Category Archives: Reading

PSA For Indie Authors – Part 3: Genres and Cover-art

Image Description: a picture of a wooden table with (from left to right in a clock-wise circle) a piece of paper, a pair of thick-framed black glasses, a pine cone, a dusty green-leather bound book, a green vintage type-writer, an open blank notebook, a wooden stick, a small tan-coloured rectangle with black writing on it and an empty glass ink-well.
This post is about self-promotion and marketing for Beginner Writers who want to write Genre Fiction or Genre novels, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, fair enough, feel free to pass on this post. This post will be covering basic tips and advice so this post may come across as stating the obvious, however, we all have to start somewhere.

I would recommend watching these YouTube Videos by Jenna Moreci
~How to Choose a Genre for your Book
~Marketing Basics for Writers
~Skills You Never Thought You’d Need as a Writer

I think one of the most important elements of writing is figuring out what type of book you’re writing, as the genre of your book will determine a lot about what type of book-marketing you’ll be engaging in, and which agents and/or publishers you plan to pitch to. Like Publishing houses, Literary Agents will usually have submission guidelines on available on their websites, so you should check those out first before you contact them.

One of the things that Literary Agents advise is to investigate the genre of books an Author is writing in. This is where the advice “read widely within your genre” comes into play, you need to read the good and bad books within your genre, and you need to be informed of the visual art-style that is associated with your genre.

For example: My Work-In-Progress novel series Pushing Boundaries comes under a hybrid category of Genre, it fits into the Contemporary Crime genre, so lets break those categories down and have a look at what type of Cover-art Style is involved in the Crime, Mystery and Contemporary genres.

~Goodreads: Crime

~Goodreads: Mystery

~Goodreads: Contemporary

When you examine certain genres, especially Crime and Mystery together, there’s a distinct trend of book-cover art displayed on the most popular novels. For example:

Crime:
~a vague silhouette of a person, usually from a distance
~empty wide-shot landscape pictures with One Point Perspective
~Large, bold, and brightly coloured book-title and author title
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.

Mystery:
~There’s a lot of overlap between Crime and Mystery, but Mystery covers tend to be more colourful in design, Crime tends to be a dark/bland cover with colourful text displayed on it to act as contrast.
~Partially obscured faces
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.

Contemporary:
~There’s strong and liberal use of colours to make the covers pop-out, the cover and title text are usually bright contrasting colours
~Models on covers are predominately female-coded or a cishet-coded male and female couple.
~if a woman is on the front cover, it is displaying the back of her head.
~The predominate sub-genre of Contemporary is Young Adult, so the use of live models on covers are of 14-18 age-group.

Personally, I dislike the popular book-cover designs of Crime and Mystery, I think the Contemporary covers are much more eye-catching and engaging. In saying that, I have no idea what to make in the rising trend of displaying the back of a woman’s head, I have no idea how that could possibly convey to the reader what that particular book is about. I can only presume that The Cuckoo’s Calling, The Goddesses, and Everything We Keep are all very different books.

Now, it could be argued that best-selling authors like Chris Brookmyre and James Patterson can get away with unappealing book covers involving shadowy silhouettes, people are going to buy their books regardless, unfortunately not all aspiring writers will achieve James Patterson-level of success, so I would recommend putting some effort into the thought-process behind what the book cover should look like.

I’ll use my book-cover for Canis Major as a case-study (Kim made this for me, aren’t they amazing? Of course they’re amazing! You should check out their stuff).

Image Description: book cover of Canis Major - Volume I of the Pushing Boundaries series. The cover is picture of the constellation of Canis Major, as depicted in the Southern Hemisphere (the nose of Canis Major is positioned in a downward direction).

Canis Major:
~Point One: The design is a simple black and white colour scheme, easy for the reader to look at and comprehend

~Point Two: I’ve chosen the constellation of Canis Major (the Great Dog) for multiple reasons. Constellations are seasonal, so the constellation of Canis Major will look different in Southern Hemisphere countries, like Australia, than in comparison to Northern Hemisphere countries like the UK.

~Point Three: James, one of the main characters of my novel, has a special interest in Astronomy, he shares this special interest with his step-father Robert, it’s a bonding thing they have.

