Thursday 27 July 2023

It's time for every single person's vote to count. Please sign:

Sunday 28 April 2019

Sometimes one needs to not write about anything...

One thing I have recently realised is that, from the time I tried to have an 'author blog' I have blogged a lot less. In fact, I've almost stopped altogether, which is a great shame, since I used to enjoy it so much!

Back in the days... (I had to use that phrase, I do love it. It makes it sound so long ago. And I suppose it was over ten years ago... :-) ) Back in the days, when I had my blog Words that flow, I loved writing every day. I loved adding colour images - my own photos, not stock images - and being creative. Funnily enough, trying to be a creative blogger, writing about writing and writers has actually done the opposite to my output. It's not that I don't like doing those sort of things. I do! I love them. But doing only them is not allowing for all the other sides of my creativity.

So... over-exhausted by first Facebook then Twitter, I am returning to days of former - glory. Or, at least, days I remember to be filled with writing what I want and connecting with other bloggers. Connections I found to be more meaningful and ongoing. So....

...decision made. This is where I'm going to hang out if anyone wants to find me. This is where I'm going to call in every day and answer messages and re-connect with folk.

Anyone else feeling burned out by social media? Come and join me on a more sedate and enjoyable 'getting-to-know-you'. If we know each other on Twitter and Facebook, I hope we can reconnect here... (I'm more excited about this than anything I've done for quite a long time! Yay!)

Monday 1 April 2019

Podcasts for authors and writers, both new and experienced

Here are some of the author podcasts I listen to on a daily or weekly basis, which I get a lot out of. The Sell More Books Show I'll listen to without fail every Wednesday or as soon as possible thereafter for up-to-date news of what's going on in the book world, but the other shows I'll listen to whenever I get a chance. There is so much information and support for indie authors, it'd be a shame not to connect in one of the many places where authors hangout and give so much of themselves to share what they know or what they learn!
  1. The Sell More Books Show with Bryan Cohen and Jim Kukral [Bryan Cohen also runs the Best Page Forward book blurb service and Jim Kukral also runs Author Marketing Club which supports authors] - a regular show with 5 new tips and 5 of the latest news stories every Wednesday. I never miss this. It keeps me informed of the biggest latest news and is invaluable.
  2. The Creative Penn with Joanne Penn - Latest news and some great interviews of authors and other folk in the book world (agents, editors, publishers etc). One of the longest- (or perhaps the longest-) running author podcasts, since 2009, by a prolific author with plenty of insight into future trends.
  3. The Bestseller Experiment - with Mark Stay and Mark Desvaux. This is definitely one you'd want to go back and listen to from the beginning. The two hosts decide to write and publish a bestseller in a year, so they interview loads of top bestselling authors and learn from scratch everything you need to know to be in with a chance. They proudly succeeded in knocking Neil Gaiman from the top of the list for a short while... even more proudly received a message from him when they apologised. They continue to interview and produce excellent/useful shows.
  4. The Self Publishing Formula - with James Blatch (carrying out most of the interviews) and Mark Dawson (usually discussing the interviews before and after). The interviews are of some great authors and other book world person and are well presented and well thought out. I usually get a lot out of listening to them.
  5. Writing Excuses - Another long running series (I think they're maybe into season/year 14 at the moment?) - The programs are short (15 minutes) but so packed with thoughts/ideas/tips and methods for writing. You can't go back more than a few years on Itunes, but if you can get back to the series on Elementals, it's one of the most useful series of shows you can ever listen to as an author.  They not only cover every genre, but the elementals of every genre, eg using such things as horror, humor, adventure, romance etc in other genres. The panel of authors, which include hosted Dan Wells, Brandon Sanderson, Mary Robinette Kowal and web cartoonist Howard Tayler as well as many guest authors creates lively and unmissable discussions on all things writing.
  6. Author Like a Boss - Ella Barnard - this one might particularly appeal to women, but is for any author, with interviews gleaning tips to become better authors by 'working smarter rather than harder'. She's an enthusiastic interviewer and often has good interviews and asks good questions.
  7. Creative Writing Career - Stephan Bugaj (Pixar's Brave, Wall-E, The Incredibles), Justin Sloan (Telltale's Game of Thrones, Walking Dead, and Minecraft: Story Mode), and Kevin Tumlinson (Citadel, Lucid, The 30-Day Author) give you their advice on writing for books, movies, video games and more. This one has more of a bias towards sci-fi/fantasy, lit RPG and games as well as screenplays etc, but it's not all about that, and even in episodes where it is, you can still get a lot out of listening to authors talking amongst themselves on subjects of writing.
  8. Story Grid Podcast - Shawn Coyne, author of Story Grid and top editor at publisher, and Tim Grahl. I can't say I got really into this one, but a lot of folk hold store by Shawn Coyne's Story Grid method for checking your book has all the tropes it needs to succeed in each genre, having studied it for many years as an editor and picked out many a successful author. I found it a little long-winded and complicated, so I intend to go back and try listening from the beginning again and seeing if I can't understand it better!
  9. Write Through the Roof - with Madeleine D'Este - a show more aimed at beginner writers on improving the craft. Many great shows and also good interviews.
  10. The Author Marketing Podcast - Jim Kukral again. Jim is an expert book marketer and has so many common sense and solid ideas for book marketing you should definitely check this show out. It's not long, but you won't regret listening in!
  11. The Book Marketing Show - Dave Chesson, creator of the Kindle Rocket (which is excellent for finding keywords for your book, by the way) and does a series of Youtube videos on being a Kindlepreneur. He's energetic and full of the most useful information, and if you sell ebooks on Amazon, you'll particularly want to keep up with Dave's show.
  12. Relentless Authors Advertise (or RAAD as Jim Kukral calls it) - another podcast by Bryan Cohen to follow his efforts to reach sales income of $10K a month through advertising, starting with advertising on Amazon and Facebook and going on to BookBub and others. Maybe a bit mind-boggling for those new to the business, but loads of great tips about what works and what doesn't for him. Fairly new at this point, but worth listening to up til now.
And three that have ended, but I found invaluable and that won't have lost their value even now:

