A Time for Courage …

 

Yes, courage is a strong word and conjures up a variety of images, but it can also be measured in different ways. For the purpose of this post it will be aimed at:

Free this weekend: 23rd/24th January

1. My latest marketing strategy.
2. My next scheduled collection of short stories.
3. Indie writer attitudes.

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My latest marketing strategy.

I’ve already published my first book of this year, A Life of Choice: Part One, and I aim to have the second part published by April 2016. All is going to schedule with my other projects.

I said in a post last year that I’d stopped giving things away, but on a recent update of my catalogue I realised a word which carries international appeal is ‘FREE’.

Throughout 2016 I will promote a FREE title every month. On the weekend 16th / 17th January 2016 I set up The Welcome: and other Sci-Fi stories as FREE. My idea behind the move was to promote the title and my six guest authors.

During the weekend 23rd / 24th January 2016 I am offering A Taste of Honey as my first monthly freebie. To make things easier and more tempting to the international readership, I am using the new Amazon ‘preview/buy’ link.

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My next scheduled anthology.

Collection - A Time for CourageApart from the heading of this post, A Time for Courage is also the title of my next anthology. It will contain my preferred number of short stories (12), in a collection which will be military-themed.

I had intended to open this new collection to guest authors, but with very little interest when I floated the idea last year, I went ahead with a selection of my own ideas. There may be one or two stories borrowed from another anthology, but I believe cross-pollination is good.

At the time of writing this article I have 10 stories completed and two more in the late stages of my editing process, so I’m confident of my target publication date of late March 2016.

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Indie writer attitudes.

As a member of the Indie Author Support and Discussion (IASD) group, I’ve been instrumental in coaching new writers. No, I’m not the be-all-and-end-all when it comes to advice, but sometimes a little nudge is all a new writer needs.

Yes, I’ve been known to suggest that a ‘writer’ either works harder or finds another outlet, but I only do such a thing when I’ve worked hard to read past the first few paragraphs. On odd occasions it stands out when the person in question has an urge best kept to themselves.

We may be known as ‘indie’ but I like to think it stems more from the publishing aspect than the selfish, keep-it-to-myself attitude of some. I’ve only been a writer since 2007. I am not an authority on our craft, but I recognise when somebody’s heart is in the right place, and I will do all in my power to help. If my private offer is refused, I’ll back off – no offence taken.

IASD - globe (2)I’ve noticed at the other end of the scale we have a great number of new authors who have great storytelling skills, but they have little or no confidence in their ability. It may surprise those reading this, but I started like that, before realising the only person who could shout for me with any conviction in the early days – was me.

Authors with several titles are always asked for a piece of advice. I’m always open to take advice, but if I could offer a piece of advice to my peers it would be to lean on the rest of us. Yes, the first and general idea is ‘don’t give up’, but importantly, I believe having your work read, critiqued and read again are essential requirements.

We can’t judge our own writing, and anybody who shouts about how good their own work is will put me off the idea of reading any. Self-promotion is not about how good you think you are, but about letting people know you have titles out there. There is a big difference between self-belief and marketing.

I’m proud to be a member of the IASD, which in my opinion is the best writing group I’ve associated myself with, and I’ve been with a few. An honest opinion is never far away, but by the same token, it has to be sought.

As I said at the outset, this is A Time for Courage. We must work hard to produce a good story, and then edit, edit, and edit, before we ask for another person to give their views.A Taste of Honey

If you haven’t already tried my writing, here is A Taste of Honey, the title which is FREE this weekend.

Click on the cover to preview before downloading – if you like what you see:

As always, thank you for reading.

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Elementary to Erotica – my journey so far

Kindle Edition Normalised Pages - Sept.

Like the Kindle Edition Normalised Pages, writing is a life of peaks and troughs

I am always keen to learn about a fellow author’s route, from those tentative steps of composing a first piece of work, to first publication and beyond. Irrespective of age, or experience, the early days are the most difficult, as they are with most ventures.

An introIt’s good for a writer’s morale to take stock occasionally, but publicly like this. It’s also self-marketing, but we can’t hide our light under a bushel, because therein lies obscurity.

My story may not be awe-inspiring, but I’ve reached another stage with my latest release.

Now is a good time for me to take a look back.

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In 1992, following a military career of 23 years, I next took up retail management, which I did for 20 years. In the mid-90’s I started to write my military memoirs. It took over two years and the writing was abysmal. I abandoned the memoirs, and over the next few years I wrote short stories for my own amusement, not knowing anything of the required discipline.

In 2007 I wrote a rhyme whilst on a coffee break. A colleague told me I should join an online poetry site. I did and I wrote 700+ poems in three years, but felt the need to do something more.Smoke & Mirrors - 030714 2

I read short stories and books on how to write them, whilst I practised. I took out a subscription to a national writing magazine. In 2010 I won a competition and had my story included in an anthology. Poetry was left behind, as I spent every available minute producing ideas to create short stories.

I joined a website and a local writing group and learned much from having my work critiqued. I’d long had a yearning to write a novel, but felt it was beyond me. My first novel was inspired by a fellow poet on the other side of the world. We’d reviewed each other’s poetry and kept in touch. I’m delighted to say that our friendship has remained firm and we continue to support each other.

