Category Archives: Books

Report From The London Book Fair – An Indie Author’s Perspective

Today I’m delighted to welcome top indie author Anne Allen to the blog to talk about her experience of the London Book Fair, or LBF to those in the know. Over to you, Anne …

Anne Allen - author of

Anne Allen – author of the Guernsey novels

“The London Book Fair – the very title brings a frisson of excitement to an author’s heart. This year it was held at Olympia – a massive structure which can be, and was, overwhelming. It was noisy, busy and held miles of books. But not many authors. Until three years ago, authors did not figure largely at LBF – it was all about publishers, agents and negotiating rights and translations. Then things changed with the advent of self-publishing and in 2013 the Author Lounge really took off, holding seminars for would-be authors and writers, panelled by successful mainstream authors and experts in self-publishing. And at LBF in 2014 the Indie author seemed to be king of their own castle. We were privileged to hear from million-selling authors flown in by Amazon to tell us how they did it and there was a real heady, party atmosphere.

LBF2015

I only caught the tale-end of this year’s LBF and by the time I’d reached the Author’s Lounge I was too late for any seminars but the list looked similar to that of 2014. It was crowded with eager listeners but no familiar faces. Amazon was parked by the entrance and provided a chance to talk to writers like Mel Sherratt and Rachel Abbot – both big names in the Indie world. After quick chats with these lovely ladies I headed for a pre-arranged appointment with a software company and left shortly after.

LBF is definitely worth attending at least once, whether you are already a published author or wish to be. But for me this year was special as I joined in the fun of the Indie Author Fringe Festival, run by the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi)/IndieRecon and hosted by Triskele Books. This was to be found at Foyles, the largest indie bookstore in London.

20150417_122317

The fifth floor of Foyles buzzed with the sound of many excited authors waiting for the sessions to begin. There were few empty seats and it was great to see familiar faces of friends from facebook and blogland. The morning and early afternoon talks formed part of the London Book Fair, aimed specifically at indie authors like me. We were privileged to hear from speakers such as CJ Lyons, a US ex- doctor who has penned books selling in their millions, encouraging us to write books people want to buy – she made it sound so easy ☺ She was kind enough later to advise on my book covers, suggesting tweaks to strengthen my brand. Anything to help sell a million or more …

Other speakers included Debbie Young of ALLi, Nicola Young of The Society of Authors, and John Prebble from the Arts Council, all discussing funding for authors. It was fascinating to hear that grants can be available for indie authors and we are also eligible to join the Society of Authors if we’ve sold 500 ebooks or 300 paperbacks. Nicola certainly sparked my interest in joining – did you know the Society receives the royalties from the estate of George Bernard Shaw?

I was particularly interested to see Katie Donelan, the founder of BookBub, and had a quick word with her later about their move into the UK market. In January I had a particularly rewarding promo with BookBub UK and have just booked another.

Porter Anderson, of The Bookseller and Futurebook, was one of my favourites of the day. A brilliant speaker, he’s come out as a champion of indies and focuses on the world of digital publishing. His talk concerned @LibrarySELF-e, a new programme set up by US libraries that allows indie authors to upload their ebooks to all US libraries even if not US based. Brilliant! I’ve uploaded my first three books and it was easy. Statistics show that library borrowers often go on to buy further books from the author so this has to be a win-win for us writers. And did I say it was free?

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn and Roz Morris

Lindsay Stanberry-Flynn and Roz Morris

Other discussions continued after lunch until it was time for The Big Event, where Foyles allowed 50+ indie authors to set up stall on the fifth floor and sell their books direct to the willing public pouring through their doors. It looked wonderful, some authors had beautiful posters and banners and everyone’s books looked equal to, if not better than, those downstairs. I was sad not to have my own piece of the action, not having booked a table in time, but Alison Ripley Cubitt kindly allowed me to display a few bookmarks and flyers on her table. I’ll definitely book for the next one. I don’t know how many books were sold all together, but books and money seemed to be constantly changing hands, except when being offered a nibble and a glass of wine from the café staff.”

The very talented Linda Gillard

The very talented Linda Gillard

Thanks, Anne! I also really enjoyed LBF last year, where Anne and I met in real life after being virtual friends for ages. My favourite photo is this one of Linda Gillard, another great friend and brilliant author, and I am very disappointed I didn’t get to Foyles to meet her in person. Maybe next year?

dangerous waters_Sept2014_amends-1

Finding_mother_sept2014_amend_2

Guernsey Retreat_front_final

 

 

 

 

 

Anne Allen – www.anneallen.co.uk

www.theguernseynovels.com

Twitter: @AnneAllen21

Facebook: on.fb.me/1rgIvLg

Anne Allen lives in Devon but originates from Rugby. Finding early on in life that she loved the sea she spent most of her adult years moving from one coast to another. Her happiest time was spent in Guernsey where she lived for nearly 14 years and her books are all set on that beautiful island. Until recently Anne was a psychotherapist but has now retired to write full time. So far she has published Dangerous Waters, a romantic mystery, Finding Mother, a romantic family drama and Guernsey Retreat, another romantic mystery, forming the Guernsey Novels series. A fourth, The Family Divided, will be published in June 2015.