  1. The Author Hangout - with host Shawn Manaher - sadly no longer running, but worth listening to the 145 available episodes - there are some corkers in there, very useful/fascinating/interesting interviews. I was really sad when they stopped broadcasting back in 2017, but many of the shows and interviews are as relevant today as then, especially for beginner authors. Listen from the beginning and learn alot.
  2. SPRT (Self Publishing Round Table) - with a variety of hosts  - weekly interviews and shows for indie authors by indie authors. Started as a chat show about other podcasts and news that was going on in the author world, but grew a large regular following Again, a podcast that ended in 2016, but they left a legacy of great interviews for inspiration and information.
  3. Self Publishing School - Chandler Bolt - Lots of information in a short time from an authorpreneur. I was listening to a lot of podcasts, and stopped listening to this one, but it looks like it ended back in 2018. Although it wasn't my cup of tea as he pushed his business more than I liked, he also had a lot of pearls of wisdom there. (One that has especially stuck with me and stood me in good stead is that book marketing is like building a mountain with one stone at the time. Not to try and build the whole mountain at once, but every day add a stone to the pile. It seems to be working! đź™‚ )

Sunday 20 January 2019

December Blues (Drabble)

December Blues

by Annelisa Christensen
Originally published by on 07/12/2018

Always such a stressful month, what with buying presents, sorting out who will go to whose home for Christmas and New Year, what to do about the pets, preparing food, etc.
All this on top of Christmas work parties, sorting out the Secret Santa and finishing off end-of-year stuff.
Just this last thing to do. Pull the switch on this murderer. So many bodies found buried in his garden. Shame. I hear he was lightning fast with his pen.
Oops! Power cuts announced all over the city.
That’s saved me having to put up the Christmas lights.

