Some Things I’ve Learnt in my First Week as a Published Author

Image by stemberovi via flickr.com

As I sit here, one week after self-publishing my debut novel, From Here to Nashville,Ā the one word I would use to describe how I feel is exhausted! But to qualify, it is a good kind of exhausted, if you know what I mean šŸ™‚ Last Monday, my launch day, purposely timed to coincide with my half-term holiday from my day job as a teacher and also #MondayBlogs, of course, was a fantastic day. I had three times the normal number of shares and retweets of my blog post that day. Three times! I was overwhelmed by the support I received from the blogging community on Twitter, from my Facebook Author page and from friends, new and old. It was great to learn how supportive my online community is though and quite humbling, I have to say.

I had set up a blog tour, visiting a different blog each day last week and so I was busy promoting my interviews on those blogs as well throughout the week. I know I said thank you to all those people last week but I’d just like to say so again because every single one of them took time out of their busy schedule to support me, sharing their blog posts repeatedly to draw attention to my new book and for that, I am extremely grateful. Not only that but more people have offered to host me on their blogs as a result! It wasĀ amazing to learn how people I have never met have been prepared to step up andĀ help me and I still find myself marvelling at the generosity of other writers, bloggers, readers and book reviewers.

Talking of readers and book reviewers, I had another wonderful moment when I received my first review. This was from Clare who reviews books she has read at her website, TheTBRPile.com. She wrote a lovely review for me, which you can read here and in doing so, she set the ball rolling. I now have a few reviews on Amazon and a fair number of people have added my book to their Goodreads shelf as a book they want to read. You can add it too using thisĀ Goodreads link šŸ˜‰ This has made me realise how important reviews are to you as the author. I knew they would be important before I published but what I learned this week was that a positive review boosts your confidence in your own ability as a writer. They don’t need to be glowing in every word or phrase necessarily but if they show that the person has enjoyed reading your book and that they have understood what you were trying to achieve, then that is a fantastic boost. Another thing I learnt though is that Amazon doesn’t tell you when you get a review so you have to check every day.

I have to confess to becoming a bit obsessed with checking for reviews and various other stats, including sales of course, every day. Mind you, it hasn’t been a minute-by-minute obsession, mostly just a daily check because in Amazon’s case, that’s the only update you get. The pre-order sale did give me a spike in sales for that first day but that hasn’t been matched since. I could best describe sales as slow and steady in this first week, which I think is allĀ you can hope for as a self-published author at this stage. I am celebrating all those sales and learningĀ that visibility takes time to build.

My paperback is now almost finished too. My cover came back from the designer during the week, as did my ISBN numbers. I decided to get my own so that the book will be published by me, rather than by Create Space which is what happens if you use their free ISBN. This is only because I would like to try and contact bookstores in the future to see if they will stockĀ From Here to NashvilleĀ and I have been told that bookstores are less likely to want to stock your book if it says ‘published by Create Space’ on it. I learnt that I should have agreed to having the paperback cover designed at the same time as the ebook cover, which the designer suggested but I decided against. I should have purchased my ISBNs then too. Still, there is only so much room in my brain for all the new things I’ve been learning and I know for next time. I won’t have to worry about ISBNs for a while now because I bought ten!

And so, what next? The paperback is being reviewed and I should have a proof copy soon and then it will be full steam ahead for adding that to my Amazon page. I am moving on now to the next phase of marketing forĀ From Here to NashvilleĀ which will be contacting some of the book reviewers I have come to know to see if I can organise some more reviews. Reviews don’t affect sales rank directly but when readers land on your Amazon page, a higher number of reviews might just persuade them to buy. I am also continuing with my second novel, again slowly but surely, which seems to be my motto for the week šŸ˜‰ Oh and I have to go back to the day job on Wednesday, back to reality for the time being šŸ™‚

Thanks for reading everyone. As always, do leave me a comment below if you’d like to. It’s always great to hear from you.

 

Two New Blog Awards

realneatblogawardI’m writing this extra post on a Sunday because I’ve been given two new awards for my blog and I wanted to let regular readers of my blogĀ know and to thank the lovely Jade St. Clair aka Scatterbooker for her kind nomination. You can find her wonderful website here.

The awards I’ve been given are The Real Neat Blog award and the Premio Dardos award.