3 Comments

Filed under Books, Self-publishing

Celebrating A Brand New Cover With A FREE Book

It’s almost a year since I released Cupid’s Way – my uplifting romantic comedy about Evie Stone’s quest to save her grandparents’ home in a street (Cupid’s Way) that is threatened with demolition. Reviews have been outstanding, and sales were brisk to begin with, but as is the case for so many mid-list or indie authors, ‘discoverability’ by readers is getting harder and harder.

Although I loved the original cover for Cupid’s Way, I decided to see what, if anything, a change of cover would do. That is the beauty of being indie, after all – we can change things, experiment, mix it up  and see what happens. In fact, to be indie and to not be changing everything that isn’t working (depending on your personal definition of ‘working’), is actually pretty crazy. There are benefits to not having a publisher, such as access to meta-data and other key factors, so in light of the downside – i.e. you’re all on your own – it seems appropriate to go ahead and keep on trying new things.

So, here is the sparkly new cover for Cupid’s Way, courtesy of my ace designer, Chris Howard:

Cupid's Way

 

I really love it! I’ve done a lot of research around cover design, particularly for indie titles, and I knew that for a heart-warming, uplifting rom com like Cupid’s Way I really needed a cover that spoke to the market, with illustrated elements, a quirky feel, and bright fresh colours. This is perfect. You might notice that the blog itself is undergoing a bit of a re-brand, with the elements from the new cover being used as a backdrop to the new banner and a colour-palette that uses more red and green.

Let’s Celebrate!

To celebrate the new cover, and to get the book into as many hands as possible, I’m putting it on Free Promotion until Monday. So that’s a whole weekend for you to grab a copy if you haven’t already :) This time I haven’t listed the book with all the free sites (experimenting again, you see), although I do have a BookBub UK-only promo set for tomorrow. It will be interesting to see how that goes, and for any writers or marketers who are interested I’ll post the results in a couple of weeks.

Here is the link to download your copy: http://smarturl.it/ifgi1x and please, please share and Tweet and tell all your friends. Cupid’s Way has an average of 4.6 out of 5 stars on Amazon UK, and is a lovely, warm-hearted read for the summer.

 

9 Comments

Filed under Books, Cupid's Way, Marketing & Promotion, Special Offers

Why And How I Chose To Self-Publish by Author Julie Stock

I’ll just go ahead and admit it – I have a bit of a soft spot for Julie Stock. When she came running up to me at the RNA conference last year, genuinely excited to meet me, she guaranteed herself a place in my list of favourite people! Since then Julie has completed her novel, edited it to a high shine, and self-published a book that looks so professional it rivals any traditionally published title. I asked Julie to come on the blog today not just to promote her new book but also to tell us about her journey in self-publishing. Her guest blog is so interesting I’m thinking of starting a series of similar posts – I don’t know about you but I am really nosey and love hearing all about other people’s journey to publication. So, over to you, Julie …

dfw-js-fhtn-cover-thumb

“I started writing my debut contemporary romance, From Here to Nashville, in April 2013. Somewhere along the way, I decided, madly or otherwise, that I would self-publish that novel. I finally published it as an ebook on 16th February, 2015 and I have just published the paperback version this month.

Why I Chose to Self-Publish

It has been quite a long road to get to this point and the steepest learning curve I have ever encountered but I’m there at last. Part of my motivation for self-publishing was that I’m not getting any younger and I didn’t want to wait for agents and publishing companies to make their decisions, especially if they were going to be rejections anyway, which was likely. I also liked the idea that I would be in complete control of my book’s destiny.

Getting Feedback on Your Book

So I set out to write the best book I could and to go from there. Part of the problem for new writers is how do you know whether it is the best book you could write? I sought lots of chapter critiques in the early days and I was also lucky enough to find a great beta reader through my participation in NaNoWriMo. I also joined the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme (RNA NWS), which allowed me to submit my book to be read by a professional author and to receive feedback on it. This feedback was very helpful.

Learning How to Self-Publish

I had been toying with the idea of joining the Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi) when I attended the RNA’s annual conference last July. Luckily, Debbie Young from ALLi was giving a talk and that persuaded me to join. Their help with the nuts and bolts of self-publishing, along with the supportive nature shown by all members has been invaluable.

