Monday, 20 October 2014

Age wrinkles the body; quitting wrinkles the soul

Age wrinkles the body; quitting wrinkles the soul - Douglas MacArthur

I apologise now for the lack of blogging I have been doing of late. I have no excuses, life just seems to have taken over. That isn't to say that I have been sitting around doing nothing. I have enrolled in a touch typing thingy on-line. I say enrolled when in fact all I have done is registered so I can keep a track of my progress. Its free and it's called Typing Study. If like me you type entire novels with two fingers, give it a go. I'm spending half my lunch hour doing it and so far Im on lesson three. Hopefully by lesson 15 I'll be typing whilst looking out of the window or some such… and I won't get RSI, preventing my writing career when it finally takes off. 

Well today I am apprehensive. I feel like I should pack in the whole writing malarkey. Perhaps it's because I'm scared. Tomorrow my writing group is critiqueing my next novel: Poison in the Water and I think it's going to be brutal. It's kind of making me wonder why I spend hours a day writing. It's making me want to employ a ghost writer. Quite frankly it's making me want to give up. But You just can't be a quitter if you want good things to happen to you. Don't they say you give up right before the good stuff happens? (I'm sure Ive seen this at least a dozen times on Pinterest). Anyway it's just one of those days. I'm sure I'll be over it by tomorrow (well maybe the month after the critique).

 I keep telling myself we all have to start somewhere and I shouldn't be too down on myself - good things are happening. For instance last week was a good week. BBC Radio Oxford called me because they want me to do a call in on the morning show about self publishing. Did you get that? They called me… I was happy. The happiness was soon chased away by fear (If it's a call in, and I can't see someone will my mind drift? Will my mind go blank? - This happens to me a lot on the phone. (I find the more I write the less articulate I am verbally - Please tell me there are other writers out there like that?).

And then on the 16th October I went to the Society of Author's Writers in Oxford Event in Balliol college. It was a nice evening and I got to mingle and talk to other authors. I've just realised I should have taken a picture for my blog or my website!!! Always wise after the event. I've also sent out a submission for my first Chupplejeep novel: Under the Coconut Tree! Keep your fingers crossed. And I've hit 40,000 words on my next Chupplejeep book: The Body in the Bath.  It's going well - well it was before I hit this crisis of confidence. 

Until next time...

Monday, 29 September 2014

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve - J K Rowling

Anything's possible if you've got enough nerve - J K Rowling

Well people it has been a while. I have started writing  the second of the Chupplejeep books. This one is called The Body in the Bath. I have just completed my grammar course, and I have signed up to another year at Abingdon Writers. Speaking of which, the other day when I was at the group meeting someone said they had read an article saying the popularity of social media is declining. Now, I haven't read this myself but I could see the point they were making. What goes up must come down etc. recently I wrote a blog post on social media for authors, but I didn't look into whether this phenomenon of tweeting what you had for breakfast and the likes would last. Apparently people are tiring of blogs and the constant stream of updates from authors. I know I, myself, am tiring of Twitter and how many other author blogs do I read?  Even Facebook has had its day so they say. The other day in a meeting someone said the majority of Facebook users are middle aged! Well I suppose that was bound to happen. But all this talk of declining social media makes me wonder, what is next?

I have been extremely lame this year in marketing my novels. And I'll be honest and say that sales have fallen (for Goa Traffic at least). I really need to do something but I'm finding it all rather laborious, especially when I have Chupplejeep on to his next case and with a wedding to plan as well. I must find some motivation soon.

As well as all this pondering, and watching box sets (which is not doing anything for my writing career) I've also been thinking about writing. Which got me thinking - how important is it to spend you time thinking about writing? - Again I think someone mentioned this at my last writing group meeting. Well for me it's terribly important to spend time thinking about writing. When I'm out and about doing something mundane, having conversations in my head between characters (and I hope all writers do this and it's not just me losing the plot) great ideas for new scenes come into my mind. More often than not I fail to write them down, but I visualize them and in doing so they get lodged in my memory only to arrive in my mind later when I am actually writing a scene. I find all this thinking extremely helpful in putting a skeleton of a book together and encourage you to think about writing more.

Friday, 5 September 2014

Finding the time to write.

Finding the time to write. 

