Thursday, 31 May 2012

Hi folks - Here's the interview I did the other day with Edward G Gordon from Gamblers Game - - bits n pieces on my Marketing efforts and how I write. ta ta for now, Sooz

Tuesday, 29 May 2012

Back in the Saddle/Time Management

hi all
Well, having had some much deserved and needed beauty sleep post promo, I then found myself still tweeting like a mad thing. Not as much as Fri-Sun of the promo, but still a lot. And I was preparing some interviews and replying to new followers and trying to work out optimal sales periods and best times to tweet without driving everyone mental or inundating them.
BUT, now I am writing again!! Yay! Yippee!! What a rush! I hadn't written for three solid weeks. I've been trying to do it for about a week now, but have been reading, doing housework and all other rubbish that gets in the way. But last night I said to myself, writing is to be the new first thing in the morning activity and I cranked out 3000 words today. So am really chuffed.  Plus it makes me so ridiculously happy that I want to dance round the room.
Am going to try to stick to my new rule from now on, as I actually want to have The Dating Game out sooner rather than later. Also, I realised how much I missed my new characters. Anton in particular is a sweetheart, albeit a sexy one...

Getting Back in the Saddle ties in very appropriately with the age-old and much dreaded Time Management. Now, I am Queen of Lists, Queen of Spreadsheets and Queen of Planning. It's actually quite a large kingdom I have!  But no amount of writing down your good intentions will make them happen. YOU have to make them happen.  So every day, rather than say, 'I need to do this', I am going to go back to my old Sales background and say, 'What must I do today or I will be shot?'  Once I've cleared those tasks, I can start on the rest. 

It's a very difficult call. We, as writers think, and obviously there is some truth in this, that we need to tweet, promote and advertise to generate interest.  However, and as other authors have shared with me, sometimes when you've had enough and can't tweet anymore or are sick of updating Facebook or whatever non-writing activity it is you're engaged in, you sell more! I know, it's warped, unfair, makes no sense, but it happens and has in fact happened to me today so far - fingers crossed it continues! So, I am going to take a very good author friend's advice and do less marketing for a bit and more writing (to be honest that wouldn't be difficult).

I think - and there IS no magic formula - that we have to identify the percentage of our time we wish to spend on our novels and split it up into writing (the major chunk), tweeting and other advertising, interviews, where appropriate and things like admin (following, unfollowing, sales figures, etc) and try as far as humanly possible to stick to those percentages.

I'm not going to discuss building platforms or Amazon algorithms, as much has already been written on this of late. Suffice to say, I am aware of these topics and you need to be too!

Anyway, that's my tuppence-worth for today.  Am off to see what Anton and Gill are up to....

Sign of the Times is available here for UK buyers - & for US/other (.com) -

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Lessons learned from a successful free promo

Dear all
Sorry it's  taken a little longer to put together this post than I had wanted, but life got in the way. Life to be more precise consisted of the 3 long free promo days plus the hectic 3 days aftermath.  I was lucky enough that Sign of the Times hit the number 1 spot. Now it's about keeping the momentum going.

Every day I learn about ten things I need to be doing to build my platform,but that will be the subject for another post.  If you're read my mini-posts during & after the free promo, you will know that I was almost dead from exhaustion, after putting in 3 x 19 hour days to get it to the #1 spot. I could not have done it without Twitter. No other platform has the same community spirit of authors supporting other authors and followers happily retweeting their favourite writers' tweets and indeed acting upon them and buying a book, in this case mine.

From Fri to Sun, I had 6160 free downloads. Since then my paid sales have increased by 800% in 2 days.  The level of exposure the free promo has given me, and reaching number #1 has catapulted me and my book into a realm I never thought possible.  Now I am chasing for the Amazon top 100. I was at #208 this morning, but it's slipped back a little to #243. I am trying to reverse that again. I've been trying to work out when my readers are buying and I am actually staying up until midnight and 1am because they are still buying, rather than hit the sack at 10.30am as is my wont. But each day the trend is different!

