traceysinclairconsulting

Writing, editing and legal directories advice

Tag Archives: ebooks

Spring forward – work roundup: Dark Dates live, Legal Directories Presentations and a new book in the pipeline!

As ever, from November-mid-March my life has been dominated by the UK directories season – while I do a lot of international work, that tends to be a bit more spread out, and UK firms are still my biggest customer (and, besides, a lot of international work also falls within this season – making me a very busy girl indeed!). Because I am so heavily committed, everything else tends to take second place, but with the last UK deadline under my belt and the arrival of spring, I get to take a bit of a breather (this year, as ever, celebrated by the annual ‘getting really ill as soon as the deadline is over’ ritual, from which I am only now recovering) and look at the bigger picture, assess what else is going on in my life, and what I want to achieve before the UK season swings round again…

Magazine work: I still review and occasionally write articles for theatre magazine Exeunt, and write a regular column on freelancing for Better Business magazine, and this is certainly something I would like to explore more of over the next few months. Last year, I had a piece published in writing magazine Mslexia, so it was nice to add another title to my CV, which is something I’d like to expand on this year.

Directories presentations: One of the nicest surprises over the past year or so has been the success of my ‘demystifying directories’ presentations, which I have now given to law firms in Europe, London and the rest of the UK – in fact, I got to the stage where I was having to turn people down as I was so heavily booked up! I really enjoy doing these – it’s great to be able to answer people’s questions face-to-face – so hope to do more over the coming months.

Books: This time of year is typically when my writing projects move into full swing and this year is no exception! I’m currently working on a slew of projects, including getting Wolf Night into print and writing the sequel, compiling a collection of Dark Dates stories and exploring a potential new publishing venture. Watch this space!

Zoe Cunningham as Cassandra Bick

Zoe Cunningham as Cassandra Bick

Dark Dates Live: Possibly the most exciting development has been the creation of a one-woman show An Audience with Cassandra Bick, with actress Zoe Cunningham and director Peta Lily. After opening to great reviews in the First 2015 at the Tristan Bates theatre in London, it’s coming to the Brighton Fringe in May, with further touring possible. Zoe and I are also collaborating on another project at the moment, so, again, hopefully there will be more news soon…

Throw in a bunch of international directories deadlines and suddenly the summer doesn’t look so quiet after all. The hard work is over – let the hard work begin!

Ebook promotion – getting others invested in your success

One of the things I have learned through promoting my novel, Dark Dates, is just how reciprocal a process it is. I’m not talking about any dodgy ‘sock puppetry’ activities of the ‘you give a nice review to my book, I’ll do the same for yours’ kind (though, of course, I think it’s perfectly valid to ask people you know or who have worked with to give you a nice review if they liked the book). (You can read my thoughts on the sock puppetry scandal over at Strictly Writing). Of course much of dealing with bloggers is because they need content – writing reviews is time consuming, especially for bloggers who fit in their reviewing around other jobs – so if you’re willing to provide them with content in the form of guest posts or interviews, then you’re helping them create content (and hopefully traffic) for their blogs. Being willing to supply free copies for competitions also helps, as does a willingness to take part in themed events – for instance, since one of the characters in my book is a witch, I’m taking part in a Wiccan themed event over Halloween.

But one of the other things that is enormously helpful is to get other people properly invested in your success. I don’t mean in a cynical, manipulative way – and I assume that your friends and family want you to succeed anyway – I just mean, creating a win-win situation where they are in effect getting good publicity while promoting your work can be beneficial to everyone.

I’ve had a couple of great examples of this recently: one is with my cover designer, the multi-talented Caroline Goldsmith. Caroline has been invaluable in helping me with Dark Dates – I have ruthlessly picked her brain over digital publishing, she created the cover and online trailer for Dark Dates (and has already created an image and teaser material for Book 2), and has been a fantastic sounding board and enthusiastic supporter for my work. So it’s fantastic that now all of her input is helping her provide a showcase her own talents, as she and her fellow publishing alum Karen Ings have launched a new digital imprint, Red Button Publishing – but, of course, it also means that I get a very nice plug on their website.

