Advice needed

OK guys I really need some advice here. As many of you will be aware, I’ve self-published two novels, The Inheritance and Reunion of the Heart, on Amazon Kindle within about a year of each other (September 2013, August 2014).

The thing is neither of them have taken off – I mean AT ALL – and I’m feeling really low about it. I will admit that I haven’t done a huge amount of promotion for either and I guess you would all say that that is why they haven’t sold much.

But here’s the thing: I’m not entirely convinced about the positive impact of lots of (and sometimes costly) promotion. I’m not convinced that putting them on a number of different promo sites would make a massive amount of difference. Or tweeting about them. Or Facebooking etc.

About a year ago I put The Inheritance on a free promotion. I got nearly 9500 downloads. But I was really disappointed that it didn’t translate into sales. I think part of the problem was that around that time Amazon stopped promoting free books hence my struggle to get more sales afterwards.

So anyway last weekend I decided to do an experiment and put The Inheritance on sale at 99c. I thought maybe I might get a few more sales. I did tweet about it but so far nothing.

I’ve read some ebooks about getting to know how Amazon and its algorithms work and how to use that to my advantage. I’ve tried changing some of the keywords on Reunion of the Heart but that hasn’t seemed to make any difference either.

Some of these books have also suggested various ways to promote your novel strategically, things like setting up a mailing list. But would these work or affect my sales if I haven’t got a book coming out soon? I would also struggle with setting up a mailing list as I haven’t got a clue how it’s done!

I feel frustrated because I think (maybe erroneously!) that my books are as good as many other people’s that are out there and doing OK for themselves. The main problem is that no one knows they’re there. Also, as my husband has pointed out, I write in a broad genre (i.e. contemporary romance) and so it’s hard to target my potential audience with things like good keywords because there are so many titles out there.

Argh! Anyway, I feel like I need to create a good strategy, a plan to give my books a bit of a kick start so that I can somehow let people know that they’re out there and are worth a read. But I don’t know where to start. I’m also tired from my new day job (which is great BTW – I can be thankful for that at least!) and I don’t want to take on too much extra work at the moment.

Any suggestions? Or anyone going through a similar experience?

*I should add that I’ve heard from a writer friend that ebook sales (particularly in the UK) are down which I guess doesn’t help!

I START MY NEW JOB TOMORROW!! (and here’s my WIPpet for Wednesday)

Yes I am indeed starting a new job tomorrow which is why this post is late and short (but hopefully sweet!). I’ve been doing all my washing and other house jobs today because I won’t have time tomorrow or Friday as I’ll be working all day. :)

(Great excuse not to do housework hee hee!) I should add that I might not get around to commenting on many WIPpets this week because of said job. My apologies. Anyway as I said today’s WIPpet is a short one because of the time thing. So using my incredible powers with mathematics, you get 2 sentences: 1 + 1 for the month of November. :)

I’m not going to say much about it except that it’s from Teaching Mr Leavis again (which I’m hacking to pieces editing at the moment) and it’s taken from the first chapter. Here you go:

Rebecca heard a snap – probably the man closing his phone – and began to walk around the corner to get her bike. She collided with a solid, muscular chest and nearly fell over before strong arms caught her and lifted her upright again.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘Ooh that’s something I’d like to take part in’, it’s easy. Just post on your blog an excerpt of what you’ve been working on lately writing-wise. Ideally it should relate in some way to the date. Then add your details to this linky thingy here. Don’t forget to check out the other WIPpeteers’ contributions.

Thanks to the fantabulous K. L. Schwengel for hosting once more.

An interview with my MC Rebecca – WIPpet Wednesday

I wasn’t sure what to share today as I’m up to my neck in editing Teaching Mr Leavis and changing a whole lot of stuff. OK that’s putting a bit crudely, but you get the idea.