I've been asked to do a few author interviews, which is nice. The more ways to get the novel recognised the better, plus they can be fun. I will post links to these when they are available. 
I suppose the number one thing I can take from the free promo is BELIEVE.  Believe in yourself, believe you can do it.  I am very hard-working and I was determined that if it didn't hit the #1 spot, I would be able at least to look myself in the mirror and know that I had done everything humanly possible to get it there.
I also am humble enough to recognise that my efforts weren't perfect. I screwed up organising a particular marketing initiative, which would have dramaticaly increased my US downloads and potential immediate future sales. For the record, of those 6K+ downloads, more than 5K were in the UK. I have learned that lesson and will know next time. But I don't beat myself up about it. I have only been doing this two months and I have learned so much and I have hit the #1 Amazon spot! I think that's an achievement in itself, but I am aware that I need to be planning for the future now - dividing up my time into marketing, selling, admin, writing, editing and so forth.

And the free promo success has laid to rest two of my initial doubts - should I be giving my books away for free and should I be using Social Networking to promote my book ( I was very anti-SN sites a few months ago). Incontrovertibly yes, to both questions.  Without Amazon KDP free promo, my little (or not so little at 370 pages) book would have gone unnoticed. There are several hundred thousand titles available from Amazon UK. Prior to the promo, I was around 35,000 and my best position had been 9,000 something.  It speaks for itself.

One parting note - on Mon morning when the free promo finished and I was number #1, I breathed a sigh of relief and thought, great, I can go to bed now. How wrong was I? It took me about ten minutes to realise, this is just the beginning....

NB: If you missed the free promo - you can still get Sign of the Times here - (UK) & (US & other)

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Day Two of Free Promo - Sign of the Times

Well , I didn't quite last as long as 3am this time, quarter to two. Interestingly I see that the majority of downloads are in the UK, not the US, as I had anticipated. So, thanks everyone!  When I limped off to bed, as my legs were numb from having a laptop on them for 17 hours straight, I was at number #7 in the free chart, so I've got to be happy with that. I am, however, not convinced that these Amazon charts do indeed change once an hour, as for 3 hours nowt happened & then I jumped suddenly from no. 10 to no. 7. It's easy to get obsessed by the numbers, especially when you are stuck at a laptop! Right, day 3 is underway - the final day - you can get Sign of the Times FREE until 0000 PST, so basically to us UK folks, until 8am Mon, if Amazon are playing ball.  Then I can get back to writing (and editing) The Dating Game! ciao for now, Sooz

Saturday, 19 May 2012

Results of First Day Of Free Promo - Sign of the Times

Well, after a gruelling 19 hours, I finally hit the sack at 3am (GMT). What a wonderful response I had received from readers/downloaders and Twitter community alike. I finished at #30 and fully expected to go down the chart when asleep, but my faithful Twitter RTers must have kept things going during my slumber, as I ended up at #20 by the time I awoke 5 hours later.

TWO MORE DAYS to get Sign of the Times on FREE download and remember, if you don't have a Kindle, there are Kindle apps for PC, Android, Blackberry and IPAD.-
have a great weekend - here are the links for your free ebook download


Friday, 18 May 2012

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Yet another 4 star review - from Amazon reader

Well, when I published that last link, it was one I'd forgotten to post yesterday - imagine my surprise then on opening it to discover yet another 4 star review on top of yesterday's 4 star review. Nice way to start my Thursday,  -

