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Saturday, 22 November 2014

Character v Plot Driven Novels: Which Should You Be Writing?

This is an email I sent to my editor last week:

I see an awful lot of information about character v plot driven novels on the Internet and it got me wondering - are my books character or plot driven?

And ...

Do you think certain genres demand a book to be one or the other? I'm reading a chick lit book at the moment that seems to be character driven and if I come to think about it most chick lit novels I've read seem to be this way. Although I can imagine most thrillers would be plot driven as they're usually fast paced etc.

Which begs a further question ... if my books are plot driven - do you think I should be writing them this way if I continue to write chick lit?

So, one question has turned into three.

Help, dear editor! :)

His response was extremely detailed. In fact, he hit the nail on the head. He states all my books are character driven and if I continue to write chick lit then this is how all of them should be.

But, what do you think about the issue I've raised? Should certain genres be written in a certain way or do you think that it would be a refreshing change to have plot driven women's fiction or character driven thrillers?

I am eager to hear your thoughts ...

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Celebrating My First Royalty Cheque

I published my first book Secret Confessions of a Backpacker: My Adventure Down Under on April 16th 2011. A year later on August 17th 2012, I published its sequel: Secret Confessions of a Backpacker: My Maple Leaf Adventure and by that time I was hell bent on having a career as a writer.

Since then a lot has happened. I've published two more books in different genres and I'm half way through writing my fifth book. In fact, I've spent so many months just solely focused on writing, I've forgotten the fact that I'm actually selling these books as well.

When I first started writing the 99 cent ebook was extremely popular. Writers like Amanda Hocking and J.A. Konrath said such pricing methods had enabled them to make a fortune.

Back then I was more like a sponge than a person. I wanted to soak up as much information as I could and that sort of price for an ebook seemed like a good idea to me.

After all, ebooks should be cheaper than print books. All you have to do with an electronic book is download it onto your reading device. There's no paper and ink involved, resulting in no printing costs.

As my first two books are aimed at backpackers, I've decided to keep the price low, so it's no wonder it's taken so long for my account to be credited with the minimum of $100.00, especially when at that price Amazon takes 70% of the cut. Don't get me wrong, I've made money from the other Amazon sites across the world, but until recently, I haven't sold that many books in the States. Plus, I get paid electronically from all the other Amazon sites and they don't have a minimum amount to reach, either.

So, to get back to my original point - the actual title of my blog post - I received my first royalty cheque from last week and I wasn't even here to open it!!! Instead my partner took the task upon himself and text me the good news. I was down in Cornwall at the time, picture shown above, enjoying a rare holiday with my mother.

Finally, I can say I have received my first official cheque for my writing. I am now a real author, receiving royalty cheque proceeds from my books. Books which complete strangers overseas have bought and read.

It is a fantastic feeling. Here's to the next three and a half years. I might have received another cheque by then!

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Are Writers Prone to Telepathic Communications?

It's funny. You can grow up for years with people and with some you're so out of synch. But sometimes you don't have to meet a person to have a telepathic relationship. For example, I haven't met my editor: we don't even live in the same country. But there are times when he'll just pop into my mind and the very next minute I'll have an email from him. And vice versa. 

Weird ...

But as a writer is this an 'normal' thing to experience? Should I list this skill on my C.V to impress potential employers?

After all, I communicate with my book's characters every day. They may not exist or be on show for anyone else, but I see them clearly in my mind. And I believe authors have to make their characters behave in a way that their readers would expect. If you want to be a writer who connects with people, you have to draw characters who are capable of showing human emotion. 

I believe you have to be in tune with people to write well. You have to be a good judge of how people are going to react and in my experience it is these sort of people who are more prone to this sort of phenomena.

So, please share your experiences. Are you prone to telepathic communication?

Thursday, 28 August 2014

Factors Which Hold Writers Back

Most writers will know that writing books isn't usually the path to fame and fortune, but they secretly hope they will be the exception to that rule.

However, once they get a few years into their career most writers will be over that particular delusion. They'll have to come to accept they won't be walking on the red carpet into a film premier of their latest book which Steven Spielberg has just launched.

But while that dream may have subsided, writers still need to be careful their thoughts do not go the other way and send them spiralling into a whole other world.

Some writers fear that because they've written a few books and not had any spectacular sales they should give up, or at the very least start writing something completely different. And some writers don't even send out any of their work at all. If you can identify with this then by all means try something new but never give up. Don't fall into the trap that so many of us face: setting up ridiculously high expectations and then plummeting back down from orbit with an almighty crash.

This brings me to my next point of aiming too high or refusing to give your books away as part of vital promotion. I have now given away two out of four books for a limited time. Exposure was massive and I've enjoyed sales ever since. I'm sure sales come from the fact that I write what I love to read and I'm not a person who constantly chases trends. I know writers who do this and have had success, but I don't believe I could write a book without having an interest in the novel's theme.

Another factor which limits success is refusing to believe publishing is a business and that's the same whether you're self-publishing or have an agent and a contract with the big six. Another failure which some writers make is spending all your time and effort on marketing 'schemes' that are more see-through than a jellyfish. Instead of giving all your money to someone who 'promises' to sell a thousand of your books a day, why not spend your time writing the next book?

Sunday, 3 August 2014

Are Mailing Lists Essential?

These days it can be difficult to remember how to construct a sentence - never mind anything else. So how do writers expect their readers to remember them if they've got to wait the average time of a year for their next book?

