The paperback is finally here!

On Mother’s day I received my paperback proof of The Soul Guide. I was ridiculously happy to see my book in print. Weirdly, it seemed more special than when The Soul Guide was released on Amazon for download. Somehow, holding it in my hand was way more emotional. I am not ashamed to say that I blubbed (happy tears) quite a bit when I got it. The picture below was after I pulled myself together enough to take a photo. I think my kids had thought I’d gone mad. My husband certainly did!

17522560_10156022020193146_9081675628338740723_n

Eventually, after much jumping up and down and ‘mum’ dancing, it was time to settle down and have a read through. Now, at this point, as I gazed at my front cover and had a little sniff at the pages (please tell me you love the smell of a book, otherwise I’m going to feel like a weirdo) I was smugly thinking that The Soul Guide would be perfect. That there would be no issues. That I would have an enjoyable read through in the knowledge that not only was I a great writer, I was also a brilliant editor, proof reader and general all round wonder woman.

HOW WRONG WAS I!

Opening up the first page I spotted a glaringly obvious grammatical error and my heart sank. I carried on flipping through and low and behold every few pages or so there was something that needed correcting. It wasn’t massively bad, but it was bad enough for me to have to make good and have a slight panic attack to boot.

ARGHHHH!!!!

At this point, two immediate thoughts popped into my head. Firstly, if the paperback had these issues, then so too would the e-book and two, why were these not spotted in the billion times I checked the manuscript?

A few deep breaths later I calmed down enough to go through the book and mark it’s beautiful, crisp, white pages with pencil and came to the conclusion that I, alone, will never see all the mistakes no matter how many times I read through. Don’t get me wrong, in the grand scheme of things there weren’t that many and they weren’t that bad. But I am a perfectionist and I want my book to be perfect, or at least as close to damn it that I can get it. The problem was I just couldn’t afford a professional and although I did have other eyes go over my manuscript (several, in fact) and even though they were all very good at spotting grammatical issues (which I corrected) none of them were professional copy-editors. I guess what I’m saying is that this is a must on book two. Lesson learnt.

Anyhow, to cut a long story short, my print release is finally available to buy!

Here are the links if you fancy purchasing a paperback copy:

Amazon.uk

Amazon.com

Apologies, enough of the hard sell.

So, what did I learn from this? For one thing, before I release my next book I will get it professionally copy-edited. Then I will send for a paperback proof BEFORE releasing either version. There’s something about trying to edit on a computer, and to a certain extent on a manuscript, that prevents you from ‘seeing’ all the errors. Some weird kind of eye, brain thing that just doesn’t connect up or something. I’m certainly not suggesting this is the case for everyone, but it’s certainly the case for me.

Finally, to celebrate the release of The Soul Guide in paperback, I am setting up two separate giveaways one via Amazon.com for US readers (I can’t do this in the UK for some reason) and on Goodreads for both UK and US readers.

Goodreads start’s on Thursday 6th April and runs through to Saturday 6th May. I will be giving away one signed copy of my paperback. See the sidebar to your left to click on and enter for your chance to win.

Amazon.com is available now. Click here to enter. I will be giving away one paperback with this competition.

Ultimately, my aim is to get my book read. At the moment, even though I am happy with my sales, I’m making very little money with the almost non-existent royalty rates for sales of the e-book and paperback. I hope that this may change one day, but for now my aim is to get people to download my book, enjoy it and tell their friends. These competitions help to get my book noticed and hopefully encourage people to download and read it.

So why not free then? Well, I did put The Soul Guide up for free on Mother’s day and the day after and I got more people downloading it in those two days than I have since its release, so I know interest is there and even though I was making no money at all, it was a great feeling.

One of the reason’s why The Soul Guide is back to 99p/c is because I am partaking in some cross promos in April and I can’t keep it free during this time. Also, I worked blooming hard on The Soul Guide and I do think it’s worth buying, especially since it’s at a price lower than a cup of coffee 🙂

For those of you who enter the competition. Good luck! If you win, I’d love to hear your feedback.

