My New Book: A Retrospective

May has arrived, and for me this is the biggest month of my writing life! Darke Blood arrives in a mere few weeks so this entry is a dedicated retrospective of all things Darke. I will be talking about the story, the inspiration behind it and of course my extensive attack based marketing plan which is already in full swing! This is Darke Blood, a retrospective look.

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 My first real television hero in life was female. Many of you will know whom I am referring to but before the days of the Avengers and the seemingly endless tirade of cape wearing redemption seekers there was Buffy Summers. One of the very first female leads in television that was perceived as strong and later on independent. This might not appear a big deal today but we still have a very long way to go in terms of diversity in all forms of storytelling,  although cliché does have a big factor to play in that but so does society.

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Joss Whedon created Buffy with a view to flip cliché and embrace the quirky differences many of us have. The real horror in a world of vampire slaying wasn’t the demons coming out of the hell mouth below the high school, it was the high school (something I used in Open Evening). A clever and different story followed from this premise with the introduction of a character orientated story and the ever important humour that brings it away from any real darkness. As the high school in Buffy crumbled so did the change of horror, now it was surviving college and struggling to date someone who’s actually mortal. Eventually it shifted again with adulthood becoming the real theme of Buffy, either way the characters had each other to deal with whatever life faced them and that is above all what inspired me to write stories, the resolve.

After finishing my first published novel Open Evening, there came a decision I needed to make. What next? Very quickly the genre of vampires and witches came to mind, but there were two reasons for this. Firstly I had always wanted to do vampires just to pay homage to my favourite television hero and secondly, these stories still sell and are arguably more popular than ever. If you look at TV and literature, in the last decade there has been more than one big time vampire or witch story . So to me this seemed like the perfect idea to step into.

I’ve already shared the somewhat painful drafting process Darke Blood I went through so I wont dwell on it but there was the question of what exactly does it pay homage to? Well, stories speak to people in different ways, go ahead and read a book you’ve read before, give it a few years and your perception, mood and current lifestyle all come to play in how you perceive it, sometimes it will even change.

As I have read through Darke Blood after the several edits and of course the back and forth with my editor, I think I have finally grasped what it’s about and what it really pays homage to. That being strong female lead characters and our need for them even more so today.

Hence I have come full circle in life, from sitting in front of the TV as a 12 year old kid on a Thursday night, to writing my own take on Buffy. And if you ask me Darke Blood is so much more than homage to a TV show which broke boundaries back in the day.

But isn’t the main character in Darke Blood male?

In essence there are two lead characters in Darke Blood one is male and the other is female. But throughout the narrative our female is the stronger and somewhat a leader, but it isn’t about breaking down those boundaries because Buffy did that, this is about that concept working alongside with the other.

What set’s Darke Blood aside from other stories of the same genre?

Well this book doesn’t spend the whole time paying homage to Buffy, it has an independent identity and my own take on vampires. We are all led to believe that vampire stories have to fit into a certain set of rules, rules which have just been there since the Van Helsing days. You know, using garlic and having to invite a vampire in. Instead of these tales of folklore, why not add a little science to vampires? Maybe even define vampirism as a disease which in fact could one day be cured. What if there was a blood substitute, after all it’s a chemical right?

Same goes for my take on witchcraft. If you break that word down, you are left with ‘craft’, so what if there were different particular crafts? Again I used the science route to redefine and somewhat invent my own version of magic but strictly keeping it close to a reality where this stuff could actually be possible.

Both vampirism and witchcraft are just sub-themes, as much as they are unique selling points that give the book it’s rounded appeal, the main theme of Darke Blood is identity. Main character Blake Malone soon finds conflict within himself as the realization comes apparent that his memory seems to be blocked. Along the way of trying to resolve this conflict he discovers the forces of vampirism and witchcraft accompanied by some very special nods towards Open Evening. I will say no more.

How are you going to implement Darke Marketing?

My first book was always going to be a trial and error experience. Many lessons were learned and a lot of stuff came up that I probably should have done but wouldn’t have been aware of unless I took the plunge into publishing (if you get what I mean?).

