Friday, 28 June 2013

Six Reasons Why Fellow Authors Should be Your Friends not Foes

I write a post awhile back about things authors should neverdo. One of them was about attacking fellow authors over the internet for their different point of view. I argued that it was bad if a reader saw the post and that may turn you away from your books. But I didn’t make clear that fellow authors shouldn’t be just people on the screen or enemies to be driven down. They should be your friends. And here are six reasons as to why.

1.       They have experiences you can learn from

Yes, we all may think we are brilliant, but we aren’t. There are some areas in which all of us are lacking. For every author it is different, which means some authors will have great experiences and advice on an area you may struggle with. Be friends to get their golden words of wisdom and it will help your career.

2.       They can help in your marketing

Marketing is more effective if it comes from someone else. If you become friends with fellow authors and you share some of their work, they might share some of your work: Allowing you to reach more people.

3.       They can allow you to reach readers you don’t know

This is especially true for writers in the same genre. Even if you have more followers or likes on social media – I bet your fellow writers will have some different. By sharing and helping each other you gain exposure to more readers without having to do too much work.

4.       Your products are not in competition

This is the funny one for me. People seem to think that each book competes with another. While this is true in some regards, i.e. a reader may only be able to buy one book – for the most parts it is not. Most readers will buy their books based on if they like the cover, blurb, inside look, etc. If it is a choice between two books this month and they choose another, then maybe next month they’ll come back for yours.

5.       It could be your book not the others that are losing you sales

Interesting concept huh? Not really. As above readers choose their books based on several factors. If you get those right you get a sale. If you don’t then there is something wrong. It could be as simple as you’re an unknown author and they don’t want to risk it, or it could be the cover, blurb or preview. That is something the other author cannot change.

6.       It’s lonely when you have foes not friends

Being a writer is a lonely job. Why not add some fun into your day and engage in conversation on social media with fellow authors. There is nothing better than sharing anecdotes about your writing and books with another writer.

I hope you have enjoyed this list. If you have any questions / comments or would like to add another reason, please feel free to comment.

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Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Many Fantasy Books in Mammoth Giveaway

Indie authors have joined together for a massive e-book giveaway. E-books from every genre are included in the event including Fantasy, erotica, horror, short stories, paranormal, romance, etc so looking through the list can be like looking at a mini-bookstore. The giveaway is fairly simple on its rules, you go to the site decide which books you would like in the giveaway and send a message. You won’t be offered books you don’t want after the draw in August – giving readers complete control over the books they want. So whether you are interested in Fantasy books such as “The Coming Storm” by Valerie Douglas and “Through the Barrier” by Angela MacDonald or business books like “Training and Development: How to Design Effective Training for the Virtual Classroom” by Shannon Sonneveldt there is likely to be something that takes your fancy. Here is a list of some of the fantasy books on offer.

Aoife and Demon by Shamila Ghyas & Humeira Kazmi.

Aoife Edwards is a college freshman, oppressed by her power-hungry stepmom who now controls her father's fortune and sees her as a marketable commodity. All she wants to do is skate, but when a strange, blue-skinned man drops into her life and opens a door into both her hidden past and an alternate universe full of dangers, Aoife finds herself face to face with a true, bad-to-the-bone Demon, and suddenly the meanings of friend and foe are no longer so clear.

Through the Barrier by Angela MacDonald

Cast inside a magic barrier in a forbidden land, the members of an unlikely company find themselves depending on each other for survival. In spite of his protection and support, the priests of the company feel a growing unease with the quiet Purtan. Questions are whispered as to who he is and what might be the motives for his selfless aid. Is it just the magics of an ancient and nearly lost race or is there something darker about him? They must learn quickly in this warped and malignant land, as it is not only the land itself they must navigate, but they soon realize they are pawns in the hunting game of a mad man who is right behind them.

