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Thursday, 28 August 2014

Factors Which Hold Writers Back



Most writers will know that writing books isn't usually the path to fame and fortune, but they secretly hope they will be the exception to that rule.

However, once they get a few years into their career most writers will be over that particular delusion. They'll have to come to accept they won't be walking on the red carpet into a film premier of their latest book which Steven Spielberg has just launched.

But while that dream may have subsided, writers still need to be careful their thoughts do not go the other way and send them spiralling into a whole other world.

Some writers fear that because they've written a few books and not had any spectacular sales they should give up, or at the very least start writing something completely different. And some writers don't even send out any of their work at all. If you can identify with this then by all means try something new but never give up. Don't fall into the trap that so many of us face: setting up ridiculously high expectations and then plummeting back down from orbit with an almighty crash.

This brings me to my next point of aiming too high or refusing to give your books away as part of vital promotion. I have now given away two out of four books for a limited time. Exposure was massive and I've enjoyed sales ever since. I'm sure sales come from the fact that I write what I love to read and I'm not a person who constantly chases trends. I know writers who do this and have had success, but I don't believe I could write a book without having an interest in the novel's theme.

Another factor which limits success is refusing to believe publishing is a business and that's the same whether you're self-publishing or have an agent and a contract with the big six. Another failure which some writers make is spending all your time and effort on marketing 'schemes' that are more see-through than a jellyfish. Instead of giving all your money to someone who 'promises' to sell a thousand of your books a day, why not spend your time writing the next book?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Are Mailing Lists Essential?

These days it can be difficult to remember how to construct a sentence - never mind anything else. So how do writers expect their readers to remember them if they've got to wait the average time of a year for their next book?

In this digitally instant world which we now live, it seems impossible to gain a loyal following of fans without the risk of losing them to anyone else. And with Amazon now promoting new releases and new writers more than ever, how can the average writer expect to stay sane?

Some writers say that the key to more sales is establishing a mailing list. But if you only have a few new readers each month and write in several different genres, is this thinking pattern feasible?

For a long time I thought that it was. And then I discovered more and more writers had thousands of sales before they even considered a mailing list. They said the most important factor which influenced sales was how many books they actually had to their name. In other words, the more books they had the more readers they would find.

Amazon makes book discoverability very easy for their authors with their Amazon author pages. On this page you can upload your photo and your bio stating a little about yourself. Readers can see at a glance just how many books you have available just through this one page. Readers do not even need to go rooting through books to find mailing lists because there is ample opportunity to state it on this page.

So, while mailing lists seem like a good idea, do you consider them essential?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Can You Write Chick Lit Without Romance?

I'm writing my fifth book at the moment - my second chick lit novel - and a funny thought has struck me.

Can you write chick lit without romance?

It's funny this thought should strike me now and not when I was penning A Step Too Far because that wasn't a love story. Yes, it had some romantic themes and even a potential love triangle but the overall story wasn't a quest to find love. It was a quest to find a fulfilling life.

I guess I'm thinking about this topic now because A Second Time Around is more of a romantic comedy than my first chick lit book. It will still have a twist at the end like my other novel but the theme is definitely romance.

The only gripe I have with chick lit is too many stories are the same. That may sound funny as it's the genre I have chosen to write, but I deliberately didn't make A Step Too Far overly romantic. I wanted to write a book which I believed to be chick lit because it's written in first person and in a light hearted way. But at the same time I wanted to write a story which wasn't like all the rest.

So I decided to be brave (or stupid) and write about life fulfilment.

But was I wrong to do this?

A lot of readers expect a tale of love when they pick up women's fiction. They want their tall, dark and handsome heroes and a happy ending. They want the book to contain certain elements and they want their expectations fulfilled. But here lies the problem. The category of Women's Fiction is just an umbrella term with a whole lot of other categories mixed in. There are the romance books, the erotic books and the chick lit books. Romantic comedy is very similar to chick lit but chick lit tends to talk about the protagonist's friendships, career, family life and various other things.

If readers did really want a guaranteed tale of love and romance, they'd surely pick up a book with a couple in a passionate pose on the front cover. Not some girl relaxing with a coffee in her favourite armchair.

So what do you think? Is it safe to write women's fiction without romance?

I'm going on a Baltic cruise from now until the 11th July so I will catch up with any comments when I return.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Bare Truth of What Life as a Writer is Really Like - My KDP Select Results




Life as a writer can sometimes be compared to a music artist preparing for a concert in a huge arena. The excitement and anticipation is overwhelming and you're sure you've done everything humanely possible to prepare. You've spent months if not years dreaming about this event and now you can't believe it's here.