Anyway I thought I’d share with you something I’ve written especially for today: an interview with my main character from Teaching Mr Leavis, Rebecca. It’s a bit rough and ready but I hope you enjoy it. Oh and I should say that it doesn’t relate in any way to the date and it’s over 500 words long. My apologies! Here you go:

Me: I’m pleased to be interviewing the main character in my story Teaching Mr Leavis today. Her name in case you didn’t know is Rebecca. By the way I should add that we’re travelling back in time as the story is set twenty years ago. So over to you, Rebecca. Can you tell us a bit about yourself?

Rebecca: I will but what do you mean by the story being set twenty years ago? (Folds her arms and looks stern.)

Me: Um… nothing really. Please continue.

R: (Looks suspicious) All right, well I’m an English teacher at a secondary school called Wyncliffe High.

Me: Could you clarify what a secondary school is? We have an international audience.

R: (raises an eyebrow) We do? OK, a secondary school is for 11 to 16 year olds and at 16 the children sit their GCSEs – that stands for General Certificate of Secondary Education. Then they leave.

Me: (nods) So what’s it like teaching at Wyncliffe?

R: (shrugs) It’s pretty good. Though what with this being my first year it’s been a bit of a rollercoaster ride.

Me: In what way?

R: (cheeks turn pink) I’ve had to get used to teaching – this is my first teaching job since completing my QTS – that’s qualified teacher status for those who don’t know. I got that after my degree. Anyway, I feel like I’m settling into the job now.

Me: (murmurs) In more ways than one.

R: (sharply) What was that?

Me: Um… nothing.

R: I suppose you’re referring to my love life?

Me: Well…

R: (turns red in the face) I don’t see how it’s anyone’s business but my own. Yes I’ve had my ups and downs in that department, but haven’t we all? (Pauses, smoothing down already smooth hair.) Mr Leavis and I are…

Me: What?

R: We might be an item, but we’re keeping it under wraps. For now anyway. Daniel, his son, has just finished his GCSEs so it should be easier without him at the school. I mean, it just looks bad if I’m dating my pupil’s father.

Me: (nods) But I don’t suppose anyone really cares. It’s not illegal is it?

R: (shakes head) No, that’s true but I’d hate to think that I was the subject of gossip. Though I have been warned that people do gossip at Wyncliffe. It’s just what seems to happen. I suppose that’s life. (sighs)

Me: And are you happy in your life at the moment Rebecca?

R: (smiles) Yes, very. I wouldn’t turn back the clock, not for anything.

Me: What do you mean?

R: Ending my engagement with Alex. We both made the right decision and I know that he’s happy now and I’m happy too. It’s taken a long while for me to get to this point. Now that I’m with Jonathan things are good for me. Though I hated his guts for a while. (smiles)

Me: Well I’m glad you’ve found happiness. Thank you for taking the time to talk to me, Rebecca. (I hold out my hand for her to shake.)

R: Thank you very much too. You helped me and Jonathan to find each other.

Me: I did? (feigns perplexity)

R: Yes, you know you did. I’m grateful for it.

Me: Maybe I helped you a little… anyway I’m glad you’re happy. See you around, Rebecca.

R: Yes, see you in the twenty first century.

(I blink and she’s gone.)

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday all you have to do is share a piece of whatever you’re working on writing-wise. It should ideally relate in some way to the date, though I’ve broken that rule today! Then add your name here.

Thank you to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. I believe she’s back from her travels now, so why not pop over to her blog and take a look? :)

Spotlight on author Laekan Zea Kemp

bio1I’m pleased to be promoting my fellow author Laekan Zea Kemp on my blog today. She has just released her new novel The Girl In Between, which will become perma-free on October 31st. See the links below for where you can download copies for free! And I am appearing on Laekan’s blog later on today too. She’s interviewing me about my writing process and my experience of self-publishing. Click here in a while to check it out.

