Judging My Book By It’s Cover

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I wrote in my last post about how I joined a free books giveaway. It’s a promotion where writers get together and offer readers free copies of their books, or (like in my case) previews of their books. You’ll find the giveaway here.

I’m really happy with how this has worked out for me. Readers have downloaded previews of my book, and a few of them even signed up for my newsletter – which is awesome. I don’t know if any of them actually read the book, or if they just downloaded it because it was free, but for the time being I’m just happy so many people choose to claim a copy for themselves.

Maybe they’ll read it at some point?

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What I didn’t think about, and didn’t expect, was that I would be able to see how many times the other books in the giveaway had been claimed too – not just mine. In this way, I can see how my book is doing compared to everyone else’s. Specifically, I can compare the strength of my book’s cover and blurb against those of the other books.

When I first logged in on the giveaway page and saw my book among all of the others it struck me how dazzling and impressive all of the other cover images were. I felt like I was way out of my depth with my plain and simple cover I’d made myself from a stock photo I’d bought for ten bucks.

Some of the other authors in the giveaway will have spent a lot more money on their covers.

For the most part they look exactly the way cool, sexy, action packed Fantasy and Science Fiction books are supposed to look. Now, this may sound as if I’m mocking the other covers, but I’m really not. This is what works, and what sells, and what readers expect. Don’t underestimate reader expectations. If I were to mock anything, it’d be the concept of the standard SFF book cover in itself, but that’s a blog post for a different day (and probably for a different blog too).

Basically, what I wanted to say is that I looked at my own cover next to all the others and I felt a bit insufficient, or perhaps jealous. It’s like I was a kid and my toys weren’t as cool as the other kids’ toys, or something like that.

In the end though, it didn’t seem to matter to the people claiming free books from the giveaway. I just did a check on the page and the number of books that have more claims than mine, is slightly lower than the number of books that have less claims than mine. My book is almost smack in the middle of the field, and I really can’t complain about that.

Please note, this isn’t a competition, and this isn’t a call for my friends to go claim my book just to increase the number. That’d just ruin things for me. The satisfaction comes from knowing there are people out there, who don’t know me at all, who have chosen to claim my book based on the cover alone.

Well, there’s also the blurb. It’s a nice enough blurb, but that’s also a topic for another blog post (on this blog).

Finally, I’d like to point out that I have another cover on the way. It’s being painted and designed by a good friend of mine, and I’m really excited about getting to show it off to the world – hopefully next week already.

It’s going to be awesome!

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Judging My Book By It’s Cover

Free Books?

I’ve joined a group giveaway on instafreebie.com – you can download a free preview of Emma’s Story, and you can download other books for free as well. Some of the books in the giveaway are previews like mine, while others are complete stories (look for the “preview” keyword when claiming the book).

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You can access the giveaway and browse all of the available titles here.

How does it work?

I tried it out earlier, and they way it works is you click on the book you want, fill out your e-mail and name and you get sent download instructions via mail. The mail contains a link to download the instafreebie app as well as your login and password.

Once you’ve installed the app on your phone/tablet you can log in and get the book sent straight to your device. Depending on what device you use you may have to download an app to read the story.

The book I got sent when I tried didn’t open in my phones default reader, but it was no hassle to find an app that could read ePub files.

Why give away free books?

The short answer is: promotion.

The somewhat longer answer is that it’s a good way for people to become aware of your stories. I’m giving away a preview of the first four chapters of my story, and at the end of the preview is a link to where the full book can be pre-ordered (hint, it’s here for US and here for UK).

Some people are giving away full books though. Why is that?

Most of these books are the first in a series, and the author hopes you’ll like it and buy the rest of them. I’d probably do the same if I had a series written and wanted to promote it.

In fact, once I get my series going I probably will.

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Promo image for my book. It’s simple, but it does the job.

It seems like a good way to get the story in front of readers who otherwise might not have found it. At the moment I’m almost completely unknown as an author. Only my friends and family and a few online acquaintances know I have a book coming out. This blog doesn’t have a huge following (but thank you for reading if you got this far), and while I have created a mailing list for a newsletter I don’t have any subscribers to it yet.

In this way though, by taking part in a group giveaway, I benefit from the promotional powers of the other authors taking part. It feels a little bit like freeloading on the effort of others, but hopefully I’ll be able to pay it back by helping other writers out in the same way in the future.

Free Books?

Fixing All The Mistakes

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I’m still a big fan of candlelight.

I’ve been getting some feedback on the promo print of Emma’s Story I sent out to friends and family. Most of the ones I heard from pointed out the same few things – which means I really ought to fix them, right?

I’d written here instead of her (once), and there instead of their (also once). In two places I’d double up a word and written it twice in a row.

Then there’s my blessed little sister who’s got an attention to detail that’s out of this world. She sent me a list of over fifty different things I ought to review.

