A little bit of marketing…

Well, this weekend I’ve done some editing (the good stuff, when you re-read your own writing and it feels like you’re reading something new to yourself, as if it’s not your own stuff) and re-jigged a whole lot of social media, marketing blog stuff. It’s surprising how long that takes! Let’s face it, I hadn’t posted on Facebook since February (!)

What can I say? I’m more of a Twitter person…

Anyway, I saw a really interesting post from someone who uses Pinterest a lot to market her blog (creating interesting visual pins for each of her posts and then linking them on to her blog). I spent quite a while juggling my boards and content around to be more ‘author’ and when I get a little more time I think I’ll do some test runs of this idea. In the past, I have created Pins of quotes from my books, which have circulated pretty well.

I had some good news on Saturday too, when I did the usual Amazon check of my book rankings, it was a nice surprise to see Faris and Jack at No. 4 in the Top 100 Horse books list!

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It was the sequel to this book that I had been editing and I am hoping from a ‘marketing’ perspective that when I get the second book out there that a number of the people who have picked up book one will try the follow-up. I remember reading a post about publishing books in series and how a body of work was generally better and easier to market, as if one reader likes what you do they are likely to read more than just your one book – you only need convince them once! 🙂

I think most independent authors (and lots of traditionally published ones too) would agree that marketing and PR-ing your work is hard – it’s a whole other skill set than writing and not always easy to pick up once you’ve finished your book. In the past I have spent a lot of time on trying to push the books and bring readers in – now, my focus is more on the actual writing. If it’s a hobby, then I’m happy to put it out there and see what happens, with whatever nudges I can do with marketing to help it along. Faris and Jack has had the least amount of push and is the most successful book I’ve published so far (in terms of both volume and ratings). I think continuing this experiment and seeing what happens to Faris and the Monoceros when that comes out will be interesting.

Anyway, enough of my weekend, it’s nearly bedtime here in the UK, but if you’d like some ideas for refreshing your own book marketing, check out the article below. It tells us that marketing is not a one-time effort, that you need to rearrange your thinking and find ways to reinvigorate your book marketing to keep the momentum for this – and other books – going. Good luck! 🙂

http://blog.bookbaby.com/2017/08/reinvigorate-book-marketing/

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June… Read something you wouldn’t normally

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I picked Monsters up in the library because of the quirky cover. Reading the very brief blurb on the back it reminded me of a film from years ago with Kate Winslet (I think), where two odd friends have an unsavoury interest in murder.
The actual story was a bit of a surprise and didn’t unfold as I thought it might.

I’m not actually convinced that I ever read the name of the narrator of the story – if I did it was so infrequent that I missed it – and so it is odd to share such intimate knowledge of her strange and rather unhappy life without giving her the label of a name. Perhaps that is part of what the author was looking for, that as the reader there is an uncomfortable voyeurism to reading about this person and their experiences.

The story is well-written, from the point of view of a 12-13 year old, which sees her drifting through points of immature misunderstanding of an adult world to moments of real clarity, seeing the truth of people that maybe sits between being a child and an adult. The way she looks at her friendships and others feels very black and white, more childlike, as do the tempers she has.

Overall, this is an interesting read with well-rounded characters and a view into the painful and odd world of the narrator. Often the murder mystery element of the book drifts into the background whilst trivial seeming things take the centre. It’s not comfortable or fun to read, you feel pity for the narrator in many ways, but also can’t say that she is ever likely to become someone you would want to meet. She’s already pretty broken. 4*

(In terms of the reading challenge, I actually started off reading a political biography on Barack Obama, I still have it but am only about 50 pages into and it has about 800 to go… I’m not overly convinced that I’ll make it to the end of that one, perhaps it’s too far out of my comfort zone!)

 

 

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Reading Challenge for May – Read a book recommended by a friend…

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Several friends have recommended If I Stay, by Gayle Forman, to me and it has sat languishing in my bedside table for a while now – this cover is for the version of the book I have and so must have been bought around the time of the film release. I can’t remember now if I bought this copy or if it was given to me to read – I have a feeling it’s the latter, but definitely can’t think who it came from. My author buddy Tony Talbot read and reviewed this on the Aside from Writing blog ages ago, so you can check out his thoughts there (spoiler alert!) if you like (also, it’s evidence of the recommendation!)

My thoughts… 

Before you are 20 pages in to this book, you are shocked into experiencing the same trauma as Mia. There’s so little pre-amble to the crash that it is shocking, even though you know that is what the book centres on before you start. You just don’t want this kind of thing to happen to characters like them – you feel how unfair and sad it is, when this type of tragedy strikes.

I found the comments and interviews (from the film actors) with Gayle Forman really interesting at the end, putting the story into context with her own experience of grief. There are so many facets of grief considered through the story: parental love for a child/younger sibling; romantic loss and that of losing your parents. Mia – sitting outside herself – is a very human, emotive vehicle for considering all these things, whilst reflecting back on the life she has lived and the relationships that have been built around her at that point.

This is, as you would expect, a difficult read in places. I think Gayle does a great job of managing the hard emotional parts of the present, with the backstory of the past. It has the mix in the book, just as you do with grief itself, of being overwhelmed by emotion and loss in one instant, then reminiscing and feeling the warmth of love, family and friends the next. I teared up a few times whilst reading, especially in the sections on Teddy, which Mia felt almost with a parental love for her much younger brother.

I think this is a story that will linger with you for a long time, whether it’s because of shared experiences of grief and how poignantly this is told within the story, or because of the emotion you feel for Mia’s fictional family and those of anyone in real life you experiences these similar freak tragedies.

