Working with a publicist for the first time – both exciting and daunting!

Apologies for my absence of late.  Hope everyone’s well and gearing up for either a hot or a cold festive season :-)

Aussie Father Christmas

One of several reasons for neglecting my blog is that I’ve invested time and money into a real, honest-to-goodness publicity campaign.  After e-shopping around a few US-based book promotion sites, I went back to my first choice, Authoright (http://www.Authoright.com), because they were the only company that offered a single, co-ordinated campaign across both the UK and the US.

Social media for indie authors is great for meeting other authors, some of whom may become readers, but attracting Facebook likes and Twitter followers doesn’t necessarily equate to generating sales!  I’ve been involved on the periphery of a few advertising and marketing campaigns at work, so decided to commit a lump of scarce resource and back my messed-up, introverted self for a change :-)

Well, what a ride so far!  Two weeks in to an 8-week campaign, working with two highly professional, friendly and encouraging book publicists has completely taken the focus off my writing.  Since I had already fallen behind schedule for “A Life Singular – Part Four” and have shifted my self-imposed deadline to March next year, I am managing (almost) to handle the stress of halted progress!

In my first week, Kate Appleton in London managed to secure me a spot in the UK’s Daily Mail newspaper, which has an online readership of 175 million per month!  On the other side of the Atlantic, Diana Rissetto has successfully placed me with a couple of well-patronised book blogging sites and is targeting several more specific to my serial’s themes.

Which leads me to the “daunting” part…

What’s that old saying?  “If it bleeds, it leads,” I seem to remember.  When I wrote my biography for Authoright’s initial questionnaire, I had a fair idea that journalists might want to delve into the more painful aspects of my background.  This is why I’m writing, after all.

However, despite Kate’s careful hints that mainstream media might come across as heartless by focussing more on my own story than on the books I’m trying to promote, I have been somewhat distressed by the intrusive nature of their questions, looking to name and shame particular individuals, etc.  While doing this would secretly give me an intense amount of guilty pleasure, I have always thought public humiliation for acts which have gone for years without punishment was only stooping to their level.

For someone whose goals are to bring a positive message through my writing – i.e. to inspire fellow sufferers of mental illness to rise above their symptoms and find success, and more importantly to encourage non-sufferers to understand, tolerate, support and even love us in our quest to live “normal” lives – I hardly wanted to spread my own negative experiences in such gory, gruesome detail.

It has been difficult to dredge up past experiences which I’ve buried so well that I barely recall their detail, inducing panic attacks while on the telephone to journalists and keeping me awake for hours as to the potential consequences.  Even though I managed to convince them that I’m not interested in revealing actual names, it is still frightening to wonder who has the power to make connections…

Oh, well…  I agreed to run the campaign, therefore I need to accept whatever it conjures up.  Hopefully it’s a big boost in sales and nothing more!  That would be awesome.

Goals for 2014 – to finish what I started!

I’m delighted to be part of a blog hop run by Ruth Snyder. The group’s first topic is “Our Writing Goals for 2014″, so here goes!

I always hesitate to set goals, simply because experience has taught me to expect the unexpected. For example, when I moved back to Melbourne from Perth in September last year, I never imagined I would still be unemployed in January. My old dog has failed to keep me in the style to which I’d like to become accustomed and is also well past retirement age now. Hence, while I’ve put this extended “holiday” to very good use for my writing and building a social media profile, my priority must remain securing a PAID job!

Tiresome necessary evils aside, my goals for 2014 can be broadly categorised as “more of the same”:

(1) Having self-published the first two parts of my “A Life Singular” serial last year, I hope to finish Part Three in June and Part Four in December. I have abandoned the idea of using a self-publishing company in favour of Amazon’s CreateSpace after Xlibris Publishing censored my work to the extent that the whole premise of Part Two was negated. The CreateSpace experience was not only significantly cheaper but also allows authors complete flexibility with content and design.