Until next time folks x

 

 

 

 

I went and got a tattoo.

At the weekend I got a tattoo done. It didn’t hurt (much). No, seriously, it was pretty painless, though perhaps I’ve got a higher pain threshold than the average Joe?

But what has this got to do with writing, I hear you ask?

Well, if you’ve read The Soul Guide you’ll understand ‘bees’ figure heavily in the story. I also like tattoos, I’ve been wanting another one for some time (I have a very small flower that I got when I was seventeen – many, many moons ago). This time, I really wanted to think about what I had inked into my skin. Eventually, I came across the ‘unalome’ and when I found out what it represented I decided that I wanted a tattoo that combined both the bee an unalome.

An ‘unalome’ is first and foremost a spiritual symbol. In Buddhism, they are the visual image of reaching enlightenment. The spiral represents our struggle in life, which then leads to a straight line (reaching enlightenment) Instead of a straight line I chose to have a bee. Bees are incredibly important symbol to myself and my family. There’s a blog post about it here if your interested in finding out why. Not only that, as I’ve mentioned bees are an important symbol in my book and what better way to acknowledge that than to have a tattoo combining the unalome and bee. Anyway, I’m blithering on again. Here it is….

Bee tattoo

Reasons why I write…

I will continue to update this post every week with the ‘Reasons why I write’…

For me, there are many reason why I choose to write. Being an author is not the easiest profession to try to break into, and my goodness there’s a lot of competition out there. But I love writing and this page will update every Wednesday with a new ‘Reason Why’…

no1rno2rno3rNo4R.pngno5rNo6RNo7RNo8RNo9RNo10R

No11R

Promotion week #2

I said that I’d report back with the results of my ‘promotional push’. Well, overall I must say it was pretty disappointing given they ££ I paid in comparison to the buys and Kindle Unlimited downloads of The Soul Guide.

The number of downloads were in the tens, not the hundreds that I’d hoped for.

In fact the BIGGEST disappointment was Books Butterfly. After spending approximately £50 on a push that promised at least 20-60 boughts and a surge in KU downloads – well lets put it this way – they failed miserably and I’m half a ton down. Bottom line is I won’t be going back to them. Maybe they’ve worked for others really well, but for me it was a complete nose dive. Shame, I had high hopes for them.

Hey, you live and learn! I’ll take that loss on the chin as an experiment, albeit an expensive one.

What I will say is the BEST RESPONSE was from other author sites – Readper run by author Jaxon Reed got me the most click links to my book on Amazon (57) not only that the  tweet he put out about my book on his Twitter account @readperbooks has been retweeted 106 times (and counting) effectively advertising my book to thousands of potential customers and whilst I’m still uncertain as to the selling power of ads in Twitter, I am glad my book is getting out into the consciousness of potential readers.

In addition, I certainly saw a spike in buys following Jaxon’s newsletter going out. Not only that, Jaxon sent me an email with my book stats – not one other promotion I’ve paid into has done that! Put it this way, I will definetly be going back to Readper for book two!

With this revelation in mind – I have now looked into more ‘author’ promotion / cross-promotion sites and have signed up to a few coming up over the next weeks and month. All of which have been FREE to join! My only outlay being time.

The first is via Melanie Tomlin of THE PROLIFIC READER  – AN INSTAFREEBIE REPOSITORY Essentially, you sign up to her webpage to promote your Instafreebie giveaway. In order for this to work you have to have either an excerpt (I have the first few chapters of The Soul Guide available on Instafreebie) or a full novel / novella etc available to download. The idea is she collects all these freebies in one place on The Prolific Reader site and interested readers click on the books they like and are taken to the Instafreebie link for that book where they can download it. The genius of this is that, when the reader downloads a free book they are given the option to sign up to the author’s newsletter (in fact some have to sign up in order to get the freebie download). If they like the book, or the excerpt you hope they then go on to purchase the full book or other book in the series. That’s the aim, and by the sounds of it works really well!

