Friday, 31 May 2013

My Top 6 Self Promotion Posts!

So in the third part of the “my top 6 countdown” series: I am going to talk about my top three self promotion blog posts.

Self promotion is very important for authors, because no-one else is going to do it for you. But over doing your promotion can be just as lethal. I think that is why I tend to be very careful in my self-promotion. A lot of my guest posts are marketing based. There is a very good reason for this; I studied Management at degree and masters levels and I concentrated my studies on Human Resources and Marketing. With both I had the opportunity to take it further, but I am someone who doesn’t want to do research the whole of his life so I thought I would get into the working world. Now several years later I am an author.

So how does my top six look like?

6. This post

Surprising to you or not, I don’t have a lot of self promotion. In fact, I had five posts! The top 6 needed a... well 6th. And what better post than a post that combined all my other posts? Of course there is very little new material here for old readers to enjoy. But for a new fan this would be a great place to start to read about me.

This was a fantastic post which I loved doing. But unfortunately it didn’t for me. However it wasn’t because of the post. My first release was delayed – having family problems in the month before really set me back and so there was nothing to show for my hard labour over this post. However what really makes me smile about this was the day after the release of this one of my kids’ school teacher approaches me and tells me he saw my post last night on the blog. So exposure gained, promotion of book failed.

Okay so this isn’t really a blog post, it was a live interview on Facebook. It was a great experience and I enjoyed it immensely. However it is a shame it didn’t have a high attendance at the time; mostly because of my time commitments. If I could do it again, and I would because I loved it, I would perhaps go to their twitter system.

This is an excellent well received post that spoke about some of the tough aspects of being a writer and a parent. I loved writing this and I managed to get in some of my humour in the post. I am surprised no-one mentioned that I must drink about 6 cups of tea a day. Perhaps I am more normal that I thought?

Paul Kater is a great man, an excellent writer and a good person to know. And this interview was a lot of fun to do. I hope to work with Paul in the future on other projects, but right now I am happy to listen to his pearls of wisdom.

This was great fun adn Kriss is such a wonderful person to work with. The post itself is an interesting take on one of my characters and it has brought them back into my mind on how I could work them into other projects. If you read nothing else listed, read this!

Well that is my list. I hope that you agree with my order, if you think another item should have been higher or lower let me know!

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Wednesday, 29 May 2013

My Top 6 Reviews

Continuing on with the theme of my top six on various categories I will countdown what my favourite reviews have been over the past 10 months.

As some people will know I write reviews for The Indie Ebook Review Site, which I started in August 2012. It was a lone venture back then that only did reviews. Later I started to add marketing posts, guest posts and recently a new member of the team. During my time I reviewed some great books, but not every one of my top reviews is my favourite and I thought I would share which reviews I have personally liked.

Although this is not one of the books I've given 5 stars to, the author did something that I think is so important and that is promoting their review. And due to that the website got a lot of attention and continues to do so to this day.

A more recent review, but it's one which I’ve enjoyed reading. Partly because normally this isn’t a genre which I think I would have picked up. Bringing my attention to a new reading area.

This was the first science fiction novel to be featured on the site and so will always have a special place in my heart. When I thought of doing the review site I thought I would have more science fiction appear on the site. But it took months to get the first one through.

This is great story, but what really makes it stand out was that it was aimed for a younger generation. So I read it to my son. It was nice to bring him into the fold and I even gave him a shot to give his opinions on the cover which were like sending a child into a room full of sweets.

This is the book that started it all off and so deserves to be high on the list. It is essentially a good book and should be recognised as such. But on this list as being my break into the reviewing world.

1. “Blood Faerie”by India Drummond

This book represents the series of books by India Drummond who came to my attention very early on. She is a great a author and these books are an example of her fantastic writing. All three I have read hold the top three high scores and are part of a small collection that have 5 stars from me.

So that is my list. Are there any reviews which you are particularly pleased with about your own books? Reviews I have done? Let me know.

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Monday, 27 May 2013

My Six Most Favourite Advice Blog Posts By Me

For this week I am going to do a series looking back at some of my favourite posts over the past year in various categories. Today my I thought I would go through my 6 most favourite advice blog posts from across the web. Some of these are on this blog, some on my review blog and some as guest posts across the web. Unfortunately there wasn't enough room for all my articles.

A very recent post, yet this post got a lot of attention almost immediately. Barely anyone really commented on this post, yet most comments seemed to agree with the contents. However ironically since I posted this message I’ve received more Direct Messages advertising books, social media help, etc.

This article came from a chance encounter. It was only when I was enquiring about giving my book to the legal deposit with the British Library that they told me in a few days the law was changing I would have the choice between giving an e-book or a paper copy. What amazed me was that very few if any knew about this.

This is a rather sensitive subject for some authors. But yet it technically has no effect on their sales. In fact if anything it increases the number of potential readers. This is my business and economical argument for a basic free e-reader.