You're not sure just how many tickets have sold but you hope it's been a sell out. You have everything crossed that the audience will love your debut song because it's just the best song ever! And you're almost ready to swear on your life that this concert will launch your career into places like Hollywood with cute chicks, cool cars and fluffy dogs.

This concert will be the mother of all concerts. This concert will make all your dreams come true. This concert will make you richer than Richard Branson, more famous than Angelina Jolie, and happier than a chocoholic with a lifetimes supply of chocolate.

Only it doesn't ...

The only thing this concert is responsible for is sending you to the edge of madness and complete insanity.

Five minutes before you're due to sing you find out that only a handful of ticket have sold. That's just a handful of tickets in one of the largest indoor arenas in the European Union. And most of those have gone to your family members.

SHOCK HORROR.

Your world has suddenly flipped one eighty. Instead of looking forward to all these dreams and fantasies, you're suddenly trapped in some kind of nightmare.

But as a true and committed artist, you go out and perform anyway. You sing your little heart out because you know you have talent. You know you have what it takes to become a success someday. You're a star because you have endless amounts of perseverance, patience and a work ethic which is second to none.

The only problem is the rest of the world doesn't know it yet.

But that's your job, you see. Your job is to go out there one person at a time and make them see how great you actually are. And this obviously takes time. Very, very rarely do people become overnight successes and those people who do still run the risk of fading into obscurity one day. Just like the rest of us, no one is immune from that potential danger.

Whether you're a writer or a pop star, you will do whatever it takes to get yourself noticed because this is your life. It's the sole purpose of why you exist in the first place. And whether you are a writer who has only managed to sell a handful of books that really doesn't matter because as time goes on you will sell more. You'll sell more because you'll write more and with every day that passes you'll find new opportunities to take advantage of.

I am a writer and last week I took advantage of KDP Select. Select, as most of you know, belongs to Amazon and it seems they do great things to promote you.

I enrolled my chick lit book: A Step Too Far in Select last month and promoted it as free for forty-eight hours. Within this time almost 5,000 copies were downloaded. Most of these downloads took place in America with the U.K. coming in second. I had downloads in Europe, India and Australia. The only place where I'm still obscure is Japan, Brazil and Mexico.

So I'd say my little experiment was quite successful. The only downside of being free is negative reviews so I have my fingers crossed I don't get too many of those.

I'll probably run a similar experiment with Confessions of a Webcam Model once it's been out a while. So when the time comes round, I'll let you know how that book performs.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Book Launch - 'Confessions of a Webcam Model' is Now Available



I am very proud to announce that my 4th book is now ready to download on Amazon.

Amazon.com:  http://amzn.to/1inN8um

Amazon.co.uk: http://amzn.to/1opgJLe

In the midst of the worst recession the world has ever seen, Cindy Smith is strapped for cash.

But while other people chase down menial jobs without success, Cindy suddenly finds herself staring at a lucrative career.

Before she can say ‘webcam modelling,’ Cindy meets all sorts of weird and wonderful people with the most bizarre fetishes she can ever imagine.

Written in a humorous style, Cindy’s story will take you on a most remarkable journey full of fun and frolics, shock and horror and she’ll show you what life as a webcam model is really like.

This book contains the candid truth of what goes on behind closed doors and the reality of where knitting needles can be inserted.

This book is about a fictitious character. However, all her experiences are taken from real life webcam models that have chosen this career as a way of life.
All names and personal details have been changed. See for yourself, the details are eye-watering.


I’ve wanted to write this book for a while as I’ve missed my confessional style of writing which is present in my first two books in the Secret Confessions of a Backpacker series.

The sex industry features briefly in my first book and in my 4th book I wanted to take things a step further.

As you know, the world has been gripped by a severe recession during the past couple of years, so I wanted to write a book that would reflect this character’s bravery and integrity facing life today in the modern world.

My research into this topic has been extensive. I’ve spent a whole year liaising with webcam models and watching countless documentaries. This career is certainly eye opening and it’s inspired me to think about future books around this theme.

The book is witty and written in a way that will surprise even the most un-shockable reader. I hope you enjoy it.

To celebrate my new release you can also grab a free copy of my chick lit book A Step Too Far. It will be free from Amazon on Tuesday 27th May until Wednesday 28th so grab your free copy while you can!!! :)

Happy reading!

#webcammodelling


Monday, 12 May 2014

My Blog Tour - Confessions of a Webcam Model


My 4th Book Coming Soon!
In the midst of the worst recession the world has ever seen, Cindy Smith is strapped for cash.

But while other people chase down menial jobs without success, Cindy finds herself staring at a lucrative career. 

