Thursday, December 27, 2012

The Power of First Impressions and a Giveaway

When I walk in to a book store I pretty much take for granted the fact that I can pick up a book, feel it, marvel at the beautiful cover, and read the cover blurb. If I’m interested then I’ll have a bit of a flick through, and maybe read the first few pages. More often than not I will only pick up the book in the first place if it has a cover that I like, or someone has recommended it to me.

In the world of self-publishing, we don’t have the luxury of our readers being able to pick up our books and do all of that. Mostly, self-published books aren’t available in mainstream bookstores. So what can we do to entice people to want to read our books? Obviously, people need to know about the book in the first place which is where a strong on-line presence comes into play, but I’m talking about making a good first impression, and when it comes to first impressions I believe there are three fundamentals that count the most.

1) Cover design
We all know the saying, you can’t judge a book by its cover, and in some cases this is true, but I most definitely do judge a book by its cover. There are many books on my shelf that I’ve purchased based entirely on the cover design. I’m also a graphic designer, so cover design is a big issue for me. If the cover is not appealing then my interest is lost and I’m on to the next title in less than a few seconds. The cover is the time to make the best first impression that can possibly be made. A book might be the next big thing, but if it has a poorly designed cover, no one will care enough about it to read it. We need to make our readers care.

2) Book Description
The book description (along with a fantastic cover design!) is an important selling tool. It needs to peak a reader’s interest without giving too much away. Think of it as the on-line equivalent of the cover blurb. Once a reader has decided—oh I like that cover, it looks interesting—you need to keep them there long enough to consider clicking the buy button. A description that’s too long will lose readers, but so will one that’s too short and uninteresting. Just the right amount of information needs to be provided, commonly known as a hook. Which leads me to…

3) The Excerpt
Remember how I said when I walk in to a book store I take for granted that I can pick up any book and look at it? Well, that’s where the excerpt can really help. It gives the reader the chance to actually pick up the book and flick through the first few pages. It allows them to try it out, get a feel for your writing and hopefully suck them in enough to actually make the purchase.

By no means will these three things alone sell your book. Self-publishing takes a lot of very hard work and dedication. But getting them right will certainly make it a little easier.

It’s not long now until Fall For Me is due to be released, and I’ve decided to give five lucky people the chance to read the first three chapters before anyone else. Just fill in the entry below for your chance to win this exclusive excerpt, and good luck!

K x

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Monday, December 17, 2012

For The Love of all That is Reading - Supporting Indie Authors

For as long as I can remember, I have loved to read. When I was young I was obsessed with The Baby Sitter’s Club. Every time the book club flyer came home from school, I eagerly ticked that box for the next instalment. I ended up with volumes one to thirty three, as well as a couple of the super specials. I also remember devouring my Mum’s Famous Five books, and although I didn’t keep my BSC books, I still have the FF sitting on my shelf.

Of course, as I got older my reading preferences changed. Through high school I didn’t read as much, but when I started college, I had an hour train trip each way five days a week. This was when I discovered Stephen King, and he is still my favourite author. For a while SK was all I would read. I was completely devoted to him, and reading anything else was like cheating on my boyfriend. I couldn’t afford to buy new books (and the eBook wasn’t even invented!) so I relied on my local book exchange for my fix. I could pick up a book from between $1.50 and $3.00 with the option to exchange for half credit. I never exchanged though, I couldn’t bear to part with any of them, and I have so many they now take up an entire shelf on my bookcase, double stacked.

I soon realised I was running out of SK books to read, and made the decision to branch out! I had no idea what I was missing out on all those years. There are so many fabulous authors out there; it’s difficult to know where to start. I admit now, I’m a bit of a cover snob. For me, a cover is a make or break deal. If the book has a beautiful cover, I am more likely to buy it. Three purchases I can think of where I solely bought the book based on the cover are: Fallen, by Lauren Kate, The Iron Witch, by Karen Mahoney, and Die For Me, by Amy Plum. With all three I didn’t even read the cover blurbs. I just knew I had to have those beautiful covers in my house.

For the past few years I’ve found my home in the Young Adult genre. I am a bit of a YA junkie, obviously with a preference towards fantasy and paranormal. I love my vampires and angels, and I will pretty much read anything on this subject.

When I decided to self-publish Fall For Me, I thought I better do some research and read some books by other self-published authors. Most self-published books are hard to come by in mainstream brick and mortar book stores, so when I got an iPad for my birthday this year, I downloaded the Kindle app and started to have a look around.

Now I’ll get back to my love for beautiful covers (there is a point to this post, I promise!).

