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!

An excerpt from ‘Reunion of the Heart’

rothIt’s been a couple of months now since I published Reunion of the Heart. I thought I’d share an excerpt from it with you. For those of you who don’t know anything about it, it’s a romance about a young woman, a writer, who returns to the school where she was really unhappy as a teenager to attend a reunion.

Little does she know it, but her life is about to change forever.  This scene takes place at the reunion, where Anna has just encountered Will, the man who made her life a misery when they were at school together. Enjoy!

‘Anna?’ She turned around and Will was standing by her side.  She looked up at him.  He was tall, taller than she remembered and not half bad looking.  Her face burned as their eyes met. 

‘What do you want?’ Her voice was barely a whisper.  She removed her hand from his grasp and cleared her throat, saying more loudly and with some anger, ‘Will, I have nothing to say to you.  After the way you treated me at school, did you really expect me to talk to you tonight?  You and Matt and your friends made my life a misery.  All those taunts and catcalls. I would have found it hard enough anyway just being a teenager.  But the way you and your friends behaved towards me – well, to be blunt it made me want to end it all.’

Will was silent; his face was pale apart from two high spots of colour on his cheeks.  He appeared stunned by what Anna had just told him.  Finally he nodded.  ‘I understand,’ he said slowly.

She shook her head.  ‘No, I don’t think you do understand.  I don’t think bullies can ever really understand what that kind of treatment feels like until it happens to them.’

There was a long pause.  Anna wanted to turn away but something made her stay where she was.

‘That may be so,’ he said at last, ‘but I just wanted to tell you how sorry…’

‘Anna, is everything OK?’ Melissa’s voice came loud and clear.

‘Yes, I’ll join you in a second,’ Anna called.  She turned back to Will.  He was standing rigidly as if he were tense.  For a moment she wanted to let him speak, to give her his apology.  But then she remembered how he’d treated her at school, how awful he’d made her feel and her resolve hardened. 

‘There are times when sorry isn’t good enough,’ she told him, watching as the redness on his cheeks spread.  Before he could say anything else, she turned away and dashed across to her friends, sitting down with them.

‘What did he want?’ Melissa asked her.

‘To apologise,’ Anna said frowning as she glanced back to see Will’s retreating form.  ‘It wasn’t accepted.’

I hope you enjoyed this excerpt. :) Reunion of the Heart is available on Amazon.com and Amazon UK.

Breaking it up – WIPpet Wednesday

Hi everyone! Hope you’re all well. I’m gradually adjusting to the cooler weather. Here in the UK it’s been quite sudden – we had an extended period of summer weather, but that’s over now and it’s well and truly autumn here. It’s a bit cold and I need to wear a coat when I go out – this time last week I was out in a T shirt!

Oh well – at least WIPpet Wednesday doesn’t change and I can share with you some more from my WIP Teaching Mr Leavis. I’m doing OK with it – I wrote over 1200 words on Monday which is a record for me. :) But the trouble is I seem to have got quite far along in the plot without the word count reflecting that. So as of right now I’ve done 38,000 words and ideally I want to do about 70,000 in total, but as I say the plot’s kind of run away from me.

I think part of the trouble is that although I made a plan at the beginning, I didn’t plan out the middle part of the story as carefully as I did when I wrote Reunion of the Heart. OK, even in ROTH I deviated quite a bit from the plan, but I still had a clear idea in my head of how I wanted the story to get to its conclusion. I don’t have that with this one. I’ve been much more of a pantser this time around and I’m not used to dealing with it!

But at the same time I don’t want to go back and change things – I think it’s VERY important that I finish the first draft – even if I only get up to, say, 45,000 words. Then I will go back and do some MAJOR editing (and hopefully flesh it out a bit). After that I may ask for a volunteer – literally one person – to be an alpha reader for me. I don’t even want to let beta readers see it for some time! If you have any words of wisdom to offer, let me know!

All right, that’s enough writerly angst! As you may have guessed from the title of this post, the excerpt I’m sharing with you this week follows directly on from last week’s, which you can read here if you haven’t already! To recap Rebecca is trying to stop a fight between Jonathan Leavis, an obnoxious parent from the school where she works and Nick, a colleague of hers from the same school. I’m sharing 15 paragraphs. My maths goes like this: 8 +10 = 18 – 2 = 16 – 1 = 15

‘Oh don’t be ridiculous,’ Nick muttered.

‘I’m being ridiculous?’ Rebecca’s voice rose in volume. ‘I’m not the one trying to punch the living daylights out of someone!’ She felt her face grow hot with anger.

‘Yes, Nick, just stop causing trouble,’ Jonathan said, his tone arrogant.

Rebecca rounded on him. ‘I meant both of you!’ she snapped. ‘You’re not exactly whiter than white in all this are you, Mr Leavis?’

‘You can call me Jonathan,’ he murmured.