Before she can say 'webcam modelling,' Cindy meets all sorts of people with the most bizarre fetishes she can ever imagine.

Written in a humorous style, Cindy will take you on a most remarkable journey full of fun and frolics, shock and horror and she'll show you what life as a webcam model is really like. 

This book contains the candid truth of what goes on behind closed doors and the reality of where knitting needles can be inserted.

For a change, I thought I'd participate in a good old blog tour this week. I haven't been involved in one of these for the past couple of years, so I should really get back into them as they can be advantageous in gaining new readers you otherwise wouldn't have had.

Now I've just finished my fourth book: Confessions of a Webcam Model. I've been keeping this book under wraps but seeing as it will be out soon, I want to make an announcement. This book is written in the style of a memoir but its protagonist is a fictitious character.

I've been wanting to write this book for a while as I've missed my confessional style of writing. The sex industry features briefly in my first book and in this book I wanted to take things a step further. As you know, the world has been gripped by its worst recession during the past couple of years, so I wanted to write a book that would reflect this character's bravery and integrity facing life today in the modern world.

My research into this topic has been extensive and eye-watering. I've spent a whole year liaising with webcam models and watching documentary after documentary. This career is certainly eye opening and it's certainly inspired me to think about future books written around this theme.

So without further ado, here are my answers to the four questions.

  1. What am I working on? At the moment I'm plotting my fifth book, my second chick-lit novel: Second Time Around. Although it's my second chick-lit, it's my first romantic comedy set in Edinburgh, Scotland. My protagonist, Ruby Roberts or Phoebe Philips ( I haven't decided what to call her yet, what do you think? ) is a thirty-two year old librarian with no self-confidence and down on her life. I don't want to give too much of the plot away but let's just say she's dying to meet her Mr. Wonderful and is willing to look everywhere for him.
  2. How does my work differ from others of its genre? Er, because it's written in an extremely candid way and no other author dares to speak the truth like I do? Well, this may be true for books one, two and four but for A Step Too Far, this question is really difficult to answer. I wanted to write the book as chick-lit but I didn't want to have the usual romantic themes woven through it like most chick-lit novels these days. There, how about that? I've saved all the romantic themes for my fifth book.
  3. Why do I write what I do? Well, I think this is the easiest question to answer of all. I write what I do because I love to read these genres. I have quite an eclectic taste in books and if I enjoy reading something, I'll always want to write around these particular themes and styles. During my time in New Zealand, I read Belle de Jour's books. For those of you who don't know, Belle was a high class call girl turned research scientist. I loved her candid approach and humour and she's always been an inspiration to write these sorts of books. Her books did so well they turned them into a T.V. series starring Billie Piper.
  4. How does my writing process work? My fourth book took the shortest amount of time to write. I started in January and finished in April so that's only four months. It's 60,000 words so it's by no means my longest book but I am very proud of myself for achieving this. I hope to write my fifth book in a similar amount of time. I aim to write for several hours a day at least five days a week. Sometimes if life allows and I'm not too tired, I'll write on weekends.
Thank you very much to Dr. Carol Cooper for this blog tour opportunity. Carol is another talented chick-lit author and you can view her blog here: http://pillsandpillowtalk.com/

I wish Carol much success with her novels.

Tuesday, 22 April 2014

How to Avoid Over-use of He Said, She Said, I Said.

I love to read books of various different genres and styles but one particular thing gets to me and if I'm honest it's an issue which I see over and over again.

The overuse of he said, she said, I said.

Memoirs and chick-lit are my favourite type of books and anything else that's written in first person. Maybe the problem is prone to first person narration but after a while the issue starts to bug me and more often than not I end up putting the book down.

If you put he said, she said, I said after every line of dialogue it becomes tedious and I find it distracts the reader away from the storyline. Instead of focusing on what the book is about the reader is more involved with the actual writing itself.

In most cases you don't have to say who is speaking as the reader should be able to work it out for themselves. But here's a clever little tip that I use and this technique will give your book an added dimension.

Instead of writing he said, she said, I said all the time why not add a line of description to tell the reader what the character is doing. By doing this not only are you avoiding the repetition that these tags can bring but you're also keeping the story in the present tense.

For example:

'But I don't want to go to the park today.' I walk over to the window and point at the rain on the glass.

This way you're not taking the reader out of the story by telling them who is speaking but you're letting the story run its natural course. You're eliminating unnecessary words and therefore making the text a much tighter read.

'But I don't want to go to the park today,' I say. I walk over to the window and point at the rain on the glass.

Which one reads better? You're saying the same thing without the unnecessary words which detract from the story.