Weekly Ramble #82

The 6th book release is near. Everything has kind of come together recently in a somewhat surprising turn of events from reaching the 4000 follower milestone on Twitter to actually selling books on a scale I’ve never known before. Maybe, just maybe I’ve figured things out. But how?

Sometimes stuff just aligns and it hasn’t been easy. It’s taken trial and error to figure out. The road to anything good is paved with hardship and hardwork. Those days of reverting to zero still rear their head every so often but I’ve learned a lot.

I’m by no means a master at this and as much as I expect not a lot of sales from the release of this next book, I’m optimistic that a cluster of loyal folks will at least support my efforts. This is no longer 2018 and my following is full of people I’ve helped and those who’ve helped me. We’re a community and collective, you know who you are. The philosophy of being in Island in the modern world of social media authoring will get you nowhere. This is possibly my greatest learning curve. Connecting, socialising and being consistent with content will eventually foster growth and a following. I’ve recently lauded the concept of getting readers to first invest in you before they take on your work and it’s becoming a way of life. This is while I’ve always kept pecking away at the stories, chasing the words.

Blindly sharing the link to your work is a beginners error. Nobody cares for a writer who does this for self gain. Do this so we can all gain something from one another. There’s a compelling story that’s beyond our books and that’s what will hook people in to you. Being active in the arena and contributing to the writing community is the only way I’ve got to where I am and I’m thankful for the people I’ve networked with.

As much as social media can be a toxic cesspool it’s here for the long haul like me and Book 6 is just my latest milestone of many more things to come. Watch this space which is now decorated with optimism.

You can expect more information about Book 6 very soon!

A guide to getting published: Part 1

Hello friends, today’s post is a re blog all the way back from 2017 although it’s still very relevant today. As I continue to research and put together a blogging and authoring guide book, this is just a snippet of what you can expect for bloggers and authors of all levels….

Lee's Hall of information

Very recently I was asked in person about my experiences of being a published author. What does it take to reach that moment of holding your own book in your hands?

How do you go from imagination and thought harnessing all the way to print?

Thinking about it, if we can go deep only for a few reflective moments and if I were to turn around and look at the road that lays behind me. Just beyond that moonlit horizon is a whole series of stories and experiences that made up my official journey to publication.

This series of posts is a guide of how I did it, what I learned, what went well, what didn’t and above all and like everything in the world of ‘publishing’ it’s subjective towards the beholder. By that I mean there is more than one way to get ‘published’ and be ‘successful’. There are…

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Weekly Ramble #79

The decision to carry on through whatever this year has thrown me is shaping up to be the best thing I’ve ever done in both authoring and blogging. 

During March and even April, things weren’t easy for any of us, and that’s still the case now. There’s uncertainty, anxiety and a boat load of crap that’s the resultant of these times. I’ve been extremely fortunate in being able to have a choice to carry on. Not only has this become my best coping strategy for what is happening, it’s started to yield rewarding results. 

There’s a story in everyone’s individual journey and mine is no different to anyone working their way through life, trying to figure things out. Considering the continuous ‘successful’ numbers this blog has experienced along with actual book sales, I’ve turned around recently and realized that road behind me is full of detailed lessons in how I got to today.

Combined with the interactions I’ve had recently with fellow peers in this writing community, this journey seems to be getting better and better. Without realizing; my quest to discover new books and authors has earned me a word I would never imagine anyone using to describe me or my efforts; respect. 

This has become a real pinnacle moment or even an epiphany, because when I first started out and all the way to now, its confirmation that this journey has been worthwhile and perhaps that’s worth more than anything else. While I began this journey of writing books and trying to get them read – it’s the everything else that happened which became the true moral of it all. 

I’ve always written books for me; first and foremost. But now, I know I write this blog for you. These two philosophy’s go hand in hand. Over the many years, I’ve learned a hell of a lot. And now I have the numbers, figures, sales, follows or whatever you want to measure that with, to prove it all works.