Here are theĀ seven questions I had to answer for the Real Neat Blog Award:

1. What is the best book youā€™ve ever read?

The Time Traveller’s Wife – Audrey Niffenegger.

2. What is your favourite holiday destination?

Anywhere in France!

3. What is your favourite thing to do in your spare time?

Read.

4. Who is your secret celebrity crush?

Kevin Spacey šŸ˜‰

5. Do you have a favourite sports team?

NO!

6. What song is guaranteed to get you up and dancing?

Uptown Funk (currently!)

7. Do you have any pets?

A cat called Miley and a guinea pig called Albus.

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dardos

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Now, I should be nominating 15 other blogs to receive these awards but I’m going to be a bit radical. If you would like me to nominate you for the awards and you have time to do what it takes, then let me know in the comments below and I’ll edit the post to include you. I hope that’s a good way to do it because I know how busy everyone is but if you’d like the award for your blog, don’t be shy!

 

Thanks for reading and see you all for Monday’s normal blog post šŸ™‚

 

Update 23/2 – I have my first nominee! I nominate Judith Barrow at her blog hereĀ Ā http://judithbarrowblog.com/Ā to receive the Real Neat Blog and the Premio Dardos awards. Thanks for getting in touch, Judith. Do go across and have a look at Judith’s lovely blog where she blogs about her writing and reblogs a number of other sites all connected with writing and reading šŸ™‚

It’s Publication Day and I’d like to say Thank You.

DSC_7271Today, I can celebrate, at last, the joy and wonder of being a published author with you, the readers of my blog. I started celebrating yesterday with my family, as you can see from the picture of the cake on the left. Doesn’t it look amazing? It was very difficult having to cut into it but we forced ourselves! We have raised a glass today to my book as well and it feels very good to have made it this far.

I couldn’t have made it this far though without some help along the way and some of those people are thanked directly in the acknowledgements section of my book. However, I have also been lucky enough to make so many new friends on social media and whilst I can’t thank everyone individually, I would like to thank everyone who has got to know me through this blog or via Twitter or Facebook, or indeed via any other social media site. It has been an absolute pleasure to make so many new friends.

Some of those people have also been kind enough to host me on their own blogs both in the run-up to my publication day today and during this week to come and I would like to thank themĀ so much for their time and their generous efforts on my behalf. I am truly grateful to them all. I would like to thank Heidi-Jo Swain for hosting me on her blog last Monday and Rebecca Bradley for hosting me on hers last Friday. Please do go and take another look if you get the chance. Every guest post has been slightly different and there may be something you still don’t know about me yet!

In addition to these interviews, I have set up a small blog tour for this coming week.

  • This kicked off with my first proper review on my lovely writing friend, Cat’s blog yesterday. Cat is one of my beta readers but she has always offered me up-front and honest, constructive criticism and I respect her opinion. Here’s a quote: ‘This novel isnā€™t just about love blooming, itā€™s also about the risks involved in following your dreams, being honest with yourself and daring to go where that dream might take you.’Ā Thank you, Cat.
  • Today, I am honoured to have been asked to visit author,Ā Lisette Brodey’s renowned Writers’ ChĆ¢teau in Los Angeles, for an interview with her about my book. When Lisette first asked me, I couldn’t believe my good fortune and it was a super interview, with some brilliant questions. So do go and have a read and see all the other fabulous authors who have gone before me. Thanks to Lisette too.
  • On Monday/Tuesday, my host is Tracey Weller in Ontario, on her fabulous website, Nevertoolatetowrite.com. Tracey and I have only just ‘met’Ā through Twitter and this blog but we are already firm friends. Go and see what a fantastic post she has put up about me (around lunchtime UK time) – it has tweetable quotes and everything! Tracey has a great take on this writing life and I would really recommend you to take a look, especially if you are new to writing and you’re in what Tracey calls your ‘second act,’ like me šŸ˜‰ Many thanks to Tracey.
  • On Wednesday, I’m in Kentucky with Dena Rogers, who I met through another Twitter friend, Emma Wicker who is hosting me later in the week. Dena is another romance author and despiteĀ the fact that we only know each other virtually, Dena has been kindness itself in sharing her knowledge of the writing and publishing process. She shares my love of country music too and that has strengthened the bond of friendship between us. Thanks to you too, Dena.
  • On Thursday, I’m being hosted by Brooke Cottage Books. I contacted Debbie there about advertising my book cover when I saw that she was offering a special 4 week deal for just Ā£10.00! There are some fabulous deals on the site all the time so you should really take a look. I’m doing a promo post with a rather special giveaway on Thursday so don’t forget to go on over and take part! Thank you, Debbie.
  • Finally, this week, I am on Emma Wicker’s blog again. I met Emma on Twitter, through another mutual friend, Bill Cunningham and she has already hosted me on her blog just a couple of weeks ago but she’s so generous that she offered to do it again. Emma has just published her own debut, ‘Fractured Immortal,’ which I’ve read and thoroughly enjoyed. It’s a great vampire novel with a modern twist to it. So please do go and look up my post on her wonderful site. Thank you, Emma šŸ™‚
  • I have a P.S. – On Friday, I will also be featured on Bodicia’s website at awomanswisdom.wordpress.com. I am so lucky to have met all these wonderful people online who are so generous with their support of authors and Bodicia has kindly offered to promote my book on her site a week earlier than we had planned. So please do go over and take a look later in the week. Thanks to Bodicia too šŸ™‚