In terms of marketing as an independent author I am pretty much the General or architect of my own success. But social media is the king of book sales and so my efforts towards it have gone up tenfold this time.

What I have already done

Teaser Trailer

This was my first experience of making something like this and to be fully honest it looks okay. The whole idea of this trailer was to get the name out there and of course the release date. Over 700 people have viewed it so far, and if I can convert even a small percentage of that figure into sales then we shall be off to a good start. I even had some good people share it which is always fantastic so thanks to those that did.

Emailed my subscribers/ people I know who would like the book/people whose email I have

Yep if you’re lucky you may have an email from me in your junk box. This sort of thing is imperative to get the word out early. Loyal friends are great way to get in early reviews and get the ball rolling. Sign up now by following this blog with your email address to receive future stuff for free.

What will you be doing?

Book cover reveal blog post

Book cover reveal FB post

Book cover trailer (Maybe)

Facebook online launch event – invite people to share the link

Going live on FB- Maybe a Q and A if anyone actually cares (maybe)

Facebook Advertising

Goodreads exclusive UK giveaway

Ask some peeps to guest blog on my site

Incite people to take a book selfie – this really sold books last time

Press release to local and national press

Instagram posts (something that is book related and not just booze or food)

Email my loyal followers – sign up on this site today to receive future news first and even exclusive pre sale content.

So as you can see I have a huge list of stuff planned. This month there will be all hands on deck from me to give Darke Blood the best chance it has of being a success. I do hope you can join me, this story isn’t just about vampires, witches and identity. It isn’t just about a homage to Buffy or female lead characters. It’s about all of them and so much more!

Next Book Release Date Confirmed…

Yes you read the title of this post correctly! I officially have a release date for my next book Darke Blood.

Things are getting pretty busy around stately Hall manor right about now and most of my efforts are now pointing towards the official release date of Darke Blood which is….

Thursday May 25th

Of course this hasn’t been a journey of solitude and again I have a wonderful book team; both Nicky Fitzmaurice of Satin Publishing and Design For Writers will be reprising their roles in helping me bring an awesome book to you.

Another huge member of my book team is you, my valued reader whom I do this for. Open Evening was a huge learning curve and somewhat a success, none of what I have achieved in writing would be possible without my readers. Thank you all for the support, likes and follows. Together we are a successful unit of independent publishing.

There were many times throughout the drafting of Darke Blood where I thought it wouldn’t make it as a book. Truth is this one was hard, really really hard. But I got through, mainly due to the support of my wonderful readers and people of Facebook and twitter. So here I stand just under a month away from another book release.

I have just put together a short trailer for the book which can be seen via my Facebook page, something which I didn’t do last year, even though I probably should of. My marketing strategy for this one will indeed be more detailed with giveaways planned and of course another book selling selfie movement which I will be forever thankful for.

So what’s Darke Blood about you ask? And is it a sequel to Open Evening?

My short answer to the sequel question is no, sort of. This is a standalone story set in the same universe as Open Evening. If you read either when they are both available you will see they are linked with the view of an eventual crossover of stories. Darke Blood explores the occult and witchcraft along with one of my all time favorite things, Vampires, which seem to never go out of fashion. This is my own take on the above and is a little different.

So what’s it about, well here’s the blurb….

‘There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness of those trees.’

Blake Malone is in search of a new start, he arrives in the remote forest town of Darke Heath. The memory of his past oddly becomes a blur as he discovers this place isn’t what it seems.

Malone shares a romantic encounter with someone who reveals herself to be a ‘creature of the night’ and he learns of her story which intertwines with the history of the ‘Heath’. Together they must face the evil forces of vampirism and witchcraft that lay in the Darke forest.

But just who is Blake Malone? That’s something even he must fight to discover. Because ‘you’ve never known true darkness…’

 

Darke Blood arrives on the 25th of May in both paperback and e-book formats!!!

 

A guide to getting published

Welcome to part 2 of A guide to getting published….

So to recap from part 1; by now you should have answered the initial questions of wanting to be a writer, are you the right ‘person’ and very importantly are you dedicated to endure this journey?