Ten Days in Panama - the cover 2904In December 2012 I published ‘Ten Days in Panama’, a romance-based thriller. I knew it wasn’t great, but I had introduced aspects of the thriller, and I knew I had to write something more exciting. It was a steep learning curve, just as it had been with short stories. I used the manuscript ‘rest’ periods as a time to continue writing short stories.

In October 2013 I published ‘Beyond The Law’, a crime thriller about a vigilante in Glasgow. During breaks from my novels, I honed my 12 best short stories to create an anthology. In May 2014 I published ‘Smoke & Mirrors and other short stories’.912FmvSHzYL._SL1500_

When I read ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ I was disappointed in the content. I got the impression that the author had a good idea, but minimal knowledge of her subject. I am amazed at the success of that series.

I had experimented with writing erotic stories, but they’d never been seen. I thought back over my life experiences and decided I had the knowledge and imagination to adapt them and create a variety of scenarios. In June 2014 I published my second short story anthology ‘Coming Around and other erotic stories’.

Amsterdam Calling - the cover 260714My work on thrillers continued. In July 2014 I published ‘Amsterdam Calling’, a psychological thriller. Since moving on from poetry, my practice had been to work on more than one project simultaneously, so my next book was at an advanced stage.

I published ‘A Taste of Honey’ in December 2014. It was another vigilante story, but this time about a rogue female detective – in the US.

From late 2014 into early 2015 I had a handful of private messages asking if I’d ever considered writing an erotic novel. These were not random queries, but from folk who had read my erotic anthology. Just as I had with my poetry a few years before, I sensed a challenge, but once again, a challenge I relished.A Taste of Honey

In September 2015, I completed the final draft of ‘Give & Take: A Tale of Erotica’. It has sold almost daily since publication.

Give and Take - the final coverIf my first attempt at an erotic novel receives positive reviews, I will be happy to produce a sequel. It has two reviews already.

Whether or not I find success in the world of erotica I’ll continue to write thrillers, but there is escape in writing contrasting genre.

I would suggest to any writer who feels the urge to try a new genre – do it. Don’t let anybody hold you back with their opinions. You owe it to yourself – and your readers.

In November 2015 I aim to publish ‘Acts of Vengeance’, the sequel to ‘Beyond The Law’.Beyond The Law - the cover 2904

One of the greatest things we can all do as indie authors is to support our peers. Try to read other indie authors, and provide reviews. Make an effort to read widely in genre – it really does pay dividends.

Another good idea is to do as I’ve done here, and produce an occasional update on progress. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written one book so far, let people know you are out there.

As always, I thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts. Feedback is always welcome.

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A Taste of Honey – KCD promotion result

At the end of March 2015, I used the Kindle Countdown Deal (KCD) to promote A Taste of Honey.

I’d never used the KCD promotional tool before, but I had to know if it was effective. The idea is that the title is set at the lowest possible price, and then the author sets increments to move the price up every day or every other day. By the end of the week the title is back to regular pricing.

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Did the KCD promotion work for me?
Yes, I’d say it did. I gave average figures at the time, but I’ve since calculated the sales of the individual title. Over a six day period there were 50 downloads across the various price settings for the promotional book.

Did the KCD promotion work in any other way?
Yes, the promotion achieved a few things for me.

1. A Taste of Honey has been selling almost every day since the promotion.

2. For the first time since publishing A Taste of Honey in December last year, it has overtaken Beyond The Law in daily sales. To put that point in perspective, since a few days after publishing Beyond The Law in October 2013, there has hardly been a day when that title hasn’t sold at least one copy.

3. I’ve seen an increase in sales in the Amazon.com arena which was one of my aims.

4. I have also enjoyed an increase in sales of my other novels and my short story anthologies since the promotion. All of my titles are listed in the back of each of my books, so if a reader enjoys any one of my books, the other titles are there at the back with a blurb. I’ve found it’s better to capture the reader with the title they bought, and then that book must act as my publicity machine.

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Will I use the KCD with any other titles in the future?
Yes.

Would I recommend the KCD to other indie authors?
Yes.

If you bought into my brand during the promotion or since, I’m grateful to you.

As always, thank you for coming by and reading my thoughts. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

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A Taste of Honey – promotion

This week, commencing Sunday 29th March 2015, I am promoting A Taste of Honey with a Kindle Countdown Deal.

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What does that mean to the buying public?
Although the title of the promotion suggests a countdown, it is the period of the promotion that is counted down – not the item price. The item price starts low and goes back up.

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How does it work?
– The book price is adjusted by the author to be at an accepted minimum price, and that is a minimum set by Amazon; not the author.
– The book will be available at the lowest price for a period of perhaps one, two or three days.
– The price will go up in increments at each stage, until it returns to the original price after the week-long promotion.

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In the case of my books I maintain a low price. I am not a household name, so I depend on honest reviews of my work. It’s better to be judged by others than to make claims for the quality of my creative ability. By the nature of the countdown promotion I have very little space to manoeuvre, but I am able to create two low price points before the title goes back to the regular price.

