Monthly Archives: January 2013

Sandcastle and Other Stories Available as Paperback

One of my dear friends (I’ve always wanted to say that) has just released his literary collection of short stories as a paperback through a boutique publisher. Justin Bog is another indie success story. He’s studied and taught writing and works as an editor and author. His short stories are poignant and confronting explorations into human nature.

Paperback cover

Paperback cover

The vibrant cover, which hints at one of the stories in the collection yet is a bright contradiction to the darkness inside, is artwork painted by his late father and would look awesome on your bookshelf. Order your paperback now through US bookstores or buy the ebook at Amazon. You can also find Justin on Twitter @JustinBog and his website.

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Charity Parkerson’s A Secure Heart on sale 22 Jan—5th Feb

At the beginning of January, 2013, I edited an action-packed romance for Charity Parkerson, and now it’s on sale. If you enjoy romance with a touch of erotica, good characters and speedy plot, then you should try this and it’s only $1.99 from now until the 5th of Feb (yes I know I’m biased because I edited it, but you know I wouldn’t lead you astray).

A Secure Heart new cover

Here’s the blurb:

What does it take to secure a heart? For the Smith Security Services team it’s Flowers, Chocolate, Wishes, and Sparks!
Flowers: Fashion Designer Flower Calloway’s next big show could make her famous all over the world, but she ends up uncovering a few secrets that could break her heart instead.
Chocolate: A quick trip to the store for some chocolate therapy, and a fateful encounter with a few gorgeous men, shakes up F.B.I. Agent Genie Cook’s once secure life.
Wishes: For Jacob and Gracie, it is love at first sight, but it will take more than a few wishes to hold them together when Jacob’s career threatens to tear them apart.
Sparks: Twin brothers Weave and Bob are hardened fighters, but two special women are going to have them throwing off sparks instead of punches.
Grab a copy from these online outlets:

 

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What’s Worked in my Self-Publishing Journey so Far

Hello again. Today I was bragging about the fact that Shadows of the Realm (SOTR) was still in the top 100 for teenage literature fiction books on Amazon after two weeks up there. Even though it’s liable to drop out at any moment, today was good because I was sitting ahead of one of the Twilight books and one of the Gossip Girl books—it just proves dragons still have some clout. After I tweeted it out, I had a comment from another indie author who wanted to know how I had made it this far. I’ve been meaning to write about my experience for a while, and that was a good reminder. So here’s some of what I’ve learned. I hope it helps someone, somewhere, especially when you feel like giving up—believe me, you’re not the first and won’t be the last.

Screen Shot 2013-01-22 at 3.06.53 PMSelf-publishing is a tough business—you have to be self-motivated, persistent and thick-skinned, as well as media savvy, hard-working and willing to learn. I still have days (and I’m sure there are more to come) when I seriously question the sanity of what I’m doing. Publishing is one of the most competitive fields to be in and I don’t think anyone has worked out what makes one book a best-seller over another. And I won’t lie: seeing books you perceive to be not as polished as your own, selling much better than yours, is disheartening. But don’t get me wrong—I don’t begrudge others’ success, but wonder “how come I’m not successful too.” Other thoughts you’re liable to have are: “Why bother, no one is ever going to buy my book,” or “Out of all the books out there, why would someone choose mine?” The secret is: you are never going to be able to answer those questions, so don’t even try. Your biggest weapons are persistence and hard work. And as an indie author you are also battling the perception that indie authors are unprofessional. This perception exists because unfortunately many are :(.

I started my self-publishing journey in October 2011 when I arrived on Twitter knowing absolutely zilch about marketing and social media. I always thought Twitter was for those wanting to follow the latest reality celebrity moron (OK don’t hit me; they’re not all morons) and to be honest, I really don’t give a crap about what famous people I will never meet are doing. After working out how to tweet and follow people, I was off and running (I’m technically challenged so if I can do it, anyone can). And boy was I surprised.