The light bulb moment appeared last week when of course like usual an idle writers mind is a dangerous thing. Now I am over 10,000 words into a guide book of all the lesson’s I’ve learned over the years to get to here. It’s part biography and part self help guide with a hope it isn’t too self indulgent. It won’t be for everyone. And already I’ve poured out part of my story which is full of struggle and triumph. As I said there’s a story in everyone’s individual journey and if I can relay mine in a way that helps just one other person, I would have succeeded.

It’s still in the very early stages, but you can expect this guide book to authoring and blogging in the social media age to arrive next year. 5 books in 4 years, soon to be 6 in 5 is definitely more than enough in terms of credentials and a blog where the numbers quadrupled in the space of a year. The whole premise of this guide will be if I can do this, so can you. And you can!  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Book Promo Results September 2019

At the Hall of Information we believe that sharing is caring. Especially when it comes to book promotion methods and results. We don’t keep secrets from fellow authors in fact we promote helping the efforts of others in every possible way. We’re all crawling through the shit storm of life together so we might as well help each other right?

Here are the official results of my latest book promotion that ran last week and more importantly how I got them…

Brief interlude… 

dfw-lh-db-cover-ebook

For 2019 one of my top objectives was to get more exposure for my vampire novel ‘Darke Blood’. The plan always was to make the e-version free to download in September and so I did that – (beginners you can make any title free for a brief time via Kindle Direct Publishing as long as it is enrolled in KDP select (ask the google for more info) )

Like my usual book promo runs, I set ‘Darke Blood’ to be free from Wednesday to Friday – how you arrange days may have some effect on sales. Weekend dates can be good sometimes, Sundays have worked well previously but I normally adopt the weekday method.

The last time I had made ‘DB’ free was back in February of 2018, so it’s been a while, the results back then were north of 1000 downloads. So taking into account it had been a while and the fact my readership has grown since then along with the accumulation of a few more reviews I had some optimism that ‘DB’ would do quite well.

Side note: Vampire stories are no way dead (no pun intended), even after the monstrosity that was Twilight, they are still a pretty popular niche, trust me. And I salute anyone who enjoys stories of this genre along with those who write them! 

Results

During the promotional run ‘Darke Blood’ was downloaded 3,402 times!

All previous free promotional records were broken on the Wednesday. (Day 1)

With reference to the below screen grabs you can see things jumped up a notch in the space of an hour on day 1.

 

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This is without mentioning the chart placement it got over on Amazon US.

Not once or twice but THRICE charts… This is a big tip for those looking to get more eyes on your books. There are plenty of charts out there that aren’t as ‘busy’ or populated making it easier climb and get number 1 or even ‘best seller’ status…

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By the close of Day 1 ‘Darke Blood’ came near to 3000 downloads but I had to settle for 2,933 – an impressive feat.

Day’s two and three were less impressive but still commendable with 369 and 97 respectively pushing the total past 3000 in total but on day 3 it wasn’t the only book of mine up for grabs!

tp numbers

I sneakily set my super hero comedy novella ‘The Teleporter’ for free on Day 3. And the booziest hero of them all stole the day with a total of 88 units downloaded.

This is impressive because I hardly promoted ‘The Teleporter’ apart from a cheeky Facebook ad and other social media shout outs.

So overall in 3 days my books were downloaded 3,402 times!

How I got these results and factors which governed them… 

Every book is different, and the success of a free promotional run is governed by a ton of factors such as:

Amount of reviews good or bad – having all good reviews for a title isn’t necessary a good thing, in fact ‘Darke Blood’ is one of my most subjective books, it’s rating isn’t exactly the highest which may have helped.

Recent reviews – If your title has some recent reviews, people know it’s recently been read, I’ve had the luck of getting some higher profile reviews this year for ‘DB’ from awesome bloggers Thinking Moon  Mullen Crafts and Feed the Crime – this helped big time!

Current Events – Only days before putting ‘DB’ up for free I pondered via a blog post about whether or not the sequel will ever see the light of day. This post unintentionally stirred up some interest. And yes the sequel will be happening in 2020.