Like my previous drabble attempt, this one was written in the mood of authors murdering each other in drabbles, but with a touch of seasonal inspiration. Connected drabbles following my last drabble but before this one include

It's a Hard Life by Lindsay Wade
Ghost Writer by Irene C McCormick Drabblist resources for readers and authors

Friday 30 November 2018

Burying His Pain (drabble)

Burying His Pain

Originally published by on 28/11/2018
There was another murder last night. Everybody’s talking about it.
Despite all the arguments they always had, I know poor old Lindsay Wade next door will miss his friend. He must feel awful after having that silly fight with him the other day. Such a shame they won’t have a chance to mend the fences between them.
Yes, there’s my neighbour now, still digging hard in the garden. He’s obviously taking it bad.
“Whoo-hoo! Mr Wade!”

He doesn’t seem very happy with me saying hello. He’s coming over. Why is he holding the shovel in the air like that?

*This was written in response to two other drabbles. The first, What, no Drabble? in which Mr Lindsay Wade implies other drabblers are buried in the garden. The second in which another author Irene C McCormick continued this storyline, seeing Mr Wade digging in the garden in Digging Again?
Mr Wade's drabble seems to have set off a spate of murderous drabble responses (I have another in the pipeline as well ;-) ): Drabblist resources for readers and authors

Tuesday 20 November 2018

Kintsugi (Drabble)

Originally published by on 13/11/2018
Even entering the museum of our life together, I am drawn by the memory of each gift, each apology that once mended a fight or misunderstanding and made us stronger.
I sit in the tall-backed armchair, so old and well-used the leather had scuffed and cracked in the place he had always sat in that room. The chair was the one thing he never gave to me or allowed me to use. From there I could see our broken life.
Kintsugi: the Japanese art of mending cracked pots with gold.
There is no gold left to mend this last break. Drabblist resources for readers and authors

Thursday 9 August 2018

Sink or Swim? Create Space Vs KDP Select

There's speculation going around author circles that Create Space (CS) might be winding down. Have you heard it? What would it mean to you if your favourite print-on-demand (POD) service went out of business? Would you move over to Amazon's KDP Print (KDPP) as Amazon encourages you to do each time you print a Kindle book? Or do you feel honour-bound to stick it out and, watching the bow of the CS ship tip under the weight of the rising water, only scramble to the hull at the last seconds of the last minute when the end is inevitable?

Jump now or wait until there's no choice? 

I asked myself the same question.

I jumped.

And I have to say I'm really happy I did. In a moment I'll tell you why I don't think you should wait, I share with you the pros and cons I found and why I wouldn't go back even if I could (the move is apparently irreversible; there's no going back).

So, before that, I must give a quick shout-out to the Sell More Books Show, where twice recently this matter was brought to my attention. The show is my favourite author news podcast. Presenters Jim Kukral and Bryan Cohen - the most up-to-date duo in the author world -  discuss 5 top-tips and 5 top news stories each week. (As a 'by the way', the next top show I listen to for news is likely The Creative Penn by author Joanna Penn, who, if you don't know her, usually does a news item or two in her awesome weekly podcast).

Back to the matter in hand. Running round the park and listening to Episode 220 (other recent episodes on CS/KDPP are 223 and 226), I  listened to Jim and Bryan ponder on whether the Amazon-run company was winding down on the back of yet another Create Space service being discontinued and discuss if they should move from CS to KDPP before it came to the crunch. After all, both companies apparently use the same printing press, the same staff, the same materials that go into the print books. With many of the author services no longer available was there so much difference between the two?

Well, yes, there is. But not necessarily what you're thinking. I've swayed the other way.

Jim and Bryan said they thought it might be a good idea to start moving over, especially if you have a lot of books. They both said they would start that day. Jim even opened KDPP and talked the listeners through how to transfer from CS to KDPP. It sounded simply enough. I decided there and then, even if I only had one paperback (The Popish Midwife), I might as well start finding out how to use the latter. After all, I hadn't used any but the POD service. I hadn't used the CD service nor the printing of larger numbers of copies for book signings. 