I only followed writers, and what an amazing and wonderful bunch of people I met. This was my first smart (and lucky) decision. The good friends you make on Twitter are the ones who will encourage you when you’re having those I feel like giving up days. They are the ones who will help you when you are wondering about how to upload your book to Amazon and Smashwords, and they are the ones who will put up their hands when you need someone to beta read your book or tweet your book sale (I just want to take a moment to thank all those who help me every day; without you I would not have done as well as I have, and when I’m not doing well you make me laugh).

Facebook and Google plus are also great ways to connect with writers. There are loads of writers’ groups you can join that will answer your questions, and I find writers are generally a fun lot of people to interact with (it’s true—we are all crazy).

So after being on Twitter for a couple of months, one of the amazing Tweeps I met (Peter Hobbs) asked if I had a blog. Of course I didn’t have a blog. “WTH is a blog?” I asked, and when I found out I thought, “Well who in the hell wants to read what I have to say?” Luckily for me, it turns out some people (I haven’t confirmed numbers but I’m pretty sure it’s more than one) actually find me amusing and/or informative. Other people’s blogs are also a source of valuable information about writing and self-publishing. Go visit them because what you learn will help (it helped me).

I hope you’re taking notes. Get on social media and do a blog—it not only gives you a support network, but this is where you build respect for your work and your brand (in other words,  you). The next thing you need to do, if you haven’t already, is learn your craft. Not everyone can afford to study full-time but in case you haven’t already figured it out, it’s rare for anyone to be born with the ability of a literary genius. I found that out after the first draft of my book was rejected by publishers all over the world (how embarrassing; I can picture them laughing while reading the first paragraph). And here I was thinking I was going to sell millions without even trying. Thank God I realised I had a lot to learn and I enrolled in a creative writing degree. You can, at the very least, join a critique group or find a cheap, basic online course to do. Having said that, there are unedited, poorly written, self-published books that sell well, but for the sake of your own pride, and the reputation of indie authors, please aim to write well.

Hmm, I’m waffling a bit so I’ll hurry up. I improved my writing, employed an editor and went through my book three more times (that made it a total of eight) to proofread and make sure I had banished as many redundant words and passive language as I could. I paid a professional artist to do the cover, and I still get comments from people who love it.

Because I did all this, when I paid for a mail-out to announce my recent book sale to fantasy readers, it resulted in me selling four times as many books in two weeks as I had in the first eight months of my book’s public life. When the readers saw the cover and blurb it was enticing, then when they clicked on the link to Amazon there were a lot of good reviews for them to read, plus the book reads well in the sample because I went about it in a professional way (I am by no means suggesting it is the best writing you will ever read, but it doesn’t have typos or grammar and punctuation errors in every sentence). My support network also helped by announcing the sale on their blogs and tweeting and facebooking it.

The sales of my book to date and the Amazon rankings I’ve achieved in the last two weeks might be the best I ever do, but they wouldn’t have happened without hours each day promoting myself and helping others by giving feedback on their work or just encouraging them when they feel like giving up. When you go three weeks without one sale it can have you ready to pull your book off the internet and going to get a job where you ask “Would you like fries with that?”, but don’t. If, like me, you love writing, you will never be able to give it up. Just surround yourself with good people who understand what you’re going through and be patient and persistent. If it was easy, everyone would be a best-seller, right ;).

And take heart—apparently it takes between two and three years to build your platform to the point where you achieve consistent sales, and the more books you have out the better. It’s a steep learning curve being an indie author, but when you do have some success, it’s satisfying because you did it through your own hard work and because of the support from your friends. I can honestly say I’ve learnt more in the last two years than I ever have, and I’ve met incredible people I admire. I still have a way to go but I’m more determined than ever. I hope this post has given someone some kind of information they can use, if not, it was good writing practice for me ;). And feel free to contact me if you have any questions (I don’t know everything, but I’ll answer what I can and point you towards others more knowledgable than myself if I can’t). Happy writing!

