Posts Tagged Debbie Young

A Free Writing Course and Other Things

I’ve got a few bits and pieces to share this week.

Do you fancy a free ‘Start Writing Fiction’ course?
The Open University are running an eight week course, three hours per week starting on the 28th April. It’s all on-line and the blurb says, “This practical, hands-on course aims to help you to get started with your own fiction writing, focusing on the central skill of creating characters.”
The full details are here. The course is part of the FutureLearn programme which offers lots more free on-line courses in all sorts of subjects.

And talking of courses, a fellow member of Lichfield and District Writers, David Gough, is running a ‘Photography for Writers’ course at Weetwood Hall in Leeds  from April 11th to 13th, as part of the ‘Relax and Write’ 2014 programme. We all know how important it is to offer photographs as part of an article submission package and this is the course to help you take those photographs and thus, hopefully, sell more articles (by the way, I stayed at Weetwood Hall last October and the accommodation is lovely).

If you like filling your Kindle with free and discounted e-books, take a look at Debbie Young‘s Facebook group, Debbie Young’s Kindle-loving Friends. If you like what you see, drop her a message to join the group and be notified of the latest offers – or maybe even promote your own Free Days or Countdown Deals.

Finally, has anybody else read ‘The Little Coffee Shop of Kabul’ by Deborah Rodriguez?
Kirkus Reviews said, “As if Maeve Binchy had written The Kite Runner.” I totally agree with that description. The book is about Sunny, an American woman, who runs a coffee shop in Kabul and the women who come into her life. The story touches on the difficulties and atrocities facing Afghan women today but I felt it glossed over them, rather than allowing the reader to fully appreciate how terrible life can be for females in that country today.
The book is very readable but definitely more Maeve Binchy than The Kite Runner.

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What Am I Working On?

The talented Tracy Fells has invited me to be part of a blog chain, linking writers up across the vast, virtual world that is the internet.

Chain link

Chain link (Photo credit: Matti Mattila)

Tracy writes short stories, flash fiction, the occasional article plus drama for theatre and radio. Her stories have appeared in Take-a-Break Fiction Feast, The People’s Friend, The Yellow Room, The New Writer and Writing Magazine. If you’ve got a minute drop in on her blog – http://tracyfells.blogspot.com/ – it’s full of good ‘writerly’ things.

My task, as a tiny ‘link’ in this vast chain, is to reveal something about what I’m working on now.

I’d like to tell you how I’m deep into a novel which has been painstakingly planned out, has a perfect story arc and is full of characters that are constantly ‘talking’ to me. Unfortunately, this is not the case. When it comes to writing I’m something of a butterfly. I settle on one project for a while and then I decide that my time might be better spent on a different piece of work, so I switch. Or I spot a competition with a wonderful prize and I drop everything to enter it – fully aware that hundreds of others are doing exactly the same thing and I therefore stand little chance of winning.

So, I currently have a few things on the go:

  • I’m working on the third story in the Museum of Fractured Lives series. When that’s ready I will be publishing it as an e-book for Kindle and also producing an omnibus edition containing all three of the stories plus a short prologue about how the museum came into existence. So I’m also thinking about book covers, marketing and other stuff that goes along with putting a new book out.
  • On the back burner I have the NaNoWriMo manuscript that I completed in November. Before Christmas I polished up the first three chapters, wrote a synopsis and entered it into the Ian Govan Award. Whatever the outcome of the competition (& I’m not holding my breath!) I hope to get round to finishing this novel at some point.
  • I also have ideas for a couple of articles which I’m doing preliminary research for, prior to pitching to editors. I won’t tell you what they are in case anyone out there can write them up better (& quicker) than me!

I just wish I could focus on only one thing and then maybe I’d actually get something done!

Back to the blog chain – the following two links in the chain will all post next Monday (13/1/14) about their current writing projects – but why not pop over to their blogs now and see what they’re up to?

  • Debbie Young is a keen blogger and also writes short stories, flash fiction, travelogues, memoirs and non-fiction. Samples and links may be found on her author website: www.youngbyname.me. She is also blog editor for the Alliance of Independent Authors (http://www.selfpublishingadvice.org) and blogs about book marketing on her own website, www.otsbp.com. A keen reviewer of indie and self-published books, when she’s not writing, she’s reading and reviewing.
    From personal experience I’ve found Debbie the fount of all knowledge when it comes to book marketing.

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Sell Your Books! Part 2

In my last post I introduced you to Debbie Young – book promotion guru. And this post concludes her sage advice:Sell Your Books! by Debbie Young

Many writers worry about the time-consuming nature of maintaining a presence on social media. What is the best platform (blog, Twitter, Facebook etc.) to concentrate on?

All of these do different things, so it’s hard to say that one is better than the other. 