Rebecca blinked. ‘Right now I’ll call you anything I want,’ she said. ‘If it was in my authority I’d ask you to leave this club, but seeing as you own it…’ Her voice was clear and, as the music had long since stopped, her words carried across the room. There was a collective intake of breath as the audience of clubbers took in her words. Everyone seemed to turn to Jonathan and scrutinise him.

His face went redder if that were possible, and he gave Rebecca a look which she couldn’t fathom.

‘I’ll go,’ Nick said in a loud voice. ‘I was about to anyway before this knob head decided he wanted to have a go.’ Despite his bravado his voice was weary and his expression, although defiant, a little careworn.

He turned and began to walk away and this time Jonathan didn’t try to stop him. Rebecca glanced at Jonathan and saw a dark scowl marring his features as he watched Nick leave. Rebecca too turned away from him and was about to return to her friends when she felt a hand on her arm. She turned around.

‘What do you want, Mr Leavis?’ she asked him. She was blowed if she was going to do as he asked and call him Jonathan. And she was beginning to wish she’d never met him. Was he never going to stop causing her trouble?

His expression was guarded yet a little contrite. ‘I want you to know, Miss Engleton, that there’s more to this than meets the eye,’ he said in a low voice.

She sighed and looked him straight in the eye, noticing that he was gazing back at her with extreme interest and wondered what he was thinking. Why did he have to give her such brazen looks all the time? It was so unnerving. Rebecca felt fatigue beginning to overwhelm her and her limbs were heavy, as if she’d climbed a mountain. It’d been a long day.

‘There probably is, Mr Leavis,’ she said.  ‘But I’m too tired to hear your story tonight. Maybe another day.’ She resolutely turned and walked away from him, feeling his gaze still on her as she walked towards her friends, who by this time were standing close by in the crowd. Their expressions were a mixture of astonishment and admiration.

‘What was that all about?’ Karen asked laying a hand on Rebecca’s arm, an amazed look on her face.

‘I haven’t a clue,’ Rebecca admitted. ‘I just knew if I didn’t step in either one of them could get seriously hurt.’ She felt her legs becoming a bit shaky. ‘Can we sit down? I think I’ve got a bit of post-traumatic stress disorder,’ she joked.

So there you have it. To take part in WIPpet Wednesday all you have to do is post some of your recent writing work on your blog, then add your name to this. Rule: ideally the excerpt of your writing should relate in some way to the date. Don’t forget to check out all the other WIPpeteer’s contributions.

Thank you K. L. Schwengel for being our lovely hostess! :)

Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

RWBanner

 Welcome to my contribution to Romance Writer’s Weekly. This week we’re answering questions from Beth Carter about how we write about our characters and how much of our own experience we bring  to our writing.

If you’re joining me from J. J. Devine’s blog, then welcome! I hope you enjoy my answers to the questions. :)

1. Which type of character do you prefer writing about: Sexy, romantic, sweet, quirky, mean, old, young, smart, silly or other?

I think for me it’s a mixture of sexy and romantic. I like writing about a guy who’s sexy, but also sensitive enough to the heroine’s needs to be romantic, so that it’s not all about him. But I also like to write about someone who’s hot enough to make my heroine start to think twice about him and maybe not write him off for being arrogant or whatever faults I’ve given him.

2. Have you ever killed off (or gotten back at) an ex in your writing? On paper of course.

No, I can’t say I have. I tend to use my intuition a bit when it comes to describing men who let the heroine down, or are love cheats and so on. I find it a lot of fun, though, to create these characters and scenarios, all that tension and heartbreak. It’s good to get creative with ideas about how a guy has treated or mistreated a girl and how she responds to that.

3. What hobbies do you have that you incorporate in your writing?

Actually my latest novel Reunion of the Heart has a writer as its heroine. So for me that was an easy one. I’ve also written about characters who have a love of reading and some of the books I love are the ones they love too.

Now why not hop along to A. S. Fenichel’s blog and check out her responses to the questions!

Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

RWBanner

This is my first week of taking part in Romance Writer’s Weekly! It’s a weekly blog hop for us romance writers to answer questions about our writing and generally help each other improve as romance writers. So take a look.

If you’ve joined me from Brenda Margriet’s blog, welcome.

This week we’re answering questions set by Vicki Mixon. Enjoy!

1.) Was there a defining moment in your life when you knew you were going to become a writer? If so, what was it?

I don’t think there was ever a defining moment in my life when the mist parted and I knew I was going to be a writer. It was more a gradual process, a slow realisation that writing is what I enjoy and do best.

2.) When you write a story do you see it unfold as one big picture, or do you add layering in subsequent drafts?

A bit of both if that makes sense. To begin with I think about the overall story, how I want it to unfold, and I plan for that. Then as I make a more detailed plan the story becomes clearer to me. But I do change and add things later, following the advice from my beta readers, but also thinking myself about what I feel is working and what isn’t.