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How does the promotion benefit the reader, or buying public?
It creates the opportunity for a customer to buy a book at a knockdown price.

It also allows the customer the opportunity to perhaps try a new author without feeling that a lot of money has been invested on the basis of the free sample being interesting.

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How does the promotion benefit the author?
It creates added interest in that particular title, but also the author’s work in general.

If the author has an appealing style then he or she may gain many more fans from the act of giving up a little cash.

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I’ve recently promoted my brand by using a Free promotion for two days, and the book used then was one of my anthologies, Smoke & Mirrors; and other stories. It proved popular in six countries so even though I’ve given away hundreds of copies, I consider that a success.
As I’ve said to colleagues in my day job, ‘I don’t want to be famous with my writing – I want to be successful.’

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Writing a novel is not easy, and taking it beyond that first draft is hard. Each successive draft becomes harder as the author tries to tighten up dialogue, reduce excess word count and strive to produce a well-presented, entertaining read for the end user; the customer, the reader.

The most difficult task facing an independent author is not the writing of the story, or even the editing, re-writes, formatting, presentation or self-publishing – it is the marketing.

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There you have it. That is the single unambiguous reason for me pushing my name and brand at every opportunity.

It’s not about being egotisitical – it is quite simply self-marketing; because the only other person who will market for an author is that author’s readership.

Please note that I didn’t say ‘market free for an author’.

Why not?

The reader has paid hard-earned cash to buy into the brand, so when they are kind enough to write a review, it may be free to the author; but not to the reader.

As always, I thank you for coming by and reading my thoughts. Please leave a comment if you feel so inclined.

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A Taste of Honey – published

atasteofhoney(1)Having already produced three novels and two collections of short stories, I’ve learned that it takes several drafts and many days and months of work to produce something close to a good story. That is vital to me.

I believe that the most important thing I’ve learned has come from reviews of my work. Judging from sales figures and comments I started to appreciate where my audience wanted to be taken.

In my novel writing, I started with Ten Days in Panama (a romance-based thriller). Next I tried more action with Beyond The Law (a crime-based thriller). My third project was experimental. I aimed to tie together a travel guide and story in Amsterdam Calling (a psychological thriller).

Each of my forays into the thriller genre have led to me tackling different sub-categories and this next one is different again.

A Taste of Honey is essentially a one-woman fight against evil. The evil in question consists of more than one perpetrator, so the heroine has to stay one step ahead of the law. Anyone who has read my novels or short stories will be acquainted with my style and desire to see justice.

Honey dishes out that justice in spades.

The story is set in the USA so it is no accident that I’ve spent many hours attempting to dig out the British English and replace it with a language that our American cousins would feel more at home reading. I don’t believe the reading experience is spoiled for the British reader, but I’ve no doubt I’ll find out soon enough.

From idea to publication has taken four months, so has that time scale created any issues?

It has created issues, if I was to say that I’ve hardly been near this blog, or anybody else’s blog. I devoted my time, day and night to this story. The final version is the sixth draft although I feel sure that I could have spent more time and refined it further. There comes a point when we have to say, okay the job is done.

If you do decide to try my latest novel, please consider leaving a review. I’ve taken the precaution of giving the story the option of a sequel, but a sequel will be dependent on how Honey’s introduction goes with readers.

In 2015 I will be producing a sequel to Beyond The Law.
I am now going to catch up with some blogs before I settle down to my next story. As always, thank you for reading and remember, comments are always welcome.

A Taste of Honey – an update

atasteofhoney(1)In July 2014 my author website went live. I had three novels to promote on there, plus two books of short stories and five books of poetry.

It was the first week in August 2014 when I first came up with the idea for my next story, so I made some simple notes in my trusty notebook.

What did I write as the basis for the new book?
Vigilante, young female, NYPD, trigger – family connection, short time scale, fast pace, outside influence.

Okay, so that wasn’t much to go on, but as any writer would agree; it was enough.

The mention of outside influence was essentially because I was asking for ideas from anybody to keep the story going after the first chapter. There wasn’t much of a response on the ideas side of things, but I did have suggestions from several people that I should go it alone to maintain my writer’s ‘voice’.

I gave myself an estimated publishing date of mid-December 2014.

Why so tight on time?
I know I feel more of an incentive, so work more efficiently when under pressure. I completed the first draft six weeks later.

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It is now 16 weeks since I started and I’ve completed the fourth draft. I’ve just finished editing my latest printed copy of the manuscript and gone back to the screen to make my amendments – again.

For a couple of days, I’ll be working through the whole file to check punctuation, grammar and suchlike. One minor issue I’ve created for myself is that this novel is Americanized. The story, characters, and locations are American, so why would the spelling and phraseology be any different? I particularly want it to appeal to the people who live where the story is set.

The file will rest for a week before I complete final checks.
Towards the end of the first week of December I’ll print the manuscript and read it again.

Monday 8th December I’m aiming to publish my new creation, ‘A Taste of Honey’.

The first five chapters are now updated on my blog as a taster.
Thank you as always for being patient with my absence from the blogging community, and thank you for reading.
Any comments are welcome as always.