These wont be questions you can answer over night and of course what comes next will also take some time. Social media has many platforms in which a writer can delve into and explore. I started with Facebook and twitter, then I created a blog some few years later. At this point I have only been on Instagram for a fraction of that time.

But during all of this you can and should be writing. It will be lonely and quiet and you wont have news to share every day. 95% of my writing life is spent with just me and words.

Eventually after a lot of dedication and time you can do it, because I did, you will face those two synonymous words; ‘THE END’

Everything up to the point of having ready material to show the world is protected by a curtain I call theory. ‘I’m going to be a published author, uh in theory’ is what you have probably said to yourself at this point but now you have some work to show for it and hence the plot thickens…

This time for me (August 2015) I was ready to make a huge decision. Before this date I was a book writing machine. In three years I had churned out not only my first book with several edits and drafts, but the two sequels all of which were related to that initial first idea I had back when I was 12 on that rainy day with the windows 98 PC. This is where I really learned my craft and developed a style which coincided with my process. I learned to become a writer. 

Book 1 had been through several rounds of submissions to various ‘big time’ and ‘smaller time’ standard publishers and literary agents. All of this received no success. Three years of starting a blog, launching Facebook/twitter and building a following was being blocked by the people whom I wanted to like my work the most, the literary industry. Now they weren’t personally blocking my success they probably didn’t even have much idea I was writing them as like many writers their work ends up on the ‘slush pile’.

Hence comes the fork in the road for you…

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Yes, I went there

Your masterpiece is written and now you are asking google how to get published. You find yourself here maybe and read a few other people’s well earned experience. Right now the world perceives there to be two main ways to find your book into print.

‘Traditional’ – This involves sending your manuscript out to masses of literary agents and waiting. Then wait some more and receive a rejection letter maybe up to or over a year later. Or if you are really really really really lucky. And I’m talking 1 in a JK Rowling billion you’ll be offered representation by an agent who will then pitch your book to a big time publisher.

To begin with this is the route I envisioned to take. But I never got to the representation offer. There are many reasons why rejections happen, firstly agents and publishers really want the very best and are swamped with submissions every day so you have more chance of being accidentally discovered from a slush pile. Not suggesting your book isn’t the best, but it is a humbling reality check trust me.

A lot of places are picky and take first impressions as an opportunity to reject E.g. If you don’t present to them with a  ‘standard’ covering letter or they want more than just a sample such as a synopsis. To be honest why would I write a story about my story, which is essentially what a synopsis is.

They are just doing their job and finding the very best is just that.

This isn’t the route I have taken but good luck if you do try this route to begin with. I recommend you do just for perspective.

 Self Publishing/Independent Publishing – So back to August 2015 and after sending out over 100 submissions I had finally accepted that it was time to try something new. Albert Einstein did define insanity by doing the same thing over and expecting different results.

The stories which I desperately tried to get published were sealed away via USB mass storage and a new journey began. This was no easy decision mind but if I really wanted this it was a liberating and difficult decision I had to make. I needed to do this if I wanted to arrive in publishing and so I turned a corner

My focus was for a new stand-alone story based upon some notes I wrote after a vivid dream I had when I was 14. The choice to do this meant if this project wasn’t a real success then I have no real loss other than my pride and I’ve experienced publishing!

Quickly Open Evening was born and I was going to get this one published by an independent publisher I had my eye on for a little while.

To define an indie publisher can be a little subjective as its classed as self publishing. I wanted to find someone who would edit, format and upload my stuff to amazon via their operation so it’s hardly a ‘self’ activity. But I would be paying for the services provided.

Finding a publisher

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Check out my review of Satin Publishing here!

I had come across Satin Publishing whilst networking and generally being an author with an online presence. Never underestimate the power of networking or even exchanging ‘likes’ over Facebook. Always be nice, courteous and of course helpful because you never know when you might need someone who offers a service. Having looked at the work Satin produced, to me they seemed like the perfect choice to give Open Evening a home. Soon enough I made contact with Satin’s own Nicky Fitzmaurice and she was happily to publish my book!

