6 Years of Blogging – Here’s what I learned…

The road of life is long and so is the journey this blog has seemingly endured. Has it really been 6 years since I plunged into the world of blogging? Time has a way of slipping before our fingers when we’re busy and having fun, perhaps those two things are the main staples of how all of this is held together. That is along with the revelation that over time has convinced me most people are decent but those who follow this outfit are exceptional. 

What have I learned in 6 years of blogging? Probably enough to fill a self help book and well that may eventually appear on the horizon, I’ll give you an insight because for my followers, it’s the least I can do. These are the pillars that hold up the Hall of Information…  

hall of information

Choose a name that stands out…

Let’s face it, Lee’s Hall of Information is a gimmick style name and back when I started out, gimmick style names for blogs were all the rage. You don’t see it as much these days but I’ve embraced my not so serious blog name. It’s a play on words with my real name and it’s fun.

All the right people can make all the difference in the world

This blog has picked up the support of some awesome people over the years. People who see your vision like you do are important and if you work hard enough they will eventually find you trust me…

Support others like you wish to be supported

This one’s in red because it might be the most important pillar that holds up the Hall of Information and my entire ethos in life (or at least on here anyway). Commenting or liking another blogger’s post will most likely make their day and give just a little justification or satisfaction for their efforts. A few years ago I had the epiphany that basically sealed that ethos when I began to review Indie books. Pretty much as soon as that first review dropped the traffic to this site rocketed, which leads to the next thing…

Offer something that people need 

We’re using green because again it’s important and possibly the code breaking formula in all success everywhere. If you can offer something that people need, they will grab it. Sales people use that tactic to fling whatever they are flinging and I used it in more of a supporting way by reaching out to the wider writing community and offering to read and review their work – I did this to support others like I wished to be supported and it resulted in connecting with so many awesome people, some I even consider my friend plus it led to an often overlooked factor in blogging…

Regular Content is King

Because I have so many indie books on my list and I am always reading (I need to read to get better at writing) there will forever be a constant stream of content (book reviews) being churned out by the Hall of Information. The internet moves quickly and if you don’t put stuff out regularly then you will get forgotten. Being consistent in blogging will eventually get results, trust me. This is also relevant advice to whatever you blog about not just books…

Diverse content is King also… 

Unless you’re a book reading machine, and trust me there are a few bloggers who are, you’re going to need a range of content that extends towards the main stream. Trust me when I say some of my most viewed posts are nothing to do with books or writing. This review for DDP Yoga gets reads nearly every week and this post about wrestling often gets looked at. Neither of them are my core content subjects but they draw in views from outside that bubble.

It takes time

No matter how good you are to begin with or what you offer to readers this whole deal takes time to build. I started at zero and spent years not really knowing why 2 people read my latest post but eventually things grow if you keep going…

the stats

Share your feelings

It’s okay to vent, it’s okay to complain, it’s okay to be honest and express your feelings in what ever fashion you like. It’s your blog and your world first and foremost. I’ve shared many a grievance on here, one particular grievance about a 1 star review of The Teleporter led to a huge response from the writing community.

Look up to fellow bloggers

There are a stack of wonderful bloggers out there whom I look up to. Don’t be an island, reach out to them, connect and share ideas. Be there when they release new content even if you just drive by with a like for a post and read it later. This is a people thing, be part of it… some of those awesome bloggers you can find here.  The blogger who inspired me to do this started out in self publishing and has recently had one of her books optioned for a movie!

Enjoy it, embrace it and go for it

When I look back at those early days when I first put together the Hall of Information title on a background of dark red and an image of books on a shelf, I never imagined those books by other people would eventually be swapped out for my own.

The reviews and content I put out serves a purpose and people have recently used the word respect when they hold me in regard – this is worth more than probably anything else I could ever imagine as success.

That first post simply titled ‘Pilot’ led to where I stand today, pecking away at the keyboard, chasing the words, keeping things going, supporting others and hoping not just my work is a success but that others are too. Writing, reading and blogging is home to me no matter where I hang my hat.

We’ll get there someday and the Hall of Information continues forth into the world of words and beyond. I like that word, beyond, it makes this feel like it could lead anywhere, maybe it will…

To everyone who has ever followed, read and supported this blog, thank you. See ya in the next one! Rock and roll man!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Is genre variable in storytelling?

