Promotion week #1

Part of being a self-publishing author is the ability to self-promote and market your own book. It isn’t enough to ask friends and family to buy your book and review, you have to work hard at getting your book ‘out there’ to as many people as possible via all sorts of different avenues.

My book, The Soul Guide, has been on Amazon kindle since 8th February 2017 for pre-order and was released on the 18th February.

The e-book is vailable to purchase on Amazon UK here. 

the-soul-guide-kindle-cover_2

Amazon US  here.

Amazon Canada here.

Okay, so you catch my drift! Apologies couldn’t pass up the opportunity for a bit of free self-promotion!

So, after initially doing well, the sales for The Soul Guide have slowed, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise as prior to Monday of this week I didn’t really do much of any promotion assuming my book would somehow finds its way into the general population’s consciousness!

Lesson one: Don’t assume anything! Promotion is key. 

Not to be deterred I spent this past weekend researching a raft of e-book promotion sites both in the UK and the US, taking note of  what the other self-publishing authors have had success with and, of course, what they haven’t. This can vary dependent on genre, so I had to do a bit of digging around to see what would work best for my fantasy book.

On Sunday, I took the bull by the horns and bought some promotions. I also submitted some FREE ones too (I have nothing to lose by doing this). Like other authors have suggested I’ve stacked them up, one day after the other (apparently its better to promote this way as sales generated by each promotion will increase Amazon ranking over the course of the promotional push).

I am still yet to see what effectiveness (if any) these promotions will have, but I am ever the optimist! Once I get any data back I will of course update this post with the **good** news. I told you I was an optimist!

The ‘big’ promotion site I’m aiming for eventually is BookBub, but I hear that they require at least 20 reviews before even considering a book. Even then, there is no guarantee that you’ll be chosen. BookBub is like the holy grail of promotion sites. Once you get on there, your pretty much guaranteed to sell your book and sell well. They have access to millions of dedicated readers who are actively looking for new books from new authors (and established ones).

But it isn’t cheap. Prices for my category range as below:

Fantasy Subscribers:

2,030,000+

Free:

£191

£1

£383

£1-£2

£654

£2+

£957

Free Book Stats Average download of:

31,700

Discounted Book Stats:

Average sold:

2,530

At first glance it seems like alot of money to spend, but if you do the math then it works out pretty darn good. Not to mention your book will sky rocket in the rankings and then the Amazon algorythms will start kicking – then the sky’s the limit (or so I’ve heard). Given what I’ve learnt, Bookbub is a no brainer and other self-published authors have found them hugely successful.

First things first I need to establish myself a bit more, get more reviews and then BookBub – I’m coming to get ya!

Author relations…and why they are important for a newbie like me.

Recently, a fellow author , Michael Whateley offered to put a ‘guest author’ blog spot on his website to introduce other authors to his readership. Of course, I jumped at the chance figuring that it couldn’t hurt! (I need all the help I can get). This blog post has now gone live.

Click here to have a read about what I had to say.

Click here to visit Michael’s website and to find out more about him and his writing projects, released books and general interesting information that’s worth a read.

When I first started this journey in the world of self-publishing I could never have foreseen what was to come. It’s only been two-months since The Soul Guide’s campaign started in Kindle Scout and not even a month since my book was up for pre-order on Amazon. In fact, it’s only been eight days since it’s release on the 18th February! It certainly feels like its been so much longer than that!

In the last couple months I’ve met some wonderfully generous and helpful fellow authors who are not afraid to give advice and share their own publishing successes and pitfalls.

When I started out back in December, I honestly thought that my self-publishing journey would be a lonely one. I imagined myself sitting for hours on end, working way into the night tirelessly plugging away with promotion and marketing and writing and social networking…. well you get the drift, and whilst this is still all true, I haven’t been alone in this journey. Not in the least. I feel incredibly lucky to have found such a nice bunch of people. I’ve picked up some amazing tips, learnt from other’s mistakes (which they have willing documented in their own websites) and have made some great connections.