The second is slightly more tangential, but a nice example of cross-selling. One of my friends runs a jewellery company called Stella My Star, and, as I own several of her pieces (they’re funky and inexpensive), I asked her to commission me a charm bracelet to celebrate Dark Dates. The result is lovely – a beautiful mix of supernatural and London charms that perfectly reflects the book – but of course she has showcased the piece on her own website and blog, which is a nice piece of additional coverage for me, while she gets both a sale (in fact, several, as the response has been so good several of my friends have asked for similar pieces) and the publicity of me blogging about her work.

So when it comes to promoting your book, why not think about how you can team up with other creators to cross-promote your talents?

Dark Dates charm bracelet by Stella My Star

Review and guest post round-up

So what else has been happening on the Dark Dates front?

I was delighted when Jo from review site Jaffa Reads Too contacted me to say that she loved the review copy I sent her and wanted to do an interview.

I also got a lovely review at Night Owl Reviews, and posted a guest piece that is fairly topical to this post – about how you need a team around you to succeed – at Bunny Reviews. Rounding out the coverage this week was an author interview at Daydrmzzz.

I also signed up to the ebook personalisation service Kindlegraph: I have no idea whether it’ll boost sales but I thought it sounded fun, and it was free to sign up.

More ebook promotion – doing the rounds online

I’ve spent much of the last few weeks getting in touch with bloggers to promote my book, Dark Dates. It’s been a lot of fun, though it has involved quite a lot of work – and talking about myself a lot, which is a bit of a weird experience. I even did a radio interview!

The process has shown me, though, that there are a lot of blogs out there willing to engage with an indie author, and it’s really worth connecting with them.

First up was actually a friend of mine: a crafter called Stella My Star who kindly did a Dark Dates themed post.

I did a guest post on writing about vampires (and provided an excerpt and giveaway, which is always popular) over at Reading and Writing Urban Fantasy, and a similarly themed post at the Open Book Society, who also reviewed the book.

A post on why London is such a great backdrop to a novel was topical during the Olympics opener, over at Stella Ex Libris, and I did a Q&A over on author Nicole Faith Hill’s blog – she does an indie author spotlight and is keen to support other authors.

I got nice reviews over at Miranda Stork and My Tower of Books – the latter I followed up with a guest post which will hopefully be going live soon.

And last but not least, my cover designer Caroline put together this teaser image for the next book, and wrote about it here.

Image

Promoting your ebook: dealing with Book Bloggers

One of the key ways to build word of mouth for your book is through the book blogging community: book bloggers not only tend to be enthusiastic about reading but also about spreading word of mouth, and will often post reviews across a number of forums, which can significantly boost the profile of your book. So how best to go about getting this exposure? Here are some handy tips – and some guidelines on what not to do!

Find a list of blogs: there are a number of ever-changing blogging directories out there, so I’d start by simply Googling ‘book blogger directory’ and working your way through the most up to date lists. Once you have found a site you like or think might be suitable, it’s also worth checking out links from that site to directories / other sites (these are usually found through ‘buttons’ on the bottom or side of the blog).

Check the blog is still active: lots of people start a blog but it takes time, determination and stamina to keep it going and to build a following. It’s probably not worth contacting any blog that hasn’t been updated in the last month. Ideally, you want a blog that updates at least once a week, if not more.

Check their review policy: this will tell you if they are accepting review copies, and what sort of books they are interested in. There’s no point in sending an ebook to someone who only reads print, and you just have to accept that some bloggers won’t consider self-published books, or will only accept certain formats. Respect their choices and move on.

Is your book a match? Look at the kind of books and features they have on the site. If they are big fans of historical fiction and you’ve written a modern horror book set in space, they’re unlikely to want to read it.

Be polite – remember they’re people! Approach politely and courteously, and remember you are dealing with an individual, not an anonymous corporation. If there is personal information on the blog that resonates with you, try to reflect that in your approach. People like dealing with other people – be nice, and you’re more likely to get a response! Treat them like you’re doing them an enormous favour letting them read your book and they aren’t going to be that keen to engage with you.

