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!

Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop #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 came 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.

If you’ve joined me from J. J. Devine’s blog, welcome! For this week’s blog hop, we’re doing a spooky special. Jo Richardson asked us to write a spooky story of no more than 300 words. So without further ado here is my contribution. Enjoy!

She shivered and pulled her coat more tightly around her. Where were they? They’d told her they’d be here in ten minutes. But from what she could see of her watch in the moonlight coming through the threadbare curtains, half an hour had passed. The house around her was so dark. This just wasn’t fun anymore.

Damn you, Brooke and Dale, where are you, she thought. It was all very well arranging to go ghost watching in the creepiest house in the neighbourhood, but why the hell had they left her to wait on her own?

There was a sudden bang; it sounded like a door slamming. Kelly heard a shriek and was petrified until she realised it was her own. That’s it, I’m getting out of here, she decided. She strode towards the door which led to the hall. It was open, but as she reached it, it slammed in her face. Kelly screamed, feeling a cold breath on her neck. When she spun around, no one was there.

Frantically she grabbed the door handle, shaking and pulling it violently. But it was no good. It wasn’t budging. She looked around her for another way out. Seeing the windows, she dashed towards them, but before she could reach them shutters, which she hadn’t even noticed before, banged shut across them.

She was now enveloped in complete darkness. When she tried to scream again, no sound came out of her mouth. Coldness came over her, like the coldness of the dead. As despair washed over her she heard a voice speaking in a loud whisper.

‘We have her now. She is ours.’

I hope you liked that! Why not head on over now to Kim Handyside’s blog and read her spooky tale?

Pondering – WIPpet Wednesday

Hi everyone, hope you’re having a good week so far. I’m getting back to doing more  work on my writing than I have been. I managed over 1100 words on my WIP Teaching Mr Leavis yesterday which is good for me. :)

What’s not so good is that  I can’t access Facebook on my laptop at the mo. It keeps telling me there’re no posts to show and that I should find some friends. The cheek! I can get it on my tablet and my smart phone so you might think it’s my laptop that’s the problem, not Facebook. But actually my husband helped me rejig the internet yesterday and it’s still not working.

All the other sites I use are working so I’m fairly sure it’s not my problem. Sort yourself out Facebook! *shakes fist in the air* If any of you are having problems with Facebook too please let me know.

Anyway thankfully I can still access WordPress which I’m glad about. So I can share with you my contribution to this week’s WIPpet Wednesday. My maths is simple as always. I’m sharing with you 23 sentences – 24 for the day minus 1 from 2014.

In this excerpt from Teaching Mr Leavis, a romance about a teacher,  my MC Rebecca is cycling to the school where she works, going over recent events in her mind…

The alarm woke Rebecca with a start. She almost leapt out of bed with shock. Rubbing her eyes she pressed the off switch, wishing she could stay in bed. Was it really Monday already? Where had the weekend gone? It was definitely Monday though; the weekend was well and truly over. Feeling woolly headed as she got ready to cycle to work, Rebecca found herself yearning for a coffee. But there was no time.

Out on her bike, cycling away from her flat towards Wyncliffe High School, Rebecca found the cool air whipping across her face soothing. Then thoughts from her eventful weekend began to invade her mind and she felt less settled. In spite of her best efforts, she found herself thinking about Jonathan Leavis. He was certainly an enigma. Then again so was Nick.

Rebecca recalled his behaviour over the past month or so. When she’d first started work at Wyncliffe he’d been so attentive to her, so kind. He’d made her feel that he felt something for her, and she’d certainly been attracted to him. But he’d never said anything; he hadn’t done wrong by her. She hadn’t exactly had her heart broken.

Thinking about it as she powered up the final hill towards the school, Rebecca found herself becoming convinced that Nick’s distance towards her lately had something to do with his argument with Jonathan. Something had happened between the two men to make them want to duff each other up. But what? She decided she’d try and grill Nick about it today. If he’d talk to her that was.

If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday all you have to do is post an excerpt of whatever you’ve been working on writing-wise lately. The only ‘rule’ is that you relate it in some way to the date. Then add your name here. And don’t forget to check out what the other WIPpeteers have shared too.