~Point Four: Another reason for the choice of Canis Major is because a big inspiration for writing this book was to address a lot of the problems and objections I had with the novel The Curious Incident of The Dog In The Night-time by Mark Haddon (here’s a review by Disability in Kidlit that goes into why this book is super problematic).

~Point Five: The theme of Constellations as book-cover art will apply to all the books in the Pushing Boundaries series, Volume II will be Orion (the constellation of Orion is right next to the constellation Canis Major) and Volume III will be Scorpius. I plan for Pushing Boundaries to be a trilogy but I’m aware that every time an Author declares their project a trilogy, it somehow turns into a trilogy of four.

~Point Six: My novel is a Contemporary Crime novel, so just like with a crime, you have to put together all the small points in order to see the bigger picture. See? It’s Deep and Meaningful.

Here’s the thing though, while I think this cover is great and it’s exactly what I wanted, is this particular book-cover design marketable? It’s generally recommended that authors get feedback from their target audience, which was something I didn’t do. Another element to consider is that, while I think Kim did a great job, I do need to acknowledge that Kim doesn’t specialise in Graphic Design, and that it’s generally recommended to authors that they hire a professional (here’s a list of book cover designers via The Creative Penn).

So, authors need to figure out what their genre is and research what books within that particular genre look like, however, just because a visual idea is popular within a particular genre, doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good. Get some feed-back from your target audience and be willing to shell out some money for a professional book-cover designer.

If you’re an indie-author and you’ve got a .jpeg of a book cover, drop a link to the book-cover image in the comments section below and we can have a chat about the pros and cons of visual design.

Links:
~9 Tips to Building the Book Cover Design You Always Wanted by Jane Friedman

Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre

Image Description: book cover of Want You Gone by Christopher Brookmyre. The book-cover depicts a shadowy silhouette in the mid-background standing on a long concrete driveway/runway, behind the shadowy silhouette is a CBD landscape (lots of differently shaped buildings). The cover looks like it was a photo taken from the passenger seat of a car. The cover also has a blue tint over the whole cover with the title of the book in yellow text and white text for the author title.
Title: Want You Gone (Book #8 of the Jack Parlabane Series)
Author: Christopher Brookmyre
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Whole Story Audiobooks
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Christopher Brookmyre is a Scottish novelist whose novels mix politics, social comment and action with a strong narrative. He has been referred to as a Tartan Noir author. His debut novel was Quite Ugly One Morning, and subsequent works have included One Fine Day in the Middle of the Night, which he said “was just the sort of book he needed to write before he turned 30”, and All Fun and Games until Somebody Loses an Eye (2005).

About The Book:
Sam Morpeth is growing up way too fast, left to fend for a younger sister with learning difficulties when their mother goes to prison and watching her dreams of university evaporate. But Sam learns what it is to be truly powerless when a stranger begins to blackmail her online, drawing her into a trap she may not escape alive.
Meanwhile, reporter Jack Parlabane has finally got his career back on track, but his success has left him indebted to a volatile source on the wrong side of the law. Now that debt is being called in, and it could cost him everything. Thrown together by a mutual enemy, Sam and Jack are about to discover they have more in common than they realise – and might be each other’s only hope.

General Observations:
~Engaging Plot: The plot is excellent, the pacing is brilliant, and the chapters are revealing enough but not too much. Those last few chapters with Sam and Jack separating had me enthralled, I just had to how they resolved the issue and what happened next.

~Dual Narration: This audio-book has two narrators, a female voice-actor for chapters from Sam’s point of view and a male voice-actor for chapters from Jack’s point of view, I felt that the two voice-actors working together captured the two distinct characters view-points and worked well together.

~Character Development: Sam is a character who spends a lot of time inside her own head,
chapters exploring her character could have been boring, but the interesting thing about Sam is that how she is online is very different to her IRL experience, something Sam has a keen awareness of. It’s great to see such a young woman of colour presented as flawed but relatable dealing with realistic problems and under goes a huge amount of positive character development. I don’t want to spoil too much but Sam definitely earns her happy ending.

