Promoting and marketing thoughts

I’ve posted before about how the inspiration and actual writing of a book can be tricky enough, but at least once you get a manuscript written then you have something to work with. You refine and hone it. You find beta readers, a proof reader and editor, and you edit, edit and edit again. (And by now, you’re missing some tiny errors because your brain knows what you meant…) And even they aren’t perfect and miss some errors.

Anyway, then you reach a point you have to send it out into the world, to find out if your story is ‘good enough’. (What does that mean? Liking something is subjective: what one person dislikes intensely, another person enjoys.)

This was the point I decided that as mine is a debut novel I need professional guidance, and I approached an organisation to support me. They liked it and were willing to help. (It’s a great boost to your confidence.) Then to actually hold a physical book that contains your work felt 🤩 And to see it on Amazon is unbelievable.

Then at the top of your sales page, on a narrow strip, you read the small print …

Reality dawns. How can I make my book stand out against the competition?

So far my initial steps have been –

Amazon: Author Central (create an author page), Kindle Direct Publishing (produce an ebook version) and Amazon Associates (so you can create affiliate links and hopefully earn a little bit from clicks that result in sales, etc)

My blog: MoorScribbles – you’re reading it, thank you. Talk about your book, include the affiliate links, etc

My website: http://www.carolinescottcollins.co.uk, ditto

FaceBook: @CarolineScottCollins, ditto

(Which then got me sidetracked into linking my website and blog with my FB page)

The next couple of suggestions I’ve been given are –

Create a mailing list and issue a newsletter (even if it’s just once every 3-6 months)

Get some printed copies and negotiate with local bookshops and share profits (but the profit margin is scant)

Find other outlets

And then I had a conversation with a salesman, rather than taking an accountant’s perspective 🤷🏼‍♀️🤔

In the meantime, I’m keeping my fingers crossed that good old fashioned word of mouth and positive reviews from purchasers on Amazon might help a bit.

So if you read A Charming Bequest and you enjoyed it, I’d appreciate your positive review. Thank you.

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Do you dream of writing and publishing a book?

One November, about a decade ago, every day I wrote for a couple of hours – 2500-3000 words. I’d read about NaNoWritMo and tried the principle. I found that getting into the daily writing habit, with a deadline for finishing the manuscript for a novel within a month, was highly motivating – even doing it alone. I succeeded, not least because the month led up to getting on a plane and heading off to the sun for a holiday.

The next bit of advice was to take a break from the manuscript before working on it, so I did. Next, I confessed to some close friends what I’d done. They asked to read it and offered to feedback. I accepted. They were true to their words, and were all very motivating – ‘Go for it!’ After each batch of notes, I’d edit and put it away again.

Occasionally, over the years, I would re-read and tweak the manuscript, and put it away. Then another few friends, including one who told me he’d proofread and edited manuscripts, offered to read it and feedback. Again, I was told – ‘Publish it!’

I still lacked the confidence to send it out into the world. So I put myself on a self-directed study of creative writing (I read many books etc.) and applied what I learned to my manuscript. I was encouraged to find that it fitted various structure models.

Finally more research led me to explore various self-publishing options and I decided to give it a try and do it properly, not just get a box of books printed to live under my desk to give away. I did one final polishing edit, and plucked up the courage to send it off to a business who advise and assist with self publishing. To my surprise and delight, they accepted it.

I cannot describe the feeling of holding the proof copy of my work. It’s amazing. My book is now ‘out there’ and available in print, with the ebook version coming very soon. But, now comes the very hardest thing … Marketing.

Why is this so difficult?

Quite simply, I am a complete introvert and highly sensitive. I don’t ever seek to be in the spotlight – I much prefer being totally anonymous, shut myself away and keep my head down. To do marketing, I read, you have to stop hiding in the shadows. Oh no!

The way I’m trying to mentally deal with it, is telling myself that I’ve sent my book out into the world to stand for itself. It’s the book that needs promoting, not me. I know readers will either enjoy a bit of escapism, which I hope they do (because that’s the whole point of writing a story), or not (please be kind if you review it!)

In the meantime, I will learn marketing skills and pluck up the courage to put what I learn into practise …

… And I’ll hide away – to write the next one. 😉

So if you do dream of writing and publishing a book, my advice is give it a go or you’ll never know. Have fun!

If you’re interested in my book, visit my website or this is my affiliate link to Amazon. (As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.)

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Just write

I have a terrible habit of pondering. I’ve wanted to get down to writing again for ages (I won’t admit how long) but for many reasons I’ve just not been able to. At one point, I got 30000 words into a manuscript, hit a brick wall, and stopped.

