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Blog For Authors

People ask me all the time, “How much does it cost to self-publish?” The usual answer is, “As much, or as little, as you want it to cost.” However, in the end the sensible answer lies somewhere in between. Let me explain.

Companies will charge through the nose for editorial services, book covers, interior book designs and marketing campaigns so that in the end you have outlaid an enormous amount of money, possibly as much as $3000 with little hope of recouping that, any time soon, via book sales.

Do you ever get a feeling of déjà vu when you're talking to somebody? In real life this can embarrass you, but as a writer it can also be very confusing to your reader. This has happened to me a few times, but I’ve caught my mistake before it went any further than the pages of my story. Keeping your character’s activities and personalities consistent is essential for a well-crafted manuscript.

Here is the scenario. You have read crime fiction for some years. You have watched and enjoyed crime series on TV and you think you might write a best selling crime novel — or even series! What exactly do you need to know before you start your first novel?

In this grammar lesson, I would like to talk about that crucial comma. Even though the comma is such a tiny, little thing, it holds enormous power, able to completely change a sentence.

Example: ‘Let’s eat Grandma’ vs ‘Let’s eat, Grandma.’

No need to tell you that it’s imperative that a writer needs to know where to put commas. Some writers go with their gut feeling, putting the comma where they pause the sentence flow. As a non-native speaker, I find this tricky and prefer to stick to the rules. There are quite a lot, so I made an index to give you a better overview. I hope this text will make the use of the comma clearer for you.

So, I am painting doors in my year-old home, and by year-old I mean I just moved in here a year ago - the house itself was built in the fifties - and I suddenly have this flash of genius. I feel like I have cracked the code to why I’m not selling more copies.

Everybody knows that there is more than enough evidence that there is some connection between almost every kind of major event and book sales. That is no secret. Books of a certain kind sell seasonally, and drawing a line from there, certain specific events spike sales of certain specific genres.

“It's been one of those days. Nothing's going right at work, you’ve spilled coffee down your favorite shirt and your boss is being impossible with a last-minute request. Naturally he comes to you with this as you're walking out the door at 5 o'clock. Grudgingly you comply and, now 45 minutes late leaving the office, it’s out the building to fight the evening traffic. Today’s commute home seems worse than ever, as you battle the stop-and-go traffic, the worst only a mile from your home.

It happened. It happens to all of us who live to write and write to live. It’s still rather dreadful. The feared writer’s block, enemy of progress, killer of page count, destroyer of dreams.

Some words become used so regularly we begin to take them for granted. Creative writing is such a term; it acts as a definition for writing courses, for authors’ mutual support groups and sundry other uses. Yet, when we delve into creativity, the term is far more contentious than we have been led to believe.

Hi Everybody!

Grammar 101 for Writers started as an idea when Kathryn Bax sent out a request for people writing an article on a regular basis for One Stop Fiction, I immediately wanted to join. But what to write? I don’t have much experience in reading or writing as I only started writing less than two years ago. As English is not my first language it was a steep learning curve for me to learn how to write properly (and of course I still have a lot to learn). I had to start with grammar basics. Hence I thought it may be an idea to share my learning with you. Some of you are also writers whose mother tongue is a foreign language. For those of you who did grow up using the English language, it may be a long time ago since you sat in the classroom and may have forgotten why you write the way you write. I hope there is something for everybody in these articles.

I took part the other day in a writing competition wherein I had to come up with the first thirty pages of a romance novel to be viewed by editors from three well known publishing houses. The concept was fairly easy to come up with, as was the heroine. However I struggled with one very important aspect of the book, the hero. He was so elusive.

When I first started writing I was so scared that someone would steal my work that I kept it hidden from any and all prying eyes. I saw every other author as my competition and I guess that without realizing it, I believed that there were only a finite number of ideas to be had and only so many ways to express them. But I soon learned otherwise. Yes there are all kinds crooks out there, but in my experience so far, most real authors are way more interested in expressing their own voice than stealing mine. They write because they have something to say and want the world to hear it, they have no interest in trying to be someone else instead.

Some people are natural born storytellers. A knock on the door is an inspiration for them. Others cannot find stories no matter how hard they look. To keep inspiration flowing I’ve tried all these techniques at some time or the other.

Writing in the Haar

February 12, 2017

What is the Haar?

The haar in Aberdeenshire, north-east Scotland, can refer to a light coastal fog or a downright pea-souper. Either way, if you’re out in haar there’s an eerie, almost unworldly quality about it. If driving, fog lights are pretty useless since haar has a tendency to drift in and out like the tidal surges you’d find on the shoreline. If walking, take a deep breath. Haar isn’t like Los Angeles smog where you can actually taste the pollution: haar can actually be quite an uplifting face bath, albeit one where you are in a sauna-steam situation without any heat. Regardless, in any haar, seeing the way forward is a cautious process.

Each morning I wake up at 4am, pour myself a strong cup of tea then take a seat at my desk. My wife is still asleep along with the rest of the world and for two hours I will be alone and undisturbed. This precious writing time has been set aside with the aim of adding a couple of thousand words to my next novel. But wait, I haven’t checked my social media accounts! There may be messages and unread posts waiting. Opening Facebook, I diligently post my replies and comments.

How long does it take to write a book? Hmm, tricky question. And the answer probably depends on who is asking.

If you are a fledgling writer, the answer is, “How long is a piece of string??”. It might depend on how much time you have available, your style of writing and the book genre. If you are writing fantasy or paranormal you’ll need to do lots of world building and most genres need research, historical fiction requires boatloads of research.

There is a simple formula out there that people pay thousands for that I will share here for free in getting your book visible. However, if there is no spirit in helping others, it won’t work! Plain and simple.

What are launch teams?

Launch teams are used by the big 5 traditional publishing houses to get their authors pushed up the ranks in Amazon. People on this list will tell you that, as group owners, they are regularly approached to provide reviews for a book that is being traditionally published.

What is Pinterest?

Pinterest is a social media website where people look for inspiration, ideas or entertainment and is an important platform often underutilized by authors.

“Pinterest drives more referral traffic to websites than Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined.” ~ Mashable.

So, you have just finished your book and you rush off to Amazon and upload it with a sigh of relief. Ideas are popping into your head for the next one and you cannot wait to start. Have you given any thought to marketing your book now that it is uploaded? No? Do you have a marketing strategy? No? Are you too busy with your next book? Yes, you probably are. Congratulations! You have just started killing your book, slowly, but surely.

Self-publishing is hard. I am not going to tell you otherwise. You are a one-man band that has to find a book cover designer, an editor, book reviewers, form launch teams and be your own marketing guru. If you have gone to the trouble of writing a good book, you need to make sure that when you self-publish your book, it succeeds. However, sometimes, indie authors are unaware of what is needed to be successful. Are you one of those authors whose books are in the doldrums? If so, what have you done, or perhaps, what haven't you done, and what can you do to improve your book sales and marketing strategies?

Launching a self-published book takes time if you are to do it right. You need time to contact your book reviewers, your launch team, plan your pre-marketing strategies and your social media campaigns. You need time to fix any spelling, grammar or syntax errors that were found and listen to feedback from your launch team on any changes needed to be made to the story itself. So what should you be doing from one week to the next in order to be successful at self-publishing your books?