I am all for supporting others in their journeys and will endeavour to do what I can for other authors. I believe that one good deed should be returned in kind.

Currently I have bought some of my fellow authors books so that, not only can I support them in their sales figures but also with the intention of reviewing their books (reviews are soooooooooooo important for us authors). I have a queue stacked up and am working my way through them one-by-one.

So, to all those wonderful Kindle Scout Alumni authors THANKYOU for making this journey so far not so terrifying! You’ve all given me the courage to keep going despite the constant self-doubt that I have.

 

 

Why I write dark fantasy…

As a child I had a pretty vivid imagination. I remember having nightmares almost every night, so much so that I ended up sneaking into my parents bed on a regular basis. As a parent I know how much this can disturb your sleep and other night-time activities (lol). So, apologies Mum and Dad!

I think I’ve always been drawn to the darker side of things, not in a weird, ‘I’m into occult’ kind of way, but in a ‘I like to be scared out of my wits’ kind of way. I loved to listen to ghost stories, watch dystopian / sci-fi TV shows and movies and read horror. As a teenager I loved Stephen King and James Herbert (the Rats series was my ultimate favourite) and I used to scare myself silly reading late into the night and then found I wasn’t able to get to sleep. I used to watch movies like American Werewolf in London, The Lost Boys, Scream, Blair Witch and so on. There was something about being scared silly and then being able to close the book, and switch of the TV knowing you were ok (after watching something mundane like Eastenders, that is). It was the thrill of the scare I guess.

My brothers and I used to love talking about scary stuff, they used to make it their aim to scare the c*&p out of me on a regular basis. One brother even hid under my bed, so that at night-time he could grab my ankle! No wonder I had nightmares!!  Still, to this day I look under my bed when I’m feeling particularly spooked. Stupid I know!

Then, as an adult I was drawn to reading more dystopian/apocalyptic fiction and all genres of fantasy rather than horror, so it seemed natural to write in one of these genres. Interestingly, ever since having children I’ve not been able to watch or read horror so much and now avoid them as much as possible (particularly movies – I walked out of 28 weeks later as I was just too scared).  If you are like me, and you get totally immersed in a movie or a book, the scare factor is ramped up ten fold when you have children. I think as a mother, psychologically, I now have something more precious than my own life to protect and when I watch these movies, or read those books I can’t help but think what would I do in those situations? How would I protect my kids if that happened? As a self-centred teenager those thoughts just wouldn’t have occurred to me.

Don’t get me wrong, there are still elements of horror that interest me, a real evil antagonist or dark, scary creature are a must and they do appear in The Soul Guide, but so do other elements like friendship, love and hope. As my book’s strap line states : “Where there is dark, there is always light” and never more so than in this book.

On another note I got my first review and its a five star!!! Totally stoked!

review

My first review and its a five star (go me)

 

 

 

 

To freebie, or not to freebie…

Having read fellow indie authors blogs and all the invaluable information that can be found on KBoards (a place where fellow authors gather to chat about all things book related) it has become apparent that a ‘freebie’ or ‘giveaway’ is a must if you want to promote your work.

Only problem is…. The Soul Guide is my only piece of work so far, and I’m not quite ready to give it away for free (it was only released yesterday so, for now, I can tell myself it’s a bit too early to do that). It would seem, unlike me, other authors have a vast back catalogue of their own work they can dip into to find a suitable freebie. Sensibly, many of these authors started  writing  short stories, novellas, or just other pieces of work before working on a longer novel. I, on the other hand, went headfirst into a full-length novel, published it and expected a massive audience to magically appear out of nowhere and love my work… the reality is far removed from this.

So, getting back to the point in hand, I totally get why freebies are so important as a promotional tool, and why as a writer/author having a back catalogue of smaller pieces of work is so invaluable.

