book promotion

Giveaway Gamble

loto

I’m running a giveaway. I never thought I would, so I’m rather surprised. But I’ve reached a point in my writing where I want to put it to the test. Which means I’m going to pay to build a mailing list in the hope that enough people will like what they read to make it worth my while. Eventually.

Here’s the deal. I’m giving away 12 paperbacks in a raffle. To enter, you simply need to give me your email address. Then you’ll be on my mailing list, from which you can of course unsubscribe at any moment. The winner gets the grand prize but all entrants get a free ebook of One Green Bottle. In a forthcoming newsletter, I’ll be announcing the release of the sequel, Perfume Island, in September. So then I’ll see how many people liked the first book enough to want the second.

I could do this without the giveaway, via my blog. But after a couple of years, my mailing list stands at 67, which means it’ll get to a thousand around the time of my 112th birthday. Blogging is good for all sorts of things but not for getting readers.

The giveaway will be up soon on giveawaypromote.com. That costs me just $5 (or $10 for a featured promotion). If I don’t do that, only my blog readers would find it, which kind of defeats the purpose. So if I get n people signing up, it’ll be money well spent . How big is n? Some giveaways draw more than 1000 entrants, but I’m not getting my hopes up – let’s say 300. I’d be quite happy with that. Less than 200? Mweh. The cost of the prize plus postage will be around $200: given that some of the entrants will (a) unsubscribe from the newsletter, (b) either not read or not like One Green Bottle, (c) read and enjoy it but not go on to Perfume Island, there needs to be a large number of entrants for this gamble to come off.

The raffle winner will be chosen by an online random name picker, into which I’ll feed the names of the entrants myself. There are services which can do this for you, along with a host of other frills. The best, apparently, is KingSumo, which costs $200 (one-off payment – it’s yours then for life), but it only works on wordpress.org sites, not wordpress.com. The other main two are Rafflecopter and Gleam. There are free versions to both of these, but if you want them to collect emails (which after all is the point of the whole exercise), they cost respectively $43 and $39 a month. You can run your giveaway for just a month, then downgrade again to free, but still it’s another expense, so for this first bash I’m not using them. Maybe next time – if there ever is one. This time I’ll get the emails by having entrants sign up on a landing page.

So that’s the background. I’ll report back on results when the giveaway ends. Meanwhile, would you like to head over here and tell me what you think? Have I done it right? Any blunders you can see? If you do, I’d be grateful if you could let me know before I post it on givewaypromote. And of course, don’t hesitate to enter yourself – you might even win.

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book promotion

Ill-defined and disreputable?

novella

‘Sir, what’s the German for notice?’ ‘Notiz.’ ‘No tits?’ ‘Yes.’ ‘Really, sir? None at all?’ ‘What do you mean?’ ‘You just said, “No tits”, sir. Do mean, like, absolutely flat?’ ‘Any more of that, Bausse, and you’re in detention.’

That this and similar episodes are what spring to mind most readily when I think of German at school may well mean that my mind is as puerile now as it was back then. Nonetheless, by way of association, and with much effort, I recall other details too: the scarred wooden desks, the dingy yellow walls and the hapless features of Mr. Graham, whose life we made such a misery.

Also a book with a pale blue cover, The German Novelle, which presumably I read. Like pretty much everything else I studied at that time, I don’t remember a thing about it, except that the Germans were the first to take the novella form, originally established in Italy, and turn it into something with a specific set of characteristics, different from those of the novel. Notably – and here I turn not to my memory but Wikipedia – it is ‘restricted to a single, suspenseful event, situation, or conflict leading to an unexpected turning point (wendepunkt), provoking a logical but surprising end.’

Importantly, length is not a criterion. A Novelle could run to several hundred pages. But these days, when we use the word novella in English, length seems to be the determining feature. And I must admit that when I set out to write one, what I had in mind was something in the order of 30,000 words. But to reason only in terms of length would be a mistake, and run the risk of validating Carl E. Reed’s apothegm of wince number 69: ‘A novella is a book that ran out of steam.’

Stephen King has called the novella ‘an ill-defined and disreputable literary banana republic’. This hasn’t prevented him from writing several himself, though he points out the difficulty of selling them in the commercial world, being too long for a magazine and too short for a book. While this may indeed be a drawback, it makes the novella an ideal candidate for self-publishing, where a common strategy is to make it free in order to draw readers in to the rest of a series. This was indeed my reason for writing Closed Circle. I’ve read of that strategy many times – now I aim to test it out myself.