Remember they generally aren’t professionals: in nearly all cases, these blogs are run by individuals – or small groups – who are doing it for love (with some free books thrown in). They are fitting blogging around their jobs, families and other commitments. Respect that, and don’t be overly demanding: they have plenty of other priorities than responding to your email and reading your book! Also, they aren’t obligated to you in any way: just because you send them a book doesn’t mean they have to read it. Accept that you’ll strike out a few times and let it go.

Be flexible: bearing the above in mind, be as flexible as you can re: deadlines – don’t expect to send a book and have it reviewed within a week. Most bloggers will try to help you out if you’re doing date specific promotion, but they may be booked up well in advance, or they simply may be too busy. If you want to have a book reviewed when it’s published, you need to send advance copies at least a few months before publication date (most will state timeframes in their review policies).

Offer alternatives: the one thing all bloggers constantly need is content, so it’s worth offering an alternative; for instance, when you offer your book for review, suggest that you’re also happy to do an author Q&A or guest post. Many bloggers whose review schedules are packed will still accept guest posts (especially if you throw in a giveaway) and while this is extra work for you, it can be useful publicity (remember, don’t reuse guest posts: you’ll make both of you look bad if it’s not original content!)

Offer to cross-promote: All bloggers – or at least almost all – will be keen to get more readers or followers, so state in your initial email that any reviews or posts will be cross-promoted on your own blog or website (you have a blog or website, right? Right?) and through your Twitter feed (ditto). Also, if you have a blog yourself, why not offer to host a guest post from them? That way you boost your own content, and are offering them more exposure.

Build relationships: In the short time I’ve been dealing with book bloggers, I’ve already come across some really interesting and fun people – so don’t just go into this focused on how to plug your book. Think about building long-term relationships – follow them on Twitter and Goodreads, sign up to their blogs, comment on their reviews. You won’t have time to invest in every one of the bloggers you deal with, any more than they will with every author, but be open to connecting with new people and you could be very pleasantly surprised.

Never badmouth a blogger: even if you have had a negative experience, there is nothing to be gained by mouthing off or getting annoyed with a blogger. For a start, it’s unprofessional, and it’s also enormously counterproductive: there’s a fairly strong community of bloggers and the last thing you want is a reputation as being difficult – part of the reason so many bloggers won’t review self-published works is because self-published authors have a reputation for poor behaviour. Sure, you might encounter a truly obnoxious blogger – they are individuals, so you’re bound to come across some you’d rather not have, just as you will in any other community – but in all circumstances the best thing is to take the high ground and let it go.

Be realistic – they won’t all like you: One of the hardest things for writers to accept is that lots of people simply won’t like your book. They may think it’s stupid or badly written, they may hate the characters, they may wilfully misread your meaning or sentiment, they may think it looks so God-awful boring that they can’t even bother to read past the synopsis. Tough. Get over it. There isn’t a writer alive who has been universally loved, and you won’t be the first one. Don’t get into a row over bad reviews, don’t vote them as unhelpful on Amazon, don’t try and get them removed from blogs or anywhere else. Take them on the chin and move on.

 

Adventures in self-publishing

One of the things I enjoy most about being a freelancer is having what is now commonly referred to as a ‘portfolio’ career: my legal directories work, blogging (personally, and for business), web content work, as well as writing fiction. Having had two books published by a small press, when I wrote a more mainstream, urban fantasy novel this year, I decided to experiment with the self-publishing route. So much of my work is in the digital sphere that I thought it would be a useful – and hopefully fun and rewarding – experience, and the immediacy and control of e-publishing appeals to me. While I am enjoying it, it has been a learning curve, so if you’re thinking about e-publishing, whether fiction or non-fiction, the following might be helpful in knowing what to do, and what pitfalls to avoid.

Tips on self-publishing: I spoke to Suzy Greaves at The Big Leap about publishing my book, and wrote some tips on how to get the best out of self-publishing. You can access them here.

Getting the perfect cover: my cover designer – and publishing expert – Caroline Goldsmith wrote an interesting post on designing for digital here.

Below is the final version, available on Amazon here.

Of course, if you are writing a book and require editorial support, do feel free to contact me at traceysinclair23@gmail.com

Dark Dates - a new urban fantasy book by Tracey Sinclair

Dark Dates - my new novel