Timing – The transition from Summer to Autumn brings the promise of Halloween, folks love a spiced latte and a good spooky book to read; ‘Darke Blood’ is just that and another top tip for anyone writing horror, thriller or occult – I have made the most sales of these genres in September! People love the build up to Halloween!

Following – As opposed to last year my following is way bigger, people won’t buy your book if they don’t know about it, this may be the greatest lament and struggle of all authors everywhere. This blog has been nominated for 4 awards this year and we now have 400 plus followers. My Tweet machine following is in the high 2000’s – way more than last year.

Investment – If you want a book to sell, for free or at a price, you have to invest money in doing so…

So how exactly did I get 3000 plus downloads? With the above combined factors and my big secret… Book promotion websites – this isn’t really a secret.

How do book promo sites work? Essentially you pay them to tell people about your promo –  they all boast to have access to several thousand followers via email and social media so you are simply paying to use this mode of distribution and the truth is, it works! There are even some sites who take on submissions for free.

My tip when dealing with such sites is to always pay via paypal.

The whole concept with using promo sites is to ‘stack’ the promotion by using multiple sites over the days…

The big secret – Book Promo websites  (paid and unpaid)

I invested around $100 for this promo – probably the most I have ever spent. It sounds like a lot but the results were awesome and worth it.

Here’s a list of sites I used.

Paid:

https://www.freebooksy.com/for-the-authors/   – Promoted on Wednesday

https://pretty-hot.com/submit-your-book/       – Promoted on Thursday

https://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/    – Promoted on Thursday

Free Sites:

https://discountbookman.com/book-promotion/   – Promoted on Wednesday

http://www.free99books.com/author/add – Promoted on Friday

https://www.bookzio.com/promote-your-book-2/ – Promoted on all 3 days

http://bookangel.co.uk/  – Promoted on all 3 days

http://www.ebooklister.net/submit.php – Promoted on all 3 days

https://ebookshabit.com/ – Promoted on all 3 days

http://bookbongo.com/submit/  – Promoted on all 3 days

Other methods of promo – Facebook 

There are other ways to spread the word about a promotion. Amazon offer their own ad service which I didn’t find much success with previous and even though Facebook aren’t the most reputable bunch they do have access to a lot of people if you place an ad with them.

I boosted two of my posts from my main author page and as you can see ‘DB’ did quite well. The ad set up in FB is pretty complex and detailed but if you can figure it out you can target the right folks.

It’s especially effective for free promotions, convincing people to vote Brexit and getting Trump into power… I deleted my FB app last year for a while, it did me the world of good, even now I don’t look at FB that much. But all satire and opinions aside, the ‘DB’ promo did quite well.

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Outlook…

The hope is that some folks now read Darke Blood and then leave a review. The KENP page read tracker is already showing numbers and I have since sold more books.

For those looking to take on more of my work both ‘Open Evening’ and ‘Cemetery House’ will be available for free sometime in the next month or a little after.

If you missed the free run of Darke Blood or The Teleporter get in touch and I shall send the e version out to you for free in exchange for a review!

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And so that wraps up my latest book promotional efforts. Let me take this opportunity to thank everyone for sharing the links, leaving reviews and helping the efforts of your friendly independently published author! 

Remember to leave a review!

 

A guide to getting published: Conclusion

A guide to getting published…. The concluding conclusion

And so it was early 2016, I had organised a publication date for Open Evening and now I needed to find a cover artist!

cropped-boooks.jpgThe platform in which you can upload and self-publish books via amazon allows you to use their software to put together a cover. The offer a fairly limited amount of designs mainly of the plain persuasion but it all depends on what you want, sometimes plain can be effective. I’ve personally never used it and on advice I received I suggest you don’t either. Unless you have an elaborate idea of what you want or even a photo you have personally taken I would suggest using the services of a cover artist in which there are many out there on the world wide webisphere…

I’m telling you to do this because A) Getting a nice cover made should already be in your budget and, B) a cover is really important and just in case you didn’t know, people do judge a book by its cover. If you read the last post you can see at the very bottom how mine turned out, and yes it looks wonderful.