Book-shelf Review

 Book-shelf 's 4 star review for Sign of the Times -

Taking Criticism

Hello all. It feels like ages since we last spoke. I have been busy re-drafting the first few chapters of The Dating Game.  I haven't actually written anything new for 8 days...but I have not been idle. I have been working on a marketing campaign for Sign of the Times (which incidentally will be FREE on Amazon this weekend - Fri through Sun).
So, my editor, Drill Sergeant Fi Broon sent me her comments on my first few chapters. Oh, how I love that sea of red. It reminds me of being back at school. Unfortunately when I do well, she doesn't give me gold stars, or even silver ones, like my primary teachers did!
Chapter 1, she started off tentatively just pointing out sections which weren't 100% clear to her as a reader (they were clear to me in my head..).  By chapter 2, by her own admission, she had become if not downright vicious, certainly she wasn't holding back any. Imagine a cross of a Drill Sergeant with a snarling Rottweiler and you're close!
So, how do I cope with criticism? Well, I am fortunate enough that Fi and I have been friends a long time, and also if you were to look on Wikipedia at the definition of pachyderm, it says alongside elephant and rhinoceros, Susan Buchanan... To be fair, if I spend any more time at this laptop, I will be the size of the former two also!
Many people ask me (other indie writers usually), how I can bear for my work to be revised/criticised so stringently by someone else. My answer is because I know that by having an independent set of eyes look it over, it becomes a much stronger piece of work. I probably take about 50%, maybe slightly more of Fi's suggestions. We call the WIP, The Rainbow, because of the sheer variety of colours we have all the different types of modifications in - deletions, additions, comments, unsure whether to change etc.
What is particularly good is when Fi points out, 'that section adds nothing', or 'Sooz, that is total waffle'.  Most of the time I agree.  Maybe I was going off on a tangent, or as she told me yesterday, 'that section can be used, but here's not the place for it' and she was right. We have a fun ping pong battle back and forth, where I tell her I'm not changing this piece, just because and that's it, no further explanation required. But occasionally, if she feels really strongly that what I am leaving in is detrimental, she will try another tack to get me to remove it!! I am generally good at taking criticism, but I know others are not and it can be a very emotional experience to have others review your work. There's a difference between someone doing a hatchet job and someone trying to give you constructive criticism - recognising the difference can be key.  Try to remember it's nothing personal - generally people want to help. It can be hard to take a step back, but keep telling yourself it's for the good of your novel. You don't have to implement the changes suggested, but it certainly pays to keep an open mind.
Right, I need to prepare for my promo this weekend. More next week. Have a good one, Sooz
PS here are the links for Sign of the Times - (UK) - (US)
If you download after 00.00 PST on Fri 18th (so 8am Fri GMT & 3am EST), you will get it for free.  Enjoy and feel free to leave a review, Sooz

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Limited Promo for Sign of the Times

Dear all, just a quick note to say that Sign of the Times will be available at a promotional price for the next few days - at 77p in UK and 99 cents (if Amazon site works properly!) in the USA. Other countries' prices also reduced, but I don't know what the conversion rate is for each individual one. Suffice to say, it's a bargain!
Feel free to drop by my Facebook author page - to automatically receive future updates. thx Sooz

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Beating Procrastination

Hi everyone - well, on advice from a few people, I have decided to cut the blog posts back to once a week and an occasional surprise one, when I have time. I am aware that I am under pressure (self-imposed) to finish The Dating Game and have it edited and ready by the end of the year, so the more time spent writing the novel the better. 
And that brings me to today's subject - Procrastination. I actually owe this title to one of my tweeps - Susan Louineau - she captured perfectly what has happened to me this past week. I am not known for procrastinating generally, far from, I am usually a whirlwind.  However, whilst I am an author, I also have other commitments (as do other authors, who will relate to this on various levels) and when you neglect those commitments, to allow you to write; family, friends, housework, sometimes you need a reboot to get back on track. I made my last post last Tue, a full 7 days ago. That was also the last day I wrote until today.  Now I am refreshed and back in gear.  Writing can be all-consuming and it's great when you are in the zone, engaging with your characters and you have the time to do so.  But when you're not in the mood, it can feel like a chore and mainly you just get through that, a bit like forcing yourself to go out running in the rain when you are training for a 10K or half-marathon and would much rather be sat on the sofa eating Galaxy and watching quiz shows.  There are times though when it makes sense to give yourself a break, grab a book to read and well, eat Galaxy (you can substitute Galaxy with any other brand - it works the same). 
The point is, there will always be something which prevents you from writing, something else that needs done. Find when is the best time for you to write, even if you have to keep a diary of when you feel freshest and happiest to write and get writing! Have a goal - whether it's 1000 words or 200 words.
How do you get over procrastination? Remember how you feel, the satisfaction, the joy when you have completed a passage, a chapter, a character schematic, a plot development. Hold onto that thought. Take it with you, switch off Emmerdale, stop channel hopping or rid yourself of whatever distraction is in your way (NB turfing your children out of the house for peace and quiet is only ok if they are over 16!)
I can't guarantee you will write, but the likelihood is definitely a lot higher.
Until next time, Sooz
PS you might see some mini-posts, such as I did last week for reviews, interviews and promotions before next Tue.
PPS you can also follow me on Twitter - see my new button
Since I haven't added the FB button - feel free to visit my FB page and like it (if you do like it!) -