Not for a while, though. Because although I’ve finished a version that might pass muster, I’m not satisfied yet. It needs a good dose of improvement, for which I’ll need to let it simmer subconsciously – or whatever books do when we’re not actually working on them – for a couple of months or so. Basically, I didn’t realise when I embarked on it how hard it would be. All writing, of course, turns out more difficult than the initial vision promises, but I grappled with this one a lot. Not that it ran out of steam, on the contrary – it’s got a bit too much. I need to tighten the valves a bit, fix a gasket or two. It might gain a few thousand words in the process, but that won’t matter. It’ll still be a novella, because strangely enough, without thinking about it, I ended up with something close to the definition in The German Novelle. Maybe I did remember something more than the German for notice after all.

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book promotion

Adventures of the Indie Author World/ Finding your place at signings.

Guest post from Nickie Seidler:

I’ll introduce myself first, I’m Nickie Nalley Seidler, a romantic suspense author trying to make herself known in the community. I’m a mom to my beautiful baby girl who’s two. A wife to my amazing husband of almost eight years. Living in the suburbs of Chicago, I write part time, work behind a desk part time, and mommy full time.

Alright, now that you know just a pinch of my life, thought I’d share some of my experiences thus far. When I first started writing, I had no idea what an indie author was. I had no idea you could publish your books, get paperback books printed, sell your babies-basically, it’s what it feels like-haha. I was EXCITED. But I will say, I’ve never written the same after knowing that. Let me explain. When I wrote my first book, I was writing for FUN. I wasn’t expecting the world to see it, I was expecting my mom to maybe read it and maybe some family members, but not the whole world. Then the writing community gets introduced to you. AKA-facebook. My husband came across an indie author somehow and she was basically my manual to getting started. She introduced me to some blogs, who went and shared my facebook pages, told them to check me out, that I was a new upcoming author writing in the romance genre. It BOOMED from there. Next thing I know I was being taught how to make teasers, and excerpts to show on your books and getting your potential readers to be excited about the upcoming releases. Blogs wanted to read, review, be a part of my amazing new start of a journey. It was GREAT. I was a wreck. I was so nervous to let anyone read my baby. My first. It was scary! I got wonderful feedback though, good and bad but when I say bad, I mean uplifting. People with advice on how to better myself. Yeah, occasionally I got the mean ones, but I learned to put them aside. From there, people just shared my facebook posts. Or I created sponsored ads to get more visibility, but again that was back then, things have kind of changed on that home front, mainly due to Facebook controlling visibility.

I started writing a list of blogs down. Whoever shared for me, read my books and reviewed, I would contact for future things. Blogs can host cover reveals, sales to your books, new releases, and some even do blog tours, as much as they aren’t that popular anymore. These were all big deals and what most authors were doing to get seen! It worked! Before I knew it, I had a following. I would take over blog pages, they would give me a time frame and I’d post games, and things to get to know people, or giveaways, even copies of my book. Mind you, again, this was on their facebook pages. Facebook has been KEY to my success. It’s the easiest way to connect with people. You name it, search it on facebook. There are TONS of groups and pages out there that connect you with the community of authors and books. TALK, PROMOTE, WRITE. That’s my three most successful points.
Talk – people want to hear not only about books, but about you. They view us as rock stars. Believe me, it is possible to fan girl over an author! I’ve done it! Talk to people, have everyday conversations. RELAX. They are just people like us. They want to know what inspires us, where we get our ideas. Most people know me now by my daughter. I post a lot about my daughter and to many people that was the best thing in the world. To see happy pictures, baby pictures, an author being a mommy. Talking is key to developing relationships with your readers.

Promoting – do it as often as you can! Don’t let people forget your name. Post a teaser from one of your books with links to purchasing it. Give them a line that will make them click that book of yours. Throw a sale every once and a while and promote it like crazy! Giveaways, get some swag made, bookmarks, post cards, rack cards, vista print is wonderful and gotprints for bookmarks is fantastic! I also have amazing designers, inexpensive, that can design things for you well. Throw a game on your facebook page or blog to get readers to win a copy of whatever you put up. Whether it be a copy of your book, or a bookmark, or even an amazon gift card! That one reader may be a lifetime reader from then on, who may promote or spread the word to her friends. WORD OF MOUTH is the best! Just don’t stop promoting. Share your other author friends releases, cover reveals, teasers and giveaways. Support others and they will support you! Well, most will. Talk to the bloggers, ask them to share a thing or two if they don’t mind. They love supporting authors and usually most willing to share anything!