We all know that stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. They are a constant much like all of us have a brain, a heart and an imagination, mostly. It is my belief that a story teller can turn their hand to any genre, the work itself doesn’t change physically, just the subject. 

Many will argue that genre is more of a constant in their story telling efforts and I applaud that. They’ve found a home, a comfort and place to hone their ability, while others like to move around more, they prefer to drift from place to place. People find stability and home in different places, and stability is probably the most underrated thing artists need to work – some level of calm in all this chaos.

To paraphrase Stanley Kubrick, he said that all movies need two or three ‘big moments’ that make the jaws of the audience drop. I’m talking twists, turns, revelations; all of the good stuff that makes moments in cinema and story.

I tend to aim for these moments when linking my story together although you can only really have a few of these per story. The shock factor is only good for a couple of times max. The audience are human after all. It’s much like yelling an expletive at someone over and over again, eventually the recipient is numbed to it and you’re better off complimenting them. When this type of moment unfolds in a story, things are never normally the same from then on. Examples come from my own work ‘Darke Blood’ which has a sequence of big reveals later on. It’s a make or break situation sometimes and the audience do not like their intelligence insulted but more their ego slightly massaged.

Writers can factor these moments in whatever genre your story is. Again we go back to the beginning, the middle and the end. From Aliens invading to the YA love triangle, as long as you have the constants and the ‘moments’ it is my belief any story teller can grasp any type of genre. 

Can you turn your hand to any genre? 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bookbub Ads – an abject failure

Here at the Hall of Information we are always on the look-out for proven techniques that work on the subject of book promotion. Even though this operation is small, we still try our best to pass on all experiences and results, good or bad for the greater good of fellow wordsmiths looking to get their work out into the wider world. Well it was only a matter of time until a bad one came along, or shall we say a ‘not so good’ one. Right now I’m not angry, I’m just disappointed…

This week I took a dive into the complicated, convoluted world of Bookbub advertising. Now first let me determine that this is not the ‘featured deal’ advertising you can apply for which they will probably reject, but in fact another service via their ‘partners’ site. Anyone can pretty much sign up and get advertising straight away or so they say. 

You are asked to fill in boxes with your book’s URL, and the whole thing is pretty standard if you are comparing to other advertisers. But then it gets a little complicated as you are asked to find an audience who will potentially click on what is essentially a thumbnail sized pop up that will appear in their inboxes the next time Bookbub sends them a circular. This is essentially what the advert is, a small pop up of your cover and 60 characters to hook someone into clicking on it. Did I hook someone? Anyone? Just one person? Find out below…

It isn’t really explained whether broad or specific audiences are preferable. Specific would target individuals most likely to buy I suppose? When I reached the green area it suggested I’m on track (unlike the example below) and so after putting a few Darke Blood related author tags and genres into this targeting thing, it seemed to be happy.

borad

Next you are asked about date ranges, budget and then of course more complicated things known as ‘Bid’ which is an impressions based of clicks budget – again very convoluted for the layman author looking to sling a few ebooks. I selected a continuous option because the ambition in me just imagined the sales rolling in…

So after fudging around with the figures – figures I cannot show you because Bookbub have already deleted the campaigns I put on pause – I was ready to go. My first campaign looked a little like this…

Daily Budget $15 

Bid ‘CPM’ Budget $9ish 

_________________________________________________________________________________

dfw-lh-db-cover-ebook

 

There are more than shadows lurking in the darkness…

(Imagine a jazzy background)

 

 

Buy now

 

 

______________________________________________________________________________________

I guran-damn-tee somebody who stumbles upon this here post, even in ten years time will click on that buy now button, but when my ad ran for 24 hours, with over 200 impressions, not one person clicked on it…

Ok, so maybe it was me, not being able to navigate the system probably. So the very next day I tried again, and changed a few things. By lunchtime I was done. No clicks and me left wondering what I did wrong, like everyday… I don’t have time to figure out over complicated advertisement algorithms, and maybe you do, but I’ve got books to write.

My total spend on this abject failure was $17.69 and I know for a fact I can get book sales for less than that. In fact I have, with my Bookbub featured deal last year I spent $86.00 and sold 66 books that day. But the many other promo sites I’ve used have given me a way better return.