In this digitally instant world which we now live, it seems impossible to gain a loyal following of fans without the risk of losing them to anyone else. And with Amazon now promoting new releases and new writers more than ever, how can the average writer expect to stay sane?

Some writers say that the key to more sales is establishing a mailing list. But if you only have a few new readers each month and write in several different genres, is this thinking pattern feasible?

For a long time I thought that it was. And then I discovered more and more writers had thousands of sales before they even considered a mailing list. They said the most important factor which influenced sales was how many books they actually had to their name. In other words, the more books they had the more readers they would find.

Amazon makes book discoverability very easy for their authors with their Amazon author pages. On this page you can upload your photo and your bio stating a little about yourself. Readers can see at a glance just how many books you have available just through this one page. Readers do not even need to go rooting through books to find mailing lists because there is ample opportunity to state it on this page.

So, while mailing lists seem like a good idea, do you consider them essential?

Wednesday, 25 June 2014

Can You Write Chick Lit Without Romance?

I'm writing my fifth book at the moment - my second chick lit novel - and a funny thought has struck me.

Can you write chick lit without romance?

It's funny this thought should strike me now and not when I was penning A Step Too Far because that wasn't a love story. Yes, it had some romantic themes and even a potential love triangle but the overall story wasn't a quest to find love. It was a quest to find a fulfilling life.

I guess I'm thinking about this topic now because A Second Time Around is more of a romantic comedy than my first chick lit book. It will still have a twist at the end like my other novel but the theme is definitely romance.

The only gripe I have with chick lit is too many stories are the same. That may sound funny as it's the genre I have chosen to write, but I deliberately didn't make A Step Too Far overly romantic. I wanted to write a book which I believed to be chick lit because it's written in first person and in a light hearted way. But at the same time I wanted to write a story which wasn't like all the rest.

So I decided to be brave (or stupid) and write about life fulfilment.

But was I wrong to do this?

A lot of readers expect a tale of love when they pick up women's fiction. They want their tall, dark and handsome heroes and a happy ending. They want the book to contain certain elements and they want their expectations fulfilled. But here lies the problem. The category of Women's Fiction is just an umbrella term with a whole lot of other categories mixed in. There are the romance books, the erotic books and the chick lit books. Romantic comedy is very similar to chick lit but chick lit tends to talk about the protagonist's friendships, career, family life and various other things.

If readers did really want a guaranteed tale of love and romance, they'd surely pick up a book with a couple in a passionate pose on the front cover. Not some girl relaxing with a coffee in her favourite armchair.

So what do you think? Is it safe to write women's fiction without romance?

I'm going on a Baltic cruise from now until the 11th July so I will catch up with any comments when I return.

Monday, 2 June 2014

The Bare Truth of What Life as a Writer is Really Like - My KDP Select Results

Life as a writer can sometimes be compared to a music artist preparing for a concert in a huge arena. The excitement and anticipation is overwhelming and you're sure you've done everything humanely possible to prepare. You've spent months if not years dreaming about this event and now you can't believe it's here.

You're not sure just how many tickets have sold but you hope it's been a sell out. You have everything crossed that the audience will love your debut song because it's just the best song ever! And you're almost ready to swear on your life that this concert will launch your career into places like Hollywood with cute chicks, cool cars and fluffy dogs.

This concert will be the mother of all concerts. This concert will make all your dreams come true. This concert will make you richer than Richard Branson, more famous than Angelina Jolie, and happier than a chocoholic with a lifetimes supply of chocolate.

Only it doesn't ...

The only thing this concert is responsible for is sending you to the edge of madness and complete insanity.

Five minutes before you're due to sing you find out that only a handful of ticket have sold. That's just a handful of tickets in one of the largest indoor arenas in the European Union. And most of those have gone to your family members.


Your world has suddenly flipped one eighty. Instead of looking forward to all these dreams and fantasies, you're suddenly trapped in some kind of nightmare.

But as a true and committed artist, you go out and perform anyway. You sing your little heart out because you know you have talent. You know you have what it takes to become a success someday. You're a star because you have endless amounts of perseverance, patience and a work ethic which is second to none.

The only problem is the rest of the world doesn't know it yet.

But that's your job, you see. Your job is to go out there one person at a time and make them see how great you actually are. And this obviously takes time. Very, very rarely do people become overnight successes and those people who do still run the risk of fading into obscurity one day. Just like the rest of us, no one is immune from that potential danger.

Whether you're a writer or a pop star, you will do whatever it takes to get yourself noticed because this is your life. It's the sole purpose of why you exist in the first place. And whether you are a writer who has only managed to sell a handful of books that really doesn't matter because as time goes on you will sell more. You'll sell more because you'll write more and with every day that passes you'll find new opportunities to take advantage of.

I am a writer and last week I took advantage of KDP Select. Select, as most of you know, belongs to Amazon and it seems they do great things to promote you.

I enrolled my chick lit book: A Step Too Far in Select last month and promoted it as free for forty-eight hours. Within this time almost 5,000 copies were downloaded. Most of these downloads took place in America with the U.K. coming in second. I had downloads in Europe, India and Australia. The only place where I'm still obscure is Japan, Brazil and Mexico.

So I'd say my little experiment was quite successful. The only downside of being free is negative reviews so I have my fingers crossed I don't get too many of those.

I'll probably run a similar experiment with Confessions of a Webcam Model once it's been out a while. So when the time comes round, I'll let you know how that book performs.