Recently, a couple of new acquaintances have asked me ‘Where do you find the time to write?’ and I have to admit I’m often stumped for an answer because I don’t know how I manage to find the time to write, but yet I do.  Like many of you writers out there I have a full time job. I’m not a brain surgeon or anything taxing like that but, at times, my job (project management in property development) can be stressful. It’s also largely computer based. So after a day of looking at the computer sometimes I don’t really want to switch a computer on at home. There are days when I get home so tired I don’t have the energy to write and so I don’t. And I don’t write every day either - H wouldn’t be too impressed with that (you have to admit it would be a little unfair). Because of my passion for food I have to force myself to go to the gym a couple of times a week and then there is the business of cooking decent meals every night (again with the food – I don’t like leftovers so I cook every day. I’m also not keen on pasta – so you’re talking a good effort every night, so that we go to bed happy – Nothing puts me in a bad mood like a rubbish dinner does and I quite like cooking.) And finally there is also the business of cleaning. I categorise this chore with the gym. I don’t really want to do it and I’m not good at it either. It’s a slog from start to finish, and although H is pretty good with helping out, it still takes up quite a bit of my post work time.

So when do I write? Well I limit myself to a Wednesday after work when I leave work a little early, and have the house to myself for a couple of hours. I write quickly – I can write 5000 words in an evening (they may not be great words – they need a lot of editing to get up to a readable first draft stage - but they are words). I write when the football is on or when H is out. Basically, I write when I can snatch and hour here or there. I never used to write on weekends because we were always out and about, but now I occasionally do. But unlike the gym or cleaning the house, writing is not a chore. When I sit down to write I get lost in my fictional world. I don’t want music on or the TV. I don’t feel the need to snack or to catch up on The Mindy Project or Scandal (The later has taken at least 22 of my precious writing hours over the last month). When I write I am completely in the zone. All I need is my open manuscript,  a pen, several note books around me, easy access to the internet for that all important research and a glass of water (writing makes me thirsty for some reason). Sometimes I get so caught up in a story that I don’t realise I’ve been in front of the computer for hours without looking up from the screen.  I also try and use my time wisely (I guess working in project management has honed my time management skills). Some lunch hours are for finding good deals on Expedia, but some are used for book research, checking out author blogs, reading about how to improve my writing, doing grammar courses, and blogging.

The crux of it is, and I’m sure most writers will agree with me here, when you are a writer writing is in your blood. You have to do it. You want to do it, and so you find the time to write. Whether it’s waking up early or going to bed late or even taking a day’s holiday to work on that final chapter – when you want to write you find a way.  

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Half my life is an act of revision.

Half my life is an act of revision.
- John Irving

I hope you liked DB Martin's press release about Patchwork man. I've read the book and cant wait for the second in the series! I recently read that you should blog little and often - actually I re-read this but conveniently it slipped my mind. As an author, keeping up with Social Media is hard work! I've not excelled myself this year, but I have nearly hit my target for twitter followers (admittedly it was a low target). 

So what have I been doing? Well I am noticing that as I get older I have less energy. I don't write as quick or as much as I used to and I get tired easily. All this in just a year - what else does age have in store for me? Do other people out tehre feel the same? I have also become addicted to Scandal. I'm only on series two, but it really is addictive. And...wait for it...I have nearly finished my grammar course. Can you tell the difference in this blog post? 

Well I am still to complete the punctuation section, but I think my writing has improved. Not bad for £60! Next is a course I found on line about FGM and honour killing! I think it'll come in handy for Chupplejeep. I have also nearly finished reading a book on Criminology and the first draft of Poison in The water is almost ready for review by Abingdon Writers! Yay! and my publishers!  This is good news because it means I can get stuck in to my next Chupplejeep Mystery: The Body in the Bath. 

So there you have it - a short and sweet blog post! Until next time, people. 

Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Guest blog post for Patchwork Man by D. B Martin!

Introducing D. B Martin and her new novel: Patchwork Man! Todays guest blog post on the Coffee Stained Manuscript is a press release for DB Martin's new novel, Patchwork man. I have read this book so I can personally recommend it. Its complex, fast paced with enough twists and turns to keep you hooked! It is now available on Amazon.


This is Mockingbird for a new generation.

When Michael Gove championed the outlawing of 'To Kill a Mockingbird' from the English GCSE curriculum, he claimed to be intent on ensuring ‘a more nationally centred syllabus’ of ‘works originally written in English’. But the message of the book still inspired novelist D.B. Martin to make Atticus Finch the idol of her fallen hero, English barrister Lawrence Juste, in the first of a pithy and compelling mystery trilogy dealing with deception, murder and blackmail masked by respectability and privilege.