Not only that, all of the authors whose books are advertised in The Prolific Reader have to put in the effort to advertise the webpage on all their social media accounts and Newsletter (and/or Blog as I am). This works beautifully as we are all invested in making this work, the more the page is promoted, the more books are downloaded, the more newsletter sign ups there are, and hopefully, this will lead to buys of the full book (fingers crossed in my case) or other books available in an author’s catalog. So, its a win win situation no matter how you look at it and it’s FREE!!!!!

There’s a big ‘push’ tomorrow where all authors are expected to advertise the giveaway in as many places as possible. In addition, Instafreebie are going to advertise The Prolific Reader on the 24th March to its hundreds of thousands of members! This should hopefully lead to more downloads, more newsletter sign ups and (hopefully) bought downloads of authors books.

I applied to appear on Melanie’s site on Sunday 11th March and in three days I have had more downloads of my excerpt than the previous three weeks the book has been available plus I have had doubled my newsletter sign ups!

I can’t wait to see how this pans out and whether, ultimately, the instafreebie downloads will lead to actual KU reads and sales. I am quietly confident, the evidence already speaks for itself.

I’ve also got two other promotions coming up over the next month as follows:

March 22-23 Fantasy / Science Fiction cross promotion with author JLHendricks

April 10-16th Fantasy / Science Fiction cross promotion hosted by another author Dean F Wilson (also well known on the Instafreebie site)

Like with The Prolific Reader the expectation is that I will notify my mailing list with this promo, which I plan to do in my first newsletter, as well as advertising on all social media sites.

All of this is free for me, and great for my subscribers who will have access to some free and some paid (cheap only 99c/p) books on Amazon that they may otherwise not have been aware of.

I now beleive that this is firmly the way to go. After all, the authors hosting these cross-promotions get new eyes on their books and I get new eyes on mine with just a small amount of effort and time.

My advise, therefore, is to get into as many cross-promotions as possible. Ultimatelty, once my own subscribers have grown, I plan to host some of my own promotions. But for now I am happy to subscribe to others.

Here are some links to the various Facebook pages where (if your an author) you can request to become a part of these cross-promotions:

The Prolific Reader promo sign up form:  goo.gl/forms/7dSlkTbndnfP54252 (all genres welcome)

The Prolific Reader web page: melanietomlin.com/tpr-freebies

The Prolific Reader facebook group: facebook.com/groups/TheProlificReader

Prolific reader promo 2

SFF Book Bonanza closed facebook page for authors of Sci-Fi and Fantasy: https://www.facebook.com/groups/sffpromos/

Instafreebie Promo closed facebook page for authors of all genres: https://www.facebook.com/groups/instafreebiepromos/

Readper.com: http://readper.com/

I’ve learnt a hard (and expensive) lesson this past couple weeks and whilst I won’t rule out paid promotions just yet, I think I will save the big money on the promotion sites that are known to provide a great kickback, like BookBub for example. In the meantime, whilst I save my pennies and hopefully draw in more readers I will be funnelling all my efforts into author cross-promotions for sure and blogging of course 😉

Reviews, reviews and more reviews…

I can’t tell you all how important reviews are to authors. The Soul Guide has been up on Amazon for download since the 18th Feb 17, so not quite four weeks. I’ve been (im)patiently biting my nails these last few weeks waiting on some reviews and finally they’ve started to trickle in. I still don’t have that many in the grand scheme of things  but its a start and, by the looks of it, a pretty good one. Here are those that I’ve received so far from UK readers.

Format: Kindle Edition Verified PurchaseA page turner of a story. This is not a cosy fantasy, but a slightly scary one. After a terrifying car accident leaves her mother dead, her face scarred and her father distant, Sybil finds she has to run from the darkest of shadows that hunt her. She is to be the next Soul Guide, but the Master of the darkness will do anything to stop that happening.

