Wednesday, 20 November 2013

You get a good review, and it's like crack. You need another hit.

“You get a good review, and it’s like crack. You need another hit. And another. And another. I know authors are like Tinkerbell and generally need applause to survive, but it’s a slippery slope.” - Alexandra Bracken

Well I hope you enjoyed my blog tour for The Bittersweet Vine, and that you are now following some of the other blogs mentioned! Most of the blogs mentioned belong to other writers with some great talent so if you haven’t checked them out do so now. You can scroll down to see the tour from some older posts on The Coffee Stained Manuscript!

As you may know I have entered The Bittersweet Vine as part of a Good Reads book giveaway for the month of November. If you have recently written a book this is a great way to get your work noticed and to get some real reviews. I believe it was the Good Reads book giveaway that really launched Goa Traffic. That’s a big declaration but I really think it got the name of my first book (and of me as an author) out there. With over 1000 people requesting Goa Traffic and getting a good review from the winner I definitely think that a Good Reads book give away is the best way to start your marketing campaign. A free book giveaway will raise awareness if nothing else! If you want to enter for your chance to win a copy of The Bittersweet Vine all you need is a Good Reads account (which is free) Just click on the link to the right!

Anyway… so the real reason for this post - reviews! I don’t know if the following is helpful or just a rant (most likely the latter) but I hope it makes you think. Whether you are a reader or a writer you’ll probably be interested in the following:

Now when The Bittersweet Vine was released, like any other author, I asked friends and family to read the book and review it! Did they? - Not really – asking for a review is like taking blood from a stone! But my sister tried - only to be rejected by Amazon. After doing some on-line research I figured that as my sister and I have often used the same computer Amazon twigged and thought this family member can’t write a review – perhaps in their opinion they felt it was sock puppeteering (creating fictitious accounts to create false reviews). Alternatively, perhaps Amazon felt that a family member reviews should not count – Amazon could be right. Family are always biased and false reviews create a fictitious market - Little do they know my sister is my strongest critic! I understand Amazon’s requirement to cut down on ‘false’ reviews but, for a new author with limited finances for marketing how do you go about getting that ball rolling? 

Recently on TV there was a programme on ‘fake’ facebook likers- most of which originate in Dakar! It will only be time before they catch on to the Amazon review (although now in America you have to have purchased the item from Amazon to review it and no doubt the UK will follow the same principle) but we authors are quirky penniless things. 1) we have no money to pay for reviews and 2) most of us want genuine reviews. We spend hours writing and this is not to just make money, but because we love what we do and for all our labours we want genuine reviews for our books- we deserve that at least- don’t we? We of course like good reviews rather than the bad ones, but over time our skin thickens and we get used to the bad ones as well. So if we don’t want to pay for reviews how can you encourage a review?

Use book review bloggers! I hear you say and yes of course you are right- send your book off to book reviewers. But they get hundreds and are they going to read yours? Well if you don’t send any out you wont know! I must add this 'to do' to my marketing plan.

Or another cheaper way to get reviews is to do what the majority of us do - wait for purchases to be made and readers out there will review. But how often do you buy a book without a review? And here is my point. You need at least one or two reviews from people you know (who have read the book) to get the ball rolling!

And how often do you write a review? Recently I have started reviewing everything on Amazon. Do unto others… and all that. Reviews make a huge difference!

Goa Traffic has now been available for (coming up to) three years. I have finally reached my target of 30 reviews! Thank you to the 30th Reviewer- and it was 5* too! But that is not many reviews for 3 years- or is it? I think it is a sufficient amount of views to be settled in the book market place, but I look at some of those big names out there with their 536 reviews and my heat sinks (a little). Taking GT as an example I have to say I know at least 15 people who have taken the trouble to tell me that they have enjoyed reading the book. None of these people have written a review- perhaps they were lying to my face and didn’t want to put their lies on paper or perhaps (and this is quite likely) they couldn’t be bothered to write a review. There is nothing wrong with this. I, myself, hate writing reviews as I don’t feel I have the time! Now I force myself to do it. And Amazon are making it easy to review in allowing you to do it straight after you have read the book on your kindle.  My mother is an even worse culprit. She reads more than anyone I know. She is the mother of an author now - doe she write reviews? Never!!! There is no telling some people!