This is a relatively short book and without formal chapters, you tend to read on through the scenes. Whilst very sad, I enjoyed this book, in so much as it has lingered with me the last few days since finishing and I’d like to read more about the characters I met.

5*

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April – Read a non-fiction book… Freakonomics

1202So, non-fiction month… I don’t often read non-fiction, but I do really enjoy them when I do. I started Freakonomics about a couple of years ago, read the first couple of chapters/essays and enjoyed it, but then popped it back into the bedside table pile and didn’t get back to it. This time, spurred on by the need to read a non-fiction book in the month, I just grabbed it and read! The way the chapters are divided over different subjects, but with vague links between them, makes it very easy to read and the style with a conversational tone taking you through their theories is a nice change for a non-fiction book.

The idea behind Freakonomics is the juxtaposing of some quite outlandish ideas, with core economic theories and approach to evaluation to give alternative perspectives on areas as diverse as violent crime statistics and the importance of parenting. Below is a snapshot from the blurb and picks out some of the best questions explored in the essay chapters:

“Which is more dangerous, a gun or a swimming pool? What do schoolteachers and sumo wrestlers have in common? Why do drug dealers still live with their moms? How much do parents really matter? How did the legalization of abortion affect the rate of violent crime?”

I’d definitely recommend this for anyone who likes examining the world from different, less conventional perspectives. Their website, http://freakonomics.com/ has all sorts of articles, videos and more covering a lot of other content on other subjects, so is worthwhile checking out if you like the sound of this book. I’ll definitely be adding Super Freakonomics to my TBR list – but might need to leave tackling it to another year! 🙂

Overall 4* for this

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March – Read something published in the last year…

The Women in the WallsThe Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Not sure why I read horror books now and again…

This was a chance pick-up in the library because the cover and blurb were enticingly creepy. The overall style and story is good, picking up lots of horror-story stock items: isolation, mental instability, odd family history and of course, the spooky old house…

I really liked the first 3/4 of the book, where the psychological build-up was great. My problem – similar to most of the few horror books I’ve read – is that the actual reveal of what IS spooky or horrifying tends to switch me off. It’s almost the opposite of how I find horror films: the reveal scares me but the build-up is cheesy.

Anyway, I liked the characters and set up in this book – the background story to the horror was good as well, with some nice Shakespearian-esque gruesomeness thrown in! Young adult horror, but not if you’re squeamish 😉

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Life Quotes…

Quote The local radio station I listen to on the way to work has a feature where one of the presenters shares a cheesy ‘life quote’  each day, usually for the others to mock. You know the kind of ones…that if you said them out loud, rather than in your head, you’d probably feel a bit silly. (A bit like this one).

I can understand people liking quotes like these, maybe even finding some strength in the words that they relate to themselves…they’re just not for me really. But, I doubt you’d find a writer who doesn’t like quotes at all: they’re like little pieces of word art that you can hang inside your head 🙂 And with pinterest and the amount of ‘word art’ you see in shops these days, it’s easy to see that words as art is more popular than ever.

I have to admit, I am quite partial to quotes about creativity, inspiration and the weirdness of life… Several of my favourites – like this from Einstein – are on the walls around my little desk (my writing cave/corner), mixed in with ones that are aimed at getting me writing and not procrastinating.

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You know the type: “What are you waiting for?” “Do more of what makes you happy” Sometimes you have to be tough with yourself to get anything done!

To stop me collecting quotes on my wall, like the books on my shelves, I’ve taken to popping them on to a Pinterest board whenever I come across them (if you’re interested, you can see the type of thing that makes it here); or the little quote feature in Goodreads is pretty nifty for collecting any of the writerly ones you come across there.

 

 

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‘Carry On’ and ‘Fangirl’ by Rainbow Rowell

FangirlFangirl by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I remember reading a review of this by Becky at Blog of a Bookaholic and I quite liked the idea of the story. When I stood in WHSmith waiting to fly out to Florida in the summer, looking for another book to complete my 3 for 2 offer, I saw this and thought ‘why not’?

And then, I carried it to the US and back without reading it and placed it into the dreaded bedside table, where it ultimately became part of my challenge to clear out that book eating piece of furniture.

I really enjoyed Fangirl, not always for the storyline, which sometimes was a bit slow for me – but I loved Cather (although I wished she’d gone for Cath and Erin for the twins over Cather and Wren – it just reminded me of the word catheter, which isn’t a great connection to make). I think Rowell wrote a very believable story about an introverted character’s experience of going to university and particularly the thought-processes of a writer. There were things that Cath says in the book, which I can only assume link about to how Rowell feels about writing herself – and they could have been thoughts from my own head.

So, it wasn’t really the ‘fangirl’ elements of Fangirl I liked the most – it was reading about a writer, writing about what they read. The correlation between reading and writing, along with the experience of being a writer, was what I loved about this book. Probably not what was aimed at, or what most people will like about it, but that was what did it for me.

So, that brings us to…

Carry OnCarry On by Rainbow Rowell

My rating: 2 of 5 stars

DNF @ pg 145

I really hate not finishing books, but I was just finding this too hard to get into.

I really liked the Simon snippets in Fangirl and loved that book overall, but this just hasn’t worked for me. I think if it was written as the ‘proper’ Simon Snow book, i.e. like Harry Potter, I would have found it easier to engage with the story and characters – but as it is written in the style of fanfic, there was just too much implied knowledge needed for me to enjoy this.

So, sorry, just not for me.

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