All that remains then, is for me to offer you a virtual slice of cake and to raise a glass to you. Thank you for all your support everyone and wishing you all a fabulous week. Please do leave me a comment. I always love to hear from you.

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Word of Mouth Marketing for Authors

logoI took part in this year’s online Romance Festival again this weekend organised by Harper Collins and the really wonderful thing was that this time, I was able to do so as an author! I was able to submit an author Q&A for display on the Romance Festival site and I also submitted one of my blog posts entitled ‘5 Things I Have Learnt from Writing my Debut Novel’ which you may have read on my blog recently. They were both viewed and shared many times and that felt really satisfying.

Not only that but from 2 – 8pm on both days of the weekend, there were Twitter and Facebook chats, virtually every half an hour by famous authors and industry people with tips to share, and there were also Google Hangouts with a number of different authors. I learnt so much from all these people but most of all, I had a lot of fun! I was struck again and again by how much time these people were willing to give up to help aspiring authors or to talk to their readers. It was not at all sales orientated but you can bet that sales will go up for these authors or business will go up for the trade people who took part because people like me will talk about them to others, just like I’m doing here today.

One of the Twitter chats was actually about Word of Mouth marketing and was run by a lady called Molly Flatt. Her Twitter page is here. She began by saying that WOM marketing isĀ about getting other people talking about you, inspiring their thoughts, rather than just throwing messages at them. She went on to say thatĀ an author talking about their book on their Twitter feed isn’t WOM. Others discussing it on THEIR feeds (or at their dinner tables) is. Her main idea is that WOM marketing isn’t really even marketing at all. It’s about building relationships with people and that has to happen over a long period of time of course, it can’t just happen overnight. The phrase that really struck me was ‘You have to give to get’ because I think that so many of us are doing this without maybe even realising it! Just look at #MondayBlogs for example. I have met so many wonderful, supportive friends through having my blog posts shared on Mondays and by sharing those of other people.

So how would this work for the readers you are trying to attract? Well, she suggested that the first step is to find people online or offline who share yourĀ subject matter. You can do a Twitter search for this if you’re starting with an online approach. Then tap into their shared passion. I have met a few people because of my love of country music, for example. Once you meet them, let them get to know you and they may check you out as a result and find that you’ve written a book and hey presto! After this, you can think more about what would inspire them to engage with you. I haven’t really explored this yet because I’m really worried about hassling people so this is something I’m going to take slowly but I like the idea of it very much.

ThereĀ is now only one week to go until my debut novelĀ From Here to NashvilleĀ is published and I want to tell you how lucky I’ve been with some of the friends I have made online. Firstly, Emma Wicker, another Indie author featured my book on her blog last week and she’s doing it again for me next week. Then I was able to get a feature on the Alliance of Independent Authors Members’ Showcase which goes up every Saturday. Then I was featured in Sonya’s round-up of book news on her website here. As I’ve mentioned, I also had a lot of exposure through the Romance Festival this weekend too. Today, my RNA friend, Heidi-Jo Swain is featuring me on her blog for #MondayBlogs and I really can’t tell you what a good feeling all this support gives me. I have quite a few other blog posts lined up in the coming weeks and I count myself really blessed to have made so many good friends via social media. This is what word of mouth marketing means to me right now and I look forward to being able to do the same for these friends in the future.

