if it was worth the effort of writing the post and giving away a free ebook for a review on a blog that had 18 members.
"The online arena is becoming saturated with blogs, book tours, and authors giving their books away for free. I believe that if an author is to succeed, they will have to start thinking outside the box. I just wish I knew what that entailed."
It's understandable that there are many bloggers who are just starting out, just like there are many authors starting out. It's a collaborative effort and the experience can be an enjoyable one when you see that blog grow. Most bloggers are happy to host an author's follow up book. And a review is a review. In this world where publishing has become a numbers game, the more reviews you get, the more traffic you can generate.
I was genuinely surprised when I began searching online book tour sites. It seems that everyone with a computer and list of contacts can run a book tour site. Just as anyone with a computer can write a book. Am I being cynical? Probably. Am I right? Time will tell.

So without further ado, below is a list of as many book tours as I can find to help you and me on your and my publishing journey. Note that this post is in no way an endorsement of ANY of these blog tours. This is merely a list and you will need to make up your own mind before pursuing tours with any of these sites. But I do hope you enjoy checking them out and don't end up a cynical gril like me. :)

Please let me know if there are any other book tour sites that aren't on this list but should be. As always, your comments are welcome and appreciated.


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

Twitter    !/DLRichardson1

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

List of writers festival in Australia in 2014

Calling all Aussie authors!!!!

I came across this fantastic author page with a list of every literary festival in Australia for 2014. I won't copy the data because that wouldn't feel right when someone else did all the hard work! but I will provide the link to the site. It looks like this...

You can find the full list here

Plus you can check out Kristen Lamb's blog post about why it's important for writers to attend festivals here 

So grab your calendar and be sure to book at least one festival this year. And get busy writing!


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

Twitter    !/DLRichardson1

Monday, 20 January 2014

Perfect your pitch as early as possible to become the perfect pitcher

Earlier this week, Amazon announced their Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award 2014 commencement dates, and naturally I had a look at the how and what of the contest. Round 1 is The Pitch. Amazon reviewers will rate a pitch (up to 300 words) from each entrant and the top 400 entries in each category will advance to the next round. So I decided to write my pitch for my current novel. It's got to be done sooner or later, right? Well, I realised that doing this sooner ended up being an essential tool for writing my novel.

Perfect Your Pitch As Early As Possible
To Become The Perfect Pitcher
 No, not this sort of pitcher.
Not this sort of pitcher either.
And not these sort of pictures.

Why should you do perfect your pitch as early as possible?

Number 1: It's a very good way of making sure your novel stay on track. Novels need characters and plot, and they also need motive. When you write a very brief pitch, and I mean very brief - 25 words and under, you cut right down to character, plot ,and motive. Why are your characters doing what they are doing and why should people care that they are doing it?

Number 2: Editors, Agents, and Publishers will ask you what your novel is about because they need to know. Vague doesn't cut it. Pitching your novel as 120,000 word dystopian sci-fi novel doesn't cut it either. That's just stating the genre and word count. Woop de do. Agents are busy people who get flooded with emails from writers begging them to read their book. We all know how hard it is to get them to say yes to wanting to read our book, but if you write the perfect pitch you make it impossible for them to say no.

Number 3: Having a pitch at the beginning of your manuscript that you read each and every time you open it up for editing helps to keep you as the writer excited about your novel. Writing a catchy pitch could be just the thing you need to keep you excited. You are excited, aren't you? If not, you'd better get excited. If you're not excited why should anyone else be?

So what sort of pitches am I talking about? There are three types of examples I'll use in this post. The 25 words or less, the 50 words or less, and the 300 words or less pitch.

The 25 words or less pitch.
This is the type you see in TV guides. It usually provides three basic things about the story - character, plot, and motive.

Example: A bounty hunter, sick of his job, ends up catching his father's killer and finds renewed vigour for his work.

This pitch comes is 20 words long and we all know the character, the plot, and the motive. These 20 words are also the premise of the novel, which means that if your story deviates from what you've written here, then you're doing something wrong. Get your novel back on track.

The 50 words or less pitch
This pitch allows you to add a few more details such as setting, timeline, character names.

Example: Bulldog Murphy, a 40 year old bounty hunter who is sick of his life, decides to follow his dreams of opening a fast food restaurant. When he is robbed and chases the criminals, he ends up catching his father's killer and returns to bounty hunting.