It was as simply as it sounded, and within a lickerty-split it was all done and I clicked the publish button. Did I worry about it? A little. I had heard from some that Amazon 'did' Kindle brilliantly, but to go with Create Space for print copies. It made me a little nervous that I might be cutting out too soon. Perhaps I should stay with the company that best did the job they were created for. A frisson of concern whenever I saw in the Kindle community boards the guy's 'signature' saying KDPP: good for ebooks, terrible for print. However, after the transfer was made I quickly saw some pros for moving over.

First thing I noticed was the pleasure of seeing some little grey blips appear in the KDP Reports - my paperback sales right next to the Kindle sales.

Paperback sales show up next to ebook sales

As well, the paperback sales totals were added to the monthly totals at the bottom of the page. Brilliant! I no longer had to add up totals on two different sites - ebook and KU reads on one and paperback on the other - I could see them all on one page! Bonus!

Royalties for ebook and paperback sales in one place.

The next thing I noticed was one of the biggest and most important things for anyone using AMZ ads - the paperback showed up in the drop-down list of books you can advertise!  Anyone who's been using the ads knows that if your paperback's listed on CS, you can't advertise it through the AMZ ads for some reason. But suddenly, what had been denied was now available to me - I could advertise not only my Kindle, but my paperback, not one ad to cover both.

Why is this so important?

The paperback now appears on the
drop-down book choices
  1. For starters, when you advertise the paperback with a 'Sponsored Ad', you can specifically use more paperback titles within your genre as relevant keywords.
  2. I found book title keywords that are paperback-specific are more effective at selling paperbacks. This might seem obvious, but actually seeing it in action was great. I presume it not only makes the ad more relevant to paperback readers since it will more likely appear on the pages of paperback books but also takes the reader to their preferred paperback version rather than the ebook.
  3. I believe that often, when you create new AMZ ads for the ebook, the new one kinda cancels out the old one. Unless the old one really got going, the ad seems to favour the new one. However, since both are now listed through Amazon, because the paperback is a separate listing from the ebook, when you advertise the paperback it seems to be treated like a totally different product and doesn't supersede the Kindle ads. I haven't advertised long enough to be sure, but I believe the initial findings show that that gives you two products instea of a single title, either of which might be purchased by the reader, in effect doubling your impressions and increasing your sales. Certainly, both my paperback and Kindle sales have increased since I've been able to advertise The Popish Midwife as two individual products.
One downside (but not really a downside as you're still one ahead by being able to have an extra ad for the title) is that you can only create Sponsored ads (the keyword ones) but not the Product Display ads, probably because they are mostly shown on Kindles and Kindle Aps on mobile phones. The product display option isn't available.

The other downside might be that you haven't got the option to do the bulk-buy thing to send to book-readings/signings or to clients in advance. Joanna Penn said on one of her recent episodes that she sells paperbacks to Amazon through CS (though maybe she might change over to KDPP  if she knew the advantages of advertising the paperback) but also uses Ingram Sparks for all other outlets, and also for discount books and bulk sales. I'm still in the process of setting this up, so make your own enquiries to double-check this. Some podcast interviews interviewing Ingram Sparks staff members I've heard have, however, seemed to have confirmed it.

So that's about it. To sum up, my paperback sales have gone up (more than double), mostly I think, due to being able to advertise them separately, and I believe it's also helped my ebook sales. Also, I can now see all my royalty information for each title on one page on the Kindle Reports website. Very useful. Just being able to advertise the print book is great, having had that version sit and take only pot-luck views before. Now I can actually send readers to the version they prefer, using keywords more related to paperbacks, making it more likely they will be interested in the paperback than the kindle, so marketing is more focused to the reader likely to buy it!

The advantages, in my view, outweigh the couple of disadvantages for me, because I don't use the other services. If you do, you might want to think whether you would miss the above advantages of CS. But, though we don't know if the rumours are true, it might be best to prepare for that change find other outlets (eg Ingram Sparks) to provide the services not (yet?) available in KDPP. Perhaps there are some books more suited to one than the other. These might be the best to consider for moving over and trialling the sister-company for yourself. Personally, I'm loving the move and the increased sales. Worth thinking about, even for loyal CS fans and I won't be going back.