After that journey of trying to get my last book published ‘traditionally’ I quickly asked myself why didn’t I try this sooner?

The package with Satin Publishing included editing, formatting and uploading to amazon and kindle. So this was actually happening!

There are numerous independent publishers out there looking for first time authors and to me Satin Publishing was a perfect place for me to begin this journey. They had a decent number of followers on social media and looked all around professional. The work they had previously published was a good mix of genre which convinced me to contact them.

As much as I knew they were going to be great to work with this is a leap of faith (of sorts) and that’s something all authors have to take if they want publication.

I could have just asked Nicky to edit and format the book but the deal also included uploading and sorting out all the nuts and bolts that comes with getting the whole thing up on amazon.

I had researched prior and knew exactly what I wanted; Open Evening to be published and available on amazon via print on demand paperback and e-book!

Let’s just break that down – My book is available to anyone who can order it via amazon in two different formats

  1. Paperback – via a print on demand service. This means when one is ordered one is printed and dispatched so there is no need for me to store them. If I wanted to send a copy overseas I can via amazon and it saves me mailing it as they print and package it locally.
  2. E-book – An electronic version readable on most e book readers such as Kindle.

Agreements were made and a quote was sent out. We quickly arranged a publication date and then I got busy social media-ing. What I needed next was a cover for Open Evening and an artist to make one….

Next time on A guide to getting published…..

The Publication Process

That concludes part 2 of A guide to getting published! Stay tuned for part 3 of A guide to getting published. I will explain how it all formed into what you can see below…. I will also speak of how much you need to spend, and I will even give you a basic step by step guide.

 

 

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Satin Publishing Review

As the dust tries its best to settle from the release of my first book Open Evening ; I must look towards reviewing the services provided by my publisher. Considering the great job done its important to record and pass on knowledge of my experiences, for the future.

By that I mean there could be a budding author out there looking to get themselves published. Where could they go?  Well the way we make decisions and learn like always is to read from other peoples experiences. And so here’s the account of mine with Satin Publishing.

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No person is an island, or so they say and eventually if you are serious about being published you will have to take a leap. By that you will have to leave your own island of solitude, build a bridge of contact and find the required help to publication. Now since I became an ‘active’ author in the world of social media I soon began to connect and network with many different writer types and those who work in publishing.

Soon enough I came across Satin Paperbacks, and then Satin Publishing an e-book publisher both run by editor Nicky Fitzmaurice. These were the days when I was still convinced that I could sell stories about criminal robots in the future and it could land you a six figure book deal with a half celebrity literary agent.Everything was going to be great and I would casually knock out several books of a series and Spielberg wanted to do the movie!  Well that worked out didn’t it!

After some time I eventually grasped that someone like me, unless you are lucky (I’m talking struck by lightning twice whilst on the way to buy the winning lottery ticket lucky)  wasn’t going to be picked up by a literary agent for the work mentioned above.

In all that time I was learning, about the book industry, about how to write and who could realistically help me achieve my dream of publication. During this time I was also noticing the popularity of Satin Publishing rise on social media. Eventually I dropped the robot criminal stories and started fresh. Open Evening was born and from the very beginning of drafting in the late summer of last year I constantly had my eye on Satin Publishing with the view to pitch my idea to Nicky.

I made official contact around Christmas time and quickly we had agreed a date for which Open Evening would launch! After an exchange of emails I was quickly given a quote to have my work edited and uploaded to amazon via e-book and print formats (there was also a lot more than just that). Any time I had a question (considering I was a newbie to this) Nicky would always reply and answer anything that I didn’t know.

Soon enough the time quickly rolled around for me to finally hand over my manuscript to be edited and hence the leap of faith was imminent. The moment where this project becomes more than just me tapping away at a laptop. A few weeks later I received a proof copy of my manuscript complete with stuff that was to be deleted and the subsequent replacement. Upon reading through all the changes I was very happy and my eyes were now open as to how my work should look. Then came back the fully edited manuscript with all of the completed work and stuff replaced/edited and at that moment I knew we had a decent book.