Saturday, 5 May 2012

Fabulous Reading

Review from Fabulous Reading blog for Sign of the Times -
 My usual blogpost will resume Tue 8th. Sooz

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Interview with Dizzy C's Little Book Blog

Not posting today, just thought I would share the interview Dizzy C hosted on her blog for my new novel (WIP) The Dating Game -  Sooz

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Social Networking and Marketing

Hello all.  How are you? I've decided that a daily blog post is too frequent, or rather that I simply don't have time to do one every single day. I will, however, try to post  every two days.  The reasons for this are quite simple and form the backbone of today's post.

First of all. have managed to spit out 1000 words today - nothing yesterday - I was like the Tasmanian devil yesterday and at one point I thought my head was going to spin clean off from the amount of things I was trying to do. I am hoping to do another 1000 words this evening, after dinner, but we'll see.  That would keep me on track for 1000 words per day, every day.

Why am I so busy? Two words - Social and Networking. Back in the olden days when we wrote our novels on paper and counted on abacuses, there was no Facebook/Twitter/blog to distract us or to buy into. Now if you want the world to know about your book(s) you would be crazy not to use the platforms at your disposal.  That's the good side. The bad side is it is exceedingly time-consuming. I had what we colloquially call here in Glasgow a 'flaky' yesterday at the amount of effort and time I expended trying to get my Facebook Author page set up - 
Please Like it, if only for my sanity and the blood, sweat and tears that I gave yesterday trying to get it to play ball.
But having a Facebook Author page means it's another place I need to update. I realise that there is probably a way to link all of these things together, adding buttons etc, but I will need to look into that more, before I have it all sussed.  By the time I finish all this, I should be able to give masterclasses in it!

Twitter - I was very anti-Twitter I have to confess, but now I am Mrs Twitter, Tweetie-Pie in fact. Soon my friends will be tweeting me in order to be able to communicate. I will become to Twitter what my editor Fi is to Facebook (I have to Facebook her to get her attention- email and texts don't always work!)
But you have to maintain your followers and your followed. Plus no-one told me there was a limit to the people you follow. When I get into something, I tend to get carried away. I was following authors and readers and review sites and then Twitter burst my bubble by telling me to stop. It wasn't letting me be pals with anybody else right now. You could probably have spotted my pet lip from Mars! Apparently there is an undisclosed secret ratio of followers to followed that you must have.
Then you have your Lists to maintain, which you can set up and define by whichever categories you want.
And you of course want to thank people who follow you - and find out a bit more about them, it's only polite!
Plus my Discover # isn't working and hasn't been for a few days.  This is very frustrating.
I am, however, loving the whole Twitter spirit of community.  Readers and writers and reviewers and people tweeting interesting articles and quotes etc. But it is addictive.  I have a default position now, where my laptop (actually my boyfriend's laptop) is surgically attached to me as I sit on my sofa, from 06.30 to 00.30, excepting loo and coffee breaks!
I could go on and on about Twitter, but it will have to wait for another day. 

Then there's the blog post, review sites to contact and guest spots and author interviews to do (and  I love it all - I do, all of it), but it is labour-intensive.

I suppose what I am trying to say is if you thought that to be a writer you just had to write, think again!  Writing is the easy part!
have a good afternoon, Sooz