Some of these were obvious mistakes that I and everyone else had missed, and these were easy. Others were related to matters of style and those were more difficult. Do I change something to ensure it’s grammatically correct, or do I leave it as it is because it matches the feel of the story?

For the most part I stuck with what I’d written. Style trumped rigour – if that’s what you call it?

I’m still waiting for comments from one more person who said she had some suggestions, but other than that the content of the book is done. Once I hear back from her and review her suggestions I won’t change the text anymore.

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Yeah, I’m having a coffee again. A is for Alchemy, which is basically my second home.

The only other thing that remains is the cover.

That too is being taken care of, and it shouldn’t be too long until I have that sorted as well. Once I do, I’ll set up the print version of the book so that those who want to read on paper can do that.

Then there’s the matter of promotion, but that’s a different beast entirely…

Free Books?

I’m taking part in a giveaway on instafreebie.com. I’ve joined a group giveaway with a bunch of other authors in the hope of getting potential readers to download the free preview of the book, and in doing so also signing themselves up for my mailing list.

The giveaway starts on Wednesday and will run for a little over two weeks. I’ll write another post about it here once it’s begun. I don’t know if the other authors taking part are including full books or if it’s all previews, but I’m going to try and link and share it regardless.

It feels a bit weird to sign up for joining something like that without having a mailing list to share the promotion with. It’s like I’m basically freeloading on the others. I guess in the future I’ll ave to try and pay it forward to someone else who’s just starting out and don’t have a lot of subscribers on their mailing list.

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Birds over the river Lee the other morning. I pass over here every day on the way to work.
Fixing All The Mistakes

It’s Been Ages…

TLDR: I’m releasing Emma’s Story on Amazon in February. The work on the Lost Dogs series is progressing nicely. Marketing is scary.


In this case “ages” means about two months. That’s how long it’s been since I last posted here. It’s time for an update, because there are things to talk about but first a bit of self promotion…

Emma's Story - FB animation (2)To begin with. I’ve finally gotten around to setting a release date for Emma’s Story. You can pre-order the eBook version of the story here. There’s also a free preview of the first four chapters available on InstaFreebie, here.

As I’m writing this it’s about a month left until the book becomes available to the public, but I’m already excited, and last I checked there were three pre-orders already. Admittedly, at least one of them is from a friend who doesn’t even have an e-reader and who’ll order the print-version of the book as well, but still.

It’s cool to see that it’s working and that things are happening.

The first draft of the book is still available for free here on my website, on this page. That version is 13 chapters, while the final version going up on Amazon is 17 chapters, so there’s a bit of a difference. Overall the story is the same though. You’re welcome to read the first draft, but it’s not as good as the final version.

About that update?

So, yes, things have happened.

Last I wrote, I was about a third of the way through my writing sabbatical, and I’d finished the first draft of the first two stories. It was still warm enough I could sit outside and write as long as I dressed warm enough and brought my blanket and it didn’t rain.

That’s all changed.

The sabbatical is over since two weeks, and it’s cold enough I even have to dress warm while sitting at my own desk at home (I’m too cheap to turn on the heating). I’m burning a lot of stories, and the writing is a bit slower – but I’m still making progress.

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Yes, it’s coffee. No, it’s not pitch black, I know.

Back then I’d finished the first draft of the first two stories in the Lost Dogs series. I’ve now finished the first draft of two more stories, and the second draft of the first one. The first story has been sent out to beta readers, but I’ve not heard much back from any of them so I’m going to have to start chasing them down about it.

I’m currently working on the second draft of the second story, and I’m making decent progress. The last few days have been busy with setting up for the launch of Emma’s Story, but as most of that is now done I’m able to get back to writing again – or editing, as it were.

I also had some advice from a member of the publishing/marketing group I’m part of that indicates that my plan for my stories is sound.  What they told me is they’re writing all of their stories in the same setting, and they’re doing a lot of short stories about side characters from their longer novels and such. Apparently it’s working out for them, and as it’s very similar to what I’m planning to do I found it very encouraging.

Setting up for the launch of Emma’s Story has gotten me to think a lot about marketing lately. It’s been daunting, but I’m slowly warming up to it. I’ve got a mailing list (sign up here), and I’ve ordered two promotions. I know of someone who’s doing a newsletter who’ll hopefully include me, and I’ve been in touch with two people running fantasy pages on FB that may also come in handy.

I still haven’t sent out a newsletter as I don’t have any subscribers yet, but who knows what’ll happen. I’m really concerned about spamming people with useless crap they don’t want, so I probably won’t send anything unless there’s a new release coming up.

Finally, it’s kind of nice to be back to work after all that time off. It was great to have twelve weeks free, but there’s a comfort in having the daily routine of going to the office as well. Unfortunately, work requires a lot of time so it’s a steep price for that daily routine. It’d be cool to work part time. I don’t expect to be able to do that this year though – maybe next.