Making Your Book Professional

The next step was to make sure it was professionally edited and proofread, and that I organised a professional cover for it too. I managed to get a special offer from an editor who was a member of the RNA for the professional edit. However, I was not prepared for what came back. There were a number of things she didn’t like about it and there was one big thing that if I changed it, was going to mean a complete rewrite of the whole book. At this point, I was ready to give up!

The big thing she didn’t like was my narrative structure. The book is told in 1st person by my main female character, Rachel in the first part of the book. Then it switches to 1st person from the main male character, Jackson when the story moves to Nashville. In the final part, it alternates between the two. The editor suggested I change it all to 3rd person. I agonised over this for a really long time and sought other people’s views, including my beta readers. In the end, the feedback was that my unusual narrative structure was actually my unique selling point or USP and that I should stick with it. This was the first of many difficult decisions, leading me to decision fatigue further down the line!

The proofreading was painless, except that I had to delay it because the editing took so long. The cover design had a few hairy moments too, mainly because it is difficult to convey to someone by email exactly what your vision is, especially when you’ve never had to design anything yourself.

Formatting Your Book

The final hurdles to overcome have been to do with formatting the book, firstly as an ebook for Kindle and then as a paperback. I write using a software programme called Scrivener, which pretty much did the ebook formatting for me, although not without a few tears along the way! I then used Jo’s excellent guide to formatting the paperback version using Word and found that quite straightforward. I decided to go for the ebook first and the paperback afterwards but I would hope to do them both at the same time next time.

Sales and Marketing

And so to sales. Well, it got off to a good start and I’ve had great reviews but making the book visible to all the potential readers out there is very hard. This is where having the might of a publisher behind you really comes into its own, I think. I’m keeping at it though and trying lots of new things, which I hope will build my readership bit by bit over time. Of course, I have a strong author platform behind me, Twitter, Facebook and my blog but I believe in building relationships, not blasting people with messages to buy my book and that takes time.

I set up my own blog tour and took out an ad. I have provided some copies free of charge to blog reviewers I have come to know. I have taken part in an online Romance Festival and I’ve just set up a Goodreads giveaway. I am always on the look out for opportunities to promote without getting in people’s faces too much! Other writers are incredibly supportive too and that helps such a lot.

What Next?

I am still on the RNA’s NWS and trying to finish my first draft of my second book to submit to them before the end of August. That seems like loads of time but believe me, it isn’t. As I also work part-time, I’m now becoming more and more conscious of the need to manage my time better and to think I thought I was organised before I started all this! I’m hoping that things will be easier second time round but for that, only time will tell.”

Bio and Buying Links:

DSCN8886Julie Stock is an author of contemporary romance novels, novellas and short stories. She is a proud member of the Romantic Novelists’ Association’s New Writers’ Scheme and is a Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors.

She blogs about her path to publication on her website, ‘My Writing Life’ www.juliestock.wordpress.com. You can also connect with her on Twitter, on Goodreads and via her Facebook Author Page.

When she is not writing, she works part-time as a teacher. She is married with two teenage daughters and lives with her family in Bedfordshire.

Buy From Here To Nashville 

Amazon – http://bit.ly/FromHeretoNashville

26 Comments

Filed under Books, Self-publishing

Special Reads for Mother’s Day

Happy Mother’s Day! You know, I only really started to appreciate Mother’s Day when I became a mum myself (sorry, Mum!). These days, not only do I look forward to a lie in and breakfast in bed, and lovely cards and surprises from my six-year-old daughter, I also appreciate my own mum a lot more. A mother-daughter relationships is a very special thing, which is probably why I write about it so much!

Take Can’t Live Without and The Family Trap – my Stella Hill series (the third of which is currently in the planning phase). Stella has a complex relationship with her mother, and with her teenage daughter, Lipsy. After my mum read Can’t Live Without I had to reassure her that the character of Maggie wasn’t based on her at all! And it wasn’t, but to some extent every character and relationship is based on parts of myself and my own life. As a writer you mine your fears and your emotions, tapping into universal themes and bringing them to life on the page. As both of these books have been praised for their depiction of three generations of women, I thought a promotion for Mother’s Day would be a nice idea – so today you can buy not just one but both books for only 99p/99c each :)

So Happy Mother’s Day to all you mothers and daughters out there – right now I’m off to enjoy my day of being pampered and adored. Long may that last!

CLW_cover_V2

If you haven’t read either book before, read Can’t Live Without first, and then …

The Family Trap cover

3 Comments

Filed under Books, Can't Live Without, The Family Trap