The aim of the game seems so obvious now. – attract a potential reader with a freebie in the hope that they will read and like your work enough to want to go on and buy the book you’ve been slogging over for the last ‘x’ amount of years.

As a reader, I am one of those people who actively look for free kindle books on Amazon. When I first got my kindle (wasn’t that long ago, I’m a bit slow off the bat) I was astounded to find so many ‘free’ books. I’ve read quite a few and have enjoyed them, and felt extremely smug when I didn’t have to pay for them either. What I failed to realise was that the ‘free’ book had a cost to the author in all sorts of ways, like time and money being the most obvious (yes it still costs the author to get a ‘freebie’ up and running). I really didn’t appreciate the effort that goes into the whole self-publishing process. The work is immense. I naively thought I’d press the publish button on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) and I would suddenly have thousands of readers desperately clamouring for my book.

Believe me, I am cringing at myself now!!

Whilst The Soul Guide hasn’t been doing too bad in terms of sales. I think so far, the majority are likely to be down to friends and family and a bit of word of mouth (which of course, I am eternally grateful for). Actually, gaining readers who are particularly interested in reading books from the genre I write in, not least getting readers over to this blog (welcome if you are new and here today) is proving tougher than I thought and is currently my new nemesis, alongside a general crap ability at working out the simplest technical stuff (that’s a whole other blog right there).

This whole process is a steep learning curve for me, but I am determined to make it work. With this in mind, I am now signing off to go work on my short story linked to The Soul Guide (it may run into a novella, lets see) about Bertram and Mellissa’s first encounter and the days that followed, in the hope that I can give this away as a freebie and get those elusive readers interested in the main novel The Soul Guide.

Let’s see how it goes…

Oh, and by the way. If you like this blog, and want to hear more about my journey, upcoming projects, ‘freebies’ 😉 then please sign up to my newsletter. Thanks.

 

 

Bees and what they signify to me…

I posted on Twitter yesterday that bees are a significant symbol in my novel The Soul Guide and personally to my family and I. If your interested in finding out why, this blog explains all that.

Every since I can remember my family have always believed that whenever a bumble bee is near (and it has to be a bumble bee, not an ordinary honey bee) then my nan, Sybil, is visiting us from beyond the grave. Weird, I hear you say.

Well, before you click off muttering about how much of a loon I am, let me tell you the whole story.

Sybil passed away when I was just three years old so, sadly, I don’t remember much of her. But, I do remember the stories about her. My dad and my aunties’ tell me that she was always laughing, always happy and never more so than in the company of her husband, Sydney, her children and grandchildren. She was one of those people who lit up a room and kept everyone smiling.

I have vague memories of  nan, sitting on her lap whilst she pushed her false teeth in and out of her mouth was one of them. I used to think it was hilarious. I also remember that she looked slightly different, she had a hair-lip which meant there was a scar between her mouth and nose, and her nose was slightly flattened. But she was always beautiful to me and to those who knew and loved her.

So, where does the bee link come in, I hear you ask? Well, firstly my nan loved bees, she wore a bee pendant all the time. Her gardens were always full of bees buzzing around the flowers she’d planted for them.

But the real link to bees came later when she passed away. On the day of Sybil’s funeral whilst we were all gathered at a family members house, I am told a rather large bumble bee flew into the kitchen and sat on the window sill. According to family, it just sat there for ages doing nothing, and those present felt as though nan had come to say, ‘hello, I’m still here, watching over you all.’

Then over the years more strange ‘visits’ happened. It was usually whenever something significant was going on, like a birth, or an illness. It was on these occasions when a bumble bee would appear, seemingly out of nowhere, and not always in summer when you’d normally expect to find them.