Thank you all for reading and I’ll see you next week on Publication Day!!! Please do leave a comment below if you’ve tried WOM marketing in another way that’s worked really well for you. Have a great week everyone šŸ™‚

How To Set Up a Goodreads Author Page

goodreads_icon_200x200-8b5b322a54ffbe04db26585de0830763Another week has gone by and we’re already in February. My publication date forĀ From Here to Nashville is just two weeks away and, having worked through all the amendments from my proofreader, I willĀ be able to meet my deadline to upload the final version to Amazon before the end of this week. As always, I have been juggling a few other things during the week as well. Mainly, I have been liaising with a number of lovely people about interviews on their blogs and I also contacted the organisers of theĀ Romance Festival 2015, taking place online next weekend about a Q&A with them and a blog post. Once the final version of my ebook is ready, I will also be contacting some book reviewers to see if they would be able to review FHTN for me.

One of the other things on my to do list during the week was to set up a Goodreads Author Page. I have been on the site as a reader for quite a while now so it made sense to get my Author Page set up too. I have heard from quite a few people though that they find the site a bit of a nightmare to use so I was prepared for it to be a bit tricky. And it was! So I thought some tips might be useful for readers of my blog for when theĀ time comes to set up your own page.

1. You have to wait for your book to be available somewhere, either for pre-order or actually published, before it will show up on Goodreads. I tried to join the Author Program but because my book wasn’t there, nothing would happen. Once my book was available for pre-order though, it automatically showed up on the Goodreads site because it’s owned by Amazon. Then all I had to do was to click on ‘Author Program’ which is right at the bottom of the page and search for myself and my book. Once you have done this, it asks whether this is you and you can ask to join the program. My situation was slightlyĀ Ā complicated by the fact that there is another Julie Stock out there and I was showing as the author of her book as well. It was very easy to contact Goodreads though to explain and now I’m no longer associated with that book. Just as well because it was a Breastfeeding Manual and this is not something I excelled at, I’m afraid šŸ˜‰ Hope that wasn’t TMI on a Monday. One final thing, it takes a while for them to get back to you to say you are set up as an author so you may need to be prepared for that.

2. How to upload your own photo. WhenĀ I’d had to contact Goodreads about the other Julie Stock, I had managed to get to know a very helpful Librarian there who was happy for me to pester her with other questions. The first one I had was how toĀ upload my photo, which I hadn’t been able to work out on my own. For this, you need to go to your Author PageĀ and click onĀ edit data, not onĀ edit profile, as you might have expected. Then you will see the options for uploading a picture of yourself.

3. Your Author Bio. This is also uploaded underĀ edit data. One tip is that when you upload your bio, make sure to include a link to your newsletterĀ sign up page right near the top. This makes it easier for readers and, in my case, will take them to my website too. I do have the links for my website, Twitter and Facebook all there too. On this page, you can also add a video and it’s recommended that you do. I have uploaded my book trailer there and I did that without having to ask any questions! Goodreads also sent me some questions to answer for the benefitĀ of readers stopping by my page so I answered a few of those as well. I have also linked my blog to my Goodreads page, although it isn’t showing any pictures and is only showing ten posts so I may have to come back to that one.

4. To giveaway or not to giveaway? Once you have done all this, you can click on your book and see all kinds of information about it and who wants to read it etc. Goodreads is very keen for me to list a giveaway of the book too and I have given a lot of thought to this for the purposes of visibility. However, after reading this article by Roz Morris at the weekend, I had a very interesting discussion with some writing friends on Twitter about the whole idea of giving work away for free when you only have the one book out. The conclusion was that it just doesn’t make sense at this point for me to do it. When I have more than one book out, I will consider the idea again because that could then add value for me. So, even though it’s tempting, think carefully before giving away your work and make sure that if you do, there’s going to be something in it for you too šŸ™‚

I hope these tips are helpful for you and if you’d like to go on over to my page to see what it looks like, here’s the link. You can click on theĀ Want to Read button there too if you feel so inclined šŸ˜‰ Thanks for reading as always and do leave me a comment below if you’d like to talk about any of these points a bit further.