Thursday, 27 September 2018

You've Written a Book - Now What? - a checklist for authors

If you've written a book - congratulations!
So many "have a book inside them" and they just "think about writing one", but few get this far. So give yourself a pat on the back.

But now the real work begins!

1) Edit!!!
Hopefully, you've written draft one and have gone over it at least once.
But it is incredibly difficult to edit your own work - your brain knows what you meant to write.
So, hire an editor and a proof reader or copy editor - seriously!

2) ARC readers
Field test your book! ARC (Advanced Readers Copy) readers are incredibly helpful.
There may still be bits you need to think about.
Incidentally, beta readers are a good idea once you've finished draft 1, in case there's big changes which need to be made in the early stages.

3) Blurb
I've written an article to help guide you through this most despised task.
It's a very different skill set, and worthy of your time & considertaion.

4) Cover
Your cover needs to be awesome. People can tell if it's not professional, and will deter some of your potential readers.
This is one of your main points of contact; your first chance to make a good impression.
They are truly worth their weight in gold.
Personally, I use the fine service of Robin Ludwig, but obviously, choose one who you feel best.

5) Publish
Once you have a fabulous, well-polished product, it's time to publish.
Whether this is via a traditional publisher or yourself is up to you.
A traditional publisher will help you with the editing and cover. NEVER pay a publisher; they should pay you!
My pros and cons of both options are in this handy blog post.

If you decide to publish yourself, are you going to use Amazon KDP?
They hold the market share, so yes, you should.
But they have KDP Select, which means your book is free in Kindle Unlimited BUT limits you to Amazon only.
There's another post about KU vs wide distribution here.

You'll need to create your KDP account.
Also, if you're distributing your book as a paperback as well as ebook, you'll want to consider purchasing your own ISBN number.

OK, so upload your book. I've still not written a post on the KDP process, but you will need to decide which categories (genres) your book goes into and the keywords.
Keywords are the words readers type into their search to bring up a selection of books e.g. billionnaire romance.
Now, certain keywords will open up different, hidden categories.
e.g. the keyword 'witch' will get you into Romance>Paranormal>Witches
A list of these keywords is on the Amazon KDP website.

You will also need to decide on pricing. This needs some research, and depends on the length of your book, amongst other factors.

6) Reviews
Hopefully, you got some ARC readers lined up from step 2.
But if you haven't, it's not too late.
There are websites such as The Indie View who list reviewers, along with the genres they read and website where you'll find their review policy, if they're accepting requests and how to submit them.

7) Promotion
Now, you need to tell the world!!!
Write to your local paper; is there something special that makes it stand out that a newspaper will want to talk about?
Who's your target market? Where do they hang out? Get to know them, mingle (online).
Is there a book club near you that would like to read your book?
Who are the 'influencers' in your genre? Can you grab their attention.
Befriend other authors, especially the more successful ones ;) Hey, they're nice people, they may lend you understanding if nothing else.

8) Advertise
(like promotion, but bear with)
Two of the most important ones I've discovered that work for me:

i) AMS ads (Amazon Marketing Services)
This is located under your KDP account, under 'ad campaigns', 'view your ads dashboard page'.
This is not an easy process. It's worth taking time to study it.
Dave Chesson does a free course, accessed via his YouTube video - he takes you through the long way, but obviously, there is the option of purchasing his Rocket software (but don't feel obliged).

ii) Facebook ads
NOT the boosted posts! No!
Under the top right dropdown list on Facebook you'll find a "create ad" option.
If you've taken the time to learn AMS ads, this is a whole lot easier; it's a similar process.

Plus iii) Bookbub
I've STILL not managed to bag myself a 'Featured Ad' deal - they're like gold dust!
BUT I am told that they're really worth their high price tag. You should at least make back the cost of the ad (but don't blame me if you don't).
It's definitely worth creating an account on their site. More and more people are starting to use this for reviews as Amazon make it harder to do so. And there's lots and lots of readers on there.
They also let you run your own ads (similar again to AMS) and there's pre-release options too.

9) Launch
Have a fb launch party if you want - I've not ever achieved many sales, but have made new author and reader friends there.
Plaster your release day across your social media.

Then 10) Pray...
to whatever deity you are affiliated with! ;)
Because, at the end of the day, it's all luck.
Be in the right place at the right time and your book will get noticed by the right people.

Oh, and secret option 11) Panic 😱
Yep - most of us go through this, especially when the book's with ARC readers.
It goes something like, "My book is awesome, I'm really excited. Shit, but what if it's not? And readers hate it? This could end my career before it's begun. What have I done? Oh dear God, I suck so bad! Why did I do this? Whyyyyy?" 😱
*Please note that this may be slotted in at any step, and often repeated.

This always leads to 12) What was I worried about? 😏
Please, during 'Panic' do remember that you do not suck. That you WILL get through this. Just keep going. Chocolate and/or alcohol is very handy to have in stock to assist the alleviation of 'Panic'.
- This is also another VERY good reason to make friends with other authors. When 'Panic' is reached, message one (or several) authors, who will understand and offer you reassuring virtual pats on the head and soft words of understanding.
*Don't forget to breathe!

So, I leave you, wishing you very good luck.
You got this!