The first time I became aware of this family tale was when my nan’s sister passed away. I recall that my extended family were all congregated at my parent’s house following my great aunt’s funeral. I was probably around eight or nine at the time. I think it was the first death I’d experienced as a child when I actually understood the concept of death (I was too young to understand this when Sybil passed away). To me, my great aunt was my nan. My brothers and I called her that. She lived near us in Barnes and she babysat us often. I remember feeling terribly sad when all the grown-ups were talking, so I went upstairs to my bedroom. Earlier that day I’d thrown my coat on the floor and remembering that my mum had asked me to keep my room tidy I decided to hang it up. When I lifted the coat up there was a bumble bee happily sitting there, none of the windows were open and I couldn’t understand how it got into my room. At the time I hadn’t been told about the significance of bees to our family, but having run downstairs to tell my mum I was soon filled in.

On another occasion, long after nan passed away, my own dad woke up one morning with a bumble bee sitting on the pillow next to his head. A few days later dad was taken seriously ill and rushed to hospital. It was touch and go for a while and dad went through a long road to recovery after an invasive operation on his brain. It was as though nan had come to warn him.

Since then, there’s been lots of similar experiences. My most memorable was when I was pregnant with my son and due any day, I woke up one morning hearing a muffled buzz and felt something on my leg. I threw back the covers to find a bumble bee merrily crawling up my shin! Two day’s later my son was born.

There are many more stories that every member of my family could tell you about, each of them personal and individual to them. So, when I began writing The Soul Guide, I knew I wanted to include two things. I wanted bee’s to play a part in the story  and I also wanted to use my nan’s name, Sybil.

Interestingly, when I began to research the bee and its symbolism I found out that in quite a few cultures the bee symbolises a link in some way or other to the ‘afterlife’. For example, in Aegean culture the bee was a sacred insect that bridged the gap between the underworld and the natural world. They are also known to be a symbol of love, and in Renaissance paintings could often be found near or around Cupid! I came across another traditional European custom of ‘talking to the bees’ where beekeepers would tell their bees about significant happenings in their lives; births, deaths, marriages and so on. Bees are also symbolic of hard work and family; (they live in colonies, and to survive must work together and look after one another, each having a role to play) their honey is a natural antiseptic, it promotes health and well-being. I knew very little of this before researching and it all seemed fitting given my family’s own personal story.

Take a look for yourself, the symbolism goes on and on.

Unsurprisingly enough, finding out all this information was perfect for my story, and all the references to bees in The Soul Guide  are both a nod to all the strange bee stories my family have and also, in particular to the Aegean belief.

Take from this what you will, but for my family, whenever we see a bumble bee we always say hi, because we know Sybil’s come to call.

 

 

 

 

Amazon Kindle rankings and my obsession with them…

Who would have thought that these set of numbers underneath the product details of a book could cause such anxiety, and such joy! This is the second day my book has been up for pre-order (release date 18th Feb 2017) and the rankings as of today are as follows:

(click here for up to date sales on an ongoing basis)

Amazon Bestsellers Rank #7110 Paid in Kindle store

#136 in Books>fiction>fantasy>contemporary

#244 in Kindle store>books>Science Fiction & Fantasy>Urban

#254 in Books>fiction>fantaasy>Urban

#136!!!! I mean I didn’t expect that to happen if I’m honest, and in actual fact I’m not entirely sure how this has happened because when I look at my stats just 17 books have been pre-ordered? I wonder whether there are some stats I can’t see yet, that is, if anyone has requested The Soul Guide via Kindle Unlimited and that’s made a difference to the rankings? If so, I’d like to see those figures for sure. I’m going to be popping on over to my new author buddies on K-Boards shortly to see if they can enlighten me. If I get an answer I’ll let you know.

Honestly though, I am pretty damn pleased with those rankings. I hadn’t expected to register on any rankings at all let alone have rankings like these so I am allowing myself another little happy dance to celebrate (I do a lot of these, my family are quite used to it by now).

BUT and there’s a big but, I know enough to know that these rankings can change hourly and can go up and down dependent on sales and other contributing factors, but I’m making note of these rankings now because, heck, I’m stoked!