The Coming Storm by Valerie Douglas

Elon of Aerilann, Elven advisor to the High King of Men, helped negotiate the treaty between Elves, Dwarves and men. He suddenly finds that fragile truce threatened from without by an unknown enemy and from within by old hatreds and prejudice. With the aid of his true-friend Colath, the wizard Jareth and the Elven archer Jalila, he goes in search of the source of the threat.

Ailith, the Heir to Riverford, fights her own silent battle. Her father has changed, but her quest to discover what changed him puts her life and very soul in danger and leaves her only one direction in which to turn. Elon.

To preserve the alliance, though, Elon will have to choose between his honor, his duty and everything for which he fought.

Birthright-Bestowed, Book One of Ilona the Hun trilogy by Erika M Szabo.

Ilona is an emergency room doctor, born into an ancient Hun tribe which still exists hidden amongst us with its strict and fiercely enforced rules. She doesn’t know much about her Hun heritage besides legends, customs and rituals that she continues out of respect for her parents whose sudden death ten years before devastated her. She plays her tune on her birthday given to her by her grandmother. Elza – Ilona’s housekeeper - explains the purpose of the tune is to let the elders know she had come to age. Her mother didn’t have a chance to explain her inherited powers, but after her 29th birthday when she is considered as an adult by Hun standards, she begins to remember the forgotten instructions concealed as rhymes her mother was teaching her since she was a small child. Ilona discovers she can heal with her bare hands; she can rearrange the human body to its healthy state. This ability is exciting as well as frightening. She is conflicted between having confidence in her intelligence and inherited abilities while having no confidence as a woman. Her insecurity created barriers which keep others out, and I also keep her caged in. She’s been in love with her unsuspecting best friend Bela, when a dashing stranger explodes into her life. The sudden magnetic feeling frightens her and discovering evil in him doesn’t help either. A sinister dark man appears Ilona connects his presence with the series of mysterious deaths around her. Zoltan saves her life by jeopardizing his, which prompts Ilona to start fitting the puzzle pieces together and discovering the ancient tribal secrets that not only can change her future but the future existence of the Huns as well.

Secrets-Revealed, Book Two of Ilona the Hun trilogy by Erika M Szabo

Ilona’s story is provocative, rich in characters and detail that bring a lost world to life, a journey to treasure and remember. In book one Ilona is a lonely doctor discovering her rich tribal heritage and birthright to become a Healer. The barrier created by her insecurity kept others out, but also kept her caged in. She has to break the barriers to discover her true identity. She discovers growing magical abilities within her in the strange world of the Huns, which are beyond her wildest dreams. She can use her given gifts for absolute good or absolute evil; the choice is up to her. Ilona’s birthright as a Healer runs alongside her desires as a woman. She’s secretly and hopelessly in love with her best friend, he seems oblivious to her feelings. Fate brings Zoltan into her life. Will he break her heart, or will he bring true happiness? Ilona is hoping for a red tulip, the symbol of devoted love. Who will offer it to her? She discovers some secrets the Hun society is concealing, a society that is secretive and complex, with strict and fiercely enforced ancient rules; revealed to only those who come of age. Ilona is a rebel, who is determined to control and guide her own life. Resourceful and daring, she crosses the line and breaks those rules. She must face the consequences and has to fight for her men; both of them disappear from the face of the earth. She acquires magical abilities beyond her dreams to find and save them. Ilona has been evacuated from her easy and steady life. She is happy, but she still has many doubts. She hates that she has to hide in the past from a faceless enemy, however enjoys meeting her ancestors.

If any of these titles take your fancy or you would like to look for more you can request them in the giveaway here.