By contrast, it’s kind of enjoyable to see a character like Jack brought down to normal, one of the joys of Adulthood is the level of freedom an adult has, and it’s good that Jack is reminded over the course of the novel that freedom may be a right, but it’s also a privilege. I really enjoyed Jack’s partnership with Sam, they fed off each other’s strengths and (once they put their egos and personal feelings aside) they worked well together and were engaging to read.

~Problematic Elements – Bullying: Through out the novel, Sam is regularly bullied by a group of girls, predominately the leader of the pack which is Keisha. After a bad bullying session, Sam gets revenge on Keisha, which results in an incident of major public humiliation for Keisha, this results in Keisha making a suicide attempt and ends up hospitalised.

When Sam finds out what Keisha has done because of her actions, Sam feels bad about it (because she’s not a terrible person), Sam feels remorseful for her actions. But Keisha is never really held accountable for her shitty behaviour. What Sam did was not okay and definitely unacceptable behaviour, but it’s presented in an unequal manner, the character resolution between Sam and Keisha is a False Equivalence.

I had planned to do a YouTube Video about this particular problematic element of the book, so I’m not going to go into too much detail here, but I disliked how the situation was resolved between Keisha and Sam, and I’ll leave it at that.

All in all, a contemporary crime novel solved by combining hacking skills and investigative journalism, the plot is intriguing and has good development, and if it wasn’t for the problematic bullying issues, I’d have given this five stars.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible| Book Depository | Kobo Books

Knots and Crosses by Ian Rankin


Title: Knots and Crosses (Book #1 of the Inspector Rebus Series)
Author: Ian Rankin
Social Media: Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Orion Publishing Group Limited
Format and Price: Audiobook at $14.95
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Born in the Kingdom of Fife in 1960, Ian Rankin graduated from the University of Edinburgh in 1982 and then spent three years writing novels when he was supposed to be working towards a PhD in Scottish Literature. His first Rebus novel was published in 1987; the Rebus books are now translated into 22 languages and are bestsellers on several continents. He recently received the OBE for services to literature, and opted to receive the prize in his home city of Edinburgh, where he lives with his partner and two sons.

About The Book:
Detective John Rebus: His city is being terrorized by a baffling series of murders…and he’s tied to a maniac by an invisible knot of blood. Once John Rebus served in Britain’s elite SAS. Now he’s an Edinburgh cop who hides from his memories, misses promotions and ignores a series of crank letters. But as the ghoulish killings mount and the tabloid headlines scream, Rebus cannot stop the feverish shrieks from within his own mind. Because he isn’t just one cop trying to catch a killer, he’s the man who’s got all the pieces to the puzzle…

General Observation:
~Two Lines, No Waiting: There are two main plots going on this novel: the first one is the missing persons/murder case and the second plot is the drug trade operation that Rebus’s brother is involved in. From the beginning, the two plots don’t seem related at all, but as the novel progresses, the reader discovers just how interconnected these two plots are.
The plotting in general is phenomenal, all of the flashbacks and things mentioned link back to each other. In saying that, I do feel as though Rebus’s confusion and hesitation to seek out a hypnotist in the first place was a little drawn out, it could have been sped up a little.

~Multiple Points of View: Ian Rankin, while excellent at plot, is very character-orientated and If there is one detraction from this novel is that there are so many points of view. Some of them are necessary to further the plot, but some of the alternative points of view (like the reporter) helped to slow down the pace of the plot, rather than make the story more complicated and interesting, however, I’m willing to recognise that this could just be me. Maybe the reporter character has more relevance in later books.

~A Product of It’s Time: While it’s pretty clear early on that Inspector John Rebus is suffering from PTSD, the reader isn’t privy to all the details at first, but over the course of the novel, the PTSD and Dissociation that Rebus has been experiencing is explained (let’s just say, shit gets dark very quickly).
Nowadays, there are rules and procedures put in place to prevent this sort of situation from occurring. People in Rebus’s line of work (including social workers and nurses) would be given regular psyche evaluations and regular therapy sessions to manage PTSD (or at least this is the case in Australia).