Amazon are doing the right thing by trying to reduce ‘fake’ reviews but they are stifling the small author and  the self-pubbed author- although given that they have given small author such an big platform to get our work out there I can't be too critical. I would say that if they just allowed a star rating without words they would encourage more reviews but that is their choice (That is the format for Good Reads and I have more reviews on Amazon for Goa Traffic - than Good reads).

Anyway this post is to get you thinking about reviews- any ideas for getting reviews- please send them my way! To all the reviewers out there (good reviews and bad ones) A big thank you. And a nudge of encouragement to those that have yet to write a review!!! Come on! Help us out!

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Marketing is a contest for people's attention

Marketing is a contest for people's attention - Seth Godin

So today my attention turns to marketing! Last week I contacted a couple of independent book shops to see if they would be interested in stocking my new novel, The Bittersweet Vine. Today The Book House in Summertown, Oxford has a couple of copies and to me that was a huge bonus. I mean within  a week I got a bite. The Ocelot said they would publish my press release in January and hopefully I have a library talk in the new year. It has all come rather easy to me second time around. I can't help but ask myself is this because 1) I now have a publisher 2) The Bittersweet Vine being my second book gives me more credibility or 3) I have experience and contacts now so I know what to do.

I don't know which is the answer but it is easier. Perhaps it is because in having a publisher you are not burnt out from the stress of self publishing (although having a publisher is not without its stresses) and you can concentrate on marketing.

I have to admit I have been rather lazy on the marketing front. I have started a Good Reads Book Giveaway. See the link on the right (More on this in my next blog post) and I have contacted libraries all around the country. Something I never did with Goa Traffic. I have to say I have had a good response from the libraries in that they are considering my book. (I sent out an advanced information sheet along with a recent press release) but lets see how that goes. It is a different avenue but one which should be explored. After all libraries are great facilities which make books available to everyone.

In addition to the email offensive I am also getting some book marks made up. I found a good website Stress Free Printing which allows you to order in bulk and split the design. So I can have 150 for Goa Traffic and 150 for The Bittersweet Vine. Perfect. I also want to target some women's magazines such as Psychologies. The Bittersweet Vines explores the bond between sisters and betrayal. I have written two articles/press releases accordingly and plan to send them out to relevant e-zines and magazines next week. Lets see if I am still in luck.

In addition to all of this I also uploaded my press release on a couple of free press release websites. Now I don't know how good these are but I tried,, press and I am not sure if I will get any coverage from this but nevertheless its free. It has only cost me my time which is in short supply-but never the less. If you have a press release about your book give it a go! It can't hurt.

I also had a go at creating a sale or return agreement. If you do choose to use this method to get your books into shops. I looked everywhere on line for a template to copy but I couldn't find one anywhere. Anyway I came up with the following. Feel free to use it but it has not been checked by a solicitor or anything like that so it may be flawed! You'll look professional if you do have this when approaching stores. Although I think for a small press author it can be a little over the top!

Sale Or Return Agreement


This agreement is between:

XX (the author). Address

XXX (the customer). Address


The term the number of days the agreement is valid for.

The book /books XXXX by XXXXX (ISBN: xxxxxxxxxxxxxx)

1.0       XX books will be retained with the customer on a sale or return basis for the period of XX days.

1.2      After the term has expired the author will collect any unsold books.

1.3      Unsold books remain the property of the author.

1.4       The value of the books to the author is £xx (each book has a value of £xx).

1.5       The recommended retail price is £x.xx.

1.6       The author expects to receive from the customer £x.xx for each book sold.

1.7       The customer is free to charge what they choose in selling the book.  

1.8       Payment for the books by the customer will be made to the author on the last day of the term.

1.9       Payment to the author must be in the form of cash, cheque or bank transfer in British Pounds. 

1.10       If the books returned to the author are not in a perfect condition the customer is responsible for payment for the full value of the books as stated above.

I/We agree to the above agreement.

…………………………                                            …………………………………..
Author                                                                          Print name and sign on behalf of

Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The e-book revolution!