Every writer needs an editor, even if its just a fresh set of eyes on something you have been working on for what seems like forever. All of the changes and stuff deleted only made the book better and overall the editing was fantastic. Open Evening has a unique voice that Nicky understood along with putting her own stamp on the work and deservedly so.

The next step was uploading to amazon and again this was done brilliantly as you have probably seen from the pictures of how it came out. Throughout this whole experience to publication Satin Publishing have been professional and helpful to the very day of publication. Nicky helped me liaise with my cover artists and got everything ready for the big day!

I now control every aspect of the book including price and access to sales stats but this book isn’t just mine, its now also a part of Satin Publishing.

For all those first time writers out there looking to make it to publication, I  would recommend Satin Publishing any day of the week, especially if you are looking for an understanding, helpful, trustworthy, professional and knowledgeable editor who can help you realise your dream!  All of this also came at a reasonable price so anyone dreaming of being a writer, if you put in the hard work that dream wont be that far away from reality.

Satin Publishing can help you in ‘unleashing the written word.’

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My book is officially launched!

My social media world has been running wild this past week and hopefully by now all eyes are on my debut novel OPEN EVENING!

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You can grab yourself a copy here, either in freshly printed paper back or via e-book!!

‘Embrace the unexpected’ as the story unfolds around a high school where one kid believes he doesn’t fit in, soon enough his instinct becomes truth and a fight for survival begins! OPEN EVENING is currently the only paperback in the top 20 ‘occult’ chart!

The support and response I have seen so far has been absolutely amazing and I would like to thank all those who have got themselves a copy. Don’t forget to leave a review and let me know what you think. It’s been an amazing journey to finally reach publication and below are some of the highlights from this past week!

If you grab yourself a copy don’t forget to take an #openevening #selfie and tell the world about my debut book!

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Design For Writers Review: Judging a book by its cover

No matter who you are, the first thing you do when judging something is by looking at the appearance. Now I’m not saying we are all judgmental like its a bad thing, this is just a fact.

When the wheels were put in motion for the publication of my first book OPEN EVENING, which arrives on the 29th of this month (or if you are reading this after, where have you been? Either way thanks for reading so you can stay), I set out to find the best possible way in which to display my book.

Many of my publishing inspirations have come from a particular author and blogger known as Catherine Ryan Howard. Her website is a very valuable resource for anyone looking to self-publish or even get published. Her book titled Self Printed is a fantastic guide to publishing. Even if you are curious about the process this lady knows it all so check it out. Saying that her recommendations pointed me towards Design for Writers.

design-for-writersJust their Facebook page alone will show you their wonderful capabilities and so I made contact. At this moment in time I wasn’t particularly sure what I wanted my cover to represent, in all the time of me having this story the tag line would always be ‘Embrace the unexpected’ so how do you depict that in the form of a cover?

Well design for writers have a wonderful way of gathering information about the book (they need to in order to create). Upon initiation of the project; I was invited to an online collaborative base camp. My objectives were clearly laid out along with the various stages of the whole development all the way to final proofs.

When taking on a project like this it is imperative to know the ins and outs of the book. After all the writer is the creator but without everyone else they are just idle words.

The objectives I needed to divulge information with included who I thought the target market would be, reader emotion when reading the book, tone, cultural references, particular poster scenes, perspective, themes, protagonists, synopsis, key words, blurb, genre, setting, point of view, ideas towards a cover, similar books, good design types and even bad.

So you probably get the idea that it takes a hell of a lot of detail to make a decent cover!

Saying that my experience from beginning to end was entirely pleasant and the people I dealt with were always helpful, contactable and professional. There is plenty of stuff I don’t know as a first time author so their patience and understanding was very much appreciated.

Working in the base camp allowed me to see the emergence of not one or two versions of a cover but three! All of them awesome in their own right but after much deliberation not only from me but close friends I came to the choice. Then came the blurb and finally the whole thing pulled together. The gradual piece together process gave the real essence of work in progress which resulted in a fantastic final product.