All in all, it has a great plot, combined with an in-depth look at an interesting main-character, which has resulted in a great start to an interesting Scottish Crime series, I’m looking forward to Hide and Seek, the second book in the series.

Trigger Warnings: This book contains scenes I would describe as torture and military violence, as two characters are treated like Prisoners of War in a Terrorist Camp, the actions in those scenes are described in graphic detail.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Audible | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Bleach – Volume 1 by Tite Kubo

Image Description: the book-cover of Bleach Volume 1 by Tite Kubo. The cover is a mostly white background with an adolescent male with orange hair wearing a black robe and pulling a sword out of a sheath.
Title: Bleach – Volume 1
Author: Tite Kubo
Social Media: Goodreads and Twitter
Publisher: Viz Media
Format and Price: Paperback at $10.56
Rating: 4 out of 5

About The Author:
Tite Kubo, the son of a town council member in Fuchu, Aki District, Hiroshima. He never took drawing seriously until he was 17; after reading Dragon Ball he knew he wanted to be a manga artist. At the age of 18 he submitted his first concept for the series Zombiepowder but it got rejected. Zombiepowder was rejected multiple times until Kubo was 22, when it finally was accepted by Shonen Jump. It did not last long; it was cancelled after four volumes in late 2000. His next series, Bleach, about a high school student who becomes a shinigami and fights hollows, was not such a failure. Bleach began regular publication in 2001. It has been running in Weekly Shonen Jump ever since.

About The Book:
Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach , has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.

General Observations:
~Sliding Scale of Plot VS Character: The series Bleach is very Action orientated (lots of fight scenes) but the story itself is more Character orientated, when Tite Kubo focuses on specific characters, he does a great job, but the plot is slow. In fact, with Bleach, there are a lot of subtle hints and clues that a first-time reader might not necessarily pick up. There’s also a lot of back-story and character history that is only hinted at within the first three volumes, but it does get explained and does make sense.

~I Found This Humerus: While there are lots of good fight scenes (if that’s what you’re into), it’s the wide range of humour that I enjoy the most about this series. As the series progresses, it does get Darker and Edgier, so the humour balances things out.

~Long Term Commitment: While I think highly of the Bleach Manga series, I did stop reading the series half-way through The Lost Agent Arc. This is for multiple reasons, the primary reason being Arc Fatigue and the fact that the reader in dumped right into the middle of a time-skip and I was introduced to a whole bunch of new characters (via an organization called “Xcution”) that I cared very little for (mind you, this is at least 50 volumes into a 74 Volume series). I’m going to attempt to read it from the beginning.

All in all, it’s a good action urban fantasy with a super intricate plot, and I am happy to recommend.

Available For Purchase: Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Monthly Forecast: August 2017

Image Description: A large metallalic sculpture of a Balloon Dog, in a dark-orange colour, being presented inside of an art gallery

Contemporary Fiction: Contemporary literature is literature with its setting generally after World War II. So, everything post WWII is counted, except for non-fiction.

This is the monthly forecast for August, which includes three reading challenges I probably won’t complete, I doubt I’ll get through all the books listed here but I’m going to make an attempt. I’m also participating in another Reading Challenge, why? Because I Hate myself (details down below).

Australian Women Writer’s Challenge:
The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge is a reading challenge to help promote books written by Australian women. Here’s my reading recommendations for the month:
~The Things I Didn’t Say by Kylie Fornasier
Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

~My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier
Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

RMFAO Genre Challenge – Contemporary:
~The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness
Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

~Paper Towns by John Green
Amazon| Book Depository | Kobo Books

Diverse Books Reading Challenge 2017 – Non-Western Setting:
~The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
Amazon | Book Depository | Kobo Books

Read At Midnight#TheReadingQuest Sign Up
My Character Class: Mage
Bingo Sheet:
Image Description: A bingo sheet template with dark purple background and two layers of bingo-blocks. The first layer, the outer layer of bingo blocks are lavender blocks, there are nine blocks in the centre which are a lilac colour, all the blocks have prompts for books written in the squares. In each corner of the bingo-chart are an illustrated avatar of the character classes (in a clockwise direction): knight, Bard, Rogue and Mage.
CW @ Read, Think, Ponder did the amazing illustrations. Aren’t they adorable? The avatars are freaking adorable :D.