While I was having a sticky beak on Amazon, I came across this:


Entangled, by Nikki Jefford, was the first eBook I actually paid for, and I was not disappointed. It follows the tale of identical twin witches. Graylee Perez mysteriously dies and ends up having to share a body with her less than savoury sister, Charlene. Nikki’s writing is unique and refreshing. I hadn’t read a witchy tale for a while, so I really enjoyed the change of subject and pace. Suffice to say, I then had to read this:

 

Duplicity is the second instalment in the Spellbound Trilogy. These covers are just so pretty, and I really hope Nikki never decides to change them. But… they are not just pretty. Nikki is very talented, which is why I am eagerly awaiting this:

 

Enchantment is due out Spring 2013 (in America) so sometime between March and June.

But wait, there’s more… Just recently Nikki released this:

 

I am a huge fan of vampires, but I like mine more bad-ass than sparkly (although I do like Twilight). Aurora Sky definitely did not disappoint. Nikki’s original take on these creatures of the night is packed with attitude, angst and blood, it’s a must read for any hard core vamp fan

You can grab your own copy of Aurora Sky from Amazon for only 99c! But hurry as this offer ends December 28th.

If you are interested in purchasing any of Nikki’s work (which I highly recommend) just click the image then follow the buy links on her blog. Please support her and other Indie authors. Cover art for Nikki's books by Najla Qamber Designs.

Happy reading.

K x

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

Tis the Season to be Jolly With a Giveaway














I love this time of year. When I was younger it was because of the presents—let’s face it, who doesn’t like to receive a gift? But now that I have children of my own, it’s more about the giving than receiving.

The best part of Christmas for me is watching my daughter and son’s faces light up on Christmas day when they rip off the wrapping paper. The night before, we go through the rituals of putting out the beer for Santa and the carrot for the reindeer. They double check and triple check that their stockings are where Santa can see them, and they get so excited it makes my heart smile.

I also truly believe that it’s not the gift itself that makes Christmas so magical, it’s the act of giving, because isn’t that what it’s really all about? I much prefer to give than receive, and for me, giving someone a gift that I’ve selected just for them fills me to the brim with happiness.

Because I love to make people smile and I love giving presents, I’ve decided to run a week long giveaway. You could have the chance to win one of ten Fall For Me bookmarks just in time for your stocking this Christmas.

Good luck!

K x


a Rafflecopter giveaway




Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Generating an On-line Presence - Social Media

When I first started out to create my on-line presence, and generate some interest in my book, I honestly didn’t know where to begin. The task seemed huge and very daunting. After all, I’m just small little me in a giant sea of other indie authors all trying to do the same thing. In this day and age of social networking, there are so many sites out there than can potentially help you get noticed.

Firstly, I knew I needed my own website but I didn’t want to spend a lot of money to get someone to do this for me. I’m a graphic designer, so I knew I could put together something not too complicated. I bought my domain name and paid the extra for DNS hosting, then chose Blogger as my platform. I could have simply used a free Blogger web address, but I wanted to have my own domain, hence the DNS hosting. Blogger is very user friendly and extremely easy to customise with your own colours and backgrounds. Once that was set up, I needed a way to tell people about my blog.

Out of curiosity I Googled social networking sites and found this from Wikipedia. I almost fell off my chair! Who knew there were so many sites that are actually active? This statement in the article further added to my shock “Please note the list is not exhaustive, and is limited to notable, well-known sites.”

Well then, where was I to go from here? Admittedly, most of these sites I had never heard of before, so that immediately ruled them out. I also knew I didn’t want to spend all my time networking; I want time to write, so I decided to go with the major two that everyone knows about and have a huge amount of users – Facebook and Twitter.

I already have my pool of established friends on Facebook, so I set up an author page for myself and sent out invites to my network, asking them to please pass it on. I don’t have a huge fan base on my page yet, but with time and a combination of other things, which I’ll get to, it will come. And I am extremely grateful for the likes I do have.

Next, I moved on to Twitter. I had an old account sitting there from my graphic design business, but I was never active on it unless Facebook sent an automatic tweet. So I’d never really learnt how to use it properly. In the past week or so since I set up my Twitter account and have started actually using it, I’ve made some great connections and found some fantastic resources.

The other site I’ve signed up with is Goodreads. This is another great networking site where you can share what you’re reading, post reviews and ratings, and interact with other fellow like minded people. I love books, so this seemed like a perfect match. I can spend hours on there looking through the catalogue and checking out what others are reading. The iPhone app even has a scanner so you can scan all your own books instead of searching for them. Genius!

I then moved on to trying to find some blog sites to review my book before it goes live in the hope that I’ll have some positive feedback to go along with the launch. One lovely blogger was extremely helpful and suggested I do a blog tour. I had heard of these, and thought I could organise one myself, but when I looked into it, there is a lot of work involved. Like I said before, I would like more time to write, so I’ve decided to enlist some help with the promotional side of the equation. I ended up finding a few book blog tour companies that other authors in my genre have used. I did some more research and have chosen to sign up with Bewitching Book Tours. Organisation is in the early stages, but I’ll let you know once the schedule is up and running.