 

 

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The Circle of Talia Book Two Update—Epic Fantasy

So here we are with three days left of my book sale and I’m happy to report that it was a success! I’m not here to celebrate though; I’m here to give some information about the series :). I’m excited that after a week I’ve had a few enquiries from people wanting to know a) is there a book two? and b) when is it coming? They are questions we writers love, love, love to hear!

How cruel would it be if I only wrote one book in the series? Actually it would be downright evil and I’m not evil, well only when it comes to killing off my characters. So to assuage my readers’ fears I can say I am writing book two in The Circle of Talia series and am one quarter into the first draft. I’m hoping it will be ready for editing in February and released at the end of March. I can’t wait to contact Rob—the talented artist who did the first cover—to discuss my ideas. He blew me away last time and it will be so exciting to see more of my characters come to life on the next cover.

The writing has been emotional as I’ve found out that more than one of my characters will die by the end of the series and I’m mourning them early. If you are saying to yourself “Ok, she’s a total nutter,” I agree, I probably am, but my characters are like family and I know them so well.

I want to say thanks to those readers who have bought the book and especially to the encouraging readers who let me know they’re eagerly awaiting the next book. As soon as book two is out I’ll start writing book three, so never fear, the story will get finished, maybe even by the end of the year, unless there is more to tell and then you’ll have to wait for book four.

I’d better go back to work now, but I’ll leave you with an unedited (forgive me if there are mistakes) snippit from my second epic fantasy novel (which I still haven’t named) —the sequel to Shadows of the Realm.

***

Agmunsten stood taller, bracing himself to take the news on the strongest shoulders he could offer. “Tell me the price so we may get on with this blessing.” Blayke wondered what the price would be, and knew, from the Head Realmist’s voice, it would be a big one. He shut his eyes and drew a deep, calming breath.

“Listen carefully, and repeat this to no one. When the price is asked, you will have one chance to act. If you hesitate, the chance will be lost and so will Talia. The two you must sacrifice are….”

All three realmists paled, and Blayke blinked tears back. When Drakon finished speaking, the energy flows to the channels ceased, and as Blayke reached down to gather the quartz in his shaking hands, he wished he were an innocent child once again. He didn’t know how to carry this new burden and thought death would be so much easier. His fingers touched the pendant and he fell to his knees. Agmunsten and Arcese stood in silence as Blayke knelt on the floor and wept.

Agmunsten covered his face with his hands. They had survived the blessing of the quartz; so why did it feel like they had failed?

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My Triumph Over The Very Hungry Caterpillar!

If you haven’t noticed, I’m having a sale on my best-selling fantasy, Shadows of the Realm. Well, I’m saying that tongue in cheek because I’ve been tweeting the hell out of it over the last few days and I’m sorry if I’m boring all you Tweeps who see the “Buy Shadows of the Realm with dragons, blah blah blah” twenty times a day and the facebook peeps who have seen a gazillion screen shots of my book looking sexy on all the different “I’m so good look at me” Amazon lists. It’s just, you have to suffer so I can gain domination over the Caterpillar. Yes that’s right, Shadows of the Realm got one up on Eric Carle’s amazing children’s book.

The moment of caterpillar domination

The moment of caterpillar domination

My book, and I can’t believe this, but yes, my book reached #1 on Amazon yesterday in two categories: Children’s books animals and children’s books dragons. I know it’s not technically a children’s book, however Amazon, in it’s infinite, monopolising wisdom, has decided that if you have dragons or animals in your books, which I have in abundance, it must be a children’s book. Well my book is for adults and teens. I don’t think the 8 year olds of this world want to read about what happens when the gormons possess one boy and make him eat another one alive.

Thankfully I also reached #6 in teen literary fiction and my best ranking ever was #610 overall paid on Amazon. Figures have never meant more to me than they did yesterday, and I know it’s pathetic, but I’m a starving author and I need attention, I need people to buy my books or I will wither and die (don’t pull that face; I am not exaggerating!).

The rush was better than chocolate!

The rush was better than chocolate!