My List of Books
~First Book In A Series:
Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee
Format: Ebook

~A Book Set In A Different World:
Dreadnought by April Daniels
Format: Ebook

~A Book Based on Mythology:
The Dark Wife by Sarah Diemer
Format: Audio-book

~A Book That Contains Magic:
A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab
Format: Paperback

~A Book With A One Word Title:
Otherbound by Corinne Duyvis
Format: Ebook

~A Book With Two Authors:
Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
Format: Paperback or Audio-book

~Time Warp – A Book That Has Been Set In The Past or The Future:
On The Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
Format: Audio-book

~Expansion – A Short Story or Companion Novel:
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo
Format: Ebook

~Multiplayer – Buddy Read A Book:
Honestly… IDK what do for this one.

~Open World – Free Choice:
Queens of Geek by Jen Wilde
Format: Ebook

~Mini-Game – Graphic Novel or Short Story:
Bleach – Volume 1 by Tite Kubo
Format: Paperback

~Grind – A Book With 500 pages:\
American Gods by Neil Gaiman
Format: Paperback or Audio-book

~Respawn – Read a Book You DNF:
To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han
Format: Ebook

~Animal Companion – Book With an Animal Reference in the Title:
Stolen Songbird by Danielle L. Jensen
Format: Ebook

PSA for Indie Authors – Part 2: Revision

Image Description: a picture of a wooden table with (from left to right in a clock-wise circle) a piece of paper, a pair of thick-framed black glasses, a pine cone, a dusty green-leather bound book, a green vintage type-writer, an open blank notebook, a wooden stick, a small tan-coloured rectangle with black writing on it and an empty glass ink-well.

This post is about self-promotion and marketing for Beginner Writers who want to write Genre Fiction or Genre novels, so if that doesn’t appeal to you, fair enough, feel free to pass on this post.

This post will be covering basic tips and advice so this post may come across as stating the obvious, however, we all have to start somewhere. I’m going to be talking about Beta Readers and Critique Partners, so here’s some videos by the wonderful Jenna Moreci on the subject:

Jenna Moreci:
~Writing Tips: What if No One Likes my Writing?
~Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About Beta Readers
~Getting the Most Out of Your Beta Readers
~How to be a Good Beta Reader
~What is a Critique Partner?
~How to be a Good Critique Partner

I’ll make up a case study of the typical situation I get asked questions about.

Shannon has just finished writing and self-editing their latest Work-In-Progress Novel Project, they are super excited about it, they have put their manuscript up on Smashwords/CreateSpace/Amazon as soon as possible and then told all their friends and relatives that they’re a “REAL Writer” now (as opposed to those Fake Writers) and have published their book all by themselves. Then, after a few months or even years, they notice that they are not selling a lot of copies (perhaps four or five when they first released the book, but pretty much nothing since) and they don’t know what went wrong.

And that’s when I have to ask a huge laundry-list of questions:
~Did you have a critique partner look at it and give you constructive feedback on your novel?
Critique Partners are people who are Writers that have agreed to read your manuscript and give you feedback from the perspective of a writer, what works, what doesn’t, what a novelist did well, what a novelist needs improving on. If you are a person who can’t handle criticism or your highly sensitive towards your work, I think you need to consider the following: take a step back (mentally, physically, whatever), take a deep breath and ask yourself if you want to be a published writer or a good writer.

Because, quite frankly, Writers don’t improve unless they are willing to accept feedback and criticism and are willing to acknowledge these problems AND fix the problems pointed out to them. Wouldn’t you rather accept criticism now while you are still able to fix the problem?

In my view, a writer needs to have another pair of eyes look at their manuscript before they even consider sending their manuscript off to a professional editor, let alone publishing options. I recommend authors find and join a Writing Workshop group (or create one if you can’t find one) and workshop each member’s novel on a chapter-by-chapter basis.

Writing Workshop groups can be found on Facebook or Tumblr and my advice would be a writer who likes to read similar books to you but have a different writing style. For Example: Kim is an amazing Critique Partner (they deserve all the kudos) and we both enjoy fantasy books, however, Kim is a primary a character driven writer and is excellent at editing.