With ‘To Kill a Mocking Bird’ being released as an e-book for the first time, the novel, ‘Patchwork Man’, now released by Martin follows in the wake of Harper Lee's classic by celebrating the principles of Atticus Finch in this very English contemporary fiction.

Patchwork Man is a psychological thriller as fast-paced as any of Dan Brown's, whilst evocatively recreating the chaotic and poignant childhood that has led Juste, the patchwork man himself, to chaos. Lawrence Juste is the QC with a conscience - privileged, reputable; perfect. But Lawrence hasn't always been who he is now. When he is glaringly in the public eye after his enigmatic wife is killed in an apparently random hit and run, he could do with his hidden past surfacing like a hole in the head. Unfortunately the past has a way of finding its way back to you, just like betrayal, and his dead wife has helpfully left him a sinister resume of his... 

Martin writes adult and YA fiction with a specific intent in mind. She says, ‘We learn through what we read. It explains the world to us, and helps us come to terms with the more difficult parts of it that we don’t know how to deal with. That’s particularly important for young people, struggling with issues of conscience versus peer pressure, but without the experience to base choices on.’

With Patchwork Man now released and its sequel Patchwork People following in September 2014, Martin obviously has a lot more to say in Harper Lee terms. And Lee's comment (headlined) about the eBook release of To Kill a Mockingbird equally applies to Martin's book.

Martin adds, ‘Harper Lee’s message was as much about prejudice versus principles as about finding the right way to deal with that. It was – and is – inspired.’

Martin's websites are for adult fiction and for YA fiction. If you'd like more information, to schedule an interview with D.B. Martin, or receive a review copy of the book, please e-mail

Friday, 1 August 2014

A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily...

A writer is a writer not because she writes well and easily, because she has amazing talent, or because everything she does is golden. A writer is a writer because, even when there is no hope, even when nothing you do shows any sign of promise, you keep writing anyway. - Junot Diaz.

I came across the above post on Pinterest and it really struck a cord with me. I thought  I would share this with my fellow writers out there. I think it sums us up perfectly. And I say this as sales for Goa Traffic plummet. Was it something I said? I can't really see a reason for the steady drop in sales over the last couple of months. GT has been selling well for some time now so why the sudden drop? It could be because I'm not really doing much marketing and when I am I'm concentrating on The Bittersweet Vine. It could be because I have sold over 3000 copies and perhaps those who were gonna buy it bought it. Although that doesn't really make sense. Surely there is a stat somewhere saying there is a new Kindle reader every second. I should look into this. I should increase my time marketing. I really have done zilch this year. I should be doing a lot of things.

The good news is that I am nearly at the punctuation module of my grammar course! Hurrah! Perhaps hits on my blog will go up as well. The second good bit of news is that I completed my tax return. That is always a mission. This year it was surprisingly okay. The third bit of news (I'm not going to say good because it's so-so) is that I am more than half way in editing Poison in the Water. I have about 30,000 words to go and then it can be submitted to my publisher. I can't wait to get it done. Im hoping by the end of August it will be ready. A bit behind my original deadline but it will do.  I think Im getting better at the editing process as well. I am not finding it too much of a slog. Perhaps its because I'm setting myself more realistic deadlines and taking my time with it.

Care to share any editing tips?! Do so here or tweet me @marissadeluna 

Monday, 7 July 2014

Delusion is what keeps us going.

Delusion is what keeps us going - Terence Blacker

Today in The Society of Authors I read a fab article by Terence Blacker on how sometimes the your greatest eery as a writer is your everyday self. Although he does go on to point out that your everyday self is also a help! The sentence which caught my eye is what I have used to open my blog because it struck a cord with me and I am sure it is something all authors identify with.

It has been a fair while since I last blogged. I had a holiday in Kefalonia which was fab. A perfect place to unwind and forget about the world. I even switched off from plotting my next novel. Instead I managed to catch up on some reading. I was slightly disappointed by my selection. I read:

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain which was excellent. My only excellent choice. It tells the story of Ernest Hemmingway's first wife. Behind every great man then is a woman and this is her story. It is well worth the read! It also reminds me that I must read some Hemmingway.