Thanks as always goes to K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :)

 

Yay I just hit 200 followers on this blog!!!

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Just a REALLY quick post to say I’ve hit 200 followers on this blog!!

OK so technically on the front page of this blog it says I have well over 2000 followers – but don’t be fooled, that’s including my Twitter followers and Facebook friends.

Maybe you think I’m daft revealing that I don’t actually have as many followers as my blog states. But I wanted you to know the true number of hard-won followers to my blog I have.

Here’s to many more!

And if you’re following my blog, THANK YOU!!

Confession

ConfessionI have a confession to make.  You know how on social media, blogs and writers’ blogs in particular we’re often told that a success for one indie author is a success for us all?  Well sometimes I find it really hard.

I find it hard to swallow that while my novel is languishing at the bottom of the Amazon rankings (well it feels like it anyway!), Mr or Ms Successful Indie Author has sold millions of copies of their novel and is doing very nicely thank you.

As a Christian, I know I need to take a step back from myself and not ‘covet my neighbour’s success in writing’!  And I’m trying, really I am. But sometimes it’s a bitter pill to swallow when I read about so and so’s book doing fabulously while mine… well, isn’t.

See the thing is, like most if not all indie authors, I’ve put the hours in; I’ve worked hard to write and then publish a novel, done a blog tour, updated my blog regularly, tweeted, posted on Facebook etc etc.

I do realise it doesn’t necessarily work that way – I may have worked hard but perhaps my book just isn’t quite what people were interested in reading.  But I feel I’m not quite at the point where I can truly be glad for others’ success.  I’m trying hard but I’m not quite there yet.

I guess it’s a lot like life in general – for most of us there’s always gonna be people who’re more successful than us, have a better job, bigger house, more expensive car etc.

I find it helps me to remember what the Bible teaches – that ultimately these things don’t matter.  What’s important is not how successful we are materially but how we live our lives.

When I consider this life and all the things (i.e. possessions) we hold dear, I often think of the ancient Egyptians and the way they painstakingly filled the tombs of their Pharaohs with their most treasured possessions, much of it still priceless today, in order that the Pharaoh would take it with him to the afterlife.

Because ultimately it’s the same with us: the success we have materially in this life and all our possessions aren’t going to go with us when we die.  So what’s the use wasting precious time getting hung up on so and so succeeding more at something than me?

I hope that someday soon I’ll be able to read about a fellow author’s success without feeling a pang of envy, and be truly glad for them.

Am I the only one who struggles to be gracious when faced with others’ success being greater than mine?

Yay editing done!

Editing

Well I’ve actually done it! I’ve finally finished editing my novel Reunion of the Heart. OK so technically I told you I’d finished the other day.  But it needed tweaking, so I tweaked it.  Now all it needs is to be proofread by my mum once she’s back from holiday. Hooray!

My husband is gonna work on a cover for me, so I’m hoping to publish it by the end of the summer at the latest. But I was wondering about something – whether, once I’ve published it, to do a blog tour or not? What are your thoughts?

I did one for The Inheritance when I published it last year, but although I worked really hard for it I didn’t get many comments on the blogs I was a guest on.  I’ve actually heard that blog tours tend to generate more traffic to the host blogs rather than interaction for those doing the blog tour.

I’m DEFINITELY doing a cover reveal this time.  I have to say it didn’t even occur to me to do one last time – I didn’t really know much about the whole process of self-publishing and all that I would need to do to promote my work.  Having seen a lot of cover reveals on various blogs, I think it’s a good idea for me to do one.

And now that I’ve finished editing Reunion of the Heart, I can FINALLY get back to working on my next as-yet-untitled project – another romance, this time with a young woman who’s a teacher as my MC and VERY different to my MC in Reunion of the Heart. I’m looking forward to this; it’ll be good to continue on with it.

When I last looked at it, I remembered that, having written a bit over 4K on it, I’d gone back to the drawing board so to speak and I’d made a whole load of new notes which I really need to read through.  I made more notes because I really needed to flesh out the plot and actually invent some scenes for it – I truly am a plotter rather than a pantser.