I can, in my head because I don’t actually tell anyone what I’m doing, put it down to two feeble excuses – ‘writer’s block’ or Muse ran off. Until this morning. And I cannot make such stupid excuses to myself any more.

This morning I came across a really interesting website https://justpublishingadvice.com where I read a quote, which makes complete sense: There’s no such thing as writer’s block. That was invented by people in California who couldn’t write. ~ Terry Pratchett

On the article page https://justpublishingadvice.com/how-you-can-give-writers-block-the-boot-in-minutes/ I also read the remark about the mythical Muse; fundamentally it translates into wasting time.

If I’d stopped thinking of Muse as some helpful pixie who sits on my shoulder, whispering words of encouragement in my ear so I type furiously and get a complete manuscript out of my head onto paper (albeit digital on a screen), and instead actually considered the meaning of ‘muse’, I wouldn’t have blamed the pixie’s absence for preventing my progress.

I’ve read masses of advice, in various places, about how you can prepare too much, worry about structure, plotting, and all the other suggestions about how to write and why you can’t write, when actually all you need to do is simple…

Just write – anything.

Get into a daily habit of outpouring through a pen onto paper, or clicking away on a keyboard. Just write.

I finished my first manuscript using the principle of NaNoWriMo. I just did it and produced a complete rough manuscript to hone, edit, perfect and fit to a structure and a plot curve (although when I read, edited and checked, it fitted naturally).

With all my procrastinating about writing, I put myself onto masses of self learning about the processes of writing and publishing – to get it right. It wasn’t time wasted, but the main thing is just to write and then worry about all the other principles when I’ve got work to apply it to.

I am currently working on publishing project one and then perhaps, as I will have sent it out into the world for some readers to enjoy, I can get on with the next one. 😉

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Passive Learning

I like reading stories where I learn something.

Because of this, I like to research topics or visit places I’m including in my stories so that I base them on fact and I am presenting something true the reader might learn, or perhaps investigate further. Plus I think stories are more credible based on truth.

It’s nothing new, to learn something from stories. Historically, when the majority of the population weren’t literate, or before books were widely available and affordable, people learned from stories. Just think of fables and bible stories, designed to remember something, e.g. a moral.

In fact, stories are used a lot. I read about a memory training technique, a long time ago, where a person say, trying to learn the order of a pack of shuffled playing cards, creates a story. They visualise a ‘route’ along a street, or a setting they are extremely familiar with, and place the cards in positions as they create their story. Later, when they recall the story, they visualise the cards in their positions and get them in the right order. I imagine this takes a awful lot of practise and a long time to do.

Mnemonics are the same; e.g. Richard Of York Gained Battles In Vain for the order of the colours of the spectrum (red, orange, yellow, green, blue indigo, violet); Two Old Angels, Sitting On High, Chatting About Heaven (maths – equations for tangent, sine and cosine). I remember these two from my schooldays many, many moons ago!

What’s interesting for me, as a writer, is the research I might have to do then to find ways of incorporating facts into my story, but that’s what makes it fun for me 😉🙂

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Self-understanding

I have a couple of mantras I live by and I didn’t recognise until recently how I came to create them:

If it’s regarding making a decision it’s… ‘If I don’t know what to do, I do nothing.’

This generally works well. And it doesn’t mean I don’t consider the problem at all, quite the contrary, I think it through, deeply. However, more often than not an answer reveals itself. Although, I will accept that sometimes, what might have seemed like a good idea at the time, goes sour: Time and life moves on, subcultures and hidden agendas are revealed and changes of circumstances and influencing factors and it turns out it was a wrong decision after all.

However, most things aren’t immutable; you’re allowed to change your mind. Move with the times.

My other mantra is … ‘If I have nothing of value to say, I say nothing.’

This, I’ve learned, is my innate nature. I am an introvert and a highly sensitive person. (Crikey the ‘accusations’ I’ve endured my entire life over that!) All my life I’ve always had to endure certain contexts where I feel really uncomfortable, e.g. large groups of people chitter-chattering and shallow small talk; it completely frazzles me out. Drains me completely. And some people, even when they sense I’m tense, dismiss the way I’m feeling tell me to ‘chill’ or ‘relax’; that turns my internal spring even tighter and I get even more distressed.

On the other hand, in a small group of two to four people having a deep intelligent discussion on something of value, to gain clarity to meaning and I’m in my element. When I’m interested and feel passionate about a topic, it’s great to discuss it and listen to others’ perspectives.