The Light Between Oceans - M L Steadman- I read such good reviews I think I imagined this to be a life changing book. I think I'm going to stop reading reviews from now on! It was an okay read. What would you do if you were desperate for a baby and one washes up next to your remote lighthouse? It makes you think but it didn't keep me gripped and was quite predictable.

At the bottom of the pile was The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones. It was like reading an episode of Downton Abby- Which I would quite enjoy but it just didn't interest me and finally The Silent Tide by Rachel Hoar. It was a pleasant read but I can't say I would recommend it!

So all in all not great on the reading front, but I ticked a few off my list. I feel like a right negative nancy with all these not so great reviews. I think half the problem is that when I read such good reviews for a book I expect so much more out of it. I suppose thats another reason to get some bad reviews for your book - it really evens it out.

The grammar course is going… well I wouldn't say well. I have kind of stumbled but I am sure to get back on it. I really need to get to the punctuation bit and move on from the modal auxiliaries, but I suppose I need to learn the basics first.

Anyway a bit of a boring blog post today but I will be back with tales on how my current WIP is going! 

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Knowing your conjuncts from your disjuncts

Knowing your conjuncts from your disjuncts!

So I have finally paid for the Grammar at Work course! It’s hell (which means it's actually a very good course). I did the starter test and I got 53%  - not bad but I have to admit a lot of that was guess work. I have vowed to myself that I am going to give my all to this course. I’ll know by Conjuncts from my disjuncts by the end of it. And with any luck I’ll also know where to place comma’s which seems to be the worst of my flaws. I won’t lie – I tried the first module. You really have to concentrate and quite frankly it left my brain in a state of shock. I’m going to battle through the metal block though and hopefully come out shining the other side.

In other news I have been critiquing a book for someone in our writing group and I will be working on Poison in the water – my current WIP! Deadline to go to an editor is September 2014! So not long. The plan is to edit a final copy for end July. Start writing the next Chupplejeep in August/September and work with Poison alongside it. I also need to get some more twitter followers! 1000 is my goal by the end of the year and I need a few more reviews for Bittersweet. My goal is 17, so I need 7 more! Anyone out there read it and fancy writing a review on Amazon?! And I also need 18 facebook followers! Come on people – help me out here! I have to admit marketing has taken a back seat but I’m hoping by the end of the year I’ll be in a comfortable enough position to take things slower!

GT has also taken a hit in regards to sales! Although the paperbacks are now selling quite well over the last quarter. How bizarre. Could I put it down to Monsoon weather in Goa so less visitors out there? It didn’t happen this way last year – so what has changed? Thoughts on a postcard. Anyway positive thoughts! I have things to get on with!

Thursday, 22 May 2014

Time to bite the bullet

Anyone who reads this blog will know that my punctuation is terrible. This has to change. Gone are the days of me justifying that this was fine so long because it was all about the storytelling. If people can't make sense of what you are trying to say because your punctuation is screwed you are never going to be able to tell a good story. 

I say this after an 8 person critique of one of my forthcoming novels. I tell you it was an eye opener. two glasses of wine just about took the edge of as I accepted constructive criticism about my novel. After sitting on the information for days I eventually opened my mind to the comments and when i started editing my manuscript I saw things in a new light. This is a definite must do - if you are part of a writing group. No one critiques as hardly as other writers! except for agents that is. 

Admittedly, the general consensus (after they berated me about my atrocious punctuation!) was that the story was good. The main bits I worried about such as characterisation and writing dialogue got a thumbs up but the punctuation got a big thumbs down. I need to get this sorted. So it's time to bite the bullet and start that punctuation course. I am going to sign up over the weekend and start Monday. 

I have been super lame at blogging recently but I have been busy. For starters I have been creating character profiles for my Chupplejeep series. That in itself has been arduous. I am trying to be an organised writer though and by putting all the settings, locations and characters on easy to read excel documents I am hoping this will save time later when I am writing the series and need consistency. I  have a terrible memory. 

I have also been working on Under the Coconut Tree - book 1 in the series and Poison in the Water. Poison is currently with my sister for comment. She is taking her time with it but her deadline is approaching. Fingers crossed she likes the story. She is another vicious critic! 

June means finalising Poison in the water to show to my publishers too so along with learning how to punctuate its going to be a busy month! Watch this space. 

Monday, 28 April 2014

The benefits of reading a bad book...

The benefits of reading a bad book...