The e-book revolution

The independent book seller is a great way to get your novel out there. 1) They are small and so they care. if you are local they care even more. they know you will spread the word (Which you should) if they stock your book and word of mouth is everything. If you don't visits a local book seller try and find the time to do this and buy something. Don't just look and then buy it cheaper on Amazon. Buy something and help them out. I know this is rich coming from me. As I have only started doing this but I have seen the error of my ways. Where would we be if everyone bought everything on-line? We really need to help small businesses sustain themselves. Think of it this way; It's like supporting a new author. If publishers continually only publish stuff by authors who are already famous where would that leave us? Anyway if you don't know where you local book store is see the local bookstore website

Anyway rant over. Small independent book stores are brave. I have to admit these days time is in short supply and on-line shopping is so easy. You can get your weekly grocery shop and your mums birthday present in a few clicks in your lunch hour. Ordinarily this could take well over two hours. This has changed the way we live. We want things quicker and on our terms. Television viewing has changed dramatically too. These days you don't need to be in on a Wednesday night to catch an episode of your favourite programme. You can just catch it on line on demand. The e-book has made the world of publishing open to everyone and is revolutionising the book industry. I once said I would never get a kindle yet I eventually was given my mum's old kindle and I have to admit I loved it.

With an e-book I could email myself manuscripts without having to print them off, make notes and above all else get cheaper books. My mum loves hers because she reads at the speed of light. She no longer has to cart 10 books with her on holiday. They are all on one handy device. And us self-pubbers know the e-book is where we can break into the market cost effectively.

With Goa Traffic the e-book was my way in to publishing and being successful. I am going down the same route with Indian Diaries as well. So I can't knock the e-book and I can't help but think it is the way forward.

I still buy paperbacks. And there is nothing nicer than holding a new book in your hands. Also you don't want to drop your kindle in the bath - but in today's market your book has to have two versions an e-book and a paper/hardback. Why? A paperback gives your book more credibility.  I recently read that sales of paperbacks are steady and that they have not dropped like people would think they have. But there is definitely an appetite for the e-book reader and e-book readers buy more books than paperback readers.

Anyway that's it for now. This may seem a bit of a pointless post but I was thinking about it and  I thought I would put my thoughts out there. Paperbacks and e-books I love you both! 

Sunday, 3 November 2013

Thames River Press Book Launch 2013

So as you may have seen mentioned on my blog before on the 28th October I was part of the Thames River Press Book Launch. The event was fantastic a great platform for a new author like myself. I must admit I didn't know what to expect from it. I was a bit apprehensive (I am just one of those people I guess) but comforted by the fact that there were quite a few authors presenting their latest books. It was held in central London which was good and there was quite a turnout.  Some authors appeared so confident when speaking which made me feel even more nervous about my own speech. But hey, I got through it and it was great. I met some lovely authors and picked up a couple of their books as well!

If you want to have a look at the pictures you can do so on YouTube. Just click here

I have got to say this event made being a published author seem real. When you first publish a book you feel amazing when you get that first copy in your hands but then there is nothing. I am desperately trying to finish Poison in the Water and I am now 60,000 words in already! But I know to be successful I need to plug my previous book. If you are a published author (self pubbed or otherwise) you will know what I mean!  You want to write you don't want to have to do all the marketing stuff that goes along with publishing but it is important. It s important (I know I have said it a thousand times) to have a business plan for each book along with a marketing plan. Who you need to contact on a monthly basis and what you need to do to make a success of your novels. Remember this as well - you owe it to the hours and hours you have spent working on your manuscript.  Make sure it receives the recognition it deserves.

So what are my plans for The Bittersweet Vine? So far I have done a radio interview - this aired on BBC radio Oxford and I was interviewed on the Kat Orman Show. It was great. Kat really put me at ease and doing the interview was like chatting to a friend over a drink. They concentrated on my upbringing in Goa - so Goa Traffic got a bit more of a plug than The Bittersweet Vine but nevertheless it was some publicity and a bit more experience under my belt!

I have done a blog tour through the month of October . I have really enjoyed doing this but whether or not it has helped sales I cannot say. What I can say is that it will have given my brand more credibility and hopefully reached a larger audience. Remember it is all about repetition of your name. Someone will mention Marissa de Luna and a reader from the blog tour will say oh I know that name- maybe I'll buy her book. Yes it might be in a years time but it is worth it.

This month I will be doing a Good Reads Book Giveaway for The Bittersweet Vine and I will be uploading my press release for the launch party just past on to several sites. Lets hope I get a bite. This doesn't sound like much by the way of marketing and I really need to get my brain in gear to decide what to do next. Hmmm its time I took a look at my marketing plan that I wrote before the the Bittersweet Vine was released. Practice what you preach and all that...