Six Ways in which to use Hash-tags on Facebook

Facebook has joined twitter in using hash-tags now in posts online. For some this is a nightmare come true as they #realise #that #they #will #see #endless #lists of hash-tags. But it is as responsible authors that we must learn to control the urge to try to reach everyone and aim to reach those readers who would really want to read our posts. Another point I’ve heard recently is that the hash-tags won’t do much for visibility. I am afraid that assumption is false. Like on twitter, users can now just click on a hash-tag and see other posts using that same label. In experiments I have run posts on my facebook page have meant that posts with hash-tags can get 100% more views. That is an outstanding difference and surely worth the investment.
So how do we probably use hash-tags? Well here are six pointers I feel are necessary.

1.       Use sparingly

Seriously, use only one or two. Not endless lines of hash-tags. If you find this difficult think carefully who you really want to communicate your message to and then think what hash tag they would want to search for. Use that once, maybe twice and you’ll get a clean, engaging post.

2.       Create a good informative post

Facebook is not twitter (well duh) which means short messages are not going to get the same results. People like length on Facebook, so why don’t you write an informative post for people to read – and forget length. The better the quality of the content – the higher chance that people will share your post – increasing your exposure.

3.       Create dialogue

Instead of writing news bulletins, write conversation starters. The hash-tags will drive readers to you; now keep them there for them to get to know you with good conversation.

4.       Minimise your posts with hash-tags

If every post you write has hash-tags then people will get turned off quickly. Use them on posts that really need extra exposure, such as promotions, new releases, etc.

5.       Don’t use hash-tags on groups

Don’t, just don’t. You don’t want readers to find your secret hangout and read what you wrote about someone who didn’t like your book. Also hash-tag-ed posts can even be read by outsiders of secret groups. And do you really want people spying on what you are saying behind closed doors.

6.       Make sure your special hash-tags aren’t used by someone else

Funnily enough this may seem like an obvious one, but have you really thought about it when creating a hash-tag for your book or series? Do a search on twitter and check to see if someone else is using it. You don’t want to have your readers do a search for other posts by you on a subject only for them to be diverted by another author who uses the same hash-tag.

I hope you have enjoyed the list. Please feel free to add your own suggestions, your own remarks about the comments.

EDIT: Since writing this (although before this went out) I have since found out that writing after a link will remove the preview on Facebook. So if you have a great cover to show off, or an awesome blog picture, make sure your hashtags (and other writing) are in the middle of the text. Many thanks to Valerie Douglas for pointing that out to me.

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Monday, 24 June 2013

Six Reasons Why You Should Produce a Paperback Copy of Your Book

A lot of newbie self-publishing authors and some of the old ones, feel that just because we can now publish in digital format that the paperback copy is no longer relevant for them to publish. This is a rather naive perspective. Although e-books are taking larger and larger slices of the market, paperbacks are still here and are selling well. I went to a car boot sale the other day for instance and saw a woman buy twenty books from just one person; poor husband who had to carry them all home.
I know some people won’t be persuaded without a reason, so here are six reasons why you should produce a paperback copy of your book.

1.       Some readers see paperbacks as more professional

This is one that strikes me as odd, but some readers feel that if you haven’t produced a paperback copy then you aren’t a professional writer. To me this is wrong. You wouldn’t question Coke’s professionalism if they suddenly stopped doing fizzy orange or MacDonald’s if they stopped doing Chicken Burgers. It doesn’t make sense. But me saying it doesn’t matter. It is what some readers are saying. It can cost you very little to produce a POD book for Amazon and other retailers, so if it gets you a little more creditability with readers, why not?

2.       The market isn’t just E-books

Yep it is true, some of the market still like to buy paperbacks. Why? There are hundreds of reasons. But here is the fact, Amazon say they are selling 140 e-books for every 100 paperbacks. That still means that 42% of the market prefers paperbacks. In the UK the e-book market is still only 15-20%. If you don’t produce a paperback you are missing out on 42% and up to 85% of the US and UK markets respectively.