So, just in case you did miss those thousands of tweets, Shadows of the Realm (SOTR, notice how I’m making it look like that other great epic fantasy LOTR ;)), is on sale for another 10 days and it’s only $1.99—crazy I know, but I’m not known for my sanity. Join the legions of other people with good taste and discerning intellect, and go grab a copy before the sale finishes or I’ll send the gormons over to ‘encourage’ you. And if you’re on Goodreads, you can add my book (see the widget thingy at the side) to your ‘can’t wait to read this awesome book’ list. And lastly thank you, thank you, thank you to all the wonderful people who shared my sale, my tweets and my Facebook notifications and to those who took the plunge and bought the book—the dragons will make sure the gormons don’t get you. So, adieu as I have more tweets to do now—that bloody caterpillar is beating me again!

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When a Good Book Goes Bad—Shadows of the Realm has Stripped!

Ok, I know I’m going on about it but my book is now on sale! I’ve really put the price down to $1.99. I know it’s not free, but this is as far as I go for now, kind of like playing strip poker—I’m the prude wearing 50 layers of clothing. I’ll only take off so much before I put it all back on again. Although, it is a bit nerve-wracking: what if no one buys it, even when it’s cheap? Maybe that’s why stripping off scares me: what if I take it all off and people look for a moment then look away in boredom, or even worse, disgust—what do I have left? Nothing. And please nobody hold up cards with one star on them. Oh dear, I’ve given myself away and people are telling others about how unimpressed they are. Ok, maybe I’m going too far. I’m sure you’ll love me naked, ah, I mean my book, you’ll love my book, and I’m sure you’ll buy it at $1.99 because you wouldn’t want it to get depressed would you? Rejection is so hard to take.

So, show my book some love and tell your friends, tell your family, even tell that weird old lady who sleeps at the bus stop—she’s probably secretly a millionaire and can’t wait to read my epic fantasy novel. Shadows of the Realm, or SOTR as it’s becoming known because of the ease of fitting into a tweet, is perfect for teens and adults—it’s an awesome crossover/family read. You’re always complaining that you have nothing to talk to your teenagers about, so buy this, both read it and get talking!

You can purchase it at Amazon US, Amazon UK and Smashwords. Happy reading :).

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Cover Reveal – Imran Siddiq’s Disconnect

My fellow author and friend, Imran Siddiq, has a new book coming out on the 22nd of Feb, 2013, and he’s had a cover done by a professional artist. I was more than happy to share because the cover looks amazing—if only more indie authors would go to as much effort. Congratulations Imran, it looks amazing!

DisconnectCover

In space, love has boundaries.

Dirtying fingernails in sewers is fast approaching worthlessness for Zachary, a 16-year old Underworld scavenger. When footage of an Overworld girl, Rosa, is discovered, his intrigue heightens at why she expresses sadness with a lavish lifestyle.

In meeting Rosa, Zachary is scorned by her opinion of the deprived. She pities him and provides a means for them to communicate. With time, friendship and something he’s never felt grows; love for another human. Knowing Rosa calls him when it suits her isn’t enough; he wants to meet her, but how? Relationships in Underworld are few, let alone the impossibility with those above the ceiling.

Underworld will suffer when plans to conquer Jupiter’s moon, Europa move ahead. Worse is Rosa’s father, a disgraced Overworld ambassador, approving the plan.

Zachary must defeat the prejudice of the worlds, sneak within opposing forces, lose friends and challenge Rosa’s sadness. In doing so, a twisted secret is uncovered that may devour the reason he lives; Rosa.

About the Author

Imran Siddiq may have tried to leave Leicester a few times, but its become his place to wake up to two cats, freeze when the heating’s off and most of all, get down to writing. A veteran of writing festivals, a presence on Twitter and gobbling up all forms of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, he hopes he can bring a smile to others in the same way that he had, aged 5, reading with a torch under his duvet. Imran’s preferred genre is YA Sci Fi, and he has a tendency to throw a droid in each novel – literally throw.

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