Write – Just keep writing. No matter what, WRITE. Even if it’s a sentence a day. It helps. Sometimes I should take my own advice, but that’s how I was able to publish eight books with a ninth one on the way. Tell your readers you’re writing, they’ll be the biggest pep in your step! They’ll be your inspiration, your motivation to keep going. It’s been mine since I shared my baby with the world. The reviews kept coming, the readers kept messaging me, and the common theme was MORE. They wanted more from me! It was great! I felt on top of the world! I felt like the rock star they envisioned! Which also made writing more challenging. I was focusing on “what would they think” more than write it however it speaks to you. Who cares what they think this is how the story goes! If your story needs extra detail, write it! If it’s a quick read with less details, that’s ok too! There is no right or wrong way to write a book. It’s YOUR book and you write it as you want as short or long as you want it. Only want a chapter to be two pages? FINE! You are in control! But write from your heart, write for FUN! Write because the voices don’t give you an option! Don’t let the following you gain or the reviews you’ve read hinder your writing process or HOW you write! From there, signings fell into play!

Blogs would throw out some forms here and there for signings they’re hosting and I’d fill them out or readers would send them to me in hopes I’d fill them out. Why? Because they wanted to meet me! So I’ve traveled to Greenville, NC where my first signing was and it was great. I got to meet a reader who came all the way from the Detroit area to meet me! These people traveled FAR to meet ME. It’s an amazing feeling. I took so many pictures with my readers and sold some books. I gave away a lot of swag; bookmarks, pens, wristbands, buttons. They love it! I signed sooooo much and it was all overwhelming, but amazing at the same time. I met some author friends that I’ll probably have for life. We can all relate and we share our tactics.

From Greenville, I visited Nashville, TN and then I went to a Chicago Windy City signing and sold a ton of books and met so many more readers. I also did the Elgin library which is also coming up this year. I’m also involved in a signing in June at a distillery. I’ll list the dates and locations and links to buying tickets below!

What you may need to attend a signing?
Books, about 10 of each of your books!
A banner with your name or fun design to advertise yourself! (Think vistaprint)
Bookmarks or something people can take for free from you!
Sharpies! All colors ! You’ll be signing a lot!
Notebook to start a newsletter. (think mailchimp-free newsletter site)

I’d be happy to add you on facebook, just search for Nickie Nalley Seidler. I’d also be more than happy to promote anything you like! Let’s get you seen in the book community!

Come visit me at the 2nd annual Authors Fair, to be held Sunday, April 23rd, 2017 from 2 p.m.—4 p.m. at the Gail Borden Public Library in Elgin, IL
Free admission.

Or
Friday June 16th, 2017
Fox River Distillery Author Event
204 Dearborn Court
#Unit 110
Geneva, IL 60134
7-9pm
Tickets will be through Eventbrite : https://www.eventbrite.com/e/friday-fan-girls-an-author-event-with-a-little-nip-to-it-tickets-31196582819

Time: March 13, 2017 at 6:11 pm

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Uncategorized

The Unforgettable Couple

Being conscientious about spreading my online presence far and wide, I naturally have a Goodreads author page. Not a lot happens there but the other day I received my first question. I wondered who was so kind as to want to know my opinion on anything, but when I looked, I was informed the question came from… Goodreads. Perhaps they have an algorithm that spots lonely authors and tosses them a question every now and then. I thought it was very decent of them, anyway, so actually took the trouble to reply.

The question was, ‘Who is your favourite couple in fiction and why?’ It took me quite a long time to come up with an answer because all the couples I could think of came from my childhood and weren’t really couples in the conventional sense.

The closest I got to an actual ‘couple’ couple was:

lois

Hmm… Not very literary, I thought. So after racking my brains a bit, I came up with Oscar and Lucinda, from Oscar and Lucinda by Peter Carey. That’s extremely literary. And they are actually a lovable, eccentric, tender, tragic, unforgettable couple. Oops – did I say unforgettable? The thing is, when it came to explaining my choice, I could hardly remember a thing about them. And I thought of Carl’s apothegm of wince n° 85: “I never remember what I read. So why read? Waste of time.”

Of course, it isn’t a waste of time because (a) the book was fabulous when I read it and (b) now I can read and enjoy it all over again. But it does say something about memory and getting old. Still, I won’t go into that here.