By Evie on 8 Mar. 2017

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. This novel instantly drew me in with it’s beautifully drawn characters and compelling storyline. It’s told in the third person and focuses on three main characters thrown in to a high octane situation where the future of the human race quite literally depends on their actions. Bertram the gruff but kind hearted Caretaker, Alec the dark and brooding Guardian and the Soul Guide herself, Sybil, who at first seems fragile and vulnerable but finds inner reserves of strength she didn’t know she had. Stock’s fantasy world is utterly convincing and we slowly begin to discover how it works and just what is as stake as the book progresses. A really good read and Stock has laid the ground work for a convincing trilogy. I can’t wait for the next instalment!

 

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase. This is a book of mystery, tension and fantasy. I am both confused and intrigued at the same time; my mind is whirling with all the possibilities book 2 could hold. A fantastic read for all who enjoy a fantasy thriller!

 

Format: Kindle Edition. This is a compelling story. I thoroughly enjoyed it ,so much so I could not put it down. I am looking forward to the next instalment. I found that I am rooting for the good guys to overcome the Darkness……A*

And from the US:

5.0 out of 5 starsGreat First Novel ByJimFoxyon March 8, 2017

Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase. Kelly Stock has written a fantasy novel appropriately called “The Soul Guide.” If it sounds like it delves into the spiritual realms, that is because it does. Another reviewer called it a “dark fantasy” and that is apt. The tone is a bit somber and the setting, Clayhill Manor, sets the tone very well. Sybil has been chosen to be a new soul guide, but her transition will not be easy. Even though she will be helped by Bertram the Caretaker, she will be opposed by powerful dark forces. The evil Master and the Mephisto will oppose her at every turn.
This is a good read, though chilling at times. It pierces the veil and allows the reader to see a struggle between dark and light that runs parallel to our normal existence. This is a well-written novel that transports the reader to a deadly struggle, and the outcome is certainly in doubt.
I enjoyed the read. The novel is well-written and the editing is well above average. Readers who are willing to take a chance on a new author will find themselves rewarded.
on March 3, 2017
Format: Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase. This is a Paranormal dark fantasy set in Clayhill Manor where Bertram the Caretaker has worked for years with Mellissa, the Soul Guide. But now Mellissa is gone, and someone must take her place. Enter young, unassuming Sybil, who arrives on the scene with a guardian, Alec. Along the way, there is magic, fire, and a dark Master who works tirelessly to stop the souls from passing the Veil.

A good story, a fun ride, and well worth the time to enjoy!

___________________________________________________________

I can’t tell you how happy these reviews have made me. I think, after all the hard work and effort and the days spent doubting my ability as a writer, and quite literally blabbing like a baby, to find that others have invested their time in reading The Soul Guide, taken a chance on a new author like me and liked my story is just, well, blooming great! Today, I feel on cloud nine.

You see, all I wanted was for people to enjoy my book, to like the characters, to feel a part of the world I’ve created. I can honestly say that it isn’t about the money at all (I’m honest enough to say that I’ve earned pennies given the low royalty rate on a 99p book) but, for me, it is all about people liking my book enough to want to read the next in the series, to be excited about what’s coming up in book two.

I understand, that I’m not always going to please everyone, and likely to receive some not so good reviews. In fact, I’m told by other self-published authors, that you’re not considered a ‘proper’ author until you receive your first one star review! This made me laugh out loud. I’m not sure how to feel about that (getting a one star review, not the fact it makes you a bona-fide author). I think it may take me days to get over, but with everything in life, I’ll take it on the chin.

For now I am happy to wallow in the lovely, golden feeling of these five-star reviews.

So, a heartfelt THANK YOU to those readers who’ve taken the time to review The Soul Guide, I cannot  express my gratitude enough. Plus it gets me one step closer to that elusive BookBub promotion!

Now, I really must get back to my writing. It’s been a while, what with all the marketing and promotion I’ve been doing. Time to let The Soul Guide fend for itself a little while whilst I crack on with Book Two and the Mellissa and Bertram novelette.

Until next time folks!

A day of firsts…

Today has been a day of firsts in my self-publishing journey. I’ve learnt that what I’ve completed today should probably have been sorted out way before I released my first book, but hey, there’s nothing I can do about that now, I can go only move forwards. Onwards and upwards and all that!