I’m fascinated by it all, and will be keeping a close (obsessive) eye on the rankings just to see if I get into any top #100 (imagine that). If that happens then I deserve a glass of Merlot for sure!

UPDATE TO POST: 10th Feb 2017

As expected my rankings have dropped and on trying to figure out why, I’ve decided that consistency is key… Selling lots of books everyday pushes you higher up the ranking. Seems pretty obvious really! The first two days of my book being on pre-order and receiving a reasonable amount meant that my ranking was higher. Today the amount of pre-ordered books dropped and therefore so did my ranking. Add that to other books in the same category selling more and it all adds up, so to speak.

All in all it’s not a bad ranking still, but I would still love to get into the top #100 for sure!

As of right now 20:30pm my rankings is:

#13,607 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)

It’s finally on Amazon Kindle for pre-order (yay)

So, the day has finally come when The Soul Guide is up on Amazon kindle for pre-order! (You can’t see me but I am doing a little happy dance). Click here to get your copy and start reading.

the-soul-guide-kindle-cover_2

It’s quite a strange feeling seeing my book on Amazon, it’s been a long time coming and there were plenty of times when I doubted my ability to even finish it. But I did and I am so glad I stuck with it. I’m proud of me!

Now for the hard part – getting readers, advertising my book, marketing, promoting etc. I have absolutely no clue what to do! Fortunately for me I have met some great fellow Indie authors who have given me some fantastic advise and tips. The problem is time, I work part-time and have two lovely kids under ten that need their mum, so fitting it all in will be my next challenge. I’m also a third of the way through book two of The Soul Guide series, and I really need to finish this by late summer to get it ready for an Autumn release. Clearly I like pressure!

For now I’m signing off, and will be back shortly once I’ve figured out the next steps in my journey as an Indie Author. Whoot!

And so here I am…

Hello everyone! I’m so happy that you’ve made it over to my very first website. I actually cannot believe I’ve managed to (just about) figure out what I’m doing. You may have read a little bit about me on the ‘About’ page, but here I will try to give you more of a sense of who I am.

It is true, I am a mum, a wife and a writer, but I haven’t always been all three. It was only when my youngest started school two years ago that I actually had time and space to write. I’ve always wanted to write, but I found that the ideas just weren’t forthcoming. I’d often start something, and then lose faith in myself. That happened a lot over the years. But I always read, a lot. I read books that interested me, like the Divergent series by Veronica Roth, The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins, the Sookie Stackhouse series by Charlaine Harris (later made into TV series True Blood), the Twilight Series by Stephenie Meyer and many, many more. I realised that I loved Dystopian, Fantasy and Paranormal genres the most. So I read more books from those genres, some by well known authors and some by indie authors like myself.

And then, one day, almost serendipitously a character popped into my head. It sounds very cliché I know, but it’s absolutely true and my story evolved from there, or rather evolved around him (it was Bertram just in case you were interested).  Then, I started forming ideas and developing more characters in January of 2015. Every week,  I committed myself to writing on the two days when my kids were at school and I wasn’t working for a local authority in London until, eventually, a story began to emerge and The Soul Guide began to form.

Don’t get me wrong it wasn’t easy, not in the slightest. Some days I could barely write a paragraph and I’d be pulling my hair out wondering why I was even bothering. Then, on other days I was able to write more, a lot more and I would suddenly feel like a ‘proper’ writer.

One thing that never changed was my desire to finish this book. I was obsessed. I loved the characters, the world I was beginning to form and I wanted to do it justice. I could have given up, and there were plenty of times when I almost did, but something kept me going.  Maybe it was sheer stubbornness, or maybe it was because I wanted to show my kids that you can achieve your dreams if you work hard enough for them. Whatever it was, I am glad for it because ultimately The Soul Guide is finished and I will be pressing the publish button soon. So here’s to me (yes I have a glass of red wine in my hand) and here’s to you my future readers. CHEERS!