What about you? Any favourite couple in fiction?

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writing technique

The Heath Robinson Writing Machine

heath-robinson

Doubling Gloucester Cheeses by the Gruyère Method (Heath Robinson)

In two days, I have a decision to make. Not necessarily the day after tomorrow, because these days can be non-consecutive. So far, in the past eight months, I’ve used up 28 and I’m still undecided. Transfer everything there? Or stick with my own method?

Yes, I’m talking about Scrivener. You know Scrivener – ‘the biggest advance for writers since the typewriter’, according to sci-fi writer Michael Marshall-Smith. Maybe he skipped the cut-and-paste capacity of the word processor, but you get the idea – without Scrivener, you’re one of the also rans. (Naturally, there’s a good chance you’ll be one with it too, but at least you’ll be equipped. A scrivernerless writer, it seems, is like an armourless knight).

The problem is that Scrivener is what the French call ‘une usine à gaz’ – a huge, labyrinthine contraption that huffs and puffs and in the end produces a blast of hot air. Whoever designed Scrivener is a worthy successor to Heath Robinson.

potatoes

Furthermore – and please excuse me for making an obvious point – if I buy the same shirts as George Clooney, I’m not going to look like George Clooney. Faulkner, Salinger and Hemingway managed just fine without Scrivener. Closer to the present, so did the authors of such complex works as Harry Potter and Game of Thrones. Scrivener may be smart, systematic and seductive, but it won’t turn you into an author any more than a pair of top-end trainers will turn you into Mo Farah. Obvious, yes, but as all advertisers know, our gullibility is boundless – so much do we want our dream to become true that we’re ready to believe we just need the right accessory, whether Nike, Rolex or Scrivener.

You assume now, obviously, that I’m not going to buy it. Well, actually, I think I will. Because after a month of testing, I’ve finally stopped screaming in frustration at the sheer number of buttons and knobs and levers that serve no other purpose than to drive me mad. There’s even a certain pleasure now to opening it. And having reached the conclusion that it can offer a slight improvement on my current practice, I reckon I’ll give it a go.

I still write longhand in messy, chaotic notebooks strewn with asterisks and arrows. Scrivener won’t change that. It’s when the mess is transferred to screen that changes start to occur. Because once you’ve figured out how to organise files and folders – and that in itself is no easy matter – the navigation within your text becomes easier. Everything being on a single screen, you get a global view, the visual realisation of the way the text is shaped at a given moment in your mind. Potentially, this makes for more efficiency. On the whole, my brain works OK – though I might forget where I parked the car, I have all the scenes of my novel sorted in the left isosceles giblet of my endo-coniferous lobe. But sometimes my brain messes up, and bits and pieces of inspiration get lost.

brain2

Seriously, though, it would be interesting to study the neurocognitive effects of using Scrivener. I’m sure cut-and-paste, thanks to the ease of shifting passages around, made a difference to the way novels were written. I wouldn’t be surprised if Scrivener did likewise.

After a month, I’m using only the most basic functions. It does a million other things that I’ll never want or need. Gradually, I dare say I’ll learn a few other tricks, as I do with Photoshop or Excel. I’m not in any hurry, though – I’d rather write than fiddle with fancy software. That’s one reason why I won’t be signing up to Joseph Michael’s Learn Scrivener Fast – the other being the $197 it costs. Nothing against Mr. Michael here – if the software’s so Heath Robinson that he can sell tutorials at five times the price of what they purport to explain, kudos to him. Personally, I found some decent hints for free here and here. One thing’s for sure – if you’re starting out with Scrivener, you’ll need some sort of help. Unless you already peel your potatoes with the Heath Robinson machine.

 

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About Writers, Stories

Operation Anthology

cat-tales-851-pix

A short while ago, D.J. Lutz told us of the advantages of participating in an anthology. Well, I haven’t done that myself, but I recently compiled, edited and published one. So following on from Carl’s recent POV Explained, this post is from a different point of view.

What do you need? First of all, obviously, stories. I was fortunate here in having plenty to choose from. With 75 entries to the Book a Break short story competition, the difficult part was deciding when to stop. Naturally, quality was the main criterion, but not the only one. I was keen for variety too, so rather than treat them all as finished products, I did select a handful on the basis of potential, knowing that a fair amount of work would still be needed. This might have meant that some more polished stories didn’t make the cut because they were too similar to others. Entirely my fault: the competition prompt was too restrictive. This year’s is far more general.