 

It’s Been Ages…

One Third Done

I realise it’s been some time since I last posted – over two weeks. It’s time for a status update.

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Writing outdoors is still one of my favourite things.

I’m now nearly done with the fourth week of my writing sabbatical, which is twelve weeks long. I’m making good progress, or so I believe. I finished the first draft of the first two stories of the series and I’ve begun work on the second draft of story one.

It’s fascinating how much it helps to have written the story once. I did a very extensive outline and it helped a lot in getting the first draft down on paper quickly. The first draft is not nearly in readable shape though. Rather the opposite.

Fortunately I have a much better idea of the story now. I know what it needs, and what I have to add and remove and change. Unfortunately, there’s a lot that needs changing, but I’m making good progress.

2017-10-17 15.17.34Two new chapters at the start, and a complete rewrite of the original first chapter. Many of the other chapters will also require a lot of work – more than I originally hoped for.

That’s a learning experience I guess. It enforces that there’s no need to worry too much about phrasing and grammar/spelling in the first draft. That’s just there to get the content on the page so that I can see what works and what doesn’t.

Perhaps that’s obvious to many writers already, but for me it’s come as a bit of a realisation. Hopefully it’ll help me get down with the first drafts of the coming stories even quicker.

One Third Done

Soundtrack for writing creation myths

I finished the first draft of the first story of my series today. It’s shit. Fortunately, there’s a good story underneath all of the rubbish, but I’m going to let it sit for a while before I try to dig it out. Tomorrow, I will start on the second story in the series.

Today, I took a little break from that part of my writing.

I have another story that’s already done, and which is just waiting for its cover before I can go ahead and release it. To be precise, the story itself is done, but there are a few details I’d like to add to it before I publish it.

One thing I noticed is that my beta readers had slightly different ideas about how the anfylk of my story look. The story works for them anyway, so I don’t consider it a major issue. I’ve also not found a good way to include a detailed description of the anfylk in the story proper.

Instead, what I’ve decided to do is add a section about the anfylk at the start of the story.

I know a lot of people have their reservations about prologues, so I’m keeping it brief, and I won’t be calling it a prologue as it’s not really part of the story itself. It’s also not required for understanding the plot.

Earlier this evening I sat down to write this not-quite-prologue, and while I wrote the song Now We Are Free, by Lisa Gerrard (from the soundtrack to the film Gladiator) came on the headphones. As it ended, I had to listen to it again, and again. No other song would do. It was the only piece of music in the playlist that fit with what I was writing.

What I was writing was essentially the creation myth of the anfylk people, albeit very brief, and the idea struck me to compile a playlist for writing creation myths. I already knew I wanted to have Vangelis’ Conquest of Paradise in it, but I had to find three more tracks in the same vein.

I didn’t find them at the time, but now, at home, a few hours later I’ve got a short list ready:

Five songs in total. It’s not much, but it’s what I do when I try a thematic playlist like this. I will occasionally make playlist like this for the main characters of my stories. I start out with a very large number of songs, and then I pick out the five songs that best represent the character.

These songs do not necessarily best represent the creation myth of the anfylk people, but they will have to represent the feeling of trying to write a creation myth for a made-up people in a fantasy story.

Soundtrack for writing creation myths

First Week Nearly Done

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View from my writing spot at home.

Today it’s one week since I last went to work. The first of my 12-week sabbatical is nearly over, but it feels like a lot less. I’ve done a decent bit of writing, but not as much as I could have.

Technically, I’m ahead of my initial target and I expect to finish the first draft of my first story within the next three days – probably tomorrow. Most likely my targets were overly generous and will need to be adjusted. Then again, I need to factor in editing and writing the second draft and so on.

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LED string in an old cognac bottle.

In the past I’ve usually been fairly happy with how my first drafts have turned out. I’ve taken my time on them and polished the text while writing it. I’ve tried to cut back on that this time in order to get on with the story instead. I believe this is the way to go, as it gives me a better idea of what the story really needs, but boy does this first draft suck.

“The first draft of anything is garbage” is a saying attributed to Hemingway. I’ve decided to embrace that fully and not worry that my story is a bit rubbish at the moment. There’s a good story hiding underneath all the crap and I’m pretty sure I can bring that out in one or two rewrites.

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I sometimes go up to the Lough Park nearby to write.

I’d like to finish the first draft before I get on with the rewriting though. That way I’ll have a better grasp of the story in its entirety and I’ll know better what to add and change and remove.

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“Mobile office”

I’ve also decided to let the story sit for a bit when I’m done with the first draft. Instead of going straight back into editing I’ll begin on the second story instead and once that’s done I’ll go back and edit the first one. Then I’ll write the third, edit the second, and so on. Hopefully it’ll give me some time to detach from the stories so it won’t be too difficult cutting things out.

First Week Nearly Done