I have been thinking about reviews as in a recent writing group one of the writers referred to the horror of receiving a one star review. I wanted to say that it happens, but I didn't and since then I have been mulling over this  'review' society that we now live in.  Recently I  read three books that have annoyed and bored me. At first I thought of all the hours I had wasted reading them. Then I remembered the benefits of reading a bad book. Years ago I read a best seller and I found the book so dull and annoying that I realised that all reviews are subjective. It was one of the first incidents in my life that made me believe in myself and it gave me the courage to pick up a pen and write a book.

But this notion of bad reviews is something that plagues all writers. Unless you already have the skin of a Rhino. Whilst I have read some reviews saying how well my first book was written, I have read others saying it was badly written. I myself, have mixed feelings about my first book- after all it was just that - a first book. I discussed this with H and surprisingly he was supportive. 'Would you rather not have published Goa Traffic'  he asked?  It was the right question. If you regularly read this blog you will know that publishing that book has taught me so much I would never regret publishing it. He then went on to remind me about how impatient I was when I did publish it. It kind of ruined the moment. But it made me think of my options. I have self published so I could remove it from public consumption and rework it before publishing it again. However, I see that as going back when all I want to do is move forward and the majority of reviews have been positive and it's selling well. In fact it's funding this writing hobby/sideline that I have going and I am hoping to put some of the profits back into various charities in Goa.  I have a full time job and other books to work on and perfect - will going over my first book  be any use? And if I do do that what am I saying to people who have read it and enjoyed it? Your review is not good enough? I don't like the idea of that! The only downside of not going back to make your work the best that you can, is the fear that it may put some readers off any future work. I've been wondering about this but I have come to this conclusion: In my opinion every author has a voice. An individual voice. Readers will like this or not. If they are unsure they may try a second book of yours. If they hate it they probably wont like much of your work even if you go back and change it because they don't like your voice/style. Yes my first book was littered with 'head hopping' and other no-no's that give writers nightmares, but that was me then. Will I always be judged by my first book? Maybe but then again maybe not. My current work in progress is very different to my first novel and they may be easier to read because of the realisations I have made along the way, but has my voice/style changed? I doubt it - underneath it all - my novels are still just my stories!

I do think that whatever you publish you should be proud to put your name to. But that pride can fade with time. Now, I am proud of The Bittersweet Vine - I have more confidence with this book but what happens in two years time when my writing improves further (because lets face it honing your writing skills is an on-going process)  and I am no longer as proud of it as I am now. Do I change my name and start again?

All authors will know we are our own worst critics. Art is subjective. If someone loves your work then chances are that someone will hate it also! As an author you have to accept that there will be some great reviews and some not so great reviews. To prove my point have a look on Amazon at some of your favourite reads. I can almost guarantee you that they will have received bad reviews as well as good. Don't even get me started on some of my favourite reads which have an average of 3 *'s when they blatantly deserve a 5! I guess as a writer or any artist for that matter you just have to take the rough with the smooth !

Monday, 14 April 2014

In a Nutshell - Social Media for Authors

In a Nutshell – Social Media for Authors

As an author I like nothing more than completing a book and starting on the next. Yes I am concerned with sales of my existing books (Goa Traffic and The Bittersweet Vine) but do I want to put time into promoting them? The honest answer is no. I don’t. I find it all rather laborious. All I want to do is sit down and start writing my next book.

If you are an author (Trad or Self Published) you may feel the same. There are two ends of the spectrum: If you are lucky enough to be published by a large publishing house with a large marketing budget behind you then hurrah for you they will probably do most of this for you. Or at least set you up with a webpage, twitter account etc. They will retweet, like and share your posts and ensure you have a following. If you are self published and have done everything from choosing the book cover to getting it on the correct distribution channels, at this point you will  be responsible for getting your own web page up and running, along with your twitter account and Facebook page and no one will tell you about this or give you any support or guidance. It's tough and you have to do it yourself. In the middle of this spectrum are the smaller publishing houses which will do the hard work of getting your book into print and will advise you on what to do to get yourself out there but they wont do much for you. They will just expect you to do it yourself. 