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After some research and even reading some self-help books I concluded that I wanted a company called Design for Writers to make my cover. Their Facebook page displayed a wonderful array of covers in which I imagined mine would be like. And like that I accepted their quote and waited until closer the publication day to begin working with them.

During this time and getting nearer to publication day I began to pen my next book Darke Blood in which I concluded drafting in June of 2016 (coming out this year!).

Editing and Cover stuff- Final putting together of the book

Nicky Fitzmaurice my editor had informed me she had began her work and it was August now! Time flies huh? It wasn’t long until I had back my manuscript which had been annotated throughout with changes/corrections.

After approving the changes things were really ready to move into publication.

Design for writers presented me with a link to an online basecamp where I could tell them what I wanted. They asked me a boat load of questions regarding tone, plot and characters just to get the idea of what I wanted and what they could do. After some weeks of work and back and forth (its okay to ask questions at any stage of a project, especially if you are not sure) soon enough we had a cover ready! They had even given me the choice of 3 completely different options.

The final cover proof was sent to Nicky who uploaded it to Createspace and Kindle Direct Publishing along with the edited manuscript and we were ready for launch!

Book Launch and Marketing – This doesn’t have to be a frightening ordeal but this is what I did and learnt from it…

And so here it was, the moment I had been waiting for since that rainy Sunday afternoon with the windows 98 computer. Book release day.

Now my advice would be to publish and upload your book maybe a week or so before your actual publication date. This allows for you to make sure it’s OK and delivers out to people in one piece. By this time, you have maybe told a close group of friends and some of them have ordered copies. Now the buzz can really begin. Some of them may have even put up a first impression review!

Out of all my ideas to market Open Evening there was one movement which sold more books that I hadn’t accounted for. The Open Evening ‘SELFIE’. And trust me book selfies sell books, in fact they sell around 50 in the first week of release.

open evening clip collection

Selfies and cats sell books!

Even now I am still figuring out how to market my book and get sales which haven’t been remarkable but… slow and steady does eventually win the race. My amazon UK page has 6 reviews so far and all of them are good.

Goodreads would be something I suggest you get into and they offer an awesome giveaway service which will get an abundance of eyes on your book. I have also tried the Amazon US giveaway scheme which can actually get you more twitter follows.

If you would like to read on about more of my book marketing advice and adventures then check back with my resources section soon.

 

Now finally the conclusion via a list of stuff you need to be like me and published…

 

  1. The willingness to write and get better at it
  2. Dedication
  3. A book idea that’s good
  4. A completed manuscript which you have edited multiple times. Trust me this is important and the amount of people who have unfinished work is more frequent than it sounds. Get to writing you can do it!
  5. An online presence – Facebook/ Twitter and Blog. Get out there and engage with people!
  6. Money! You can do this on a budget but I would say you need at least £800 to get everything you want, this also includes marketing such as Facebook adverts!
  7. An editor and or publisher who wants to publish your work.
  8. A cover artist. Plenty of good ones out there, research research research!
  9. A thick skin and a lot of patience (mainly because stuff doesn’t ever happen quickly)
  10. The ability to ask questions…. Because although it looks like I know everything, I don’t.
  11. A plan to market and sell books. How are you going to do it?
  12. A good group of friends to help you launch the book with selfies and those important first reviews.
  13. A realistic approach and of course its all subjective. Success as an author is in the eye of the beholder so set realistic and gradual goals!
  14. Just keep going and never look back!

 

Final thought

Its been rather nice re-living the story I lived over the past few years and I must thank you all for the wonderful response I have received so far. Thank you all for the likes, follows and re-tweets.

This has been my journey to publication and of course we all know it has only just begun…..

 

 

 

 

A guide to getting published: Part 1

Very recently I was asked in person about my experiences of being a published author. What does it take to reach that moment of holding your own book in your hands?

How do you go from imagination and thought harnessing all the way to print?

Thinking about it, if we can go deep only for a few reflective moments and if I were to turn around and look at the road that lays behind me. Just beyond that moonlit horizon is a whole series of stories and experiences that made up my official journey to publication.