While I’m more a plot orientated writer and I am not skilled at editing. But because we both have different strengths and weaknesses, Kim can point out stuff to me that they felt was unclear/could be better written, like how it’s not always obvious what my characters are thinking or feeling at that specific moment.

~Did you have at least two Beta Readers look at it and give you constructive feedback?
A writer needs people who are not family members to read their work and give an objective view-point on whether or not their novel project is readable. You also need someone willing to review your book once it’s been read, websites like Goodreads and Amazon recommend books based their rating system, although I will acknowledge that the Goodreads review system is easier to understand than the Amazon one.

As an Indie Author, I understand what it feels like to yearn for people to read your book, you’ve worked so hard on your novel and you want to know what people’s reaction to it is. Does it make them think? Does it make them feel? Are they eager to read more?

But you need that Feedback BEFORE you publish, not AFTER (trust me, learn from my fail in this regard). Personally, I can’t stand it when my family and close friends tell me (after reading a small sample of my novel) that’s it’s “good” or “nice”, Writers need honest and constructive feedback and there’s nothing constructive about “nice” and “good”.

This is where a Beta Reader comes into play. A Beta Reader could be a fellow indie writer who is apart of your regular writing group/class. A Beta Reader could also be blogger like myself who reads and reviews books.

Some Book Reviewers only read and review books that are Traditionally Published, I know quite a few book-bloggers that refuse to review self-published books (due to quality control problems).Some Book Reviewers are happy to read self-published authors but won’t accept books in eBook format. Some reviewers will only read and review physical books.

Some Book Review blogs only review books in a certain genre, which has resulted in a large amount of Young Adult book-review blogs (there’s a big trend in Australian Publishing and Book-Blogging communities to use hash-tags like #LoveOZYA). It pays to do some research and to investigate what a book-blogger’s book review policy is (here’s a link to mine).

I think it also helps to check out the Categories section of book reviews, there’s no point asking a book-blogger who primarily reads science-fiction to read your historical romance novel. Also, don’t just bombard the book-blogger with a unsolicited requests to read your book, go through their blog-posts, check out book reviews they’ve written for books within your genre, perhaps leave a comment.

Mutual interest in each other’s work via engagement and building a connection is super important. I mean, you wouldn’t walk up to a random stranger in the street and ask them to read and review your book (or at least I hope you don’t do that, if so, please stop immediately), so don’t do that on the internet.

~Did you organise to have a professional editor look at it?
Okay, you’ve got feedback back from your Critique Partner and Beta Readers, you’ve even managed to acknowledge that maybe they made a few good points and, as a result, you’ve revised your manuscript and made some significant improvements.

What’s next?

Well I guess it depends on what kind of Writer you are. I’m a Writer that is not particularly skilled with the editing segment of writing, I’ve previously written about my experiences with the editing element of self-publishing, so go read that blog-post and then come back. I would also like to add that I’ve recently had some more Melbourne-based Editors recommended to me, here’s the link for them:
~Kathryn Moore
~AJ Collins

Have you researched and/or organised how you’re going to format your book?
Are you going to format the book yourself? Do you know how to do that? I’ve seen some self-published books lacking some standard formatting elements, such as not doing a page break for a new chapter. I prefer a new page for a new chapter, it looks nicer, it’s easier to read and it’s not hard to insert a simple page break.

I myself have difficulties with formatting and page-layout. The Table of Contents is more complicated than I first anticipated. I’ve invested in a copy of InDesign but I have yet to use it for anything, mostly because I have no idea what I’m doing with InDesign. This is why I’ve signed up for Skillshare classes and I’ll be looking into basic tutorials.

While All That Revision Is Going On…
What’s your social media marketing campaign look like? Have you been making sure to make regular blog-posts on your social media platform of choice? How big is your established audience exactly? What motivation does your Potential Audience have to buy your book?