Although I don’t always stick rigidly to my original plan, I do find that I can get a bit lost in the story if I don’t have a clear idea in my head as to where the story is going.  So for me it’s best if I have a clear plan in place.  That way I don’t become stranded, as I was with this new project before I did some more planning.

To update you with my blogging progress – well I’ve had some hiccups i.e. not doing WIPpet Wednesday this week as I mentioned in my last post.  But I am blogging more often than I was.  I’m not doing so well keeping up with reading other people’s blog posts.  I must confess I delete most of what comes into my inbox!!

Anyway as I mentioned in a previous post, I’m doing what I can and ultimately that’s all I can do.  I’m getting new followers on Twitter all the time and some new followers to my blog, which is slightly harder to see since I linked my blog to my Twitter and Facebook accounts lol.

I would like to change the theme on this blog sometime soon – I’m a bit fed up with all the pink!  It’s a bit much even for me lol.  So I’ll be working on that at some point.  But not today :-P

I also want to sign up to Google+ (although I may be signed up for it already as I have an Android tablet and phone and they keep telling me that so and so have added me to their circle or something like that) and maybe a few more.  But all in good time.

Where are you at in your writing journey?  Are you happy with the way it’s going?  Do you find it helpful to have a big presence on social media?

What about social media?

What about it?  Well continuing on my blog posts about what makes a good blog, I just wanted to write a quick post about the importance of social media and how good it’s been for me and my writing, as well as to tell you what I’ve been considering in relation to it.

I guess technically blogging and blogs are a form of social media, but in this post I want to focus on how I’ve found that other forms of social media can support it.

Personally, I wouldn’t be without social media.  It’s transformed the way I write.  Although I don’t use a whole load of different social media sites (I only really use this WordPress blog, Twitter and Facebook), through it I’ve been able to connect with many other writers around the world.

Social media as we know it is relatively new.  Ten years ago, say, there weren’t all these blogs around. There was no Twitter and Facebook had only just started.  So when I was first experimenting with writing longer stories, there wasn’t half as much support available to me from other writers as there is now.

My husband was the person who suggested to me that I start a blog to promote my writing and then do a search on the internet for other writers’ blogs to connect with.  I’ve said what I’m about to say before, but I think it’s worth mentioning again: I started a blog and then I did my searching and I got nowhere.

I did a Google search on other writers’ blogs and came up with very little.  I was discouraged – how could I possibly connect online with other authors if I couldn’t find anything on the net?  Then my sister suggested I try Twitter.  I joined it a couple of years ago and I’ve never looked back.

Joining Twitter is one of the best things I’ve ever done; through it I’ve been able to meet a number of other writers face to face, as well as connect with other writers all over the world.  My blog is starting to take off – I currently have 181 followers – and it’s enabled me to promote my writing a lot more easily.  I use my WordPress blog in conjunction with Twitter and now and then with Facebook and it’s really helped.

However, having said all that, I have had some comments that I only have Facebook and Twitter share buttons on my blog.  The thing is they’re the only social media sites that I’ve signed up to.  Now I’ll be honest here – as much as I want to promote my blog and for it to be as visible as possible – I don’t want to have to sign up to a  load more social media sites, such as Google+ (which keeps trying to sign me up anyway!!), Pinterest, Instagram et al.

The reason is that I already struggle to keep up with the demands of writing, working, housework (yes I do some!!), looking after our dog, church and everything that goes with that, socialising, reading, reading and commenting on others’ blogs, Twitter and Facebook, to name but a few.  And so I just don’t want to burden myself with yet another thing on the list that I should be doing, when I can barely keep up with what I’m already doing.

So my conundrum is this: how do I or can I promote my blog via other social media sites without officially joining them?  Now to you that might sound like a daft question.  Maybe it is, maybe it’s obvious that it’s not possible.  All I had in mind was that people who visit my blog might be able to click on one of the share buttons – if I added more – and share my work if they were on those sites themselves.  A bit like, say, me sharing an article I’ve read online on Facebook.

And that’s my parting question for you: is it possible to be more visible on social media as a writer WITHOUT signing up for dozens of sites that I might not have the time to use anyway?

As always, your comments are very welcome. :)