Month: May 2015

My world tour!

So, here’s how it happened. My aunt and uncle took a signed book over to my uncle’a sister who had ordered one. And they photographed her reading it under a Welsh roadsign. And then, on their joint holiday, they took another, this time in a library in Italy.

Meanwhile, in the land down under an online friend was patiently waiting for her copy and I joked we should have followed it on its journey. So when it reached her, she posted an upside down photo.

At which point a friend in Canada received his and photographed it.

And suddenly a world tour was happening. And that’s where we’re at. We’ve had the book at Tower Bridge in London today. It’a going to Portugal later. There are rumours of America and Geordie land. And so, it begins. And if I sell a million copies I’ll follow it around the world. 🙂

The dreaded social bit

Promoting your book – part three: Social Media

I took part in an online discusssion around about the time I was starting to seriously seek agents about whether an aspiring author should have an online presence, or could that wait until a book had come out. The perceived wisdom was that a website and at least one strong social media platform was the least someone should set up.

Up until then, I had an aversion to all things social media. I’m a reasonably private person, I don’t do lots of exciting whizzy-bang things – I had little to write about. But I held my nose, did some research and decided to dive into the whirl of Twitter. I held out on Facebook a little longer but bit that bullet a year or so ago, and I joined Goodreads when Abendau’s Heir came out. I don’t have a shared platform – I tweet and facebook differently and think it’s more effective to do so, but many would disagree with that.

So, the pros and cons:


I find Twitter great for links and for quick shout outs. It’s a fast moving platform, is easier to have a conversation on and can draw in more participants and be easy to follow. I like it for discussions, for multiple panel talks (#askagent is one such and it’s always fun to watch – even when I had an agent).

Hashtags are your friends on Twitter. #bookboost, for instance, will retweet book related posts. With hashtags, retweets happen more often and, also, your post finds its right audience.

As with everything, a wall of buy-my-book tweets aren’t the way to go. Over the last four days I’ve tweeted a link to Culture NI’s* writers to follow (there I am!), my local rag’s feature about me, a photo of my first best seller list, a comment about the carpark at the Top Gear show, favourited some posts, and done a few buy-my-books tweets. I think it’s important to keep things fresh, to try to have something new up as often as possible. I also try to put up pictures – they draw more attention and break up the boring info-stream.

I also, and I know this will sound sad, search for myself and the book once a day. But, often, people have been kind enough to mention things and I like to be polite and say thanks (sometimes just with a favourite.) But, also, sometimes it’s an opportunity for a retweet.

On retweeting – leave some time between the first tweet and the retweet and you’ll hit a different thread of people. And then favourite a wee while later, and it’s out again, and you don’t irk your followers with a wall of same posts.

* I came across their call for debut authors because someone else on Twitter saw it and tagged me to the post. Twitter is great for that – linking events. And a follower who is kind enough to do that is a great support.


I get on well with Facebook these days. It took a while. But I have a nice mix of family and writerly types and I keep that list much smaller than on Twitter. There’s probably more of the personal me on Facebook.

I also have a page for my book. It’s useful because I don’t have to bombard my family with book related stuff, but limited because unless I pay for it, not everyone following the page sees the posts I put up.

I like that I can put more information in the posts. I can show more humour. I like that when you type in a web link and wait a few moments a nice link to that comes up and looks nice and professional (and you can then delete the typed link.)
Of the two, however, to date I get more hits on Twitter for promo stuff than Facebook, but more visibility in general from Facebook.

As I said above, I also use Goodreads. I like the review platform it offers. I also ran a giveaway which was a great success in bringing the book to people’s attention and multiplied the people planning to read the book tenfold. I plan to run another in a wee while – I’ll see then if a second hit has more/less or the same impact.

So, did I need a platform? It has helped a lot, to be already established, to have followers who knew a little about me and who knew it wasn’t just about the book. In general, I’d say yes to the aspiring writer thinking of starting something – and I think the advice to establish a single good platform rather than have two or three at the start is good advice. But be warned – it is time consuming. And the times when hits are good are the times when people are chilling and surfing, when you’ll want to be having a mid-morning Sunday cuppa and not sticking up another tweet. But it does pay back and, if used with other platforms like communities (oh, and Facebook groups are great mini-communities) can be really effective.

Go forth and be sociable!

Dream on….

I’m taking part in an authors’ roundtable on the fantastic and one of the questions I was asked was, if I was dreaming, what I’d love to see happen to my novel.