Obscurity is the Enemy of the Author

If Potential Readers don’t know you exist, how can they possibly buy your book? Also, can readers purchase your book from your website? I’ve scrolled through a few Indie Author’s websites and I haven’t been able to purchase their books. Always make sure readers have access to your books, it’s not hard to set up a separate page on a WordPress Blog with links connecting to Amazon or Smashwords.

Do you have a fixed release date? Are you doing a give-away to celebrate the release of your book? I’m not saying you have to do a give-away, that’s entirely up to you and your monetary limitations. Would something like InstaFreebie appeal to you?

You don’t have to do all of these things, but you do need to know what it is that you are doing, you need a plan in place, the “Publish the book and Readers will Come” mentality just simply will not work for the majority of newbie authors (although I’m sure there are exceptions).

And you might be wondering, “But B.R. it’s not possible to do all that self-promotion stuff and work on my novel at the same time!”

Well… Maybe it’s not possible, you need to figure out what you can and cannot do, and then work within your limitations. Figure out a promotion plan that works best for you.

Perhaps you can send your novel out to your Beta Readers and Critique Partners, then start working on your promotional stuff. I recommend giving your manuscript some space before sending it off to be professionally edited, you don’t want to burn out (self-care is your highest priority). Perhaps you could put working on your novel aside for a few months before revising it.

Publishing a Book is a collaborative process and it takes a team effort in order to make a good book. Try not to rush it.

Links:
~Book Bloggers Australia
~The Australian Women Writer’s Challenge

PSA For Indie Authors – Part 1: Questions

Image Description: a picture of a wooden table with (from left to right in a clock-wise circle) a piece of paper, a pair of thick-framed black glasses, a pine cone, a dusty green-leather bound book, a green vintage type-writer, an open blank notebook, a wooden stick, a small tan-coloured rectangle with black writing on it and an empty glass ink-well.

I don’t get a lot of contact from Indie Authors asking for help, however, I’ve recently been contacted by two very different Indie Authors requesting assistance with promoting their novel, while I don’t what to name the Indie Author involved, because this isn’t about shaming people for asking for help (even if they ask for help in the wrong way), however, I thought it might be prudent to write a blog-post about what they did wrong and how they should have done things differently and, perhaps, this post might help other Indie Authors from making the same mistakes.

I think the first thing to do, as an Indie Author engaging in Social Media Marketing, is perform some self-assessment and ask yourself the following questions:

How much do you know about Marketing and Self-Promotion?
Is this something you don’t know a lot about? Or have you done a lot of research? Perhaps try rating yourself from Newbie, Intermediate to Advanced. Knowing how much help you need is crucial and research is the key. You could watch some YouTube Videos or read some articles on Marketing For Writers, for example: Jenna Moreaci has a great video “Marketing Basics for Writers” (I highly recommend her channel) and Joanna Penn @ The Creative Penn has some great articles on Marketing For Writers (this is just a starting point, there’s heaps more information out there).

What kind of promotion are you interested in?
What is your overall objective? Do you want to get more Book Reviews for your novel on Amazon, Kobo or Miscellaneous Brand X Book Selling Platform? Or do you want more subscribers on your blog? I’m not saying you have to pick only one goal, you can have as many goals as you like, but you need to know what they are.

I recommend writing down all your marketing goals, just do a full brain-storming or mind-dump session and get it all out of your head and onto paper. If the problem is that you don’t know what your goals are or where to begin, and it’s okay if you don’t know what your goals are just yet, write that down too.

What kind of Social Media Platform are you interested in?
While this does go back to the question of, “how much do you know?” and “what type of learner are you?”. Are you a visual-learner or more of a text based-learner? Do you learn better by yourself or in a one-on-one type situation? Or do you learn better in a class/group situation? Some writers are visual learners and like to use Pinterest to make storyboards for their novels and share them.

I have mixed results with visual learning, I find Pinterest too distracting and it doesn’t work for me as a writing tool. I tend to work better with text based-learning which is why I’m more productive on WordPress and Tumblr, although (in my opinion) Tumblr isn’t great with large amounts of text, I’d honestly consider Tumblr to be more visual-orientated (your mileage may vary).

