Monthly Archives: October 2015

Book Marketing for Beginners

This morning I have been deep in the re-writing of The Art of Breathing, the third novel in my crime series. Writing, it’s what I enjoy, it’s what I have some talent and skills in. This afternoon, I am returning to the vexed question of marketing and preparing for the launch of the second in the Art of Survival Coverfront onlyfinalseries, The Art of Survival.

Marketing leaves me feeling helpless and hopeless. There are parts which give me enormous pleasure. For instance, Saturday saw me at the Book Corner, a splendid little shop in Saltburn, ambushing unsuspecting customers and giving a short talk on crime fiction. Getting good reviews of my books and disseminating them is also delightful. But as for the rest, it’s a thorny briar on quicksand.

I have read most of the advice available. I know about the power of three, that generally people will act only having been told three times about something. I know about being timely and relevant, about looking out for anniversaries and events in the media to tie the marketing of my novels to. I know about being friendly and helpful on social media and trying to link with others. I know about raising my profile as a writer through blog tours or offering to contribute to other websites/blogs. I have tried as far as I am able to put some of this advice into practice.

Without the recent changes in technology which have allowed for easier indie publishing and for reaching a potential audience through social media, I wouldn’t be able to do what I am doing at all. On the other hand, I do feel like a very small leaf of mint in a very large pea soup. There are, perhaps, too many books out there, and too many people trying to flog them.

Kate E BookSocial media isn’t the whole story, of course, and I believe it is rare for Twitter and Facebook to be the medium by which books are sold. Traditional media has a much bigger role to play. Hats off, then, to the James Bond Spectre marketing team who managed to get coverage of the film’s launch on every BBC news programme last Friday and a James Bond book read on BBC Radio 4 this week. It was a stunt as breath-taking as many which appear in the Bond films themselves. What a difference it would make to indies like me if just some of that marketing time/space on TV and radio could be more evenly distributed.

My strategy for this coming launch includes:

  • various local events, including a signing at WH Smith in Scarborough on the 21st of November and a talk at Filey library on the 1st of December.
  • A goodreads giveaway (https://goo.gl/pIfyF9) and a Kindle promotion this week only for my first novel in the series, The Art of the Imperfect.
  • Copies sent to local and national media for review.
  • A moderate blog tour.

What are your tips for marketing indie published books?

Advertisements

Indie Publishing – when do you celebrate?

As an indie publisher, it’s sometimes hard to know when to celebrate. Could it be when I’ve completed my initial draft? My final draft? When it’s copyedited and proof read? When I have a copy from the printers in my hand? When I’ve sold my first one? My first fifty? My first hundred? There doesn’t quite seem to be the right time to sit down and say, well done, what an achievement, as the next thing looms on my ‘to-do’ list.

However, there is something thrilling about having the physical book in my hand. Because I decided to go with a local printer, I have a few boxes of The Art of Survival in my back room which I can go and admire. I have done what I can to create a tempting and interesting read, now is the time to try to connect with readers.

I have some events set up. This Saturday, the 24th of October, I will be at The Book Corner in Saltburn from 11am-1pm with a reprise of my Poisoned Pen talk on crime writing at 12pm. The Art of Survival is being launched on Amazon on the 21st of November, and that day I will be in the WH Smith in Scarborough for a signing, 10am-3pm. And on Tuesday the 1st of December, I will be at Filey Library giving a talk on crime writing, 6pm-730pm. It’s lovely to get out and meet readers and other writers, maybe see some of my blog readers there too.

For anyone who hasn’t read the first in the series, The Art of the Imperfect, it is free on Kindle and there is a Goodreads giveaway next week.

When do you as writer and/or indie publisher celebrate? And how do you celebrate?

The Art of Survival
The Art of Survival asks: What will fear push ordinary people to do? What happens when little girls get lost? DS Theo Akande is investigating the disappearance of eight year old Victoria Everidge. Her mother, Yvonne, is a desperate woman. What is she capable of? Eminent journalist and newspaperman, Stan Poole, dies leaving a filing cabinet full of secrets. As these leak out, his daughter, Hannah, begins to question her own girlhood. She is losing her way. Her best friend, Lawrence, newly an item with Theo, finds it hard to remain supportive. Instead Hannah clings to her work as a trainee counsellor and to her client Julia. Julia is apparently no little girl lost, but appearances can be deceptive. Then a body is found.

This is the second novel by Kate Evans. Her first, The Art of the Imperfect, was long-listed for the Crime Writers Association debut dagger in 2015. Kate Evans is a writer of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Her book, Pathways Through Writing Blocks in the Academic Environment, was published by Sense Publishers in 2013. She has an MA in Creative Writing from Sussex University and teaches on the Degree in Creative Writing at the University of Hull, Scarborough campus. She is trained as a psychotherapeutic counsellor. She loves walking by the sea and afternoon tea, and has an inexplicable drive to bring a new generation to the poetry of Edith Sitwell.