This pitch comes in at 45 words and adds some colour. We start to know a bit about the character, a bit more of the plot, and a bit more about the setting and timeline. If this was a genre novel this pitch could be pushed out to 100 words or less to include more of that specific detail. This pitch can also end up being the opening of your query email because it provides detail while also being to the point.

The 300 words or less pitch
This pitch is a great one to work on early because it may end becoming your blurb on the back cover. It all depends on how much you want to give away. I won't write a 300 word pitch example for the above scenario because that's not the novel I'm writing. This pitch requires you to know a lot more about what has happened or what may happen. You just want to be careful not to fill this pitch with too much backstory. Agents don't want to wait till word 250 of the pitch to find out that this is where the story starts. You still need to hook them in from the beginning.

The 300 word pitch is the one I wrote this week. It highlighted a very important factor that was missing from my manuscript. True motive. Why would my character do what he's doing, and then when he changes his mind about it, why would he do that? Motive people. Motive. Books need motive. I had a basic motive, but not enough to tear at the hearts of readers.

So now I know what to work on and my pitches will keep me on track for future edits. A worthwhile exercise that I recommend for all writers.

Other reading about pitching to agents:

There's no major hook without revealing the secret

Janet Reid agent blog


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

Twitter    !/DLRichardson1

Sunday, 19 January 2014

There's no major hook without revealing the secret

A few years back, YA Lit Chat, held a Pitch Slam weekend. Authors submitted a pitch of 2 -3 sentences to 3 agents and these agents then responded and they chose 5 pitches that they wanted to see the entire manuscript for. It was a very interesting exercise and one common thread I noticed amongst the agent responses was that they wanted authors to reveal the secret of the book.
I was surprised to read this. Firstly, it suggests that agents want to know the hook. Secondly, it suggests that authors don’t want to reveal it.
I had to ask myself if the reason authors disliked revealing the hook was because we feared that the agents or publishers would not bother to buy the cow when the milk was being given away for free. Or is it that agents and publishers needed to see the connection the reader would make with the characters and their conflict?
Characters and conflict are the two most important aspects of any novel. Who the story is about and why there is a story to being with is the foundations of any novel. Without conflict and characters there is no story. However, as a writer of a YA novel The Bird With The Broken Wing, which has a major twist at the end, I am not about to give away the secret because I want my readers to feel pleasantly surprised when they find it out themselves. Yet I am aware that the twist comes at the end and I have to get a reader interested in wanting to read my book in the first place.

But if there is no major hook without revealing the secret, how does a writer create the perfect pitch?
Firstly, what is a pitch? It’s a two or three paragraph description of the book which sets the scene, genre, basic premise and creates intrigue. Check the blurbs on the back of novels for their description. Some are vague. Some are like the prologue and the story kicks off from the end of the blurb.

Here are a few examples of books blurbs to give an idea of what we writers present to the world of readers out there.
The inner jacket blurb for Linger by Maggie Stiefvater is this:
the longing.
Once Grace and Sam have found each other, they know they must fight to stay together. For Sam, this means a reckoning with his werewolf past. For Grace, it means facing a future that is less and less certain.
 the loss.
Into their world comes a new wolf named Cole, whose past is full of hurt and danger. He is wrestling with his own demons, embracing the life of a wolf while denying the ties of being human.
 the linger.
For Grace, Sam and Cole, life is a constant struggle between two forces - wolf and human - with love barings its two sides as well. It is harrowing and euphoric, freeing and trapping, enticing and alarming. As their worlds fall apart, love is what lingers. But will it be enough?
Linger is a truly great read, though all I know from the blurb is the name of the characters and not much else.
The blurb for Evernight by Claudia Gray is this:
Bianca wants to escape.
She's been uprooted from her small hometown and enrolled at Evernight Academy, an eerie Gothic boarding school where the students are somehow too perfect: smart, sleek, and almost predatory. Bianca knows she doesn't fit in.
Then she meets Lucas. He's not the 'Evernight type' either, and he likes it that way. Lucas ignores the rules, stands up to the snobs and warns Bianca to be careful - even when it comes to caring about him.
"I couln't stand it if they took it out on you," he tells Bianca, "and eventually they would."
But the connection between Bianca and Lucas can't be denied. Bianca will risk anything to be with Lucas, but dark secrets are fated to tear them both apart...and to make Bianca question everything she's ever believed.
This book even admit that it holds secrets. But the agents want us to reveal them. Seriously, what is a writer to do.
The blurb for my novel The Bird With The Broken Wing by D L Richardson (moi) is this:
Angels may not reveal themselves to mortals. But when the mortal Rachael’s watching over is hurting, how can she stay hidden in the shadows?