To understand where these mantras derived, I’ve been reading up on introversion and highly sensitivity; I have classic introvert preferences:

• I prefer to write not speak, when I have time to choose my words and consider the meaning.

• The phone is a nightmare for me, always has been – message or email me instead.

• The thought of public speaking anytime terrifies me.

• I love attending lectures, but not a workshop or group discussion.

• Give me work to do, preferably remotely, and just let me get on with it (with a line of communication open, in case I need it).

• Please don’t include me in Group Think, Team Building Days and ask for ideas in a meeting, e.g. brain storming. Give me time to consider and research the topic and allow me to email/message my ideas.

The many books and websites I’ve read recently regarding these topics suggest there are changes in cultural attitudes towards introverts, high sensitivity (HSP), and human givens. (Really?) People like me shouldn’t have such a hard time anymore – in fact we should feel valued. We’re caring, intuitive, deep thinkers, creative and innate learners, we read around topics without just taking the first idea unquestioned on board.

I now understand why my mantras are particularly apt. After decades of going against my innate introverted nature I want to be kinder to myself in future and learn strategies to remove the pressure to conform in a harsh, loud, competitive ‘me, me, me’ world.

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A Blogger with nothing to say?

I haven’t posted for months again, but then one of my mantras is If I have nothing interesting to say, I won’t say anything.

I’ve been undertaking a personal learning journey the last few months which I’m sure some of what I learned will go into a story.

I intend to get back on track with my personal goals this year, which includes writing blog posts and get my novel published that’s been languishing on my hard drive and more recently in The Cloud for far too long. It deserves to be set loose in the world because there might be some readers who will enjoy it.

I’ve been learning some new skills too – related to writing, of course; calligraphy and art, in the hope that something I read recently that the physical act of writing creates strong neural pathways to stimulate the brain. Let’s see ;o)

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I learned a new term today – ‘Slashie’

I’ve been absent from my blog again and I know things have to change. I go by the adage that if I have nothing useful to say then I don’t say anything. I do the same with decisions; if I don’t know what to do I do nothing and eventually the answer comes to me.

Anyway…

These past few months I’ve been doing a lot of reading and research into publishing my completed novel. I considered traditional publishing, publishing on places like Amazon (because that’s easy to do) and I’ve done a huge amount of research into self-publishing. I learned that a lot of authors choose self-publishing these days so they can ‘retain control’, etc. and it’s never been easier. That seems a good idea but …

One writer on getting published advised, unless the work is sent out into the world absolutely perfect the writer will be forever judged by it. Good or bad.

Nagging Doubt creeps in.

First, I thought, liking something is subjective and I can think of writers whose stories I didn’t enjoy, but nevertheless millions of copies of their work were sold because others did. People will either like something, or they won’t, and I can hope a few folks will think my story is a good read and value for money (I’ve been told by at least a dozen people that it’s enjoyable and satisfying, but then I wonder are they just being nice to me because they’re friends… but they insist not; ‘It’s good’.)

Nevertheless, Nagging Doubt and indecision continues. And where does Slashie come in? A Slashie, I read, is a person who uses various talents to work and has multiple income streams.

A few years ago I set up a tiny, tiny micro business, which never really took off and I wound it up. When I consulted business advisors at the outset I was told to stick to offering one set of skills because otherwise I’d look like a Jack-of-all-trades (the second part; ‘and a master of none’.) Typical British dismissal of someone trying to follow their heart.

And now that I think about it, not being brave enough to do lots of different things, using lots of my skills, has always been my problem. I’ve been trapped in jobs I really didn’t enjoy just to earn money (because that’s what you’re supposed to do) and dismissed what I really enjoyed doing, which would make me get up in the morning to go and do them and earning money would be a nice, if necessary, bonus!

I have to rethink.

I’ve written and edited a novel and if I’m going to self-publish it I have to learn new skills such as marketing and use various previously learned skills to get it ‘out there’, such as formatting. (More Nagging Doubt …)

In addition, I enjoy a variety of crafts and up until now I’ve given away the things I make, or made them for family and friends, because of the Jack-of-all-trades dismissal, which makes me think they’re not good enough to sell.

Only last week I said to a friend that I’ve got to start thinking like an artisan (and act on the advice I gave to someone else). I’d crocheted a special cushion cover and was complimented on it and told I should make them to sell. I dismissed the suggestion because the cost of the materials would be too much before the hours it took me to do it. Then I thought, writers don’t charge by word count or an hourly rate; they send their work out into the world in the hope that someone is prepared to buy it (and hope they will enjoy it) and the recompense might be volume sales. An artist paints a picture and sells it as a unique work. A dressmaker sells a finished garment. Et cetera. I don’t have to think ‘hourly rate’ which has been drummed into me, ‘to be commercially viable’. An artisan thinks, ‘what would someone pay for it?’