Praise for The Art of the Imperfect:

‘The first thing to mention is the writing style is incredibly strong. … The description through this book is brilliantly constructed so that I really felt completely immersed.’ Lizzy, My Little Book Blog

‘The book … retains its readability on a second or third reading and beyond. It is written by an unobtrusively gifted creative talent, whose gifts will assuredly go on expanding and enlarge their range … The novel is convincing enough to haunt us, and graze us into deeper thought.’ Dr Heward Wilkinson, UKCP Fellow, UKCP Registered, Integrative Psychotherapist.

What the Heck is Steampunk Dystopian, Anyway?

This week I am very happy to host a post from my fellow writer, Kate M. Colby, who resides in New Haven, USA. Kate’s first novel is being published by Boxthorn Press this month – grab an early copy and get money off (see below). Her book, ‘The Cogsmith’s Daughter’ is a steampunk dystopian, and (being over fifty) I had to ask, what the heck is that? Read on for Kate C’s response…

Kate C photo Oct15Picture this: after nearly fifteen years of dreaming about writing a novel, you finally finish your first one and decide to publish it. You’re thrilled—nay ecstatic! You can’t wait to tell your friends and family about it. The moment comes. Someone asks you, “So what’s your novel about?” Your eyes light up, you lean over and say, almost conspiratorially, “It’s steampunk without steam.”

And all you get in return is a “deer in the headlights” look. This, dear readers, is my struggle.

I’ve never been a huge fan of “single genre” books. For example, I rarely read “just romance” (except for the occasional guilty dip into Nicholas Sparks), and I’m not a fan of straight crime fiction. Now, throw another genre in there—paranormal romance, historical crime fiction—and I’m all over it. I read to escape reality, and I like high-concept, complex books to get me out of my day-to-day and into my imagination.

Knowing this, it’s probably no surprise that my first novel, The Cogsmith’s Daughter (Desertera #1), is somewhat of a genre mashup. I call it “steampunk dystopian.” What the heck is that? Well, let me tell you how I see it.

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction. It has close ties to alternative history and fantasy as well. At the simplest level, conventional steampunk relies on the idea that steam power evolved to be the dominant power source (as opposed to fossil fuels and the other power sources we have today). Standard steampunk takes place in the Victorian era, typically in London or wider England. As a genre, steampunk mixes heavily with mystery, crime, paranormal/supernatural, and romance. In a steampunk novel, you’ll find corsets and cravats, all kinds of cool gadgets and gizmos (lots of cogs), and sometimes a hint of magic or alternative science (think Alchemy). For more on Steampunk, here’s trusty Wikipedia.

So that’s the steampunk part. Now for dystopian.

Luckily for me, dystopian fiction has exploded in popularity lately, making it much easier to explain. In short, dystopian fiction features a society that is reminiscent of our reality, but in which something has gone horribly wrong, causing it to be a dystopia, rather than a utopia. Common features of dystopian novels are a corrupt, controlling government, oppressive religious or ideological beliefs, and technology-gone-bad. Popular examples include The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Brave New World. Again, here’s Wikipedia for more.

Got it? Good. So what is steampunk dystopian?

In my world, it’s like the “traditional” steampunk world has morphed into a dystopian society. Long story short, roughly two hundred years before my novel begins, there is an apocalyptic flood (á la Noah’s Ark). The steampunk ancestors of my characters build a steamship (think Titanic) to carry them through the flood. Eventually, the water dries up, and they’re left in a desert wasteland they name Desertera. Without excess water, they can’t power any of their steam technology, and they stagnate. The society evolves under a questionable religion (in which adultery is punished with execution) and corrupt monarchy (in which the king abuses the adultery law to trade out queens whenever he likes). Today, the world is pretty much a poverty-riddled disaster.

As you’ll see, there’s traditional steampunk stylings (cogs, mechanics, Victorian-esque clothing), with all the trappings of dystopian (evil government, unethical religion, social stratification, etc.). There’s also a healthy portion of post-apocalyptic (with the preceding flood and the wasteland), a bit of conspiracy, and the subplot is a romance. Genre mashup? I think so.

Now what exactly drew me to this mash up of genres? Well, when I was thinking about this kingdom, my original idea was not steampunk (more on that later in the blog tour). However, the more I learned about steampunk as a genre, the more I was drawn to the styling, and I decided I wanted to put my own twist on it. As for dystopian, it’s a genre I’ve always enjoyed, so most of my ideas naturally work their way in its direction in one form or another. Same with post-apocalyptic. I’m a total sucker for the end of the world. The story just seemed to demand these genres, so I incorporated them all. Hopefully I did a decent job!