With a blog, you are totally in control. Running a blog on your website will increase its standing before search engines, so I’d recommend it to all authors – and writing blog posts is a great exercise for honing your writing skills, too.
Twitter allows you to reach people you’d never meet in real life, who share your interests and passions – so select the right people to follow and they’ll be naturally predisposed to liking your book.
Facebook is good at keeping your progress before those you know, and for getting friends to “share” your posts with their friends – a kind of pyramid selling! You can also create a Facebook  page specifically for your book, rather than putting it on  your personal Facebook page.
GoodReads is a great way of networking with people who are, by definition, all avid readers (and a lot of writers too).
But social media can be hugely time-consuming! It’s a question of discipline, self-knowledge and honesty. Be firm about what you want to get out of these things, and only use them to help you reach those goals.
 
How can a self-published author gain national publicity for their book – local papers and radio stations may be willing to promote a writer from their region but how does a writer move outside his own geographical area?
 
Social media is the biggest opportunity, because you can make contacts with people from all over the world. But there are other, more traditional opportunities too. I’d recommend not touting your book to get national recognition, but coming up with interesting comment and valuable expertise to gain you coverage as a person – as a commentator or programme contributor – from which more awareness of your book will follow. I’ve often listened to an interesting discussion on the radio between anonymous voices and heard at the end the names of the people and the books they wrote. I’ve gone off and bought the book on the strength of it.

On Radio 4 alone there are plenty of magazine shows that need topical, expert material for their programmes – Woman’s Hour, Money Box, the Today Programme, PM. Your book and the knowledge or experience that enabled you to write it might give you viable ideas for an article, or an engaging comment to follow up a programme.

Approach your target programme’s production office with a well-thought out idea, backed up by your credentials as the author of a book on the subject, and you may get lucky.
(Other national outlets can also be approached in this spirit – the nature of your book will dictate what should be your priority, e.g. a special interest national magazine in  your field.)

Whichever media you approach, always have the media coverage you’ve had to date, your sales figures, and your reviews at your fingertips. When you put it all together, you might surprise yourself with what an impressive portfolio your book has.
 
Keep track of current public debate relevant to your genre. Get involved in national discussion via old-fashioned letters to the editor, comments on blogs or radio phone-ins. Always quote your credentials as the author of a relevant book, this will make it clear that you are an expert with something interesting to say about the subject.
 
Be opportunist. Manufacture your own luck. If you want to win the lottery, as the old joke goes, you have to buy a ticket…
 
Thank you for the advice, Debbie and there’s lots more great information in Debbie’s book and on her blog.
 
 

 

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Sell Your Books! Part 1

Here in the blogosphere you trip over lots of very knowledgable people  and they’re all very generous with their support and Sell Your Books! by Debbide Youngadvice.

Debbie Young is one such person. Debbie is an absolute expert on book promotion and marketing. She has 30 years experience in the industry and runs Off The Shelf Book Promotions which offers a bespoke marketing and promotion service to self-published authors (she also maintains a very useful blog of book promotion tips here.)

Debbie’s book Sell Your Books! has just been published (I’ve read it and it’s excellent – well worth buying if you want to give your book the push it deserves). I asked her a few questions about selling books and her answers were so comprehensive that I’ve split them into two blog posts. Here we go with number 1:

It’s often said that a writer needs to build a potential readership before their book is published. Do you agree and if so, how would you recommend doing this?

Try to define your potential readership, so that you can bear them in mind whilst writing the book. But don’t let it distract or divert you from actually getting the writing done nor  from writing the book you want to write. Be true to yourself.

 Always be on the look out for practical ways of reaching your target audience. Keep a note of useful websites, interest groups etc that you can come back to when you are ready. Watch out for what others in your field are doing to promote their books.

By all means engage with your potential readership but don’t show them your hand before you are ready – your book may evolve into something quite different to what you expected!

Consider also: other influential writers who you might ask to review your book; book reviewers; book bloggers; local booksellers; interest groups for your genre or topic. Follow their blogs and comment on their blog posts. Follow them on Twitter, befriend them on Facebook and GoodReads. Write reviews of their books. Comment on their book reviews on Amazon and GoodReads. Post worthwhile comments on their websites. Go to their public events. When commenting online anywhere, include a link to all your contact details (website, Twitter, email etc) so they can track back to you and the relationship can be a two-way thing. Then, when your book is published, you will be a familiar (and hopefully respected!) name to them and they will be well-disposed towards your new book. 

Secure your own website address (URL) in advance so that it can be printed on your book jacket. But don’t be tempted to promote the book before it exists. This can be counter-productive. You’ll have much more impact on a bookshop, for example, if you can go in with actual samples of your book, a fully functional website and a few reviews, than with nothing physical to show. These things give you much more credibility as an author whose books are going to make a profit for the store.

 There’s a lull between finishing your manuscript, proofing it and it being on sale as a finished product – that’s a really good time to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. But don’t rush things. In this digital age of e-books and on-demand printing, there’s no rush to start marketing your book, because it’s never actually too late. Your book doesn’t come with a sell-by date, and it won’t be remaindered or de-listed by your publisher (i.e. you!). There’s more about this on my blog here.

On the other hand, don’t err on the side of sloth! You do HAVE to put in the effort sooner or later if your book is going to be successful, because no matter how good it is, it won’t sell itself if you don’t promote it at some time.

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