Whatever your criteria, though, the beauty – and occasionally the pain – of an anthology is that practically every story has room for improvement. Which is where it can start to get tricky. The Book Country experience helped – we gave and received peer reviews, and learned how to do it in the process. Only up to a point, though, because here you’re not just critiquing (where it’s no big deal if the author accepts your points or not), you’re editing. And you want the product to be as good as possible.

There are as many different ways of reacting as there are writers. Some will argue their corner with pugnacity; others will be happy to go with whatever you say. Corresponding with each author, I quickly sensed the sort of writer I was dealing with, adjusting my comments accordingly. There’s a difference between ‘I suggest deleting’ and ‘Delete’, and the question mark can come in handy too – ‘Delete?’

From the editor’s point of view, one big advantage is being able to call on the contributors themselves for second or third edits and for proofreading. Half a dozen helped with this, which didn’t just make for a lighter workload but was also reassuring – you’re not making all the decisions alone.

Mistakes, I made a few but then again… Actually, only a couple stand out. I tried to be democratic, for one, especially with the title. Asked for suggestions, organised a vote which triggered a revolt, and ended up with the initial result overturned. Brexit, Trump, The Book a Break Anthology – 2016 has shown just how dangerous democracy can be. So next time round, the title will be imposed. Which is fine by me. I’ve often fancied myself as a dictator. Benevolent, natch.

The other mistake was waiting till the stories were practically edited before working on the cover and illustrations. That probably set back the release date a couple of months. It doesn’t much matter, but next time I’ll aim for a shorter lag between selection of stories and publication.

Formatting – not as horrendous as I’d feared. Maybe because I got myself into the right frame of mind. Take a deep breath, tell myself it’s not going to work, set all other concerns aside, stay calm, be prepared to spend as long as it takes. Formatting a book is like DIY.
The result has just appeared and to be honest, I’m quite chuffed with it. So all that remains is for me to plug it here:

What happened to the cats? In these 21 submissions to the first Book a Break short story competition, cats of many different kinds appear and disappear, roam far and wide, behave in mysterious ways. From dark and chilling to light-hearted and humorous, these stories focus on the power and mystery of cats. From ancient Egypt to modern Japan by way of war-time Crete, the cats you’ll meet here will entertain you, frighten you, intrigue you and surprise you.

Each of the 21 stories is accompanied by original illustrations and the collection is prefaced by Smith, the terrifying tabby from Taunton who, when he’s not fighting other cats, likes nothing more than to read.

The prize-winning authors of these stories come from many countries and backgrounds. Some are starting out as promising young writers, some are confirmed authors. All used the prompt for the short story competition to craft a highly original tale.

The proceeds from this book go to two charities, Cats Protection and the Against Malaria Foundation.

The 2016 Book a Break short story anthology is available now in print (black & white, $9.50) and as a kindle ebook in colour ($3.99).

A PDF colour version is available directly from this site by clicking below. Alternatively, you can donate directly to one or other of the two charities supported by the anthology, Cats Protection and the Against Malaria Foundation. Forward their thank you email to me (curtis.bausse(at)outlook.com) and I will send you the PDF file straightaway.

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About Writers, reading, writing technique

The bestseller recipe

chef

If you want to write a bestseller, what will you choose as your main ingredient? Sex? Murder? Action? Suspense? They probably won’t do your chances any harm, but according to Jodie Archer, a former publisher, and Matthew Lockers of Stanford University, you’d be better off choosing ‘human closeness’. They stress that ‘this doesn’t mean romance – it could be talking with someone you are intimate with or shopping with a parent.’ In other words (as I see it) the depth and believability of relationships: antagonism mixing it with affection, tension alternating with tranquillity.

How do they know? They scanned 20,000 books, built an algorithm, and were able to predict with 80% accuracy those that made the bestseller lists. Of course, there’s a precondition, which their algorithm took for granted: the book first has to be published and noticed. But once that little obstacle is cleared, you’re all set.

Don’t overdo it, though. Human closeness for 30% of the book is enough. Then 30% on a different topic (technology, climate change, whatever) and the rest a sprinkling of miscellaneous details. There you go. Easy, eh?

That’s my simplified summary of an article in the Guardian, The secret DNA behind bestsellers. Hardly secret, I thought when I read it. Human closeness arouses our emotions. Aristotle wrote about that a while ago. But still, it’s worth thinking about when we create our characters. And getting it right, as always, is easier said than done.

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