If you’re the gambling type, you can enter my Goodreads giveaway for a chance to win one of three signed copies of The Cogsmith’s Daughter HERE.

Don’t like leaving things up to chance? Me either. You can pre-order your copy of The Cogsmith’s The Cogsmith's Daughter - Ebook SmallDaughter at these fine retailers. Note: when it officially releases on Thursday, October 15, the ebook price is going up! Grab yours today.

Amazon USAmazon UKAmazon AU, etc.

Barnes & Noble

iBooks

Kobo

Smashwords

WHEN THE STEAM-POWERED WORLD DRIES UP…

Two-hundred years ago, the steam-powered world experienced an apocalyptic flood. When the waters dried up, the survivors settled around their steamship in a wasteland they named Desertera. Believing the flood and drought were caused by a scorned goddess, the monarchs demanded execution for anyone who commits the unforgivable sin—adultery.

ONE KING RULES WITH ABSOLUTE POWER AND UNQUENCHABLE LUST…

Today, King Archon entraps his wives in the crime of adultery, executing each boring bride to pursue his next infatuation. Most nobles overlook King Archon’s behavior, but when Lord Varick’s daughter falls victim to the king’s schemes, he vows revenge.

UNTIL THE COGSMITH’S DAUGHTER RISKS EVERYTHING FOR VENGEANCE.

When Aya Cogsmith is thirteen, King Archon has her father executed for treason. Orphaned and forced to turn to prostitution for survival, Aya dreams of avenging her father’s death. When Lord Varick approaches Aya with plans for vengeance, she agrees to play the king’s seductress—even though it puts her at risk for execution.

Packed with high-society intrigue, dappled with seduction, and driven by revenge, The Cogsmith’s Daughter is a steampunk dystopian novel with the perfect mixture of conspiracy and romance.

Kate M. Colby is an author of cross-genre fiction and creative nonfiction. Her first series, Desertera, consists of steampunk dystopian novels with themes of socio-economic disparity, self-empowerment, romance, and revenge. She lives in the United States with her husband and furry children. You can learn more about Kate and her books on her website: www.KateMColby.com.

 

Writers Need Feedback

As my second novel, The Art of Survival, goes to press, I want to pick up again, The Art of Breathing, the third in the series. I am privileged to be part of the vibrant writing community locally, and I had given my draft to three of my fellow writers. They are now coming back to me with comments, questions and possible solutions.

I believe that some writers, particularly perhaps novice writers, wait too long to ask for feedback on their work. I suspect this is due to a mix of fear and shame and becoming habituated at school/college to handing in our ‘best work’ to be ‘marked’. If I gave my ‘best work’ to my ‘first’ readers, I would find it very hard to listen to anything but praise. I want feedback when I’ve got to the point in my writing when I know I could make it better, but I’m not sure how. It’s like I’ve got to the lip of the summit and I need my ‘first’ readers to give me a hand up so I can properly see the landscape I have created. From there I spot where things are indistinct or where things are too bold/dominating or where they’ve got into a tangle.

I choose my ‘first’* readers carefully. I want them to be discerning readers, to respect my style and to understand the writing process. I also want them to be able to say what needs to be said in a way that I can hear and act upon it. There’s a lot of trust involved. I watch my fellow writers for how they give critical feedback, for how they receive it, for their tastes and approaches, before I will ask them to support me.
(* I have heard the phrase beta readers used in this context, I am not sure where that usage comes from, if someone would like to enlighten me?)

Giving feedback on a 60,000 plus word novel is time consuming. I am not paying my ‘first’ readers even though they are basically doing the job of the ‘structural’ editor which I can’t afford. I am aware of, and grateful for, their commitment. I do try to give back, in terms of supporting their writing endeavours and (it goes without saying) coffee, tea, cake, lunch… An interesting aside: I heard Ann Cleeves speak at Ayton library recently, and she said that publishers ‘these days’ basically wanted to an edited manuscript; editors did not have the time to edit. So most of the editing work on her novels is done by a colleague and her agent.

Now I have (almost) received all of my feedback, I have to tackle the re-writing. I feel a blend of being daunted and excitement. To move onto another metaphor, it’s like I have created a garment which I know has problems with its fit and there are seams poorly sewn. Some trusted colleagues have come along, done their bit and I now have the unstitched pieces in front of me. I have a list of guidelines beside me, but now it’s down to me to somehow create a wearable gown.

How about you, when do you like to received feedback? And from whom? How do you feel about rewriting? Any tips on tackling it?