[Note on Goal 1: as an e-chick with 28 years in the IT industry (and hopefully more!), receiving the first copy of a paperback with my name on it, my cover design and my words inside was probably THE most significant event of my life! My first e-book was certainly satisfying to finish, but I was totally unprepared for the pride and sense of achievement I felt when holding a printed book with physical dimensions and weight! So, to all authors hoping to publish in print for the first time this year, I can assure you that your soul will not be disappointed with its reward!]

(2) Consolidating my social media platform is high on the priority list too. Currently I run my own website, through which I sell books whole and by chapter and also post news about launches, trailers, etc. However, a recent invitation to renew my web hosting subscription has prompted me to take better advantage of WordPress’ features, which these days allow us to create almost fully-functioning web presences at a very low cost. This will cut down my e-maintenance effort considerably also!

2013 saw Twitter’s coming of age, and indeed it’s now considered the marketing tool of choice for many authors. I can’t help but think of it as spam though, given the volume of tweets that flash past and then disappear before we get a chance to read them. Despite the proliferation of retweets, follows, mentions and advertising clogging up my ‘phone, tablet and browser, I must get over this aversion quickly and worship the little, blue bird as my hero!

In short, the objective of Goal #2 is to find a more efficient way of optimising my time across Twitter, blog / website, Facebook, Pinterest and all the various services which promise to increase my reach. I am experimenting with SocialOomph and Hootsuite to accomplish this without spamming my friends to excess.

So far – and here’s where my cynicism refuses to let go – none of these endeavours has led to an increase in book sales. Perhaps this comes with critical mass, which segues perfectly on to Goal #3…

(3) World domination! No, I am not signing up to fight in Syria and indeed fervently hope for peace in the Middle East as soon as possible… I only seek to continue standing up for the rights of Australian and New Zealand writers. Living on a huge island continent with a tiny population and wishing to break into in the larger markets of the USA, UK, Europe and Asia, I am hopeful that 2014 will see a more integrated global market in Amazon, Goodreads and the like.

Amazon’s Australian outlet, Amazon.com.au, was “opened” a couple of months ago, before which time all Australian and New Zealand books were sold from the US “store”. Luckily, any pre-existing customer reviews were transferred into the Australian “store” with our books. Not so for our Author Profile however, which still needs to be set up for each regional site separately. This in isolation is not a huge issue and actually makes perfect sense for non-English-speaking markets, when it’s important to translate at least part of one’s profile into the domestic language.

However, the segregation of customer reviews is a HUGE issue and a grave disadvantage for new authors from smaller markets, who are more likely to obtain their early reviews from friends and family, who in turn are more likely to be local. Amazon does not make new customer reviews visible across all stores, and consequently potential US and UK readers are not aware of the quality of our work and we do not advance in the search rankings.

Mailing physical books internationally is prohibitively expensive too; it costs AU$56.55 to post one copy of my book to a US or UK address, which is obviously more than the book sells for! Many reviewers, giveaways and competitions are still only accepting books in print format, which I will also add to my campaign for this year!

(4) My last goal is to read more. Again, my unforeseen sabbatical has afforded me time to read as well as write, which I never could have accomplished while working my 50+ hour week. I aim to read a wide variety of books, both to support other independent authors and also to improve my own writing and general knowledge.

Four goals in twelve months is probably enough. Please visit the other blogs on Ruth’s hop and check out their writing goals.  Let us know yours too! Happy hopping :-)

Ruth Snyder's blog hop

Fantastic books for indie authors

Hi everyone,

I have just finished reading two excellent books by Barb Drozdowich on Book Bloggers and how indie authors can maximise the power of social media.  I cannot thank Barb enough for the insights, practical suggestions and humour in these books, which have reignited my enthusiasm for the countless hours it takes to promote books as a self-published author.

Barb understands that very few indie authors have the luxury of focussing on writing and promotion full-time, and also alludes to the fact that many authors aren’t the type of person who naturally promotes him- or herself!

I thoroughly recommend both these books:  The Author’s Guide To Working With Book Bloggers (Building Blocks to Author Success Series) and