This series of posts is a guide of how I did it, what I learned, what went well, what didn’t and above all and like everything in the world of ‘publishing’ it’s subjective towards the beholder. By that I mean there is more than one way to get ‘published’ and be ‘successful’. There are several inputs that result in different outputs, but luckily for you this is my road map of a journey which started in 2012.

First of all above anything you have to answer the 3 following questions…

So you want to be a writer?

I was twelve years old when I first started writing on that old windows 98 computer, it was a rainy Sunday afternoon… Everyone has their story and mine probably isn’t any different to how you or anyone else realized they wanted to be a wordsmith. It’s the very first thing you must decide, do you really want to do this?

For me I just had a story in my mind which expanded by tenfold over the years, it grew with me as I became an adult and never ever went away. Sometimes you should listen to the various characters in your head even if they do talk out of term. This persistent universe which I had created convinced me that I should one day show it to the world and hence question number 1 was answered.

writing

Do you have what it takes to dedicate yourself?

You have to be really dedicated! No I really mean that…

Again I’m being subjective when say this because I can only relate it to my experience. Are you ready to dedicate the hours and time into putting together a story that is made purely from organic thought? Are you willing to learn the translation process?

Translation huh, you ask. Writing is nothing more than taking a thought in your brain and converting into written word. But the big revelation is that you don’t have to be that good at it to be successful! And most writers are judged for their particular style of translation.

So can you translate what you see in your mind into words and sentences?

To be honest in the earlier days I struggled immensely with my description and detail. This is something which will only improve after spending hours practicing and even now I struggle. Back space will feature heavily along with giving your laptop or computer screen the death stare of ‘vacancy’.

My original routine consisted of coming home from work, taking a shower, making a cup of tea and then spending 4 hours writing. This grasping the translation stuff doesn’t happen overnight and for nearly two years I was writing more than I was doing anything else outside of work. Was the stuff I made any good? Probably not and I would even say that out of that 4 hours of work 30 minutes of it produced anything readable. It does take time and there is no short cut to putting in hours.

Nowadays my process has evolved as I have. I will spend up to an hour drafting new material, and all of it mostly readable work!

In this step you will have to financially commit yourself in buying a PC or laptop. Unfortunately and as romantic as pen and paper is, it’s just not the fashion!

So do you have what it takes to put in the time?

Okay so you’re dedicated but it still isn’t enough!

Are you the right person to call yourself a writer?

This is NOT a deep reflective question where you will spend days pondering about what your calling is in life. Take it at face value. Are you willing to be very very patient, so patient that it’s a discipline.

There is no better way to look professional and serious by being patient/cool about things. Just breathe and relax.

So you’ve sent a dozen copies of your manuscript out and haven’t received a reply. You may never will and what have you lost? Sending stuff out to zero response will happen but the concept of not being bothered by any results will really give you a one up. There are probably many many sorry cases of people following up and demanding they read their manuscript and consider it to be the next Harry Potter series. Just be cool and if someone likes what you write, they’ll find you trust me.

Mold yourself into a patient and professional person even if this is just a hobby. There is no excuse for bad manners in life and writing is no exception.

This will be a journey of solitude, and by that most of the time nothing really happens other than you, a laptop and the story. So be prepared to be alone, only a writer becomes a story teller alone.

Prepare to be criticized and judged. People react in weird ways when you say you’re a writer. How you handle that will define how you take any criticism.

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Next comes the real journey…

I can’t physically teach you how to write and develop a work process, that’s up to you to figure out.

So you’ve written your masterpiece and edited it over and over again until all you see in those words is white noise.

Now it’s time for the big plunge, going public!

Arrive on social media and figure it all out

In order to build a profile as an author you have to have an online presence.

You can do this as you are writing, but to really be taken seriously you must be on social media. I began with small baby steps, I created an author page on Facebook and then got all my friends to like it. Over time friends of friends will engage and as you network other writer types will join in.

Next came twitter and eventually I got myself into blogging which is a big thing these days.