How familiar are you with social media platforms?
Do you already have a Blogger blog or a WordPress blog? Are you already active on Facebook or Twitter? What types of Media Content are you most comfortable with? What types of Media Content are you willing to research? How much instruction will you need? My friend Kim runs a Tumblr-Blog about reviewing Stim Toys, it’s very popular and Kim was eventually asked “How does one go about setting up a Stim Toy blog?”, here’s a link to the article:

~Stim Toy Box: An Essay on Blogging

As someone who puts little to no thought into how to go about setting up a blog or any other social media platform, I think it’s a great article (in fact I printed out a copy), I’m not saying you have to do all the things Kim suggests (do what works best for you), you don’t have set-up a review-style blog if you don’t want to, but Kim asks some good questions and it’s a great checklist to work from.

I also want to point out that, when I first started out as a Writer on social media, I tried to do ALL THE THINGS (as you do) but it took me longer than it should have to figure out that it wasn’t making me happy and I wasn’t getting enough in exchange to justify it.

Now, I’m regularly active on Twitter and Tumblr, I try to update my WordPress blog at least once a week, and that’s working okay thus far (it could be better but I’m trying to lower my expectations due to currently dealing with mental health problems *shrug*).

What kind of limitations do you have?
It’s important to know what it is you can do, it’s even more important to know what you can’t do, figuring out your limitations is super important. It’s all well and good to want to set up a YouTube Channel but that’s difficult to maintain if you have no experience or knowledge of how to make videos. YouTube is one of those complicated social media platforms, everyone does it so it’s common, but common and simple to use are not the same thing.

YouTube channels that started in the beginning of YouTube might not exist now or be successful ventures now because it’s been done before. I’m not saying people shouldn’t make videos on YouTube, I’m just recommending realistic expectations. Like, what’s your budget for recording equipment? What about editing software? Sometimes figuring out what you can’t do or don’t know is easier to figure out than what you can do.

And the most important question of all

How much time do you have available to promote your brand as a writer and to promote your novel/project?
Do you have a partner, children and other family obligations? Do you have a day-job? Do you have mental health problems like I do? Mental Health problems can seriously impact your ability to consistently create good quality content. The same can be said for physical health problems. Time is your most valuable resource and there is simply a finite number of hours in a day.

I’m afraid I tend to squander mine a lot due to procrastination and lack of focus and it’s sort of gotten to a point where I don’t think I can fix this problem and some days I ask myself why I even bother, and let me tell you, it’s a shitty mindscape to be in.

I’m not saying this to put you off writing, or perhaps bitch about my personal problems, I merely wish to convey that writing is something you have to make time for, it’s something you have to actively organise (it’s not just “going to happen” – trust me on this), it’s something you have to want above a lot of other seemingly important things.

This is because people are never going to stop making demands of your time and, with a few exceptions, most people aren’t going to respect or value your time unless you make them and establish boundaries on what you will and will not dedicate your time to.

I also mention my mental health problems because, for better or worse, creative people tend be associated with mental health problems and pretending that this is a problem that will never occur to you or someone you know isn’t going to help you.

I loath the idea of romanticising mental illness in association with the creative arts but the fact remains that Denial and Fear of the thing is more powerful than the thing itself. Acknowledging that this is a thing that might affect you or someone you know in your Art/Writing community is important.

I know this might seem ramble-like or irrelevant, but writers with mental health problems or physical health problems need to take the time to recover and a person’s recovery, health, and well-being is the higher priority.

I don’t care if you have to push back the release of your book, and I don’t care if you have to shut down your blog for an indeterminate amount of time, because your recovery, health, and well-being is the higher priority.

I still struggle with this myself on regular basis, I resent the fact that this short blog-post has taken me two days to write, but I have to accept it and let it go. I have to accept and resign myself to the fact that I will never be able to learn at the same speed other people do and projects are going to take longer for me to complete.

So, do readers have any tips or suggestions on marketing for writers? Perhaps recommend some online communities for writers? Let me know in the comment section below.

~Links:
~The Creative Penn: Tools And Resources For Authors And Writers
~The Creative Penn: Marketing Your Book
~DuoLit: 105 Author Blog Prompts: Banish Your Blank Blog!
~DuoLit: Free Writing & Self-Publishing Tools

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