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? :)

Sort of finished – WIPpet Wednesday

wippetwednesday

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

 

 

 

 

I’ve finished… sort of!

BookThis is just a quick post to say that I’ve finished my first draft of Teaching Mr Leavis, the romance about a school teacher I’ve been writing.

It’s come in at less than 50,000 words though, so at the moment although it’s technically classed as a novel, it’s a short one. Now comes the hard part. It needs a heck of a lot of editing, which in a way I’m looking forward to.

I reckon I can significantly increase the word count while at the same time improving on what’s written as I go through the editing process. Why has this story kind of run away from me and made me end at the end at what feels like too soon?

Well maybe it’s because I didn’t stick to my plan enough, that I didn’t make a detailed enough plan and so things just kind of evolved. But it’s definitely been an interesting experience so far. I’ve discovered more about the characters who’ve developed and changed during the course of the story and I’ve been able to take the plot in new and interesting directions.

So anyway I’ve decided that for now no one is going to see this story apart from me. I’m going to go through it and edit it as thoroughly as I can. Then I may well see if I can find an alpha reader to take a look at it and only after that get it beta read. I’m hoping that way I can greatly improve on what I’ve got at the moment.

I do believe it’s a promising story and could be made even better when I’ve gone through and corrected things, developed some of the subsidiary characters more and fleshed out the plot. I have to say I’m actually looking forward to this process. It’s going to be a lot of hard work, but I’m hoping it’ll be worth it in the end.

What are your current writing projects looking like? Are you in the middle of editing?

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. :)

 

A lift home – part 2

Hello everyone! Welcome to the always wonderful WIPpet Wednesday. I hope this week finds you happy and well. How’s your writing going? Mine’s going pretty well, and I’ve written a lot lately. The only problem is that the plot of Teaching Mr Leavis is still unravelling. What I mean is I need to catch up with it and reel it in a bit. This novel is going to need SO much editing!

So anyway as the title of this post suggests I’m sharing with you some more from the scene I shared last week. And don’t worry – Rebecca isn’t getting in the car with a drunk – I’ve amended it to Jonathan Leavis assuring her that he’s only drunk a glass of NON ALCOHOLIC wine! If you don’t think that works, let me know in the comments below.

OK so how much to share? I think I’ll share 14 paragraphs following immediately on from last week’s. My maths goes like this (I’m manipulating things a bit): 2+2+10=14 Simple! In this scene Rebecca has accepted Jonathan Leavis’s offer of a lift home, now she knows he hasn’t been drinking. But she’s awkward and during the drive to her house Jonathan isn’t exactly doing his best to put her at ease…

‘If you want to follow me, my car’s this way,’ he informed her.

Rebecca followed Jonathan as he led her down the dimly-lit street towards a car park behind the club that she hadn’t known existed. Suddenly aware again how short her dress was, she had to fight the urge to pull it down in case he noticed.

She kept her distance making sure she stayed a few feet behind him as they walked, her face warm with the awkwardness of the situation. You could have just got a taxi, she reproached herself. But that would have meant waiting longer in the cold, with only her flimsy black dress and jacket to protect her against the elements.

‘It’s here,’ Jonathan announced abruptly. He waved the key at the car and it unlocked automatically. I bet he loves doing that, Rebecca thought. Probably takes loads of girls home in his car. If he hasn’t already scared them off beforehand.

Then she remembered what Nick had said about his wife dying. Maybe there were no women in his life. She shivered involuntarily and quickly walked over to the car. Jonathan had opened the door for her. So he can play the gentleman then, she thought raising an eyebrow.

‘Thank you,’ she said in a low voice, climbing into the car and willing her dress not to ride up.

In no time at all Jonathan had started the engine and they were off. Rebecca barely had time to put her seat belt on. Does he drive like this all the time, she wondered, then remembered her first encounter with him and decided he must do.

‘Where do you live?’ he asked her, glancing at her out of the corner of his eye.

‘Coopers Close in Yarrick,’ she told him. The city of Stokington had many areas such as Yarrick, which had been a village once and had got swallowed up into greater Stokington.

He nodded, but said no more. Rebecca exhaled silently and gazed unseeing out of the window. Jonathan’s fight with Nick swam into her inner vision and she wondered again why they’d been fighting. She turned to Jonathan.

‘Are you going to tell me what that was all about?’ she asked, her voice blunt.

‘What was what about?’ came the terse reply.

‘Oh don’t give me that, Mr Leavis. Your argument with Nick.’

‘I don’t want to talk about it,’ he replied, glancing at her for a second with a furrowed brow before returning his attention to the road.

Hope you enjoyed that. :) Wanna take part in WIPpet Wednesday? It’s easy! Just post an excerpt of whatever you’re working on writing-wise at the moment, then add your name to this linky. It should – in theory at least – relate in some way to the date. Don’t forget to check out what the other WIPpeteers have shared this week.

My thanks as always goes to the fantabulous K. L. Schwengel for hosting. :D