My advice would be to go elsewhere. Of course my book promo lists/results can be found in the many posts I have put out there previously. Here are a couple of recents:

Book Promo Results March 2020

Book Promo Results September 2019

Final Thought: 

Straight after I was done failing at Book bub ads, I cobbled together this little mock up via an online photo shop site. Seeing as I just got a fresh review, I quoted it and then put it up on the Tweet machine.

Image

As you can see the results are 3 times better than bookbub ads, and not a dime was spent…

tweet

The moral of the story, not all advertisers work, and neither do I… Be wise with your money and don’t just dive into something…

Let’s talk about… Book Marketing

Do you feel slightly dirty whenever you spam the link to your book on social media? People who see it feel the same too because nothing is worse than seeing an author constantly spamming their own social media platforms with their own stuff…

I thought its best I put together some other methods to get folks to buy and more importantly read your books. Marketing is the most overlooked part of being a writer and the excuses range from ‘I’m an introvert’ to ‘I’m not a salesman’. Well the truth is you need to be neither to get reads and sales. While selling stuff is subjective I can happily admit I’ve sold a few books in most corners of the civilised world so this is my talk about book marketing…

What you need to do above all is to set out a realistic and achievable goal. Before you even start, ask yourself what I do want to get out of this book I have bestowed upon the world?

What do you want and what do you need to do in order to get it?

Sales and money ? – in this age of everyone self publishing (which is good and sometimes very bad…) I wish you all the luck in the world. Unless it’s about a real current thing that’s gone crazily popular or even a masterpiece you’ve written, don’t expect instant bucks, just don’t. Breaking even is a dirty word around here… and so I can’t help with this one…

sales

People reading and reviewing your work – now this is a very achievable goal and the chances are of it happening will grow as you release more stuff – that is if you intend to write more than one book like a real writer… There are many a different factors that govern whether or not people will see you work, pick it up and then review it. I can’t list them all but here’s a mini breakdown.

  1. Reasonable Price
  2. Decent Blurb
  3. Decent pro cover art
  4. Catchy title that matches genre and cover
  5.  A social media presence of some kind

That’s great and all but HOW can I get people to read my work?

Well if you have the 5 factors above ticked then all you have to do is let the world know about it. And no don’t just go spamming the link every 5 minutes. Do these things instead:

  1. Reach out to book bloggers for a review – offer a free copy in exchange. We don’t bite…
  2. Friends and relatives are a great starting point for reads/reviews. Ask them to help.
  3. Give your E-book away for free and pay for advertising through many book promo sites – check this post out for more info on that 
  4. Read and review other authors works – many writers will repay you because that’s just manners (don’t expect this though).
  5. Write another book and then another – writers with a back catalogue will most likely have returning readers if they liked one of your titles. Immediately after reading my first Crichton novel, I pursued his whole catalogue…
  6. Start a blog like this and talk about the laments of being a writer. Share your woes, book sales results and give back to the community.

Some writers who stubbornly say they wont give their work away for free will not get very far. Unless you are already famous or some kind of popular figure it’s highly likely you are starting this from zero. Sometimes setting the price to zero will attract readers who might buy at full price next time.. this then leads into…

Use social media properly – The word ‘properly’ is just my humble opinion but I cannot stress enough how important it is to be active on social media and to engage with others both respectfully and genuinely.

What is social media? Here are 34 definitions… – Econsultancy

Don’t just share your book link, don’t, I see you’re about to do it, just don’t!

Instead comment on other authors posts, be encouraging, friendly, follow back and retweet stuff. Trust me this will turn more heads than anything else on social media and of course Twitter. Be genuine.

If you want my top tip have a real profile picture. This is a very simple and effective way to be genuine. People who don’t have an actual person as a profile picture have an incomplete stance on social media, plus it’s kinda creepy that you would wish to remain anonymous. Honestly show your pretty face, it can’t be that bad…

Be patient – okay this one might be a cop out, but good things like having sales and reads take time, commitment and books. Write more, dive into the words and don’t dwell on people who haven’t discovered your work.

Many many more things – there are a stack of more things that come into play with book marketing, perhaps for another post sometime. But don’t forget luck, the time of year, what’s happening in the world and many many more things need to be taken into account in book marketing…

The biggest challenge any author faces is not the writing but what comes after. Informing the world you exist is that challenge. Embrace it, go after it and more importantly don’t give up on it. Giving literature to the world is a gift trust me…

And if you enjoyed this post head on over to my Facebook page and give it a like becasue that’s the place where I give away books!