Synopsis: Bryn Reyes is a real life sleeping beauty. Afflicted with Klein-Levin Syndrome, she suffers episodes of prolonged sleep that steal weeks, and sometimes even months, from her life. But unlike most KLS patients, she doesn’t spend each episode in a catatonic state or wake up with no recollection of the time she’s missed. Instead, Bryn spends half her life in an alternate reality made up of her memories. For Bryn, the past is a place, until one day a boy she’s never met before washes up on the illusory beach of her dreams with no memory of who he is.

But the appearance of this strange boy isn’t the only thing that’s changed. Bryn’s symptoms are worsening, her body weakening as she’s plagued by hallucinations even while awake. Her only hope of finding a cure is to undergo experimental treatment created by a German specialist. But when Dr. Banz reveals that he knows more about her strange symptoms than he originally let on, Bryn learns that the boy in her head might actually be the key to understanding what’s happening to her, and worse, that if she doesn’t find out his identity before it’s too late, they both may not survive.

Goodreads link: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23124500-the-girl-in-between
Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00NQL0LRC/ref=s9_simh_gw_p351_d0_i1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=center-2&pf_rd_r=1GT1AKPRWGQ1B9VMPF3A&pf_rd_t=101&pf_rd_p=1688200382&pf_rd_i=507846
Barnes & Noble link: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-girl-in-between-laekan-zea-kemp/1120421881?ean=2940150744608

TheGirlInBetween1600x2400Author Bio:

Laekan is a writer and explorer extraordinaire who grew up in the flatlands of West Texas. She graduated from Texas Tech with a BA in Creative Writing and is the author of the multi-cultural New Adult novels The Things They Didn’t Bury, Orphans of Paradise, Breathing Ghosts, and the Young Adult novel The Girl In Between, which is the first in an upcoming paranormal romance series.

Blog: http://laekanzeakemp.wordpress.com

Twitter: https://twitter.com/LaekanZeaKemp

Goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6577467.Laekan_Zea_Kemp

Wattpad: http://www.wattpad.com/user/laekanzeakemp

Sort of finished – WIPpet Wednesday

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Welcome to WIPpet Wednesday, that time of the week when we WIPpeteers share some of what we’ve been working on writing-wise lately.

As the title of this blog post suggests I’ve finished the first draft of Teaching Mr Leavis. Yay! you might say – I’m sort of yay but not quite because now comes the hard part.

It’s come in at less than 50,000 words and ideally I want it to be longer than that. Also it needs a LOT of work on it and when I say a lot, I mean a lot! I need to tighten things up plot wise, develop underused characters, make it more romantic (yes really!) – the list is endless!

So I’ve started going through from the beginning and starting to change things. I want to edit the entire thing myself before anyone else sees it. Then maybe get an alpha reader to look at it. And only after that will I get any beta readers to take a look. Right now I’m feeling like I don’t want anyone to see it in its present state! (WIPpet Wednesday doesn’t count – I can share the better bits with you all for that!!)

Anyway onto what I’m sharing with you today. I’ve decided to share something a bit different. I thought I’d introduce you to Judith, my MC Rebecca’s disapproving mother. Rebecca and her parents – Judith and Martin – don’t see eye to eye. Judith and Martin have always wanted Rebecca to do what they think she should be doing – they don’t approve of her teaching. Rebecca won’t play ball so there’s tension. Lots of it! This scene takes place after Rebecca has had another encounter with Jonathan Leavis. Today Judith is visiting Rebecca in her flat. Rebecca’s preoccupied and things aren’t going well between them…

For today I’m sharing with you 21 sentences. My maths goes like this: 20 + 1 = 21 (I’m cheating again, taking the digits from the year!) Enjoy!

‘So how’s it all going at the school then, Rebecca?’ her mother Judith asked, taking a sip from her bone china cup of tea. It was Saturday afternoon. Rebecca’s mother and father were visiting Stokington for a few days. Maria had point blank refused to let them stay with her again so soon after their previous visit, so Judith and Martin, Rebecca’s father, were staying in a local hotel. Judith was visiting Rebecca while Martin went to explore the Stokington aviation museum, which was on the outskirts of the city.