3.       It is cheap to produce a paperback

With the rise of self publishing has come the fall of costs in print publishing. By using POD suppliers you can create and sell your book for nothing at all (although some costs I would highly recommend for producing the best book possible)

4.       It is easier to show off

Let’s be honest if you showed off your book on your e-reader you might get an – “oh” or “that’s good”. But if someone wanted to see your book, they might get more interested in a paperback issue.  People still are driven by the sense of touch, given them that unique feeling and get them to touch your book.

5.       It creates off-line marketing opportunities

It is so easy to hide in the world of the internet, but if you do that then you are limiting your marketing potential. Having a paperback copy of your book allows you to create more offline opportunities such as book signings.

6.       It can be inspirational

This isn’t such a marketing issue, but it is one of productivity. Something that is stored on the computer isn’t going to remind you of what you have achieved. It is hiding, to be seen when you seek it out. My book sits proudly on the shelf its cover facing outwards so I see it all the time. Why? It inspires me to continue and that inspiration is always there, not when just when I look for it. And that makes me work harder for the next book.

I hope you have enjoyed this. Please feel free to comment on any of these reasons or tell me and others of other reasons you see fit in the comments below.

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Saturday, 22 June 2013

Sherdan's Prophecy (Sherdan, #1) Review

Sherdan's Prophecy (Sherdan, #1)Sherdan's Prophecy by Jess Mountifield
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sherdan's Prophecy by Jess Mountifield is written with such conviction and delicacy that every word has significance as the story is beautifully brought to life with elegant grace. The author is able to bring to the forefront an excellent love story with plenty of emotional turmoil for many well portrayed characters on the backdrop of a national emergency. Action scenes are purposefully placed and are an excellent pace changer to keep readers on their toes and with a few mysteries interwoven into the storyline that readers will be hooked until the last words and beyond.

View all my reviews

Friday, 21 June 2013

6 Tips to Writing A Good Review

When I was writing the previous good post I found that I was writing a lot of advice for writing reviews. It is something now that I have been doing for nearly a year (with a short break for illness). Some people think I am a good reviewer and I have had a couple of people ask me to give them tips on writing a review. Now I don’t consider myself an expert, far from it – I love books and reviewing is just the natural next step on that road. There isn’t any real rocket science to writing one. However I do stick to several key items when writing reviews however and here they are.

1.       Be Honest

Honesty is the best policy my mother always said and that is the number one fact. There is no point in telling someone you love the book when you didn’t. For starters if it is really a bad book, people will find out and your reputation will be shattered. Do everyone a favour and be honest with yourself and the author.

2.       Write in detail

I hate reviews that are one sentence that simply say – “Loved this book” or “Worse book ever”. For starters the second comment is unsubstantial (see point 3), unless you’ve read every single book ever written: just to read the Amazon catalogue it would take you 850 years to read every single book (and that is if you didn’t sleep, eat, drink, go to the toilet). But to really make the point – you loved they book? Why?

3.       Substantiate your claims

So you didn’t like the characters. Why? The main one was like a wooden peg, why? If you are going to say something back it up. Was there a scene in which you felt was unreasonable, explain that. By giving a concise reasoning behind your review will make it shine against all the others.

4.       Write in English

I’m not being funny here – how many times have you seen: “I luv dis book – gr8 read”. Write in Standard English – much easier to understand for all of us.


Was that enough of a hint? You aren’t shouting your review across at the reader, you are gently telling them about your experiences with the book. That is always done better with a softer whisper and a lower case.

6.       Write about the book not the author

I see so many people who write about the author and not the book. You are reviewing a product, stick to that and don’t wander off the subject. If the book has spelling mistakes, say the book has spelling mistakes – don’t say the author can’t be bothered or didn’t run it through a spellchecker or editor before releasing it. You don’t really know they didn’t.

Hopefully this list has been some help to you. If you would like to read some of my reviews, or a review by my colleague Jess Mountifield you can visit our review blog here.

Some big announcements, excellent articles and chances for unique engagement will be coming soon. To keep up with it all follow me on twitter and my facebook page