This is a post that came to me in the middle of the night and I just had to write it. It is an article that authors can use in any part of their writing.

This is one of my most favourite posts and it is one that got a lot of attention for my review blog very early on. Its points are still valid even today and it is still viewed by dozens of people each every month.

1.       Analysis of Bublish – A New Marketing Methodthat is Back to Basics

This is the post that has had the most attention and still draws in the most visitors each month. What I loved about this post is that it was about a new website giving authors a chance for decent free promotion.

I’ve written many advice blogs over the past 10 months. Are there any that you think should have gone in the list?

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Thursday, 23 May 2013

Six Reasons to get a professional Formatter

Formatting is one of the final stages of getting your manuscript ready for submission to KDP, Smashwords, Createspace, Lulu, etc. What makes a good format necessary is that you can have the best cover, the best story and the best editing. But if your writing doesn’t look good on the page, it will turn readers off. For instance only a couple of weeks ago Amazon sent me an e-mail suggesting a couple of books. Excusing that one was my own, Amazon did make a few good suggestions. I checked one out but within a few pages of the “look inside” feature I decided not to buy. Why?

There were three instances where a sentence was finished midway through and continued on a new line. The author had obviously used spaces for paragraph indents or had not checked for annoying little extra spaces as the paragraph starts were not uniform. There was also a question about consistency. In several places the style changed with some chapter headings on one side, then centered before going to the side again. In the end I didn’t feel that the price was worth the mistakes and I wasn’t willing to buy.

The thing is there are plenty of great formatters out there, most of which do not charge a huge amount to turn your manuscript into a well presentable book. So this is six reasons why you should get a professional formatter to look at your book:

1.       They’ll spot inconsistent formatting
So you’ve written a book that has several letters / messages written into that the character reads. At the first one you format with the text in italics and within borders X and Y. However by letter three, the borders have narrowed and the text is now in bold instead of italics. On the first three chapters the headings are centered bolded and underlined, but past that they are not underlined? This will make the book look amateur, which will turn readers off. A formatter should ensure all the formatting is consistent within a document.
2.       They’ll create a Table of Contents
One of the most asked questions about formatting for kindle and smashwords is how to create a working table of contents. The task is fairly hard as word has a way of blocking it at times. However a good formatter is adept at doing this and will also thoroughly check it before releasing it back to you.
3.       Proper Indenting
The amount of times that I have seen books without indenting or by using <spaces> as ways to get the first line of a paragraph indented amazes me. If you are unsure how to get it right – you need a formatter.
4.       They’ll get rid of erroneous spaces and returns
Even if we are careful, extra spaces at the beginning and end of sentences, in-between words and generally anywhere else can creep in. A formatter will hunt these down and get rid of them.
5.       It is a time saver
For many of us writing is done in a limited amount of time. And formatting can take a few hours to complete to get it right. A formatter can do the formatting quicker and give you time to prepare for some marketing material such as guest posts, interviews, etc.
6.       Some give extra exposure
Some formatters will give your book exposure as soon as it is released by listing it on a works that they have completed page. This can be valuable as it can create an extra link back to your book making it more visible to search engines and if a formatter is well known and a writer too; it will automatically seen by their readers.

I hope that some of this has been helpful to you. Have you any more reasons on why you should get a professional formatter? I love to hear comments.

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Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Release Day Blitz for the 5th and Final Book in The Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell

Release Day Blitz for the 5th and Final Book in The Pipe Woman Chronicles by Lynne Cantwell


Naomi Witherspoon lives in interesting times.  At the winter solstice, she was Seized by a Native American goddess to mediate a power-sharing agreement between all the pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God.  Then, as her relationship with her new boyfriend Fissured, she Tapped a wellspring of strength – her Native American heritage.
Now, Gravid and due any day, she must conduct the mediation of her life.  Will she succeed?  Or will it all go up in smoke?
The answers to those questions, and more, can be found in Annealed, the final installment in the Pipe Woman Chronicles, an urban fantasy series by Lynne Cantwell.


It began at the winter solstice And it ends Now.


PWC5 - Annealed

It’s zero hour…
Naomi has just two weeks to find a new home for Joseph's grandfather. The old Ute shaman is fighting for his life against a mysterious injection of toxin he received at the hands of the Norse Trickster god Loki. If Naomi is to defeat Loki once and for all, she must learn what it is he seeks under the old man's wickiup. 
She has just one week before she must mediate between the Earth's pagan gods and goddesses and the Christian God. If her efforts fail, all of humankind will suffer the consequences.
And her baby is due any day.
In this, the fifth and final book of the Pipe Woman Chronicles, Naomi is in a race against the clock to balance the demands of her body, her family, and her friends – and she must do it while the whole world is watching.