So, to re-cap, I think with the combination of Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads and a book blog tour, I’ll be able to get the word out there.

What social networking sites do you prefer, and why? 

K x

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

How To Market Your Book – Creating Your Press Kit

I still remember the day I first sat down and said, “I want to write a book.” It seems so long ago, and back then I had no idea how much was involved in taking my idea and bringing it to life.

Writing the novel was the easy part.

After you’ve typed the last line, read over your work, re-read it a hundred times, put it in a drawer for a few months, pulled it out and read it again, got someone else to read it, edited it, chopped bits up, put bits in, put it back in the drawer, pulled it out and edited again and… you’re finally happy with it, then what?

You have to figure out a way to sell your baby.

One of the items you need to market yourself is the Press Kit, or Media Kit. For the past couple of weeks I’ve been working on mine. A few weeks before that I didn’t even know I needed one! So, I had to do some research to find out what a Press Kit involved, and how I would go about putting one together.

I found out that a basic kit includes:
  • Author Bio
  • Author Photo
  • Book information – including a synopsis and sell sheet
  • Book Cover
  • Press Release
  • Promotional material – such as book marks or postcards
So far I’ve managed to get the basics for the first three items on the list sorted. Thankfully, most of the information is already there from when I was making submissions. Now all I need to do is go back through it and spruce it up a little.

I've had a bit of a go at writing my own press release. It’s not quite there, but I’m hoping it will be soon. But, that opens an avenue for a whole different blog post!

As for the Author Photo, I have a wonderful friend who is great behind the camera. She took some lovely shots of me and this is the final product. Let me know what you think.


The next step… opening my media room and getting it all on line!

I found some very helpful links here:
The Book Designer
Bohemion Griot Publishing
The Savy Book Marketer

K x

Friday, November 02, 2012

Drum Roll Please...

Ok, I am just way too excited not to share this. The barcode for my cover arrived today, so I've just put the finishing touches on the design. I'm hoping this is it! Let me know what you think...

The back cover blurb reads:

“Angels aren’t supposed to fall in love, especially with each other. But for the record, you were worth it.”

Grace Tate is a Protection Angel and Vampire Hunter, and she has always followed the rules. But some rules are made to be broken…

Until now the fight against evil has been simple, and falling in love was never part of the plan. So what happens when it’s beyond Grace’s control, and when she least expects it she falls for the wrong person?

All hell breaks loose, that’s what.

At Hopetown Valley High, not everything is as it seems, and the one person Grace thought was her enemy becomes her most important ally.

Blood will be shed, lives will be lost and friendships will be tested. It all comes down to one decision, and when Grace tries to save all those dear to her, she realises not everyone can be—or wants to be—saved.


There has been lots of happy dancing and smiling going on here today!

K x

A TO DO List as Long as My Arm

If someone told me when I first set out to self-publish my book how much work was involved, maybe I would have thought twice. Just kidding! There is no way I would have done that, but it is a lot of very hard work.

Today I’ve managed to get through half my second (and hopefully final) round of edits since type setting the book, order the barcode for the cover and apply for my CIP data – and it’s only lunch time.

But… there is still so much to do.

Yesterday I produced my first video, which I’m very excited about, so I hope to put the finishing touches on that this afternoon and get it up on You Tube and the website, so stay tuned for that!

Then I’ll be sending some book marks off to the printers, and the cover reveal will be happening soon as well.

I. Am. Excited!!!

K x

Thursday, November 01, 2012

National Novel Writing Month – Eeeeek!

What is NaNoWriMo? – Thirty days and nights of literary abandon!


For me it’s a good kick in the behind to get my creative juices flowing and put some words on paper. It’s quite amazing what a deadline can do!

November 1st is the day we start freaking out. Well, I do anyway. I’m one of those people that don’t prepare for NaNoWriMo and pretty much just fly by the seat of my pants. I do know what I want to write about, but I don’t do any pre-planning or plotting. It’s all just floating around in my head waiting to come out, which is probably why I have such a splitting head ache today.

This will be my second year of casting everything else aside for thirty days and simply concentrating on writing. Minimal eating and sleeping, millions of cups of tea, and the occasional five minute break for the necessities and to make sure the kids are still alive.

Last year I started two weeks late and I still managed to finish, so I’m already feeling in front today, even though I haven’t typed a single word. I have every confidence in myself that I will finish again, and I hope to come out with something good.