3.) How many drafts do you usually write before you send your work to your editor?

I write the first draft then go through it with a fine toothcomb to improve on it, creating a second draft. I often change scenes or add bits. I also check for spelling mistakes, typos and so on. That is the version that will go on to be edited.

Now why not go and check out Veronica Forand’s blog and see what she has to say about her writing process.

I’m still after book reviewers!

roth

Just a quick post to say I’m still keen to find book reviewers for my latest novel Reunion of the Heart which I released a few weeks ago.  I’m happy to send a free copy in exchange for a fair and honest review.

In case you don’t know anything about it, it’s a romance about a young woman who returns to her school for a reunion.  Here’s the blurb:

After a messy breakup with her boyfriend, Anna is feeling fragile.  So when her best friend Melissa suggests the two of them go to their school reunion, she’s reluctant as Anna’s school days weren’t her happiest.  The evening is going well until she meets the boy who made her school life hell.

But the grown up Will is different and Anna is surprised by the direction her life takes.  The reunion sets in motion a series of events that lead Anna to realise things will never be the same again.

‘Reunion of the Heart’ is a romance that will lead you to ponder whether love can atone for past mistakes.

If you think that it’s something you would like to do then please email me at: elaine (dot) jeremiah (at) gmail (dot) com

Thank you!

An olive branch – WIPpet Wednesday

Olive branchHow are you all this Wednesday? I hope OK. I’m feeling a bit rubbish today but thankfully I don’t have too much to do.

Just a quick mention about Reunion of the Heart – I’m still after people to read it and review it for me. So if you or anyone you know fancy a free copy of Reunion of the Heart in exchange for a fair and honest review, please let me know. Thanks!

OK enough of that and on with today’s WIPpet.  It’s another excerpt from my current WIP and… drum roll please… I’ve thought of a title!  Yay!  I’m thinking of calling it Teaching Him, but I’m not absolutely sure I’m going to keep that title.  I’ve looked it up on Amazon and there are a couple of… ahem… erotic novels with those words in the title.  But anyway let me know what you think, if you think it’s awful/could be better.  I want to know!

This excerpt carries on from the previous two WIPpets which I’ve shared with you.  You can read them here and here.  Last week we left Rebecca and the nasty parent Jonathan Leavis at an impasse.  I’m sharing with nine paragraphs for the ninth month:

Then as she was sitting virtually glaring at him, she was surprised to see his lips twitch.  Rebecca thought she was seeing things; seconds ago he’d clearly been so angry.  He looked as though he were trying to suppress a smile, though why on earth… Thinking quickly she decided to offer him an olive branch.

‘Mr Leavis, take your complaint to Mrs Morsley if you must.  But if it would help I’d be happy to offer Daniel some extra tuition – at no extra cost to you.  If he’d be willing to stay behind at school, say one afternoon a week for up to an hour, I could give him a bit of help.’ Though I’m sure Daniel won’t be thrilled by that idea, she thought grimly.  And I could certainly do without the extra work.  But if it’ll keep Mr Leavis off my back…

‘Yes, all right,’ he replied leaning back in his chair and clasping his hands behind his head, appraising her.  A smile played on his lips; the thunderous look had gone.

Rebecca felt self-conscious all of a sudden, as though she were on display and Audi-Man had paid money just to see her squirm.  Her face hot, she felt the need to fan herself and she reached for her glass of water, taking a sip.  Mr Leavis continued to watch her, a half-smile on his face transforming it into a real human being’s.

‘Good,’ she nodded.  ‘I’ll make the arrangements for tutoring Daniel.  I think we ought to get this underway as soon as possible.’

‘Agreed,’ he replied leaning towards her.  He was so close to her; she could feel his breath gentle on her forehead.  As he looked into her eyes, she saw that his were such a dark brown that in the artificial light of the hall, they reminded her of two obsidian stones. She tried hard not to flinch.  Why was he behaving so erratically, she wondered.  One minute he had in in for her and the next he was being… Well she couldn’t call it charming, but still she was glad he’d stopped glaring at her.

And then he stood up; she stood too and they shook hands.  Mr Leavis’ hand was warm and strong in her own.  He towered over her, an imposing figure.

‘Goodbye, Miss Engleton,’ he said.  ‘I expect we’ll be seeing more of each other.’

‘Goodbye, Mr Leavis,’ she muttered and watched as he strode out of the hall. Rebecca almost fell back into her chair, picked up a piece of paper from the table and fanned her face.

So there you have it.  If you would like to take part in WIPpet Wednesday, all you have to do is post an excerpt on your blog of whatever you’ve been working on writing-wise lately.  All we ask is that it relates in some way to the date.  Then add your name here. Don’t forget to check out all the other WIPpeteers’ contributions.

Thank you K. L. Schwengel for being our lovely hostess. :)