Blogging is an opportunity to talk and not be interrupted, its also an opportunity to share your opinion to the world. Whether that be a topical review, pressing journalism or just an update about what you are writing. A blog is a center piece to your online presence. Give it a catchy and even a slightly humorous name. Remember we aren’t curing disease here we are just arranging words together that turns into something that reads well. Have fun, be silly, be serious but above all be there! To date my most successful blog post is nothing about books, its about Yoga! 

Social media success is somewhat an enigma at times. It’s not all about ‘hey I’m a writer and my big book is coming next year’. You almost have to go fight club and not actually talk about that sort of stuff. It’s sounds weird but it’s true. Post stuff that you find interesting and may not be relevant to writing, you may just find yourself with a new follower or comment. In my resources section you can see a brief guide to social media including the use of Instagram. 

And so you’ve taken the plunge into deciding you want to be a writer. By now you may have even completed a first draft, and yes my first drafts are also awful. The Facebook page has been launched and you have started to blog. You may even be thinking about how weird twitter really is.

Your building blocks are starting to form a foundation towards getting a book out there! 

Part 2 will feature my journey and the choices I made in getting my first book published! We will cover the details of what goes into being independently published and what you need to do to get there. 

100 Days until the UK General Election : A somewhat humorous Guide

Yes folks it’s that time again for some of us to express our democratic right and have some part in choosing the next person we can all blame for not having any money and other stuff.

It seems this year the election is wide open, as opposed to normally being a two horse race between team red and team blue. Last time saw the emergence of team yellow and Nick Clegg shortly followed by his demise, quicker than a student can drop a fire extinguisher from a building.

Come with me as I take a brief look at the top political parties looking to gain some ground in the 2015 UK general election.

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Conservative (current champions, only because Nick Clegg’s Liberal party shared his votes with them so they could form a coalition government)

Headed by our prime minister David Cameron, he will be looking for an outright victory this time round, but honestly I really cant say what’s gonna happen (like I know). It will be interesting what he has to say when the live television debates happen. Hopefully he will be more prepared than the prank caller was.

titand

Liberal Democrats

Clegg’s team will be looking to scrape back some level of respect after his u turn on student fees. Doubt that will happen.

(I am trying to do the right thing here and insult every party, that way everyone is cared about)

Labour

Ed Miliband is the man for Labour, I just don’t know If labour is for him. Like the two above parties they are all considered as the top 3 (well they are statistically) but the parties below will be challenging them. This time it could even be serious. So Labour may loose more than they have gained in recent times.

SNP – Scottish National Party

Only contending for seats in Scotland they have gained much ground in recent times. Especially after the referendum last year. If they win out right in Scotland they will hop over team Clegg and become the 3rd biggest party in the UK. Good luck to them, especially after the no vote for independence so perhaps this shift could help change things. (Ok notice I didn’t add an insult here, so I will just say this, I have never tried Haggis)

BNP – British National Party

Seriously? No.

UKIP- UK independence party

Armed with a leader who spends much time in a pub and a face only fit for punching Nigel Farage will be looking to steal votes from the power 3. Will he steal enough to get into downing street? Doubtful, are we worried? Yes. UKIP could be the deciding factor as to who will win.

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Look’s like somebody did punch him!

 

The Green Party

There are three chapters of the greens, one for Ireland, one for Scotland, then England and Wales. Another popular choice for those looking at the polling card and saying ‘None of these please’. They currently run the coastal district of Brighton. Could we see them take more places?

Plaid Cymru

Welsh party who co ordinate with SNP. Last time around they came 4th on their home soil.

 

So that’s the guide, who are you voting for? Or like me you are waiting for the politicians to make arses of themselves on the televised debates. Of course this is or UK residents only but if you could vote who would it be for? Check out a podcast I am in all this year for exclusive election coverage! And remember I have a competition running, scroll down! A grand total of 0 entries so far! Rock and Roll!!!

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 A final note from the Hall of information 

This weekend and next I am performing in Iver Heath Drama Club’s annual pantomine; Robin Hood and the babes in the woods! Yes ladies I am Robin Hood and will be wearing those tights, come and see me and many more talented people who put together this awesome show. For tickets click here, for more info click here.

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