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

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

RWBanner

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?

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. 🙂

 

Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

RWBanner

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?

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. 😀

 

 

Romance Writer’s Weekly Blog Hop #lovewritechat

RWBanner

Hello! If you’ve just joined me from Carrie Elk’s blog, welcome!

I missed last week’s blog hop, so I’m pleased to be back this week to take part in the challenge set by Mishka Jenkins. What is it I hear you ask? Well she challenged us to write some flash fiction – a love letter no longer than 400 words.

Not only that – it has to include the words ‘Sweet’, ‘Pumpkin’ and ‘Brush’. My contribution comes in at 286 words. I have to say I found writing this letter a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy reading it. 🙂

Dearest Peter,

It was so good to speak to you yesterday. I know it’s only been a week since I saw you, but it’s too long. I love you and miss you so much and I can’t wait to see you again. I’m so glad you found my brush down the side of the sofa! It’s been really annoying me trying to work out where it got to since I got back from seeing you last weekend. I suppose I should have known it might be there after… Well, you know.

I can’t believe that I’m with such a sweet guy as you – no really, you are the best. I think about you every minute of every day. I’m not exaggerating, I do. Bella and Izzy keep teasing me about you and I go so red. They say to me things like: ‘Oh Peter, my little pumpkin pie’ and make silly faces and bat their eyelids. I know, it’s terrible. Seriously, I’ve done nothing to encourage them, honestly I haven’t.

I can just picture your sceptical face and your amused grin at my protestations of innocence. But the truth is I don’t think I can wait till next weekend to see you again. I know I’ll have to – I’ve got lectures all week so I have no choice – but being without you is sheer torment and I don’t know how I’m going to survive a whole year of being apart from you all week every week. Seeing you only at weekends seems second best somehow.

I know you can’t move to Bristol, but still… I suppose we’ll get used to this. I’m counting the hours till I see you on Saturday.

Love you always,

Jenna. xxx

Thanks for reading! Now why not hop along to Sarah Hegger’s blog and read her contribution?