 

 

 

 

 

Let’s talk about… writing – The First Draft…

A new blog series emerges, out of the unknown void of creativity where I sometimes have ideas…

Let’s talk about writing. You’re probably not going far and neither am I.

So while I’m here and you are (hopefully) let’s use this time to reflect on writing, after all it’s what most of us blogger types do.

Personally there is no full proof blue print to teach someone to write. You have to find that within yourself but I can sure as hell talk about it and hopefully pass on some ‘wisdom’ about the craft. If you tuned in to Twitter recently you may have seen my recent thread that 4 people probably read all about that first draft.

15 Websites And Apps For Creative, Fiction, and Short Story ...

It’s easier and relatable to think of writing in a way that everyone can. So for this post, we are going to use the analogy of cooking to represent writing that first draft…

Drafting a book 101 – The Omelette Analogy

 Egg sales have soared to a 30-year high  — smashing the 6.5billion barrier

So, you’re hungry and it’s approaching lunchtime. You have a hankering for an omelette…

* Translation – you have an idea and want to write a book. 

For a while you’ve been thinking about what you want to put into this omelette and you have some ideas. Do you have the ingredients? Do you have long enough in your lunch break to pull it off? Is there is decent frying pan in the kitchen. Do you even have a kitchen?

* Translation – you have some story ideas that could link together to make an entire book, and you’re set on a genre. Do you have enough ideas to run the course of a book? Do you have the time in your schedule to dedicate to writing. This will need to be a regular time nearly everyday. Do you have a laptop or a working computer? Do you have a dedicated writing space – I wrote on my bed for 4 years, ask my back about it… 

You’ve got several eggs and various other ingredients (ideas) some you know work and others that don’t but you figure ‘what the hell, this art and I am an artiste’. You grab the frying pan (laptop or notepad), make some time and start cracking eggs. You set the heat to medium and begin to mix..

*Translation – you’ve answered most of the questions above and dive in! 

Even though you’ve never cooked an omelette of this kind in full, you are getting a feel for the process and are learning by doing. This is probably the way I found my chef’s voice (writing voice) by spending hours upon hours of cooking (typing).  

*Translation – you’ve probably dabbled in some kind of writing before. A short story here or essay there… 

You then omit some ingredients (story ideas) because there are too many things going on at once hence disrupting the overall flow of things (the story) and so now you pour the mix into the pan. Of course you haven’t greased the pan (know what you’re really doing yet) but go with it and set the heat lower..

*Translation – although things might not have fully formed, you see the potential in your own work – its important to encourage yourself in the early stages because this is solitary effort. Nobody is on the sidelines cheering you on, nobody probably knows or ever will appreciate the time you put in to get better and make a story better…

Things start to shape up pretty well and you grab a spatula to shape the omelette into what omelette’s look like (you’ve read books, lots of them and know what they look like…) although at this point you should be concentrating more on the eggs (story) really being cooked… (you may even go back a few pages and do some editing) 

You move to flip the omelette although it’s stuck to the bottom of the pan but you persevere and manage to flip the thing although it breaks up and is partially burnt. Basically one hot mess…

They feel that it is acceptable to serve a burnt omelette for ...

bon appetite, this isn’t mine….

* Translation – you realise writing is hard, this is where most give up but you persevered no matter how ugly it looks and somehow you’ve dedicated the time to completing the first draft…

You take a bite and although you probably wouldn’t serve this up to anyone else, you like it, and you can see some potential. But a first draft is many things, telling yourself the story, the foundations or even the skeleton of a dream. 

For those who persevere with their dream they know things aren’t fully ‘right’ so they continue to go back and change a few things such as the heat level of the pan, what gets used to grease it, the quality of eggs and ingredients. Some of these can be worked on, but only the cook who wants to cook the omelette can do it on their own accord by carving their own path… 

And so I hope you are still with us and that analogy didn’t quite clog up the brain. Drafting a book is just the first step and I hope you can see what I did in comparing it with cooking. This is just like making an omelette and much like you need the tools to execute in the making, you’ll need the same for writing.

Thanks for reading…

Does your writing process compare to something relatable like cooking?