To all of you out there participating this year, I wish you the best of luck in striving for and reaching your personal goals. Now let’s see if I end up with an obsessive compulsion to update my word count every five minutes...

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Publishing Perfection – can it be done?

per·fec·tion
noun
1. the state or quality of being or becoming perfect.
2. the highest degree of proficiency, skill, or excellence, as in some art.
3. a perfect embodiment or example of something.
Source

I am the first to admit that I’m a bit of a perfectionist—a place for everything, and everything in its place—although, with two young children, achieving this is somewhat of a dream. But, the state of my house is an entirely different matter.

Over the past couple of years I’ve learnt a lot about the English language, the publishing industry, and writing in general, but I’ve also learnt a lot about myself. Most of my life I’ve been quite an impatient person, when I want to do something, I want to do it now! Well, when you set out to write a story, now is never feasible. You need time to think things over and let ideas develop so the story can grow. You can’t expect to sit down and write a novel in an afternoon.

You also can’t expect a first draft to be perfect. That’s what re-writing, revising and editing is for—to make it perfect.

But what is perfect in the eyes of the publishing industry?

There are many books I have read by well known authors that have mistakes in them—missing words or words spelt incorrectly, and sometimes poor grammar. To an extent this does not really bother me, because if it did I would have gone crazy a long time ago. (Then there’s British English verses American English, but I’ll dedicate an entire blog post to that later.) We all like to think that there’s something we’re good at. Something we can make ‘perfect’. But human error is our own worst enemy. I know from my experience with writing Fall For Me that no matter how many times you look at your own writing, you will inevitably find another mistake. I’ve had so many, “Oh my god, I can’t believe I wrote that,” moments that I have to laugh to stop the insanity creeping in. The whole experience has definitely taught me to go a little easier on myself.

Anyway, my point is (and I do have one) that no matter how good your writing is, or how many people you have reading and editing your manuscript, human error still plays a part, and we have to live with the fact that there might be mistakes in our work. Hopefully, they are not huge and glaringly obvious.

For me, publishing perfection is this: a fantastic story that pulls you in and keeps you turning the page; a story where you become the characters and live in an alternate universe for the duration of the book, and maybe beyond; that feeling of loss when you’ve finished the last page and didn’t want it to end; not being able to wait to tell my best friend about this great book I’ve just read.

In my opinion, if you can achieve this, you can achieve publishing perfection. In the end, the minor mistakes don’t matter. If you can stir emotion within your reader, keep them interested until the last page, and make them think about your book long after they’ve finished it, then you’ve done your job right.

Many people don’t realise how much effort goes into getting a novel published so your story can be read. I have the utmost respect for self published authors that have gone before me, because I know how much time, sweat, blood and tears goes into the process. We don’t have a huge team to do the editing for us. We are our own editors, and our own worst critics.

Kx

Thursday, October 18, 2012

The Road to Self Publishing: Where to Start?

Where to start, indeed: this question could be applied to many things in my life, but finding the answer is often hard. With so much going on these days—work, school, family, kids, pets, bills, fixing broken light switches, and amongst it all actually trying to find the time to sit down and write—it’s easy to lose perspective and, in my case, freak out!

What I tend to do when I find myself in these situations is recall one of my favourite quotes. So, as the King said to the White Rabbit, “Begin at the beginning, and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”

Now, you would think beginning at the beginning is the most logical thing to do, but when you’re a writer—and I think that I am—this often is not the case. Then again, one could argue that even though you started writing your novel in the middle of the story, getting the idea in the first place was in fact the beginning of something beautiful.

Anyway, my point is: over two years ago I began at the beginning. I flipped open my brain and a tiny idea made itself at home in there. The idea grew until I had a good twenty thousand words out, and then I got stuck. My idea had fizzled, but then it picked itself up and blossomed into something completely new. And I was happy!

With a smile on my face I sent off submission after submission to all the agents and publishers I thought might be interested in my story, only to receive a rejection at every turn. But, I didn’t let this get me down and I kept writing and managed to finish another bright shiny idea that made a home in my head—as well as start about a dozen more! Yes, I have become addicted to writing novels. Still, I longed for something to come of my first novel. It has become my baby, and I have nurtured it as I’ve watched it grow and evolve from that single idea into a 70,000 word manuscript.

Every writer’s dream is to see their book in print. For me, it’s not about the money or the fame—although those things would be nice—it’s more about the feeling I’ll get when I have the very first copy of my book in my hands. It’s about the sense of accomplishment, and knowing that I achieved what I set out to.

So, here I am. My book, Fall For Me, is currently in the final stages of production. The cover has been designed, the layout is done, now the final tweaks and checks are happening and I’m getting really excited. I have never stopped dreaming, and I’m that much closer to achieving my dream, and that much further away from the beginning.

K x