A taste of chapter 10: Jehovah sighed. "White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman, I concede that much of what You have said here is true. Humanity wrestles still with its baser impulses, even as it reaches for the pinnacle of its potential. Math, the sciences, engineering. I never thought they would figure out fractal theory." He chuckled. "I love My children dearly. Soon they will reach the stars. They are ever a surprise and a delight to Me."  

Lynne Cantwell's take on the excerpt: "Naomi has finally reached the Big Mediation -- the one between the Christian God and all the pagan gods and goddesses that the whole series has been driving toward. In this scene, White Buffalo Calf Pipe Woman has just outlined all the ways humanity has trashed God's Creation: ruining the environment, using Scripture as an excuse to treat other human races like animals, and so on. God acknowledges all of that. But it's also clear that He takes great delight in what He has created -- and He has a sense of humor, too."


About the Author: Lynne Cantwell


Lynne CantwellLynne Cantwell has been writing fiction since the second grade, when the kid who sat in front of her showed her a book he had written, and she thought, "I could do that." The result was Susie and the Talking Doll, a picture book, illustrated by the author, about a girl who owned a doll that not only could talk, but could carry on conversations. The book had dialogue but no paragraph breaks. Today, after a twenty-year career in broadcast journalism and a master's degree in fiction writing from Johns Hopkins University (or perhaps despite the master's degree), Lynne is still writing fantasy. In addition, she is a contributing author at Indies Unlimited and writes a monthly post for The Indie Exchange.

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Monday, 20 May 2013

Six Ways To Ensure People will Follow You

So I posted a message a little while ago about why not to send a DM about buying your book. What I didn’t mention were people sending direct messages about following them is also wrong. I don’t see why people demand that if they follow someone they must be followed back and I feel that those apps that monitor your account to see who is not following you back are wrong. You wouldn’t expect a news channel or a pop star to follow you back would you? A great example is Justin Beiber, who has the most followers at time of writing, is followed by 39 million users, but only follows 122,000 people. That is 0.3% of his following are possibly followed back. Another excellent example is the BBC Breaking News team; they are followed by 6 million users but only follow themselves 2! I know these are extreme cases, but the principle is same.

In my own experiences I was following a company called Bublish, but it wasn’t for several months afterwards that they started to follow me. Am I mad / disappointed / reaching for the unfollow button? No! I hadn’t earned their trust at the time for them to invest in my messages, so they didn’t feel my messages were worth their precious time. But after a few months of me continuing to do what I do: promote good author behaviour, writing and marketing – the company decided to invest in following me. I didn’t even seek them out to follow me. That company has 1184 followers and follows 359. They’ve qualified who they want to listen to and seek messages from and I am proud to be a part of that group.

I know some people use apps that automatically unfollow people that aren’t following them. But I think that is wrong. You should have to do more than just follow a person to gain a follower and apps that do this for you are contaminating the system and playing on our selfish wants. Yes we all want to have our message heard and our books promoted – but at the cost of integrity? That is cost that is too high for me.

So how can you ensure that someone will follow you back on twitter or on facebook? Well let’s look at six things you can do:

1.       Don’t make your posts all about you
One of the most annoying things and the biggest reason why I don’t follow is tweet after tweet and message after message of your books, your events, your... well you get the message. People want to have intelligent conversation; not a hundred and one door sales men knock. How can they tell what you post – I always look at your recent posts. If you are posting solely about your book, then I am not going to listen to you.
2.       Don’t lie when requesting follows
I had one person promise they retweet. But when looking through their recent history they had 2 retweets and 30 tweets requesting followers. The person also had 13,000 followers and followed 11,000. If the average person tweets twice a day, how would they determine which to retweet. It was essentially an empty promise to gain my ear.
3.       Engage in conversation
A simple retweet before they are following you, telling them that you agree with a tweet or even a mention from time to time is more than likely encourage favour with a user. Do this and you’ll grab their attention and their follow in time. But be careful, to end it as soon as they are following you will result in a quick unfollow – why? Because it shows a hidden agenda. Social media is about being social. Be social throughout your relationship with a reader.
4.       Don’t be offensive
You probably don’t know how many people still do this on social media. I see messages at times posting the nastiest things over twitter and facebook. The digital world has made it easier for people to send inappropriate messages. But would more than half of those nasty messages be sent across the table in a face to face meeting? Probably not. If you wouldn't say it to their face, don't say it on the internet. People are not here to listen to nasty comments. If you are posting those, readers won’t be listening.
5.       Be consistent
Don’t say one thing only to refute it the next. It destroys trust and your chances of that valuable reader.
6.       Give quality varied content
This one is rather debatable on what is quality content. But consider what people want to hear from you and keep your content varied. Not everyone likes to know what you had for dinner, though some do. Also some people don’t want to know how your writing / reading is going – but others do. By keeping your content varied you will appeal to a larger audience and by making it quality will gain readers’ ears.

I hope that some of this has been helpful to you. Have you any more tips on how to make sure someone will follow you? Or even tips on what not to do to get followers. I love to hear comments.

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