Guardian angel Rachael becomes trapped with the mortal she’s been assigned to watch over. Unable to watch him suffer, she decides the only way to free him of his inner demons is to break the rules about becoming involved, revealing her true identity, and applying divine intervention. But what choice does she have? Without her help, his soul will be trapped forever. Then a stranger appears, giving Rachael reason to wonder if his is the only soul in need of saving...
It took me ages to come up with a blurb that didn't give too much away.
The blurb for the BookTrailer of The Bird With The Broken Wing goes like this:
Angels are bound by rules. Don’t reveal your true identity. Don’t apply divine intervention. Even if the mortal you’ve been assigned to watch over is hurting.
He is a soldier, haunted by his past. What he has seen and done is unforgiveable. Without the angel’s help his soul maybe lost forever.
The unexpected appearance of a teenager threatens to undo the angel’s attempts to save her mortal. This girl thinks she has escaped her demons. But they won’t let her forget what she has done. What none of them realize is that she is the key to their freedom.
When mortals make mistakes they’re forgiven. When angels make mistakes, they’re forsaken.
To me, too much more than what is revealed in the above two blurbs would screams Spoiler Alert. Could I have revealed more of the story without spoiling the twist at the end? I'm still not so sure. The movie, The Sixth Sense, would not have worked so brilliantly if we were all told the twist up front. What would Star Wars be if we knew that Darth Vadar was Luke’s father right from the opening credits? A savvy reader can anticipate the twist and still enjoy it when it comes. But nobody likes a spoiler alert either. So what does a writer do?
When I put my reader’s hat on I recognize that there are millions of books out there, and the blurb is the one indication of whether I want to invest my time and money to read it. The trick for authors is to reveal enough to entice someone to want to read the story, yet not too much that it reads like a laundry list. There are classes on perfecting the pitch to agents and publishers and perhaps this is perhaps one of the most important parts of the writing process that new authors should take the time to learn. I’m not saying mine are brilliant. I’m as stuck as anybody else on how to tell entice a reader to select my book from the millions of others on the market. But as there are literally thousands of pitches sent to agents and publishers each week, the pitch needs to do its job.
When I read through the selection of responses to pitches from Pitch Slam Weekend from YA Lit Chat, it is clear that many writers (and I must include myself amongst this lot) are afraid to give too much of the story away when pitching to agents and publishers. We feel that by revealing the secret that nobody will want to read our book. If the pitch/ synopsis / blurb are too vague, then will the reader be bothered to read what we have spent months or years crafting? If the pitch is too detailed, will the reader gain anything from reading the book? Perhaps what I and many other writers should do is to allow the writing to speak for itself and to let the agent or publisher decide if they like the story.
A small selection of responses to pitches from Pitch Slam Weekend are:
· Tell me what the secret is, and that will make me decide whether to pursue this book.
· Don’t keep secrets in your pitch.
· There's a fine line between leaving enough of a mystery to intrigue the editor or agent and not telling them enough. Since I don't know what the secret is here, I'm not sure what makes this different enough to stand out in the market.
· To really hook the reader, though, you might need a few more details so we have some idea of the direction of the story.
· I do wish you'd alluded to why she distances herself a bit more, however.
· I just found this too vague. It's another example of a query that left me wanting to read more because I didn't understand what was happening, not because I was so utterly compelled.
· It sounds like there could be something compelling here, but it's too vague to get a strong grasp on it.
· I'm sorry, but I have no idea what your book is about, much less its genre.
· This is another one where it seems the secret is the major hook, so if you don't tell it--if it's not revealed until the end--it's going to be hard to draw in readers.
Perhaps the lesson here is tell the entire story to the agent or publisher, but write an intriguing blurb for the reader. 
On another note, it was scary to see just how many writers are out there. This was only YA writers pitching their novel ideas. There are probably fewer stars in the sky than there are writers on this planet.

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

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Twitter    !/DLRichardson1