Since publishing Goa Traffic myself  and having The Bittersweet Vine published by Thames River Press I have realised the importance of social media. Over the last three years through reading, experiencing and trial and errorI have picked up a few bits and pieces. I am no expert, but what I have learned I am going to share with you.   There are several reasons you have to get involved with social media.   They are

1 – Creating brand awareness for your pen name
2 – Publicity for your book- which ultimately may lead to sales
3 – Increasing the chances of word of mouth publicity – which is the best and cheapest publicity out there
4 – Social media is the cheapest form of advertising there is (or so I think! This does not include any money you attribute to your time! Because, like writing a  novel it will take time)

It is for these reasons above that I use Social Media (SM). Now there are a gazillion forms of social media you can use but my comments only relate to the ones I use below as I have no experience on the others. They are:

Blog – If you are reading this blog then you are probably familiar with this. It's like an on-line journal
Facebook – Here you can have an author profile/fan page. If people like your page – when you update this page i.e book signing at Waterstones, this will come up on the news page of anyone who likes your page. You can do giveaways, reviews, post pictures etc.
Twitter  - Here you can have an author profile. Tweet (Tell people what you are up to, share links to good sites and share pictures with a public audience)
Good Reads – A book review site where you put the books you have read or are going to read on virtual shelves. Here you can have an author profile linked to your books, conduct book giveaways join forums and groups all about books. 
Pinterest – It’s all about pictures and visuals. You create a profile and virtual pin boards where you pin pictures that you like to boards. I have a writing board, a book marketing board, a Goa Traffic Board, and author board.
Google Plus – A bit like Facebook you can have a public profile and add people to your circles, share writing tips and news stories.
Linked in – A professional networking site. This site has some great groups that you can join for authors. I have had the most engagement and blog views from this site even though I rarely use it.

Other sites I am looking to use are:

Shelfari – Like Good Reads as above
You Tube – Post videos of a reading of your book or an author interview.

So where do you start? Well this Blog post will give you a flavour for improving your social media presence, skills but it wont give you the basics of how to set up an account etc. To do this have a look at various ‘for dummies’ books or cheaper e-books or Google it. Nicola Morgans’ ‘Tweet Right’ e-book is fantastic and targeted at authors as well.

Once you are set up on one or more of the above you can't let your accounts gather virtual dust. You need to utilise them to your advantage and to do this I have summarised my key findings and tips below:

  • ·         Who are your social media supporters? Okay so you've sent a tweet, put a post on Facebook (FB). Who retweets (RT) you? Who likes or shares your status update? Know who these people are and return the favour. Listen to what they have to say. Also target them. If its something specific they support about you make sure they get your messages because they will tell their audiences about your news. Yes, they will act as your mouthpiece – and promotion is always better when it doesn't come directly from you. Why? Because it is more believable. Also this breeds word of mouth advertising which is crucial to building 1) your brand/exposure and therefore popularity and 2) sales.

  • ·         Make friends through SM with other authors (I am not great at this) I have met, in the virtual world of Twitter,  two successful authors. One did a guest post on my blog and one also hosted part of my blog tour. Instantly reaching out to a whole new audience. This way you can create your own little SM community . You’ll also have a set of like minded people or a bunch of readers you can call upon when you need.

  • ·         Start conversations. Don’t just talk at people. If you met someone in the street would you just go on at them about your book that just got a five star review? No. So read their posts, respond to their queries (Always respond to direct questions- its rude not to, and ask questions and it doesn't all have to be about writing and your book. Remember:

  • ·         Be yourself. Readers will buy your books if they like you- don’t be a one dimensional character. You know how characterisation works. You need to be well rounded for people to like you and therefore find your ‘voice.’ People want to hear what you have to say. Again you know about this from writing.  You need readers to like you to 1) be your supporter 2) look at the books you have written. You can only do this if you are authentic and genuine and don’t talk about yourself incessantly. (Which I have done myself! so I know this is not a good move.)

  • ·         Build your brand name – This is your pen name. Like Coca Cola and Cadburys – like Sophie Hannah, like JK Rowling – brands you know and love you have to be aware that your name is your brand. I know authors like to keep ourselves private and of course you can still do this. But you can provide a glimmer of that personality. Why not?  If they like you they are more likely to be a supporter.

  • ·         Use characters – Got a serial or trilogy out? Create a Twitter account/Facebook page etc in the name of your protagonist. Use their voice. Post things they would like. Speak as them. As authors we all want to get inside our character’s heads. This will kill two birds with one stone.

  • ·         Web presence. To improve your brand you must have a website. Someone gave me this advice on my blog when I first started writing and I really believe this has improved my presence and book sales. We live in an e-world. You need a website to showcase your works- It really is like having a shop front and adds to your credibility. Have a look at other author websites for inspiration (see mine here). And dont eb afraid websites are easier to set up than you think. Many companies, like Go Daddy offer a full package with templates for web building as well. 