With this in mind, here’s my advise for what its worth…

If your considering self-publishing your own book then I would advise that you concentrate on garnering a following BEFORE you press the publish button. If I had known the following information before releasing The Soul Guide then it would certainly have made my life easier, not to mention freed up precious time for writing (which is sparse as it is being a mother and someone who works part-time).

ACTION TO TAKE:

  1. Set up an Instafreebie account. It’s free. You can use it to get your book out to people who can BETA read, review it before it’s released (this is SOOOOO key – I wish I had done this) you can generate interest and excitement by doing a giveaway (and get people to sign up to your newsletter as well – also key) amongst other exciting things all of which I wished I’d known beforehand.   NOTE: you will need to convert your word doc on your computer to EPUB format for Instafreebie – now I went around the houses with this one. It got to the hair-pulling and crying stage (don’t ask) but in the end another, kind, self-publishing author took pity on me and gave me a tip which I shall pass onto you now. TIP: USE the ONLINE E-PUB CONVERTER found here. It does it all for you without you having to lift a finger (thank goodness because I was about to hit the bottle).
  2. Set up a BLOG or WEBSITE – Get a blog or website up and running way before release. Get people reading and sharing your blogs way before your book is on sale. Having a ready readership waiting with bated breath (sorry its the writer in me) is worth its weight in gold. I WISH I had done this myself. Now, I find myself playing catch up which is not the best move. Still, welcome new readers! I am so glad your here!
  3. Set up a Newsletter Once you’ve set up your Blog / Webpage then you need to get people to sign up to a newsletter. The easiest and simplest way I’ve found is to get a MailChimp account, click here to find out more. It’s free (for the first 2000 sign ups) then you have to pay, or you can pay now and get all sorts of extras. I won’t give you a blow-by-blow account of how to set one up (Mailchimp has lots of support pages) but if you want engaged readers I believe a Newsletter is a must and the easiest way to set one up is with MailChimp. I hope they appreciate the free advertising I’m giving them!
  4. Facebook – As above, get yourself set up with a Facebook author page. It’s pretty simple to do, then you can advertise your books, webpage and gain new readers. I did this after releasing The Soul Guide, so its been a slow process building up followers here. Still, obstinate is my middle name and I think I’m getting there. Also, you can produce adverts and ‘boost’ posts all through your Facebook account. I think, done right, it could be a very worthwhile promotional tool. I’m still testing this out so will get back to you on this.
  5. Social network – goes without saying, if you want to garner readers, then you need to get a social network presence. So,yes, sign up to Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Goodreads and so forth.  Then when it comes to releasing your first novel (hopefully) you’ve built up an already interested following. I TOTALLY underestimated the need for this. JUST DO IT after all your book isn’t going to get readers by just sitting with 5 million other books on Amazon is it?!
  6. Sign up to KBoards – Writers Cafe an online forum for writers. The information you’ll glean here is brilliant. I’ve met some AMAZING fellow authors here full of great advice. Not only that they are incredibly supportive too!
  7. Swallow your pride. It’s hard to ‘self-promote’. I get it, you don’t want to sound like someone with their head stuck up their bottom, but if you’re not going to promote yourself then who else will? I totally understand the ‘I’m a creator, not a promoter’ thing. I get that you want to write. I do too. But I also know as someone self-publishing that marketing, promoting etc is part of it too. You don’t have the luxury of an agent or publishing house behind you and even then I’m pretty certain a lot of authors still have to self-promote. The point I’m trying to make is that no-one else is going to do it for you, and no-one is more invested in your books successes or failures as you are. Get out there, promote, big up your book, and most of all believe in your book and your own success and eventually with a lot of hard work, dedication and perseverance I believe it can happen for you. I’m sure as hell hoping it will happen for me!

I hope that this has been informative and a teensy bit entertaining. I’m happy to answer any questions you might have. Just pop a comment in the box below and I’ll get back to you. For now, GOOD LUCK with your project. It’s daunting self-publishing, completely terrifying and overwhelming, but worth all the tears in the end.