The cover of a book, especially in this age of ‘I want entertainment now!’ is a synonymous part to the success of it. In my case  its mysterious but also somewhat suggestive towards what the story is about. The colour scheme is eye catching but not too bright and overall it does the one job its supposed to, act as a great eye catching cover. You could sum it up to say the cover of my book OPEN EVENING is simple but very effective! 

Design for writers were wonderful to work with and well worth the investment of money which will only help towards the eventual goal of my stuff being read.The total price I paid was £249.00. which is way worth it for the cover I have.

Things are rolling towards publication day and if you want to be a part of it then join me at my online book launch event via Facebook!  My #YearOfWriting continues….

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Book Cover….Revealed!!!

It’s time to embrace the unexpected because the moment is finally here. After a year of hard work not only from me but some other wonderful people I can show you the visual representation of what my dream looks like!

Ladies and Gentlemen introducing the cover of my first book Open Evening!

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This is actually happening!

At the end of this month I shall ask you all to join me on my journey of publication as the destination is finally reached.

Open Evening hits the amazon shelves via satin publishing in the form of an e-book, but do not despair those who love the smell of real pages. The print version will follow soon so why not see if you like it by checking out the online version! #Hardselling

Save the date of the 29th and let’s help a new author make their mark in the literary world!

So what did the process of making the cover entail? Well it all started when I discovered design for writer’s work and checked them out on the Facebook. After agreeing a quotation, the project was initiated at the beginning of August and I was invited to an online project base camp. An online tool to collect as much information as possible about Open Evening and what I want it to represent as a cover. After some back and forth questions on both sides the cover is finally here and its awesome!

Originally there were three versions of a cover that I was given a choice from. To begin with a very hard decision, but after some consultation with my cover artist and some close friends the above product was chosen and how great does it look.

I don’t expect huge sales within the first few weeks or months of publication but this sort of thing takes time and people, decent people who like decent story telling like you! So come the 29th it will be time for you to survive Open Evening!

2016 is my #YearOfWriting and its happening now!!

 

(Cover design by designforwriters.com)(Open Evening copyright by Lee Hall 2016 Published by Satin Publishing 2016)

 

Book Update

Blog number 80!

My debut novel Open Evening is under two months away from publication. Things are beginning to move in my #YearOfWriting and they are moving towards this project being finalized. And so loyal follower or new reader I thought I would grace you with my presence by informing you of the news.

Here are the facts: On September the 29th this year, Open Evening will be available as an e-book via amazon.

Sometime later in the month of October (in time for Halloween ooooh) the paperback version will be available for you to buy via a print on demand service. I would recommend you buy this if you really like the e-book version as it will probably be pricey (close friends and family, if you think you qualify will get one as a gift from me).

Open Evening is completely new stand-alone young adult horror story. It is not about robots in the future which my previous unpublished works were (they will come later).

It will be brought to you by the wonderful services of satin publishing, an e-pub house who have successfully published many books previously. Nicky Fitzmaurice of satin will be editing my manuscript and providing the publishing services.

Design for writers will be producing the cover (which I am already very very excited about). They have produced some excellent work which you can see on their FB page. I am currently putting together every ounce of information they need to give me the best possible eye catching cover.

Very soon there will be an official cover reveal, then things will get really really exciting.

I’m currently very busy editing the book myslef at the moment so if you see me in person your very lucky, oh and I am going to be 27 this week so buy me card in the form of a beverage.

This is all well and good but what is Open Evening about? I shall present you with some quotations from the narrative.

“Sometimes you don’t get to choose where you are placed in the collective ecosystem of a high school. Survival for me has always been objective number one.” 

“Just remember what you expect and what actually happens are two separate things.”

“The unexpected is a wonderful thing; anything can come from such a place including the horrors of mystery surrounding it. Sometimes it isn’t what is there but what could be there.”

“If I can see you, they can see you.”

Who are they you ask? Well they may or may not be human (but they are not robots). You shall have to find out. I hope I have given you enough to at least wet your appetite for what’s to come.

To be published is a dream come true for me and I very much want this to be a success. I can only do that with your help!

editing begins