  • ·         Be a lover not a fighter – You will get a few tweets or comments and reviews which are not favourable. Do not try and defend yourself. Not everyone will like what you have to say and you have to respect that. If you don’t it will just become ugly. And will put people off you. Trust me you don’t want that to happen. Here all publicity is not good publicity. So remember whatever you post before you do so think first as to whether you want to be known as the author who said… (A note on being opinionated - which is different from responding to critics - here being opinionated helps.  You will get more followers and engagement if you don’t sit on the fence all the time. I haven’t managed controversy yet to create a stir, but I am sure some people are great at this without being hugely offensive. And remember people want to hear your voice so speak up!). But always remember if someone has taken time to engage with you respect what they have to say even if you don’t always like what they have to say.

  • ·         Be the Jewel in the Crown. And by this I mean give back – add value to your audience. For example this Blog Post and my ‘In a nutshell’ series was created to give back. Yes, pay it forward. I am not an authority on everything and mostly it’s just passing on tips that I have found useful etc. Initially I thought that I didn't really know enough on topics to pass it on via a blog, but now I just roll with it.  I put my thoughts out there on my blog because they may help someone or provide entertainment at least.

  • ·         Credit your sources.  Repost links to articles, blog posts. If you read a good blog post and you repeat what they say always quote them and provide a link to their blog. Remember always pay it forward.

  • ·         Forums are not old skool! I once thought this, but it’s not true. Log on to writing forums like Wattpad and Writing Forums and get chatting. I did this before I joined Abingdon Writers. Now I rarely use them but where else can you have easy interaction. Join in discussions. Forums are the best way to get your social media juices flowing. Blogging is another simple one. On blogs you can just be yourself, find your voice and be who you are. It’s not staged like a website but still adds value to your brand. Comment on blogs too.

  • ·         Commenting on people’s blog posts and talking in forums leads to interaction and therefore engagement. You need engagement for people to take notice of you. Think of it like a hook in the first chapter of your novel.

  • ·         I haven’t seen you for a while! Being on social media is one thing but as I said earlier you need to keep the information flowing. Don’t do a Houdini. With Blogger you can schedule posts to be posted when you want. Write five in one sitting and drip feed them out.  Tweet – someone tells me 7 times a day is what you need to get noticed. I don’t do this but I know I should. You need to keep the content of your social media fresh and relevant to stay in peoples minds. Plus you need to keep the information flowing because this will encourage engagement and interaction through familiarity. Remember out of sight, out of mind.

  • ·         Cross Pollinate! This is what I refer to when making your post information rich. Add links like I have dotted through this blog, reference articles you have read and link up your accounts! You can use Twitterfeed so that every time you post a blog it automatically puts a link on twitter. You can also link your Goodreads account to your blog posts so they show up on your page and your Google plus account. Use widgets (bits of HTML (computer speak)  you can paste to your blog/website to add buttons and logos showing readers which SM sites you are on so they can follow you there). You can even use Hootsuite to manage all your SM sites. However, before you link everything up think about your audience and what you want to tell each audience. If you have different followers on Twitter than your blog think about whether you want to send the same message to both audiences? Would you send the same query letter to four different agents? Personally I don’t link my Facebook page to my blog or twitter. I just add updates and links manually. I do post my blog updates on Goodreads, Google + and Twitter.  But, for writers, I don’t think this is a huge thing – so cross pollinate away! 

  • ·         Don’t spread yourself too thinly – If you are just starting out pick one or two sites to get involved with I suggest a blog (although it can be labour intensive – it will help you with your writing and help in letting off some steam) and Twitter.  Twitter is not my favourite but it gets you out there. From there you can get involved with other sites.

And finally… don’t expect all this hard work to immediately correlate into sales! You have to be continual in your social media approach. You have to be patient. You can put free software like  Google Analytics on to your website to track where your audience is coming from, how long they stay on each webpage etc. But remember with every tweet, with every post, like and share you are creating a brand for yourself.

That’s all from me. I hope you have found this useful! If you like this post, remember to find me on: 

Twitter : @marissadeluna or click here
Facebook :
Become a friend or fan at Good reads 
Find me on Pinterest: Marissa de Luna 

Ohh and you can buy my books here!