Rebecca was silent for a moment, pondering her mother’s question. Memories of her encounter with Jonathan Leavis two days ago came flooding back. She felt heat rush to her face and downed the rest of her tea in one go.

‘Are you feeling hot?’ Judith asked. ‘It is a bit warm in here; maybe you should open the window.’

‘No, Mum, it’s all right, I’m sure I’ll cool down in a minute,’ Rebecca replied, her face warm with embarrassment. ‘School’s going well thank you. It’s busy but I’m coping.’

Barely, she added silently. She was feeling the pressure of continuing to prepare her pupils for their exams later in the school year.

Judith nodded. ‘Well you know what your dad and I say. You can always…’

‘Give it up, yes I know,’ Rebecca snapped. ‘But that’s not going to happen. I’m not going to give up after just one term. I know how much you’d love it if I did, but I won’t.’

That’s it from me today. :) If you have any advice re editing/pulling a book apart let me know!

WIPpet Wednesday is open to anyone who’d like to take part. Just share with us on your blog an excerpt from whatever you’ve been working on writing-wise lately. Preferably your excerpt should relate in some way to the date. Then add your name to this linky thing.

Thanks goes to our lovely currently-travelling K. L. Schwengel for hosting.  :D

 

 

 

 

Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop – favourite book boyfriends #lovewritechat

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Do you like to read romance novels? Wouldn’t you like to know more about your favorite authors? Well you’ve come to the right place! Join the writers of Romance Weekly as we go behind the scenes of our books and tell all… About our writing of course! Every week we’ll answer questions or share some flash fiction and after you’ve enjoyed the blog on this site we’ll direct you to another. So come back often for a thrilling ride! Tell your friends and feel free to ask us questions in the comment box.

Hello all! If you’ve joined me from Vicki Mixon’s blog then welcome. This week we’re answering a question set by the lovely Sarah Hegger. She wants to know what our three favourite book boyfriends are and why. So here goes.

I have to admit that to begin with this was a hard question for me to answer. I read all sorts of books, not just romances and they don’t all have specific boyfriends in them about whom I could honestly say ‘Yep, that’s a great book boyfriend’. But thinking about it I thought actually, yeah there a number that I like.

I think for me the number one is probably Mark Darcy from Bridget Jones’s Diary by Helen Fielding. This is because he likes Bridget as she is; he’s not afraid to go out on a limb for her or to admit when he’s been wrong. He’s clever – he’s a top barrister (lawyer for those of you not in the UK) after all – and of course gorgeous. He also gets Bridget out of sticky situations like saving the day when she has a culinary disaster. Basically he’s my kind of man!

Then there’s the character of Dexter from One Day by David Nicholls. For those of you who haven’t read it, this is a really ingenious romance as it follows the lives of two people, Dexter and Emma, over the course of 20 years. We meet them on just one day in July – 15th, St Swithin’s Day – every year and see how their lives gradually change. Dexter doesn’t want to be with Emma to begin with and it takes a long while for him to realise what he feels for her.

But for me Dexter is a wonderful character because he’s not perfect, he often lets Emma down but he gets the chance to atone for his past mistakes and they finally get together. (That’s not the end of the book, but for those of you who haven’t read it I’m not telling you what is!) Dexter is lovely, he’s gorgeous and he makes amends for his wrongdoing. So I love him!

Last but most certainly not least I’ve chosen my childhood crush. Yes, I did have a crush on a character from a book! The character is Gilbert Blythe and the book is Anne of Green Gables by Lucy Maud Montgomery. OK so technically he becomes Anne’s boyfriend in a later book, but it’s in this one that Anne begins to thaw towards him, despite him calling her ‘carrot hair’.