I suppose best seller lists come to mind, or TV adaptations, or movies. Not for me. My dream is of a rock-opera by Muse. I even have the playlist, which I’m going to share in a moment. But first, here’s the whys and wherefores:

I’ve had Abendau in my head for 25 years. I’ve also quite liked music with good bass for much of that time (I blame having my first crush on a bass player for that). When I came to write my novel, I was listening a lot to the likes of Muse and, being a space loving girl with a conflicted hero who thinks pretty deeply (and isn’t that conventional for a space hero) the lyrics and flavour of the music, touched on what I was trying to capture in the book. So much so, that certain scenes in the book play in my mind when I’m listening to the song (especially Invincible.)

So, trying not to spoil, I’ve given the scenes short descriptions that those who have read the books will be able to match the scene to. Here goes. My playlist.

1. Starlight – blasting off into space, sexy space pilot at the helm, there can be no other song.
2. Absolution – Ealyn
3. Uprising – Banned theme
4. Endlessly – the romance bit
5. Thoughts of a Dying Atheist – preparing for Abendau
6. Newborn – Kerra. But mostly because I’d like some more guitars about now
7. Soldier’s Poem – Omendegon
8. Follow Me – heading to the port
9. Falling Away – Kare/Sonly in the port
10. Invincible – crossing the parapet to the palace
11. Supremacy – the Empress
12. Knights of Cydonia – to end. Because I love it and it’s great fun and everyone sings along.

So, what do we reckon? Move over Mamma Mia? Now, who wants to tell Matt Bellamy I’m his writing hive-mind…?

And what about everyone else? Dreams? Aspirations? A better playlist? Shoot…

Being conned

So, continuing the Promo – what works for me season, this week I present: Selling at Cons.

This weekend I was lucky enough to have my first experience of a Comic con as a published author. I went with Dept 51, the sff arm of the Easons stores, and had a table to the side for me to sign at and chat to potential victims — sorry, readers…

My observations/tips

1. Find a way to let the people passing know you are the author. For the first day, few realised and that definitely had an impact on interest. Later, I used a business card as a badge and that helped, but a picture of me to put on the poster, for instance, would have been good. Also, some detail of my reviews would have been good, maybe the headlines of them. It was useful saying I had good reviews but the evidence wasn’t there.

2. Have a couple of approaches/blurbs in mind. A grimdark space opera was the quickest way in for me, but buzz words like character-led and a description of the Inverted Chosen One concept (my chosen one doesn’t just dust himself off and continue) worked well. That it was focused on the psychology of trauma was another slant that I talked about a lot.

3. Be passionate. If you can’t enthuse about your book why would anyone else! I grant, after 2 days talking about it, it gets a little old, but, really, the passion is what sells it for a debut author. No one knows you. You have to generate interest.

4. Be interested. It’s a two way process, not a sales pitch. I heard some fab tales from other writers, from genre buffs, from all sorts. Not all of them bought my book, good craic was still had.

5. The morning is slow. People come with a set idea what they want to see – and a debut author’s book is not it! Later, though, when the first things have been seen people browse. Also, a set amount of money may have been put aside for the event and, if the end is coming near, and some money remains, some are more open to taking a gamble.

6. Network, don’t sell. This isn’t just about flogging copies, although that’s nice. It’s about making links, getting the word out there. If someone doesn’t read but are into gaming, ask for a facebook share. Do the same back if it helps them. Give out cards with your contact details – I’ve had a couple of follow-ups since.

7. Blag. There’s little to lose. I got an interview with a journalist by doing that and the book’s name, and mine, are in a province-wide newspaper today.

8. Know when to stand back. Mark Stay, writer of Our Robot Overlords was also signing. A newby hovering around his crowd trying to sell their own book isn’t just unprofessional – it looks sad. Sure, say hi, enjoy the buzz. Chat if someone wants to. But don’t crowd. And if someone wants help with the other book later, promote it with good grace. Karma, surely, will return.

9. Bring food! Taking a break is good, but sometimes things get busy and it doesn’t happen. Have some stuff on tap. Plus, it’s a con, food’s dear and you’re an emerging writer. So, you know, buy your banana for 10p at the supermarket.

10. Enjoy it! I was talking to people about my book. They were interested. It’s what we dream of. So, sure it’s busy and tiring and a bit dull in the quiet bits. But it’s also great fun, with interesting people.

Oh, and lastly. Say thanks!

And on that note, to my hosts – Easons and Department 51, thank you!

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