Always in love & light,

Monday, 10 September 2018

How to Write the Blurb?

Argh! The blurb, the blurb! 😬
Many a meme and cry of despair has gone up on The Internet from so many writers.

A novel, generally accepted at 50,000 words; we can write that many, so why is writing 150 so hard?
Well, the very small number of words is the crux of the problem, isn't it?

The task:
Write a short summary of your wonderful book, in just a few words, giving lots of enticing information, but without giving away the plot. 
How do you give information but not??
It can seem like an impossible feat. It becomes daunting and scary, and many of us have quivered in the corner, holding our empty coffee cup, worrying over it.
"Just  few words. I can't even write a few words. All those other words in the book must be crap if I can't even write a few words." (this may or may not be a direct quote of myself)

As always, I state openly - I AM NOT AN EXPERT
I am just sharing what I've learned so far. 

Before we start, the term a lot of people use is "book description". 
Many will argue it is not technically a blurb. 
But dictionaries list a blurb as:
"A short description of a book, film, or other product written for promotional purposes."
- the blurb on the back of the book will touch your heart. 

This is what we're talking about here; the bit on the 'cover' of the book, telling readers what your book is about. 
I'm a fiction writer, so that's what I'll be discussing here. It's a slightly different approach for non-fiction.

Point 1: 
This is a very different writing skill to the one you've used to write the book itself. 
So, please relax. Take a breath. 
You just need to learn a new writing style/approach. 

Point 2:
You are NOT trying to summarise the entire book. 
Please don't explain the entire thing. Your readers want to discover that for themselves.
Hint at the story. You only have 150-200 words to do this in. 

Drop in main points:
i) a situation  ii) a problem iii) a twist iv) the mood
What is the primary conflict of your story? 
What's at stake? 

Point 3: 
Your first line is your hook, and should be no longer than 6 words. 
Advertisers will call this a strap line, or perhaps a USP. It's your click bait.
You can use bold/italic text to really make it zing (using html).

What is it about your book that makes it unique? 

Short & snappy,. You have about 2 seconds to get your potential reader's attention. 
Create intrigue. Introduce your character (especially if your target market is female). 

I'm using someone else's research here; but I've seen it said that women are character driven, men are plot driven. A general rule of thumb used by marketing peeps. 

e.g. Love Bites (which I had lots of blurb help for)
Shakira didn’t fit in.
- introduces Shakira. Why didn't she fit in? Reader hopefully wants to read more blurb. 

You have about this much space that readers will see in Amazon before they need to click 'read more': 

Point 4: 
Use your voice.
You have written your book in your own style. Your blurb should reflect this too. 
Don't get so bogged down by blurb rules that you then lose the tone of your novel. 
This is you selling your book, telling readers why they want to read it.

Point 5: 
Don't be afraid of hyperbole. But avoid clichés. 
Having been so cautious in your book, it can feel odd to over-emphasise in your description.
But your book needs to be advertised. Maybe there's an "incredible" event in your tale? Or a "never before" character? 
Be flamboyant. Yes, I know you're an author. Yes, I know you're probably an introvert. But this is part of our challenge when writing the blurb. 
Exaggerate and emphasise your book's highlights. 

Point 6:
Know your keywords.
If you're going to be using AMS advertising and/or Facebook ads, their algorithms will seek out your keywords, so include some naturally in your blurb. But don't ram them in. They need to be part of it, not stand out like sore thumbs. 

Point 7: 
End on a cliffhanger - the reader now knows what your book is about. What is it that will make them click 'buy' and read? They have to find out more! Have a call to action. 

Point 8:
Do check the best sellers in your genre. 
What have they done? Does their blurb make you want to read their book? 
Be inspired.

My PNR (paranormal romance), Love Bites - example blurb 

Shakira didn’t fit in.

The reason why is tragic…

…but the solution is unbelievable.

Moving to Wales was a chance at a new start, a quest for somewhere to belong. Things don’t always go as planned. First it was the dreams. Why was she drawn to the forest? 
And who are the strange beings with glowing cat-like eyes?

Then she meets him.

Can one kiss magically change her life?

Can she become the peacemaker she was meant to be?

You’ll love this paranormal romance because everyone loves a story of triumph with witches, faeries and dragons.

Get it now. 
“Action packed paranormal. Highly recommended.” ~ Susan ★★★★★

“A magical extravaganza. I absolutely loved Love Bites. Pryderi is all sorts of fascinating.” ~ Beckie Bookworm ★★★★★

“Magnificent. Clark’s design and development of characters, including a new and unique species of creatures, and of rich and varied settings, is elegant and complex.” ~ MapleLeafAussie ★★★★★

“Love Bites is a powerful, imaginative fantasy that swept me off my feet from the very beginning.” ~ Daccari Buchelli ★★★★★

NB This is part 1 of a duology
This book is suitable for over 18s due to mature content.
May not be suitable for vegetarians.

OK, that's it for this post.
I really hope it's helpful.

Like I said, I'm not an expert. I'm still learning too.
There's some great groups online (try Facebook or Goodreads) who will help with blurbs, but be open to critique. 

Always in love & light,

Don't forget to check out my books on Amazon and all other good online stores