Be a Slashie!

I hope sharing my thoughts and insecurities inspires someone to follow their hearts.

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Happy 2019

It’s at this time of year people review the past twelve months, check their goals and objectives and create new ones for the coming year.

When I taught emotional intelligence I used to say don’t try and start new year resolutions on January 1st because there’s far too much pressure and you’re quite likely to fail, Start them later on a non significant day (Monday’s are bad too!)

Just think about all those gym memberships that are abandoned!

The Facebook writing group I belong to, of course, started discussing goals and objectives for 2019, as traditionally these things are done with the new year. Bearing in mind my views on setting such goals, I joined in and wrote two down, which I knew I could achieve but did not state Achieve By dates, nor how I was going to get there. In my head the date is 6 months away and getting there is just sitting down and writing. Maybe a bit too fuzzy but I’m doing something else that supports it.

The good news is I have almost achieved both goals and it’s still within the first week in January!

The point of this post is if you’re going to create goals in January make them achievable and that will give you the incentive to set more goals to build momentum to achieve more as the year progresses, by setting more goals as they are accomplished.

I don’t know how I feel about visions now. I guess people who build successful businesses have them to give them a general direction to aim for. Or maybe they don’t; they’re just astute at choosing the right paths when opportunities present themselves.

I personally stopped having a grand plan 5 years ago; the carpet was pulled out from under my feet and goals, plans and dreams evaporated by a life changing event. Maybe I shouldn’t have let them go altogether, I should have just treated it as a temporary setback, and wait awhile instead of giving up.

Now I have begun to get back on the track; maybe despite my reticence, the vision I had subconsciously underpinned some decisions I made recently towards getting my life back on track.

I still have something to accomplish!

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SMART Goal setting

It’s the time of year when people make New Year Resolutions – as I said in a post a few days ago, I don’t believe in them.

Chatting with a friend this week, I was reminded of something I used to teach students on a personal development course about goal setting – A goal is a dream with a deadline. There are two benefits of setting a deadline – if you do the dream is tangible and achievable and not merely fantasy. The deadline makes it so – I will achieve X by Y. (Motivators would say goals have to be SMART – Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Time-bound.)

However, not being very good at listening to my own advice, it dawned on me this morning that I did achieve a fantasy goal last year; a long-standing dream linked to a holiday photograph (making it visual set as a gadget background wallpaper I was subconsciously reminded of it every time I play patience/solitaire!!!) And it must have been at least 12 years since I came up with it. Not any of the above SMART points. Not one! Anyway, this morning I realised that last year I achieved it and I’m living it.

I wonder if I’d made the goal SMART would I still have achieved it? But I would have realised sooner that I had… on the annual review date, which I am sure I would have been constantly pushing on. Result! :o)

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The magic of writing a journal

I’ve no doubt that writing a journal is a very cathartic process. I’ve done it for the past few years when I’ve needed to get things flying relentlessly around in my head out of my brain; only to find they were replaced with more thoughts and phrases instead. Committing them to paper sort of works. I was going through a very traumatic time in my life. Eventually I put the journals through a paper shredder. I didn’t want to go back over the thoughts and I certainly didn’t want anyone else to read them.

In fact, if I think about it now, the act of complete destruction initiated a turning-point in my life and I moved on.

The problem I’ve been working on since, is trying to fire up my inspiration to write a manuscript for a second novel; no matter what I do I get stuck in a rut and lapse back into reality – rather like writing the catharsis journal. Yesterday I realised my problem is that I stopped writing a daily journal; I’ve tried all different types of journals since Destruction Day from files on my laptop to, writing apps on my iPad. But nothing regularly, every day. Silly me!

Writing a journal doesn’t just have to be catharsis, or reviewing life, the universe and everything. Just the act of just writing something, anything… whatever is in my head for just three pages can straighten out my brain and create some kind of logic.

So I have started again and this time I haven’t even gone to the expense of buying a special notebook. I’m just using a notebook I was using for keeping notes. If I can keep it up for a month or so, I will find/buy a special journal notebook to separate it from keeping notes. The act of handwriting and using my nice fountain pen and making a point of just three pages instead of the rambling thoughts is motivating and helps my brain to be more logical.

My Three Pages and Stop journal.

I read somewhere, I think it was in Stephen King’s On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft, that if you stop mid-sentence it helps you continue writing the next day. I must try that.

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