Gilbert is drop dead gorgeous, especially as played by Jonathan Crombie, and he makes amends with Anne for the way he treated her. Really, all along he’s been in love with her so this is why he was trying to get her attention. He genuinely cares about Anne, which is another reason why I love him.

So there you have it. If you want to read some more great answers to these questions, why not head over to Andrea Mansue’s blog?

The reason for the fight – WIPpet Wednesday

Hi all. I’m gonna make this quick cos I have a lot to do today. Seeing as many of you were asking what the fight between my characters Nick and Jonathan (which you can read here and here) was about, I thought I’d be kind and share with you the reason.

This scene is from my current WIP, Teaching Mr Leavis, and it takes place at my MC Rebecca’s flat. Her colleague Nick – the one who was in the fight – has come over to tell Rebecca why he and Jonathan Leavis came to blows. Nick has just choked on some water (yes really!) and he’s going through a tough time so Rebecca doesn’t want to be too hard on him.

I’m going to keep my maths simple as it fits the amount I want to share. So here’s ten paragraphs for the month. Enjoy!

‘You don’t have to tell me about what happened to cause the fight between you and Jonathan,’ she said. ‘Maybe you should just relax now. It is Monday evening after all.’

He shook his head. ‘I do need to tell you, I want to.’ There was a long pause. ‘I first met Abigail three years ago at a party. Abigail is Jonathan’s younger sister. We hit it off from the word go and very soon we were inseparable. I did care about her, honestly I did. I loved her. We did everything together; I was planning to ask her to marry me. Then…’

‘Then what?’ Rebecca asked, her voice low as if by talking too loudly Nick would stop telling the story.

‘Abigail got sick. She had a nervous breakdown. None of us could help her; her family couldn’t cope, so she was hospitalised.’ He spoke haltingly and as he paused he swallowed, running a hand through his already unkempt hair. Rebecca waited.

‘She was in hospital for many months. It got to the point where we all thought, Jonathan included, that she wasn’t going to recover. Then about eighteen months ago she showed signs of improvement. We thought, we all thought, we’d got our Abigail back. But she was different.’ Nick’s voice caught in his throat. ‘She was a harder person in some ways, yet at the same time fragile, almost brittle like she was going to physically break if you spoke too harshly to her.’

‘So what happened?’ Rebecca asked, reaching without a thought for Nick’s hand. He took it in his own and squeezed it.

‘Abigail and I were together again for a while, but as I said she wasn’t the same person. I wanted; I desperately wanted to make a go of it. But she became volatile extremely easily – I could be having a perfectly normal conversation with her, and then suddenly she’d switch and take offence and be aggressive for no apparent reason.’ Nick leaned across to the coffee table and had a sip of water, this time managing not to choke.

 Rebecca’s thoughts returned to the night at the club. ‘I suppose Jonathan was calling you a coward at the club because you were refusing to carry on your relationship with Abigail?’

Nick nodded, his face pale and his jaw tight. ‘Jonathan thought I was letting her down, being unchivalrous. He’s very up on chivalry.’ Nick gave a hollow laugh. Jonathan chivalrous, Rebecca thought. I’ve yet to see it. ‘But I had to end things with Abigail,’ Nick went on, ‘I couldn’t cope with her. I know that sounds awful, I know Jonathan thinks I betrayed her and him, the whole family, but I couldn’t pretend. I’m not someone who can just grin and bear it; I’m not that sort of person.’

Rebecca let Nick’s words hang in the air, leaving her hand in his. She felt a sense of deep pity for him, for Abigail, even for Jonathan. It was an impossible situation they’d found themselves in, with no easy way out.

Thanks for reading. :) If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, it’s easy. All you have to do is share a piece of your writing on your blog – old or new, it doesn’t matter. All we ask is that it (preferably) relates in some way to the date. Then add you name to this linky. And don’t forget to check out the other WIPpeteers’ offerings too.

Thank you K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :)